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 honour 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 on December 21, 2018, 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 behaviour to a point where they completely ignored the proprieties of social life, much less practising humility, and trampled on the feelings of others.
On January 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 undermines institutions, threatens society’s well-being and destabilises global security.”
Charrandas Persaud had described this hubris immanent in several AFC leaders who refused to listen to his concerns about the party straying from the welter of promises – explicitly stated in its manifesto – they had made to their constituents to garner the votes that made the PNC-led coalition narrowly pip the PPP/C. 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 cultivated an avuncular figure of rectitude and humility, at no time did he attempt to rein 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. Granger’s own behaviour exhibited extreme hubris as he insisted that not only was he supreme over the executive and legislature, but even the Judiciary which was the last bastion of constitutional order. He categorised the judgement of the High Court as the Chief Justice’s “perception” and insisted he was entitled to his.
But in the Greek tragedies, hubris was always connected 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”. Granger might think that he survived the NCM fall by his further displays of hubris as he trampled on democratic norms in the courts. But he merely delayed his inevitable fate.
The elections of March 2 will prove to be the nemesis that Granger will be unable to resist: it is said that “the voice of the people is God” and it is they who will speak then. 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 will be experiencing after March 2. Sadly, it will come after so many Guyanese have suffered under the jackboots of this PNC-led Government.
It is hoped that the new government will have someone repeat into its collective ear: “all glory is fleeting”.