Comrade Chairman, Comrades George Weekes, Basdeo Panday, Raffique Shah and Allan Alexander on the platform, Comrades of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union, Brothers and Sisters:
It was with great pleasure that I accepted the kind invitation of your Education and Research Officer, Comrade Belgrave, to be with you this evening and to speak on the subject - "Fascism - A Caribbean Reality?"
I am particularly happy as our perspective in the NJM, the Organisation to which I belong, is both regional and international. We do not regard our own struggle or the struggle of our Comrades in other Caribbean Territories as being isolated phenomena or manifestations of purely local causes and effects, but rather we see these struggles as one struggle with common causes and solutions.
From our location, we attempt to follow the daily struggles being waged up and down the Caribbean and internationally, by the working class, by socialist and progressive forces.
In recent times, we have been following particularly the dynamic and militant struggles being waged by the O.W.T.U. and your sister organisations in the historic United Labour Front, against the forces of international capital in alliance with their local lackeys and agents.
Further, the fraternal links which we have developed over the years with the OWTU is a cause for deep satisfaction and pleasure for us. We are very conscious in Grenada, and particularly in NJM, of the historic contribution made by the OWTU in 1973/74 to the struggle then being fiercely waged by freedom-loving Grenadians for an end to tyranny, brutality and oppression. Moreover, we are well aware of the vanguard role being played by the OWTU in the fight to move the working class from being a class in itself to being a class for itself.
And so it is always a pleasure for us to be with our comrades of the OWTU, even when the occasion requires us to speak on a subject as challenging as tonight's subject.
I say challenging, Comrades, because tonight's subject is open to many problems of interpretation, definition, content and therefore conclusion. Were it possible, with confidence and without excessive controversy to readily define Fascism, this problem, or at any rate this problem in such depth might not have arisen, but as it is, difficulties abound.
And yet the subject of Fascism is as important today as it ever was. The term, indeed, is widely used, but its full significance and import is not always fully appreciated and understood. To the main targets of police repression, the classical Fascist is a policeman or soldier. To revolutionaries, Fascism is often seen as Capitalism in decay and to the people in general, it is exemplified by the absolutist leader in the image of a Mussolini or a Hitler.
At the level of countries within the region, there has been and there still is wide recognition of Haiti's claim to be our number one representative of Neo-fascism. But more and more, Comrades have been pointing to increasing evidence of growing Fascist Activity in Dominica and Grenada and all of you here would know of at least one other example; on top of this, even in countries with seemingly progressive leadership there is a definite tendency towards fascist or Neo-fascist activity.
Internationally, we have a longer list to choose from, but we can single out Spain, South Africa, Portugal before the 1974 coup, (and its continuing potential even now to revert to that state), Chile, and in many respects the United States, notwithstanding its pretensions to being bourgeois-democratic at home.
What then, Comrades, is Fascism? The word was first used by Mussolini to describe his movement in about 1919, and later on it became the name for all similar organisations in Germany (Hitler's national socialism), France, Japan, Spain and England among others. The word comes from the Italian Fascismo, which itself is derived from the Latin fasces meaning "bundles". The fasces in Ancient Rome referred to the bundle of rods with an axe which was borne before Roman Magistrates as a symbol of their authority.
A little more concretely, but still with no pretence at rigour or detail, the concise Oxford Dictionary says:
Fascism, apart from being about repression, is also about dishonesty and brambling. It attempts basically to fool everybody. It promises the white-collar worker to keep other workers in check and to control their unions.
It promises big business to get rid of free labour. It promises the military to put them in control and to make the society heavily regimented. It promises heavy industry that it will do away with protective tariffs for manufacturing and provide munition orders. It promises light industry protection from foreign competition.
It promises agricultural interests that it will ensure cheap new materials and machinery. It promises workers a pseudo-socialism and control. Employing the method of psychology, it feeds on the fears, frustrations, resentments, jealousies, insecurities and hopes for betterment, of very many people in the society, if not all.
True as all of this is, it certainly does not get to the heart of Fascism. Various bourgeois political scientists have tried to demonstrate that Fascism can only emerge in countries where the cultural and psychological traits of the people encourage irrationality and adventurism.
Thus, William Ebenstein in his "Today's Isms - Communism, Fascism, Capitalism and Socialism" asserts that -
Ebenstein then lists what to him are the seven (7) principal elements of the "Fascist Outlook" as follows:
Comrades will not fail to notice that this list says nothing about economics and economic relations within the society, that is to say, the material basis of society, and we can safely conclude that this is no accident.
As comrades with an understanding of the true role and nature of bourgeois scholarship we can easily understand Mr. Ebenstein's position. His is the mentality and historical perspective that would justify America's presence in South East Asia or Israel's presence in Palestine or the continuing rape of the so called third world by Imperialist nations and their corporations.
It is true that Post World War I conditions within Italy and Germany did encourage "irrationalism and adventurism." It is, for example, true that Italians were peeved that the promises made to them that they would be given land as a reward for entering the war were not kept, and that Germans were equally peeved over their loss of territory and the fact that they were not involved in the carve-up as a result of losing the war.
But it is also true, and this is the fundamental point, that economic conditions in both countries had become so bad that big business had to fight to keep its profits alive.
It was precisely the Van Thyssens, Krupps, Kirdoffs, Boersigs, Stinnes, and later Behn (of I.T.T. fame) and Sosthenes in Germany and the Perrone brothers (head of the Ansaldo's metal-working trust) and the Agnellis' in Italy and later on the Mitsui Trust in Japan, that provided the main inspiration for Fascism and later helped to build up the Italian, German and Japanese war machines extending from communications to armaments.
For these parasites it was imperative to finance Fascist movements both in order to get rid of free labour unions and to be provided with governmental contracts, particularly for arms.
Comrades, let me suggest that Fascism, in essence, is capitalism in decay, which particularly implies falling profits and rising costs on the one hand, and a tremendous heightening of the class struggle, on the other.
It comes about primarily as the last stand of the monopolies to preserve their position of privilege and affluence. It undoubtedly represents an attack against the rising proletarian revolution but is probably much more a symptom of internal collapse of the capitalist system.
To a socialist, therefore, basing his analysis on a materialist view of history, Fascism is a logical corollary of the decay of capitalist class society and the simultaneous struggle between the exploiting and the exploited classes.
It represents the last desperate efforts of the monopoly or big capitalists to preserve and maintain their position of dominance, particularly in periods of severe crises; such as the depression which originally spawned Fascism, when big business calls upon the coercive state apparatus for the severest forms of physical violence to maintain its hold.
This is the essential point that Dimitrov makes in his "United Front Against Fascism" in his definition of Fascism and his explanation of how it comes to power. And this is also why Dutt in his "Fascism and Social Revolution" insists that Fascism came to power as an attack against the rising proletarian revolution and insists equally that because "Fascism is imperialism turned inward", an imperialist state is often bourgeois-democratic in form at home and Fascist in its colonies.
What this tells us, Comrades, is that Fascism has many faces and contrary to bourgeois rationalising, can manifest itself in different forms, to differing degrees and at different times in all capitalist societies where the exploitation of man by man is an ongoing process.
Another way perhaps of saying this is to say that it is not necessary to wait to see if any "leaders" will coherently articulate the so-called philosophy of Fascism (in the language of a Hitler or a Mussolini) before deciding whether they are Fascist or not.
Leaders and their governments will not, cannot, and must not be judged merely on their hypocritical mouthings, but much more fundamentally on their social practice. The greatest "democrat" subjectively can easily turn out to be the biggest "Fascist" objectively.
Let us try, therefore, for the purpose of determining the extent of Fascism (whether philosophically expressed or not) in the Caribbean, to outline the criteria which we will follow. In doing this, it is my submission that we must seek the answer to at least the five following questions:
Let us then begin. In today's conditions, what are the different faces of Fascism (or its modern variant, neo-fascism)? I suggest six (6) main faces.
But the point is that precisely because the economic structure of Fascism would appear to be organised upon the basis of state control, confusion is possible.
The Italian system, for example, was premised on what they called syndicates. The basic principle of organisation here was to divide the economy into syndicates (or associations) of workers, employers and the professions, recognising only one syndicate in each branch of business or industry and placing at the head of each, Fascist politicians or persons of reliable loyalty.
These syndicates were instruments of state policy with a monopoly of organisation in their own field. Hence the name for that system of economics was the "corporate state" or "corporatism" and at first sight it might appear that some of the elements of an early socialist state are present. This is precisely where confusion steps in and where clarification is needed most.
