In nobody's backyard: Maurice Bishop's speeches, 1979-1983 - Edited by Chris Searle, Introduction by Richard Hart

In nobody's backyard: Maurice Bishop's speeches, 1979-1983 - Edited by Chris Searle, Introduction by Richard Hart

Published by ZED Books, 1984.
Rare collection and analysis of the Grenada Revolution.

In Nobody's Backyard is a memorial volume of speeches by the late Prime Minister of Grenada and leader of the Grenada Revolution, Maurice Bishop. Putting particular stress on the speeches of the last two critical years of his life, this comprehensive collection is a tribute to the radical inspiration and analysis to which 'Brother Bish' gave expression.

IN NOBODY S BACKYARD: Maurice Bishop's Speeches, 1979-1983: A Memorial Volume

Maurice Bishop's significance goes far beyond Grenada, and his ideas - in the company of other Third World martyrs like Allende, Cabral and Mondlane - will live on long after his death. Concerned always to educate, he speaks not just to Grenadians and West Indians, but to all black and working people and the oppressed of the Third World. By turns analytical, moving, amusing, his thinking ranges over the world capitalist crisis and its impact, imperialism and its distorting effects on the media, cultural sovereignty, the law, women, the struggle against unemployment, U.S. destabilization and Caribbean history.

The introduction by Richard Hart is a portrait of the revolution, placing it in its historical context within the Caribbean as a whole. Hart draws on the Minutes of the Central Committee and his own personal knowledge to tell the story of the life and tragic death of the Revolution, and how the divisions in the leadership of the New Jewel Movement paved the way for the US. invasion and destruction of the Caribbean's most profound rupture with imperialism since the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Richard Hart became Grenada's Attorney General in 1982 and left the island following the U.S. invasion of October 1983. A veteran of the Caribbean struggle, he was a founder member of Jamaica's nationalist movement, was detained by the British in the 1940s and is the author of Slaves Who Abolished Slavery, a major account of the resistance to slavery in the Caribbean.

Chris Searle, the editor, is an English writer, teacher and poet who worked in revolutionary Grenada for two years and helped to establish Fedon Publishers, the Revolution's publishing house. He is the author
of Grenada: The Struggle Against Destabilization (Writers and Readers, 1983) and Words Unchained: Language and Revolution in Grenada (Zed Books, 1984).

The name, Maurice Bishop will blossom into one of the most fertilising symbols of creative expression in the culture and politics of the region.' George Lamming

Contents:
-Editor’s Preface
-Introduction — Richard Hart
-Maurice Bishop Lives — George Lamming
-A Bright New Dawn
-In Nobody’s Backyard
-Organise to Fight Destabilisation
-Beat Back Destabilisers
-New Martyrs, New Patriots
-Health for All — A Right of the Caribbean Masses
-Education is a Must!
-Work Towards Integrated Agricultural Development and Regional Co-operation
-ln the Spirit of Butler, Unionise! Mobilise! Educate! Democratise!
-Emulation is the Seed that Brings the Fruit of Excellence
-Forward to 1982 — the Year of Economic Construction
-Not One Human Right Has Ever Been Won Without Struggle
-Turn the Words Around!
-Fight Unemployment Through Production!
-Heirs of Marryshow
-One Caribbean!
-For the Cultural Sovereignty of the Caribbean People!
-Long Live the Women of Free Grenada!
-‘Every Grain of Sand is Ours!’
-Forward to Peace, Genuine Independence and Development in a United America — Our America!
-We Proudly Share the Noble Dreams of Martin and Malcolm
-Appendix 1: Fascism: A Caribbean Reality?
-Appendix 2: ‘We Have the Right to Build Our Country After Our Own Likeness’

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UseValueNotExch...
Dec 23 2020 18:47

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Red Marriott
Dec 24 2020 10:52

For a far more critical view see Fundi's comments;

Quote:
... no sooner than the coup was made against Gairy than people began to see the establishment of a political party — and an immediate move away from the democratic expression began to take place in Grenada, instantaneously after the revolution.

Here is what looking into the psychological dimension of consciousness tells us they were on a very dangerous path. When those guys got into power they began to concentrate on the same charisma, the same rhetoric, the same spectacle of appearances as the bourgeois parties. Bishop got extremely caught up in this.
...
Now when I talk to people about what was happening in Grenada, I say, ”look! they were definitely on a path of failure. Shortly after the coup they moved from people’s assemblies to the formation of a political party, and then to executive councils, and on and on. They used Lenin as a model, as this great organizer, and then applied that to a philosophy of stages of revolution. So that that there is a stage or a period of time when the people who are not politically conscious must wait for the consolidation of this model organization. Yet despite so many years of resistance, I don’t know how the Russian people haven’t arrived at the level of consciousness beyond a certain stage so that they can participate more fully in the decision-making of Russia.

