In the movie “Patton” based on the life of General George Patton, the flamboyant WWII general is quoted:
“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: all glory is fleeting.”
It would appear that after the PNC-led APNU/AFC victory in 2015, they neglected to appoint that person to whisper the caution on the ephemerality of glory into their ears and last Friday they paid the price. The Ministers and their underlings of the government had succumbed to what the Greeks called “hubris” – cultivating overweening pride and arrogance in their behavior to a point where they completely ignored the proprieties of social life, much less practicing humility, and trampled on the feelings of others.
On Jan 1, 2017 we quoted a study on hubristic leadership in this space: “Hubris is a potentially dangerous cocktail of over-confidence, over-ambition, arrogance and pride. It is the malaise of the powerful which, when allied to contempt for the advice and criticisms of others, causes leaders to over-reach themselves significantly. As a consequence…if left unchecked, hubristic leadership undermine institutions, threaten society’s wellbeing and destabilises global security.”
Charandass Persaud described this hubris in several of the AFC leaders who refused to listen to his concerns about the party straying from the welter of promises – explicitly stated in their manifesto – they had made to their constituents to garner the votes that made the PNC-led coalition narrowly pip the PPPC. Most Guyanese, with even the briefest encounter with these government panjandrums, can attest to their overnight arrogance once they assumed office.
From the bombastic Simona “I is” Broomes who could assault two security guards who were merely doing their job but delayed her tryst with Chinese Fried Rice, to the smirking Moses Nagamootoo who could tell 7000 sugar workers they were fired “for their own good”, hubris was the defining characteristic of the Granger administration. While Granger himself projected an avuncular figure of rectitude and humility, at no time did he attempt to reign in his haughty Ministers and officials. In the case of Broomes, he merely said the abuse of her Ministerial office would be dealt with by her party – the PNC. Which event, not surprisingly, never occurred. In fact, directly after the no-confidence vote Broomes repeated her arrogant “boom-out” performance in the hallowed chambers of Parliament, this time, broadcasting a “cuss out” of the “Judas” Charandass Persaud, for voting his conscience.
But in the Greek tragedies that developed the notion of “hubris”, they uniformly connect it with “Nemesis”, personified as the “Goddess of retribution”, and which hubris ineluctably precipitates. And it is Nemesis that makes the “glory” of the arrogant so transitory. In the Bible, the connection is made in the aphorism, “Pride cometh before a fall”. Persaud was the nemesis of the PNC-led coalition and the no-confidence vote merely provided him with the wherewithal to exact the retribution for their four years of unremitting arrogance.
After Nemesis would have destroyed Hubris there comes the “catharsis” – an emotional discharge through which one can achieve a state of moral renewal. This is what most Guyanese are experiencing right now. But as we said two years ago when the government arrogantly rushed to seize Red House: “It is clear that the hubristic behaviour of the Government will inevitably invoke its nemesis that will eventually destroy it. The problem is, the catharsis will only come after our country would have suffered.”
However, this catharisis will carry over into the general elections and it is hoped the new government will have someone repeat into its collective ear: “all glory is fleeting”.