The Old World and the New - CLR James

CLR James

[This is the text of the speech given by James at a celebration organised to mark his seventieth birthday on 4 January 1971 at Ladbroke Grove in London, an area with a high black population.] - From At the rendezvous of victory

Submitted by UseValueNotExc… on April 7, 2023

Well, my friends, this is quite an occasion. One does not often reach a seventieth birthday. It comes once in a lifetime and nothing like it can recur. According to the Scripture, three score years and ten gives you a certain authority. Tonight I want to say to begin that I am extremely glad to be here in Ladbroke Grove. This is not just a statement that one makes on such an occasion. My birthday could be celebrated with some success in many parts of England, in large areas of the United States, in many parts of the Caribbean (if they would let me in, some of them), in parts of Africa too.

I want you to understand first that after the meeting I had here some months ago, and after I had been listening and talking to people, I would have chosen among all of them to be here in Ladbroke Grove to celebrate the seventieth birthday of someone who has been politically active for many years. I want you to understand that it is not something that I am saying because it has to be said. If they had given me a choice from all over the world of where I would choose, I would have said, "Ladbroke Grove". I hope you will be patient with me, and by the time I have finished you will understand that that was no casual statement, but it was rooted in my past political experiences, my past life, the future that I see before me and the future that I see before you. What I am going to talk about is what one would call the Old World and the New. We are now in the throes of giving birth to a new world, and I am glad to say that we, my friends and I, the people that I have known, have taken part in this birth that is going on, and that you are going to be in on the culmination of it, I am quite sure. I had decided to retire at seventy-five, and sit in a chair and tell everyone what they ought to do, and give advice free of charge to everyone. But now I have decided I am going to stay till I am eighty because things are going to happen by the time I am eighty and I want to be there to see them. You
are all fortunate in that you are going to be there, but I want to be certain to be there. I would like to.

Now, the first thing I am going to say is as a West Indian. This has nothing to do with my race. It has, however, much to do with my nationality. I say that it has nothing to do with my race because there is far more in common between me and ninety-nine per cent of
Englishmen than between the Englishman and the Italian, the Englishman and the German, and the Englishman and the French. To begin with, we use the same language. I have sometimes wished that I had a native language but I find English good enough to go on with for the time being. We use the same books, we have similar social attitudes, the same basic ideas, even the same religion: in the West Indies you will find the Protestant, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Baptist, Agnostic, Atheist, all the European religions are there, and that is what most West Indian people are. So we are different in nationality. I am
going to try to bring out the difference in nationality, because the difference has meant a great deal to me in the things that I have to do and say about Western civilisation and the black people in it. It's due to nationality. And the second thing is: I speak as a Marxist-Leninist. That phrase is misused by many people today but I am going to speak as one. I have been one for many years. I see no reason to change, and I have been able to carry on with anything that interests me in the world as a marxist-leninist.

Now I want to talk to you of things that have happened to me, things that have happened to me personally. I think you would like to know. I remember when a presentation was being given to me at the West Indian Student Centre. By chance I happened to say a few words about myself. I was astonished at the response. I heard people all the time saying, "C.L.R. has told us something about himself at last." Well, if I am to do it again, this is the time. It will be quite a while before I have the occasion to say it again, and I want to begin with my parents.

I had very good parents. My father was a remarkable man. He was the head of the Teachers' Training School at Tranquillity. He was the senior student after two years. He was a great runner of the quarter mile, he was a fine batsman. When I went there to play cricket, people
told me how my father used to hit the ball, implying that I wasn't doing as well, but I didn't mind. He taught himself to play music, he used to play the organ in the church. He taught himself shorthand, he used to do special reporting for the newspapers. I am not merely telling you about a remarkable man. What I am saying is, he was born in 1876 and he was doing all these things by the end of the century, and if he had gone to Paris, to London, to New York, anywhere, he would have been able to take his place and be a perfectly respectable citizen. That is what I want you to know about the West Indians, that is what my father was.

