This essay examines the ideological and political circumstances in Jamaica and the anglophone Caribbean that led to the emergence of the Workers Party of Jamaica in 1978. It explores the ways Jamaican radicals in the 1970s appropriated and applied the ideas of Marx and Lenin to Jamaican conditions. Among stumbling blocks to this application was a social structure that, consequent on centuries of racial slavery and colonialism, could not be adequately understood or challenged through class analyses. Moreover, the terrain of party politics had been staked out between the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party. WPJ ideologists were sharply critical of Michael Manley’s democratic socialism that the PNP had declared in 1974, but they eventually modified this to one of critical support for Manley’s policies. The WPJ disbanded in 1990, after internal dissension over the viability of a Marxist-Leninist party and the implosion of the New Jewel Movement in Grenada in 1983.
The Jamaican Left: Dogmas, Theories, and Politics, 1974–1980
Rupert Lewis is a professor emeritus in the Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona. He is the author of Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought (1998) and Marcus Garvey (2018), and has essays in Rupert Lewis and the Black Intellectual Tradition (2018), edited by Clinton Hutton, with Maziki Thame and Jermaine McCalpin.
Rupert Lewis; The Jamaican Left: Dogmas, Theories, and Politics, 1974–1980. Small Axe 1 March 2019; 23 (1 (58)): 97–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7374478
Download citation file: