The Guyana of innocence is gone forever

Dear Editor,

Daily I learn more and more that an overwhelming number in this society desire a certain kind of country.  It is one that must provide the maximum return (from any and all activities) through single-minded focus on money by any means.  It would be understandable if this driven sector was populated by struggling poor people only.  Those obsessed with personal cash flow from any source include accountants, attorneys, government officials, public servants, businesspeople, media people, and people from a wide cross-section of professional and economic streams.  It is a runaway mob powerfully entrenched in what is now clearly a great lost society.

The players desire and clamour for a certain modus vivendi: no regulation and no restraint; allowance to be Martin Luther King in public (all ideals and visions) and cover to operate as Bernard Madoff from the shadows (darkly calculating and utterly without scruples).  The loud proud citizens who have discovered the local sweet spot, project concern about corruption; but yet are closely associated (personally or professionally) with those whose patented criminality is as broad as the waterfront, and just as eye-catching.  Waterfronts smell, too.  There is not the revulsion of: nah mee, nah deh, nah wid dem.  Money is the cornerstone of character; the more the merrier, for it does not matter what kind.

Editor, I recognize the above as the essence of the national genius: capitalizing on the heels of the entrenched national industry called white-collar crime.  An underground syndicate it is; and it is well-supported and protected by the calculating, who are mainly members of once vaunted civil society.  I discern the barbarous.  Who to trust?  Where are principles and values when both have been reduced to cheap offensive cosmetics, rank in odour and distasteful in effect?  These are the invisible hands of Guyanese-style capitalism; it possesses significant elements of crony capitalism, except that government is noticeably a minority presence.  In this small place, it is easy to detect the cronies; they are the Dr Jekylls collecting for being Mr Hyde on the side.  For stamp and signature, this is the going rate; they deliver, whether in words or in figures; call it the slick roulette of professionally furnished alibis.  Come to think of it, the underground criminal cabal has little use for the GRA, the Finance Ministry, the courts, or public security.  In terms of the latter, if the cabal had its way, it would deliver same according to its own definition and caprices.  It is a real law-abiding country, this Guyana.

Law-abiding for the vast money conspiracy means lip-service, laissez-faire environment, selective compliance (or none at all); and where there is no willingness to follow, there is the will and wherewithal to buy. The price can always be made right; show me the money and I’ll be your honey.  Just ask the receivers of those skilled in perjury.  At the same time, there is demonizing and undermining of those who dare to think and apply a different way, a clean and lawful standard.  A dirty dollar reaches far to influence many people and many places; both would be surprising to the unfamiliar.  Close scrutiny indicates that those who claim righteous indignation are palpable frauds; and more revealingly, those crying financial impact still have millions (from somewhere) to offer the targeted to look the other way.  It is good business; everybody is happy.  Of course, there is always tomorrow for another favour, another exchange of presents and another occasion for talk of that now irrelevant abstraction: country.  It could be god too.

In this free-for-all frontier, the Guyana of innocence (if there ever was one) is gone forever; perhaps irretrievably lost, or unsalvageable, at the least, for the next lifetime.  An immense number of citizens have surrendered: those who once cared now fear; those who advocate do so for the devil.  From this wilderness, I daresay that god himself has fled.  It is why I cringe when I behold the stained standing next to presidents, ministers, and bishops to wax sweetly about the state of the state, while they themselves sabotage the present to solidify their programme for the future.  The editorializing and sermonizing should cease for all their impact; still they must continue if only for psyche and fresh air, however little.

I recall that ancient warning note: no one can serve two masters at the same time.  Somehow it seems out of touch with prevailing realities here, where men from high walks of life serve many masters simultaneously.  And that, too, is part of the national genius of multilingual agendas and pursuits in a country brought low by the wicked and laid lower by the pretended upright.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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