In regard to my mother, she was a tall, very handsome woman, and I will tell you something about her. My father was known, he was a distinguished person doing all these things, and one day his brother, my uncle, came and told him, "Robert, I have the girl for you." My father
said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "I met her, she was tall and slim as a pole, she speaks in a most elegant ladylike manner and she is a very nice person, very handsome. Robert, she is the girl for you." My father said, "Well, what...." My uncle continued, "I told her that she should meet my brother and I have arranged that you should go and meet her, and she says you can." My father said, "But what kind of thing is this, what are you doing?" He replied, "Man, you should go and see her, she should be the girl for you, you should go and meet her." So my father — an appointment had been made — he went, and the result was me. [Laughter.] My mother was a reader. I learned to read, and to read the books she was reading. I don't know that in the year between 1901 and 1910 there was anybody in the Caribbean, and not many people in Britain, in her status and mine who read so many books. All sorts of books came into the house. She read perpetually, and as she put the books down I picked them up. Even though she said I was not to read some, I would find where she was hiding them and took them up and read them. (I remember particularly
books by a woman called Victoria Cross. She was supposed to be sexy. She didn't know what we know about sex today.) [Laughter.] But, anyway, that is what I did. So that's my mother and my father.

I want to speak about my grandmother. She dieci about 1935, she was about ninety-five. I knew her very well because in her last years she lived with us at my father's house. She had been born somewhere about 1840. My great-grandmother died in 1901.1 know because I was born in 1901, and she was still alive to leave me a piece of land. I saw her, I saw my father, and I saw my grandmother. What I want to say is that they were highly civilised people. Nobody here seems to know that; they believe that we come to Britain to be civilised. They were as civilised people as you could find anywhere. I think of my father, he was a school master. Mr Power, my godfather, was a very elegant gentleman, he could have gone into any parlour; in the queen's parlour he would have conducted himself in the manner suitable to those peculiar Victorian days. He was a good example of that particular group of people. My aunt's husband, Richard Austin, was a teacher too; my sister's godfather, he was a teacher; we were a teaching fraternity.

There was a boy named Malcolm Nurse, his father was a teacher too. We knew the Nurses very well, mother, father and the rest of them. I knew all these people very well, their grandparents had been born in the time of slavery. My great-grandmother must have been born in 1905, she must have been ninety-six when she died in 1901, and I was not aware from what they told me about her, or from her children, that they were in any way backward, that they were in any way underdeveloped. These West Indian black people were a remarkable set of people. They are the ancestors of what West Indian people are today, and what they will be tomorrow. I bring this up because it took me some time to realise the kind of people that I had grown up with, who were my relations, who were my friends, what were their ancestors and what they represented.

Now there has appeared from the Caribbean — I must say a few words about that — a list of remarkable men. There was René Maran from Guyana, who won the Prix Goncourt in 1921. He was a French civil servant, he wrote a novel called Batouala. He won the Prix
Goncourt, created a literary sensation, and the French government fired him for saying what ne said about the African people among whom he worked. He was a remarkable man. The French intellectuals have a great reputation for taking part in political matters, and in 1926, André Gide wrote a famous book called Voyage au Congo in which he stated the crimes the French were perpetrating in Africa. And he had the reputation of being an intellectual who drew the attention of French and European intellectuals to the crimes of imperialism in Africa. But it had been done five years before by this West Indian, René Maran.

After René Maran came Marcus Garvey, after Marcus Garvey came George Padmore, known today as the father of African emancipation. After Padmore came Aimé Césaire, the man of Négritude and one of the great writers of our day. Then came Frantz Fanon, and mixed up with them is C.L.R. James. That is a notable list. You cannot under any circumstances write the history of Western civilisation without listing these West Indians. People have often asked me why it is they played the role they have so far. I have been working at it and I think I have some answer.

We lived in a very small community. Barbados today has about 300,000 people. So in a few years you could see the whole society and know everybody. Up at the top was the government representing the English people. That was one lot. White people; they had the positions of authority. Next to them was the brown-skinned middle class, people who were clericals and so forth. Below them were the mass or black people. You were able to see your society very clearly and to recognise the different sections of society which made up a whole. But what happened was this. Those few of us who got an education were able
to read Thackeray, Dickens, Shakespeare, Hazlitt, a whole lot of people who had liberal ideas and put forward conceptions which were absolutely opposed to the kind of society in which we lived and the subjugations which were imposed on us. Therefore we had a
conception from the books that we read. The result was that when we came to Europe and saw that the society did not correspond to what we had read, without exception we revolted against it. In other words, Marcus Garvey, who was not a marxist, was anti-establishment,
absolutely against. He said we had to leave all this and go back to Africa. There was Padmore, a marxist, who joined the Communist Party and left it. There were Césaire and Fanon. I joined the trotskyist movement and left it. We did not abandon the revolution. That's a whole body of us, and it wasn't that we were merely bright. I think we had lived a certain kind of life, had been educated in a certain way, had read certain books; we came abroad and found that neither the life we lived nor the things that we saw were in harmony with the things we had read, and we automatically were and remained against. That is
what has produced us, and today I believe that in those days we had to come abroad in order to exercise ourselves. But I believe that the West Indian of tomorrow will not have to come abroad. We have already seen in Trinidad that we are going to do at home what our ancestors have so successfully done abroad. [Applause.] That is one of the reasons why I am so glad to be here.

