This is a continuation of my response to Rohit Kanhai’s very long letter about me (SN, April 13) Mr Kanhai rejected my assertion that he sees himself as the embodiment of Marxism. This is my way of putting his inflexible embrace of Marxism that he writes about in his New York based newspaper, Caribbean Daylight. I hope he remembers his article in which he lectured me on what Marxism-Leninism is.
Mr Kanhai sees a contradiction between my acknowledgement of the brilliant mind of Rupert Roopnaraine and my rejection of Roopnaraine’s politics. Here are his words; “Mr Kissoon’s second point regarding Dr Roopnaraine’s ‘deep, analytical mind’ has a disclaimer that ‘he never wrote on Roopnaraine’s political life.’ How does the mind/body relationship manifest itself in the body politic of Guyana? Mr Kissoon praises Dr Roopnaraine’s ‘deep, analytical thinking,’ and divorced it from his political activism, treating Dr Roopnaraine as ‘a brain in a vat.’”
I think I explained the separation in my first response to Mr Kanhai and my adumbration was simple. Dr Roopnaraine had a brilliant, analytical mind. A fine mind explains things. A fine mind could also descend into the arena of struggle where that learned mind transforms society and others attempt to emulate the practitioner. Roopnaraine did engage in struggle but with increasing flaws. I believe there was such a dichotomy in Roopnaraine which I think is widely shared by many WPA cadres; at least I had umpteen discussions on that subject with them.
I am sure Mr Kanhai has read my publication of an email Ogunseye sent me in which he confessed he always saw the deadly flaw in Roopnaraine’s praxis. In my original exposition, I conceded Roopnaraine was a damn good intellectual but not a damn good liberationist. There is no contradiction in that. I will go further if Mr Kanhai still doesn’t understand. But just one brief example. Kwayana has a fantastic mind. He used it in struggle and changed the lives of all those who came into contact with him. It would be heresy to say the same of Roopnaraine.
Mr Kanhai wrote that Marx saw theory and practice as connected and I have separated them. I never dealt with that subject and have not even that slightest clue what he is talking about. He needs to show me where I went in that direction. Kanhai asserted that Kissoon “reveals an extremely deep-rooted contempt for Dr Roopnaraine and the WPA.” Here Kanhai collapsed time-frames and epochs. Did he do so deliberately? In my original response to him this is what I penned about Roopnaraine’s role: “I admit he contributed to the erosion and dissolution of authoritarian governance in Guyana, for which all Guyanese should be grateful.”
All Guyanese should be grateful for the role the WPA played in the seventies. Subsequent generations should always be grateful and must always admire the WPA for that. The Cheddi Jagan of 1947 was not the same Jagan in 1995. The Burnham of 1950 was not the same Burnham in 1984. The Roopnaraine of 1979 is not the same Roopnaraine of 2015. If Mr Kanhai claims to understand Marxism then he must be familiar with how Hegelian dialectics work. Thus he would know that the dialectics have left his idol, Roopnaraine behind, or to put it another way, Roopnaraine chose to leave the dialectics behind. After all as a Marxist, Kanhai should remember one of the most profound observations by one of history’s most profound Marxists, Jean Paul Sartre – “Man makes the dialect just as the dialect makes him.”
As for contempt for the WPA; it would be useful if Mr Kanhai could tell me since the 1997 general elections, who or what is the WPA and moreso who or what is the WPA in 2018. The remnants of the WPA in Guyana, with the exception of David Hinds, have brought contempt onto themselves by the shape of their politics since 1997 but even moreso since the 2015 general elections. On a daily basis, over the past fifteen years Guyana saw an almost derelict WPA which was slowly ebbing towards extinction. Instead of facing reality, it kept the masquerade going. Look where it has ended up today.
I will leave three examples of the fictional construct that the WPA is thus the birth of contempt some in power have for the WPA. Since the late nineties, Ogunseye had been active with ACDA which is where his energy went. David Hinds was a founding member of the organization, Cuffy 250 where he put in a lot of work. Finally, Lincoln Lewis replied to Dion Abrams, WPA executive member and host of the WPA television programme, Walter Rodney Groundings on something that Abrams said. Abrams replied and signed his letter as “educator and community activist” not as WPA executive even though what he said was in his capacity as a WPA executive. Was Freud at work there, Mr Kanhai?