|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help ||
CITATION SEARCH THUMBNAILS PDF VIEWER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
This item has the following downloads:
|Table of Contents|
wl 0 "N ,.A
Dr. ERIC WILLIAMS
Premier of Trinidad and Tobago
r 1- I
The Premier's Speech Delivered At San Fernando On
Monday, May 30th, 1960. It Was Entitled
Perspectives for the West Indies
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one
nation to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with
another, the perspectives for the future must be clearly and precisely
stated so that the population can know where it is going and why it is
We are now embarked upon the great adventure of nationhood
We are laying foundations which will affect our children and our
children's children. Whatever our part has been, that at any rate is
the heritage which we carry now and into the future. At this period
we have constantly to examine this heritage.
We have to examine it because it affects our present and future
perspectives most powerfully, particularly to the degree that we do
not understand it and therefore accept as in the nature of things
burdens and drawbacks, material and psychological, which in reality
have been imposed upon us.
To indicate the perspectives for the future, therefore, the first
essential is to appraise the perspectives of the past.
What were these perspectives of the past? When Columbus on
behalf of the Spanish Monarchy discovered the West Indies, Pope
Alexander VI, on May 4, 1493, assigned the entire area to Spain and
debarred any other power, on pain of anathema and excommunica-
tion, from trespassing on the Spanish monopoly.
The Papal Bull ended with the following words: "For if any
person does, he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and the
blessed apostles Peter and Paul."
The other powers of Europe promptly threw the Pope's perspec-
tives for the West Indies into the wastepaper basket, and today in
1960 only the Spanish language in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Domi-
nican Republic survive to recall the Spanish monopoly.
One must therefore be careful with one's perspectives.
Take another of these perspectives. King Charles U of England
conceded in 1661 a monopoly of the African Slave trade to the Royal
African Company for 1000 years. The independence of Ghana, to be
followed shortly by the independence of Nigeria and Sierra Leone,
makes a mockery of the royal perspectives, British style.
French perspectives were no more successful. In 1777 the Min-
ister of the Navy and Colonies, in emphasising the need for perpetual
apartheid, decreed that "the strict observance of this distinction....
is the principal bond of subordination of the slave, from the resultant
opinions that his colour is wedded to slavery and that nothing can
make him the equal of his master."
Today all over the West Indies universal suffrage and political
equality ui the eyes of the law reflect the repudiation of these per-
spectives which were erected on the aristocracy of the skin.
And so with the perspectives of the more modern period of
Why should not the West Indies govern themselves like Australia
and New Zealand? asked the Britsih Professor of Colonial History at
Oxford when he visited Trinidad in 1887. His answer was an
His reason was that "an English Governor-General will be found
presiding over a black council, delivering the speeches written for him
by a black prime minister; and how long could this endure? No
English gentleman would consent to occupy so absurd a situation."
Today, a mere 75 years later, the perspectives of both the West
Indies and Oxford have changed beyond recognition; and an English
gentleman, Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, delivers the speeches
written for him by a black premier and neither of the two, both
graduates of the same Oxford university: sees anything absurd in the
The United States Government in 1941 secured from the United
Kingdom a lease for 99 years on vast areas in Trinidad.
The Governor, Sir Hubert Young, warned them repeatedly that
their perspectives for the continuation of colonialism could not be
expected to survive the inevitable progress of the West Indian move-
ment for self government or to satisfy the Legislative Council of
Trinidad patriot though he was, Sir Hubert Young under-esti-
mated the pace of our development. It is not the Legislative Council
of 2040 but the Legislative .Council of 1960 which is not merely dis-
satisfied with the 1941 Agreement as-he foresaw in 1940, but totally
(Strictly speaking we do not even need to reject it; it was sub.
mitted to the United States Congress and to the United Kingdom Par-
liament, but not to the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago.)
'Nevertheless it. remains true, as I have said before in my address
to our Fourth Annual Convention on "The Approach of Indeoond-
ence", that Sir Hubert Young's Chaguaramas despatch of October 28,
1940, ranks as one of the greatest state documents of our time, and 1
hope shortly to be able to publish it.
I would want to do so for three reasons. The first is that it will
enable people to study one of our own major documents of West
Indian history. The second is that it will correct the distorted Ameri-
can version about which I wrote sometime ago in the Nation which
has- published my six articles in pamphlet form.
