A new political party? To what avail?

Dear Editor,

I refer to the call embedded in the article titled, ‘Guyana needs a new political party –Ramkarran’ (SN, Jan 15).  On the face of it, and as an abstraction, I would readily agree.  I would add a new political party each for youths, for women, or for indigenous peoples.  I think that all of this would throw the power field and apparatus wide open.  But even as I say this, I must ask: to what avail?

There have been oceans of ink spilled to identify, pulverize, scorn, and condemn the divisions, history, and political culture and results in this society.  It is the same story as to who has been exploited in one way or another for generations.  The racial old-timers, racial hardliners, and racial extremists have all been trashed and ridiculed for their Neanderthal mentalities and unreconstructed bigotry.  It is the same bigotry (albeit subtly) that today saturates the political thinking, arena, and pursuits at the local level.  When push comes to shove the moderates and centrists, the progressives and renaissance people all seem to either vanish or find seamless cover within the tribal fold.  This has all devastated, and forever it seems.

This is what has happened time and again.  It is what occurred in May 2015, and was part of the fevered run-up to that fateful date.  The distinctive political disfigurations that have marred the political face, political ideals, and political progress of this nation all followed the tried and trusted patterns, where things then coalesced into the solidity of immovable camps.  With a few bold exceptions, fewer were willing to abandon the racial tent and racial nest.  This included those now stirred nobly into thinking about the formation and arrival of a new party.  And since May 2015, I submit that the racial antagonisms have only become more bitter, and more pronounced.  Again, I ask: to what avail, given this hard immovable context?

Put another way, Guyanese citizens and voters (inclusive of potentially new Guyanese political leaders) did not discard the racial baggage that has always been an integral aspect of their upbringing, alliances, and history.  Great difficulty was found to think independently, to act unilaterally, or to believe powerfully in something else, in something alien to the soggy groggy outlook of the usual Guyanese mind.  So, in the face of a damnable Hobson’s choice, there was no breaking away from the racial quagmire to stand on own, to separate from the old, or to strive for the fresh and new and different.  It was race-based voting, as usual.  It was the comforting clinging to the norms inculcated by heritage, environment, and arguably, self-generated individual prejudices.  Unsurprisingly, things distilled to same ole, same ole, and nothing more.  For the third time, I ask about a new political party: to what avail, in view of this hard immovable context?

While I believe that there are those who are intrepid enough and authentically altruistic enough to venture into the trackless political desert, they are too few, too lonely, and too overawed by the magnitude of what challenges the soul.  Though I am intrigued by the idea of a new political party, I believe that (for all of the above reasons) such would amount to a mere conduit for the perpetuation of that which has emasculated the rugged individuality called for, as well as disemboweled the requisite ethos.  Domestic history has taught that all too easily Guyanese resort to form and to kind.  They are fearful of the unknown; overwhelmed by roots, and that is a part of the unyielding pathos of this scorched land.

None of this is comforting.  And when the political hegemons sit up and take stock of any incoming new threats, they will either gobble them up or subvert them, and ultimately derail them.  I wish I had a more positive position on this well-meaning call.  I can’t; not given ancient and modern Guyanese history.

Yours faithfully,
GHK Lall

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