Speeches made at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre
Until recently, few people in Guyana had heard the name James Millette or heard it connected to that of Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
But that’s only because the Trinidad-born scholar has spent most of his professional life tutoring people abroad about life and the aspirations of people in the West Indies.
In reality, Dr. James Millette and Dr. Cheddi Jagan were household words to each other.
"We weren’t only good friends," stressed Dr. Millette when GIS spoke with him here last Monday. "We were that. But I was also a great admirer of Dr. Jagan."
Dr. Millette, who is a Professor and Chair in Oberlin College’s Department of African American Studies in the U.S. state of Ohio, on Wednesday delivered the keynote address at the opening of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre at its temporary location at the refurbished Red House on Main Street, Kingston.<
The history professor last visited Guyana in 1996, for the conference at which Dr. Jagan launched his much-heralded New Global Human Order. "I thought it was a good initiative," said Dr. Millette. "The significance of that conference is that it heralded the beginning of a fight-back by Third World and developing Countries."
Dr. Millette observed that some of the trends in Dr. Jagan’s initiative that he has been discussing in his lectures - such as globalisation - have already begun to develop. "Globalisation is already on the agenda; it has started."
Dr. Millette is an internationalist, as was the late Guyanese President, and his lectures, like the one he delivered at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre opening, encompass Dr. Jagan’s concerns for improving south-south, north-south relations and debt relief for developing countries.
Of Dr. Jagan’s New Global Human Order, Dr. Millette said "ways have been found to perpetuate the initiative not only because of Dr. Jagan and the need to memorialize him in an appropriate way, but also because of the significance of the issue." And he hoped the work of the conference launching the initiative would be continued.
Millette urges at CJ Research Centre opening: Rise To Development Challenges
Guyanese have a glorious opportunity to rise to the many challenges facing them and to develop their country amid the onset of globalisation.
That’s the conclusion of U.S. based Trinidadian history professor James Millette.
He spoke at Wednesday’s ceremonial opening of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre at its temporary location at Red House, telling a packed centre audience that Guyanese and the developing world should see globalisation as a catalyst for transforming the lives of ordinary people.
"I don’t think globalisation is all negative and people in the developing world shouldn’t see it only in that perspective, because my feeling always is that people rise to challenges with which they are faced, and globalisation presents us with challenges that we have a great opportunity to rise to."
Dr. Millette put his theme, Globalisation And Its Many Challenges, in the context of efforts by the world’s economies to co-exist and the role the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan played in arousing the consciousness of peoples to the need for forging development with a human face.
He said private enterprise competition in the United States and the struggles by Third World countries to emerge from the era of colonialism have triggered stocktaking by people on both sides of the development spectrum. The result, said Dr. Millette, is that, as last November’s World Trade Organization negotiations in Seattle indicated, "people in the developed world are beginning to associate with the causes with which Third World peoples alone had previously identified."
"So I think the future for us is bright," he added.
Dr. Millette’s speech was preceded by an appeal by Dr. Jagan’s daughter, Ms. Nadira Jagan-Brancier, for Guyanese to make full use of the facilities of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.
She allayed speculation about the upkeep of the centre by disclosing that it will be operated by Jagan family members and friends independent of government or any political party.
Former President and Dr. Jagan’s widow Janet Jagan, later presented Dr. Millette with a publication of the life and work of Dr. Jagan.
The ceremony was chaired by University of Guyana history professor James Rose.
by James Millette
(Keynote address at the opening of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre on March 22, 2000)
Honourable President, Honourable Prime Minister, Mrs. Janet Jagan, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives me enormous pleasure to be able to participate today on this very important occasion in the celebration of the life and work of Comrade Cheddi Jagan who died on March 6, 1997 and whose 82nd birthday it is today. And it gives me enormous pleasure to be associated with the founding and the launching of this very important centre which is slated to be a memorial to his work, and a facility for the people of Guyana, the people of the region, and the people of the world in researching the issues, the causes, the struggles and the implications of those causes, issues and struggles with which Comrade Cheddi Jagan was for so long involved.
I want to begin by saying something about myself and Cheddi. I think it will be very important to set the stage for a lot of what I have to say. I distinctly remember the event to which Dr. Rose referred a while ago in explaining the relationship between Cheddi and me. It was sometime in the late 1960s. I had met Dr. Cheddi Jagan before but sometime in the late 1960s he came to Trinidad, stayed at my home, and we were going to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union in San Fernando to meet and speak with the leadership of the union and with the members of the union. This was at a time of great significance for the Caribbean, a time of great uncertainty, with very many problems but also a very important time in the post independence period. It was just about 1968, I believe. In fact, I think that the Rodney riots had only recently occurred in Jamaica and we were talking about the situation, the situation in Guyana, the situation in the region, and the situation in the rest of the world.
I was driving and listening to Cheddi Jagan analyse what was happening. At one point I remarked that student movements seemed to be becoming increasingly important in many of the events we were looking at, and I said that it struck me as being very significant that students were so enormously involved in what was taking place everywhere. In the United States in relation to the Black students’ movement, in relation to the Students Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC) and the work of Stokeley Carmichael, later Kwame Ture who died recently, in relation to what was taking place in France it was clear that students were on the move. The opposition that students were making to the conservative and reactionary regimes around the world seemed to signal that we were beginning to see a shift in social momentum; that, in fact, students might become much more important in the future of mass struggles than they had been before. And he said to me, he didn’t think so. He said it is an ephemeral development. He said that the students were unable, consistently and permanently, to make the kind of changes which needed to be made; only the workers could do that.