Now, I want to show you one or two things that I want you to remember. I am going to read you something I wrote in 1930 about a game of cricket in Trinidad. I want it clear that I wasn't a backward uncivilised person who came to Britain and learned everything that I
now know. Here is what I wrote in 1930. I was comparing Hendren to Constantine, and I said (Hendren, he is the man going into bat):
... see him take guard, think of him during the 96 runs when minute by minute he was wiping away the deficit of his side, risking nothing, losing nothing. It is English solidity, English determination developed to the highest pitch of proficiency by the experience of generations or cricketers. The West Indies of today will never defeat an English Test match team which contains eleven players of the calibre of Hendren.

Then I went on to describe Constantine.

And so we come to the fielding. But here description fails us. To see him take up position in the slips, to see him bend to gather a stationary ball, to see him throw to the bowler, these things we can describe. He moves as if he has no bones. Even in repose he is the perfection of grace. But it is when he makes one of those electric catches that a mere writer feels inclined to drop his pen. The thing has to be seen to be believed. The almost psychic sense of anticipation, the miraculous activity and sureness which gets the hands to the ball however desperate the effort required to reach it, the determination which ensures that though the heavens fall the ball will not. And then the courage, the sense of power which faces Hendren at a half-dozen yards and will not flinch. He seems to have cast a spell on the MCC batsmen. Some of them play slow bowling as if they had never played before, and the cause of it is that sinister figure lurking, no, not lurking, boldly waiting for catches two feet from the Bat. Did he not miss one the other day we might begin to suspect that he was more than human. Nor does he spare himself. Where Hendren husbands his energy, Constantine expends his energy, Constantine expends his with a reckless, a positively regal, prodigality. It is Europe and the Americas over again — the old world and the new.

That is what I am talking about tonight. This is what I was writing in 1930, and I didn't have to come here to learn it. True, some people had come from England and taught us. Also we had English books and English periodicals. But we had mastered them in the Caribbean and had added something of our own. "It is Europe and the Americas all over again — the old world and the new." That is what I am talking about tonight, the old world and the new, and Ladbroke Grove to me is very much a part of the New World, the world that is to come and is on the way. Before I left the West Indies, I wrote The Life of Captain Cipriani in which I said that the government is the local Chamber of
Commerce, and the Chamber of Commerce is the local government. I wrote also The Case for West Indian Self-Government before I came here. I didn't come here to learn that. I came to England in 1932, and I found out afterwards that the fact that I spoke English as fluently, had read so many books and remembered a whole lot of English poetry astonished them. I only found that out afterwards, the personal impact I had made. I was not aware of it because I had known a lot of people who were doing many of these things; we were not lost, I didn't get lost when I came here. Within a few months I began to write cricket, first for the Daily Telegraph, and next for the Manchester Guardian. I was a cricket correspondent for years. I began actively speaking about West
Indian self-government here, there and everywhere. And then something happened to me which I think should be interesting to you.

There was an exhibition of African art in 1933, I think the first one that had been held in Britain. There had been a few in Europe, and this one had been sent here to London. I went to it; I went because it was African, and because it was art, something new. I was about thirty-two years old and for the first time I began to realise that the African, the black man, had a face of his own. Up to that time I had believed that the proper face was the Graeco-Roman face. If a black man had that type of face he had a good face, and if he didn't, well, poor fellow, that was his bad luck, that was too bad for him. [Laughter.] I went to this exhibition, I bought the catalogue, I bought some books; I went up and down to Paris, there were many exhibitions in Paris. And so I began to look at the West Indians whom I knew, look at people, and I began to see the world and to see people in a way I had never seen them before. There were many things I learnt in Europe. That was one.

I began to write books. They were published all over the place. I wrote a play. It was a good play, people said so, but for me what was important about the play was that I got to meet the most remarkable human being I have ever met, and that was Paul Robeson.
Physically he wasn't Graeco-Roman at all. He was a man with an African face, nothing Graeco-Roman, and a wonderful person, of great power and great gentleness. He taught me a lot about black people. I was learning.

