The Grenada Revolution Online

Line of March for the Party

Presented by Comrade Maurice Bishop,
Chairman, Central Committee
to General Meeting of Party on Monday 13th September 1982


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The text for the “Line of March” speech below has been transcribed from a photocopied original typewritten text. The cover page is marked CONFIDENTIAL and framed with '&&&&&&' marks. No misspellings have been corrected. There is a caveat for human error and please notify via the email address below. If the spelling or word usage is obviously an error, it has been noted with the configuration ‘(sic)’ following the word. Spellings, using the letter ‘s’ instead of ‘z’ - for example - have remained without notation. The punctuation and paragraph structure has remained virtually the same. What has changed is an improvement on the clarity of the text; often difficult to read in the original.

Comrades of the Political Bureau and Central Committee of the Party, Comrades of the Party.

I will like to join with Comrade Strachan to say on behalf of the Central Committee that we are very happy to have all the comrades here this afternoon. As Comrade Selwyn has pointed out, essentially what we want to do today is to deal with the proposed line of march as examined by the C.C. of the Party in the last few weeks.

In our view the line of march needs to take into account four specific features:-

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:

  1. The low level of development of the productive forces. You cannot have a socialist revolution with this low level development.
  2. Our working class is too small and too politically underdeveloped.

For these primary reasons we cannot proceed straight away to the building of socialism but must first pass through a stage where we lay the basis, where we create the conditions, including the socio-economic and political conditions, for the building of socialism and the creation of the socialist revolution, that is, for the full coming to power of the working class. In other words, comrades, what we are into now (this national democratic stage) really means two things. What we are speaking about now is not socialist construction, not the socialist revolution, we are speaking about the national democratic revolution, we are speaking about socialist orientation. So the important things to contradistinguish here are socialist construction the second stage versus socialist orientation the first stage, which is the stage we are in at this time.

Comrades, these two things . . .

Comrades, these two things are completely different and it is very important for us to grasp that difference, because the experience of the C.C. and study guides in the Party is that it is an area of tremendous confusion and an area that has proven hard to grasp. In some countries around the world it is of course possible to go straight to socialism. That would have been possible; for example the French in 1785 at the time of their bourgeois-democratic Revolution. They could have gone straight to socialism because the necessary objective material bases and conditions were present. Or if tomorrow morning a revolution takes place in the United States or one of the industrialised countries of Western Europe they too can no straight to socialism, because they have a large working class, because the objective material basis in terms of infrastructure, high economic development, high level of development of the productive forces etc, etc are present, so once there is a correct scientific political leadership it is possible for them to proceed to socialism straight away, but for us it is impossible. It really is important for this first concept to be fully grasped.

On Saturday when we were doing the same presentation for the Applicants, there was a particular example I gave which I want to repeat for the Members and Candidate Members and ask for the apologies of the promoted Applicants.

What we gave for an example then was two different people in Grenada who owned two separate plots of lands; let us say one person owning land in Grand Anse and another in Grenville, St. Andrew's. Both of them own plots of land, both of them want to build a house on their respective plots of lands. In the case of the man in Grand Anse, his land is flat, his land already has the necessary attachments for telephone, water, electricity, he has a concrete base, there is already some kind of access road to his plot of land - therefore all he has to do is put up his house.

In the case of the man in Grenville, what he has is a rough piece of land, the land is hilly, the land has a lot of bush, a lot of trees, a lot of stone. There are no water pipes near to this man's plot of land; there are no telephone poles near to this man's plot of land, no electricity poles, no access road - he has to go through a dirt track. This second man cannot just go and put up his house. First of all he has to cut a piece of road to the house to get the materials there; then he has to level the land and he has to do all the necessary earth work; and civil works; he has to put down his concrete base and only then can he begin to talk about building his house.

The first man, . . .

The first man, the man in St. George's, he is ready for socialist construction.

The second man, the one in Grenville with the rough hilly land who has to do all the necessary preliminary work is the kind of man like us here in Grenada who can't go straight to socialism. He has to first lay the basis and the foundations. We have to cut the lane, cut the road, make sure the telephone poles are laid, the pipe borne water is available and so on before we can build the house.

That is the difference, comrades, between socialist orientation and socialist construction and that is the stage we are at, the first, stage - the stage of socialist orientation.

Comrades, we speak of the national democratic anti-imperialist revolution and each of those words, of course., has a meaning. The national democratic anti-imperialist revolution is national because it arose from a national liberation struggle that was aimed to do away with the political, economic and ideological domination of an oppressive ruling elite that of Gairy, imperialism and their allies. It is national because it involved, and still involves, a vast majority of the people - that is why the national democratic Revolution is national.