The third and most important is that an Englishman like Sir
Hubert Young serves as a bridge with the United Kingdom as we
stand on the threshold of those better relations with the metropolitan
power which come with independence and the overthrow of
These perspectives are today all outmoded, and one might be
tempted to regard them as either blunders or stupidity or perverse-
ness on the part of those who enunciated them. They are neither
blunders nor stupidity nor perverseness.
The perspectives were what they were because they expressed the
relationship of the West Indies to Western civilisation at the various
periods. Let me analyze this relationship for you so that yoti can
understand the perspectives. Without this exercise, we cannot really
understand the perspectives for the future based on the changes in
Western civilisation and the altered relationship of the West Indies to
Historically, the West Indian colonies were developed deliberately
as satellites of the European economy. In 1492 Europe was suffering
from a severe shortage of two commodities the precious metals
(gold and silver) and sugar. The voyages of Columbus were delib-
erately undertaken to find new supplies of both.
It has been said that the Spaniards, on arrival, first praised God
and then they asked for gold. On his second voyage to the West
Indies, Coltumbus. took with him the sugar cane in order to acclimatise
it to the West Indies. In return for West Indian products the Euro-
peans were getting ready to supply the West Indian market; by
Columbus' time there had begun to emerge the new capitalist system
of production, on a larger scale and by more efficient methods, which
would yield a surplus that could be exported.
The prevailing economic theory of Columbus' age went something
like this, if I may put it in simple terms:
The wealth of a nation depends on its possession of the pre-
cious metals, gold and silver. There are two ways of ensuring
such possession either by owning the mines of gold and silver,
as the Spaniards did in Mexico and Peru; or, as the British and
French endeavoured to do, by a system of trade which reduced
imports and so reduced the drain of precious metals, and which
encouraged exports and so added to the store of precious metals.
The West Indies turned out to have relatively insignificant sup-
plies of gold and silver. But they became ideal colonies because they
supplied sugar to the metropolitan country and provided a market for
foodstuffs, manufactures and machinery from metropolitan farms and
factories. This trade arrangement became a veritable system le
pacte colonial, as the French called it, the colonial compact.
It provided opportunities for investment of metropolitan capital
on a large scale in sugar plantations and factories, slaves, shipping for
transporting slaves and sugar, public works in the form of docks,
buildings, roads, military bases, etc.
Vast profits were made and the profits went outside of the West
Indies to develop industry, commerce, and agriculture in Europe,
North America, Asia and Africa everywhere except the West
This system of production rested in two pillars. The first was
economic. The West Indies were required to concentrate exclusively
on products which did not compete with metropolitan enterprise and
to send those products exclusively to the metropolitan country.
Thus the West Indies were required to grow sugar but not to
refine it; they were forbidden to develop a textile industry; as the
famous saying went, they could manufacture neither a nail nor ahorse-
shoe. Their rum was not allowed to compete with metropolitan
whisky, brandy and wine.
They were encouraged to import food rather than to. grow it
themselves; salted lish was given priority over fresh fish. And they
were compelled to send their products only to England or to France
or to Spain. Spain went so far as to prescribe only a single port,
Seville, which had a monopoly of West Indian trade, and to organise
fleets and convoys which sailed at specific dates.
The second pillar of this system of production was political. To
carry out this economic system, the West Indies had to be governed
from abroad. If, as in Barbados and Jamaica, they had some sort of
elected system and parliamentary assembly, the right to vote was
limited to land owners and they were subject to the veto of the
Governor and the reserve powers of the United Kingdom.
They could not, for example. interfere with the laws of trade and
navigation. The Governor, in his discretion, could dissolve the
Assembly. Even this system was not dictatorial enough for some
people. Governor Codrington in Antigua in 1690 wanted the West
Indies to be governed as military bases, without parliaments.
And when in 1865 Jamaica's House of Assembly was threatened
with swamping by the votes of emancipated slaves who were becom-
ing landowners, the British Government, alleging a plot to get up a
Black Republic along the lines of Haiti. suspended Jamaica's self-
governing constitution and introduced the crown colony system.
It took 79 years for the Jamaica constitution to be restored. It
will not take too much more than 79 months to restore the constitu-
tion of British Guiana which was taken away in 1953 under the same
pretence of some plot although, this time, a Communist one.