Now I want to tell you something previous to that. I used to have a certain person in mind. I have looked back, I constantly look back to know what I was thinking at different times. And the person I usually had in my mind, whom I brought from the West Indies, was an English woman. I had never met her. She was a famous actress, a woman called Ellen Terry. I saw pictures of her, what people said about her, what she said about herself. She struck me as being a wonderful human being. I had her in mind as being a sort of European/British personality that brought the Greek to life. And then I met Paul Robeson and I had added
another portrait to my gallery. I remember Ellen Terry in particular because of something that was said about her. There was a famous Shakespeare sonnet:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste.
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.

I must have said that to myself ten thousand times, why I don't know. But I read that when Ellen Terry used to say that poem, she used to burst into tears. I could understand why she did, and I felt a certain understanding; she remained in my mind. I never saw her act or anything. And then Paul Robeson came, and I began to think Graeco-Roman, British, African — Paul Robeson was an astonishing man. His tremendous power and great gentleness. I have written an article about him in the United States press. And it is astonishing to me that a stranger from Great Britain should have to go to the United States to make those
people understand what they had, and still have, in the person of Paul Robeson. I am very pleased that I started a campaign, and it seems to be going quite well.

Then I joined the trotskyist movement. I joined it about 1934, and in January 1937 I finished a book, World Revolution. Some of you young people will know it. The subtitle is "The Rise and Fall of the Communist International". January 1937, I was writing about the decay of the Communist International. I have to tell you that it took a long time before the general public began to understand it. I had to wait twenty long years before Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress began to say the things that I had been writing about Stalinism in that book. You have to wait sometimes, you have to make up your mind what you are going to do, and wait, be confident of the outcome.

At the same time, one night I heard that there was a man called George Padmore — he was a famous Moscow functionary — who was going to speak at Gray's Inn Road. I went to Gray's Inn Road to see the great George Padmore because he was so widely known. And into the hall walked Malcolm Nurse, my old friend from Trinidad. I used to go with him to Arima to bathe in the river below the ice factory. We had a talk that night. He remained with Moscow and I remained a trotskyist, but we never quarrelled. Very soon we were closer, when Padmore started the International African Service Bureau. He broke with Moscow. We were only about a dozen people. There was another man named Makonnen and there was Padmore's wife. People thought about African emancipation, the independence of Africa. But we kept on, and before fifteen years it was clear that we were the ones that were right, and they were the ones that were wrong. You have to wait sometimes. And that is the kind of thing I want you to remember tonight. Don't be afraid. Have your policy in mind and follow it through to the end.

I went to the United States in 1938 and I remained there. One day a girl I knew very well — she was part of our organisation — came to me and told me there was an African who said he would like to meet me. I knew she had told him that he ought to meet me. But I agreed to see him and he told me his name was Francis Nkrumah. That is how Francis became part of us. We talked together, we used to go down to Pennsylvania where he was staying, he used to come to New York. He was around us all the time. In 1943 he said he was coming to London to study law, and I wrote a letter to George Padmore that is famous in our annals. It said: "My dear George, Here is a young African whom I know very well. He is not very bright, but he is determined to throw the imperialists out of Africa. Do what you can for him." Padmore met him at the station and they began a partnership. Why did I say that Nkrumah wasn't very bright? He used to talk about marxism, the export of surplus value instead of commercial capital, and a whole lot of stuff which he knew nothing about. When he came to Britain he was educated by Padmore and his massive collection of books, papers and so forth. George was very neat, he was always shaved, his files were always in order, and if you wanted to know what was taking place in Britain or colonial Africa in 1924, he went straight to the shelf and took the material out and handed it to you. That was the kind of man he was. He wasn't a great orator, he was a good speaker. He wasn't a great
writer, he was a good writer. But for politics, tenacity, concentration, he was one of the most remarkable politicians I have known: a West Indian who went to school at the same time that I did, and who left the Caribbean when he was twenty-three years old to go to the United States. In other words he was one of us. He was one of those backward ones who came abroad to become one of the most remarkable politicans of the day. So when I tell you I am glad to be here, I want you to know where we have come from, what we did, and where you start. You haven't come here to learn everything, there is much you have brought here with you. [Applause.]

Now I want to talk more about black people, and the study of black people. I had written about black people, and I went to the United States in 1938 and I found the trotskyists in a first-class mess. I went down to Coyoacan in Mexico to see Trotsky and I told him certain things that I thought should be the policy: that the blacks have a right to be independent, and to carry on an independent strategy. They hadn't to be committed to the Communist Party, or the trade-union movement, a Labour Party, or anything. But it was their business to defend themselves, an elementary right every animal had, that every human being had; they should be encouraged to form their own organisations. Trotsky agreed. And once he said that, the party began to take it up, and they did their best with it.

