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The PPP’s Siege Mentality is a Hindrance to Political Progress

Since Bharrat Jagdeo assumed the leadership of the PPP, the party has become captive to a siege mentality. This siege mentality is characterized by an intolerance towards dissenting voices and a binary approach to loyalty.

The siege mentality not only erodes democratic principles but also stifles the potential for inclusive governance in Guyana. By attempting to stifle dissent and reject alternative viewpoints, the party is undermining whatever remnants of internal democracy remains within the party. But from a national perspective it is also suffocating democratic freedoms.

At the core of the PPP’s siege mentality is a fundamental distrust of alternative viewpoints and a rigid adherence to party orthodoxy. Instead of fostering an environment conducive to healthy debate and diverse perspectives, the party under Jagdeo’s command has adopted a stance of “you’re either with us or against us.” This mentality leaves little room for independent thought or middle ground, forcing party members and critics alike into a binary paradigm where dissent is equated with betrayal and enmity.

This narrative – of either being with or against us – is going to be central at the forthcoming Congress of the PPP. The Congress is expected to be a scripted spectacle devoid of genuine dialogue, meaningful discussion, or dissenting voices.

At a previous Congress, persons were inserted into sessions to guide the discussions of the delegates. This was more of less an attempt at censorship of criticism of the leadership of the party and government.

The notion that the party would entertain anything outside the established norms must not be an expectation for the forthcoming Congress. There is within the party a deep-seated fear of deviation from the party line. Straying from the prescribed narrative is met with swift retribution, further entrenching the siege mentality within the party’s ranks.

Four examples serve to highlight this fear of deviation. At a meeting of the PPP leadership, former Central Committee member, Khemraj Ramjattan, was placed under the microscope and told that he was engaged in legalese when he tried to offer a defence. At a meeting of the Executive Committee, member Ralph Ramkarran was subject to verbal abuse because of the fear within the party’s leadership that he could challenge to become the party’s Presidential candidate. The same fate befell Moses Nagamootoo because of concerns he expressed about corruption within the government. Recent de-classified documents from the US Central Intelligence Agency quotes two of the then top leaders of the PPPC were in a state of panic over the fear that the PPPC could lose the 2001 general and regional elections because of governmental corruption.

Critics of the PPPC’s policies or leadership are not merely seen as offering constructive feedback. They are most often labelled as enemies of both the party and the State. This black-and-white worldview leaves no room for good faith disagreement. The party paints  dissenters as adversaries to be silenced rather than voices to be heard. Even respected institutions like Stabroek News are not immune to such accusations, with any critical editorial being summarily dismissed as anti-government propaganda.

Individuals who dare to challenge the PPPC’s authority are similarly vilified, their motives questioned and their integrity impugned. Glenn Lall’s criticism of the government’s handling of oil projects, for example, is not seen as genuine concern for the nation’s welfare but rather as evidence of a hidden political agenda. This reflexive suspicion of dissenting voices further perpetuates the siege mentality within the party, and government, creating an environment where conformity is prized above all else.

The West is eager to see Guyana embrace a pluralistic model of governance. However, that is not likely to happen under the present leadership of the PPP. The party refuses to entertain alternative viewpoints that are divergent from those of its main leaders.

The PPPC does not want a strong and diverse civil society; it prefers one that is malleable. This reluctance to engage with diverse opinions undermines the principles of democracy and inclusivity upon which the West wants to see Guyana’s future should be built.

The PPPC is unable to break free from the confines of its siege mentality. It is so paralysed by suspicion and fear that it refuses to embrace a more open and inclusive approach to governance. The party of Cheddi Jagan, though now captured by the bourgeois class, is unable to foster and environment within the party where dissent is tolerated and welcomed. The PPPC though embracing a neo-liberal economic agenda, is trapped in an internal communist culture.

For the PPP serious criticism of the leadership or direction of the country is not seen as an essential element of internal democracy or a sign of a robust democracy outside of the party. Rather it is is viewed as a indication off disloyalty and those who venture such criticisms are branded as enemies to be vilified and victimized.

What makes the situation more palpable is that there are no class contradictions within the PPP. As such, there is not much possibility that the forthcoming Congress of the party will be anything other than a rubber stamping of the same old discredited policies of the party, its leadership and the party’s siege mentality.


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