In a corporate fascist state, if state control of the economy exists it is for the benefit of the maximum leader, his cohorts and the capitalist class; in a socialist state, state control of the economy is primarily for the benefit of the working and poor people, and their dependents.
Socialism leads to a genuine redistribution of income in the interest of the workers, Fascism leads to a concentration of income in the hands of the fascist clique and their supporters.
Once you remember that Fascism once in power never became homogenous, never in any way at all affected the power and control of big business interests, then you could see right away that this was an entirely false form of socialism, a pseudo socialism which was designed to try to fool people.
That is the sort of socialism which some of these people speak about up and down the Caribbean today. Moreover, this form of economic organisation assumed that the interests of employer and worker could be reconciled and were non-antagonistic.
Hence, the Fascist corporation attempted, within a capitalist framework, to unite and control the associations of workers and employers in individual industries - a task that was obviously incapable of fulfillment.
A Pseudo-Philosophical or (Occult) Face where belief in divine Providence, obeah, magic, superstition, and intuition takes the place of reason, planning and participation by the people.
Mussolini, in fact, was fond of saying that Fascism first and foremost was about religion and concerned with God and virtue. Here is a quotation from Mussolini's book Fascism, Doctrine and Institutions as it appeared in 1932 in the Encyclopaedia Italiana:
Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect . . . above all, Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society . . . Fascism denies the materialist conception of happiness as a possibility.
Now, I am sure that we are all very familiar with that sort of uttering. In my Island, Grenada, the Prime Minister, Dr. Gairy, as he likes to call himself, is a well-known exponent of what he calls mysticism.
He summons meetings of CARICOM HEADS to prayer, enjoins the U.N. to establish an Agency for the study of Psychic forces and every couple of months he declares a National Day of Prayer as a public holiday and asks the churches to read out the prayers that he personally writes out and circulates by the thousands at their services.
Here are some quotations from such a prayer. This one was circulated during the first week of May, 1973, but as they are all pretty much the same, the date does not matter much. This one has five (5) stanzas and I quote one in full:
We give Thee praise and thanks for your loving care and protection of our Premier Eric Matthew Gairy; we give Thee praise and thanks for Thy protection against all national disasters. Save us, 0 God of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Save us from those who intend to destroy us by speech, by writing, by fire and all other ways and means. Make them ineffective and destroy their plots, plans and schemes. Confuse and confound our enemies in their wickedness and remove them from our paths of progress. We pray in Jesus' Holy Name.
As Mwalimu Nyerere said recently,
those who have these direct telephone lines to God are on a wave-length all their own. You either get their vibrations or you don't.
Fascists have a knack for exploiting the religious susceptibilities of the working class. They remind one of the noted Simon Magus in Acts of the Apostles, who tried to buy divinity with filthy lucre.
To continue the subject of the sixth face - pseudo philosophy - it must be pointed out that Fascists have been in the habit of bastardising the philosophy of others.
Mussolini, for example, was very fond of parading Hegelian language and pretending to be a disciple of that great philosopher. But what he pretended to take from Hegel, particularly in relation to Hegel's views on the nation and the state, simply came down to the assertion that might is right and liberty is subjection. As he put it, "always, the maximum of liberty coincides with the maximum force of the state."
Hitler, however, not only did not rely on the views of Hegel but advanced an opposite theory that the state was at most a means to defending and preserving the racist "folkish" state that Nazi-ism proclaimed. In this state, the people count for nothing, but are merely "the Herd" to be driven by -
the leader in whose name everything is done, who is said to be responsible for all, but whose acts can nowhere be called in question",
as Sabine puts it.
Hitler, writing in his biography "Mein Kampf", states this Fascist position, a position we can readily identify in many of our individual territories, very neatly as follows:
. . . . . the great masses are only a part of nature .... what they want is the victory of the stronger and the annihilation or the unconditional surrender of the weaker.
It is as simple as that. But Comrades, we must move on to try to answer the second question - what today are the main types of Fascism?
THE MAIN TYPES OF FASCISM
What today are the main types of Fascism? It can be argued that there are three (3) main types. There is a malevolent dictatorship, there is a military dictatorship, and there is what could be called autocracy within a parliamentary system.
I think for our purposes it would suffice to say that there are two main types of Fascism.
Firstly, there is dictatorship, whether of the political variety or of the military variety, but dictatorship nonetheless. Examples of such dictatorships would be Franco's Spain, Idi Amin's Uganda, Chile today, and Argentina under the earlier Peron.
The second type of Fascism or neo-Fascism mainly existing today could be called autocracy or absolute rule by one person (or a few persons) within a parliamentary structure. Now, that is in many ways the most subtle and sophisticated form of Fascism. It does not appear to be Fascism at all, it looks very democratic in form, there is a parliament, there is a speaker who wears a wig, there is a mace, there are all sorts of trappings.
Anybody living in that country, if he wants to be fooled, could believe easily enough that he is living in a genuinely democratic country. It has been said that Fascism is imperialism turned inwards, and therefore precisely the countries which appear to be most democratic in form can often be the most Fascist in substance; and this also explains why imperialist countries often tend to be the ones that are most Fascist.
Because in an imperialist country, America for instance, the country can appear at home to have the most beautiful democratic form (and from time to time events like Watergate can even lull people into believing that democracy does exist within America), and yet in its colonies and in its foreign policy, it can assume the most Fascist and brutal appearance.
So this form of Fascism - autocracy within a parliamentary system - is certainly the most dangerous one of all. Because it is disguised and likes to pretend that it is not Fascism.
This is the kind of Fascism whose leaders pretend to have matchless morality and who from time to time would say things about corruption or honesty in public affairs and what not, while at the same time they acquire millions and guarantee the continued domination of the international bourgeoisie which in fact controls all of these Caribbean countries, except Cuba. This is the kind of Fascism that is most dangerous.
MAIN AIMS OF FASCISM
To try to answer the third question comrades. What today are the main aims of Fascism or neo-Fascism? I would suggest two main aims.
Firstly, to conserve the power of the ruling political elite, to keep itself in power at all costs.
And secondly to ensure the continued domination of the propertied and monied classes, the very classes in fact which support fascism to begin with.
The relationship between these two classes is symbiotic or complementary; the Fascist politician ensures the protection of the economic interests of the capitalists while the capitalist class provides money for support of the state apparatus and the ruling party.
We have to understand this because in order to achieve these twin goals fascists rely on the most beautiful demagoguery; they use the most sophisticated tactics and if we are not clear in our minds about precisely what their real. aims are we could get confused.
For example, over and over again we hear talk of the need to curb social unrest, the need to maintain political stability, the need to ensure that workmen's wages do not rise too quickly lest inflation swallow the nation.
We hear all of these things which at first sound reasonable and very nice but, in fact, nine out of ten times, in situations where objective conditions of Fascism exist, they represent not the voice of reason but the voice of those making the profits - the trans-national corporation and the international bourgeoisie - through their local puppets, because it is always the interests of the big Capitalists and imperialists that the voices of these lackeys articulate and uphold in the final analysis.
I believe tomorrow Comrade Belgrave will be speaking to you on the state and I am sure that when he does, he is going to make the point that the state is simply an historical device created by the class in power, to ensure their continued domination; it is basically as simple as that.
And no political form of the state has ever been able, for any consistent period of time, to avoid having to act in favour of the economic elite.
What I am saying is that it is economic interests which control, and the political elite which governs the country is always obliged to pay attention to the needs of those who own and control the economy. In other words, government under a capitalist system has to be government in favour of the rich, government in favour of the propertied classes.
It can be no more than that for the simple reason that it is economics which determines the nature of politics.
It matters little whether this control is foreign or whether it is local; the fact is that once people are involved in the pursuit of massive profits, particularly when it no longer matters how much profits they make, as with, for example, General Motors or Texaco or Amoco; once people are involved in that level of profit seeking, what they do has to be exploitative in relation to the mass of people and particularly to workers.
The massive contradictions which arise between workers and employers can never be non-antagonistic. All efforts previously at making them non-antagonistic have failed and all future efforts will also fail.
The effort at creating guild socialism in Britain, for example, at the turn of this century, as indeed the fascist effort at building the corporate state were both seen as different ways of reconciling the interests of labour and industry.
Both of these have failed, and all similar future efforts will fail, for the simple reason that these interests are totally antagonistic.
