The movement hos therefore set itself three objectives· correspondence with Caribbean intellectuals, the recasting and development of our intellectual heritage in terms of Caribbean history and Caribbean institutions, and communication with the entire Caribbean people. We cannot any longer respect the Donation by Alexander VI nor the amendments subsequently made by the maritime powers of the North Atlantic; nor, for that matter, do we pay any serious attention to the Declarations being mode today by Pope Charles le Grand. Neither the mariners nor franchophonie will be allowed to fragment the region.
We reckon that one result of a systematic attack on these tasks on a Caribbean scale is that it will make dialogue with men in other regions of the world both possible and fruitful without the traditional intermediation of metropolitan intellectual brokers. For this reason, we do not specify communication with the rest of the world as a separate objective.
Success with any one of these goals depends on success in the others. The “brain-drain”, for example, cannot be arrested unless some kind of fire has been kindled in the breast of the younger people, unless they were equipped with tools to solve problems of living in the habitat and unless creative work was organized to provide them opportunity for the use of these tools. On the evidence of West Indian migration to Montreal, such as it is, the brain-drain has little to do with the financial and cultural attractions of the metropolis. There is simply too little work at home in general, and virtually no dignified work at all, in a country which lives by mimicking technology and organization, by submissiveness to imperial power, and by cowtowing before North American businessmen and tourist ; and of which one Prime Minister was rash enough to suggest to President Johnson as a justification for “selling” BWIA, the Hilton Hotel and the Telephone Co. to American investors, that the workers and civil servants in these Public Corporation were incompetent.
It is certainly better to be Dog in New York than Dog in Kingston or St. John’s. But who from the Caribbean would exchange Grenada for London or St. Croix, for Boston? – if he could see himself in a job as a man and not as a pappy show. People are simply not prepared like the Mandarins of Branch-Plant society, to spend their time fudging bright undergraduate essays for university and international conferences and for publication in Budget Speeches and Development Plans while the real decisions about economic policy are prepared in the Head Offices of the financial intermediaries and the bauxite, petroleum and sugar corporations. They no longer accept that the only options are the “eternal dispossession” of the novelist abroad, or the Robinson Crusoe solitude of the poet at home.
The creative task of the moment then, is to uncover the possibilities of achieving results on our own resources. Before these opportunities can even be perceived, there has to be some sense of having survived and developed in the past, some notion that progress is possible. It poses a formidable challenge of creation and articulation to our artists, to our social scientists and, not least, in this jungle of technological confusion, to our natural scientists.
The greatest difficulty is in making a start. The challenge to orthodoxy which is needed, entails high costs of transformation for the pioneers. But which generation was ever better equipped to incur these costs? The social scientists have begun, probably because, being needed as window dressing to the “developing” society, they were fortunate to have found more effective tolerance. It may be much more difficult for the natural scientists. In a society of importation and mimicry, they are much more expendable. It may be harder still for the artist to stay at home and communicate with their own public. But it must be done and quixotic as the undertaking may appear to those organization – men who advocate accommodation, resignation, or outright submission it is precisely this mix of cynicism, opportunism, arrogance, and sheer weakness which constitutes the softest underbelly of the existing order.
The discomfiture which such work will visit upon established interests is bound to provoke charges about the lowering of standards, about the introduction of “politics into sport”, and, when these prove ineffective. about extremism and ultimately. about subversive and revolutionary activities. The hostile reaction of the neo-plantation interests to positions taken by New World Associates on the sugar industry and on regional economic integration (sec Forum) is only the biggest wave yet in an ocean of impending conflict. We shall have more to say, on this account in VOL. IV, No. 4, of NWQ to be published at Cropover in St. Augustine, Trinidad.
Here we may say that for too long have the ” planters” been used to thinking of West Indian intellectuals either as the “scholarship boys” of the thirties, happy to be acclaimed in the metropolis for advocating a spurious radicalism which leaves control where it has always been; or, as the post-war facilitators, administrators, advisers, and travelling salesmen whose contribution to national intellectual life has mostly to be inferred from their august titles, since it can seldom be established by reference to any creative achievements.
But the days of the Afro-Saxon are done. The new generation is not going to practice the kind of instant scholarship that avoids the difficult conceptual and theoretical hurdles which lie in the way of real solutions to the problems of men who intend to make their lives here. The West Indies will not be abandoned to the mercy of The West India Committee, while our thinkers retire to the metropolis, or, equally bad, become tight-lipped bureaucrats posturing a technical neutrality.
No, the post-Moyne generation is very much in the fray. It assumes full responsibility for whatever happens – good or bad and by whomever effected – in these “islands in the ocean sea.” While work proceeds, it is entirely in order for us to take positions concerning values and preferences. For instance, it is clearly a preference we are expressing when we say that we would like to see the sugar industry in the hand of men who are fully accountable to the Caribbean. As to whether we will be better off after the transfer than before, that is an Afro-Saxon question. We are doing the work needed to answer it technically and we will submit it for conversation at the appropriate time and place.
But to award primacy to the technical consideration over the ideological would be to attack the competence of the Caribbean people. That we leave to the planters and their allies with whom it has been a preoccupation for over three hundred years. As far as we are concerned, this generation starts with the certain knowledge that the entrepreneurs of the Caribbean – private and public – can better run industry in our interest than you can say, Bookers, Texaco, or Akan. All they need is the responsibility for making real decisions without metropolitan interference and the bluffing of the neo-imperial satrapy. For those who do not yet know it there lies one major difference in premisses between this round and the next!
Meanwhile, the maturation of the export neo-plantation economy and the imminent abandonment of imperial shelter by the British, have precipitated a salutation where basic choices cannot for much longer be avoided. However, the new oligarchy of Afro-Saxon political and intellectual leaders, and of certain Union bosses and Corporate executives from the mines, the modified plantations and the pioneer industries, are declining the challenge. They refuse to trust the capacity of the Caribbean people to assume the fullest responsibility for their own development. Abandon their fixation on the presumed benefits of metropolitan association they will not; nor will they create regional institutions within which meaningful options can be opened up for innovation and economic transformation. Petty faction still rules among these island monarchies, tropical “farms” of the metropole, Chamberlain style.
Meanwhile the unique Cuban attempt to come to terms with the sugar society provides n disturbing backdrop to all diversionary semi-demi. The failure of the rest of the Caribbean even to pose the question of radical reform, has denied to the largest of the parishes just those moral and political resources it needs to reach a settlement with the Americas. As a result, the way has been blocked for the whole people to devote their energies not to a rooting, like dogs, for scraps of external favour but to a revival and reconstruction; and the creation, starting from a revision of the International Sugar Agreement, of a multilingual, multiracial, unaligned, and economically viable middle-American Confederacy.
In some ways, it is all very reminiscent of the years just prior to Emancipation when, the ruling class in the West Indies was beginning to lose confidence in their future. They were shaken by the knowledge that the social revolution which they most dreaded might become a reality not only at St. Dominique but elsewhere, that the cause of liberty and equality might prevail against established privilege and slavery, and that the silent majority of the humble might yet find the means to make their voice heard to the world. (Elsa Goveia).
Rut the 20th century is not the 19th. Nor can Cuba now be a St. Dominique. Dessalines and Duvalier, nor radical reform, si Yes, social and economic revolution, a fundamental change in regime, in system of society. Some – note who and to what end – will no doubt interpret this for what it is not: necessarily a blueprint for violence and dislocation. But which generation will be deluded by that?