Guyana Resource Center
Set like a gem in the crown of South America, nestled on the North-Eastern shoulder, defying the raging Atlantic Ocean, Guyana's many waterways reflect the source of it's name "The Land of Many Waters"
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Dear Editor,

In his response captioned "Anthropology is one of the primary disciplines dealing with the subjects of Dr Hinds's work" (06.05.23) to the comments made on his observations of the Dr. David Hinds article on the PPP's failure to grasp the opportunity to forge a national consensus in 1993, Dr. Randy Persaud remains silent on whether Dr. Hinds was correct in his assessment. By inference, Hinds's methodological transgressions, as perceived by Persaud, imply that Hinds is incorrect but Persaud does not commit himself. And, in terms of what we are now experiencing, it is good that he doesn't.

There is a confrontational bias built into Dr. Persaud's approach that seems incapable of grasping differential (and not always confrontational) achievements of racial groups under colonial rule. Persaud is transposing those differential developments in the latter half of the 19th century into neo-colonial and neo-conservative analytical constructs. The transposition is inappropriate. The respective developments proceeded under real time colonial rule as Dr. Persaud acknowledges in his reference, among others, to Damon. There was nothing "neo" about the colonial regime. And neo-conservatism is a modern day appellation applicable to the rejection of the modern capitalist / supposedly welfare state that emerged from the failure of capitalism in the depression years and the Keynesian recovery after the Second World War. Why try to dazzle us with inappropriate analytical concepts?

My contention about market domination with which the East Indians emerged from the 19th century was based, not so much on the acquisition of retail enterprises by East Indians, as in their agricultural activities on the land. That development is described more fully in Carl Greenidge's "Empowering a Peasantry in a Caribbean Context: The Case of Land Settlement Schemes in Guyana, 1865-1985."

Refinements of the socio-economic impacts of the various developments under the plantocracy await further research. Dr. Hinds and Dr. Kimani Nehusi stress the cultural deprivation that Africans suffered for a half of a millennium which any ruling elite must factor into its development of the country. That the PNC failed to do so in its long period in office, and as the PNCR continues to do in its current period in Opposition, is the result of imbibing too fully the colonial education that stigmatised African culture as primitive.

The significance of this cultural deprivation is missed by Dr. Persaud who laments the time and resources wasted by East Indian men at rum shops. What is important in this observation is the East Indian family context in which this rum drinking takes place as compared with the single motherhood in the African working class where the father is often not even around to be rebuked about his drinking.

These African family instabilities had their origin in the 19th century when African villages were made unstable and African earning opportunities were dispersed.

Africans developed, despite everything, an ability to perform in administration-the unrecorded memories of which can be crucial for the efficient functioning of various institutions. What many African administrators, (in the Civil Service, in the Police, in the Judiciary and in the Army) who have been shunted aside, have forgotten, the new entrants have not yet learnt.

The essential point of this debate is that the failure to grasp the importance of basing development on the respective strengths of the multi-racial people has resulted in a progressive deterioration of standards that has now landed us with the phenomenon of a racially divided morality. If an indiscretion is committed by an African, East Indians deplore it but Africans applaud. If it is the other way around, Africans deplore and East Indians applaud.

Martin Carter predicted this before 1955 and warned both Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham of this degenerative consequence. Brother Eusi Kwayana made an effort in 1961 to overcome the degeneracy. Refusal to recognise that a single political party cannot govern the country has reduced the country to the ridiculous state in which a drug lord claims righteousness in his crimes. Much the same 'moralising' proceeds in the African camp. We have been reduced to a lower level of behaviour than mammalian beasts. At least, mammalian beasts settle after the herd establishes who is boss. It is only with respect of animals of a different kind that elimination is the objective. Boa constrictors, presumably less intelligent and more individualistic, will eliminate alligators and vice versa. That is where we are as a consequence of reliance on coercion rather than accommodation as a basis for governance.

Even if hegemony was the objective in 1993, the techniques for achieving consent were absent. But more than hegemony is required. Self determination by the respective groups in the context of development resources is the answer. Dr. Persaud should direct his energies to the design of co-operative development and not to hegemony. His references in that design should begin with our own 'anthropologists'-Eusi Kwayana, David Granger, David Hinds, Kimani Nehusi, Rupert Roopnaraine, Frederick Kissoon, Ravi Dev, Andaiye, Tacuma Ogunseye, Christopher Ram and Grantley Waldron.

Please come home, Dr. Persaud and work intellectually from the bottom up. There is a lot to be learnt that Gramsci and Stuart Hall (although Jamaican) can't even begin to understand. When Stuart Hall went to Oxford, the concern was over which group he will join. It turned out that the groups joined Stuart Hall. That was great for a West Indian. But that does not qualify him to pronounce on the very peculiar developments in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Clarence F. Ellis

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