There is no way that the man who is making one million dollars a year in huge profits and who wants to continue to make that profit can ever have the same interests as the man who is getting a workman's wage. There is no way.
And, therefore, when we look at the question of the aims of fascism today, it is absolutely crucial that we conduct an analysis of the society in which we live to discover who in fact owns and controls that society.
Because the people who own and control that society today are going to be the ones tomorrow who would be most in favour of Fascism. They are going to be the ones tomorrow who are going to be the least concerned with human rights and equality and democracy. They are the ones tomorrow who are going to be calling on thugs and criminals and convicts and arming them for the sake of trying to maintain their profits.
Thus, once this analysis is done, we can begin immediately to have an idea of who our real enemies are, and who our real enemies are going to be, as capitalism further decays and becomes more and more openly fascist.
When we are doing this analysis we are also going to have to differentiate between different categories of the bourgeoisie. Because there are very fundamental conflicts of interest even within big business itself.
HEAVY VS. LIGHT INDUSTRY
The capitalists for example, who are in heavy industry have interests which are fundamentally different to those involved in light industry and that will also tell us something about the ones we really have to watch.
Now, by heavy industry here, I mean people who are involved in iron and steel, in bauxite, the extractive industries, in your context, in oil. Because of the organic composition of their capital, and by that I mean because they have to invest a great deal of money in huge plants and expensive raw materials and machinery, a great deal of capital has to be spent. It means that their fixed charges are always going to be higher than persons involved in light industry.
And by fixed charges, here I mean things like depreciation, interest to the banks and such-like. And, therefore, the big capitalists involved in heavy industry are always going to have a tougher approach in their labour policy and in their bargaining with trade unions.
In all societies with both heavy industry and light industry, you are likely to find that those involved in light industry - textiles, manufacturing, consumer goods generally - would be willing, generally speaking, to take a softer line in wage negotiations than the magnates in heavy industry.
They are willing to take somewhat of a class-collaborationist line, because their concern is to ensure that the broad masses who have to buy the goods they produce, do not become overly annoyed at hard-line tactics and stop buying their goods as a result.
They are concerned about production for a local market. But the big capitalists involved in extracting our raw materials for export are not in the least concerned with what the local population says or thinks, once that does not interfere with their profits.
Look at the situation this way. If there is a strike for even two or three days, it could mean a loss running into millions of dollars for Texaco and Amoco.
They can do nothing about their fixed capital (plant, machinery etc.); they cannot pick up their plant and move it, they cannot sell their equipment at a moment's notice; the big capitalists, even with the help of scabs, cannot run the plant by themselves, depreciation continues; interest payments to the banks continue, and, worst of all, their production schedules fall back and they are unable to meet all their sale contracts.
The one thing they have control over is wages, and, therefore, in any economic crisis, in any period of recession, in any period of industrial activity, these parasites in the extractive industries, in the biggest industries, are the ones who are going to be the most brutal about retrenchment, slashing wages and suppressing free trade unions.
And there lies the major potential for Fascism. It is mainly people coming from this category who are going to subsidise the fascists and put them into or keep them in power.
It was so in Italy, it was so in Germany. The Krupps, the Agnellis' and the Perrones', people involved in iron and steel and coal-mining and such like; those were the ones who were primarily responsible for pushing Hitler and Mussolini into office.
To give an example, in 1962, De Beers Consolidated, a subsidiary of Anglo-American Company of South America, gave 80 million escudos to the Portuguese Government of Caetano to crush the struggle for liberation in Angola. And so it could, and very likely would, be in the Caribbean. It is the Texacos, the Amocos, the Alcans and such-like that will bear the closest watching.
THE MAIN PILLARS OR ARMS OF FASCISM
Now the other question we have to try to answer, I believe it is the fourth question, is to attempt to list the main arms of Fascism. What are these arms that the Fascist state relies on?
First and foremost, there is the police. As I have stated before, the real function of the police in capitalist class society is not to maintain peace and order or to dispense justice; their real function is to keep the ruling class in power.
That is their real function, and we can better understand this when we consider how the system works. When someone breaks into a building and takes a loaf of bread because he is hungry, he could find himself facing a house-breaking charge in the Assizes and possibly eight or ten years jail.
But the people who sit down at board meetings and daily jack-up prices, the people who pillage our resources and export the profits, no policeman ever rushes into their board meetings and says "Hands up, you are under arrest."
And the reason is that the true objective function of the police force in capitalist class society is a function of ensuring the continuation in office of the ruling class and ensuring that the profits of the propertied and monied classes are maintained at the levels they want.
After the police comes the military. Their main function again is that of ensuring the class rule of those who rule. Thirdly, there are all sorts of para-military formations - secret-police, mongoose gangs, ton-ton macoutes, special squads - people have all sorts of nice names for them. But the name does not matter, what matters is that they function and do so very effectively.
Fourthly, there is big business which as we have just shown is one of the main arms of Fascism. Big business, especially big foreign business, involved in the production of export items is one of the biggest supporters of Fascism.
And today, I am sure that if an analysis is done of the concrete conditions existing in countries in the Caribbean where bauxite, oil and such-like are mined and extracted, it would prove to be correct that the main supporters of brutality and terror are precisely those foreigners who make the most profits from our lands and resources; those foreigners who finance the electioneering campaigns of parties prepared to act in their interests.
In this week's "Time" magazine for example, which I was looking at this morning, "Time" magazine for October 13th, there is an interesting article dealing with the question of Spain.
All of us know that in the last couple of weeks there have been increasing protests and isolation of Franco's fascist country. The United States of America was one of the few countries in the world where no adverse comment was made and where no effort was made by the Americans to withdraw its diplomats.
Indeed, very much the contrary. On the very morning that the five (5) Comrades were being executed, Kissinger was in Spain negotiating a new treaty with Spain for bases in that country. And "Time" magazine very concisely puts it this way:
It is a reality that they don't like, but they can't oppose it. They have been kicked out of Viet Nam and out of Cambodia, and Turkey is rejecting them. There is virtually no place in South East Asia now where they can go.
To protect the Asian flank of N.A.T.O. they desperately need bases within that area of the world, and to obtain those bases and to keep those bases, America will sell its very soul, far less the soul of foreigners.
And this is what I mean about the danger of foreign interests. The exploitation and greed which goes on when countries, corporations and individuals are concerned only with making money at the expense of other peoples' suffering is quite unbelievable. There are no limits beyond which such countries and such individuals will not go.
The revelations concerning the C.I.A. which everyday are coming out louder and clearer tell us a great deal about what American imperialism really stands for.
The same America that makes all sorts of protests about what they call terrorist activity, consider, e.g. their noises over the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, that same America would not go before the United Nations to ask that I.T.T. be brought before the International Court of Justice for its role in toppling the Allende government.
It wouldn't do that.
Because the interests of I.T.T. are their interests and their interests are with profits and with markets and with sources of raw materials. Those are their reasons.
After big business come the big landowners, big local capitalists and compradors, multi-national corporations and increasingly in the Caribbean what I would call the Caricom corporations, and by that I mean Geddes Grant, W.B. Hutchinson, Kirpalani's and such like.
These Caricom corporations are increasingly taking up the advantages of that very clever Caricom Treaty worked out by those very clever politicians to ensure the expansion of big business in the smaller islands. And that is, after all, the true meaning of Caricom.
Comrade C.Y. Thomas, an outstanding Caribbean Economist, in a critical review of Caricom in 1974 concluded that the Caricom Treaty is reactionary not only to such basic issues as the multi-national corporations and big business, but to recent political postures of some of these governments.
THE MIDDLE STRATA
Another arm, or at least another potential arm, is elements of the middle strata. Now, in looking at this particular arm I think that great care is required, because too easily and too readily, revolutionaries and progressives generally tend to regard the middle strata as being a reactionary force for which there is absolutely no hope.
But the experience, for example, of Comrade Cabral in Guinea-Bissau, and the experience of other countries that are today trying to disengage from imperialism, does not suggest that this is necessarily a correct line to adopt.
When we talk of the middle class we must first of all do a very careful analysis of what we mean by middle class, and which of the middle strata are potentially antagonistic.
We must identify which categories of the middle classes can be reached. And, in my view, we must consciously attempt to neutralise even those categories that we believe cannot be won over.