Where, as in Trinidad and in British Guiana, there was no
elected system, the Governor, subject to the approval of the Secretary
of State for the Colonies, nominated persons to the Legislature-
planters and civil servants, for the most part expatriates. This was
the crown colony system of Government.
Where, as in the Spanish tradition and the French tradition
before 1789, the absolute monarch was supreme, at home and over-
seas, and there were no colonial assemblies, the royal official was
boss. The Spanish Viceroy's reply to colonials asking for political
privileges was as follows: "Learn to read, write and say your
prayers, for that is as much as any colonial ought to know."
The civil service was the monopoly of expatriates; the Spaniards
made an official distinction between the Spaniard born in SpaiD and
the Spaniard born in the colonies, and only the Spaniard born in
Spain could hold office under the Crown.
This was the West Indian relationship with Western civilisation
for over four centuries. The West Indies hewed wood and drew
water for the metropolitan country, and supplied sugar for the metro-
politan teacups. They existed only to serve metropolitan interests
and were regarded as useless if they did not. Their production was
designed to assist the metropolitan country in its balance of trade and
in its struggle for supremacy in the world market.
Thus the West Indian colonies were an integral part of the
struggle for world supremacy, political and economic, and the West
Indies were in a constant state of war, of island against island, each
fighting with the particular metropolitan power to which at the time
it might belong.
The world sugar market determined the position of every West
Indian colony. Barbados was supplanted by Jamaica and Jamaica by
Haiti before its independence. The 19th century saw the British
West Indies struggling for survival against its powerful competitors,
India, Cuba, and beet sugar in Europe; and sugar disappeared from
Dominica and St. Vincent, Grenada and Tobago.
This political relationship of the West Indies with the metro-
politan country inevitably determined the social relations of produc-
tion in the West Indies.
The big house of the plantation was surrounded by the barrack
rooms of slavery and indenture. White capital exploited black and
brown labour. When the aborigines died out under the strain of the
Spanish encomienda, they were replaced by the Negro slaves from
Africa. And when it was no longer possible to enslave the African
for life, the planters substituted the five year indenture of the Indian,
Chinese and Javanese.
The philosophy of apartheid was invented, and justified on the
ground that the aborigines were closer to the monkey than to the
white man, that the African was closer to the orangoutang, and that
the Indian was a savage and a heathen.
This system of exploitation necessarily carried the seeds of its
own destruction. On the one hand, there were the colonial revolts.
The Bush Negroes of Guiana and the Maroons of Jamaica carried on
a constant guerilla warfare which resulted in the recognition by treaty
of their independent states.
The slave revolt in Haiti involved the entire country and culmin
ated in the establishment of the first independent country in Latin
America. A wave of revolt of such scope and intensity threatened
to engulf the British West Indies in 1832 that the British Government
was faced with the alternative of emancipation from above or eman-
cipation from below.
They were emancipated from above in 1833. One day in 1848 the
slaves of Danish St. Croix presented an ultimatum to the Governor:
emancipation by 4 p.m. or they would burn down the capital. They
were emancipated by 4 p.m. In the same island the workers opposed
the system of indenture which was substituted. The Governor, warn-
ing that one cannot grow cane with rifles, abolished indenture under
pressure from the workers.
On the other hand there were the protests of the metropolitan
reformers and the support of the metropolitan proletariat. Las Casas
spent his life fighting for the freedom of the aborigines and Clarkson
for the freedom of the Africans.
Raynal warned that some day some African would arise to lift up
the sacred standard of liberty for nature's afflicted, oppressed and
Adam Smith, the great British economist, stressed the superior
magnanimity of the African slave over the sordid soul of hiis master.
Victor Schoelcher, the radical French democrat, insisted that no
one could be excluded from the immortal slogan of the Revolution,
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
Charles Kingsley, the celebrated novelist, reminded his country-
men that the thousands of paupers and rogues in Britain were not a
.whit more civilised, intellectual, virtuous or spiritual than the eman-
cipated West Indian Negroes.
