Questions for Ravi Dev on the PPP

Dear Editor,
My old friend Freddie Kissoon in his daily column, “Democracy is coffee! Democracy is Obama!,” (KN 10-12-09), has once again accused my friend Ravi Dev of being a PPP apologist. He cited Ravi Dev’s Sunday Column, “Democracy is not coffee,” (KN 10-11-09) and so I decided to read Ravi’s article with great care. After doing so several times I did have a few questions for Ravi.

Ravi wrote of the PNC, “By introducing the radical ideology of “co-operative socialism” it dismissed most of the ideals of the liberal democracy that the British had grudgingly introduced in our modern era.” My first question is, did the PPP not advocate Soviet-style Marxism Leninism or Communism which dismisses all of the ideals of liberal democracy? Would you rather have had some liberal democracy as practised by the PNC or none at all as preferred by the PPP’s brand of Communism?

Ravi also wrote, “The PNC insisted on the “paramountcy of the party” over the state; i.e. that the party in power took precedence over the organs of state.” My second question to Ravi is, is party paramountcy not a tenet of Marxism Leninism as championed by the PPP? In fact did the PPP not give critical support to the PNC during its “co-operative socialism” era? Is it not true that the PPP criticized the PNC for not implementing true socialism? Is it not true that the PPP and PNC held power sharing talks in the early 1980’s and had agreed to establish a one party state?

Ravi further wrote, “One would have thought that with the procedural aspect of democracy reinstated in the 1992 elections it would have been understood that there would be the need to make radical changes in the institutions of government and state – away from the totalitarian impositions of the PNC.” There were expectations that Dr Jagan and the PPP would have indeed usher in real democratic changes, especially with the collapse of the Communism in the Soviet Empire. But did he change the co-operative socialist state which he had given critical support? If the PPP believed in substantive democracy why then did it in January 1993 urge its members to keep studying Marxism?

Ravi wrote,  “In the absence of a Democratic Pact, if(what) the opposition wanted (was) a return of a substantive democracy…were not democratic means the way to go? It was not to be. They adopted a scorched earth policy towards the new government…” Does Ravi accept that whilst Hoyte had breached procedural democracy in rigging the 1985 elections he soon after began to deconstruct the co-operative socialist state and began to slowly rebuild substantive democracy which led to the return of procedural democracy via free and free elections in 1992? Did Dr Jagan and the PPP continue to build substantive democracy? Was not Dr Jagan and the PPP’s continuation of remnants of totalitarianism the cause of Hoyte’s rage?

Ravi would probably reply, “The PPP had to act more as a player in the anarchy of the Hobbessian inter-state system than in the putatively settled intra-state order. In this milieu, the PPP has evidently chosen to be “realists” thus augmenting their own tendencies on control and power.” Is this not justification for the way the PPP has governed? Would it not have been better for the security and welfare of all Guyanese had the PPP sought help from the United Nations in dealing with the violence? Isn’t that what political parties and governments committed to both procedural and substantive democracy do? But then it would have had to relinquish its dictatorial exercise of power and control over Guyana so better to resort to extra judicial means which brings more control and power.

Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Harripaul

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