Relevant today both to SVG and Grenada.
“Line of March for the Party” – Part one in a series of five parts, Extracts of a Speech by Maurice Bishop, the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary of Grenada.
“Line of March for the Party” Presented by Comrade Maurice Bishop, Chairman, Central Committee to General Meeting of Party on Monday September 13, 1982.
Firstly, the present character and stage of the Revolution. We regard that as fundamentally important. We must decide what exactly is a correct characterisation of the present stage of the Revolution.
Secondly, the line of march must address in a serious way the question of the main tasks facing the Party and Revolution at this time.
Thirdly, we must determine a correct prioritisation of those tasks; we must establish priorities bearing in mind particularly, the comments, criticisms, suggestions, proposals etc. which have been made by Party members and, of course, taking into account the totality of the objective and subjective situation.
The fourth and final factor is the need to emphasise the further development of the subjective factor, the need to place great emphasis and importance on the further development of the subjective factor, that is to say, the Party, In other words, we must look at the Party itself, review the history of the Party very briefly and deal with the question of criteria for membership into the Party and for remaining as members of the Party.
Comrades, in terms of the character of the Revolution, the first aspect to the line of march we believe it is important for us to look at this question at this time for several reasons.
Firstly and obviously . . .
Firstly and obviously, because we must as a Party know where we are. As Party members, candidate members and applicants we have to face the broad masses out there; we have to answer questions about where we are, what we are trying to do and so on and therefore we must be able to answer those questions in precise terms. We believe further that there is some confusion on this question, that it has not been sufficiently dealt with in the past and therefore we want today to look at it that much more carefully. It is extremely important for us to get a better understanding of where we are, of what we are trying to build and of how we will be able to build it. That is why we feel that this whole question of what exactly is the present stage is so important.
Before looking at that, a few words on the question of where we have come from, in other words, the inheritance of the Revolution. All comrades know of course that we inherited a backward, undeveloped economy, with a very low level – one can say in fact, a primitive level, of technological and economic development in the country. There was a very low level, and there is still a low level of development of the productive forces, that is, of living human labour, objects of labour and instruments of labour. This low level of development of the productive forces in turn resulted in very underdeveloped class formations.
What we have in Grenada primarily of course, is a very large petit bourgeoisie, particularly a large peasantry – the rural petit bourgeoisie – small farmers who own small means of production and who must therefore work as they cannot live off their own plot of land alone. Some of them employ labour; some do not. So a large peasantry or bulk of our rural petit bourgeoisie. Then there is the urban petit bourgeoisie in terms of shopkeepers, garage owners, craftsmen, small restaurant owners and such like. The whole range of the petit bourgeoisie in our country. That of course is by far the largest class formation in the country.
We also have a working class which is very small and made up of agricultural workers based mainly in the rural areas, transport and communication workers on the docks, in telephone, electricity, etc., manufacturing and industrial workers (the smallest section of all) who produce garments, cokes, beer, that sort of thing. Some sections of the working class are employed by Government – garbagemen, the lowest clerical workers, the daily paid workers and so on. And of course we also have the commercial workers. Some of these comrades of the working class are also small owners of the means of production, but do not rely on that to support themselves – at least not as their main means of support.
In terms of the inheritance . . .
In terms of the inheritance I also want to emphasise the low cultural level of our population at large as part of that inheritance and in particular the lack of technical skills and technical expertise of the working people. We must emphasise also the l9th century type of capitalist that we have in the country, capitalists engaged primarily in comprador activity, in other words largely in the importation and thereafter distribution of goods. This is a particularly parasitic type of capitalist in the full time service of international capitalism on which they must depend for the manufactured goods which give them their profits. They produce nothing and the vast majority of them engage in no form of manufacturing or industrial activity at all.
As part of the inheritance too, we must also note the very low level of infrastructural development of our country. Further, very backward agricultural development is also part of our inheritance and has relevance to the present stage of the Revolution. This inheritance of ours does have negative implications for the road that we are travelling on, for our objective to build Socialism in our country.
First of all, having a small working class is a very very serious disadvantage because only the working class can build Socialism. We know this is so because the working class is the class that is always growing; in fact, it has been historically, and it still is part of capitalist development that the working class gets larger and larger. Again, it is the working class that is most prepared for organisation and discipline because of having to work every day, having to arrive on time, having to engage in collective organisation and collective bargaining in their trade unions and so on. The working class too owns no means of production, in fact owns nothing except their labour and therefore they are the ones who most of all have to fight to end the oppression that comes about as a result of the private ownership of the means of production which of course enslaves them and ensures that their own development is stultified and, finally the working class does have the key role in building socialism because of their role in production.