Thus a new relationship emerged between the West Indies and
Western Civilisation in the 19th century. British industrial capitalism
with its philosophy of free trade had no use for the restricted
markets, colonial preferences and expensive slave 'products of
Expanding democracy could not limit the rights of man to the
colour of the skin. European science and technology enabled beet
sugar to outdistance cane sugar, and the 1897 Royal Commission
stressed the bankruptcy of sugar colonialism in the British West
Apartheid was repudiated by the Cuban Independence Movement
which, with the philosopher, the White Marti, and the soldier, the
Negro Maceo gave the West Indies new perspectives: white political
freedom could not be established on the basis of Negro economic
slavery, the Revolution knew no colour, it was sufficient to say "man"
to comprehend therein all rights, and Man is more than. white, more
than mulatto, more than Negro.
Over it all, however, hung the dark cloud of Manifest Destiny-
the U.S.A. which regarded Cuba as falling naturally within its orbit,
which viewed European colonialism in America as unnatural and in-
expedient, and which, through the pen of Theodore Roosevelt, envis-
aged the substitution of American for European colonialism, which
was to begin with the Spanish colonies and end with the British.
The perspectives, now, were not economic or political. They were
blatantly military-the protection of the U.S.A. and the Panama Canal.
The Caribbean Sea, the cockpit of European imperialism, became
the American Mediterranean, and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as a milit-
ary base, the control of Haiti and Dominican Republic by American
fiscal agents supported by marines, the purchase of the Danish Virgin
Islands, and the replacement of Spain's liberal constitution of 1897 to
Puerto Rico by American colonialism in 1898-these were the symbols
of the new American perspectives, which were nothing but old Euro.
pean colonialism writ large, with the spelling American style.
The Anglo-American Agreement of 1941 ceding Chaguaramas for
99 years revealed the poverty and bankruptcy of the American perspec-
tives for the West Indies.
Thus, one century after British emancipation in 1833, the entire
West Indies were again ablaze-revolt against the American-sup-
ported dictatorship in Cuba, hopeless poverty in Puerto Rico and the
Virgin Islands, an absentee plantocracy crucifying West Indian human-
ity upon a cross of sugar cane everywhere, Haiti under American
occupation, a pervading apathy and sickness in the smaller islands
broken only in periods of disorder, as the Disturbances, Commission of
1937 stated in respect of Trinidad.
What is the exact significance of all this for us today? Among
other things it is this : all the dilliculties from which we suffer and the
problems we have to overcome, all these are not native to our country
as a Territory or to us as a people. The unbalanced state of our
economy, our insularity, even the timidity with which some of us
approach the privileges and responsibilities of independence, all these
are due to the course of economy, politics and history which were
imposed upon us for 300 years.
We are now getting out of it, and the more we understand what
was done to us, the more easily we shall throw off the evil heritage
that it has left behind.
Such was the Wesi Indian society which had to feel the full force
of the impact of the Second World War. The First World War had
given Trinidad's politics two veterans, disillusioned, embittered by
their personal experiences and political frustrations, Cipriani and
Butler. The Second World War saw the emergence of organised party
politics, in Puerto Rico, Jamairn, Barbados; this was followed by the
emergence of the post war parties in British Guiana and Trinidad and
The democratic propaganda of the Western Countries, the Four
Freedoms, the Atlantic Charter, were disseminated and struck root in
the fertile West Indian soil, and the demand for political reforms could
no longer be held back.
Puerto Rico took charge of its government in 1948. Universal
suffrage was introduced in Jamaica in 1944 and in Trinidad and
Tobago in 1946. The French Government announced that the French
West Indian Colonies were no longer colonies but parts of metropolitan
France. The Dutch colonies of Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles
achieved internal self government and worked out a new pattern of
collaboration with the former metropolitan power in external affairs.
The West Indies had joined the colonial renaissance which eman-
cipated India and Pakistan in 1948, Ghana in 1957, and which has freed
all of Asia and large parts of Africa from colonial misrule.
The West Indies in 1960 find themselves in a different relationship
with Western civilisation than in 1860 or in 1760.
They no longer have a monopoly of primary production; the U.S.A.
is a major competitor, whether it is sugar or citrus. In the age of the
huge nation state like the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.. in the age of
integration of national economies whether in Europe or Latin America
or Africa, in the age of political federation in Malaya and Nigeria, in
the age of Pan Africanism, these small, isolated, woebegone insular
economies, most of them grant aided, some tied to Britain, others to
France, are an anachronism which cannot last much longer.
