Yesterday, your Eyewitness fixed his gimlet-like eyes on the newspapers, hoping to see some reference to the 150th birth anniversary of the man who led the greatest revolution of the 20th century. And more to the point, that revolution reverberated big time right here in Guyana, as our leaders for independence from the British colonial yoke followed the lessons on the very same man. And who was this man? No one other than Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov! Still doesn’t ring a bell? Well, how about his nom de plume, Vladimir Lenin??
Aha! Rings a bell with your oldsters, eh? Yes…it’s old Lenin’s – the man who led the Russian Revolution of October 1917 – 150th birthday! The same one who inspired Jagan and Burnham to have a ding-dong fight as to whose party – the PPP or the PNC – were the “Bolsheviks” – the radical communists led by Lenin – and who were the “Mensheviks” – the more moderate socialists. The ironic thing was that even though Burnham insisted he was a moderate, and distinguished himself from Jagan on this line with his “cooperative” socialism, he still insisted his PNC were the Bolsheviks!!
The point, of course, is that people always want to identify with winners – no matter how tenuous the link – and for sure it was the Bolsheviks who came out on top in the Russian Revolution. Conceding that his party was ideologically more like the Mensheviks would not only have proven Jagan’s point, but imply that his party might eventually also fade into oblivion! Which it’s doing right now, thank you!!
Anyhow, for the young’uns out there, shaking their heads to clear their eyes of their glazed look, you’re excused. After all, with the fall of the communist system in the dust of the collapsed Berlin Wall in 1989, and PNC’s acceptance of the IMF “conditionalities” to pull us out of our Burnham-inflicted bankruptcy, we’d accepted the capitalist order of the West hook, line and sinker. When Jagan and the PPP took over in 1992, even he had to embrace the neo-liberal line dubbed the “Washington Consensus”.
And we arrive at the present dispensation, where it’s not so much the “end of ideology” as the hegemony of new-liberalism to such an extent that it’s not even questioned. Do we argue about breathing in the air around us? It’s just THERE!! So not only is Lenin irrelevant to our present political leaders, but also embarrassing! His Revolution failed, didn’t it? So, the question for us in Guyana – as a sardine-sized economy – is which Party – the PPP or PNC – can better utilise neo-liberal premises to swim between the sharks.
And from all indications, even PNC followers concede that role to the PPP!
Looking at the ongoing debate between GuySuCo’s management and GAWU over wages for the latter’s members. For sure there’s no “looking back”! GAWU’s insisting there was a commitment from management to revise the 5% wage increase they secured a year ago. Pointing out that “GuySuCo spent 102 percent of its earned revenue to pay wages and salaries (in 2020)”, this newspaper noted the CEO responded to GAWU, “On top of that, you have the audacity to tell us that we are not trying out best? Where are we going to get more from?”
Well, this isn’t just neo-liberal language, but unbridled 19th century Robber Baron’s vitriol! After all, even neo-liberals accept that workers can be represented by trade unions. And the latter’s duty is to negotiate the best wages and benefits for their members. The management is implying that workers must “band their belly” because of GuySuCo’s challenges.
With its comment that “management is top heavy”, GAWU is implying that GuySuCo hasn’t followed its own advice!
Today is “Earth Day”, reminding us that we have a duty to OURSELVES when it comes to protecting the Earth.
The duty simply reminds us that “we shouldn’t cut the limb on which we are sitting.”