War by other means… via “civil society”?

Carl von Clausewitz was a 19th-century Prussian military strategist whose masterpiece, “On War” is still studied in every military academy in the world, including the West, Russia, China and most likely even our Officer Training Courses. So all sides in the Ukraine War – which Russia insists is an “invasion” and not a war, would’ve studied Clausewitz. They would then know, about his “fog of war” thesis. Here, all the rules learned in military academies might have to be thrown overboard in the fear, excitement, and incomplete information of actual war conditions. It then boils down to the judgment of commanders on the ground who gotta make on-the-spot decisions.
So let’s remember Clausewitz and take heed of this factor during this Ukraine War: the predictability of unpredictability – even in this age of instantaneous communications. So, if for nothing else, there must be lines of communication between the higher echelons of all “sides” and their allies. Back here in mudland, David Granger would’ve certainly been exposed to Clausewitz and rather ironically, would’ve had the opportunity – after he became President – to test the great man’s most famous aphorism: “Politics is war by other means”!!
And not so incidentally, we segue into this brouhaha that’s broken out between those groups calling themselves “civil society” and the Government. Now it was back when Clausewitz was around that the notion of “civil society” was formed by his contemporary Hegel and others. It was a very broad concept – on one hand, there was the STATE and everyone outside of it and its institutions was “CIVIL SOCIETY”. Businesses were, as such, part of civil society.
Since then, the concept has changed significantly. It began when “civic groups” in civil society were formed in the 19th and 20th centuries to push “civic virtues” so that folks could live the good life harmoniously. While the Government would take care of the big picture. All was hunky-dory for a while until the end of the Cold War in 1989, when groups in the former Soviet Republics vied to control the new States. At the same time, not coincidentally, the Washington Consensus was promulgated on how those societies – including Guyana’s – should be run. Hoyte had to fall into line and we saw “civil society” groups like the GHRA and Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) and GUARD emerging to encourage the “democratic transition”.
In Eastern Europe – including Ukraine – there were the “colour revolutions” pushed by these groups to effectuate “democratic regime change”. Civil Society was now directly involved in politics, but the question was asked – what exactly were their “democratic” credentials when there was no mechanism for the “people” to validate them??
And, of course, who was “feeding” them so as to “muzzle” or “sic ‘em” at will!!

…and democracy
Now, in a democracy, according to the Civil Society organisations – nowadays also called “Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) – folks should be able to express their opinions freely – once they aren’t libellous or treasonous. Who can argue with that? But within the context of the regime changes that took place all over the world –- a lot of agendas, foreign and domestic, can also be pushed under the “Civil Society” umbrella. And incumbent governments are wary.
You do remember our “Red Caps”, “Blue Caps” and “Vote like a boss” outfits from a decade ago, don’t you? Well, it seems the PPP hasn’t forgotten them. And who can blame them after their experience going back to the sixties? Then, it was the trade unions – which could democratically show membership – who were “trained” in areas far removed from their labour issues remit – who carried the fight.
Governments gonna have to walk a fine line so as not to appear to be stifling “free speech”.

…on local content
Your Eyewitness was more than a tad surprised that we were gonna let Caricom decide on the content of our local content legislation?
Sure, we know it’s in the CSME agreement. But isn’t that on “pause”?