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The Challenges

From these accounts the essential political and social challenges emerge. Have we the courage to attempt to create some new constitutional form which, while protecting the rights of the individual citizen, and ensuring safety from the assumption of any dictatorial authority, would eliminate the obvious dangers of the present system of government? Ideally, the party-political system assumes the existence of competing parties with competing policies offered to a discerning electorate. It assumes the right of any one party to win support away from another by the reasonable means of alternative proposal and successful argument. In Jamaica, party politics have been marked rather by physical assault, insult, and bribery. There is little tolerance shown by either side to the voter who is not clearly committed; and the one who is, is likely to be beaten rather than wooed by the opposing faction. Because of massive unemployment and the close relationship between rival political parties and their supporting trade unions, armies of support rather than bodies of opinion have tended to develop. There is obvious danger in this, and it is well recognised by the politicians themselves. Unfortunately, they too are in large measure slaves to circumstance, and so their response has been to arm and strengthen the police. The confrontation is more dangerous than we openly admit.

Obviously, there are political as well as economic reasons for concern about the rapid rate of population growth. And this raises the large social problem, for the mere reduction of population size cannot answer everything. The greatest need is for confidence, and this is hard to instil in a poor society, in which the standards of value are obscure, in which life is a scramble, and in which every move by every other man is suspect because the race is rough.