Now when we are talking about the middle classes, there is of course the urban middle class and there is the rural middle class. There is the middle class in the sense of the independent petty-bourgeoisie whom Marx speaks about - handicraftsman, tradesmen, shopkeepers, small shop-keepers, small tradesmen - categories like these.
There is also a relatively new kind of middle class whom we can probably call the new proletariat, that is, professional people - lawyers, doctors, public officers, technicians, engineers, draughtsmen - people employed by companies and who are not therefore independently engaged in the amassing of profits, but are working for salaries, fees and commissions and, in that sense, there is, of course the peasantry.
Again, there is the white collar worker and the comprador classes who are engaged as agents, wholesalers and that sort of thing.
And it is crucial, comrades, before reaching any clear decision as to which elements of the middle strata the working class can and must work with, that we do a very careful analysis of the exact situation concerning each of them.
How for example do we go about classifying the lower middle class and the upper middle class? What criteria do we use? Will we use purely economic criteria or are we going to take account of sociological factors?
In Grenada, for example, in our analysis, we have been saying that the lower middle class comprise the people who earn income of about two hundred dollars a month and upwards. We believe that is correct in our specific conditions where the national average wage is still about forty-five dollars a month for workers.
There are people who begin in the civil service, teachers and such like, with about two hundred dollars. And we categorise our lower middle class as those earning from about two hundred dollars a month and upwards.
We believe that is correct in our specific conditions where the national average wage is still about forty-five dollars a month for workers. There are people who begin in the civil service, teachers and such like, with about two hundred dollars.
And we categorise our lower middle class as those earning from about two hundred dollars right up to about nine hundred dollars monthly. From there on we identify our upper middle class as starting.
But when we come to deal with the upper class, the bourgeoisie, we do not just deal with economic criteria. Because there are difficulties involved in the context of a country like Grenada just coming out of slavery and colonialism where our people have been so finely attuned and socialised to all sorts of shade differentiations and status worship and "big names" and what not, it is perhaps not entirely suitable at certain levels to use only economic criteria to determine class location.
Because very often the upper classes in the society are among its poorest. It may be that all they have left is a "name" and a theoretical preparation for "greatness", but as far as many of our people are concerned they are still very upper class.
And where this is so, we must take it into account in our analysis, if only because the class outlook of such people will remain upper class, objective factors notwithstanding.
There is not time for us to take a long, hard look at the question of the middle strata. Let me merely stress again the importance of determining which of these middle strata must be won over and, particularly in a situation where fascism is rising, which we should identify as having the greatest potential for joining fascist forces.
In so doing, we should be guided by the historical differences which have existed and are existing between the middle class worker and the petty-bourgeoisie and the true proletariats.
The independent petty bourgeoisie is not a victim of the exploitation of his labor power but is affected by the competition of big business and by the organisation of credit and speculation. His main concern, therefore, is to modify capitalism.
Moreover, like the middle class worker, the petty-bourgeoisie regards himself as belonging to a privileged class, and even when they are down and out they often see themselves as "different" to the ordinary worker.
Further, these people have a very confused notion as to the meaning of class struggle and fight with the same mentality as the capitalists for a greater share of the capitalist cake. This leads them to a belief in class collaborationist activity.
Again, it is more usual for the middle strata to identify the nation with themselves and their aspirations, particularly as this affects protection of their properties, goods, buildings etc. whereas, the worker generally recognises no fatherland beyond his arm.
All of this leaves room for the Bourgeoisie to exploit these differences and to divide and rule, in much the same way as they try to exploit differences with the peasantry, youth, women in general, de-classed workers and the unemployed.
But, if this lack of an autonomous character, this vacillation can be exploited by the exploiters, we must not allow them to do so without a struggle.
It is our clear duty to win over the middle strata by our dynamism, boldness, ideas and organisational ability. At a later stage we may look at this a bit more, but for now we must move on more quickly.
Another arm of fascism is the judiciary. I don't have to spell that out. All of us know that judiciary means Judges and magistrates.
It is not a question of whether or not these people are operating theoretically independently. But it is a question first and foremost of their own class outlook and secondly it is a question of the class content of the laws that they are obliged to uphold and follow.
Laws for capitalist class society, as we have said before, have nothing to do with getting at the real source of oppression and exploitation. Most of these laws are designed to try to keep the working class in a continued state of subjection.
And, therefore, objectively (although subjectively individual judges might be of the highest integrity and calibre), the function the judiciary is fulfilling is a supportive function designed to keep the ruling class in power and the capitalist system intact.
There is, of course, also the mass media - newspapers, radios, television and such like. There is a country in the Caribbean where there is a man called Bain who is axing people right and left. That certainly looks like fascist activity but you know more about that than I do.
The question of propaganda is obviously crucial. All of us have heard about Germany's Goebbels. Goebbels, of course, was responsible for propagandising the aims of the fascist state, and he did a beautiful job on children, on adults, on everybody, and he used in fact all the means of the mass media.
Another arm of Fascism, which is evident particularly when class struggle has sharpened and class conflicts are being heightened - in periods, for example, when there is great activity on the part of the working class for higher and better wages - in periods like these especially, a major arm of fascism would be corrupt trade union leaders.
This is so because their main function is to confuse and divide the working class, to move them away from their task of fighting the system and instead encouraging them to fight themselves and to engage in all sorts of nonsensical and energy sapping arguments.
Again, there is the reactionary wing of the intelligentsia. Here again our attitude to people who can be regarded as the intelligentsia is apt to be a bit confusing.
Certain comrades feel that anyone who has acquired a degree is automatically a waste of time. I do not myself subscribe to that view.
I believe that where it is found that members of the intelligentsia are willing to use their knowledge in the service of the working class and are engaged in genuinely trying to re-educate themselves, and educating their brotherman, that these people must become allies of the oppressed forces. On the other hand, where reactionary and opportunist elements are found they must be ruthlessly exposed and isolated.
FASCISM AND THE CARIBBEAN: A CLOSER LOOK
- THE CARIBBEAN DEFINED
Comrades, having looked very briefly at these five questions, let us see if we can now determine whether there is in fact fascism in the Caribbean, and, if so, to what extent and in what degree.
Is fascism here already? Or are only some of the faces here? These are the questions we can now begin to answer.
Let us, however, first attempt to define the word Caribbean as our subject calls for us to look at "Fascism - A Caribbean Reality?"
Now, the Caribbean I have been talking about tonight has thirty-eight countries, and thirty-four of them are islands. The Caribbean I am talking about is comprised mainly of the islands washed by the Caribbean Sea.
If we start in the north, we will have places like the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica. Coming down, we would find the Leewards, Windwards, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Maarten and St. Croix.
Further down still, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Saba and of course Trinidad and Tobago.
Then, there are the four countries which strictly speaking are not in the Caribbean but which nonetheless I will ask you to include. Two of these will cause no problems because there are obvious historical, cultural and social ties with the rest of the Caribbean that allow them to be included. I refer to Belize (British Honduras) and Guyana.
I do not personally feel that there should be any difficulty about including the third country Surinam because the peoples of Surinam appear to regard themselves as Caribbean people. And beyond this they share with us a common history of colonialism and of slavery.
Only two months ago in Grenada there was the Ninth Conference of Caribbean Credit Unions, a Caribbean conference, and Surinam not only sent someone but applied for membership as well. That leaves us with no difficulty about including Surinam.
There is rather more difficulty about including Cayenne (French Guyana) but again for historical reasons and much more crucially because it is still a colony, I believe it should be included for the purposes of this discussion.
So the Caribbean we are talking about, has nine independent countries - Cuba, Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and Grenada and twenty-nine colonial territories as follows:
14 English-speaking territories - St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, American Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Belize, (British Honduras) and the Falkland (or Malvinas) Islands;
1 Spanish-speaking territory - Puerto Rico
7 French-speaking territories - Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cayenne, (French Guyana), St. Bartholomew, Marie Galante, the Saints and Le Desirade;
6 Dutch-speaking territories - Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Surinam, Saba and St. Eustatius;
1 Dutch and French-speaking territory - St. Maarten.
- SOME PRELUDES TO CARIBBEAN FASCISM
I wonder how many of you have stopped recently to consider that in this area of the world where racism and capitalism were literally created - because it was from slavery that racism was born, and in that sense it was racism that gave capitalism its biggest push - this region that largely created these twin evils today remains one of the last great bastions of colonialism.
Twenty-nine non-independent territories and all of them are down here - you have Dutch, you have French, you have Spanish, you have American, you have British, everyone of them.