In Trinidad where I had grown up that was an analysis which was not often mentioned. The social upbringing of Guyana, as every Guyanese would know, was very different from the social upbringing of Trinidad. We had Butler in 1937 and then we had Williams in 1956. In between Williams there was very little; so much so that in 1956 many people thought that Trinidad and Tobago was at the bottom of the political ladder. Eric Williams used to say that, but we thought it was what you would expect from an aspiring politician. But others have said it and I myself have concluded that that was so as a result of my own research into the history of Trinidad and Tobago up to 1956. After Williams arrived on the scene, if people were impressed by anything, they were impressed by intellectuals and what intellectuals could do and what intellectual could say. And here was Cheddi saying that all of that is important but it does not really put one’s finger on the really crucial element that could make the change. He was saying that you have to identify the uniquely particular contribution that the working people could make in the forward movement of the country and of the Caribbean.
Suffice it to say, that brought me to focus on something which, I think, had been sort of circulating in my mind and had never really been focussed on in precisely that way until that time. And so important was that conversation to me and my future political development that I could always remember the conversation and see the setting in which it took place. We were in Couva, and those of you who have been to Trinidad would know where Couva is, and you know what it represents. It is about sugar cane, and it is also about petroleum. It is part African, it is part Indian, and it is one of the more cosmopolitan areas in Trinidad and Tobago. Today it is also one of the areas which has been given over very significantly to the development of a petro-industrial complex which has substantially changed the socio-economic prospects in Trinidad over the last twenty to twenty five years.
By the time we reached Pointe-à- Pierre I had a different view, suffice it to say by the time I got home that night I was a different man. I had grown to political maturity on a diet of Eric Williams. In his time he was said to be the sixth best brain in the world. Nobody ever mentioned who the five persons were who came before him or who the seventh person was; but he was the sixth best brain. And there were other ‘brains’ in the Caribbean who had to be respected. There was Norman Manley, said to be the greatest lawyer in Jamaica. There was Teodoros Moscoso and there was Arthur Lewis, the creators of the Puerto Rican model of development which was thought, at that time, to be the major model for change and transformation in the Caribbean. Abroad we had people like Leopold Senghor, and Aimé Césaire some of whom, regrettably, have not done so well from the vantage point of history. The Ivory Coast for example, has not developed into what it might have been viewed in the perspective of an earlier time; and in the French West Indies we still have this problem of colonization. We still have this problem in which a metropolitan country is pretending to the world that Martinique and Guadellope are just like Nantes and Brittany, that Fort de France is like Bordeaux and Pointe à Pitre is like Paris. Today, it seems that several people who were progressive in the early '50s and '60s have now abandoned completely any prospect whatsoever of independence from France. So much so, indeed, that I think that one of the responsibilities that we have today, if we are to stay loyal to the legacy of Cheddi Jagan, is that we have to renew and re-double the fight for the full and complete liberation of those parts of the Caribbean which are still colonial.
Now, I am going to speak today on the question of global transformation, and on the question of the challenges with that global transformation sets before us, but I want to say one other thing about Cheddi and myself which I think will help to focus our relationship a little bit better.
When did we meet? I have been asked this question several times since coming to Guyana. Let me answer it now. It must have been after 1964 because when we met we talked about what had happened in Guyana in 1964. We met soon after 1964 after the widely acknowledged CIA/MIS inspired coup against the Jagan administration at a conference the date of which I do not quite recall; but it was an occasion that I cannot forget. The conference was held at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. We were discussing the Puerto Rican model of development because that is what the conference was called to talk about. Already some members of the academic and upcoming political community had started to question the objectives and strategies of the Puerto Rican model of development and here we were, at this conference, and we were hearing some very strange things. One expatriate economist stood up and said something to the effect that the Puerto Rican model of development is not working because the local people are not cooperating, that what local people had to do was to recognize that they have no place at the top. There are no industries for them to manage, no tasks for them to fulfill at the top. They have no functions to perform at the level of top management; they must prepare themselves to perform at the middle and at the lower echelons of the industrial establishment that is being built.
Like myself, in the corner - did you say in the corner Dr. Rose? - Cheddi was in the corner, too. He asked a question, he made a comment, I asked a question, one or two others did the same and, in due course, he and I, and one or two others were saying the same things. We were all very critical of what we regarded as expatriate insolence; and we categorically rejected the notion that a model of development intended to develop the Caribbean should not reflect the participation of Caribbean people at all levels. Later on, Cheddi and I and a few other people met and talked about what had happened and from that time on he and I formed a very firm and lasting relationship.
It is in loyalty to that relationship that I have chosen the topic that I have chosen today. I chose it because the last time I was here was in August 1996 and that was the last time I saw Cheddi. It was on the occasion of the conference called to establish a New Global Human Order which took place here in Georgetown between the 2nd and 4th August in 1996. It is a month that I will never forgot but for another reason which I want to share with you.
I know many of the people who are Prime Ministers, and Presidents and so on in the Caribbean but I am not their associates. I know that, of course, things are different in places like Guyana, in places like Cuba and in places like Grenada during the period of the revolution. But there are lots of people with whom I went to the University of the West Indies who are now in high offices. I hear about them, I listen to what they are doing and so on but I don’t know them very well and I certainly don't know them socially. But I had a special experience with Cheddi while I was here that was unique to my experience.