So I am very suspicious of stages because a lot of things these guys will put off for the next 20 years until the correct stage is completed, when in fact it can be done right now.

In the case of Grenada, we are talking about a place 19 miles long and nine miles wide. Y’know you can run around the whole place and still be fresh. You are not talking about a big place. So you don’t need stages, you don’t need a bureaucratic organization of 16 men waiting for the next ten years until the ideas of Lenin are consummated.
https://libcom.org/library/radical-perspectives-carribean-fundi

Red Marriott
Dec 24 2020 20:35

From Hart's intro, the usual crap leninist concepts;

Quote:
The single most important factor contributing to the possibility of such a revolution occurring in Grenada was the existence of the New Jewel Movement, a vanguard party modelled on concepts of party organisation first worked out by Lenin at the turn of the century. Guided by Marxist-Leninist
theory, the NJM leaders understood the laws of social evolution and were able to recognise the development of a revolutionary situation and take advantage of it.
The existence of a Leninist vanguard party to provide the necessary orientation at such historic moments is vital for the achievement of popular power. Without such leadership, in times when unrest and dissatisfaction have increased beyond the level of popular tolerance, blind uncoordinated outbreaks of disorder can easily occur which are then suppressed by the armed forces
with purposeless loss of life and destruction of property.

In light of the US armed suppression of Bishop's government the last sentence is a bit unconsciously ironic.

UseValueNotExch...
Dec 24 2020 20:54

Interesting. I just read Gerald Horne's Cold War in a Hot Zone: The United States Confronts Labor and Independence Struggles in the British West Indies. It centers on the Caribbean Labour Congress (CLC) and the labor struggles of the late 40s and early 50s. Horne argues the CLC tried to push the careerist union bureaucrats left for a unified BWI. Instead many of the bureaucrats became entrenched and moved right while leading their respective countries. Horne attributes the fall of the CLC, and the Caribbean left, partially to imperialism and the coup of Cheddi Jagan in 1953.

The same Richard Hart that wrote the intro to this book also helped led the CLC from 1946-53 and was part of the People's Revolutionary Government in Grenada. This is mainly why I seeked out the book. Though in his intro he is a strong proponent of the ML party, his analysis of the flaws of the New Jewel Movement could easily be used to argue against the ML party entirely. It's worth engaging with.

The start of his intro, The Improbable Revolution, presents a brief materialist analysis: the number of persons engaged in agriculture on their own account exceeded the number so engaged for wages. Many of those working for wages will also have had farms of their own. Grenada probably has the highest percentage of individual peasant proprietors in the English-speaking Caribbean area.

Hart continues: The revolutionary leaders never described the Revolution as ‘socialist’, nor did they advocate a precipitate transition to socialism. They were agreed that a mixed economy would be appropriate for Grenada’s stage of development for some considerable time.

This seems more along the lines of a kind of Bourgeois revolution in Marxist terms. The New Jewel Movement's failure to organize and educate people, the tiny membership of the party, the internal struggle over leadership all lead to the downfall makes a strong case for alternative ways of organizing.

Thanks for the info on Fundi. Gonna listen to that recording. Good points he makes though he was organizing in Jamaica and the material conditions of Grenada were different. Yes Grenada is a tiny island but they still need an airport, rely on exports and not nearly as developed as Jamaica etc.

I'm gonna check out his collection Workers' Self-Management in the Caribbean. Noticed the collection was edited by Matthew Quest, who has written a lot of interesting stuff on CLR James too.

https://libcom.org/library/silences-suppression-workers-self-emancipatio...

UseValueNotExch...
Dec 24 2020 22:04

I will now remember "People's Revolutionary Government" for their true commitment to a mixed economy, by returning the worker-run coke plan to the owners...

Quote:
Soon after the insurrection in 1979 there was a dispute between the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union and the holder in Grenada of the franchise to bottle Coca Cola. Negotiations over the dismissal of two employees were referred to the Labour Commissioner, whose adjudication required their reinstatement. The employer refused to reinstate the men, deciding instead to close the factory. Perhaps he believed that, having demonstrated the impotence of the union, he would be able to offer re-employment to selected employees.

