The 'Line of March' speech was given on 13 September 1982. Prime Minister Maurice Bishop presented it to the Special General meeting of members and candidate members of the New Jewel Movement party.
The speech was not meant to be publicized and was marked 'CONFIDENTIAL'. Written in the midst of an emerging sense of party crisis is the question of who was responsible for the content of "The Line of March" speech.
Prior to the speech, the Central Committee wrote a 6-page memo to "All work committees and study groups." The subject: "Central Committee guidelines for discussion on the line of march in the coming period" - with the memo dated 3rd September, 1982.
The Central Committee held its regular monthly meeting on August 27th. During its deliberations, the CC reviewed the work of our Party and concluded on the following:-
- That the Party needs to urgently develop a correct line of march for the coming period in order to lift the quality and quantity of our work.
- That the line of march must take into account the following broad areas:
- The present character of the Revolution.
- Main tasks facing the Party and Revolution at this time.
- Prioritization of the tasks.
- Development of the subjective factor (brief history of Party building).
- Reports from members study session held on the weekend of August 20-23.
Comrades are therefore asked to carefully study the following guidelines and submit your views and comments, as urgently as possible in writing to the PB/CC through the Party Secretariat for possible incorporation in the final document, which will be presented to the upcoming Special General meeting of members and candidate members.
Task No. 1 was targeted as a "must" in priority in order to "accomplish tasks Nos. 2 and 3 respectively. No other formula will work."
In 1982, according to the memo,
We are now entering a new stage of our Party's development. This required more discipline, more determination, more proletarian qualities and more Leninist standards of Party life.
Related to the 'Line of March' speech, the minutes of the Central Committee meeting held on Friday 27th August 1982 noted that 5 comrades were present - Maurice Bishop, Selwyn Strachan, George Louison, Chalkie Ventour and Fitzroy Bain.
Six (6) comrades were late - Hudson Austin, Tan Bartholomew, Kamau McBarnette, Liam James, Phyllis Coard and Bernard Coard. Phyllis Coard was not that late because she had criticism of the minutes, an agenda item at the top of the list.
A Report from Weekend Members Study was a 52-page document and this report was read for two hours of this Central Committee meeting. According to the minutes the item was "not discussed in any great detail."
The minutes of one section, LINE OF MARCH/WAY FORWARD, is as follows:
Other observations were also made and these include some of the thinking behind the "Line of March" speech.
The Comrade Leader [Maurice Bishop] first stated the reasons for the postponement of the Special Party General Meeting originally fixed for Thursday 26th August . The reasons he explained as:-
- lack of full CC/PB input in the discussion, as the items re way forward was not discussed by the CC/PB up to the morning of the meeting day;
- 'confusion on the ground';
- security - the entire Party was going to be at one location; two separate GM's [General Meetings] will now be held - one for applicants and another for full members and candidate members.
The main points which would have had to be included in the main presentation/guidelines at the Special G.M. were the following (which were not even yet discussed centrally by the leading/higher Party organs):-
The character of the Revolution, bearing in mind the character of the society and of the Party and what was inherited.
Our economic path must be explained.
Explain what is the dictatorship of the working people.
The tasks were outlined as the following:-
- Building the Party through:-
- Sinking ML ideas among the working class and working people - Socialism Classes
- Organisation of the masses through zonal councils and other organs of popular democracy, mass organisations, culture, sports, etc.
- Building the economy
- Raising production
- Strengthening our ties with the Socialist countries.
- Strengthening our defense capacity.
The following important points were made:
- The need to agree with analysis made.
- Decide on tasks from the analysis and order of prioritization.
- The need to creatively apply the guidelines.
- Organisational/tactical considerations to bear in mind: How does the Party develop its work among the masses?
The final point of the meetings' DECISIONS/RESOLUTIONS is:
3.5 The guideline for developing a line of march for the upcoming period to be drafted into resolution or directive form by Comrades Strachan and Ventour. this to be sent to Study Guide and Committee Chairman. A presentation on the line of march/way forward to be made by the Comrade Leader at the two upcoming General Meetings.
Text of the "Line of March" speech at locations below:
Line of March - Part One
Line of March - Part Two
Line of March - Part Three