As I was considering John Locke’s understanding of the ‘social contract’, which first placed men under governments (Essay Concerning Human Understanding & Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690)) , I came across Lincoln Lewis’ Guyana does not need an ethnic party as a third party (KN: 08/07/2018) in which I detected a belief that, with hindsight, I should have recognised before. As if its truth and universality are self-evident, he exclaimed, ‘If the PPP and PNC have been condemned for being race-based parties, how does it become commendable today to encourage the establishment of a party to represent the interest of a single [Amerindian] race?’ Lincoln might not be aware of it, but this statement misrepresents the position of many people, and in it also lies the fundamental error of his discursive edifice.
But firstly, in this article I am not concerned with Mr. Lewis’ disapproval of the formation of an Amerindian party, for I am certain that if he imagines such a party holding the balance by winning and properly utilising 2 to 5 seats in the National Assembly, he will come to envisage how relatively quickly more resources will pour into Amerindian areas and how their social condition, the stuff upon which social status and respect are built, will be positively transformed. In any case, notwithstanding his well-intentioned persistent preaching about the need to hold leaders accountable for their performance and to the law, what persists has not helped either the first peoples or Guyana. Indeed, it occurred to me that the context that led to Locke’s social contract is indicative of both the difficulty Mr. Lewis faces and its overcoming.
That aside, I cannot remember ever condemning the PPP or PNC for being ethnic parties. My position has been that I understand why they are and will continue to be so for some considerable time. Given the ethnic nature of Guyana, we can risk claiming what one is usually warned to avoid saying in this kind of analysis, namely that if tomorrow the PPP and PNC should disappear two similar entities would take their places the same day! So, I will not waste my time blaming the PPP or PNC for being what they are and behaving as they do, for this will distract and lead to the kind of wholesale moral condemnation that will not be very helpful. As I have said many times before, on political matters Guyana does not have a single/independent public opinion that, when necessary, can be mobilised against the regime, and, therefore, I do not expect more than the most suboptimal political accountability…..