I learnt quite a few things in the United States. Among them I learned the work of Dr Du Bois, than whom no more important name in the political and intellectual development of the twentieth century can be called. I want to read one passage from his great book Black
Reconstruction. He says, "Such mental frustration [as the black man has to undergo] cannot indefinitely continue. Some day it may burst in fire and blood." He was writing and publishing this in 1935.

Who will be to blame? And where the greater cost? Black folk, after all, have little to lose, but civilisation has all. This the American black man knows: his fight here is a fight to the finish. Either he dies or wins. If he wins, it will be by no subterfuge or evasion of amalgamation. He will enter modern civilisation here in America as a black man on terms of perfect and unlimited equality with any white man, or he will enter not at all. [Shouts of "Right On"] Either extermination, root and branch, or absolute equality. There can be no compromise.

In the United States, I used to see the doctor; at times he would say a few words and shake my hand. But I read that, and I read a lot of other stuff, and I got to know a lot of people. So that when the time came for me to write seriously about the black struggle in the United States, I wrote some words which remain to this day. They were said in 1948, and when the party to which I belonged wanted to say more about this movement they printed it in 1962. Fourteen years had passed. They are still using it. I will read it to you. I learnt not only from Marx and Lenin, but I also learnt from Dr Du Bois and other people whom I met. And this is what I said in 1948:

Let us not forget that in the Negro people there sleep, and are now awakening, passions of violence exceeding perhaps, as far as these things can be compared, anything among the tremendous forces that capitalism has created. Anyone who knows them [listen carefully, please], who knows their history, is able to talk to them intimately, watches them at their own
theatres, watches them at their dances, watches them in their churches, reads their press with a discerning eye, must recognise that although their social force may not be able to compare with the social force of a corresponding number of organised workers, the hatred of bourgeois society, and the readiness to destroy it when the opportunity should present itself, rests among them to a certain degree greater than any other section of the population in the United States. [Applause — shouts of "Power!"]

Today when I read that to some people, they are quite astonished and say, "You knew that?" I said, "I didn't make it up. It was there." I come from the West Indies. I had been taught to look, I had an instinctive prejudice against what the establishment and authority was telling me.
That is what I had been trained for. I had come here with that. And I looked around the United States, and I read Dr Du Bois and others, and I wrote that in 1948. Today it is still exciting amazement.

I have something else to say. In 1951 I did a study of Herman Melville, the American novelist. Many publishers and other people said, "A very fine book, very fine indeed, very original. But we don't quite see our way to publish at the present time." They run away from it. Well, they had very good reason to run, the book gives a revolutionary view. I wrote that book because I am a marxist. You should have some serious conception of the relation between the writer, the artist and his material base. There was a lot of talk about that, so
I wrote the book and called it, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways. (I am working now on something else in regard to the artistic superstructure and the economic base. I may tell you about that another day.) But I went on to do a lot of work. We broke with Trotsky, myself and political friends of mine. We broke with Trotsky and we brought forward a new conception, not of Russia, but of modern society as a whole. We said that modern society, including Russia, was approaching the stage of state capitalism. Russia was a part of state capitalism and we drew some conclusions. I don't want to give you a lecture on politics, but I want to say that in the end we had certain things in mind that we wanted to warn people against — I am glad to say that today many people are thinking about it. We are against the concept of the vanguard party. We said: "You form a party? The communists have formed parties and they have done nothing else but get blows for the proletariat and the peasantry for fifteen years. That kind of party, the time for that is over. Do what you can, work together of course, but a vanguard party on the Stalinist model is no longer viable." And secondly, side by side with it, we fought the conception of "the plan", a few people sitting around a table drawing up "the plan" and then telling the workers, "You've got to do that: that is the plan." That is a sure way to total ruin. And you can look through marxist theories today and see that Marx never had that in mind: and in what he said you never see this concept of the party, with self-appointed people telling the workers how to fight. That is not marxism today in 1971. Workers in 1971 know more than any vanguard party can tell them. Those things we worked out, and we are glad to see that more and more people are today beginning to see that.

