(Granger promised to deliver Burnham’s legacy. It’s that 7-point legacy.)
First: a single mass party, led by a dictator. Although Burnham allowed other parties to exist during his election rigging life, those parties never threatened PNC rule. Guyana became a de-facto one-party state. That is, while other parties were allowed to exist, they were not allowed to compete effectively with the PNC. They only legitimized the PNC’s monopoly of power in the eyes of the international community by providing opposition. If they ever posed a real threat to the regime, as the WPA briefly did by 1979, then the totalitarian “smarter steel”, in Burnham’s words, was hurt, as was Rodney’s murder. In the same 1980 (not coincidentally), the new Constitution confirmed Burnham’s total control over Guyana. Second: A system of terrorist control. House of Israel, “Kick down the door” raiders, arbitrary police searches and seizures, Police informants in every neighborhood, murders, shameless army marches through opposition strongholds, etc., kept the opposition in control, and the population, especially Indian-Guyanese, were in shock. According to Ashton Chase, “Among the new recruits (to the Police) were people with criminal records – supposed to prioritize loyalty. This element, as well as some ‘rotten eggs’ from this Guyana Defense Force, which were to become “kick down the door” raiders. “Indians responded to the pressure through mass migration. Soon, half the country was overseas. Third: almost monopoly control over mass communication and education. Government impeachment of church schools, national radio and newspapers, and the establishment of the GPSA, alongside the harassment of opposition newspapers through libel suits and newspaper bans, were in keeping with this imperative to enforce PNC hegemony on the population. Institutions such as the Cuffy ideological Institute and the Guyana National Service were created specifically to mold the “new” Guyanese. Fourth: almost monopoly control of state “compulsory” equipment. Guyana’s Disciplined Forces – Army, Police, Fire Service, National Service, People’s Militia and National Guard Service – were exponentially expanded, staffed with, and placed under, an African membership of ninety percent ordered the Burnham loyalist in 1979. All the officers swore. personal allegiance to the PNC leader, to provide, along with the similarly constituted Force, the mandatory basis for PNC rule. PNC members were militarized by forming several loyalist paramilitary organizations such as its youth branch – the Young Socialist Movement – and its Women’s branch. Fifth: central control and direction of the economy. By the PNC’s boom, it had nationalized eighty percent of the economy by 1976. The middle-class PNC elite became rulers, and the PNC acquired a powerful device to keep dissent in line. The “party card” and support for the “party line” became prerequisites for getting and keeping a job. In the words of Burnham, those fired remained fired. The co-operative, the cornerstone of the economy, was allegedly the vehicle for rewarding lower-class African-Guyanese supporters. However, when the economy collapsed in the late seventies, the co-op concept was the first to be dropped, and these African-Guyanese also came on the periphery. They now joined the exodus to “abroad”. For those who stayed, corruption was established and became a path to get involved and deal with the system. Corruption was power, and absolute corruption became absolute power. Sixth: a monopoly over almost all civilian institutions. Trade unions, religious organizations, schools, cultural institutions and social bodies were all overturned or controlled by the PNC’s intimidation, through the purchase of conformist leadership, or by the creation of government-recognized paper institutions and a place at the back of the Government. Indian-Guyanese institutions were co-opted through the opportunism of their leadership to rubber-stamp the PNC’s policies. These leaders were placed in highly visible but essentially powerless positions to create a “non-racist” Government facade. Similar organizations were denied privileges that refused to “cooperate”, and eventually were mined or became paper organizations with sycophantic PNC shell “executives”. Seventh: official ideology. The PNC announced in 1974 that it was a Marxist-Leninist party, and was reorganized as the front of the force. Marxism-Leninism gave the PNC an appropriate vocabulary and orderly distortion for its “innovations” and excesses, and for checking the Marxist PPP.