It is democratic because it aims to give or restore rights and freedoms to the majority of the people. Under the Gairy dictatorship of course, many of the rights of the working people were taken away. The February 1978 Essential Services Act took away the right to strike from eleven of the most important categories of workers. :he Public Order Act, 1974, prohibited political parties and even individuals from using loudspeakers, without police permission. The 1975 Newspaper Act made it impossible to publish a newspaper that was political and opposed to Gairy. These rights, as comrades know, have been restored. We have all created new rights because part of this national democratic path is the need to readily expand democracy and the democratic participation of the poor and working people in the country. That is why we have brought more democratic rights through the establishment of zonal councils, workers parish councils, farmers, women and youth councils - all of the organs of popular democracy.

The Revolution is also . . .

The Revolution is also anti-imperialist because it is opposed to foreign domination and the exploitation of our country and its resources by the transnational co-operations (sic). Of course, this looks only at the economic essence of imperialism for that is what I am trying to focus on at this time. The political, cultural and ideological aspects of imperialism are not what we are dealing with here, though they will also be struggles in this anti-imperialist stage.

We want to point out too, comrades, that the national democratic anti-imperialist stage can be led not just by the working class, not just by the petty bourgeoisie, but even by the bourgeoisie. It can be led by the bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie or the working class - any of these class forces can lead the Revolution. If it is led by the bourgeoisie, obviously, it could never go on to build socialism - that will be an impossibility; no bourgeois can build socialism. If it is led by the petty bourgeoisie, the only basis on which it can build socialism is if the petty bourgeoisie leadership in the course of the class struggle is transformed into a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist leadership and therefore develops a Marxist-Leninist Party that then guides and directs the process. Without that transformation, it would also be impossible.

Therefore, obviously it is only the working class that can build socialism. It is only under the leadership of the working class, led by a Marxist-Leninist vanguard Party that the process can be completed and we can go on to socialist construction. That is the only time it is possible.

That again, comrades, needs to be understood by us because of its tremendous relevance to the nature of the alliance we have and what we need to do from here on.

This national democratic stage of the revolution has, broadly speaking, two main components - a political aspect and an economic aspect.

POLITICAL ESSENCE OF THE NATIONAL - DEMOCRATIC PARTY

In terms of the political aspect, the essence of that political aspect is the dictatorship of the working people, dictatorship of rule of the working people - that is the essence. This essence implies a change in the balance of forces that presently exists, a change in the balance of forces that will usually be involved in the anti-imperialist struggle of the national liberation movements. In other words, in your Angolas, Mozambiques, etc., what you would normally find happening is that there is a class alliance involved in the fight to end colonialism. And that class alliance will involve the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeoisie and the proletariat (the working class) - all three.

And in countries like ours, after independence, just like in Grenada today, what you usually find happening is that state power is wielded by an alliance of the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeoisie and the working class through a particular Party or combination of Parties, and usually comrades, as you know, the situation is that it is the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie that is pre-dominant, the combined bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie that is pre-dominant, and the working class is the minority influence. That is the usual situation in countries like ours even after independence. That is what is happening right now. Right through the English-speaking Caribbean - in all of them - you can see that the bourgeoisie and petty- bourgeoisie are ruling and that working class representation is very small.

But when countries start to move to develop this essence I was talking about - the dictatorship (or rule) of the working people -is that in the course of class struggle, the bourgeoisie begins to become subordinated and the influence of the petty-bourgeoisie and working class together becomes pre-dominant. In other words a drift begins to take place, at first imperceptible, but gradually observable and at a certain moment when quantity becomes quality, that shift becomes very clear and very noticeable. And at that time, the bourgeoisie becomes the minority force and the petty bourgeoisie and proletariat begin to rule. And when that happens, it becomes the first time at which it is possible to shift the country away from the path of capitalist development, because a combination of bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie pre-dominant necessarily means that the emphasis will be on capitalist development. And equally, once the shift takes place then the potential is there for the first time to begin to move along the path of socialist orientation and away from the path of capitalist development. That comrades, is our situation in Grenada, and that was the situation when we took power on March 13th, 1979.

When we took power . . .

When we took power on March 13th 1979, as comrades know, we did not take power as an alliance - we took power as NJM. But within the first few hours of taking power, we tried to build an alliance and we begun (sic) to build that alliance for two main reasons:-- Firstly to hold on to power in the first few seconds., minutes, hours, days and weeks. And the second reason was to defeat imperialism, in the months and years thereafter, because defeating imperialism is a complex process, that requires a political orientation and an economic transformation that involves crushing the rule of the monopolies and of big business in your country, that involves taking control of the commanding heights of the economy and so on. And we cannot do that on our own and that is why the alliance was and is needed.

But comrades, we have to be very clear that it was the Party and the Party alone that took power. GNP didn't help us; there was no UPP, there was no alliance with any upper petty-bourgeoisie or any national bourgeoisie in seizing power. In fact, most of these elements might have run from the prospect of having to go down to True Blue barracks to take power. NJM took power on its own, but NJM then decided - correctly - that an alliance was needed to hold power. We understood the reasons for that because we knew we could not do it on our own. The leadership of the Party and the Party itself had a working class ideology and therefore an understanding of what was required to ensure that the working class will eventually take power. But we were way ahead and we still are way, way ahead ideologically of the masses of our people in general and also of our national bourgeoisie. We are much more politically and ideologically developed than them, we have a much deeper class consciousness then (sic) them.

