On Strategy and Tactics - M.A.P.
NOTE: Below is a long, undated paper. The text refers to MAP [Movement for Assemblies of the People] which began as an organization in September 1972. A scholarly reference dates the paper On Strategy and Tactics at October 1972 and, indeed, a report of the MAP Convention of 10-11 March 1973 refers to a first meeting 27th October, 1972 to discuss mass organising.
The text reveals expectation of a planned April 1973 People's Convention on Independence at Seamoon, the London Independence talks scheduled for May 1973 and the as yet unscheduled [4 November 1973] Peoples' Congress on Independence at Seamoon. References within the text are to the 28 February 1972 Grenada Elections. Reference is also made to JEWEL, the newspaper of the J.E.W.E.L. organization in St. David's parish; first issue 14 April 1972. The JEWEL organization itself was formed circa 22 March 1972.
The piece was written before the M.A.P./JEWEL merger of 11 March 1973. One assumes the paper was written by Maurice Bishop because of the use of certain Bish Words: "concrete" and "burning issues" as examples, but this could be presupposing too much. A Special Branch Report notes that Bishop had assistance from Franklyn Harvey. "Strategy and Tactics" was an agenda item for the M.A.P. Convention held 10 & 11 March 1973, presented by "Bro. Harvey."
The document was transcribed from a faint and partially unclear typed text. No attempt is made to decipher Bishop's handwritten notes, except in minor cases noted below. The text keeps close to the original with minor spelling, grammar and format corrections.
ON STRATEGY AND TACTICS
The immediate, urgent and most fundamental question today is the question of Political Power.
Firstly, all social activities of the people, all matters affecting the lives of the people involve politics. What we eat; where we buy food and clothes; how much we pay for them? - these are all political questions because they are decided by those who have political power in their hands. Whether we have a job; whether we can get a job; what kind of job; for how many days per week or month; how much we get per day? These are determined by the political bosses. Whether we die or get medical attention in time is decided by political power. Whether we get "good" prices for Cocoa or Nutmeg or Bananas; whether we get fertiliser; whether we can upkeep ourselves by our small store or shop and withstand competition from giants like Kirpalani's; whether we can make ends meet; whether we "catch hell" or be "bosses"; all these are determined by politics and the political papa Gods on earth. Everything we do or want to do today is affected by politics and what the political bosses think and want.
Secondly, the political, social and economic crisis in which we find ourselves and our Country demands a political solution. We have experienced or heard of widespread victimization at all levels. We have seen the collapse of our once prosperous agricultural industry with no alternative economic activity to make our livelihood. We have experienced late pay packets or none at all because of a bankrupt treasury at St. George's. We know of the total waste of our youth because of no work and no hope of a future except the jail and cemetery. We listen to the dictatorship at Radio Grenada. We smell the tear gas, feel the baton, see the drawn bayonets and our flesh [handwritten by Bishop] would soon begin [unclear] as his dictatorship progresses. [end of Bishop handwriting]. We walk the streets today as if in a trance, a dream, with grim faces not knowing where to turn in our deep, deep hold of poverty, oppression and repression.
Thirdly, the political power that has taken total power into "its" hands. Having got just over 50% of the total vote, "it" has over 86% of the seats in the parliament. "It" has purged the civil Service of all "its" non-supporters. "It" has got the loyalty of the police force by placing all its supporters in the police "service". "It" has openly declared that "it" has created an "sss", an "anti-vice squad" and a "Night ambush squad". "It" has turned the Courts into a masquerade. And finally, "it" has made the people individually and collectively dependent on "it" for every thing they need to lead a life of minimum human quality.
Never before has the people of Grenada been made to descend to such depths in the nasty gutter of oppression, suffering and want. Our parents and fore parents prepared the way for us to live in a place of human worship but the political power has made it a den of thieves. It is on this basis that M.A.P. must see the fundamental and urgent question of the day as the QUESTION OF POLITICAL POWER.
But, Power to whom?
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
In the entire history of Grenada power has always been power to and for the few at the expense of the many. But before we were not conscious of the consequences and effects of power to the few. We were by and large independent small farmers working our lands, selling our produce and living our life almost as though we were independent of the political power. Even if we were labourers on the estate, we had our small plot. We have been this way for more than 100 years. 1951 was our first major awakening. But today, with the collapse of agriculture and nothing to take its place, with rising prices and [unclear] employment and with our lives at the mercy of the political power to do as "it" likes, we are suddenly shocked to the reality that we are not independent, and power is in the hands of a as few as it can get. WE HAVE NO POWER TO DO A SINGLE THING.
