Caribbean Civilization

Lecture Lesson IV IV. Race, Nationalism, Independence, Dependence and Regionalism. The genesis of colonialism in the Caribbean and how it has taken root in the political, social and economic institutions. Race and Class and how they both cohere to shape the social, political and economic landscape of the Caribbean.
Explain and understand how these forces work to determine the mosaic of Caribbean society, for example, how they resonate and reinforce rigid institutional hierarchies in education, politics and religion and they have been the major determinants of stratification and social identity in the region since colonization. Can we divorce race and class from nationalism? Students are then asked to provide an answer to this. What is plantation society and why is still so important to Caribbean society.
How race, class and nationalism are bound up in the legacy of the plantation society created by the colonizers. For example features of Plantation Society are: ¦ – keeping colonial peoples technologically deficient ¦ maintaining colonial peoples as producers of primary raw materials ¦ keeping colonial peoples bound to the mother country through the policy of trade exclusivism ¦ limited horizontal linkages between the colonies except through the British government ¦ The legacy of colonialism has shaped contemporary politics in the region.

It has led to among other things the establishment of a colour hierarchy white over brown over black. And, it has been institutionalised by the political systems in the region. ¦ The Comprador Bourgeoisie: In the English-speaking Caribbean, the landowning class owed loyalty ultimately to the metropolis, even though it might have disagreed on particular policies implemented in the colonies or on the correct system of government to be pursued. ‘ More than economic interests, the plantocracy by the end of the nineteenth century was united in defence of its whiteness. The nation states of the region are still struggling to establish sovereignty. This is partly because key roles in decision-making are still assigned to the metropolitan state, to international organizations or to elites allied to external markets, who view the masses of the region not as fellow citizens but as groups to be excluded from society and the polity. In these circumstances, nation-building is incomplete. Examine the rise of the nationalist class with strong family connections and class cleavages and how they usurped the role of the working class and their access to power.
As such even though the nationalists led us towards ‘independence’ political parties are still controlled by the middle class, who are often financed by private capital and only using as voting support the mass of the people who are still basically apathetic and alienated from government. One finds that much of government time is still taken up with politicking the community. Examine the role of the nationalists in relation to independence as these contested groups are in conflict as they seek to exclude others from membership.
Examine the contradictions within this group as they serve to reinforce dependent relations manifested through coordinated groupings such as the comprador bourgeoisie. ‘Independence’ did not usually result in radical changes in the lives of the majority. Hierarchies were reproduced, just deracialised in the Caribbean. In many cases, the change was mostly a matter of American born whites replacing the British born whites or West Indian intelligentsia, replacing the British colonials. Democratic constitutions were facades. Political and economic power still remained concentrated in the hands of a few linked by class, ethnicity and religion.
Examine whether independence is genuine or not. Look at the notion of neo-colonialist tendencies that exist for example: • The economies are still controlled from outside and therefore important decisions on the use of resources the distributions of wealth and foreign policy is largely also controlled from outside. • Constitutional reality does not always coincide with political reality. The territories of the West Indies still exhibit characteristics of rigidly stratified societies with gross inequalities of wealth and status and an alarming and growing state of unemployment overall poverty and economic dependence. These countries’ independence did not usually result in radical changes in the lives of the majority. Rather, hierarchies were reproduced, just deracialised in the Caribbean. The change was mostly a matter of American born whites replacing the British born whites. Democratic constitutions were facades. Political and economic power still remained concentrated in the hands of a few linked by class, ethnicity and religion. In light, of the above examine if independence is a facade. -Can there be a true West Indian identity since the Caribbean is constructed on faulty premises? What is it within our psyche that has impeded so natural and so necessary a development in the West Indies? -Look at how race and class and nationalism interweave and how they have helped to undermine more genuine attempts at forging a Caribbean identity. Examine why a West Indian identity is critical to the realization of any integration movement. Outline the negative reasons of what could happen if we do not forge a Caribbean region that draws on our collective strength through unity and for a common brotherhood and enlightened nationalism.
How can we best improve our society such as government’s role in involving the people of the region through not only informing them but also fully involving them in the processes of decision-making on the forms of political unity. • For example: That the forms of regional unity do not merely institutionalize social inequality and economic justice but improve our capability to redress them and provide machinery that will make an obligation to do so effectively. • We must have a commitment to the ideal of nationhood and a capability n the part of that leadership to generate that commitment throughout our communities. • We must be ready to act in pursuit of that commitment of a regional identity along with those within the region who share that commitment and resolution. But in so acting we must make clear that we proceed on no basis of divisiveness or of exclusion. • While it is the responsibility of government to initiate action it is essential that the people of the region shall not merely be fully informed but fully involved in the processes of decision-making.
That the forms of unity do not merely institutionalize social inequality and economic justice but improve our capability to redress them and provide machinery that will make an obligation to do so effectively. • Education becomes important, but not just any type of education: • Scientific reclamation and revitalisation: • We must be able to see ourselves not only as a people with rhythm but also with reason, and intellect. We have to instill in our curriculum scientific technology for a new age. Examine the notion that one of the hallmarks of colonialism was to give to the colonies whatever was obsolete in Europe.
And we still find developed countries shipping their discards to the world they helped underdeveloped and we must therefore study the latest technologies and teach them in our schools. The lecture provided other examples which students may wish to research. Drawing on the history of race and class and nationalism and independence and regional integration, it seems clear that any West Indian identity that does not stand on a regional base of social equality and economic justice does not rest on sure foundations and will not survive the stress of internal social upheaval and the shifting sands of uneven regional development. References Beckford, G. (1972) Persistent Poverty, New York: Oxford University Press. ¦ Hall, K. (2001) ‘The Caribbean Community: Beyond Survival,’ Kingston: IRP. ¦ James, CLR, (1962) ‘The Middle Classes,’ in Lowenthal, D. and Comitas L. (1973) Consequences of Class and Colour: West Indian Perspectives, New York: Anchor Books. ¦ Levitt, K. and Witter, M. (1996) The Critical Tradition of Caribbean Political Economy, Jamaica: IRP. ¦ Manley, M. (1982) Struggle in the Periphery, London: Heineman ¦ Munroe, T. (1985) Introduction to Politics, Jamaica: UWI. ¦ Nkruhmah, K. (1965) Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, London: Nelson. Payne, A. and Sutton, P. (1984) Dependency under Challenge: The Political Economy of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Manchester. ¦ Ryan, S. (1972) Race and Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ¦ Stone, C. (1971) Decolonisation and Political Change in Jamaica and Trinidad, USA: Sage Publications. ¦ Sunshine, C. (1996) The Caribbean, Survival, Struggle and Sovereignty, Washington: Epicon. ¦ Watson, H. ed. (1994) The Caribbean in the Global Political Economy, Jamaica: IRP. ¦ Williams, E. (1970) From Columbus to Castro, New York: Harper and Row.

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