And this balkanisation which has been going on for four hundred years has the greatest significance in terms of the subject we are dealing with. Because, remember earlier on I said that Dutt had defined fascism as being imperialism turned inward; well, what this should tell us is that wherever there are colonial countries, whenever there is a genuine demand for political independence, you can expect the imperialist masters to move to crush that demand with whatever force they can command.
That explains what is happening to Puerto Rico today and why in revolutionary Cuba only last month there was a conference to deal with the question of independence for Puerto Rico.
That is why the imperialists today in Puerto Rico are embarking on a massive sterilisation programme designed to make barren the women of Puerto Rico and to kill the resistance of the people of that country.
And that is why Puerto Rico has to be one of the main potential areas for a new outburst of modern day fascism in the Caribbean.
The same holds true for Martinique and Guadeloupe where tremendous workers' struggles have been going on over the last eight (8) years starting in 1967. In 1967 - Guadeloupe, in 1969 - Martinique and thereafter.
Over and over again, the French working class, the Caribbean working class in those two islands, has been saying loud and clear that they are no longer willing to put up with exploitation, colonialism and the imperialism that the foreign policy of France demands. Over and over again they have made this point and over and over again the resistance of the workers has been crushed.
Today, Cayenne is becoming famous for a new reason. France has now decided on a policy of re-populating Cayenne with Frenchmen. They are planning to send down something like one hundred thousand Frenchmen into Cayenne to turn the people of that country into slaves in their own land, non-humans in their own homeland. That can easily lead to a form of apartheid within Cayenne and open the floodgates for fascist activity.
Surinam is another possibility. As that country moves to independence, the class struggles within that country have become heightened and also have become confused somewhat by an apparent conflict of the races - where something like, I think, sixty thousand people of Indian descent in Surinam have left that country in the last couple of months and rushed to Holland hoping for the land of honey.
Who are going to replace them? And when the imperialists find that they are no longer able to maintain their profits in that country because of the scarcity of qualified personnel, what will they do? Again, the potential for fascist activity in a place like Surinam would seem obvious.
But comrades, if you would allow me, firstly, because the conditions in my own island Grenada are most familiar and, secondly I believe that many of the faces of fascism have been evident in Grenada over the last couple of years.
I will ask you to allow me to use Grenada as an example of what the rest of the Caribbean is headed for and to try to deal with the situation in Grenada from the perspective of the subject we are dealing with.
- THE GRENADIAN MODEL
What I propose to do is to look at Grenada in terms of the various faces that we have spoken about. Let us try to see how many of these faces of fascism are present in Grenada.
First of all, look at the question of absolutist rule. Look at the question of the maximum leader.
There is no more maximum leader in the Caribbean than Eric Matthew Gairy. Perhaps not even Baby Doc can surpass him. We must see this both in terms of what he says of himself and more crucially in terms of how his supporters see him.
So that for example, no cabinet decisions of any kind, and I mean any kind, can be made if the Doctor is out of the island. He is president for life of the largest trade union in the island, he is also president for life of the ruling political party, and he aspires to be Prime Minister for life, or maybe later President for life of the country.
The evidence in Grenada with respect to totalitarian rule extends to all aspects of human relations. It is true of the politics, it is also true of the unions.
Gairy has been maintaining a very consistent policy, which has been stepped up from 1973, of trying to take away the membership of the other key unions on the island.
There are some sixteen registered trade unions in Grenada but only about five are worth talking about and Gairy has been trying to poach workers from these from about 1973 onwards, particularly from the Technical and Allied Workers Union.
In fact, there was a strike called by Technical and Allied in May 1973 which had nothing whatsoever to do with the question of workmen's wages, nothing to do with the question of better conditions, but was called solely for the purpose of reminding Gairy that the union still had the ability to turn the lights off and to remind him not to poach.
The strike in fact was engineered by one of Gairy's right hand men, a minister in the government, who was then also legal adviser to the union and president of the Trade Union Congress.
Now this year, there have already been four different but related efforts by Gairy to further control the activities of Trade Unions.
Sometime in February this year, Cable and Wireless began the building of a micro-wave station and about two months after the project was underway, the workers asked the Technical and Allied Workers' Union to organise them. But a few days after the president of the Technical and Allied Workers' Union had enlisted the workers, Gairy arrived on the scene.
Driven to the scene by the foreign manager of Cable and Wireless, Gairy told these workers that he alone had the right to organise workers employed in any public capacity in Grenada. Nobody else had that right, he insisted, as he had been given that right since 1961, although he didn't say who gave him that right.
And therefore all these workers were going to have to join his union or they were going to find themselves without a job. The workers, almost to a man, resisted but he nonetheless got the manager to arrange for each of them to get a dollar a day extra.
At the end of the week virtually all the workers on that project refused the increase and were showing the greatest solidarity with the union. But do you know what that union did eventually?
The Union turned around and agreed with the Gairy proposal that the question of recognition be submitted to the Trade Union Congress. That was the reaction.
And predictably, the Trade Union Congress said:
Gairy's union is in charge. The actual agreement reached was a compromise allowing for the joint recognition of both unions with union dues being paid to the T.U.C. I need hardly say, however, that in this situation the Gairy union soon won out.
The situation at home is complicated by the fact that we don't have the kind of militants among trade union leaders that Trinidadians have. There is, for example, no George Weekes and that makes a fundamental difference.
At home, to give one example, the unions apparently are only now hearing about a Cost of Living Allowance, and are only now, in a few cases, beginning to negotiate for that.
And when they ask for an increase in wages they don't ask for 147 per cent, they ask for 30 or 35 per cent hoping to get 15 or 20. So, I mean it's that level of union organisation and backwardness we are dealing with.
There is a place in Grenada called the Grenada Yacht Services - a marina for foreigners with all their nice yachts and so on - and there are some workers there whom Gairy tried to organise but the workers refused to join his union. The result was that he had a number of them sacked with the collusion of the management.
Then there is the situation with the Nutmeg Association workers. The Nutmeg Association in Grenada is, after the government, the single largest employer of workers on the island.
As you may well know, nutmeg is the most important industry in Grenada, and Grenada produces the world's second largest amount of nutmegs. Only Indonesia produces more than we do.
Now there are three (3) large processing stations on the island, and something like eighteen receiving stations and these workers were unionised by the Commercial and Industrial Workers' Union.
But in July, Gairy acquired the Nutmeg Association and one of his first acts was to replace many of the unionised workers by his own workers. So that through this mechanism of control, workers are being constantly divided and-pitted against each other.
Today, many of them are fearful because they are unable to see any dynamism or militance in the leadership of the other unions and in concrete terms they recognise that whenever Gairy wishes to move to victimise them he can do so with impunity.
It means that the spirit of these workers is being dampened and stifled. And this kind of worker can very easily become de-classed and fall prey to the lure of fascists or neo-fascists.
Now, all of you have heard about Parliament in Grenada - a fiasco and a farce. There are fifteen seats, fourteen are held by Gairy, one by the Opposition GNP.
In the last elections in 1972 the GULP claimed fifty-eight per cent of the votes and gave the opposition forty-two. Now, how fifty-eight to forty-two works out to be fourteen to one is a matter, I suppose, for mathematical geniuses. But in any event that is the reality.
The radio is another good example. There is one radio station that is totally controlled by the government and only their voices can be heard. In fact, in a speech last year, after we began agitating for radio time, Gairy said that for the NJM to ask for radio time was the same like his asking us to be allowed to write an article for our newspaper. So, as far as he is concerned, the radio is his personal property.
Regarding newspapers, well, of course, you have heard of the Newspaper Law, which I will deal with a little later on.
Let me come to the question of the legal and constitutional face. Grenada is also well-known for its repressive laws. All the usual ones like State of Emergency Acts, Public Order Acts, Explosives Acts and various such devices that Comrades here are very familiar with, we also have in abundance in Grenada.
We have, in addition, something which was passed last year which was called Shops-Regulations of Opening Hours-Act. Now that was designed to make sure that all shops kept their doors open.
Remember last year there was a general shutdown and business places had closed down. So what Gairy did was to pass this Act demanding that business places stay open.
This year, following on the footsteps of Antigua, and after the Privy Council had given its very famous pro-establishment judgement, Gairy passed an Amendment to the Newspaper. Act. Now in Antigua they were asking for ten thousand dollars so he decided that he wanted sixty thousand; he wanted six times more.
