Fossil fuels: in danger of losing our way

On 8th February 2018, the same day the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exhibition (GIPEX) began and the vice president of ExxonMobil, Lisa Waters, was playing up the need for world economic growth to help the poor, an article by Ted Nordhaus was published in the influential Foreign Affairs magazine entitled The Two-Degree Delusion: The Dangers of an Unrealistic Climate Change Target (FA: 08/02/18), in which he said something similar but suggested that social development  will be better achieved if we liberate fossil fuels and oil and gas in particular from the strictures placed upon them by the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris.

Rising to a fairer democratic level

Below are some important parts of a statement taken from a letter by former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds (KN: 02/02/2018), intended partly to place the blame for the violence that took place between 1998 and 2008 on the PNCR and its supporters, which came at a opportune time for this closing contribution on an alternative form of government for Guyana.

Consensual democracy and the judiciary

The focus of this column is upon the judiciary and it is important to note that an essential chapter in the playbook of the modern autocrat – Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – is to insidiously install loyalists in this institution (How Democracies Fall Apart: Foreign Affairs, 05/12/2016).

Democratising political parties

‘Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

Actually separating political power

‘Government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another.’ Charles-Louis Baron de Montesquieu I can say without fear of contradiction that the vast majority of us would accept the above as a useful general rule.

Disrupting local politics

The ancient Greeks, considered the progenitors of modern democracy, referred to the rule of one person as ‘tyranny’ and particularly in countries with weak institutions, modern presidentialism and prime ministership quickly morph into one-man autocracies in which the single leader, to whom access is limited, surrounds himself with a retinue of fawning, usually self-seeking, followers (Foley, Michael (2000) The British Presidency,  Manchester University Press, and Poguntke, Thomas and Paul Webb (2005) The Presidentialization of Politics,  Oxford University Press).

Ending ethnic political conflict

I have repeatedly argued that the attempts to establish ethnic dominance of various sorts by different means are unnecessary and cannot solve the ethnic security problem that exists in Guyana and I have often been asked to outline what form of government best suits our condition.

Sad but not at all surprising

One must have to be a dolt to believe that the treatment at present being meted out to the sugar workers is because the country cannot afford to keep them at work.

Zimbabwe: a nefarious proposal

In 1972 Julius Nyerere, one of Africa’s iconoclastic leaders, stated that the African position in relation to southern Rhodesia ‘is now, as it has always been, the attainment of independence for Zimbabwe on the basis of majority rule, and under conditions which allow the development of human dignity for all citizens.’ (http://www.juliusnyerere.org/ uploads/after_the_peace_ commission_1972.pdf).

Reminiscence: me and Zimbabwe

The Christmas season is as good as any to indulge in ‘lite’ nostalgic ruminations and what follows in two parts tells the story of a minor event leading up to the political ascendency of Robert Mugabe.

Equality: a requirement for justice

Last week two events were reported that deserve some comment. The first had to do with the case between DIPCON Engineering Limited and the Attorney General (AG) of Guyana before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which the AG, Mr.

The President: assuaging moral anxieties

About a week after President David Granger made his controversial choice of Justice James Patterson as the chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, which many viewed as signalling the PNCR’s intention to manipulate future elections, he took to the podium to speak to the North American Chapter of the PNCR in Georgia, USA.

AFC: hijacked

Seething with unaddressed grievances, the AFC’s support for President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of the chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission being the final straw, the Canada chapter of that party has temporarily withdrawn its support from it ‘unless and until’ all its grievances are properly addressed.

PPP/C: a massive deficit in leadership

The present political impasse has yet again presented opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C with an opportunity to reposition the party as a positive national rather than communal institution.

Bullshit cannot perennially baffle brains

In a lecture at the London School of Economics earlier this month in support of his book ‘Post-Truth: why we have reached peak bullshit and what we can do about it’, Evan Davis, the eminent British journalist,  stated that never has there been more concern about dishonesty in public life and, that, inter alia, people are more susceptible to bullshit that reinforces commitment to their side.

Not upon a ‘proud’ or ‘glorious’ course

Arguably the most important achievement of the PNC in its 60 years of existence was its dismissal of  the PPP/C from government in 2015, and the most important day in the history of the PPP was its removal of the PNC from government on 5th October 1992.

Reasons and sincere reasons

‘The lawfulness of state actors’ decisions frequently depends on the reasons they give to justify their conduct, and a wide range of statutory and constitutional law renders otherwise lawful actions unlawful if they are not justified by reasons or are justified by the wrong reasons’(Mathilde Cohen.

Unfathomable: PNC, GBGWU and Rusal

On reading last week that a decade after the dispute arose between Rusal, the Russian bauxite company, and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU), union officials still had to be forcing their way into government offices to demand that their long-standing grievances be properly considered, I remembered the cartoon above, which portrays a confrontation between Mr.

Repositioning a not so `noble idea’

Around midnight on Saturday the 5th of August Varnika Kundu, a 29-year-old female Indian DJ based in Chandigarh alleged that she was involved in a motor car chase with the son of a politician and his friend who tried to abduct her.

Lessons from the Kenyan elections

The decision by the Kenyan Supreme Court to annul the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta brought back memories of the October 1998 decision by the British House of Lords that stripped the late Chilean President August Pinochet of his immunities and allowed for his arrest to answer for the over 3,000 tortures and deaths that his regime allegedly orchestrated during the 17 years of his dictatorial rule.