This inheritance is a problem . . .
This inheritance is a problem also because of the large petit bourgeoisie that it has left us. We of course have that number of petit bourgeoisie in our country precisely because of economic under-development, precisely because capitalist production was so undeveloped that they did not need much labour and therefore people were by large forced to try to make a living however they could and wherever they could. But because the petit bourgeoisie is a vacillating class it is more difficult to build Socialism when there is such a large amount of petit bourgeoisie in the country, precisely because they are in the middle and you have to fight hard to win them. Many of them of course have bourgeois aspirations, many more are deluded and [unclear] by bourgeois ideology and propaganda and therefore the struggle to win the petit bourgeoisie has historically been a very serious intense struggle in all countries that have embarked upon a path of Socialist transformation.
The question we must now pose comrades is whether a society such as ours with their primitiveness, with so little infrastructure, with so little development of productive forces, with such a small working class can really build socialism. This is a question that many other countries before us have posed and many other countries in the future will continue to pose. Of course, this question arises because socialism requires a good level of development of the product productive forces, it requires infrastructural development, it requires agricultural development it requires industrialisation, it requires a high level of cultural development of the people, it requires an even higher level of political development and political consciousness, it requires central planning of the economy and society as a whole, it requires a serious Marxist Leninist vanguard Party leading, guiding and directing the whole process. All of these things are prerequisites for the building of Socialism, and, of course, the vast majority of these either do not exist at all or are at a very low level of development, at this time. Nonetheless, the answer is yes, it is possible for a country like ours to build Socialism. That of course we all know. It is possible, but the question is how and we think that this can be seen if we examine some of the possibilities or models for economic development in our country.
We believe that . . .
We believe that there are four main possibilities for economic development of Grenada and countries like Grenada. The first of these is a total private sector free enterprise system of economic development, your Seaga of Jamaica or your Puerto Rico model of development, where free enterprise is given full rein, where the private sector is able to rule uncontrolled. The second model is a total state sector approach where just about anything important is owned by the State, where the State owns virtually everything that matters. The third type is a mixed economy, but with a private sector dominant, and of course, that is the model that we have chosen in Grenada, the mixed economy state sector dominant type model. rut even after having said that, there are still questions of why we have chosen that form and the question of, precisely how will that form assist us to build socialism are two such questions that come to mind. Obviously, if we are speaking of building Socialism and we are, then it is clear that our objective as Marxist-Leninist must in the first instance be to construct socialism As rapidly, but scientifically as possible. That being so, clearly we cannot choose the path of capitalism. We cannot choose the path of a total private sector free enterprise model because that will be inconsistant (sic) with what we believe in and what we have been and are struggling for. We could not likewise choose that path of the mixed economy, with the private sector dominant because that will have tremendous dangers for the successful construction of Socialism and will have us without the effective possibility of guiding and regulating economic development through the imposition of taxes, the granting of credits and concessions and the use of all arms of the State apparatus. This must necessarily be so because it is, as we know, the objective material basis of the economy that determines and directs the political, social and cultural development of the society as a whole.
Equally, we cannot opt for the total state sector model as the state does not have the necessary material of financial resources, management and skills resources, access to markets, international contacts and so on. All of this should he obvious, but for those who have any doubts, please reflect on the tremendous difficulties that we have in finding the dollars necessary to pay the downpayment to the British Company – Plessey’s – that will be installing the radar, communications and navigational equipment for our new international airport, or reflect on how difficult it has been to find guaranteed markets for our primary products and our agro-industrial products, or how difficult it is to find engineers or architects or science teachers or managers – and note I did not even say good managers, I just said managers. No, it would be impossible at this time for the state on its own to build Grenada.
That, of course, means that an alliance is necessary, an alliance in the first place between the working class and the petty bourgeoisie, in particular the rural peasantry, and in the second place an alliance with those elements of the upper petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie who for different reasons, are willing to be involved in building the economy and the country at this time.
Definition of Present Stage of Grenada Revolution
And this leads me at long last to the answer to the question – what is a correct characterisation of the present stage of development of the Grenada Revolution? And the answer, of course, as we all know, is that the Grenada Revolution is a national-democratic, anti-imperialist Revolution, involving the alliance of many classes including sections of the small bourgeoisie but under the leadership and with the dominant role being played by the working people and particularly the working class, through their vanguard Party the NJM.
That Comrades is how we define the present stage of the Grenada Revolution today. Obviously National Democratic, anti-imperialist means what it says. I did not say a socialist revolution as some comrades like to keep pretending that we have. Obviously we do not have a socialist revolution and it is not socialist precisely because:
The low level of development of the productive forces. You cannot have a socialist revolution with this low level development.