I came to the conference and I was staying at the hotel. He heard that I was staying at the hotel and he sent for me. I went. He said, " Bring your things, come and stay with me." So I stayed with him. Normally we would have breakfast in the morning, and the lady who was working with him as his helper would prepare it. But one morning she was absent. And here I was in the State House with the President of Guyana, and I was reconciling myself to the prospect of not having breakfast when he said to me, "What do you want for breakfast"? I said: "I don’t think I need breakfast, I'll manage." To which he replied, "Sure we will have breakfast." And the President of Guyana proceeded to prepare breakfast for myself and for himself. I had never had such an experience before; and I am reserving a special place in my memoirs, when they are written, to tell about the day that I had breakfast in the State House served to me by the President of the Republic of Guyana, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Now let's go back to global transformation and the New Global Human Order. I am speaking on this topic because it is a very important topic which I don’t think that any group of people, any politician, or any statesman in any part of the world could afford to ignore these days. It has enormous implications for ordinary people, of course, and globalisation has always had enormous implications for us. We, in the Americas, in particular, have played a very important part in the global transformation of the world that we have known over the last 500 years. Before that the world was different. But in the last 500 years it has become different in a very different way. We, in the Caribbean, are for the most part the sons and daughters of ancestors who as slaves, as indentured servants or as other categories of workers, migrated to these parts in order to work on the plantations or on the other structures that were established in the service of the development of the New World.
In so doing we have had a unique experience, that while we were going about our business the world around us has been transformed. Power has shifted from the Mediterranean to Western Europe, and now to Northern America. Nations that were not in existence when the first of us were brought to these regions are today more powerful than any other nation that the world has ever seen. Nations that were poor and impoverished before the sugar revolution took place in the Caribbean are today engrossed with the wealth garnered from the exploitation of plantation labour, from slavery and indentureship. And while that world has been transformed around us, the circumstances of the people who made that transformation possible, the workers in cane, the workers in oil, the workers at every level of the economic establishment - they have not prospered. The sugar barons have made their fortunes and have returned home to enjoy to enjoy those fortunes. The investors under the Puerto Rican model of development have made fortunes largely as a result of the tax holidays and other concessions that were given, and have gone off to enjoy them. But the circumstances of the ordinary people who made this transformation possible - a transformation that has in every important significant way been the beginning of the modernization of the world as we know it - they have remained at the bottom of the social ladder and their lives and circumstances have not been greatly transformed.
In fact one thing I always tell students is that you have to understand that people who are not Europeans - Black people, Indian people - they constitute among other things not only a race, but they are a class. And when you look around the world you see a verification of that because irrespective of who is at the top in many parts of the world, as long as Black people, Asian people, people who are not Europeans but particularly Black and Indian peoples wherever you find them, you find them at the bottom of the pile, at the bottom of the social ladder. This is not to say that some of them are not at the top. As a matter of fact one of the issues of the early sixties when people were rising up and protesting in the name of Black Power was that they were protesting against Black politicians at the top who had replaced the expatriates and the imperialists but who were running the country in exactly the same way. And Black Power meant, in those circumstances, you were protesting against black people in power who were not governing in the interest of the Black people who put then there.
So globalisation is an old experience, in a certain sense, but it is also a new experience in another sense. It is an experience we have to look at because, in the language of chess, it might well be the end game. The developments that are taking place in the world today are novel in a very important and a very new sense. They are taking place against a certain background that has within it several important features. There are six of them.
First of all, the present global transformation is taking place as a result of the process of maturing that has developed in the world capitalist system since 1989. Before that time the major capitalist countries were very largely focused on conducting a programme of containment. A rival socio-economic system had developed and that rival socio-economic system was challenging the dominant socio-economic system of colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. But the rival economic, political and socio-economic system - socialism - collapsed in 1989 and 1990, and thereafter containment gave way to globalisation, for the very simple reason that there was no antagonistic force to fight against anymore. Not only did Soviet Union collapse, but also the ideology associated with the Soviet Union and the socialist group of countries became, in a certain sense, illegal. It is almost as if the word "socialism" has been abolished from the dictionary, as if some concepts have been written out of the lives of all of us. As a result globalisation has matured very rapidly and it has become a prominent feature in international life between 1989 and now.
Secondly, it has occurred as a consequence of what I will call a uni-polar imperialism. By that I mean, as I was explaining to some students at the University of Guyana earlier today, that in the era of the Cold War you had a bi-polar relationship in the world. You had the Soviet Union and its allies on one side, and you had the United States and its allies on the other side. Today there is no Soviet Union, and what we have is a single superpower. Not that "superpower" is the word that is often used; sometimes people say it is the one "indispensable country" in the world. Sometimes as Senator Jesse Helms often says it is a country in respect of which you cannot set limits. The United Nations might have a view, but then there is the American view and the view of the United States according to Helms is more important than the view of the United Nations. That is what I call uni-polar imperialism, in the sense that there is one country, and only one, to which the rest of the world now relates. And that drives the process of globalisation in a way in which it was not driven before. At the end of the last century, for example, we had the "new imperialism" as it was called; but that imperialism was a competitive imperialism. It was an imperialism that was shared by a number of different countries. Today, you don’t have that, and even countries that were at one time imperialist are today subordinates of US power. That’s a fact of life.
I am not saying anything new here. But what is important is that the emergence of this process has allowed for the unleashing of a certain kind of power which has not been unleashed previously. Imperialism before our time was very largely economical and political. People occupied your country as they occupied Guyana; they dominated it politically, and they exploited it economically. Now you don’t even have to occupy anything politically. You leave the people to find the money to run their own affairs but you use the economic strings to make sure that what they do is what you want them to do. And the instruments of that process of exploitation are the transnational corporations.
Again I am not saying anything new. I am not telling tales out of school. John Kenneth Galbraith, the noted American economist was the one who taught me about transnational corporations. He wrote a book called The New Industrial State in 1967 which was required reading for anyone who wanted to know what the new transnational corporate culture was like. And today, the multinational corporation that is spreading around the world is the very developed instrument of that undertaking which we regard as globalisation.
