Mr Hinds makes no allowance for individual initiatives

Stabroek News
June 10, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letters by David Hinds captioned "The dialogue has not addressed the fundamental issues" (6.6.200l) and by Eric Phillips captioned "Significant investment will not occur without political stability, power sharing should be considered" (l.6.200l).

The problem I have with Mr Hinds and his friend Clarence Ellis, and Eric Phillips and Festus Brotherson, is that they are engaged in a process that is so unworkable that very harsh terms could be used to describe their methodology. You cannot write about a society without living in it and studying it. The alternative is an impossibility. There is no such thing as analysis by internet. These writers keep making crucial mistakes about Guyana for two fundamental reasons: (1) they are not here to see the demise of old nuances and the birth of new ones, (2) they don't have access to the actors, the processes and the events. The result is reliance on second hand?information and that is a crime in academia.

Some potent examples are in order. A? Ellis said there is no need to bridge the Berbice river. I teach at the Berbice University and I know about the endless waste of manpower through waiting and the difficulty of large vehicles getting onto the ferry. Ellis left Guyana long before Berbice and by extension Guyana became more developed. B ? Festus Brotherson did not know that in the post?election confrontation, the woman took off her clothes and it wasn't the police that assaulted her. C? Contrary to what Mr Hinds thinks, academics at UG are involved. We had a public symposium on the post?election scenario and I delivered a paper along with Rishi Thakur and Daniel Kumar; we belong to the same department at UG.

Now for Eric Phillips's letter. I thought that since Mr Hinds liked Mr. Phillips' analysis he would have asked him why as a candidate in the March election, he did not argue for power?sharing. How could Mr. Phillips contest an election without power?sharing being an issue coming from him. Two months after, he writes a letter extolling the virtues of power?sharing? There is no theoretical model of power?sharing offered. There was no theoretical argument for power?sharing. He simply wants power?sharing, then in a part of his letter, he makes the point that once there is power?sharing, things will fall into place.

This is the worrying part of the advocacy of the power?sharing ideologues. They are being carried away with what are the benefits of power?sharing and not the negatives that inhere in it that can destroy the positives.

Mr Phillips said that he has learnt two important life lessons. From politicians he has learnt that politics is about unadulterated power. But that is not the experience of the people of the world. If it was, then governments would never change hands. Both Mr Hinds and Mr. Phillips live in countries where politics is not about that. Secondly, he has said what he learnt from successful business people. But the experience of many people on what they have learnt from successful business people is that profits come before humanity.

Mr Hinds' approach to history and philosophy is one?sided. He has conceded that an East Indian man, Rupert Roopnaraine has done a lot for Afro?Guyanese. Put that into theoretical context, and it means that multi?racial politicians and multi?racial politics could still succeed. I am simply uncomfortable with how he tries to fit history and philosophy to suit his purpose. Hoyte was one of the closest confidantes of Burnham. He initiated many authoritarian policies. But he changed. He changed because of the individuality that resides in the individual. Clarence Ellis was an economic planner for Burnham at the time Burnham had Mr Hinds thrown in jail. But today he has changed. That is because the individual space we all have inside of us allows for self?assessment.

I do not buy the thesis that because Jagdeo was proteged by Freedom House he is a permanent prisoner of them. Hoyte was a creation of Burnham. Gorbachev was a creation of Andropov. Mubarak was a creation of Sadat. Tony Blair came out of the Labour Party of Benn, Foot, Kinnock and company. But look how these people changed after they got power. You cannot dismiss the spirit of the individual that drives the human personality to want to create.

I don't agree at all with Mr Hinds approach to the joint commitees. He has a flippant attitude to some of the most precious, priceless historical institutions. The electoral system in which people vote in their representatives to run their country cannot be blown away in one stroke. Ian Smith in Zimbabwe did not object to the process of one man, one vote. The white nationalist in South Africa did not object to that process too. There is no theoretical and practical replacement of the right to vote for a person to lead a country. In Guyana, we seem to be moving to a position where the historic right to vote should be given preference to a compact between political competitors.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Kissoon