I have one more word to say before we have a little interlude. It is on The Black Jacobins. It was written in 1938. I wrote it in the same year Aimé Césaire was publishing Return to My Native Land [Cahier d'un retour au pays natal]. I don't know why I was writing The Black Jacobins the way I did. I had long made up my mind to write a book about Toussaint L'Ouverture. Why, I couldn't tell you. Something was in the atmosphere and I responded to it. What is remarkable is that today, in 1971, that book is more popular, more widely read than at any other previous time. In other words, though it was written so long ago, it meets the needs of the young people in the United States today, and I am very pleased about it, in Britain, Africa, the Caribbean and other places. There has been a French translation, there has been an Italian translation But the book was written in 1938 and still has a validity today, 1971, because I came originally from the kind of territory which produced René Maran, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon, and we were prepared not only to say what should be done in the Caribbean, but we were trained and developed in such a way that we were able to make tremendous discoveries about western civilisation itself

We come to the last part of what I have to say, which I call "The New World — The World of Black Power". [Applause.]...

I sometimes speak these days about Black Power, with great emphasis on the tremendous work that black people are doing everywhere to change this old society. And sometimes some of my old friends tell me when I have finished, "But, James, you have left out the proletariat." I say, "But for God's sake, I have been talking about the proletariat since 1935. You mean I cannot make a speech in 1969 and take it for granted that you know I am still a man of the proletariat?" So they go away appeased. I hope.

Now I have met this question before, this question of the proletariat. I was at a meeting in Cuba and I spoke not to Fidel Castro but to some established leaders in Cuba. I told them, "Look, you are allowing people to say that the proletariat in the advanced countries will never make any revolution, that it is being corrupted by the profits and exploitations that the bourgeoisie is making out of the underdeveloped countries." I went on to say, "Look, you can allow people to say that if you like, and whether the proletariat will make it or not I am not prepared to argue: it will and I win, it won't and you win. That, time will tell. But you cannot in Cuba consider yourselves marxist and let people say that the proletariat is being corrupted by the fringe benefits which it gets from the exploitation of the Third World. Marxism says that the proletariat is trained for socialism in production, not in consumption. So you can expect or not, as you like, but if you are putting forward a marxist position then the proletariat is trained in production, not by fringe benefits." A man told me, "Well, we don't say that." I replied, "You may not say it, but you allow a lot of visitors to say it, and you say nothing." He said, "Well, you know, we have to take such things as they come." I said, "OK." A few months aftewards, the proletariat in France, in May 1968, made one of the biggest movements the world has ever known: a tremendous strike by the proletariat. At last, I went about with my hands in my pockets. Many are quiet now since May '68. But I cannot speak at all times about the proletariat. There are some marxists who do not understand that the world has changed, that students who formerly were not in the forefront, in the vanguard of the revolutionary movement now are, and that today, black people in the United States and in the Caribbean, everywhere, are now in the forefront, and no movement can go forward without their taking a predominant position.

Now, I have been talking to you about being a West Indian and the advantages that it has given me in understanding what is taking place. That is very clear to me today in the United States. I am doing three lectureships: one at Federal City College in Humanities, one at Howard University, the most important black university in the United States, and I am also visiting lecturer at Harvard, perhaps the most famous American university. I have been to Yale and I am to go to Princeton. Why? First, because the educational establishments have need of knowledge about black people and black history and they possess very little of it. And secondly, the blacks in particular, but not only the blacks, are very interested in my method of approach. This is the reason. In the United States they have a great deal of energy. The black people are able to organise themselves and do tremendous things. I am always struck by the black women in the United States. I have known many revolutionary movements and I have known women in them, and those black girls in the movement in the United States may not be strong on marxist theory, but they are ready to take action, and do all sorts of things. They are astonishing people. But as I say, they like to hear me in the States. Why? Because I have the habit from many years of development, of tracing a movement from where it began, seeing the stages of its development, having confidence that it will reach another stage, and from there speculating, because at times you have to speculate. And they are today anxious because they feel that they lack that, and they are very much concerned everywhere for me to speak in that way. Not that they agree with what I say, but they are aware of the process that I bring to the analysis of a historical event. So that somebody in whose house I used to live told me the other day, "Mr James, when you come back I want you to give us a class on marxism." I of course agreed. I was astonished because they have fought down South, have had hard struggles, and now they feel a certain gap in their methods, and they think I can help them. And I am a West Indian who has studied that way, who was forced to look on society that way. I am doing something which they think is important, and I am glad to be able to do it.

Now in regard to Black people in the United States, I don't want to say much. I want to say this much. Mentally and spiritually they have left the ghetto.They may be compelled to live there, because you cannot leave the ghetto unless you have somewhere to go. But they have left it. I don't believe that any force exists in the United States to drive them back. They are out of it and they are going to remain out, and find what they can do. Some people talk about genocide. There must be near thirty million black people in the United States. How can you have genocide against thirty million people? It would take a lot of people to commit genocide against thirty million people. In addition, to do that would find a lot or white people who will be against it. I do not fear genocide against thirty million people, or any substantial amount of them. In my opinion, the American establishment is in a lot of trouble with black people. That is their problem, not mine. I am only glad to know that black people are out of the ghetto spiritually and that they are not going to return to it.