Thirdly, this exploitation is uniquely economic; it doesn’t connote colonization, but it certainly connotes dependence. What is happening today is every bit as spectacular as the imperialist expansion that took place in Africa, the Pacific, the Caribbean and other parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It may not look like it or excite the same sort of alarm because we are witnessing a different kind of phenomenon. The old imperialism seized physical space, blatantly conquered, plundered and exploited whole nations and peoples. Places that were formally under native or indigenous jurisdictions and governance were reduced to red, green or other coloured diagrams on the world map depending on which imperial power prevailed. Today there is no physical takeover, and for that reason there often seems to be no readily apparent imperialist expansion. But, in this electronic age, physical takeover is not necessary. Colonialism and oppression arrive by other means, not anymore in the gunboat more often than not in the laptop.
Fourthly, it is gargantuan in character and concept. It is utterly insatiable, utterly persuasive and utterly ruthless. It is gargantuan in the sense that today's imperialism has the whole world as its oyster. Even the largest countries, Russia and China for example, are being targeted up in the capitalist expansion. And the corporations engaged in the process are vastly larger and more dominant than the corporations of a hundred years ago. The non-stop mergers and acquisitions taking place in the leading capitalist countries provide evidence of the gargantuan economic forces at work. Almost no company is too big to escape acquisition. Exxon has acquired Mobil; BP has acquired Amoco; Citicorp has taken over Travelers. Worldcom has taken over MCI. Vodafone is trying to acquire Manessmann. There is no safety in size and the large is getting very much larger. The largest corporations today dispose of more assets than clusters of fairly large countries taken together. Even individuals, the world's ten richest people for example, have personal fortunes that dwarf the gross national product of fairly large Third World countries. And the thirst for acquiring more is insatiable. Public and private philosophy in capitalist society condones excess, and greed is in.
Fifth, in its own way it is revolutionary. It is revolutionary in the sense that it is now realizing the full potential of capitalism and providing the world with an experience that it has not seen before. The international expansion of capital that the early Marxist philosophers posited as theory is today a fact. Capitalism is international, and is re-inventing and internationalising itself by the minute. It is not only expanding in and of itself, it is also deliberately destroying , or attempting to destroy, the social basis of rival economic theories, rival global futures, in particular socialism. More astoundingly than anything else, perhaps, it is calling itself 'revolutionary' and labelling as 'counter-revolutionary' its philosophical and political opponents which are related to the vision of a world beyond capitalism and its excesses. That is an arrogant assertion of which history will one day be the final judge.
And lastly, it is introducing new concepts into economic life; new concepts which are even making obsolete many hallowed economic concepts within the First World. Many people in the First World are fond of speaking of a new economy, and they say that the new economy is more important than the old. This new economy now no longer relies on raw material resources, on coal, oil, steel and so on. The new economy is internet related. So you are having the phenomenon by which small companies, internet related, are quickly out-stripping in capitalization, at least on the stock exchange, much larger companies that have been in existence or a long time and which to some extent are now being gobbled up by this so called new economy.
THE NEW ECONOMY
One instance of this quite recently had to do with America Online, AOL. Those of you who have internet access would know about America Online. America Online was a company which started up about five to seven years ago. Recently it bought Time Warner for about one hundred and something billion dollars (US currency) based on the value of its shares which have been skyrocketing. Time Warner is perhaps the premier multimedia company in the world. Time Warner owns CNN, Time Magazine, and a large empire of media and music businesses. But AOL has bought Time Warner. And AOL is now the dominant partner in the new relationship between itself and Time Warner. People with money to invest these days are not putting money into what they call the old economy any more; they are putting it in the new economy. That new economy is one which is moving to its own drumbeat.
For example, these days in the world derivatives are much more important than gold. I am talking in Guyana. I need to remind myself that Guyana is a gold producing country. And it is very significant what is happening because the old economy and the new economy, at one level, seem to represent a contradiction between the internet and non-internet corporations. At another level, however, they represent the attempt in the era of globalisation to turn real value on its head and to define economic realities in different terms. Gold, for example in, the classic era of gold and diamonds the era of apartheid in South Africa, gold was one of the very important reasons for the development of apartheid in South Africa. At the end of the 19th century diamonds were found and then gold in South Africa and then those two commodities began to produce the kind of resources that made it possible for imperialism to pay for the troops that were needed first to subordinate the native interests, to expropriate their land, and then to subordinate the Boers as well. That’s what the Boer war was fought for in 1899-1902. It was part of the subordination of the Boers after the native interests had already been subordinated in a series of wars that had preceded the Boer War; and British imperialism was able to pay for the war and the other aggressions that preceded it with the money that was coming out of the diamond and gold industries.
Let me read you some of the figures pertaining to that process. Between 1867 and 1923, government revenues from diamonds in South Africa amounted to almost £50 million sterling. Now that’s not today’s pounds. Today’s pounds are a small fraction of what pounds were in those days. So when you hear £50 million don’t think it is a little bit of money because you hear that Bill Gates has $65 billion dollars. It was real money in those days so much so that, in 1867, the Colonial Secretary of South Africa brought a diamond nugget to parliament and put it on the table and said: "Gentlemen, this is the rock on which the future success of South Africa will be built." And so, indeed, it was. But there was another rock, though, that he did not mention. That rock was the workers who were being forced off the land, the land which was being expropriated from them. They were farmers, they had land. Their land was expropriated and they were being driven off the land into the mines to work at starvation wages. The exploitation of Black labour in South Africa was the other rock on which the success of South Africa was built.