Grenada of course is richer and independent to boot, so we must demand more. This sum was eventually reduced to twenty thousand. And therefore to legally print a newspaper in Grenada now you have to put up twenty thousand dollars; additionally you have to sign a bond; and also you have to pay an annual license fee of five hundred dollars.
This law had the effect of closing down the other opposition papers. The G.N.P.'s newspaper was closed, another group called the U.P.P. also stopped printing and "The Torchlight" likewise stopped publishing until they were able to comply with the law. Only our newspaper continued, and still continues, to publish the facts.
They have just passed a very interesting law, a law which on its face might not appear to be dangerous - This is an amendment to the Jury Act. And what they have done by this law is to disallow jurors from sitting in any civil cases.
That might look simple enough, it might look harmless enough. It is very far from that. What this jury law is designed to do is to make sure that in libel cases no jury sits.
The background is that Gairy has a world record in the bringing of libel cases. Up to 1972, Gairy had brought no fewer than eight libel cases. And he has had about five brought against him. He is a man who likes the court.
He has had something like twenty-two different debt cases taken against him. And one of the things he likes to boast about is that in one year he was charged some thirty-five times for road traffic and other offences. That is one of his smaller pleasures.
What this particular law is designed to do is to ensure that in libel cases there will be no jury sitting to determine the facts and come to a conclusion. You are going to have to deal with a judge alone who will have to be judge of law and facts.
This law, in fact, seems to have been timed to prevent a jury from hearing a libel case, adjourned last week, which Gairy had taken against Michael Sylvester, a lawyer and former opposition politician. That gives you an idea of what I mean when I say this law is not nearly as harmless as it might appear.
Now, moving very quickly to the question of the judiciary - the judicial face. We have a situation at home where there is virtually no magistracy. The magistrates are almost totally non-functioning in the sense that questions of law are of no concern to the majority of them.
Many of you remember 18th November, 1973, what we call Bloody Sunday, when six of us were beaten by Gairy's Secret Police in Grenville, where we were going to attend a meeting.
Well, they kept us in the cell, bleeding, bottle-trimmed and in desperate need of medical attention that night, and the next morning we appeared handcuffed and barefooted before the magistrate, a man called I.I. Duncan, and were charged with being in possession of arms and ammunition.
Now, the law says that where persons are charged with summary offences bail must be granted, but Duncan stated that as far as he was concerned, no law could take away his discretion, he did not care what the law said; he was granting no bail. That is the magistracy.
When we talk about magistrates who do not even pretend that there is something called "law" which they must try to serve and uphold, you must come to Grenada to understand. It is nothing short of a comic pantomime going on in most of those courts daily.
So far as the judge (there is only one in Grenada) is concerned, elements in the government had been expressing open hostility to the judge who used to be there up to a couple of weeks ago.
He had given a number of decisions against the government which they were not happy about, and they have been applying all sorts of pressure to have him removed. In fact, this month he was removed, transferred to Antigua and a new judge has arrived.
As I said before, judges must be judged more in terms of their class outlook rather than their personal integrity, though integrity is always an important consideration.
Next, the military side of fascism - the military face. Since 1967, when the GULP got back into office, there have been no less than ten different Commissioners of Police. Some years we might have two, other years only one and so on. Ten different Commissioners of Police in eight years!
From 1954 to 1967 there was only one Commissioner; he somehow or the other managed to last thirteen years but once Gairy resumed office the new pattern took shape. And the vast majority of these Commissioners have been foreigners.
Quite obviously, when you bring a foreigner in as Commissioner he has no loyalty to the country, no responsibility to the people, so he either does what he is told or he goes and for that very reason he is a lot easier to control and to remove when he becomes too "manish".
So over the years they have just been chopping and changing Commissioners with the regularity of the seasons.
Right now the Commissioner of Police is from Nigeria; he has been there with a Deputy Commissioner, also from Nigeria, for the last three months. This seems to have been the result of some arrangement worked out by Gairy with General Gowon before he was overthrown sometime last year.
Gairy had gone to the Pan-African Congress in Tanzania, which again is quite an amazing thing when you think about it - imagine Gairy as a Pan-Africanist, and all dressed in white. And coming back from the Pan-African Congress, he stopped off in Nigeria to beg a return passage home and to work up this deal with Gowon. A safe prediction is that our Nigerian brothers are very unlikely to last the duration of their 2 year contract.
Now, beyond that, there is the question of constant victimisation and promotions based on patronage and for "brutality services" rendered.
A police force in fact, which the Duffus Commission of Enquiry, held last year into the events in Grenada, found to be entirely lacking in morals and discipline. This was the finding of that Commission of Enquiry. Along with the police force, there had been up to 1974 the secret police and the infamous mongoose gang.
Now, as long ago as May 1970, in a very famous speech entitled Address on Black Power, the same speech that Comrade Belgrave was referring to when he said "if yuh neighbour's house on fire wet yours", Gairy claimed in effect that there were two Erics in the Caribbean, a fast one and a slow one, and he was not the slow one.
Yes, in that speech in May 1970, he announced that he was going to recruit "the roughest and toughest rough-necks" he could find - that's the exact quotation - in order to meet steel with steel.
And he also promised to create what lie called "Voluntary Intelligence Units for the Protection of Property". And this, according to him, was to come from the propertied and monied classes, people who were going to come forward to protect their interests from the spectre of Black Power.
Now since May 1970 he has created in fact a Night Ambush Squad, a Special Secret Police Squad, then he formed what he called Police Aides and finally they formed what they called Volunteers for the Protection of Human Rights.
As you recognise, this is similar language to Mussolini and Hitler. They are
saying that these Volunteers for the Protection of Human Rights, all two thousand of them during their hey day, were volunteering only to protect the human rights of the government and the human rights of supporters of the government.
And in fact, their methods of attack were nine out of ten times designed to make an impact. It was not a question of catching you in the dark and beating you; these beatings had to take place in public, in the full view of everybody.
Obviously, they were trying to tell Grenadians something about their future. They were not hiding, it was open, it was public, it was brutal.
And even up to two or three months ago, on 18th July, one of our Comrades, Kenrick Radix, was beaten and chopped up in the middle of St. George's. Yes, two or three months ago, by some of these same people who are now posing as members of a Defence Force. They are once more preparing for war.
And when you talk about a Defence Force in Grenada, you are not talking about a Defence Force like you have in Trinidad where, at least, so far as the law books are concerned, it is legal.
In Grenada, that Defence Force has no legality whatsoever. Our laws provide for a Grenada Volunteer Constabulary and for Rural Constables. But there is no provision under the law for this Defence Force, so like the Secret Police it is again an entirely illegal creation that operates illegally but has the full force, backing an effect of the "law".
Now this Defence Force continues to be comprised of criminal elements. In fact, one of the things that the Commission of Enquiry found is that no less than sixty four members of the so called "Police Aides" had criminal records. Some of them had as many as 34 previous convictions. And many of these same people are now in this Defence Force.
So when we are talking about legality and illegality we must understand that no real attempts are made to disguise, to clothe or to hide institutional illegality and brutality in Grenada.
Let us move on Comrades, to the economic face of fascism as it appears in Grenada. Now, Grenada is no different to the rest of the Caribbean, except Cuba.
Like the rest of the Caribbean, the controlling class has struck an alliance with would-be local capitalists and local compradors. Opposite to that class there is of course the broad base of workers - the working class.
Here you find that unemployment in Grenada today is something like 50 percent of the work force. If you add underemployment to that, the figure would probably pass 65%. Even official documents in 1970, when it was supposed to have been a boom year because of tourism and a great deal of construction activity, put open unemployment at 17 percent. The Government, of course, hides behind what they call "the crisis" of 1973 and 1974.
They are unable to do anything about unemployment, so they have been saying that "Jewel" created the crisis and therefore "Jewel" must solve the unemployment problem. And "Jewel" is not even in office yet!
If we look at the class structure, what we find is that the producing class of wage-labourers, people engaged in agriculture, in the few factories that we have, in manufacturing and so on, these people are doomed to a life of social misery, degradation and exploitation.
The few parasites at the top of course live in great luxury.
In between these two comes the middle strata. As with the rest of the Caribbean, they have one main social function, and that is to provide the supportive machinery for the state, the international bourgeoisie and the local compradors and capitalists.
Their main function is to consume and that is what they are doing. But in addition to consuming they provide the apparatus of control for the ruling class.
