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I read with interest the letter which dealt with the categorization of persons described as Very Important VIPs written by Conrad Barrow.
He proposes that this description be abolished.
I take issue with his contention that his understanding of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 should lead us to end the categorization of certain persons as VIPs.
If it is the same Conrad Barrow I know, I have the highest regard for that family, and believe he is well meaning.
Second, since I no longer hold high public office. I feel free to disagree with perhaps the well intentioned sentiments expressed in his letter published in the Stabroek News of 18th June, 2021.
But I believe there is a fundamental flaw in his argument.
Let me refer to the quote from the United States, when he reminds us of the well-known statement that we hold these truths to ‘be self-evident that all men are created equal.’
From early civilization, society felt compelled to accept the idea that all men are created equal.
However, this did not ignore while clinging to the philosophical underpinnings of men being created equal, that it ended there, meaning that it did not address the prowess or achievements thereafter.
It was accepted and wisely so that certain persons who excelled either in the military, political, cultural, religious, sporting, academic or intellectual level must be appropriately recognised and honoured.
That is why the appropriate accolades, titles and recognition are given to persons who excel in any of the above categories.
If in a society, persons who excel are not recognised, we run the risk of society where mediocrity prevails and there is no incentive to excel.
That perhaps, for one reason why for centuries persons have been given titles, etc.
It is unacceptable if the Olympic champion who train and excel are not awarded a gold medal and hence classified as a VIP.
The young boy or girl who applies himself or herself to studies and gains from his/her university high degrees that that person should be specially honoured and considered a VIP.
In the Security Forces, the General or Commissioner or Chief of Staff wears a uniform with badges of rank setting him apart and unnecessarily so above the ordinary recruit. That makes him/her a VIP.
And so, we must always honour those who occupy positions of high authority.
Mind you, here I am not entering into the debate that we’ve had throughout history, Monarchs and others who have abused their status. I ignore their responsibility to behave in a dignified manner recognizing the sanctity of human rights referred to by Conrad Barrow.
Mr. Barrow’s argument is not new. Recall, in the height of the Socialist Revolution, at one time, Leaders in the East, decided to do away with what some described as the bourgeoisie Badges of Ranks
After a few short days of absolute confusion, where no one knew who to salute and who to take and give orders, the utility of ranking and VIPs was swiftly restored.
Conrad Barrow’s contention particularly in a society, such as ours, can lead us to forms of anarchism as found in the Dictionary of Philosophy.
Be reminded that the Dictionary of Philosophy traces “anarchism as follows, a social philosophy that rejects authoritarian government and maintains that voluntary institutions are best suited to express man’s natural social tendencies.
Historically, the word ‘anarchist,’ which derives from the Greek, an archos, meaning ‘no government,’ appears first to have been used pejoratively to indicate one who denies all law and wishes to promote chaos.
It was used in this sense against the Levelers during the English Civil War and during the French Revolution by most parties in criticizing those who stood to the left of them along the political spectrum.
The first use of the word as an approbatory description of a positive philosophy appears to have been by Pierre Joseph Proudhon when, in his Qu’est-ce-que la propriete? (What is Property? Paris 1840), he described himself as an anarchist because he believed that political organisation based on authority should be replaced by social and economic organization based on voluntary contractual agreement.
Nevertheless, the two uses of the word have survived together and have caused confusion in discussing anarchism, which to some has appeared a doctrine of destruction and to others a benevolent doctrine based on a faith in the innate goodness of man.
There has been further confusion through the association of anarchism with nihilism and terrorism. In fact, anarchism, which is based on faith in natural law and justice, stands at the opposite pole to nihilism, which denies all moral laws. Similarly, there is no necessary connection between anarchism which is a social philosophy, and terrorism which is a political means occasionally used by individual anarchist.”
What I urge my friend Conrad Barrow to advance is that VIPs should recognize the responsibility they carry.
As we all know it did not work and today all of those societies accept and are run on the concept of a pecking order.