Empty argumentation on marginalisation
MARGINALISATION today is the talk of the town. The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) believes that its street protestors have had demonstrations because they are marginalized, among other things. Let’s not sweep under the rug the fact the PNC/R marginalized both the African and East Indian working class in the infamous ’28 years’ of the Burnham/Hoyte rule. Also, let it be known that today while some Africans experience poverty in the urban areas, some East Indians, Amerindians, and Africans, in that order, confront poverty in the rural locales. Poverty, in itself, though, is not sufficient to marginalize any population group. Over the period 1968 through 1992, the PNC victimized and marginalized its own working-class supporters and others, as attested by what now follows.
While working at the University of Guyana, I observed the socialist transformation process, as articulated by the PNC administration. It soon became clear to me that the Government’s public policies were dissonant to its actual policies. This dissonance meant that while socialism was projected as its public ideology, state monopoly capitalism was the actual economic ideology earnestly pursued.
The PNC Government throughout its rule, defiantly and falsely paraded cooperative socialism as its governance framework. This framework, albeit false, publicly targeted education and other social institutions for implementing the socialist transformation process. Education and the economy were specially beleaguered for participation in this charade; and with education especially manipulated as a buffer to provide legitimacy to an illegal regime.
Today, I wish the critics can present appropriate evidence that Africans are marginalized, so that we can have a healthy debate; and apply corrective policy action where necessary.
The critics continue to engage in polemics, or mere empty argumentation. And if they continue to talk about African marginalization, by definition they should demonstrate how Africans experience a structure of double ambivalence.
The critics have not presented any reliable and valid evidence of African marginalization, be it at the individual or institutional level. What we have in all their responses are mere arbitrary examples, empty rhetoric, and impressionistic statements.
And so in Guyana, we can ask these questions: Is there nationwide race-ethnic conflict in Guyana? Is Guyana a deeply divided society? When is a society considered to be deeply divided? Is ethnic conflict happening because it’s in the blood? Is ethnic conflict behavior learned? Is race-ethnic conflict socially constructed and reconstructed? Are ethnic extremists perfecting the construction of race-ethnic conflict? Is the explanation of race-ethnic conflict not devoid of a class analysis? Do we have a dominant ethnic group? Is there ethnic insecurity and ethnic mistrust? Are some politicians and the mass media not influencing the formation of a false reality of ethnic conflict among the masses? Does Guyana have characteristics of race-ethnic conflict similar to Bosnia, Rwanda, and ‘Apartheid’ South Africa? Is the Government delivering goods and services to all Guyanese? Is there evidence of social marginalization? Only the Guyanese people can genuinely answer these questions.
People in an intensely divided society identify themselves by their ethnic group; where people in those societies experience inequality and discrimination based on ethnicity; those societies have the capacity to explode in hostility and violence.
In a multiethnic society like Guyana, what we need to do, among other things, is to evaluate the impact of the government’s policies on all ethnic groups, to establish whether or not, there is marginalization/discrimination. We need concrete evidence on these matters and not rhetoric.
At any rate, what yardsticks or what measures do the critics apply to determine their conclusion that Africans are marginalized, or that Africans are in office and not in power. Again, what yardsticks are the critics applying to conclude that there is marginalization of institutions?
However, in a multiethnic society wherever marginalisation may prevail, there is a strong probability that it would tend to touch all ethnic groups, not one group. Give us specific evidence of marginalization, so that we can apply corrective action. And, incidentally, a disadvantage is not necessarily marginalization. And consider, too, the motives of these people shouting on rooftops about African marginalization; let these people provide the evidence.