The PNC keeps the PPP in power The Freddie Kissoon column
Kaieteur News
August 8, 2004

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The Corbin visit to Taiwan is a non-issue in Guyanese domestic politics. It is impossible for it to negatively impact on the PNC's electoral prospects. Such foreign issues never attract voters' attention. If they did, then how do you explain the electorate's attitude to the PPP in 1992 when the PPP won a majority even though that party has always been communist oriented in its foreign policy?

What will be crucial in the 2006 election is the PNC's pattern of behaviour from 2001 to 2006. Any elongated evaluation of the political deportment period will reveal a rejection of finessed strategies to win over those social constituencies that the PNC needs if it is to win an election.

On the contrary, the PNC is devoid of vision in its cartographic maneuvers to proselytize PPP voters and that corner of the electorate that is currently floating or is independent.

The demographic realities since 2001 could potentially configure a PNC victory at the 2006 election. Some statistical prediction would reveal this.

For example, if Ravi Dev and Ryhaan Shah could take in two more seats in addition to the one ROAR has and Vic Puran and Hubert Wong pick up two Amerindian seats and pull another from either the PNC or the PPP, then the PPP will suffer diminishing returns. Into this equation must be added the roles of Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, a voter abstention process among some Indians, and the heavy Indian exodus.

The sad trajectory of Guyanese politics since the split of the PPP in the fifties into the Jagan PPP and the Burnham PNC is that ethnic choices determine voting behaviour. The independent variables at the present moment that favour a PNC victory is in extreme flux

because the PNC itself has been doing what the PPP has done since 1964 - practise the politics of a war of position rather than a war of manoeuvre.

These are terms I have borrowed from perhaps the greatest contemporary Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci. What is the politics of war of position and a war of manoeuvre?

Here I am simplifying Gramsci's concepts to apply them in a situation that they were not meant for. Gramsci wrote his theory to fit into early 20th Century Italian politics. The war of position is a defensive strategy. The organisation advances in its battle, based on the systematic failures in its opposition's movement.

War of manoeuvre is a tactical nature and seeks to make advancements based on assessing the reality on the ground. The difference between the two strategies is that one waits for the reality to unfold, the other to create that reality.

The best practitioner of the war of position, maybe at any time in contemporary world politics, has been the traditional communist party. The capitalist order will crumble, the inevitable communist revolution will triumph, so the party must be ready for the dénouement. The PPP since 1964 has practised the politics of war of position. A cursory reading of Guyanese politics will reveal the inflexible nature of the PPP tactics.

The PPP single-handedly kept the PNC in power. At every moment of PNC's weakness, the PPP failed to strategize for the advancement of tactical advantage. Since this article here is not about the PPP, we will limit ourselves to the enduring characteristic of the PPP since 1975.

That party has always announced its communist insignia, and the West has always shut it out from power. The very next day after Burnham died, the PPP declared that it has transformed itself into a full-fledged Soviet style political party. This it did without consulting its constituencies.

It is now the PNC's turn to practise the war of position. The PNC has consistently failed to strategize during the greatest periods of PPP weaknesses since 1992. In Guyanese politics, the opposition's obsession with defending communism had left the field wide open for the government to succeed and indeed the PNC under both Burnham and Hoyte made maximum use of the PPP's lack of finessed politics.

It is the PNC's turn to do what the PPP has done since 1964 when it lost power - keep the government in power through a fixed strategy. That strategy is race.

The PNC has no other platform to help it preserve its traditional demographic enclaves except the appeal to race and its accompanying twin concept - marginalization. Lacking in resources since it lost power. Having no talent of the kind the urbane, cultivated, erudite, cultured African middle class brought to it in the fifties and sixties, the PNC survives on cultivating inside the psychology of its supporters the fear that African Guyanese interests are threatened by an Indianized government that is determined to marginalize them.

So the roles now get reversed. Just examine it in the past and in the present and you will see history repeating itself. Jagan exclaims to the world he was a communist, the West accepted the PNC as the lesser evil. In electorally free Guyana, the PNC adopts a regime of race and violence. This cements Indian constituencies because of their fear of violence and the racist incitement of the talk-show hosts.

Come next election, Benschop will be out of prison, Channel 9 will sermonize the faithful converts with tall tales of the type Keane Gibson imagined when she wrote her booklet, and the PPP will romp home in 2006.

If I were the leader of the PPP, I would fix the date for the poll in 2006 to fall one week after the death anniversary of Forbes Burnham, that is, in August. When the PNC/R leadership takes to the Botanic Gardens to commemorate the memory of the man most Indian people hate, then make sure NCN covers every aspect of the ceremony and all the speeches. Then play this for the Indian electorate.

Then the PPP leaders will rise up on the platform and say, in typical oratorical fashion, "Ya'll hear this, ya'll hear what a good man they say Burnham was? Is these the people ya'll want to put in to run the government?"

On a parting note - it must have been a joy for the PPP as they watched the PNC leadership eulogizing Burnham on Friday morning at the site of Burnham's mausoleum. One PNC leader said Burnham's ideas are still alive. Does that include killing opposition leaders, banning essential items and rigging elections?