‘The pitfalls of ‘changed circumstances’’

On reading the Stabroek News article ‘Democracy is Bureaucracy’ (SN: 18/08/2017), I was again reminded of the need for conceptual clarity as we seek to broaden the scope of political participation for being imprecise could lead to deliberate avoidance or our missing important aspects of the discourse.

An unnecessary media quarrel

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C’s pontifications about the need for a free and open media must have elicited if not the vast hilarity coming from his detractors at the very least a timid smile from even his ardent supporters. 

Thinking diaspora

Please excuse me if I am somewhat jaded by all the talk and little action surrounding diaspora involvement.

New old stories

This has been an unusually good week for finding issues to comment upon, but apart from joining those celebrating the success of the 2017 STEM Guyana team, I want to focus on two matters.

Class, ethnicity and jail

Last year, when considering the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into the March 2016 prison disturbances in which 17 inmates lost their lives, I made two recommendations having to do with imprisonment and sentencing, which I am following up on here, because I believe they are still important to how our criminal justice system develops and is responded to by those in jail.

Freedom

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s ‘Das Capital’, and I was invited by the Guyana Peace Council, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union and the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre to make a presentation, “How to translate Capital into meaning for one’s life” at a seminar held last Saturday at National Library in Georgetown.

Lincoln Lewis: reasoning away structures

In 1817, the social theorist, activist and ‘father’ of ‘cooperation’, Robert Owen, was told at the Congress of Sovereigns at Aix-La-Chappelle that the enduring structural contradiction between capital and labour would make it impossible for his idea of cooperativising the world to gain traction.

Jagdeo negotiating under duress

Long conceptual and practical experience has taught me that the vicissitudes of the negotiation process are such that what at first may appear simple can become very complex, requiring an inordinate amount of thought and preparation.

The Elections Commission: Race has no premium

On Sunday 11th June 2017, I read an article in Stabroek News (‘Process to appoint substantive Chancellor, CJ should not be rushed – lawyer’), which convinced me that a substantial number of us suffer from a form of ‘cognitive delusion’: a preoccupation with beliefs about our political system despite the logical absurdity of some of these beliefs and a lack of supporting evidence (Encyclopædia Britannica).

A budding ‘competitive authoritarianism’

As promised, this column will consider the political side of former president Donald Ramotar’s ‘Under the PPP/C Guyana had the fastest growing economy in the region’ (SN: 22/05/2017), since it raised important issues which, because they are coming from Mr.

Donald’s truth

In ‘Under the PPP/C Guyana had the fastest growing economy in the region’ (SN: 22/05/2017), former president Donald Ramotar presented some isolated truths, but the story he wove around them was essentially false.

The strategic plan for social cohesion

The recently completed Draft Strategic Plan for Social Cohesion in Guyana, 2017-2021 (SP) (http://www.motp.gov.gy/images/documents/draft_social_cohesion_strategis_plan_2017_2021.pdf),  has given enhanced meaning to the notion of ‘missing the bus’! 

Planning for the elderly again

Recently, the Government of Guyana, i.e. the Ministry of Public Health, announced that in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) it was in the process of devising a strategic plan to deal with the condition of the elderly.

Dr. Hinds’ nonexistent ethnic trap

Contrary to what Dr. David Hinds says, none of our pre- or post-independence governments has been in an ethnic trap of any sort (Guyana Chronicle 23/04/2017; Guyana Chronicle .30/04/2017).

Act now on African land issues

No sooner had President David Granger, in his address to the Fourth Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum at the Critchlow Labour College in August 2016, declared that his government intended to ‘establish a Lands Commission in order to rectify the anomalies and resolve the controversies which, up to now surround thousands of hectares of communal lands which were purchased in the post-Emancipation Village Movement,’ the Indian Action Committee (IAC) was on his case.

Coupling African and Amerindian land issues

Given its historical development and situational context, outside of pure formalism (an emphasis on form rather than content), to which this regime appears particularly prone, there are no good logical, historical, political, economic, social or other reasons why it should have decided to couple the generally settled Amerindian land issue to the yet to be consensually formulated African demand for ancestral land.

The spectre of secularism

‘Reasonable comprehensive doctrines, religious or non-religious, may be introduced in public political discussion at any time … provided that in due course proper political reasons – and not reasons given solely by comprehensive doctrines – are presented that are sufficient to support whatever the comprehensive doctrines are said to support’ (John Rawls.

Amaila: Trapped by myopic worldviews

Anyone concerned with the present perilous direction of climate change must hope that countries not only stick to the commitments they made under the UNFCCC 2015 process but if possible raise their ambitions. 

A radical religious inclusiveness

As reported last week, the headmistress of Central High School, Ms. Kamlawattie Balroop, responded to her critics which such passion that, given the nature of her topic, one could have quite easily accused her of zealotry (SN:30/03/2017).

The future of MAPM

Now that we have reached a hiatus in the confrontation between the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) and the Mayor and City Council, it may be as good a time as any to attempt to determine what that confrontation represented in terms of some possible futures of the movement.

Pradoville 2: gone for a steal

The discussion on the Ogle Housing Project (Prado 1) last week was intended to aid us in understanding the controversy over the Sparendaam Housing Project (Prado 2).

Pradovilles: theory and practice

The sight of the PPP/C leadership traipsing to the headquarters of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in relation to the Sparendaam Housing Project (Prado 2) has again raised the expectation, particularly among APNU+AFC supporters, that they are on the verge of some kind of reckoning for the massive corruption we have been made to understand existed under the PPP/C government.