The path …to development

We know that since Medieval times, men have been looking for “the Holy Grail” – to deliver desires – from immortality to infinite resources. But your Eyewitness is pretty sure that even before then, folks had been hankering for that Deus ex machina that would take care of all their challenges and leave them on the easy street. After all, up to then, no matter how hard and diligent most folks worked, their lives had remained “nasty, short and brutal”! So, it was all up to forces from the “outside” – including one deity or another!
But from the 18th century, after Europe had conquered most of the earth and plundered their resources, they were able to arrange matters so that every year things got better – for them!! The idea of “development” was born!! Initially, of course, it meant they’d keep on conquering and divvying up the world to fatten their own countries!! It’s also not surprising that the era was distinguished by continuous war between various European empires! Each coveted the other! But when we became independent, it was also not surprising that we insisted we should also “develop” along their lines.
Around that time – in the sixties – there were two paths to this new Holy Grail that would be generated by one’s own efforts – conquering countries to extract loot was supposedly finished after WWII- capitalism and communism/socialism. Burnham bet on his special brand of co-operative socialism, and by the eighties, we were completely, utterly ruined – beyond anything the British and Dutch had inflicted in three centuries!! Wags would chortle that our West Indian comrades have earthquakes and hurricanes, but we more than compensated with Burnham!!
Anyhow, after 1992, the PPP had to craft their development plans to dig us out of the PNC’s hole – before they could even think about moving on up and out of our miseries. Up to when they were ousted in 2015, we’d done pretty well, considering the circumstance. Which necessitated finding funds for infrastructure and industrialisation. Well, oil was discovered on the PNC’s post-2015 watch, but they blew it by giving away the (oil) store! And then sitting on their haunches rather than preparing our business community to take advantage of local content opportunities. They were just waiting for (oil) manna to gush from under the Atlantic.
Well, the PPP’s been in since 2020, and they’ve stuck with the plans introduced in their Manifesto. And just reiterated by Pres Ali and VP Jagdeo in separate events recently: they’re continuing with their “Fourfold Way” to kickstart economic development: education, health care, infrastructure, and assistance to non-oil industries”!!
This ensures that all Guyanese will benefit, since the benefits flow to one and all!!

…to workers’ heaven
Ever since “development” was introduced with the Industrial Revolution, it was workers who bore the brunt of the work, while the factory owners “developed”!! It was the old colonial relationship now established in each business. Maybe we should be proud that the system was introduced right here in the West Indies on our plantations!?! Our enslaved workers didn’t even get a penny, while the indentures who followed them literally worked for a penny!!
Well, workers eventually started mobilising themselves to fight for their development – much like freedom fighters had done for independence. (Not Burnham…he sold us down the river!) The trade union movement was born. Here, in Guyana, Critchlow founded the very first trade union in the entire Commonwealth in 1919. At a recent labour event, one trade unionist bemoaned that even though trade unions birthed political parties, they’ve become the latter’s “puppets”!
But that’s not new, is it? After his initial progressive role, Critchlow himself opposed universal franchise for Indian Guyanese.
They’d upset the POLITICAL horse-cart!!

…to inequality
The inevitable end state of the old worker-business relationship is captured by one businessman – Elon Musk – buying Twitter for US$54 billion. All from his US$279 billion net worth!!
While half the world can’t get US$2 daily!!