I am going to make one more remark, about the middle-class black people, those who have jobs in the post office, little government jobs in clerical places and so on. You know what I have noticed; everywhere I go I ask about it. These middle-class blacks are not angry with the young people who are out on the streets. They say, "Well, you cannot expect me to join them. I am sixty-five, I am not going out on the streets to throw bombs. I don't know what is a molotov cocktail. But if you choose to go, and you want to, well, maybe this is the way, because the way we tried we got nothing from it." Everywhere I go I say, "What do your parents think?" And when I speak to them their attitude is, "Well, maybe that is the only way, maybe. I don't know." Now I want to talk abut a few places, like Cuba, Vietnam and Tanzania. About Cuba I want to say one thing. Cuba is a West Indian island, and what you should know about Cuba is this. Alone in all the underdeveloped countries in the world, the trend of the population is from the cities towards the country. In all other underdeveloped territories, the population moves from the country to the town, but it
is well established that in Cuba it is not so. I know Fidel is a West Indian because Fidel says: "What we have to do is direct our attention to raising the level of the campesino, the man in the country." And those of us who know about Barbados and Trinidad and Jamaica know that that is the first thing to do. That fellow who has been working on the sugar estates, he doesn't want to work there any more, the whole thing is falling apart, and Fidel sets out to arrange an economy that would be different. That is the main point that I want you as West Indians to

About Tanzania. Africa has been going badly. There is no doubt about it. Country after country, crisis after crisis. I will mention one, Kenya, where just before the election Jomo Kenyatta was travelling somewhere in the country, among the Luo. He said that some of the Luo people treated him with disrespect and he put the Opposition in jail just before the election. Now he could be black as the ace of spades, but that is a false policy. There is one country in Africa today, that is Tanzania, where Dr Nyerere is putting forward a policy which means a change in the economic structure, a change in the political structure, a change in education, which is a model not only for Africa but for the whole underdeveloped world. And people in the developed countries would learn something from him. An important thing I want to mention is that Kaunda, who is following Nyerere, is saying: "We have to preserve the African village, because if we destroy the African village in our attempt to develop the economy, we destroy the very basis of African civilisation."

Now, Nkrumah and his followers didn't used to say that. They come to power and they start to develop the economy, to get a loan here, to have industry here, to do this and that and the other. The village to them was something that should be left behind as fast as possible. But today, after a number of years of failure, in Tanzania, led by Nyerere and with Kaunda following him, they are beginning to understand that if they want to build something in Africa, they have to build on the African basis, and the African basis is the village community. And I want to be able to tell you, I, at my time of life, am beginning to read lots of books that deal with the past of African civilisation, and the present high civilisation which exists in the African village. To be of high civilisation you haven't got to have a big aeroplane and houses of ten storeys and so forth. The African tribe, the African village, had many elements of high civilisation which they continue to have today. And it is on that that the future of Africa has to be built. And as I see that, I begin to appreciate the civilisation that existed in the Caribbean among the people I knew. They brought it with them from where they came,
because they had that civilisation in Africa. And today, since the end of World War Two, people are beginning to see these things. I recommend to you books by Basil Davidson, who has made a study of African civilisation. Then there is another young man, Walter Rodney, has written a book called The Groundings with my Brothers. It is the finest study of African civilisation today and yesterday that I know. And those books are part of the present age. Those are the books that are training a new generation of people to see the world in a completely different way.

I would like to say a word or two about Vietnam. A lot of people speak about the crimes that the Americans are carrying out in Vietnam. I don't have to read them in the press, I know that before I read them in the press. What is important is that these people, whose civilisation is based on growing rice (and walking about in water up to their knees), have been able to resist the French and beat them, and now resist the most powerful nation the world has ever known. Today the chief concern of the Americans is to get out of there as fast as possible. That to me is what is remarkable. That shows that the peasant today is not the peasant we knew twenty or thirty years ago. He is able, and will be able in a short time, to achieve advances of which we have no conception whatever at the present moment. That for me is the significance of Vietnam.

