GUYANA: AN OVERPOLITICIZED SOCIETY
BY PREM MISIR
Guyana Chronicle
August 8, 2003

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In the Caribbean, Guyana has taken the lead in the fight against Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

This, however, gets lost in the scramble for power by petty and premature politicians, political commentators and some media operatives who spew daily inaccurate knee-jerk reactions through the media. Too much wasted time is spent on personalized and na´ve politicking, to the detriment of addressing serious social issues, as HIV/AIDS. The newspapers, through their letter columns, sustain a political scorecard that feeds on insular content. These letter columns are excessively filled with anti-national political materials, leaving minimum space for addressing social issues. In a society that currently has an estimated 2.7% (UNAIDS/WHO estimate) of its adult population living with HIV/AIDS, the Guyanese media, arguably, may have failed the people of this country in their informational, communicational, and educational capacity to consistently disseminate and discuss the HIV/AIDS implications. The media can help to eliminate the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. Indeed, the media have neglected other compelling issues. Editors and owners of the media, therefore, need to reassess their existing over-politicized orientations and consider a generic approach to addressing the issues. The society, however, at this time, is over-politicized. Reducing everything to politics Some politicians and media operatives carry on their charade as if the people of this country are not knowledgeable and capable. They reduce everything to politics. They use an unsavory 'quantum leap' tool to draw flimsy conclusions and thereby sustain their particular twisted points of view. The following may be instances of this travesty:

Two youngsters, one East Indian, the other an African, were work-study students at a Government Department. At the end of the work-study program, the East Indian youngster was recruited in the Department while the African was not. One media operative's conclusion on this matter was that the Government favors East Indians against Africans.

Another media operative claims that some police officials will not professionally perform their jobs because they are on the payroll of a businessman.

The Government has a plan to destroy the bauxite community through creating massive unemployment.

The Government has a plan to not create a climate for investment.

The Government makes no genuine effort to provide house lots for the poor.

The Government does nothing for the East Indians who voted for them.

The Attorney General's office has helped to break down law and order.

Some self-styled broadcasters claimed that advertisements for the

Census and GuyExpo were allocated on a discriminatory basis.

Government protects the criminals.

Perceived PPP TV stations are not censured by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting.

These statements represent utter nonsense and are not substantiated by serious evidence. These are a few of the over-politicized explanations normally presented to distort the Guyana reality. Without appropriate evidence on any of these invectives, definitive erroneous conclusions drawn are futile and dangerous. These charades with their distorted conclusions continue in the quest to demoralize and over-politicize the society in a bid to gain political advantage. One of the goals of over-politicization is to destroy human free will.

Resisting over-politicization As people seemingly become captives to these outlandish and non-evidentiary-based conclusions, are we saying that they have no choice over their own behavior, or are their actions only shaped by these infectious tirades that today fill the political and broadcasting landscape of this country? The fact that these twisted political and media diatribes do make some people feel coerced into taking some action that they may not want to do, is powerful evidence that the warped discourses do not have the effect they claim to have. People's behavior determines not only what they become as individuals but the roles they can play in changing or perpetuating the society. Most people develop an identity in society, but it does not mean that each person is shaped in accordance with some uniform cultural model, meaning that we become some mirror image of any force. Both society and the individual change, but how they change also relies on the choices each person makes. If people merely complies with this warped over-politicized model of society, then those abnormal broadcasters and politicians will win the day.

Fortunately, human behavior is not shaped to merely acquiesce. Human behavior has the capacity to oppose dubious limitations imposed by those broadcasting and political charlatans. Many people, as social beings, fortunately, can redefine the terms of their existence through the choices they make in negotiating the over-politicized land mine of this country.

Explaining over-politicization
Over-politicization refers obviously to something political but which is excessive and dysfunctional to the society at large. In the over-politicized setting, the individual intentionally sees the causes of and solutions to problems to be overly political, and therefore, does not see any individual responsibility in making a difference to the issue at hand. A person who explains practically everything through over-politicization has limited exposure and experience with a large range of possible explanations for a particular problem, additionally energized through some dubious agent to sustain this erroneous explanation.

In fact, in the case where over-politicization drives the individual's cultural framework, the individual bonds with over-politicized explanations and, therefore, sees no other way of amplifying events.

While politics have a major role in making society a better place, the individual person also can make a contribution outside the realm of politics, but not based on selective observations, in order to gain a political advantage. The over-politicization could emerge through selective observations, inter alia. Sometimes, we presume that a small number of similar events are evidence of a general pattern when they may not add up to this generality. But when this happens, we are engaging in 'overgeneralization'. Overgeneralization can produce selective observations. If you believe that a particular pattern prevails and know why it's there, you may want to zero in on future events that match the pattern and exclude those that do not. Indeed, selective observations are used to erroneously explain other events, too, such as, prejudice and discrimination.

Sufficient research supports the view that an individual's position within the society will impact that individual's psychological functioning primarily through a person's imposing conditions of life. In effect, the social structure can impact an individual's personality. Class and other aspects of social stratification are some dimensions of social structure utilized here. A person's class/ethnic position in the community may impact whether or not that person is likely to be self-directed or susceptible and lacking in initiative. Within this framework, a person stuck within a social and economically-disadvantaged position is more likely to be susceptible to any possible way of releasing himself from that disadvantage. In this context, such a person will easily fall prey to a person or agency consumed by personal agenda, but who/which provides immediate psychological and social comfort to this disadvantaged individual. If the releasers, such as, talk-show hosts and extremist political fringe elements, advocate an over-politicized explanation, then they will definitively socialize and resocialize their gullible flock to assimilate this line of thinking through overgeneralization and selective observation. Guyanese need to guard against falling prey to these despicable releasers bent on distorting reality.

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