Ramjattan expulsion has people talking of some new political culture.
Where is it? I see no inept ministers dismissed, no defunct leader
exiled. Instead, people from the sixties are still among us leading,
young political upstarts are still being indoctrinated in obsolete
ways of politics; and the country continues to be cultured along
manners of professional malpractice. Above all, the politics of
mutual disrespect between the kindergarten bureaucrats of the
PNC and PPP tramples on. What new political culture can we possibly
resurrect from such colossal mess?
It is odd to think of progress without reform
in our politics, and it is odder to think of progress in our politics
without reform in our primary parties. This is, of course, if
the debate on the future of politics is still to be centered on
the PPP and PNC after their 100 years of failed leadership. Since
the “future” rests with the young generation—civilians
who came of age in the 80s and thereafter and have no political
heroes of their time (the sixties gave Guyana too many heroes
and the seventies, a few we could not protect), I say it is time
to look beyond these two degenerate, dead-ended parties. The hallmark
hero of my generation is blackout. We’re a population fumbling
in the dark because our leaders are people from another age (Jagan,
Green, Corbin, and Ramotar), who
do not share our dreams, temperament, or outlook on life. Year
after year, all we do is stagger on—half dead and half hopeful.
A young friend said this recently; “I think
this country needs some bright young daring politicians who are
not into the old school methods…some radicals to shake up
things and I don't mean just trying to get at each other and pick
on inconsequential stuff. The world has big problems and we need
people who can see beyond their noses for a change.” Yes,
she is right; the politics of my generation is the politics of
youth versus old age—“daring ” and “bright”
on one hand and “old school” on the other. Unless
we move away immediately from the trickle-down sewage of the Jagan-Burnham
legacy, unless we begin a serious resistance against this destructive,
incompetent legacy, there will be no viable place for my generation
or our children in the 21st century.
What has the PPP-PNC done for my generation,
except to make life a nightmare? We do not owe anything to them;
indeed, it is they who owe us our lives. Still, it matter little
what the young people say, our kindergarten bureaucrats will resist
democratic changes because democracy is a threat to their privileges.
They fear democracy for it is a disease to their youth organs
(PYO and GYSM), where people of my generation are being cultured
like piglets to continue in the art of self-disrespect. Individual
integrity taught by their parents are destroyed by party “rules.”
For example, both Ms. Lurlene Nestor (PNC) and Mr. Robert Persaud
(PPP), youth “leaders,” elaborated last year of national
unity over the GIHA cricket match, but neither raised a finger
when the PPP and PNC held separate Independence celebrations.
It is a sign of the terror still to come.
The only escape from this regurgitation of narrow-mindedness
is a substantial break from the past, the dismantling of what
we call the PPP and PNC. Already, a survey on young women showed
them being uninterested in politics for obvious reasons. Good.
Mrs. Jagan ought to stop giving advices to young women. Having
the skin of a rhinoceros is of no use if one behaves as if one
has its brain also. The nature of a rhinoceros is that it knows
not when to stop head butting, and this makes it uninhabitable
in public space.
Speaking of “space,” here is Mr.
Ramjattan on the subjects; “Challenges,
which are legitimate and intellectual, are what Guyana needs most.
The debate must start and continue. We will all be better for
it. This space must be created and given. So frontiers have to
be relocated, boundaries changed. For too long, only a few leaders
within the major spheres of our society have created this space;
most usurp all, and interfere where they should not.”
In this light, the expulsion is a necessary virtue.
Since the PPP is very alike the PNC, new “frontiers”
cannot be constructed in one without the other. One cannot be
happy Mr. Ramjattan was expelled and not disappointed that “trusted
comrades” saved Mr. Trotman from a similar fate. If these
are our best new options, they should be far from these two kangaroo
courts where one is rewarded for advocating violence (Alexander),
and fined for speaking the truth (Trotman, Ramjattan). If they
want to lead Guyana into the new world, they ought to get on with
it and stop being part of an ancient problem. With country truly
above party—my generation will support them.
This is why it seems wrong for Mr. Ramjattan
to say, “I am not a kangaroo” (meaning he will not
fight the PPP from outside). Better to be a kangaroo kicking than
a hardheaded rhinoceros, especially since the politics of Guyana
will have to come to terms with real democracy (not the slogans).
Whichever party embraces it first will be the party to profit
the most. No one in Guyana wants to vote because voting serves
no purpose. Give them universal reasons to vote and they will.
This cannot be done easily, since the well-established traditions
of the PPP-PNC will not allow for their demise, unless the population
confronts them head-on. And this will not happen if potential
new leaders continue to believe well-rooted “boundaries”
can merely be redrawn inside Freedom House and Congress Place.
Until potential future leaders are willing to step out and do
the hard work, there is no new political culture at hand, only
another day of sterility.