Haiti: The Failure of Politics

By Brian Weinstein; Aaron Segal | Go to book overview

1
Politics in Haiti

Considering the almost two centuries of disappointment and decline in independent Haiti, the observer feels obliged to ask a basic question about the ends and goals of politics. To put it simply, in any part of the world what do people outside government have a right to expect from officials and bureaucrats who wield power and who claim they are serving the masses and their countries? Creole-speaking Haitians can answer the question without hesitation. Their world politik is derogatory by definition. According to their long experience, politics means interference with people's lives; it is theft of their capital by persons speaking with the authority of the state because they carry a gun and the national flag. In recent decades it has also come to signify random unexplained cruelty without any of the rules that might inhibit the greed of the powerful and wealthy who say they are the state or who can prove they are supported by the state. Politics is the big lie, particularly the lie about liberation of people of African ancestry from slavery. Through their own efforts the Haitians did free themselves from white rule on I January 1804, but since that date almost every political elite, whether black or brown, abetted by economic allies from inside and outside the country, has imposed its own kind of servitude on the masses. Duvalier family rule from September 1957 to February 1986 was only the worst form of politik. Their immediate successors did little to change the way people think about politics, but signs about the future (such as the 1990 elections) provide a few reasons for optimism.

History shows that Haitian leaders have never accepted one well-known answer to the question about the purpose of politics, namely, improving the lives of human beings. Aristotle, the first political scientist, left the world that simple message. The state should provide services in return for the money and loyalty it extracts from the population, and it should concern itself with what we now call the quality

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Haiti: The Failure of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Politics in Haiti 1
  • Notes 21
  • 2 - From U. S. Occupation to Duvalier Family Rule 25
  • Conclusion 49
  • Notes 50
  • 3 - Government by Franchise 53
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - Economic Hopes and Realities 79
  • Notes 101
  • 5 - Haiti: The First Third World" State?" 103
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Can Haiti Survive? 129
  • Notes 145
  • 7 - Prospects for Democracy 147
  • Notes 168
  • 8 - Conclusion: Shaking Off the Past 171
  • Notes 185
  • Suggested Readings 187
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 195
  • About the Authors 204
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