THE POLITICS OF CHANGE: A Jamaican Testament by Michael Manley

THE POLITICS OF CHANGE: A Jamaican Testament

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Manley is the leader of the People's National Party of Jamaica, which has ruled since early 1972. First published in Britain, this is an elegant, well-amplified manifesto, based on principles familiar from the examples of other Third World countries: the ""politics of participation,"" self-help, labor-intensive industry, replacement of class conflict with a view of society as ""an extension of the family,"" an ""anti-elitist"" call for universal civilian national service, and the notion that ""all people need an heroic image of themselves if they are to be capable of heroic response."" North Americans sometimes endorse policies for underdeveloped countries that they would term fascistic if proposed for themselves. Manley is sensitive to this accusation, stressing his commitment to peace and multi-party politics; but he makes ugly parallels hard to avoid with his advocacy of discipline, sacrifice, and even a Jamaican version of the Nazis' share-the-poverty Eintopf meal. Manley summons the trade unions to relinquish their role as adversary representatives of workers; they ought to join in ""national planning."" He asserts that ""other people's technology"" should be repudiated, but it would be immoral to cancel debts to ""other people"" or expropriate the multinational bauxite holdings and sugar plantations without compensation. Thus ordinary Jamaicans get the pain but not the material benefits of Manley's nationalism. In a postscript to the book, Manley describes the balance of trade crisis which mounted as Jamaica had to pay more and more for imports. He had to turn to police instead of popular ""participation"" to quell the disturbances. But the aluminum corporations who play a major role in the Jamaican economy made, and continue to make, certain concessions to keep the lid on. The postscript confirms that far more is at issue than whether Manley himself is an Uncle Tom in Third World costume--this book is a noteworthy expression of the very genuine binds of underdevelopment.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Howard Univ. Press