Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds prompted me to think some more with his recent comments on the news of a COI. That is not an easy thing to do, given personal distaste for local political operators and their lack of depth. But Mr. Hinds, being an exception to that deplorable standard, provoked the following ruminations.
The former PM noted the birth and more of a “counterforce” in response to the then rampaging crime wave. I thank Mr. Hinds for adding to the rich growing lexicon of peculiar but sophisticated Guyanese political vernacular through his coining of the latest gem “counterforce.” It is sure to find jolly companionship alongside phantoms, phantom squads, crime fighters, rogue cops, and a few bad apples among others. But why counterforce?
Through Mr. Hinds own words, there is tacit recognition of the failure-abject indeed-of the official security apparatus to mount, and operate as, a credible sustained deterrent; or as a comprehensive successful one to arrest the frightening mayhem that prevailed. Unsaid was that the government of the day harboured neither trust nor confidence in the efforts, professional integrity, and commitment of the available policing mechanism.
At this time, I am not going to question who was (the intellectual author) behind the origins of such an emerging counterforce, or its composition; that will unfold in due course. Instead, I emphasize the arriving, flourishing, and embedding of this counterforce as exposing the sturdy institutional objections (or at the very least sloth) to function powerfully on behalf of the then government; and the failure of the government to govern in the highly crucial and grave area of robust citizen security, or any security at all. One more time: in terms of security, the government had no official answers, no official strength, and no official allies. Into this breach came the unofficial, the private, the sponsored, the outsourced, and the sanctioned. They were called crime fighters then; today counterforce is the proxy sure to become fashionable.
Editor, I submit that many societal ills and governance deficiencies are intertwined and highlighted (undeniably) in the standing down of official force and the stepping up of a clandestine unofficial counterforce. This does not speak well for effective governance, when a major constitutional bulwark is implied to have lacked the resolve to deliver on its mandate. This is my nuanced way of saying passive resistance, or constructive dereliction, or diminished support. It does not say much for official crime-fighting in the future either, should there be the improbable event of a changing of the political guard up the road. As is now widely accepted, when khaki disappeared, currency took charge. In other words, during a very dangerous time in this society, high level manipulation and money facilitated the subcontracting of law enforcement to mercenaries to man the gates and lead the counteroffensive. Governance came to a halt then, and money cured the situation then; today a mountain of the same stuff, with the same giveaway smell, is doing the exact same thing, but on a different front. Rather than overcoming national insecurity, this is on accelerating economic insecurity.
Today the current loving (and increasingly beloved) government paddles a comparably fragile boat against raging arrayed rapids. Suddenly, there is no cash floating around anymore. Just like that things went from 100 to zero and in a very confined space; sometimes with no distance traveled. Like the security apparatus, there is wringing of hands, defiant speeches, solemn countenances, and this now incredible indifference and malaise in the economic realm. The once sprawling spectacular business machine has stalled. Like the security actors from back then, men open hoods and pretend at diagnosing for source of malfunction, while they surreptitiously disconnect a spark plug or two. Before governance was held hostage through national insecurity; nowadays, governance today is bedeviled and laid low by economic sabotage. Again, I refrain from tracking intellectual authors, or the underlying composition of the forces marshalled. Time reveals. Regarding governance today, the shoe is on the other foot. And regardless of the time, or who is in power, the reality is underscored that robust official governance is fraught with materially crippling deficiencies that hold, ultimately, the country to ransom. During Mr. Hinds’ era, it was real blood and tears; today, it is real economic pain and paralysis. In both instances, the writing is of significant political powerlessness.
In both sets of circumstances, two ancient commonalties resurface: the preponderance of sectoral partisans standing against (then and now); and cash (questionable in origin) being employed as the pivotal curative determinant. Money permitted the substitution of a surrogate security counterforce (with the unwritten understanding of a free rein later). It was part of the solution. Today money is withheld and stashed away to force governance to its knees, and introduce enforced collaboration. In this instance it functions as a weapon.
What is all of this sorry savage history saying? It is the ruthless and sinister tale of 2 parties, 2 Achilles heels, 2 results, and 2 knowns. Either of the two fatal weaknesses cannot be resolved by any one group at any one time. This is the essence of local rule of the people for the people by the people. Depending on the era, that would be some of the people. And in Guyanese diction: waan han caan clap.