Liberal Democracy – Stabroek News

Last week, in response to an opinion expressed by Mr Ralph Ramkarran in his Sunday column that the PPP had abandoned Marxism-Leninism in favor of a more social democratic position, former President Donald Ramotar said that he had to agree with the chronicler’s assessment. We quoted him as adding that the party’s current ideological orientation was “not overly clear.” Mr Ramotar was the party’s general secretary from 1997 to 2013 and described how, during this period, Marxist methods were used to analyze political and social situations, although the policies pursued were markedly more social. democrats. Regarding the party’s earlier Marxist analytical approach, he said: “I don’t think that’s happening right now.

We also quoted him as having commented: “You have to admit that the government has a solid social policy. He is a strong advocate for education, is very strong on health care although I don’t think we always get what we pay for. The intention is there. Things like old age pensions and other social support programs are encouraged, but basically the economy is bourgeois. And it is economics, of course, that most commentators refer to when they say the PPP is no longer Marxist-Leninist, despite the survival of its original constitution. The former secretary general then underlined the emphasis placed by the government on the private sector and “the strong element of support to the private sector”.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Interior Clément Rohee agreed with Mr Ramotar, saying “I don’t think the party is Marxist-Leninist”. Moreover, he too conceded that he had not been able to determine an ideology to associate with the party. “The party’s philosophy remains people-centered and national democratic,” he said; “that’s how I would put it.” He went on to observe that social sector policy is always a good indicator of a government’s ideology.

While it is true that the government has declared its support for the private sector for many years, it has tolerated a somewhat distorted version of capitalist society, which makes it difficult for investors here, as recently pointed out by l ambassador for the United States, and often operates to favor associates over those who might win in a situation of true competition. As for its social programs and its “people-centered” government, they are hardly incompatible with a Marxist-Leninist framework.

What none of the elders specifically say – and this includes Mr Ramkarran who was a longtime member of the party when he left – is that they see this as an open society reflecting liberal values. It is conceivable (but not necessarily) implied in Mr. Rohee’s reference to a “national democratic” ideology, although he does not explain exactly what he means by that, and in Mr. Rohee’s reference to a “democratic national” ideology. Ramotar and Ramkarran to social democracy, although here again it is uncertain what exactly they intend and if it is the same for both. The latter goes on to assert that the “principles and bases of the political, economic and social system” in the Constitution should be the ideology of the PPP, although it should be observed that this section is somewhat of a mishmash of principles of content and some of the formal forms that characterize the constitutions of most liberal democracies.

Communist societies are rare in the world, Cuba being a rare case of resistance. Neither China nor Russia can no longer be called communists, since they both practice capitalism, although in the case of the latter it takes a distinctly “friend” variety, and in the former there is a relationship with the state in the case of large companies, in particular, which is not transparent. The Communist Party will also interfere in business operations if it wants to achieve a particular goal, as is happening now because President Xi Jinping seeks to close the wealth gap in society.

What neither China nor Russia has given up is an autocratic mode of government, although Russia, after the fall of communism, espoused democracy for a time, however imperfect it may have been. . However, President Vladimir Putin is bringing his country back to reflect a more familiar authoritarian model. If the PPP has retained anything of its Marxist-Leninist past, it is its party structure and penchant for controlling society, although our social circumstances do not provide fertile ground for all-encompassing things.

Liberal democracies around the world vary in nature, and some of them are social democracies. However, they have some things in common, such as belief in representative democracy, recognition of civil and human rights, freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, an independent judiciary, a market economy and the need for the rule of law. , among others.

Freedom House would undoubtedly claim that it agrees with all of the above, although when it comes to the question of practice their performance is often less than spectacular. They don’t like stand-alone institutions, for example, and the merit principle is not what inspires many of their appointments. As a result, agencies that should hold their decisions accountable, like the EPA, have suffered, and with it the country as a whole. To cite another example, they do not want to give up their domination over local authorities or discuss fundamental constitutional reforms, except of the more technical type relating to elections.

This is mainly linked to their desire for control, as mentioned above, but at present nothing is more perverse, undemocratic and contrary to the principles of a liberal society than their refusal to deal with the coalition unless it does not publicly recognize the PPP. / C as a legitimate government. No one denies that the opposition’s stance on the government is sheer nonsense, but President Ali is not a classroom teacher lecturing recalcitrant students, and if the Constitution requires him to meet the Leader of the Opposition to make certain appointments such as those for the judiciary, he is required to meet with him.

The president insisted not to meet with him unless he recognized him, and the process was confused. It was reported by DPI as saying that a declaration on legitimacy was not a condition, but a fact that the Leader of the Opposition must accept. The point is that the head of state is running a legitimate government, but the insistence on recognizing this fact is a condition he has arbitrarily imposed.

The refusal to speak to the coalition is not a representative government in the true sense of the word, and in this case it had very serious consequences for the population. This is apart from the lack of appointment of a permanent Chancellor and Chief Justice, which potentially undermines the independence of the judiciary and, by extension, the rule of law. This is particularly dangerous because we are in a time of a pandemic and the cooperation of the opposition was essential in convincing people to get vaccinated. Now the political snake seems to be getting into the issue of vaccination, which could have been avoided if the government had worked with the opposition from the start.

One would have hoped that the PPP / C, after having moved away from its Marxist-Leninist ideology, would have learned the lessons of its 23 years in office, and would move more deliberately towards a society reflecting the character of a liberal democracy. with its associated values. The social policy mentioned by MM. Ramotar and Rohee is important, but it is a question of content and does not say anything in itself about the formal arrangements that constitute the framework of the state.

That said, it is undeniable that while the ideology of the PPP is uncertain, that of the UNPA simply does not exist. One would have thought in their case that they would have learned something from their 24 illegal years in office, but much more than the PPP, they seem to have forgotten everything. They have abandoned representative democracy and are therefore hardly able to teach others about the values ​​that make up a liberal society. The current leadership is unlikely to be able to return to the drawing board and give the party any raison d’etre other than a raw thirst for power.

While our political parties do not directly engage in an open society reflecting liberal values, some of our civil society groups and commentators do so tacitly, given the nature of their concerns. A true liberal democracy is the only framework in which it makes sense to address our deep problems, such as our ethno-political division. We know from experience that autocracy and a brand of elected authoritarianism really cannot cope with this.


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