In the age of new sources of power oil, electricity, nuclear
energy-they are not economically at the disadvantage to which they
were exposed in previous centuries when the basis of industrial
development was coal, iron and steel.
A new world is opening up before us. It is ours to make what
we can of it. This freedom is what divides us irrevocably from the
The relations with the metropolitan country are most obviously,
therefore, not the same in 1960 as they were 100 years ago. They
Ten years-ago few dreamed that Nkrumah would be constitution-
ally the equal to Macmillan, a Privy Councillor. the spearhead of the
attack un apartheid, actually declining the Commonwealth and seeking
to divide it into two parts-the self governing Commonwealth nations,
and the United Kingdom with its dependent colonies.
The appointment of the first West Indian as Governor of Trinidad
and Tobago is the normal thing ilL a Commonwealth in which the
non-European Prime Ministers will soon exceed the European.
A few grants-in-aid cannot inhibit independence, as Sir Hubert
Rance's Standing Closer Association Committee prognosticated 10
years ago, and the British grants announced with independence for
Somalia and Sierra Leone merely underline the distinct pledge the
Secretary of State for the Colonies has given twice in the past six
ifmonths to Mr. Manley on his United Kingdom Mission and to the
Federal Government-that the United Kingdom will not allow
budgetary difficulties to interfere with West Indian Independence.
If the relationship of the West Indies to Western Civilisation and
to the metropolitan country is not what it used to be, it is unthink.
able that the old social relations of production could survive
unchanged. And they have not.
The trade union movement has gained steadily in strength, and
its demands are geared to the workers' standards enshrined in the
Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour
Organisation. The West Indian movement has established affiliation
with the international trade union movement; and the new perspec-
tives embrace the most despised and depressed segment of our labour
forces, the plantation workers.
Our trade union movement has shown that it recognizes its
international responsibilities not only in formal affiliation; it has
taken the lead in awakening the people of the West Indies to the
necessity for action against the brutality and barbarism of the South
Education, deliberately withheld in the period of colonialism, is
Priority No. 1 in the present day; and the extension and expansion of
formal opportunities, together with technical training, on-the-job
training and training within industry, all have become normal fea-
tures of the West Indian scene.
The expansion of the domestic market and rising standards are
as closely associated with the new pattern of West Indian industrial
development as the low living standards of slavery and indenture,
were associated with the metropolitan dominion of the West Indian
Above all, and especially since the advent of the PNM, the racial
separation of 'colonialism is being steadily discarded in favour or
increasing integration and assimilation of our various racial stocks,
based on interracial solidarity and equal opportunity for all deter-
mined by merit.
The picture is there for all to see-an independent Trinidad and
Tobago. There is no stopping the tide. Our population will not be
stopped on its march. We go forward. That is not in doubt any more.
The point is, what are we going forward to? What are our
S Independence means, first and foremost, external relations,
foreign policy. The broad outlines are already clear. The world is
divided into two camps; the hot war will follow the cold. Where do
we, a new nation of three million people, stand? If the Iron Curtain
is the great divide separating the two camps, then it is axiomatic that
we are West of the Curtain and not part of it. There can be no argu-
mant about that. That is the anchor of our foreign policy as we
emerge into independence in 1960.
But it must be just as clearly understood that within that frame-
work we enjoy political, constitutional and moral equality. Within
that framework we re-examine the colonial antecedents designed to
suit the metropolitan country and establish new forms designed to
suit our own needs.
I have already proposed as a solution of the Chaguaramas issue
the establishment of a Joint Base. That itself, let each of you mark
it well is a positive commitment to one side in the general division
of the world. But if, as I have said before and I repeat it now, if
that solution is not accepted because of the only possible explanation
we can find, the continued domination of the habits and thinking of
colonialism to us as non-whites, then independence will mean a clean
slate, the automatic rejection of all colonial commitments not freely
entered into by us as equals. .. ........ .........