Now, there are exceptions to this within the middle strata. There are, in the Grenada situation, many elements of that middle strata that can be neutralised and there are certainly elements of the middle class who are, quite frankly, as fed up with capitalism as the working class. In other words, they can be won over to the working class. And efforts, in our view have to be made to do precisely this.
When we look at the question of foreign control of the economy, what we find at home is that the multi-national corporations dominate and control the areas of banking, insurance companies and tourism. There are 5 international banks operating there. There are no fewer than 66 registered insurance companies in Grenada - sixty-six!
But yet they tell us that we arc poor, small, worth nothing, and without money and all that. And yet they have sixty-six of those companies in Grenada. What are they doing there?
In the hotel business, of the fifteen or so hotels, one of them, Holiday Inn, alone controls sixty percent of the total bed space available.
In agriculture, there is a monopoly by Geest of our bananas. With cocoa and nutmegs, we ship these raw crops up to England where they are processed, packed into tins and shipped back to us. We are not engaged in any form of agro-industrialisation.
When our cocoa farmer picks his cocoa pod off the cocoa tree, he has to sell it to the Cocoa Association which in turn sells to agents in England. These agents then sell to manufacturers who package or tin the cocoa, call it Ovaltine or Chocolate or Cadburys or Fry's or Moo or whatever and return it to be bought at five or six dollars a tin. A straight case of a dependent economy - an economy totally controlled by outside forces.
The few compradors (if we can so call them) we have at home do not even understand the basics of capitalism. They seem incapable of understanding that with a little money, a little organisation and a few ideas money can be made in agro-industry.
They seem totally barren of ideas and are mainly concerned to break off ninety-five cents profit or a dollar profit or whatever they can get on a tin of corned beef or a pound of saltfish, put that in their pockets and then call themselves "big capitalist". But perhaps it is as well that they do not understand!
Comrades, from all of this we can conclude that neo-fascism is fairly well entrenched in Grenada. Entrenched, not in the sense that people are consciously and publicly and actively articulating a philosophy of fascism, that is to say, they are not saying they are fascist, but what they are doing tells us that they are fascist or neo-fascist in outlook.
And this in reality is the only way to assess and judge fascists and fascism. It does not matter what comes out of the mouths of politicians, it is a question of what they do in practice.
It is what their social practice is, that will determine whether objectively they are or are not fascists, regardless of whether they believe subjectively that they are the greatest democrats since Locke or Rousseau. And this, Comrades is the situation in Grenada in terms of fascism.
- DOMINICA - A NEO-FASCIST VARIANT
Perhaps there is just time to look at another example, which I want to do very briefly. It seems to me that some of the main ingredients of fascism or neo-fascism are present in Dominica.
Dominica, like Grenada, has its so-called "National Days of Prayer". Like Gairy, Patrick John also has his "Meet the People" (really "Fool the People") Tours.
Patrick John like Gairy, also has a secret police, and like Gairy he appears to be moving very seriously in the area of a Defence Force. But the secret police in Dominica are secret police like no other part of the world, because the secret police there are coming not just from the lumpen classes; these are people from the middle classes and in some cases from the upper classes.
The alleged leader, for example, of the secret police in Dominica, a man called Jojo Kharam, is the local distributor and agent in Dominica for all Ford products - a very big shot. And he is the accepted leader of the local secret police.
And the "Dread Movement" in Dominica developed in this way. It had to do precisely with the fact that a number of very important class struggles centred around the question of land, have been going on in Dominica for the last three years.
In 1973 you probably remember hearing about Castle Bruce. This was an area owned by Geest Estates where the workers had risen up and demanded that they be all allowed to buy the land and run it themselves as a co-operative.
The Government resisted at first but eventually, after some two years of constant pressure and agitation and when it had become clear that the workers were able to float a loan independently to buy over Castle Bruce, from Geest.
They then agreed to lease some 125 acres of that land to the farmers, the peasants of Castle Bruce.
And I tell you, if you ever go to Dominica be sure to go to Castle Bruce. Because the experiment at Castle Bruce is something that has to be seen to be believed. The strides that have been made in clearing, in replanting; the level of co-operation that has been achieved - all of this has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
I have seen areas that were formerly purely forest lands which have been cleared and bridges which have been built by these seemingly unskilled agricultural workers and small peasants. They have truly begun a massive experiment which certainly will have lessons for the rest of the Caribbean.
Beyond Castle Bruce, there was another area in Dominica where there was an attempt on the part of small peasants, workers and unemployed to take over the land. That area is called Grandbay.
And it was largely as a result of these economic struggles that the "Dread Movement" in Dominica developed.
The Imperialist press and the local press tell us that the "Dread Phenomenon" is a racial phenomenon where black people in Dominica are moving to kill white people, but the evidence is to the contrary.
The fact is that what is happening there, represents a very high form of class struggle. It is an example of the dispossessed classes on the move. The working class and the unemployed have been looking for land, demanding land and in the process of not getting land, coming face to face with the armed might of the state.
Now, one of the symbols that the neo-fascist regime in Dominica used, to attempt to try to crush this rising proletarian revolution in Dominica, was the frame-up of a young Comrade, a member of the Dread Movement, called Desmond Trotter.
Desmond was arrested and put on trial for murder, and found guilty of murder with the result that today Desmond Trotter is lying in a cold cell in Dominica, waiting to hang, unless the Privy Council, contrary to all expectations, decides to stop it.
Now, when you are talking about a trial, that was a trial. Because first of all at Desmond Trotter's trial there was an unbelievable atmosphere right through; the trial lasted one month and every single day of that trial more than 20 armed police used to come into the court to create an atmosphere of total intimidation.
You remember the Magna Carta of England? That gave accused persons the right to be tried by their "peers", that is, people of the same or similar social, economic and political status and background.
But the jury that eventually sat on Desmond's trial not only had a secret police on it, it also had the manager of the Chamber of Commerce, it had top employees of Syrians, owners of small business and such like.
People in other words who were not very likely to be unbiased and who were in no possible sense his "peer".
As for the judge, he was something else! This judge was saying during the trial when objections were being taken to objectionable evidence, that "the only issue in this trial is who kill cock robin!"
The whole thing was one big joke. His main preoccupation throughout the trial was to keep centre-stage.
And when we look at the facts of the case, it is even more startling. A young Antiguan girl, Camella Francis lands in Dominica on Carnival Saturday for the first time in her life.
On the very night that she lands in Dominica, she happens to get into company with some young men whom the police later claim, on her evidence, chopped up a number of foreigners on a country beach in Dominica.
Then, on the carnival Tuesday night she happens to be in downtown Roseau liming when, she claims, Desmond Trotter, who has never seen her before in his life, walks up to her, pulls out a gun, tells her to feel it, to show her how hot it is still and then tells her "I just did a wonderful job, I just killed a white man."
In other words, this little barmaid, sixteen years old, in the space of some forty-eight hours was able to solve two of the biggest crimes to have hit Dominica in the last ten or twenty years. But on this evidence, Trotter is to hang. Unless we are able to bring enough pressure to stop it.
Internationally, there is a campaign going on right now. In Canada, in America, in Europe, England, and right here in the Caribbean there is a massive campaign going on right now to make sure that Desmond Trotter does not hang. Because, if Desmond Trotter's life is taken, on these facts, in this situation, the life of each and every one of us as revolutionaries would be in danger.
And it is urgent and crucial that the Oilfields Workers Trade Union of Trinago, the U.L.F. and all serious organisations and individuals mount some kind of campaign, some kind of agitation around the question of the neo-fascist repression going on in Dominica.
The effect of the Dread Act which they have passed is to give a licence to all policemen and even to private citizens to kill, night or day, without fear of prosecution, any "Dread" at all.
And just think about this! This same Patrick John comes down to Trinidad gives an interview to the "Express" and talks about transforming the economy and talks about what he is doing for Dominica. This is the same Patrick John.
Right now in fact they are preaching "Democratic Socialism" and "Co-operative Socialism" while they set up their Gun Courts, suppress newspapers and send their police out to harass and persecute brothers who are organising. This is what has been going on.
And that is what we mean when we say that fascism here may not necessarily manifest itself in the same way and in the same form that it did in other parts of the world but remains fascism or more accurately neo-fascism nonetheless.
Because fascism today has come to mean that any Government which combines a number of the faces of fascism deserves to be called fascist or neo-fascist.
