The New Jewel Movement (NJM) was the only permitted political group in Grenada. Membership in the NJM was rigorously delineated.
In Bishop's confidential Line of March speech in 13 September 1982, he said:
When we took power on March 13th 1979, as comrades know, we did not take power as an alliance - we took power as NJM.
Later in the speech, Bishop discussed the stages the NJM had moved through. Bishop spoke of the initial stage:
The first stage began on the 11th March 1973 with the merger, when came NJM out of JEWEL and MAP led by intelligentsia and rural petty-bourgeoisie.
Bishop outlines, even later in the speech, the path for moving to a higher stage involves rigorous study, testing, work and selectivity.
Four stages had to be successfully passed through before becoming a member of the NJM:
(1) Potential Applicant
(3) Candidate Member
(4) Full Member
O'Shaughnessy summarizes the process in his book Grenada: Revolution, Invasion and Aftermath:
Potential Applicants were chosen by NJM party members. "These comrades," according to Bishop in the Line of March speech, "are then invited to join classes where they are tested to see whether they are hostile to, or accepting of the ideas of Marxism Leninism."
The period for Applicant member was one year, which included a 6-month course of study. Each week for three hours, the applicant studied Marx and Lenin with the ancillary concepts and history associated with those historical figures. The Applicant member passed through another set of criteria during a one year period before being considered as a Candidate member; for example:
Whether the Applicant continues to be of good character so as to present an example to the masses he/she comes in contact with; whether certain petty bourgeois traits such as individualism, hostility to criticism, arrogance, indiscipline and so on are being eroded; and whether proletarian qualities such as respect for the working class, co-operativeness and co-operation, discipline, modesty, self criticism are being built. If accepted as a Candidate member, another year would now elapse before the comrade is eligible for consideration for full membership. From the Line of March.
A year passed as a Candidate member until the Party accepted that the applicant had reached "the fullest possible development of six factors." Full membership was then achieved.
Assessments were made of an individual's suitability, at various stages, in the following categories:
· Revolutionary potential
· Knowledge of Marxism-Leninism
· Organizational Skills
· Disciplined Political Work
· Relations with the Masses
· Supervisory Skills
· Professional and Technical Skills
· No manifestations of petty-bourgeois characteristics
Only 45 people were full members when the NJM came to power in 1979. In May 1982 there were 160 Applicants and 83 Candidates, equaling 240 people waiting for full membership. By the end of 1983, about 70 people were full members of the NJM party. About 230 applicants and candidates were awaiting admission.
Adkin, in Urgent Fury, defines Bishop's four basic requirements for party membership:
- Regular collective ideological study organized by the party.
- Consistent political work under the guidance of the party.
- Regular payment of 5 percent of gross [monthly] salary into party funds.
- Understanding, accepting, and implementing the principles and program of the party, which included accepting party discipline in many areas of one's private life.
Party members took decisions from the Politburo and Central Committee to themselves in accordance with the principle of "democratic centralism." Attendance at assigned gatherings was mandatory. Emulation, criticism and self-criticism and a wide use of correct political language were encouraged. If a Party member got too out of line, s/he was brought before the Disciplinary Committee. Bishop, in his Line of March I and Line of March II and Line of March III speech, commented that being a Communist, comrades, means becoming a different kind of person.
In that same "Line of March" speech, Bishop urged on the General Meeting of the New Jewel Movement Party members:
. . . our ideological and organisational level as a Party will have to rise considerably. It is clear that if we had not insisted higher standards we would not have reached where we have reached. But it is equally clear, comrades, that holding power is much more difficult than taking power. There is no doubt that the Party can be built more rapidly on the basis of lower standards but our historical task of building socialism, would not be accomplished. As Lenin told us a long time ago "better fewer but better." Immortal words that we must never forget.
There were 65 New Jewel Movement Party members in Grenada and abroad in July, 1983. According to Thorndike,
. . . at the very end it was composed of only 94 full members, 51 candidates, and some 150 associates.