The crisis that has fallen on us today and the serious problems and difficulties we face cannot be overcome by anybody else but ourselves acting collectively as one unit. More important, we will not get out of the mess we are in until we take and keep political power in our hands as an organised united people. No "good" leader or "good" few in parliament can take us out of the mess. Once we keep the present system of power, power will always be in the hands of the few. Democracy today must mean the involvement of all the people all the time in the running of the people's affairs. Democracy is an activity, a practice, a way of life of a people; not once every five years when we think we are practising democracy while we don't know what happens to the ballot boxes and what happens at the Vote-counting centre; farmer, store-keeper, market women, police, nurses, teachers, students; all must be involved all the time. That is democracy. An organised people involved all the time in running their affairs and the affairs of their country in POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
We have stated boldly and clearly that ASSEMBLIES OF THE PEOPLE is our new beginning. The people organised in Assemblies must form the basis on which POWER TO THE PEOPLE must become a reality. Within the ASSEMBLIES the people will work out their problems; fight out their conflicts; defend their interests and build a new society based on the human individual. Out of the ASSEMBLIES will come not one leader but many leaders. Within the ASSEMBLIES the people will be able to show their initiative and great creativity, and express themselves in a way we have never experienced before. A new human spirit will emerge that will fill the people with a brotherly and sisterly bond to move forward as one collective family to our social liberation.
THE PATH TO FOLLOW
To achieve our goal we must build a mass democratic movement of the people. Not a movement of supporters like the political parties do for election. No, 1000 times No. We have to build an organised movement of the people in which people are active all the time; in which people are debating and clarifying where they want to go; what they must do; how, when, where; and do it. It must be a collective movement of the people. That will not be the real ASSEMBLIES, the ASSEMBLIES with power; for ASSEMBLIES with power can only come, can only be a reality when the people take political power into their hands. But the mass movement will be infant assemblies where the people go through the process of self-education, self-learning by doing, by Activity as a collective body in their villages or at their places of work.
To build this mass movement, we need to recruit disciples and apostles; not disciples and apostles of a leader, but of the new democratic direction. That is, we have to build an organisation, a political organisation capable of carrying out the tasks necessary and withstanding the persecution and repression of the Sadducees and Pharisees, Caesar and Pilate. The organisation must be welded together as a unit, based at the roots of the people, like roots of a tree that digs into the earth wherewith it draws its nourishment. Like the roots of a tree, the roots of the organisation must be alive, working, active, functioning all the time and developing a clarity of where it is going and how it is going to get there. We have to develop these roots to work among the people, to go among the people and convince them by persuasion of the new direction, the new beginning. We cannot only talk, we have to ACT: PRACTICAL ACTIVITY, ORGANISATION, EDUCATION and CLARITY OF DIRECTION must be our watchwords.
Most important is the question of leadership. We can jump high or we can jump low but we cannot evade or escape the question of leadership. An organisational leadership today must be a new type of leadership. It cannot be as the old political parties. The new leadership must develop an organisation with strong roots and on a democratic basis that will in time make leadership unnecessary. We cannot liquidate the necessity for a leadership in our heads.
We have to liquidate it by building the kind of democratic organisation that makes leadership of no use. And only the development of new social relations and a new collective consciousness in the society can make that a reality. But now we need to have a leadership. The organisation as a whole must guard itself against its own leadership to make sure that the old-type leadership does not emerge. To do that it is necessary for the member to defend at all cost the democratic nature of the organisation with power at the roots and develop an organisational structure within which the leadership is kept in check and the roots can depose the leadership at any time and elect a new one. It is only in very repressive situations that this should not hold, and even then it is not that the substance of the principle and practice should not hold good, but more so the regularity of the practice.
The taking of political power can be effected in three basic ways. Let us speak frankly and have no illusions or shyness. Let us discuss clearly the methods of taking political power.
- Elections to Parliament
- Armed Struggle
- Mass Uprising
[NOTE: Bishop's notes are clear here when he wrote in]
- coup d'etat
- Elections to parliament is what we know, and know well. A political party (sometimes a few people, other times one person) campaigns throughout the country selling a program of promises, like an insurance policy, asking the people to give it political power to do "good" for the people. The people are only involved in going to meetings, listening, clapping, cheering and pushing a piece of paper inside a box. That's all. After that we have to shut our mouths, keep our tail between our legs or else it's the jail or the cemetery. The party rules supreme on how it likes until another five years. Worst of all we are given two insurance policies to choose from knowing full well that insurance salesmen are always tricksters full of promises which they never carry out. The people have no power.
