WITHIN the past weeks Guyana and its present leadership have come under attack from various sources. The perplexing question is why so many outside voices without any ‘real evidence’ have opted to take a particular position. Well, besides the fact that Guyana has now become of strategic importance, having recently been dubbed an ‘oil rich’ nation, it is important to realise that this has brought about cohesion between persons and groups that arguably want a piece of the pie and are hell bent on taking it no matter what. They view themselves as the emerging decision-makers.
The notion of ‘groupthink’ is associated with the scholar Janis, who argues that the pressure to conform is a personal vulnerability. This he purports is amplified in situations where there is a strong voice within a group: this creates an atmosphere where dissent or opposing views are often stifled, resulting in conformity with the ‘opinion leader.’ Janis defines ‘groupthink’ as ‘a mode of thinking people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.’
So how does this relate to the current situation in Guyana and its citizens?
It was clear from the time the leader of the opposition picked the presidential candidate for the PPP/C that the pressure to conform was a personal vulnerability of his executive members. The reasons for this vulnerability may vary; however, what is clear is that there is one strong voice within the PPP/C, the ‘opinion leader,’ against whom none of its members is willing to publicly dissent or present an opposing view. This is a demonstration of the cohesive group Janis speaks of.
Now this ‘opinion leader’ having successfully utilised ‘groupthink’ within his party then took it a step further. He realised that he now had to create another cohesive group, one that would lend its support to the PPP/C, so that it could actually be declared the winner of the 2020 elections.
The next cohesive in-group that had to be cultivated by the leader of the opposition comprised international actors. But, how was he to galvanise this cohesion with persons and groups who were so distant from the everyday goings on in Guyana? Easy, engage Mercury LLC, their services were for sale to anyone. However, that is not completely true, their services were available to clients who had ‘big bucks.’ It is no secret that the Private Sector Commission and many wealthy businesspersons are part of the opposition leader’s cohesive in-group. As the ‘opinion leader,’ the one with the way forward and subsequently the required narrative, it would not have been difficult for him to gain unanimity from this group to come up with the required funds to support his endeavours. They did, and into the ring steps Mercury LLC. Once again cohesion kicked in.
The mayhem that has ensued as a result of the engagement and meddling of Mercury LLC in Guyana’s 2020 elections has been witnessed by the masses and commented on vigorously by those who really want to see a ‘New Guyana,’ where the majority rather than the minority benefit. The narrative that is incessantly pushed through social media, an alleged trademark of Mercury LLC, alongside the utterances of its cohorts and other so-called ‘independent’ actors, is based upon the ‘opinion leader’s’ false cries of ‘election rigging’, which can be traced back to months before the elections.
One may ask, why would these ‘so-called independents’ be part of the opposition leader’s cohesive in-group, well the answer is simple — money. Social groups have many bases: religion, political, cultural, economic, as well as thematic issues such as climate change and so on. So, the next cohesive in-group is cultivated, ‘the capitalists,’ and as we all are aware capitalism is about the few and not about the majority. Those who invested in the plan, as with any investment, are expecting returns. Hence, the reason why this election is a serious matter, the fight brought about by the ‘opinion leader’ is real.
Now during the campaign season, it was clear to see that the President and his coalition partners had reinvigorated its support base; don’t take the author’s word for it, check out the rallies that occurred, revisit social media. The ocean of support kept growing so that by the time the final rally was held in Georgetown, it was like a tsunami. One can only wonder if it was at this point that it dawned on the opinion leader of the PPP/C that they were up against a runaway train. The plan had to take a new direction, election rigging had already been planted in the minds of the members of each cohesive in-group but, to make this play out on the world stage, it could not be left to a mere challenge, chaos had to ensue. This chaos manifested itself in the release of shared fake SOP results by the PPP/C before the election results were finalised and the mob intrusion at the GECOM counting office for Region Four. Plato said ‘an empty vessel makes the loudest sound’ now take a view of the video coverage of the intrusive mob at the GECOM counting office for Region Four as they harassed its personnel. They kept going on about election rigging. The same group that was adamant that the voters list had to remain in place,
despite the fact that GECOM had months before embarked on a clean register process through house-to-house registration. A fair assumption, as outlined in Janis’ groupthink model is that the ‘opinion leader’ is able to exploit his/her position and narrative more, once aware of the structural faults. It would be fair to say that this structural fault was the bloated voters list. Now with all of these glaring nuggets of concern, one would expect independent actors to examine these before deciding, obviously they did not. However, scholarly voices from many of these countries, which these ‘independent’ actors represent, impart that ‘groupthink’ is something to be challenged, as it drowns alternative perspectives through one-directional thinking. Their behaviour suggests that the scholars are wrong, because they have all subscribed to a notion of wrongdoing by GECOM, the President and his coalition partners.
Now turning to the President and what he stands for — social cohesion and economic equality. Any right-minded individual would commend such a stance and undertaking. However, none of the ‘independent’ actors defended this man’s integrity, someone with whom many of them have met and talked with on numerous occasions. Instead, threats of sanctions and isolation were broadcasted across the globe. Still, this is no surprise to those of us who are conscious that others often view us differently to how we see them, and this has been the downfall of many a nation. The so-called ‘independent’ actors were obviously of a view that only certain alliances were worth making. Furthermore, their actions, premature claims of sanctions and isolation flouts the Vienna Convention’s undertaking ‘of the sovereign equality and independence of all states and of non-interference in the domestic affairs of states.’
The other person in recent decades who took a similar position to the current President was Desmond Hoyte and history shows how that turned out.
Cohesion is no doubt a great thing. But, what the violent acts, racist and derogatory verbal assaults that ensued after the elections demonstrate is that cohesion is a state of mind and cannot be achieved through an ideology. What we as humans are blessed with is free will and as a result, only we as individuals can decide to accept each other unconditionally and foster cohesion. However, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this will and can happen overnight; there is much to do before such cohesion can take root or before the people would be truly ready to accept a Government of National Unity.
One such matter that has to be addressed is economic equality, something the President is championing through his education and entrepreneurship initiatives. There will always be a void when there is a great economic divide between citizens of a country, where there are a few that have plenty and significant others who struggle to meet their basic needs. It is no secret who fall into these categories and as demonstrated during this election, money is power, hence the engagement of Mercury LLC and the many unknown investors.
As we await the declaration of the election results and the swearing in of a fit and proper President, realise that there is more at stake here than just who will govern the country for the next five years. It is about who will champion economic equality and move the nation closer towards the notion of social cohesion, ‘One people, One nation, One destiny.”
Forward Ever, Backwards Never. Shez (LYRIC GROUP)