Britain and the United States in the Caribbean: A Comparative Study in Methods of Development

By Mary Proudfoot | Go to book overview

Chapter VII
POLITICAL LIFE

1. THE BACKGROUND

Just as local government has been conspicuous by its inadequacy throughout the area, so political activity has been, at any rate until the last decade, confined to a very small proportion of the population; and the issues confronting even that small proportion have not been, except possibly in Puerto Rico, such as to encourage the emergence of clear-cut political creeds. The reason for this would seem to be that the social and economic background necessary for political life has been, and is still to a great extent, absent from the average West Indian community.

Political activity, as this is understood in the western democracies, is likely to be a characteristic of a society with a differentiated class structure, where there are a variety of economic and social groups, each playing a necessary part in the community, and each strong enough to stand up to competing groups. Political activity flourishes where there is a strong middle class, since this is the class which has an interest in the stability of the community, but is constantly striving to improve existing conditions; and it is this class which must provide both the professional elements and the intelligentsia, who give, as it were, the intellectual content to politics. Political activity requires a unionized or partly unionized working class, since the trade unions are the breeding ground and school for politicians emerging from the rank and file of the people. Politics require a standard of living for the majority which is well above subsistence level, since at that level men either do not think at all, or they think in terms of revolution, which is the failure and negation of politics. Finally, political activity as practised in the western democracies requires an educated community, accustomed to reaching reasonable decisions in a reasonable manner. The economic background of West Indian society has precluded the emergence of any of these background conditions.

Because of the nature of the West Indian economy, the class structure of the average West Indian community is a very simple

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Britain and the United States in the Caribbean: A Comparative Study in Methods of Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Editor's Introduction vii
  • Author's Preface x
  • Contents xiv
  • List of Tables xx
  • Chapter I - Introductory 1
  • Chapter II - The Constitutional Relationship 10
  • Chapter III - The Economic Relationship 38
  • Chapter IV - The Structure of Society 65
  • Chapter V - The Central Government 97
  • Chapter VI - The Local Government 134
  • 3. Conclusions 151
  • Chapter VII - Political Life 153
  • Chapter VIII - Economic Life 178
  • Chapter IX - Labour 222
  • Chapter X - Social Life 243
  • Chapter XI - Education 281
  • 7. Conclusions 305
  • Chapter XII - Population Problems 307
  • Chapter XIII - The Possibilities of Federation For The British West Indies 330
  • Chapter XIV - The Alternatives for the American Dependencies 350
  • Chapter XV - General Conclusions 359
  • Abbreviations 362
  • Abbreviated References 363
  • Index 419
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