- A people only accepts armed struggle when all other avenues for change are blocked. If a group attempts armed struggle they are usually slaughtered within weeks. The people give it no support and in fact sells the group out to the ruling regime. The people do that because they do not see and are not convinced that armed struggle is necessary in the prevailing situation when other avenues are still open. Only when it becomes crystal clear to the people that all other avenues are closed do the people support and become active participate in armed struggle.
- The third method of taking political power is the Mass uprising. The Mass uprising is a mass democratic movement against the ruling regime, the system of power and the way of life the people have been living. Only a Mass movement of the people can create a mass uprising. NO small group or part can. The Mass uprising can take different forms. It can be expressed in the form of mass demonstrations of the people all over the country culminating in a physical confrontation with the armed forces of the ruling regime - police, etc. It can take the form of a general strike during which the entire country is shut down. It can take the form of a new organised movement of the people developing into a convention or Assembly of delegates from various districts, villages and places of work. In all cases, however, a physical confrontation is inevitable except when the ruling regime runs away which is unusual.
We cannot rule out any of the three alternatives or methods of struggle for power in the developing situation in Grenada today. The particular method we adopt must depend on the particular situation we face. We cannot predict events exactly, and so we cannot predict which method will be most appropriate tomorrow. But the situation as it develops determines which method we adopt. We must be ready to change our method to suit the changing situation. But we know what situation we face now.
It is not clear that the majority of the people has rejected outright "elections to parliament" as we know it. And it is very doubtful that the people are convinced that all avenues are closed save that of armed struggle as the only way. The call everywhere is for a "new party", a "new movement", "some young educated boys", "a third force". If the people were convinced that armed struggle is now the only way, that would not have been the cry. It might be said that the youth see armed struggle as the only way. But let us not take the youth for the people. The section of the youth that may call for armed struggle is very remote for there is no reason why the ruling regime should call an election now. And even then we must not participate in any election unless the people demand it and control the electoral process and we know clearly why we are participating in elections as a method of achieving our goal; for our goal is not "control of parliament" but POWER TO THE PEOPLE ORGANISED IN ASSEMBLIES. [NOTE: A clear Bishop handwritten note alongside this paragraph notes "stress that violence in involved in all 3"]
The strategy and tactics we must therefore adopt NOW for this period is the mass uprising. But the type of mass uprising we must organise for is that of mobilisation and organisation in a mass movement of the people to take political power. That must be our strategy for today. Everything we have experienced, seen or heard points in that direction.
Our people have had little experience of political or social organisation. We have been playing the role of supporters for donkey years. The political parties and trade unions that have emerged are not organisations in any serious sense. They are all dictatorships within a body of supporters who are prepared to do things when demanded by the director. For us to expect today that the people will begin to put the ASSEMBLIES into practice and sustain them, is only to fool ourselves. A people do not suddenly begin to practice a new principle overnight unless they throw themselves into a fury of political activity in a mass movement. That is the lesson of history. We must therefore seek to build a mass movement of the people. In the process the ASSEMBLIES will begin to take shape.
But around what basic issue will we build this mass movement and how?
The burning issue of the day is INDEPENDENCE. The ruling regime has created the issue and we must exploit it to the fullest. We are told that independence talks are scheduled for May in London. But the people are not simply concerned with independence as such. They are boiling over the many social and economic issues that plague their daily lives. They see independence as worsening their situation leaving them destitute until they reach the cemetery. These social and economic issues are the burning issues of the day and are all closely related to the question of Independence. Our immediate task, therefore, must be to build a mass movement of the people around the burning social and economic issues and the question of Independence to take political power for the social transformation of our lives.
Our main thrust, our fundamental direction must be THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES MUST DECIDE ON THE QUESTION OF INDEPENDENCE AND THE SOLUTION TO THE BURNING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF THE DAY NOW!
Our method of approach must be to mobilise and organise the people in the villages, communities and places of work to debate and decide what we want, then they should send delegates to a convention of the people to decide what we all want and what ACTION we are going to take to get what we want NOW. That is what we have to do. And we have to do it by May so that the voices of the people, the decisions of the people, the actions of the people, can be heard and seen before the independence talks. THE PEOPLE MUST DECIDE WHETHER INDEPENDENCE TALKS WILL BE HELD OR NOT. THAT IT WILL BE HELD AND WHO WILL TALK TO WHOM ABOUT WHAT?
