OP-ED: We must stop the PPP from creating a tyrannical dictatorship in Guyana

Political experts say that a democracy can become a tyrannical dictatorship if citizens allow that to happen. Experts also agree that a democracy is the best system yet devised by humans. A real democracy is fair, and is characterised by distinctive cornerstones including freedoms of assembly, speech, and association; inclusiveness; equality; the right to choose leaders through voting; and the supremacy of the rule of law. Further, when a democratic government leads in a manner where each person enjoys the greatest amount of freedom, compatible with the common good, then, that society is said to enjoy a liberal democracy. Clearly, such a system of government is the most desirable one. As such, Guyanese, in our own interest, should strive to achieve and maintain that ideal.

The political analysts agree, too, that the extreme opposite of a liberal democracy is a tyrannical dictatorship. Under that system, every aspect of the lives of the majority of people is controlled by the heavy hand of a supreme political power that rules with an iron fist; a fist that would have stripped citizens of all rights, freedoms, and even their basic dignity, Instead, the majority of people would exist under the unbearable burden of oppression. Of course, one recognises that between those two extremes — liberal democracy and tyrannical dictatorship — there is a spectrum of possible systems of government under which citizens may have varying degrees of freedom. The important questions are: how does a democracy degenerate into a dictatorship, and how do we prevent that from happening in Guyana?

Political Scientist Arch Puddington, former U.S. Labor Secretary Professor Robert Reich, and Dr. Kuehnelt-Leddihn of the Foundation for Economic Education, are among recognised scholars who have studied the issue of how a democracy may become a dictatorship. Those respected experts have written extensively on that subject, and they agree on some key points.

First, there are only three paths from a democracy to a dictatorship: there could be a coup, where the democratic government is overthrown; or, citizens could elect a known tyrant, such as the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1932; or, finally, most importantly for Guyanese, citizens could elect a political party such as the PPP, that pretends to be democratic, but, secretly intends to set up a dictatorship once it is elected.

Second, the experts agree that in modern times, the third path to tyranny — where a “democratic party” is elected, and, once it is in power, sheds its false-skin of democracy and reveals its dictatorial colours — is the most likely path to dictatorship. As such, it is with this idea that Guyanese should be most concerned, and people should be extremely vigilant and look for the signs that the PPP government is, in fact, setting up a departure from democracy while moving to create a tyrannical dictatorship.

Professor Puddington wrote, “Central to the modern authoritarian strategy is the capture of institutions that undergird political pluralism. The [dictatorial government] goal is to dominate not only the executive and legislative branches, but also the media, the judiciary, civil society, the commanding heights of the economy, and the security forces. With these institutions under the effective if not absolute control of a dictatorial leader, changes in government through fair and honest elections become all but impossible.” In other words, the government would seek to spread its cancerous tentacles into every sector of society, so as to exert control over every aspect of life, and set up conditions to prevent the dictator’s removal. Does it not seem as though Dr. Puddington is describing the PPP?

Professor Reich explained how the government would create a dictatorship step by step. He said that the dictator would, “destroy labour unions, so people have no way to bargain for higher wages and less capacity for political organisation.” The professor said that the government would, “cut deals with rich business executives and billionaires,” while “filling the airwaves with big lies.” The expert said that once the government had control of everything, political opposition would become almost impossible. The experts pointed out that this process is well advanced in Russia, China and our neighbour to the west, Venezuela, in addition to other territories. Again, does this not remind us of the behaviour of the PPP?

Many Guyanese are aware of what happens when a tyrannical dictatorship is established: political imprisonment and assassinations become common, censorship of information is established, and citizens’ rights to assemble, associate, speak, travel, and live a happy life are all taken away. Food may become scarce, and society could collapse or people may become prisoners in their own borders. Considering what is at stake, Guyanese must — for our own survival — examine what the PPP is doing. Do we not see the signs that the experts describe? Is it not obvious that the PPP is moving to set up a dictatorship, and establish conditions to ensure that it cannot be removed from power? Just look at how the PPP has taken over GECOM. Clearly, if we are to remain free, safe, and content in a democratic Guyana, the PPP must be stopped.