Oct 17, 2017
When I entered the University of Guyana as a freshman, there was a book that was generating interest and admiration around the world. No university missed out on its influence. It was modest-sized book on economics titled ‘Small is Beautiful.” The book’s essential argument, suited for the Third World is that small scale technologies and small scale ventures more benefit citizens of small countries.
The author believed that huge projects, macro-scale projects are not worker- friendly and lead to alienation and dehumanisation.
I recall in my first year at UG, the book was in vogue. It has left an everlasting influence on approaches to economic development in the Third World. But while the book’s main adumbration was in the realm of economics, the phrase “small is beautiful” has found a niche in sociology, political philosophy and psychology unrelated to the main theme of the book.
Experts in those fields argue that in large, post modern populations, informal relationships, neighbourhood friendships and other types of interactions are missing thus creating a dangerous situation of mass hysteria and alienation. In Norway, a guy went to a summer camp and shot 85 teenagers dead while laughing. Some of the victims themselves and their relatives contested the general elections that followed and lost. Maybe one can say that humanity is lost in post-industrial countries. That is where “small is beautiful” comes in.
In tiny countries without a post-industrial, post modern base, humanity is more common among folks there. I have heard old people put it in their own learned way. It goes something like this; “You could step across the yard to your neighbour and borrow some sugar.” That is their way of saying people bond closer than in large, industrial societies. But just how “small is beautiful” impacted on me when I was a freshman at UG, “small is dangerous” simultaneously affected me in a deep way.
While I was reading, “How small is beautiful,” in that book, I was also reading how small is dangerous in another book, titled, “The Hero in the Crowd”. This was compulsory reading by Dr. Dennis Bassier in his Caribbean Studies class. Right in my first year as a university student, my mind was being riveted by a weird dialectic– how could small be beautiful yet dangerous at the same time? I have lived with that oxymoron to this day, which is dialectically sound.
The book is about Grenada and the rise of Eric Gairy. But the sub-theme of the book is politics and justice in a small country. The implications have been frightening for Guyana, and are still frightening. Dale Andrews, of this newspaper, and I once saw a Guyanese of European extraction riding past the Ruimveldt Police Station without a helmet. We went to the station and asked the ranks why they never stopped him. They told us they never saw him.
My cousin, William Cox; the editor of the Catholic Standard, Colin Smith; and I saw this man passed through a Linden Highway roadblock without a helmet and the police didn’t intervene. He still does it.
This is the problem in a small country. Powerful people are untouchable. Small then becomes dangerous. Why? Because in the society people know who is who, who is untouchable, who gets locked up. This breeds a dangerous psychology in which anger is the overriding content. Guyana is not the US or India.
If a company refuses to obey a court injunction in one state, people in several other states within the country may never hear about it.
The story of GBTI refusing to comply with a court order can have ugly implications. And this is where the media, human rights organisations and moral leadership comes in. How can a society remain stable when poor people are hauled before the courts for stealing things of inconsequential value and end up in prison but a bank’s decision endanger one of the sacred pillars on which society rests on – the rule of law?
The GBTI case is an unnerving one because some of the details revealed in this newspaper are simply incredible if the reporting is accurate. SOCU is after fraud involving over US$500 million. Do you know that sum is a big chunk of our national budget? SOCU applied for a court order to get some papers from GBTI but the bank says it cannot release them.
Furthermore, the banks indicated that relevant documents have been destroyed. This is the same bank, that in observing the stipulations of the anti-money laundering law, is requesting people to show the envelope of proof of address. Funny but dangerous country!