Part VIII: Prologue

  1. Each separate group structure has within it its own momentum which can only be reversed at the risk of structural disintegration.

The forces of disintegration, so dangerously ascendant, can thus be neither ignored or accepted. What is needed, in the short term, is a framework which will be both strong enough to contain these separate political groups and flexible enough to allow them to maintain their separate identities in the transition. Given this breathing space, a healthier alignment of forces will take place within the society which can provide the people with the sensible alternatives which they so desperately need.

The dangerous probability of social disintegration in the absence of an accommodation must be faced. This does not however, prevent Guyanese from looking beyond the immediate horizon; this does not prevent them from recognizing that, in spite of these immediate difficulties, many of which are inevitable during the period of Imperial withdrawal, the latent national forces in the society will eventually emerge through the formation of a mass movement.* It does, however, impose a duty upon the society to try and avoid by every possible means, having to experience this period of disintegration and disorder. Surely the most economical way of doing this would be to induce the two wings of the popular movement of 1953 to come together on the basis of a national programme?

The history of Guyana from slavery to the present, bears witness to the vitality of the Guyanese people and suggests that they are more than capable of building a new society on the ashes of the old. However, there is sufficient evidence today of their determination to avert the conflagration. It is that evidence which has inspired this paper.

* The refusal of the PPP Ministers in l953 to ‘work’ the Waddington Constitution supports rather than disproves the existence of this trend. The crisis was created precisely because, real power under the Constitution having been left in the hands of the Governor, the representatives of the people regarded it as an attempt at one and the same time to include the masses for electoral purposes whilst denying them real authority. The PPP Ministers wanted instead to push this electoral recognition to its logical conclusion by changing the Constitution.

** Perhaps this period extended in Guyana up to the Enmore shootings.

* These aims were expressed to a large extent in terms borrowed from the 1953 movement This led to considerable confusion, particularly with those who had little real knowledge of the internal situation.

It must be noted that in 1953, 1957, 1961 and 1962 the PPP each time emerges ‘victorious’ (i.e. on top), but the very necessities of victory create as well as illustrate a change in the nature of the party – from a mass movement in ‘53 to a militant (and basically sectional) minority in ‘57 and ‘61 to a dominant and repressive minority in ‘62 using external allies (British forces) to maintain not a national programme, but administrative power. The 1962 riots can thus be seen as a crucial stage in the movement of mass party politics towards a power struggle in which the programme assumes a secondary role.

* The interpretation of the U.F. which follows, being essentially a treatment of cyclical forces may not bring out the real relevance of the party. It is therefore necessary to point out here that the UF constitutes much more than an ‘expedient coalition of hysterical reactionaries’. Some of its members have perceived the bankruptcy (in respect of an executable programme) of the popular leadership and have sometimes expressed, though badly, the need for more emphasis on pragmatism, realism and technical competence. This is not at all surprising since, just as the popular leadership has throughout the history of the society, been deprived of the opportunity of managing business and Government, so, on the other side of the coin, the privileged classes have acquired plenty or experience and skill in launching and executing programmes of action. Accordingly, a secular interpretation of the U F. would have to cite the semi-conscious belief of some its members in their ability to bring useful skills to the nation as an important force behind the party. This has been recognised in these ‘Notes’ mostly by implication in a number of places. For example, the insistence on the Senate and the composition envisaged; also, in the role assigned to private interests in the suggested long-term programme especially for urban industrialisation and development. See further, the citation from CLR James in Appendix III below.

* The Sino-Russian dispute gives formal recognition to this tendency which some scholars have argued, has its roots deep in the Russian past.

* The campaign for P.R. is thus either, just political opportunism (a device for obtaining immediate power, falsely parading as a long-term solution) or a clever means of forcing the PPP to face up to the realities of the situation and make an accommodation. Which is it?

* The threat of violence, the polarisation or internal forces towards East and West – all this is very depressing and augurs ill for the national liberation movement. Yet one can find some excuse for optimism. The general political awareness in B.G. today is higher than it ever was and is higher than anywhere else in the West Indies. Politics dominate the conversation of friends at home and groups in the street to a remarkable extent. Most heartening of all are evidences of stirrings and questionings among the youth of the country. In part this could contribute to violence as is seen from the clashes between the P.Y.O. and the G.U.Y.S. (the youth arms of the P.P.P. and the U.F. respectively), but these organisations do represent organised forces of criticism to which the leadership of their own party would ultimately have to respond. There are also non-aligned groups who are seeking a social and cultural identity for the new Guyana. In a short while they will demand that leaders either perform in a manner calculated to establish this identity or make room for those who would.”

From Walter Rodney, “British Guiana – Some New Dimensions” (to be published in Pelican University of the West Indies, 1963).