There is talk going around the island about a referendum on independence. A referendum says nothing. The people will not be involved in deciding anything. All a referendum can ask is whether you are for independence or not. That is stupid question. Independence by itself is no issue. The burning questions are these. What kind of government we want? Who must have political power? How are we going to solve our social and economic problems? These are some of the burning questions of the day. No referendum can answer these questions. The people themselves must decide what we want in our own convention and TAKE ACTION to get it.
REFERENDUM! ---- NO!
OUR URGENT TASKS
PEOPLE'S CONVENTION ---- YES! RIGHT NOW
The task we face between now and May is a gigantic one that will require all our efforts, energies and resources. Nothing less will do today. The times in which we are living demand a collective effort from us, all of us. If we don't clearly grasp that we are doomed.
We cannot expect the people to form and maintain Assemblies overnight. Just so too they will not meet in their villages to discuss their problems and independence just like that. They will not whether we like it or not. We have to start the ball rolling. We have to fan the fire that is blazing within the people. We have to fire the sparks.
- Our first task is to "build" the organisation. We have got to build "cells" of the organisation in every village and parish, in every place of work, on the estates, in the schools. It will be these "cells" that have to carry out the work in the villages and places of work every day. Without those "cells" we cannot sustain the movement, we will not even be able to build the movement needed. The "cells" must consist of fearless members. The "cells" must know what we are all doing, what they came to do, why and how. That is, the "cells" must be clear. Let us not fool ourselves; the "cells" will not begin strong. They will constantly want to consult the leadership, seek advice and clarification, and at times will want to know what they must do in a particularly critical situation.
That is task No. 1
- Our second task is to build and sustain a national weekly newspaper. The paper must expose the bankruptcy of the present ruling regime, the bankruptcy of the present system of politics and economics: it must explain to the people why the crisis exists: it must how what has to be done and why. Finally, it must put forward positive proposals with crystal clarity and simplicity showing a way out of the mess we are in. A programme of mass action is needed and the paper must hammer it home to the people week-after-week.
"Jewel" as a paper has done tremendous work in the society. It has been a centre of mass mobilisation in spirit and feeling. We should join in the mobilisation of "Jewel" Now and make it the National weekly paper of the Movement.
- Our third task is to begin a series of public meetings throughout the country soon after the convention. These public meetings must be to put forward to the people our position, where we stand, what we propose and what we are going to do. Through the public meetings and the paper we will see the response of the people. The public meetings will attract serious people from various villages to the organisation and give us the basis for expanding the roots of the organisation. The public meetings will be the spark that can develop into the blazing flame of a mass movement. During the course of the public meetings we should open the platform to anyone who wants to speak saying anything they want to say on the issue or issues. In this concrete practical way we will begin to develop the idea of the Assemblies in concrete practice.
- Our fourth task is to shift the public meeting from the parish level to the village or community level. That is, public forums should be organised in villages where people can come into the platform and speak. By this shift we will be laying the practical basis for the holding of village Assemblies leading within a short time to the people's Convention on Independence in which each village or area will send delegates.
- Our fifth task is the publication of what can be called the PEOPLE'S WILL. This document should be published about three to four weeks before the convention. Its purpose is to give the mass movement a clear direction and to act as the basis for discussion, debate on Mass Action of the convention and the mass movement. It should be a GUIDE TO ACTION outlining what the people want and what we must DO to get it. This document should be prepared by the leadership of M.A.P. and circulated in the thousands throughout the country.
- Our sixth task is to establish a centre to which the roots or cells of the organisation can relate on a daily basis if necessary. This centre is of crucial importance for rapid and easy communication within the organisation and for the building of the organisation and the movement as a whole. We cannot continue to play at politics as our hobby. The newspaper will need at least two full-time workers in the field besides the organising secretary---head of the organisational committee. The centre must be the place in which these full-time political workers relate at all times. The organisation then as a unit must rotate around the centre. The actual type of building and location will depend on what is possible at this time. But St. David's is suggested as the general location.
- The seventh task is fund-raising. The organisation needs to finance its full-time personnel and its activities, and only the members of the organisation can raise the necessary finances. We have got to depend on ourselves and our initiative for raising finances. The methods we use will vary from "cell" to "cell", and from parish to parish. Mobilisation of contributions from individuals: social and entertainment activities, substantial contributions from individuals; contributions from Grenadians overseas and all different methods of mobilising finances to support the organisation. We have got to use various methods in the present situation. To co-ordinate the mobilisation of finances we need a fund-raising committee.
- Finally, our eighth priority is to develop the capability to defend ourselves and the movement from all repressive attacks. That's all need be said here.
