Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Defence - Freddie Kissoon

Here's Sweet and Sensitive Freddie's response to my column "Your Voice Is Not Your Own, Freddie."
I have been criticized by Stella Ramsaroop, someone I feel has an interest in building a culture of independent thinking in Guyana , for espousing the cause of the Alliance for Change. Ms. Ramsaroop feels that I could jeopardize my standing as someone who has staked out an independent landscape in Guyana .

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with any columnist choosing a political party of his liking. The obvious question is the one that many people will ask – would you criticize that party in your column?

The answer is yes. I have done that before. I was sympathetic to the Working People's Alliance when I did a simultaneous column for the Catholic Standard and the Stabroek News. That was public knowledge. Yet I had made analytical remarks on the strategies of the WPA and earned the wrath of many of their leaders. In fact, a WPA executive member had confided in me that he was getting married.

When I did a piece of the WPA's flawed attitude towards the Election Commission in the Stabroek News, he was annoyed and left me off his guest list.

In Guyana , politics means everything to the people of this country. Politics is the single most destructive factor throughout our history and at the present time.

If we are ever going to take off as Barbados , Trinidad and Jamaica have done, then we have to get our politics right.

I have watched as a little boy, a grown up lad and now a person moving on to middle age, how politics has destroyed this potentially rich country whose actual realization of its wealth could be another Singapore success story.

The journey for that success story began in 1992. Whatever hope we had of this country began in 1992.

By “we” I am referring to that politicized section of the Guyanese society that had struggled heroically against the PNC dictatorial government since 1968. It is the failure of the dreams and hopes of 1992 that have led me to see hope in the Alliance for Change.

That hope should not be denied me because I (and to a certain extent my family) have suffered tremendously in struggling for a free Guyana .

Guyana is my home. I am not migrating. I don't want to. Therefore my obligation is to see a free and democratic Guyana .

As someone who has made sacrifices (and I guess still do; twice my life has been endangered the past two years), I see it as a philosophical right to support new, enlightened forces that could help my country.

Inside the inner depths of my mind, I believe Guyana does not have a future with the PPP. I will use the rest of this essay to explain why I think so.

It is within this framework, I support the Alliance for Change. This political conceptualization of mine is based on a social exigency – all Guyanese are facing a bleak future if there is no profound rearrangement in the distribution of power in this country in 2006. Whether we are columnists, businessmen, civil society leaders, we do not have a choice.

Look at our past. Look at our present condition. What have the combined 48 years of PNC and PPP rule done for Guyana ? Why shouldn't every Guyanese look for changes? We do not have a choice. Guyana 's future is at stake.

The focus for any analyst in the 2006 election has to be the PPP. Because of our demography, the PPP is more likely to win the 2006 election. I believe the PNC lacks the talent and resources to mount a successful campaign.

I cannot escape my obligation as a social science analyst in evaluating the rule of the PPP going back to 1957. In the remaining paragraphs, I will briefly attempt such a task.

At the individual level, the people who make up the PPP hierarchy are ordinary people like you and me. They have normal lives and do the mundane things that husband and wives and parents do.

It is when they function as the PPP that they lose their individuality and become part of a culture. The PPP is not an institution. It is not an organization.

The PPP is a culture. From the youngest as in Robert Persaud and Bharrat Jagdeo to the oldest, Janet Jagan and Reepu Daman Persaud, the party manifests that culture when dealing with people whether in their capacity as PPP leaders or as government functionaries.

The PPP was born in a tempestuous, violent era. It was a time when the West was locked in a bloody, silent war with communists all over the world. Communists were slaughtered on a vast scale in countries where the Cold War found a battlefield. Guyana was no exception.

The communist character in those years incorporated the trait of paranoia. The fifties and sixties were periods of Western domination. The Soviets had to be content with Eastern Europe and Cuba .

The worldwide communist movement lived in fear. The communists felt that they were specially selected for decimation by the Americans.

This paranoia runs deep in the psyche of every communist. The tragedies the Jagan Government suffered in the sixties reinforced this phobia. It explains why the PPP will never practise inclusive politics. A communist movement will not trust “outsiders.” One has to be blind not to see that we have had 13 years of this trait by the PPP.

Then there is the characteristic of messianism. A little bit of this came out at the PPP Congress in August. Communists believe that that Marxist ideology is superior and must triumph. Messianism in the PPP took a tighter hold on its leaders with the recapture of power and its retention since 1992.

For all PPP leaders, history has proven them right. Out of messianism comes a natural tendency of greatness. The two are organically related. If you have historical destiny, then you are superior to others.

The combined instincts of messianism and greatness are manifested in a disgusting display of chauvinism in the PPP.

The PPP is not going to share power or compromise with other parties or actors in the society unless these other groups become subservient.

I believe that even if Jesse Jackson or Nelson Mandela come to broker a peace deal with the PPP, these four characteristics will prevent the PPP from signing on to a historic compromise.

The truth is that the PNC will not change its spots. The PPP will never change its own. If the PPP wins the 2006 election, it will be business as usual.

For me, the way out of this 48-year prison is for new forces to emerge in government.

For this reason I support the Alliance for Change. Others can make their choice but I have a right to make mine.

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