REVIEWS: THE HERO AND THE CROWD IN A COLONIAL POLICY By A. W. Singham

A distinct feature of the increased output is that the majority of political studies on the area have been done by individuals alien to the Caribbean. While some of these studies are useful, it is difficult to expect North Americans or Europeans, notwithstanding their sympathy and fondness for the area, to see the Caribbean through primarily anything but American and European eyes. The result is that while there has been some growth in the number of West Indian political scientists, their output is still small. “Individuals alien to the Caribbean” should be clarified. While the input of the formative years in the socialisation process may never be shaken, the author is willing to confer the title of ‘non alien’ on all those who have lived in the area for about ten years. Even with such liberal criteria, the output of West Indian political scientists is still meagre.

Writing twelve years ago, Braithwaite noted that “political science in the United Kingdom has been largely an adjunct of history, political theory and philosophy”, (P. 106 ).

Many in the Caribbean interested in politics (university – educated in other fields of specialization), still labour under the impression that modern political science is steeped in the formalistic study of law and descriptive historical study. Any other thinking on the matter could not be expected since all in the Caribbean is measured by the British yardstick. Only when Britain changes is the need for change ever discussed on the area. Surveying the paltry scene at that time, Braithwaite noted that the empirical approach to the study of the Caribbean would be “most desirable”. He, however, hastened to point out that ” … much of the material in the West Indies would respond to conventional lines of analysis”. (Braithwaite P. 106). Such a warning is· to be heeded since West Indian political scientists cannot afford the lime or the energy spent in the fratricidal wars that existed between the behaviourists and traditionalists in political science departments of American Universities.

The book under review can be called a balanced combination of both approaches. While the book is obviously not quantitative, Singham makes good use of the sister disciplines of economics, sociology, and psychology. The early chapters of many books start out on highly behavioural note only to be followed by vast historical detail. This book, in this respect, is not the usual standard fare, for although the author relies on historical information, it is rigorously analysed throughout with the full application of current theories and models from the social sciences.

This volume, putting aside Its merits or demerits temporarily, is important for the Caribbean region in that it is written by an “ex-colonial” who has been living and teaching in the Caribbean long enough to qualify as a West Indian, legal technicalities riot withstanding. Although there have been doctoral dissertations by students from the area treating some of the West Indian politics, this study by an individual from the area is the first to see the publisher’s ink.

In this study of the Grenadian political system, which the author labels a subordinate system, he studies the political process in a colonial society and concludes that crisis in Grenada is not an isolated phenomenon, but is inherent in the colonial situation. Therefore, the crises of this nature are endemic in the body politic of the colonial system. For instance, Singham contends that there is genuine confusion in a colonial society with respect to who enjoys ultimate legitimacy. For many years, including those before the arrival of universal adult suffrage, colonial subjects recognised the governor as the legitimate leader. This was not difficult to comprehend since he was sent to the colony as the King’s or Queen’s representative, and was English. His title alone, bearing institutional charisma, was enough to have ultimate legitimacy conferred on him by his colonial subjects, but in all cases, was fortified by real power or authority. With the passage of time, the advent of universal adult suffrage and the appearance of more ‘advanced’ constitutions, the powers of the governor were correspondingly diminished. At the same time the local leader, legitimacy having been conferred on him as the leader of a political party or as the head of a trade union, begins to challenge the authority of the governor, earnestly believing that the keys of the political kingdom are about to come into his possession. The result in this constitutional transitional stage is that there is a struggle for legitimacy bet ween the governor and local leader. When these conflicts occurred in Grenada and British Guiana both territories had their constitutions suspended.