Comrades, I must conclude, because already I have spoken for well over 2 hours and I understand from the Comrade Chairman that the floor will be open for comments afterwards. And as far as I am concerned I would certainly wish to hear the comments of the Comrades and share in their experiences. Let us, therefore, wrap up.
I believe without going into more detail that it is possible for us to conclude that neo-fascism is already in the Caribbean in some of its forms and that the potential for fascism to grow even more is obviously there.
"CONCLUSION: WHAT IS TO BE DONE AND HOW?"
What we must now be concerned with is what we can do as progressives, as revolutionaries and socialists to deal with this situation. What can we do to try to counter this rising threat of fascism?
Let me suggest three main areas of activity.
First of all, what I would call the task of education. There is a real job on hand to educate all of our people to the possibility that what happened in Germany, what happened in Italy, what happened under Peron in Argentina or Duvalier in Haiti, or in Portugal before the 1974 Revolution, or is happening right now in Chile or Spain, can happen right here in the Caribbean.
Because the more people feel that it cannot happen here, the more they feel that fascism was an Italian or German or Chilean experience, but that it cannot happen here, the more difficult will be our task.
We must show that it can happen here. That is our job, to try to dispel certain major illusions about fascism.
People must begin to see and begin to understand that leaders do not have to use the word fascist to be fascist in reality. They cannot be judged by what they say but by their social practice, by what they do and by whom they choose to align with.
Another illusion that must be dispelled is that fascism has no relevance to a country where Bourgeois "democracy" is highly developed. That is a joke. Fascism can come once the objective conditions are present.
As we go along and develop a better understanding of what it is we are really fighting, what we are going to discover is that the choice may not be between capitalism and socialism but between fascism and socialism.
This is so because capitalism is early fascism, or put more familiarly, fascism is capitalism in decay. And it is only as the capitalists' backs are pushed more and more to the wall, as more and more they find their profits threatened by the rising working class revolution that we are going to see the faces of fascism emerging.
So there is really no longer any true choice between capitalism and socialism, that choice is now history. The new choice is between fascism and socialism.
The second task is to organise for power. That is no longer an academic question. Comrades, it is now an historical imperative.
And while I am not at all pretending to be qualified to give any advice to the Comrades of Trinago, I do think that the experiences of countries like Italy and Germany, like Argentina, Spain and Portugal, and crucially the experience right next door of Chile (where there are no less than 8 fundamental lessons that can be drawn) are relevant and must be applied.
What the experiences of these countries and these peoples seem to indicate is that we have to move from economic warfare and move to take political power because unless and until we take that political power, in the final analysis, we are not going to be able to withstand the coming onslaught of fascist terror.
There is a job to be done now. Let us not be misled or deceived by diversions or by any great debates which argue that public sector workers or Oilfields Workers are taking too large a share in the national cake.
Let us not be misled by people who argue that inflation and what not is being caused by workers agitating for increased wages. No, by all means agitate for increased wages, demand them, show dynamism and audacity in getting them: by all means.
But at the same time, we must look beyond this and we must take our struggle on to the political stage where the increased aspirations and consciousness of the working class must be transferred into political power. And we can best do this by forming a party of and for the working class.
Comrades, as we organise for power we must never forget that the question of who our friends are and of who our real enemies are, the question of whom we can forge alliance with - whether, for example, we can engage in a United Front or in an Alliance or Popular Front around a Minimum Program - are questions that can only be solved after we have analysed the social class structure of our society using the analytical tools of Marxism-Leninism.
There is no other way. Because, there are some interests that are antagonistic and antagonistic interests can never be reconciled by talk or by so called "Unity" or by class collaboration.
Antagonistic interests can only be fought, destroyed, crushed. And, it is quite clear that the conflicting interests between the opposing aspirations of the bourgeoisie in this country and the working class in this country are antagonistic and therefore any alliance with the bourgeoisie will have to be a dangerous alliance.
But different questions arise when other classes are looked at. The independent petty-bourgeoisie, the small peasantry, the unemployed, the progressive intelligentsia, the new proletariat, the middle strata in general; with these, it should be possible to work out an Alliance around a Minimum Program, once we proceed in a principled way.
Once we make sure that we are not forced into concessions when it would be wrong for us to concede. But at the same time we must not be afraid to compromise when it is right for us to compromise.
All of these questions can only be answered as we wage constant ideological struggle, as we develop new approaches based on principle and a materialist analysis, as we evolve guidelines that would assist us in coming to correct decisions.
If we are able Comrades to approach our task in this way, conscious that the real task is not in forging a United Front to fight fascism but in forming a United Front to destroy capitalism and end exploitation of man by man, then it means our job will be a lot easier.
Our third task, Comrades is to consolidate once we have taken power. It is my view that we should consider this question now as, although not yet in power, many of our organisations, up and down the Caribbean are or could be close to power.
And the question of what we are going to do with that power in the first couple of hours, in the first couple of days, weeks, months and years must be examined now.
Too many progressive, revolutionary or socialist organisations in the past have taken power and lost it for the wrong reasons. And it is here that we must study the experience of, for example, the 1871 Commune in Paris, the 1905 Revolution in Russia, the Portuguese experience and the Chilean tragedy.
Let us look at some of the lessons of Chile. Writing on "The Crisis of Capitalism And The Fascist Danger" in his 1975 book "Some Problems of the Revolutionary Movement", Comrade Boris Ponomaryov points to 8 lessons of the Chilean experience.
He points out firstly, that when the counter-revolution openly violated the constitution and trampled democratic rights and freedoms underfoot they confirmed the objective law that whenever the real interests of the Bourgeoisie are threatened that they always resort to fascist brutality.
Secondly, he emphasised the importance of maintaining revolutionary gains in power through the use of a correct theory allied with the waging of all forms of struggle.
Thirdly, the importance of consolidating the revolution and reinforcing the social base through economic policy which correctly chooses its forms and sets its own pace.
Fourthly, he stresses the importance of working patiently to win over the petty-bourgeoisie, the peasantry, and the middle strata and of keeping a careful eye on left-wing adventurers.
Fifthly, the necessity of depriving the class enemy of the mass information and propaganda media which he has monopolised over the years through his Lord Thompsons and other imperialists.
Sixthly, the need to create new apparatuses of State to replace the traditional army and police inherited by, but hostile to, the new regime.
Seventhly, the urgency of turning Parliament away from a talk shop into being a democratic and working body responsible to the people.
And finally, the importance of understanding that modern revolutions are going to be less and less spontaneous and more and more socially conscious and organised actions by the masses and their parties.
Comrades, we must learn these lessons and use them to safeguard and defend socialism and revolutionary gains by all necessary means.
Comrades, these are some of the tasks before us: it is along road, it is a hard road but it is the only road. Those who have chosen the suicidal path of trying to play around with capitalism in decay, of trying to patch it and reform it, good for them.
We know that the only way in which the working class would be able to take power and keep power would be by forming that party we have spoken about, by moving to take state power, by thereafter moving to destroy the whole apparatus of the capitalist state and by setting up a worker's state, which must then embark on an immediate programme of revolutionary, social, political and economic transformation.
Comrades, Death to Fascism!
Death to Imperialism!
Long Live the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union!
Long Live the historic United Labour Front!
Long live the Caribbean working class!
Long live the International Working Class!
The booklet has a page with additional speakers, and that page is below:
O.W.T.U. LEADERSHIP SEMINAR OCTOBER 12th-19th, 1975
LECTURES AND DISCUSSION PAPERS IN THIS SERIES
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
- Bargaining for Wage Increases - Roy Thomas
- What is Accident Prevention and Who Is Responsible - Alexander Thomas
- The Ideology of the Working Class - Lennox Pierre
- A Brief History of the O.W.T.U. and Its Present Policy - George Weekes
- Labour Legislation - Allan Alexander
- Agriculture: The Case For Import Substitution - George Sammy
- The Petroleum and Petrochemical Industries - Trevor Farrell
- Political Trends in Asia and Africa - Amechi Uchegbu
- Fascism - A Caribbean Reality - Maurice Bishop
- History and Philosophy of the Trade Union Movement - Richard Jacobs
- Imperialism - Past and Present - James Millette
- The Development of the State in Trinago - Ian Belgrave
- Ideology and I Labour in Latin America - Winston Murray
- Accounting Procedure - Hilda Harris
- Grievance Procedure and Grievance Handling - John Abraham
OILFIELDS WORKERS' TRADE UNION