The workers responded by taking control of the factory and resuming production. The employer then requested the Police to eject the workers, but this did not happen. Instead the Government opened an account for the business under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. The workers
continued to operate the factory, and did so so successfully that the business continued to make a profit. This continued until the employer agreed to reinstate the dismissed employees. Control of the factory was then returned to the owner, together with the accumulated profits.

In other countries in the English-speaking Caribbean area it is usual for the state to recognise rights of property as taking precedence over the rights of the workers. In similar circumstances the probabilities are that the police would have attempted to eject the workers and restore the factory to the employer. The PRG’s attitude was that, unless the employer respected the worker’s rights, his rights would not be protected by the state. The workers’ rights were regarded as the primary consideration. Indeed, in this particular case, some of the workers were disappointed that they were required to surrender control of the factory, but, given its commitment to the mixed economy, the PRG did not consider that the circumstances justified expropriation.

Reddebrek
Dec 27 2020 05:53

Richard Hart wrote another pamphlet on his time in Grenada http://www.socialisthistorysociety.co.uk/?p=303

Its very odd since while it is extremely pro NJM and very positive of Maurice Bishop at the start it argues the accusations against Bishop were largely true making him seem like a real danger and uncontrolled person, and the pamphlet's reason for publication was to protest the treatment of the imprisoned NJM leaders who killed him, and raise money for their defence appeals.

He talks about the NJMs desires to restore parliamentary government, their commitment to a mixed economy, etc. He even talks about how there was two powerful businessmen in the cabinet, how their investment law was being updated to attract foreign investment and how they would give interest free loans to large rural estates to stop them going under and details the time the NJM broke up a successful workers co-op at the Coca cola plant and gave it back to the franchise holder as good things proving their revolutionary commitments.

There's also a contradiction throughout that pamphlet that honestly make Hart difficult to take seriously, the first chapters are focussed on the mass meetings in Grenada and how great they were and how the NJM had no control over them and how they were far more democratic and participatory then the typical parliamentary system.

And on how Bishop and the NJM were dedicated to reviving an ordinary multi party parliamentary system. He's talking about this to demolish accusations that Bishop and the NJM were dictators but by putting these two features side by side there is a pretty important question that Hart seemed completely disinterested in. If these mass meetings were as effective as Hart claims, what possible justification could they have for replacing it with this obviously inferior system?

Hart doesn't seem to be a person of strong critical faculties, he talks about how great Bishop was up till he was overthrown, then his killers are great and the evidence for the positive developments of the Grenadian revolution are things that are usually brought up in denunciation.

Quote:
Soon after the insurrection in 1979 there was a dispute between the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union and the holder in Grenada of the franchise to bottle Coca Cola. Negotiations over the dismissal of two employees were referred to the Labour Commissioner, whose adjudication required their reinstatement. The employer refused to reinstate the men, deciding instead to close the factory. Perhaps he believed that, having demonstrated the impotence of the union, he would be able to offer re-employment to selected employees.
The workers responded by taking control of the factory and resuming production. The employer then requested the Police to eject the workers, but this did not happen. Instead the Government opened an account for the business under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. The workers
continued to operate the factory, and did so so successfully that the business continued to make a profit. This continued until the employer agreed to reinstate the dismissed employees. Control of the factory was then returned to the owner, together with the accumulated profits.

In other countries in the English-speaking Caribbean area it is usual for the state to recognise rights of property as taking precedence over the rights of the workers. In similar circumstances the probabilities are that the police would have attempted to eject the workers and restore the factory to the employer. The PRG’s attitude was that, unless the employer respected the worker’s rights, his rights would not be protected by the state. The workers’ rights were regarded as the primary consideration. Indeed, in this particular case, some of the workers were disappointed that they were required to surrender control of the factory, but, given its commitment to the mixed economy, the PRG did not consider that the circumstances justified expropriation.

See right here, Hart's account in his later pamphlet is largely the same, its complete logical tongue twisting. "The PRG respects workers rights more than property, as proven by the time they compelled aggrieved workers who were successfully running a business back to its franchise holder, despite opposition from those workers, because it [the government] had determined that the cause for the dispute had ended and its economic policies required good relations with private capital and international corporations".

You can argue its a pragmatic compromise or whatever but I do not see how anyone could look at that episode and see respect for workers rights being the main lesson to take away from it.

Red Marriott
Dec 27 2020 12:57

As always: the leninist state knows the workers' interests better than the workers themselves.