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Marxism still relevant

As the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) prepares to discuss the relevance of Marxism in contemporary society, there is still broad agreement that it is still a relevant tool in analyzing the society although the country is capitalist-driven.

PPP Executive member, Dr. Roger Luncheon; Alliance For Change Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan and Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) member, Aubrey Norton do not discount the importance of Marxist theory.

The ruling party’s symposium on “The Relevance of Marxism in Contemporary Society” is slated to be held on Saturday at Guyana International Conference Centre.

Norton, a Political Scientist, described Marxism as a “profound method” to analyse society but he doubted that it could change capitalism. “I believe that a lot of them are not practical but methodologically, it has a lot of value,” he said.

Touching on the timing of the PPP’s symposium, Norton said the ruling party remained a dogmatic Marxist party not so much in building a socialist society. He reasoned that the PPP was “falling back” on Marxism because it was losing support as a democratic entity, curtailed only by a free press and distaste by Western Nations. Asked whether the PPP’s Marxist thrust did not contradict the capitalist orientation of the economy, the General Secretary of the previously left-leaning PNC said the ruling party was busy creating a bourgeoisie. “The PPP is building a capitalist-type elite that is becoming rich off of the State apparatus and in that regard, it is not a contradiction,” he said.  Norton argued that the PPP was faced with a dilemma of acquiring wealth through capitalism but managing the country by using long-time Stalinist approaches.

Former PPP Executive member, Khemraj Ramjattan, too, echoed similar concerns which run counter to Marx’s vision of the role of the proletariat. “A lot of them get themselves into bourgeoisie life-styles like our PPP politicians here- big houses and mansions and making three, four trips overseas, big salaries. That’s a bourgeoisie lifestyle and Marx would have been critical of that so I hope that when they do their lecture on Saturday they are going to mention that and they must go back to the principles of equality, struggle for social justice and the welfarism of the Guyanese people,” said Ramjattan who was expelled from the PPP for allegedly spying for the United States.

Ramjattan said that Marxism was relevant, particularly in the areas of economics, social justice and poverty-alleviation. “I believe it is something that should always be taken into consideration,” said Ramjattan who had advocated the removal of communism and Marxism-Leninism from the constitution of the PPP’s youth arm, Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and their replacement with liberal democracy. Ramjattan recalled that Marx was a staunch critic of the impoverishment of the working class in England and a strong advocate for State interventionism in addressing social inequities.  Touching on the symposium, Ramjattan urged the PPP to also focus attention on other thinkers rather than be confined to Marx and Lenin. “Some of the conclusions have turned out to be false,” he said, adding that the Communist State and the Berlin Wall have collapsed.

For his part, Luncheon said the PPP-Civic administration could not abandon Marxism because of its major contribution to the understanding of society. “We have never abandoned an appreciation of the role of Marxism. Marxism has made sterling contributions that continue to guide not only us but many countries as they progress on the job of the development of their economies,” he said.

Calling Marxism an economic “building block,” for economics, Luncheon dismissed suggestions of a contradiction between wedded to Marxism and using capitalism as a driver. “I hope you don’t feel that one can only be done to the exclusion of the other. Please don’t make that mistake,” he said.

The PPP symposium is expected to hear presentations by PPP Executive members Gail Teixeira, Clement Rohee, Donald Ramotar and Hydar Ally. Also down to make presentations are Economist Gobin Ganga and Educator Prem Misir.

The presentations will focus on Karl Marx as the philosopher, revolutionary and  economist. Other presentations will focus on viewing the proletariat as a universal class, Marx’s Sociological perspective and the relevance of Marxism in contemporary society. 

Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist and revolutionary whose views and ideas continue to influence and shape the nature and course of politics and economics globally. 

He was born on May 8, 1818 and died on June 14, 1883. Among his several publications were “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital” and “The German Ideology”  which are widely used in universities and colleges around the world.