The only treaties we propose to acknowledge and honour ar
those.which we negotiate ourselves as equals. The 1941 Agrvvem ieni
dead. Either a new one replaces it before independence or the neces-
sary approaches can be made and the new decisions taken after
To talk about independence and in the same breath accept
obligations of a nature unknown to us by virtue of a treaty which
was not only imposed upon us in the first instance but which is given
apparently any interpretation and is used to justify any extension its
signatories care to give-that would be to substitute military
imperialism of the Americans for the economic imperialism of the
British, and the new economic imperialism will probably not be long
That some people should still expect this of the West Indies is
merely an indication of the extent to which the West Indians are still
thought of in 1960, as they were by the Professor of Colonial History
at Oxford in 1887, as a servile race.
n resisting this military imperialism we are not alone. We are
not the only country with an American Base. We have already been
in touch with India, Ceylon and Venezuela on this matter. Our
former colonial colleagues, now emerged into the full flavour of
independence-will stand by us in our determination to rid ourselves
of the burdens unilaterally imposed by the 1941 Agreement.
An independent foreign policy will therefore involve renegotia-
tion of treaties between the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. with the
new West Indies Dominion of equal status with its other Common-
wealth partners. This is merely the norm. We have the freedom to
accept here and reject there; just as Canada is not part of the sterling
bloc, just as Nehru and Ceylon take no part in defence questions and
maintain their neutrality.
But our position in the Commonwealth and a joint base at
Chaguaramas for a few years will not inhibit us from making new
attachments, based on geography, trade and culture. The area that
comes immediately to mind is the Organisation of American States,
which is even now thinking of closer association with Canada.
Independence in the field of foreign policy means finally inde.
pendent representation at the United Nations. Whatever the defi-
ciencies of the United Nations and its specialised agencies, this much
is clear-it is the number of nations that counts and not the power of
The West ladies will take their place in an assembly in which the
Latin American bloc, the Arab bloc, the Asians and the Africans have
been able to achieve an importance which cannot be ignored and
which must even be respected.
This perspective of independence of the West Indies opens out
broad democratic vistas.
For with independence the West Indies, with the colonial tradition
of the crown colony system or democracy limited to white planters,
come face to face with this crucial question-What guarantee have we,
in this hemispheric climate which has so far been singularly uncon-
genial for the tree of democracy, that democracy will survive and
endure and be maintained?
Here we face a great tragedy, the tragedy of Trinidad and Tobago
-that there is no opposition, there is none in sight, no opposition
that is, which, agreed on fundamentals, agreed on the national
outlook, can present to the national community an alternative set of
proposals, an alternative programme for the achievement of our
Opposition there is, opposition galore-but it is opposition for so.
It is the opposition of old talk, the opposition of bacchanal, the
opposition of a caste of unregenerate diehards in its death throes, the
opposition which seeks to perpetuate colonialism, the opposition
which assiduously cultivates outside connections, the opposition which
has an ark without a Noah, the opposition which looks to Mother Eng-
land or Father India or Grandmother Africa, the opposition which has
first thoughts that may be revised, the opposition which explains that
it is conservative before it gets power in order to be socialist after,
the opposition which seeks to divide our inter-racial community and
to substitute a new colonialism based on the aristocracy of race for
the old colonialism based on the aristocracy of the skin.
In order words it is opposition for so-opposition solely to break
the PNM. Scratch its back and you will find a pathological desire for
place or power, and not infrequently a disgruntled PNM member or
disappointed PNM aspirant. From such an opposition no assistance
can be expected in the achievement of our democratic vistas.
The whole burden of promoting democracy, which should be
shared between two parties, has to be borne by ours alone. Whilst we
seek to dignify, they can only denigrate. Where we seek to build
up they seek to tear down even before we have built up.
These moral anarchists, these enemies of democracy, will sell
their country down the Gulf of Paria in order to achieve the promin.
ence of Quislings and the notoriety of Judas Iscariot.
So be it We of the PNM accept the responsibility thrust upon
us alone. Let us therefore emphasise, in our democratic perspectives,
three main lines of approach.
(1) the development of all those political and constitutional
forms associated with democratic parliaments, based always on
the dignity of the legislature;
(2) the maximum tolerance in our political life and on our
political platforms, based always on the conventional democratic
(3) the political education of our people.