I want to come to a conclusion by talking about the West Indies. In Trinidad today a revolution is taking place. I want to tell you in particular something that happened to me some months ago in Washington. The students at Howard University asked me to come up there and speak to them and to choose my subject. So I chose as my topic, "The Caribbean: The Impending Confrontation". So I spoke, somebody moved a vote of thanks, everybody voted, and we went away. That was on Friday. I go up to Howard to teach on a Wednesday
morning. When I came downstairs, I see about twenty students waiting. I said, "Well, what is it?" They say, "The confrontation has started. Have you seen the papers? What you were telling us, about the impending confrontation. We said, what is James talking about? He likes the revolution, but no revolution will take place in the Caribbean. Anyway, if he likes it, it will do no harm," and so forth. And they have come to tell me that it has started. That is what everybody understands today, that it is taking place in Trinidad, in the Caribbean — people expected it was going to take place in Jamaica first, but everybody knows that it is going to take place in the Caribbean.

I know about fifteen or twenty young people, under the age of thirty most of them — there are one or two over thirty, don't be upset by that — I know these folks, young people, who have ability, whose capacity is being stifled. People with special skills in economics, in politics, in science. One of them I want to tell you about. He is a young man under thirty. He is teaching at a famous American university. He is a member of a French Creole family. When I heard him talk, I thought this is a man who is white by mistake, the way he was talking about what the Caribbean would be. And that is very important. There are Chinese, many are East Indian, they are all ready to create a new political structure in the Caribbean. There are some East Indian people here. I hope you realise the significance of what is taking place in Trinidad today. Some 30-40,000 black people left Port of Spain and marched down to the Indian area to let them know that in talking abut Black Power they didn't exclude the Indians. They had marched to let them know that they were as one with them against imperialism and its stooges. I have Been writing about that, other people have been writing and speaking about it, for twenty years. That one march settled the whole situation for years to come. That is the kind of politics they are making.

I am quite certain that the Caribbean islands are going to make discoveries in politics, economics, and social structure, social advances, which are going to be a wonderful example to both the underdeveloped countries and the developed countries. The Caribbean islands are in between, they are underdeveloped, but at the same time they have no native language, no native religion. They have the power, energy and desire to go forward which the underdeveloped peoples have, and therefore they can be models to both the underdeveloped peoples and the developed peoples. And please have no doubt about the West Indies I have spoken to you about, the men who have appeared in the past, what they have done, what all of us have been able to do, was because we were West Indian. Have no doubt about it, that what has been done abroad is going to be done in the Caribbean, and some remarkable pages of history are going to be written by our people. [Applause.]

The last thing is this. I came here the other day. I had a meeting with some of the young people. I talked to them. You know, I have been talking to people a long time now, particularly to West Indians, since 1932. And there was something new here. There was something new in the young men and the young women. And that is why I said at the beginning, having the past of the West Indians in my head as I have, I was glad that this celebration was taking place in this area. There is something new here. I am told, I have seen them, that there is a present generation that has grown up in Britain. They have been to school with the British children, have had the same lessons, have eaten the same food. They are as ready to eat egg and chips as to eat curry. That's what they have eaten in school here. That's how they have grown up. And when they reach the age of seventeen or eighteen and leave school, they cannot understand why they should be shunted off to different jobs,
and be unemployed, when they have grown up with the other English children. That's what they can't understand. Their parents were ready to accept discrimination. They came here and took jobs on the buses, they came here and took jobs on the railways, they came here to take jobs washing dishes, etc. This present generation says, "No, we will
have the same kind of jobs that everybody else has, otherwise we will fight to the end." That's why I am glad to be here. And I want you to know this. You have every right to be concerned about the police. You have every right to be concerned about justice. You have every right to be concerned about housing. You have every right to be concerned
about employment, and about everything else. Because it is the business of the government to see after these things. You have been demanding this and that and the other: if they are not doing it then the responsibility is theirs, and it is your right to keep on demanding. [Applause.]

There is a case at law. I am not a lawyer but I feel this is a highly important case. If you are convicted, those of you who are there, it is going to have tremendous reverberations. If you are not convicted,there are going to be changes and so forth about the law. What happened in that demonstration was not merely a demonstration of some people. You have registered your position in the minds of a whole lot of people, including the Home Secretary, Mr Maudling. He suddenly got scared about Black Power. He didn't read about it in books; it was because they made the demonstration. And ministers and the police always know what is the force of those who are demonstrating. By that demonstration you have written an important page in history, and it is the beginning of future pages.

May I end by saying this. Your future is the future of Great Britain; the future of Great Britain is your future. If you make it, then it means that Britain will be making it. And if you don't make it then the Britain that there is will not be making it, and there will have to be a new Britain, not only for you, but for all the oppressed and poor everywhere. Thank you very much. [Applause. "Power!"]