In the case of gold, between 1913-1937, £800 million were realized from gold production. Government revenues received, between 1913-1937, totalled £85 million; and between 1887-1932 the dividend paid to investors in the gold companies in South Africa and their counterparts, by a rough estimate and, I think a minimum estimate, amounted to £1.5 billion. But today gold has no value.
I think it is a remarkable irony that not only gold but a whole lot of industrial minerals have begun to have no value in the era in which native peoples are taking control of the countries in which those resources are based. I think that there is a clear relationship between the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and the collapse in the price of gold. The relationship is also very dear for the workers because the workers who made those large profits possible are today losing their jobs in South Africa because many gold mines are closing down.
So that it is this reorganization of the world which is for me the greatest challenge of global transformation. And I say this because I believe that the objectives of the process are numerous and deliberate. They include the serious objective of wanting to rewrite the past, or to ignore the past; to minimize the costs of Western development; to ignore the real contributors to that process; to avoid the obligation of redress; and, to avoid the obligation in the case of slavery, for example, of reparations.
This idea of reparations for Black people is becoming alive once again. Randall Robinson, the organizer, the founder, the main directing spirit behind an organization called TransAfrican Forum has recently written a book called The Debt. If you can get a copy, please do. It is good reading. In it he tells you why he believes, as many African Americans and people of African descent all over of the world believe, that there is a debt that has to be paid for the exploitation of Black people as slaves, and for the contribution Black people made to the development of the wealth of the First World countries. The same can be said of indentureship. It wasn’t slavery, but people didn’t get a fair wage. In the period of indentureship wages generally declined in the area in which Indian migrants were being imported in large numbers, and declined because it was the policy of the British government, and the policy of the colonial administration, and the policy of the planters to force wages down so that they could put more money into their pockets. We don’t have time to go into it today but I can demonstrate in several ways the interrelationship between the development of indentureship, and the depression of wages and the super profits of the people who were involved in sugar production.
I also think that in a way the present global project for transforming the world is associated with an attempt to institutionalise the present. I’ll first tell you briefly what I mean. A man by the name of Fukuyama wrote a book, the title of the book was The End of History? He had the decency to put a question mark after history. But what he was seriously arguing was that history was finished. There is no more development; we don’t have any further to go. We have arrived at the final stage in the development of the world. Capitalism is eternal, imperialism is immortal and that there are no stages beyond those experiences and there is nothing you can do to oppose the triumphant march of capitalism across the world. In fact, the language which we are hearing today is deliberately crafted to leave us with the impression that capitalism and imperialism are immortal and invulnerable.
FRAUDS: INNOCENT AND OTHERWISE
But a few dissident voices and views are beginning to be heard.
For example, John Kenneth Galbraith: I like Galbraith. He is a well respected economist who is by no means Marxist or anything of the kind, and yet he says some very interesting things. He speaks of what is sometimes today described as "market fundamentalism"; and he speaks of what he calls the "innocent fraud" – which, he says sometimes is the not-so-innocent fraud - of many economists who endlessly promote the virtues of the market and of market forces. He says there is a fraud taking place today which begins with "capitalism", a word which, he says, "has gone largely out of fashion. The approved preference now is to refer to the market system." And he continues:
"Most of those resorting to the new designation, economists in particular, are innocent as to the effect. At most they see a new, bland deceptive terminology. Money and wealth are not singled out for attention; they no longer accord a special power. [But in fact] they do. Thus the term ‘innocent fraud’. Innocent fraud also conceals a major change in the role of money in the modern economy. This, we once agreed, gave the owner, the capitalist, the controlling power and enterprise… as it still does in smaller business firms…This is much celebrated in political discussion, and with classical authority in the textbooks… We have corporate management but not its internal behaviour, aspiration, stasis, and reward as to power and pecuniary return… These omissions are another manifestation of fraud. [And] perhaps it is not entirely innocent."
Writing in the September-October, 1999 issue of Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, he writes as follows:-
"There is a further and comprehensive fraud that dominates in even scholarly economic and political thought. That is the presumption of a market economy separate from the state – in popular expression, the private and the public sectors… What is concealed in the established reference is the co-option by private enterprise of what are commonly deemed functions of the state…The fraud is celebrated in the common reference to corporate welfare…What is called corporate welfare is a detail. For more important, in fact, is the full fledged assumption by private industry of public decision and supporting expenditure, the clear case being the weapons industry."
I will paraphrase the rest. But what Galbraith is doing here is smashing to smithereens the whole philosophical basis of privatisation, one of the central policies of the globalisation process. What is happening under privatisation, he seems to be saying – and, I believe, quite correctly- is that under the new circumstances of the increasingly capitalist global economy, private capital has privileged access to the resources of the state. It is private capital which is now appropriating state resources and using them for its own purposes while denying them to the people and the communities as a whole. And he concludes with reference to the remarkable observation of United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower who, on leaving the presidency in 1961, warned against the usurpation of social privilege by the growing power of the military-industrial complex.
In a phrase, the private sector and the public sector (where it still exists) are not divided by a Chinese wall. What is happening under globalisation is that capitalism has found the philosophical arguments, the strategies and the tactics with which to appropriate and purloin state resources at home and national resources abroad for its own use.
I think it is also an attempt, that is, globalisation, to forestall the future to live in an eternal present; to invalidate the future and future changes and to make it very difficult for us to perceive any options or alternatives to globalisation. In a sense, of course, there are no options in that globalisation exists and, what exists, is! But in another sense there has to be an option in that the people who are being made casualties by the system of globalisation and global transformation would dearly wish for it to be ended. Among these, I refer primarily to all of the people who are being impoverished by global transformation, and the people who are being impoverished by global transformation are no longer these days only Third World people. In many First World economies there is now a developing Third World sector which is being impoverished by policies of global transformation. This came out very clearly in the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest in Seattle. The WTO protest in Seattle late last year was as important and significant as it was because it represented for the first time the beginning of a global response to globalisation.