Where, 170 years ago, the traveller found in the West Indies only
the most insipid conversation beginning with prices of exports and
ending with the laziness of Negroes; where, 130 years ago, the Colo-
nial Office trustee at the best could see in the West Indies only a
society in which there was no counterpart in the civilised world for
its entire destitution of learned leisure, of literary and scientific inter-
course and even of liberal recreations; here we stand tonight in the
College of Harris Promenade of the five year old University of Wood-
ford Square, a positive manifestation of the capacity of our people to
undertake all the responsibilities and enjoy all the privileges of demo-
Our democratic perspectives will necessarily influence our foreign
policy. On the Latin American sta.e is being fought out today the
battle of democracy versus dictatorship. We of the PNM cannot pos-
sibly be neutral in that struggle. We are for democracy and against
dictatorship. This is not an academic question. It means, in concrete
terms, principally Venezuela. It was the former Government of Trini-
dad and Tobago, reeking of the servile mentality nurtured by colo-
nialism, which bowed to the wish of dictatorship and expelled the
Venezuelan democratic refugees.
Venezuelan democracy, now in power, has slapped down Trinidad
colonialism. We of the PNM, the voice of West Indian Independence,
proclaim for all the world to hear, once more-Trinidad's soil will not
be used to uphold dictatorship and sabotage democracy; more than
that, we shall give no asylum to the henchmen of the dictators-let
them seek asylum with their friends, if they still have any.
The democratic perspectives for the future impose yet another
obligation upon us.
Racialism is an essential ingredient of colonialism. It was an
economic apologist of 18th century British imperialism who saw in
the West Indies ideal colonies where the large slave population effec-
tively controlled white aspirations for political independence.
It was the French imperialist government of the same period
which justified the apartheid of slavery on the ground that, if inter-
marriage between white and coloured people was permitted, the
result would be an understanding between both groups and the inde-
pendence of the colonies.
It was the Trinidad representative of the imperialist power, Sir
Ralph Woodford, (who must turn in his grave every time we speak of
the University of Woodford Square), who in 1824, in opposing the
application of a coloured doctor of medicine to practice his profession
on the ground that his mother was a slave and he had formerly been
a slave himself, openly stated that the racial discrimination which
prohibited intermarriage, banned certain professions to people of
colour, and limited the amount of property they could own, could not
possibly be abandoned if. in Woodford's words.
"the whiles are to maintain their ascendency and Great Britain
is to preserve her West Lndia islands as colonies."
This is the heritage we have had to fight for years and we still
bear some of the scars.
It is we of the PNM, who from our inception, stated emphatically
that the interracial solidarity of the nationalist movement for inde-
pendence must be substituted for the racial discrimination of colo-
nialism. We called, and I call again, for the introduction into Trini-
dad, and particularly in our sugar plantation economy, of the spirit of
Bandung, the practice of Afro-Asian solidarity.
Divided, we shall continue to be ruled, dwelling together in unity.
we set an example to a world facing disaster with the pogroms of
Notting Hill, the Jim Crow of the Southern States, the apartheid of
Let us, as descendants of the people of West Africa and India, do
honour to the two illustrious sons of those countries, Nehru and
Nkrumah,. who today illuminate the Commonwealth and symbolise the
powerful democratic vista. the rights of man. -
This is neither rhetoric nor political expediency, though even if
it were either or both there is nothing for me or for you to be
ashamed of. What is important is that our perspectives of interracial
solidarity be translated into practical terms.
On the one hand there is the general philosophy the equality,
not only juridicial and constitutional but also political and moral, of
all, with reservations only in respect of merit and talent.
On the other hand there are the practical steps towards unity -
whether it is the teaching of Hindi or the attention to Indian culture,
as recommended by Mr. Capildeo on the occasion of the last Budget
Debate, or the establishment of an Institute of Afro-Asian studies as
proposed by Dr. Winston Mahabir in a letter he wrote me a few days
I assured Mr. Capildeo that careful attention will be given to his
valuable proposals. As far as Dr. Mahabir's equally valuable sugges-
tion is concerned. I propose to take it up with Arthur Lewis in con-
nection with the establishment of a Trinidad and Tobago Branch of
the University College of the West Indies prior to raising with both
the Governments of India and Ghana the question of their endowment
of professional chairs in these fields.
Vast areas of new knowledge are being steadily opened up by
Indian and African scholars in these days of Indian and African inde-
pendence, and by British and American scholars as well. The history
of these former colonies is now being rewritten by the former colo-
nials, and the great lie of history is being exposed with all the ruth-
lessness that it deserves.