[Four words unclear] we have to undertake between now and May. We need to put everything we have into our political work to build a mass movement Now. In the tasks we have ahead of us the roots of the organisation - the "cells" --- are of vital importance. Only they can build the movement. We either understand that or we will fail miserably. The roots have [unclear] to be active all the time, distributing the paper, writing in the paper, organising small and large meetings, organising public meetings, organising infant assemblies, raising funds by contributions from people and otherwise recruiting new people to the organisation etc etc.
The organisation from now on will need two very strong Bureaus or committees --- the organisational committee and the newspaper committee. The organisational committee must be responsible for co-ordinating, organising and development the "cells"; the public meetings, the village forums, the infant assemblies, and, most important of all, the PEOPLE'S CONVENTION ON INDEPENDENCE. The newspaper committee should handle all the affairs of the paper.
SOME NOTES ON TACTICS
In carrying out our urgent tasks we should de-emphasise the personality of Gairy. Too much emphasis has been placed on the "man". We do not need to do so now. Our tactical emphasis should be positive, concrete and clear on a new direction out of the crisis and the mess we are in today. We must rouse the people to ACTION FOR POWER along a clear positive road. Our agitation, our propaganda, our publications, our slogans must emphasise the Way Out.
The material basis of our society and the social situation today demands that we build a national movement of the people. Our emphasis must be on the workers, farmers and youths, there can be no doubt about this. But we must be aware that we need either the neutrality or support of the other sections of the population. The social relations have not developed to the point where we can clearly isolate different [unclear -istic] interests between sections of the society. We need an alliance of the workers, farmers, youth, small-shopkeepers and store-owners, artisans, and the progressive educated people to build the mass movement. On that we must be clear.
It is necessary for us to mobilise the organised groups and associations in support of the PEOPLE'S CONVENTION. We have to make contact with groups, associations and the like to convince them of the necessity for the convention and get their participation. Wherever the people are, wherever they are gathered together we must agitate, propagandise, mobilise.
Most important, is our general attitude to the police. We should not deliberately antagonize the police as a whole. We must seek to neutralise or get the support of as large a section of the police as possible. Our tactic must be to split the police. All mass movements in history have had to do that, even those movement that began as an armed struggle. This not only weakens and demoralises them, but gives the movement much needed support of an important element in the struggle.
What we can achieve is up to us, the effort and work we put into what we have to do; our attitude and the clarity of our vision. We have a great political potential today, but that potential can disappear if we are not serious, vigilant and fearless in the situation. A GIGANTIC EFFORT IS REQUIRED OF US NOW.
In building the mass movement we have to watch against trying to build what we think will be the real, true ASSEMBLIES. ASSEMBLIES cannot be built in the abstract. The experience of other organisations have shown that a people do not begin overnight to practice what they have not been practicing before. Small needs of the Assemblies will begin as in Windsor Forest etc. But they cannot be sustained as a living, regular institution in the society just like that. It is only when a people are roused to take action in a Mass Movement that the ASSEMBLIES will begin to take shape. We have to keep pounding the urgent necessity for the organisation of ASSEMBLIES for the task of taking power and running the country. But only when the people are roused to ACTION will they begin to practice the ASSEMBLY concept in a regular living way.
We have to attempt to build a Mass movement in which the ASSEMBLY will begin to emerge as the liberating institution. We have advanced the strategy of a PEOPLE'S CONVENTION on INDEPENDENCE as the means of beginning the ASSEMBLY concept in practice. We have to make a gigantic effort to make it work, to convince the people of its necessity now and to help them to organise for the convention. However the people will more relate to concrete action as a mass movement. Consequently, we must look for the concrete issues that will rouse the people to ACTION. The libel against JEWEL may be one such issue. JEWEL' move to agitate for the liberation of Radio Grenada is another such issue. We must be on the look out for issues that touch the people, issues over which they are agitated; actions that they will begin to take. We must not be afraid of plunging into CONCRETE ACTION with the people. However, we must make sure that any action we take now, we first mobilise the people in the various parishes and villages to take that ACTION. When we move to ACT it must be a co-ordinated move with thousands of people. Various actions will emerge in the coming months, but these actions must be MASS ACTIONS with thousands of people, NOT tens, but THOUSANDS.
We must be prepared to act, not only talk from now till doomsday. We must also learn when to publicise our ACTIONS before-hand and when not to. It is with MASS ACTION that the Mass Movement and the infant Assemblies will be built.
SO ALL TOGETHER LET'S MOVE!!