In this sense, I think, we have to be concerned with the unemployed, we have to be concerned with the poor and we have to think about the homeless which is becoming a very important sector in developed countries. Indeed, social marginalization is a constant theme in many highly industrialized countries. As I was coming through Barbados, for example, I saw a headline out of the Sunday Mirror in London. The headline was about 100,000 people having to pay for urgent surgery in Britain. Britain use to have a national health program, a national health service. When I was doing my Ph.D. in London during the '60s I went to the dentist, I went to the doctor, I went to the optician and paid a trifle. These days urgent surgery in Britain has to be paid for, you have to line up, put yourself in a queue and wait several months for urgent surgery. It is not surprising that, as I heard on BBC the other night, eight English doctors are going to Cuba to discover how the Cubans run their system in such a way that, with the little resources they have, they are able to do as much as they are doing with their health system.
What should we do?
First of all I don’t think we should be pessimistic. I have been looking back at the experience of the last three centuries in relation to the struggles of Third World peoples. I have been looking at the periods 1789-1838; 1880-1918, and our own end of the century experience and I have been trying to see forward. In 1789 the year in which the French Revolution began there were slaves all throughout over the Americas. Nobody thought, when the Revolution started, that there would be an end to slavery. There was a revolution in America that had made no impact whatsoever on slavery. But in 1791, in part as a result of splits within the ruling class opened up by the French Revolution, the slaves revolted in St. Domingue. Not only did they revolt, they overthrew slavery completely. By 1804 they had established a Black republic and very soon slaves all over the New World were on the march, inspired by the Haitian phenomenon, moving toward liberation and emancipation. In 1914-1918 the same process was at work. The European imperialism of the late 19th century into the early 20th century was responsible for the carving up of Africa. Historians called it the partition or the scramble for Africa. By the end of the century Africa was literally carved up like a cake and shared out between several European countries. And there were people who thought that imperial relationship between the European and the non-European world would last forever. Yet, by the time the First World War had ended in 1918, decolonisation had started, and the decolonisation process freed most of the colonized peoples in due course. So when I look at the year 1989 and I look forward I am seeing, I think, the beginning of another process in which it might look dark today but it might only because the darkest night usually appears just before the dawn. But the dawn might break sooner than we think.
And I say this because of the new economy that’s booming. I say this in part because there’s a digital divide. The digital divide is usually spoken of in terms of the inequality in access to the internet by people in different social and political relations, for example, between people who are in Third World countries and people who are in First World countries. I have witnessed this here in Guyana. In most colleges and universities in the United States computers are everywhere. Increasingly tertiary level institutions are, as it is said, "wired." In the University of Guyana, computers are not everywhere. They are there, but they are not everywhere, and they need to be. So that is one aspect of the digital divide. But the digital divide again has another face.
One of the things about the computer is that you really don’t have to be too educated to become skilled with it. Many of the people who are most facile with the computer, who are the most computer literate in fact, are not very well educated. My grand daughter can do things on the computer that I cannot do. I let her use the computer one day. She said "Grandpa, I want to use your computer." "What do you want to do", I asked. She said, "I have a friend and I want to send an email." So I said, "OK go on and send the e-mail." After a while she came back. I said, "Did you shut down the computer?" and she said, "yes, I did." But that is not the end of the story. When I went back to the computer things had changed. I have a little bird that pops up when I turn my computer on. It says, "Hello James, how are you?" The bird was now saying, "Hello, Kimmy!" I had left all my icons on the computer scattered all over the place. They were now neatly organized in alphabetical order. I don’t know how to do that. She is eleven years old; her birthday is tomorrow but she's better at the computer than I am. And there are people coming out of the inner city areas in the United States who are tremendously gifted with computers. In fact the computer, in a certain way, is levelling the playing field. I think we are reaching the stage where we will not only have cyberspace but we will have cyber thought and there is one thing that Third World people are very rich in, and that is human resources. I think that this digital divide if handled correctly could do a lot to even the playing field between the First World and the Third World.
So I want to say in closing that what we are left to do really is to build on the legacy of our great friend, of our great comrade, and, of our great warrior, Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Death is a strange thing. It very often removes from us those people who are the most gifted and competent among us. It tends to cuts off at the top. Fifty years of political experience is lost with the stilling of the beat of a heart; but a legacy remains behind. And death enhances legacies; it makes them formidable. What we are doing here today, is that we are beginning the building and the enhancement of that legacy. I think that the task is in good hands. I see, for example, that one of the items prominently engaging the attention of the PPP-CIVIC government is the race problem. I was looking at the television last night and saw an advertisement of a program for the establishment of race free zones. I applaud the initiative. That is the way to confront the issue of race - head-on. You can’t deal with race by not talking about it. You can’t deal with race by sweeping it under the carpet. Race is a uniquely western hemisphere invention. There is a big debate going on now in the academic community about whether race preceded New World slavery or whether slavery preceded race. I am firmly of the view that racial prejudice was the product of New World slavery. I believe that Europeans developed the ideology of race to rationalize slavery because they were plunderers, but also Christians. And they had to rationalize the plunder and inhumanity and the mayhem that they were creating, the murders, and the executions and the decimation; they had to rationalize these things by race because they all hoped in due course to go upstairs. They hoped for salvation in the after life. And the only way they could go upstairs was by fostering the belief that Black people aren’t really human after all, that they are beasts. Some apologists for slavery even went so far as to argue that they were doing Africans a favour by bringing them out of the jungles of Africa and putting them on the plantations. They might well suffer in this world, they allowed, but when they die they are going upstairs because we have Christianised them and thus save their souls. And it took hundreds of years to inculcate that philosophy. Racism is now a rampant disease throughout the whole world.