The great lie of West Indian history remains. I had dedicated
my life to the exposure of this lie, to the repudiation of the many
calumnies and detractions with which we have been afflicted and to
the filling of the gap caused by our long period of national amnesia.
Circumstances have forced me, if not to abandon, at least to defer
the completion of what I had intended to be my repayment of the last;
ing debt I owe to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. But others-will
forge ahead, following the trail blazed over twenty years ago. by, C. L
R. James' monumental analysis of.the Haitian segment of our history.
We of the PNM have always placed the deliberate cultivation of
West Indian culture, with emphasis on our West Indian history, in the
forefront of our national programme, and L.shall continue to d-.what
I can through the pages of The Nation .
I am being urged by the Editor to-give the highest priority in the
next few days, occupied as I am,. to a study of the historical back-
ground of .amaican nationalism, to be published in The Nation, and I
myself am very anxious .to. expllain to .the people of Trinidad -and
Tobago and the- West Indies the historical, background t9. Castro: and
the.eruptions last-December of racial riots in Martinique, -.
A hundred and thirty years ago one. of the most disting.uilhed
public servants who ever adorned the portals of the Colonial Office, an
unwavering friend of the slaves, could see in the West Indies nothing
but foolish governors, turbulent assemblies, missionaries and slaves,
and he expressed his regret that Britain had ever assumed what he
described as wretched burdens in what he called an evil hour.
The white man's burden cuts no ice today. The black or brown
man's burden is the heritage we have taken over. The accusations
levelled against us, of insularity, of inability to get together, these
are what they made us.
When in -1793 the French Revolution abolished slavery, the
French planters of Saint Domingue negotiated the transfer of the
island to England. When in 1852 British emancipation was immin-
ent, the planters of Jamaica treasonably conspired with the U.S.A. for
the surrender of the island. When in 1885 the Barbadian planters
faced British proposals for West Indian federation, they preferred to
seek absorption into the Canadian federation.
Today the real patriots are the people of the West Indies them-
selves. They inherit a bad historical past. But the spirit they mani-
fest, their confidence today, their readiness to go forward, their intol-
erance of continued subordination, their mental and psychological
attitude today, these are a vital part of our development.
Those discussing with us economic, political or strategic prob-
lems will commit gross blunders if they do not realise that, apart
from the material questions being discussed, the state of mind of our
people must be taken into consideration. It is our right- and our duty
to ensure that, as we seek to establish the material foundations of our
society, we define our spiritual attitude, we reject outworn ideas, and
we substitute new ones suited to our time and place.
It is considerations of this order, and not merely the economics of
nationhood, which motivate our conception of Federation.
These, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the perspectives for the West
Indies which I hold forth to you. They are not mine, except in the
subjective sense that the particular distillation of the objective eco-
nomic movement there for all to see has been inade by me. They
conform with the best in the modern world. They spring from an
objective analysis, contradiction of which I defy, of the bankruptcy in
every sphere of West Indian colonialism-whether it be the political,
the constitutional, the economic, the social, the intellectual,, tle cul-
Lural, the moral.
They represent the opinion, I am confident, of the majority 'of our
people. They satisfy their long yearning and ardent aspirations for a
better life, for equality, for status. We accept them and move for-
ward with them; or we go back to slavery and colonialism, morally
and possibly also materially.
These are our perspectives. This is the general outline. We
have to fight for them politically, but we have to fight for them also
in our-day-to-day life and work. Too much of our time and energy
has had to be spent throwing off the shackles of this heritage.
- -Every succeeding day makes me more convinced than ever that we
shall have given -this heritage the deathblow only when we have
declared ourselves an independent nation.
But as we throw off, we have to build. Finally, therefore, I give
you this to carry- away.
We have to establish in ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves
habits of disciplined labour, of personal responsibility, of the demo-
cratic process inside and outside of politics, a constant striving in
every sphere to establish the foundations of a nation which we first of
all shall recognize and others will have to recognize as a new nation
in the Caribbean-new not only in political independence, but new
also in habits and thought which these islands never knew in all the
centuries of their existence, and which it shall be to our honour and
credit that we have founded.
Printed by PN' PubUishing Co., Ltd., SO Frederick SIreot