So we have the objective to build socialism. We know that objective could only be achieved if we built an alliance but not all of our masses know that and in fact the vast majority still have no scientific understanding of this need for an alliance. So what we did, we did in their interest and acting in their name, even though they did not necessarily understand why we were doing what we were doing. And it is very significant Comrades that from the start, from the very first second of the Grenada Revolution (let us say 4.30 a.m. on March 13th 1979) from the very first second of the Grenada Revolution, what was established was a dictatorship of the entire working people. In its operationalisation; in its initial concretisation; it took the form of the anti-Gairy poor and working people, in other words, those people who were opposed to Gairy were the ones who appeared to be in the vanguard. And that is true, they were in the vanguard. But right from the start, the effective dictatorship was not only of the anti-Gairy working people. It was a dictatorship of the entire working people with the anti-Gairy working people initially being in the operational vanguard of that dictatorship. It is a very important concept for us to grasp and to agree on.

As the Revolution deepened . . .

As the Revolution deepened and strengthened and consolidated, as the Gairyite working people came to see that the Revolution was also in their interest, that we were not victimising them, that, in fact, we were bringing benefits to them, then they too joined the Revolution, and today, a majority of them support the Revolution. But right from the start the rule that was established by the NJM on behalf of the working class, was rule of the entire working people. It's a very important conceptual point.

From the start too, comrades, we had an alliance with sections of the upper petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie right from the word GO. Within the first few hours of the Revolution, we began to put that alliance in place. I can remember all of us making phone calls to different sections of the Petty-bourgeoisie and the National bourgeoisie, inviting them to come down to Radio Free Grenada and in some cases beginning to feel them out as to whether or not they were willing to serve on the ruling council of the People's Revolutionary Government.

I can remember very well that the first set of names we announced for the ruling council was fourteen (14), not twenty-three (23). And these fourteen names were made up mainly (outside of the immediate leadership), of the petty-bourgeoisie, the upper petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. You remember that? Simon Charles and Sydney Ambrose - peasantry,. Bernard Gittens - professional middle strata, Lloyd Noel - professional middle strata; Palm Buxo and Norris Bain - middle capitalists; Lyden Ramdhanny - big capitalist; that is who the People's Revolutionary Government was. And this was done deliberately so that imperialism won't got too excited and would say “well they have some nice fellas in that thing; everything alright.” And as a result wouldn't think about sending in troops.

That was the mistake, for example, the comrades in Gambia made a few months ago. Remember the Gambia Coup E'tat a few months ago? What was the first thing those comrades did? They say “we are Marxist-Leninists and we have just had a Marxist-Leninist Revolution and we go wipe out the bourgeoisie.” The same day they overthrow them - same day, they didn't even give then three days. So fortunately, NJM had a little more sense than that. And like I said comrades, the first fourteen names were bourgeoisie, big capitalist, petty-bourgeoisie, middle capitalist, peasantry and professional middle strata - that is who made up the People's Revolutionary Government. It is only after about a week and a half (if I recall correctly), when we held the Party General meeting in Radio Free Grenada's studio (and some comrades here would have been present at that meeting) that we finally got around to pulling some more Party comrades. You all remember that meeting down in Radio Free Grenada studio. It was then we chose nine more comrades to make up the twenty- three. But the first set of names were Lyden, Pam Buxo, Norris Bain, Lloyd Noel and so on. That is what I mean by saying that the alliance began from the first few hours and the first few days. And that alliance was and is extremely important.

From our point of view . . .

From our point of view comrades, why do we need the alliance?

We need the alliance firstly, as we pointed out already, hold power in the first few days and weeks.

We need the alliance, secondly, to consolidate and build the revolution and to ensure the defeat of imperialism. [At] this time we can't do this effectively without the alliance.

We need the alliance, comrades, because we don't have enough managers, because we don't have enough capital, because we don't have enough international contacts, because we don't have enough markets. For all of these reasons, we need the alliance.

If we were the State that owned the flour mill in Tempe and not Geddes Grant, we won't be able to sell that flour so easily to Jamaica and the others in Caricom. If it were the State that owned the Gament (sic) Factory in True Blue and not Hadeed, we won't he able to sell garments to Barbados and Trinidad so easily. The capitalist prefers to deal with the capitalist and capitalist Governments allows other capitalists to come in, even when their Government is a socialist oriented Government like our Government in Grenada. It is very important for us to see that.

And why does the bourgeoisie need the alliance?

[continue to Part Two]

Next: Line of March Speech - Part Two

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