I was in London last year about this time and there was an incident there involving a young Jamaican, Stephen Lawrence who was killed, sometime ago. For many years the police did nothing to try to solve the murder. Then a Labour government came into power, the family renewed their agitation and the Labour government set up a commission – the Macpherson Commission which reported that the London police force was "institutionally racist." What does that mean? It means that they live and work in a community which perceives racial difference as an abomination and which rationalizes racial exploitation of man by man and that phenomenon, as we know it, today has its routes in the developments taking place in the Americas over the last five hundred years. It is to be hoped that it will not take us another five hundred years to get rid of it.
So one can’t ignore it. We have to meet it head on and I congratulate the PPP-CIVIC government on what it is doing. I think the PPP-CIVIC government is in itself a reflection of the way in which Cheddi conceptualised the relationship between races in the country. As I told you I have known Cheddi for more than thirty years. Our relationship was always the relationship of individuals who had different cultural backgrounds, who came from different strands of Caribbean society, but who had common goals, common objectives and the relationship was never ever affected by the fact that I was of African descent and he was of Indian descent. So I want to end by encouraging you all to build and to move forward on the legacy that he has left behind, most importantly for everyone on the legacy of inter-racial solidarity which the PPP-CIVIC government represents.
Long live the legacy of a great comrade and friend!
Long live my mentor and yours, an indomitable fighter for Guyanese and Caribbean freedom, a legend in the field of anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle!!
Long live, and never die, the influence and the spirit of our departed dear friend,
the great warrior, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, late President of the Republic of Guyana!!!
I thank you.
(Notice Paper No. 197 (M51 Govt 32) published on 2007-12-06)
Hon Samuel A.A Hinds, M.P., Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works and Communications, to move the following motion:
WHEREAS the First Session of the Fourth Legislative Council of the then British Guiana was opened on December 18, 1947;
AND WHEREAS Dr. Cheddi Jagan at the age of 29 was administered the oath as a Member of the Legislative on the said day, having won the seat for Central Demerara (Buxton to Kitty) at the November, 1947 elections;
AND WHEREAS Dr. Jagan’s victory at the polls was unprecedented as it was the first occasion on which a militant representative of the working class secured a seat in the colonial Legislative Council thereby signaling the dawn of a new phase of struggle for independence;
AND WHEREAS his entry into the Legislative Council began a long and illustrious career as a dedicated Parliamentarian extending for 45 years until 1992 when he became ineligible to remain seated on being elected the Executive President of Guyana;
AND WHEREAS he believed that his foray into the Legislative Council provided a new “dimension to the politics of protest. A continuity between the legislative and the street corner, … The Legislative Council was no longer the hallowed Chamber where “gentlemen” debated at leisure and had their words recorded in the Hansard for posterity. The Legislature at last became part and parcel of the struggle for the people”;
AND WHEREAS he brought a new style of parliamentarian to the Legislative and in doing so created his trade mark as a political leader, a trade unionist, a Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and subsequently, President of the nation;
AND WHEREAS Dr. C. Jagan was never deterred in the early days when almost every question he asked and every motion he tabled was left unanswered or defeated, nor was he ever daunted after each election in the post-independence period in recognizing that Parliament was the forum for the battle of ideas and representation returning each time to take his seat in the House and to champion the cause of the people; nor did he stop coming to Parliament in the late eighties when he was muzzled from speaking in this House for several years;
AND WHEREAS his career as a Parliamentarian over four and a half decades was marked by his persistent and unrelenting struggle for the working people of the then British Guiana, for universal adult suffrage, for independence from British colonial rule, for fair and equitable trade relations, for the end to colonial and imperialist rule globally, and in the post-independence period for the return to democracy and free and fair elections;
AND WHEREAS on becoming President at his inaugural speech to the new Parliament he called on Parliament to become a truly deliberative forum;
AND WHEREAS as President he brought his life long philosophy of fair and equitable trade and sustainable human development to bear in his concept of “A New Human Global Order” which was adopted by the UN General Assembly shortly after his passing,
BE IT RESOLVED:
That this National Assembly give due recognition to this outstanding Guyanese who was the longest serving Member of the National Assembly crossing 45 years of service on this the anniversary of his entrance to the Legislature 60 years ago;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That this National Assembly agrees to pay tribute to Dr. Cheddi Jagan as the longest serving Parliamentarian by establishing a Special Collection of his speeches in the National Assembly spanning those 45 years and to place them on display in the Library of the Parliament and to seek support to have them published as a collection for reference to the younger and future generations, some of whom may also enter these Chambers as Members of Parliament.
(Notice Paper No. 197 (M51 Govt 32) published on 2007-12-06)
CHEDDI JAGAN: STRIDING TALL IN THE GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS
On the 18th December l947 Dr. Cheddi Jagan entered the legislature of then British Guiana. It was neither a beginning nor an ending. His struggle had begun on a sugar plantation in Berbice and has yet to be culminated, because he yet lives on; and would forever do so, as long as democracy prevails in the nation, because there is no dynamic in the national developmental landscape on which he has not stamped his imprimatur.
Attaining entry into the legislature was a mere step in the struggle for eventual freedom and prosperity - initially for the Guyanese people, whom he loved more than his life; and generally for the entire human race; as propounded in his passionate treatise of a construct he entitled “A New Global Human Order.”
