BLACK INTELLECTUALS COME TO POWER

Reading Time: 16 minutes

It seems to me that in order to review Oxaal’s work the “Black Intellectuals Come to Power” very properly and critically and to deal with and assess the merits and demerits of his work, which is very sociological, it is necessary to analyse the content of his study, which he calls ” a mere sketch, a synoptic sociological account of an island community up to the time of its attainment of political independence”, against the range of models set forth in the literature on West Indian Society and politics. That is, this work must be seen against the background and in terms of M.G. Smith’s model of ‘cultural pluralism’, R.T. Smith’s and Lloyd Braithwaite’s “stratificatory models’, Leo Oepres’s ‘reticulated model’, Lloyd Best’s work on the ‘plantation model and doctor politics’ as well as Gordon Lewis’ “Marxist interpretation.” Although it would not be possible to deal with Oxaal in depth and thoroughly in the light of these works in this brief review this sort of framework must be borne in mind because Oxaal seems, consciously or un consciously, to be synthesising the ideas of most of these model builders by striking out on a trail that appears to be a measured middle road – a’ golden mean’.

From my point of view I find Oxaal’s work to be a stimulant provoking some controversy, and perhaps, some biting cr1t1cisms on some points, but by and large, I find many of the ideas expressed on his main themes acceptable. But this15 is not meant to indicate large-scale uncritical acceptance of Oxaal’s findings for there are many areas where much work in research and re-examination is needed to test hypotheses and clarify theory. On some points one folds Oxaal seemingly making a thorough analysis and feels that he is cornered for overlooking certain key aspects of the issue only to find that at a late, stage when he is dealing with another matter the old Issue ,s brought back to the fore and the loophole is explicitly or implicitly plugged. Also, at times one does not know and cannot easily imply what his conclusions are. He often resorts to what he consider to be authoritative sources which take up different positions on a given issue and leaves the matter open. But this seems to be intentional on his part. his attempt, he says, being to enlighten, to place earlier studies in a social and historical context, to add some findings, and to serve as an irritant to encourage further research on which he could be corrected on questions of fact or interpretation.