This great, good man always sought and strove for rapprochement and unity in this nation he so passionately loved, and he was deeply grieved at every consequence of disunity and disagreement in this nation, as any father would at instances of discord between siblings in his family. That this love was returned in full measure was palpable when the nation grieved in a spontaneously collective way when he died, and it is sad that only his death could have achieved the primary ideal for which he had endeavoured all his life – a united Guyanese nation.
Brother, friend, and comrade-in-struggle of Cheddi Jagan; and much beloved and very respected member of the civic component of the PPP/C, Honourable P.M. Sam Hinds, wrote in the 23rd December 2007 edition of the Sunday Stabroek: “Late into the night of Friday December 14th, 2007 one could have gotten the feeling in the National Assembly that we the politicians were in the mood to shake hands and turn the page. We politicians were giving the leadership that Guyana needs.
We need the help of our media to take our country and every one of our citizens along. May everyone watch the tape of that debate and get into a mood for healing and harmony.”
It is the spirit that Dr. Jagan had always espoused and promulgated; although not shunning nor retreating from the frontlines of battle whenever required during his long, hard years of struggle.
But although he was aggressively confrontational when the need arose, his preferred method of conflict resolution was dialogue and debate; and his limitless capacity for retaining facts and figures in his almost photographic memory made discussions with him engagements that were boundlessly instructive and convincing, because his passionate sincerity and dedication to the welfare of this nation, and humanity as a whole, overwhelmed even those who opposed him.
He always saw education as the primary key to eventual liberation of this people and when, after prevailing against opposing elements, the University of Guyana was inaugurated in l963, a landmark was created in tertiary education in the region, even though some dubbed it, in derogation, as “Jagan’s Night School.”
But that great visionary always saw beyond the realms of the ordinary. Those who today claim UG for their own had fought bitterly against its establishment, as they have always fought against and derogated every initiative that Dr Jagan, and his governments – past and present, have undertaken to actualize a better and more progressive and prosperous way of life for all the people of this land.
The posthumous adoption by an august global body such as the United Nations of Dr. Jagan’s New Global Human Order marks him as a globally recognised world-class statesman who will forever stride tall in the global consciousness, because the adoption of this nation’s foremost freedom-fighter’s proposition of a restructuring of the profiling and developmental processes of international social, political, economic and other constructs will forever mark him as a champion for humanity and social justice in the context of universal developmental structures.
The Order of Liberation, posthumously conferred on Dr. Jagan on l8th December 2007 at State House to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his entry to the legislature, although greatly merited, seems tame in comparison to his global stature.
Editorial, Guyana Chronicle March 7, 2007
by Hydar Ally
‘It is to the credit of all our fore-parents that those who came after them successfully forged a society in which there are high levels of ethnic tolerance.’
FORMER President of Guyana, the late Dr Cheddi Jagan was recently awarded, posthumously, with South Africa’s national honour on independence heroes. Presenting the award was South African President Thabo Mbeki. Other recipients of awards included India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indonesia’s founding President, Sukarno. Receiving the award on behalf of Dr Jagan was Mr. Donald Ramotar, who succeeded Dr Jagan as General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party following his death in 1997.
The South African award to one of the leading architects in the fight for Guyana’s freedom and Independence must be seen therefore as a great honour not only to Dr Jagan and the party he founded, the People’s Progressive Party, but also to the nation as a whole, especially having regard to the country’s size and geo-political significance. The award is in a sense an acknowledgement of the principled and consistent position taken by Guyana on the South African issue.
It is no secret that the People’s Progressive Party and the African National Congress enjoyed close fraternal relations, with the PPP lending its voice and support to the liberation struggle and the eventual dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa. South Africa is today regarded as a model of inter-ethnic tolerance and peaceful co-existence, despite the bitterness of the past. In this regard, there is much to learn from the South African experience in terms of putting the past behind us and forging a new beginning on the basis of democracy and respect for the rule of law.
It is significant that the award comes at a time when the country is making preparations for the observance of its own Independence celebrations from Britain some 39 years ago. Guyana, as we all know, gained its Independence from Britain on May 26, 1966, after some 150 years of British colonial rule.
And while it is perhaps true to say that the struggle for freedom and Independence was not as prolonged and bloody as that of South Africa, Guyana’s Independence struggle was not without its share of frustrations and intrigues at the hands of the dominant powers, which did everything possible to deny Independence to the colony under a PPP-led administration. These intrigues were well captured in Dr Jagan’s political masterpiece, “The West on Trial” which I would like to recommend to all Guyanese, in particular those with an interest in the political history of the country.
We have come a long way since the early days of colonisation by our imperial masters, whose sole interest was the extraction of maximum wealth for export to the metropolis. Like so many other countries of the developing world, the basis for our underdevelopment was firmly laid during that period and remained a challenge, which we have to overcome.
It is significant that we observe Arrival Day this month to reflect on the arrival to this country of our diverse ethnic groups. Arrival Day has been made by this current PPP/Civic administration a national holiday. Except for our indigenous peoples, who, it is estimated, landed on our shores some 5,000 years ago, all the other ethnic groups came here to provide cheap labour to serve the commercial interests of the European planter class. In this regard, we inherited what could be considered a transplanted society drawn from a variety of culture areas, including India, Africa, China and Europe.
It is to the credit of all our fore-parents that those who came after them successfully forged a society in which there are high levels of ethnic tolerance. This point was reinforced by Mr. Roelf Meyer, a South African specialist in race relations, who visited the country recently. According to Mr. Meyer, he found no evidence of ethnic tension. A similar observation was made a few years earlier by a United Nations Rapporteur on race relations who in his analysis of race relations found that there is a high level of trust and cordiality among the ethnic groups in Guyana.
Let us take comfort from this fact as we strive to create a united and peaceful society