by Wendy C. Grenade
This special volume of the Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies (JECS) uses the benefit of over thirty years hindsight to revisit the discourse on the Grenada revolution. It builds on a conversation that began at the 33rd Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference in San Andres, Colombia in May 2008 on a panel Transcending Silence: Revisiting Grenada 25 years later.
The special volume is intended primarily for two audiences. Thirty years on, there is a generation that has come of age in Grenada and the Caribbean, who is generally unfamiliar with the Grenada revolution. The essays in this special volume specifically target that audience. The second audience represents those persons who lived through the period but can benefit from a fresh gaze on Grenada, with thirty years hindsight.
This special volume consists of seven pieces that represent a variety of insights on the Grenada Revolution and its aftermath. The contributors bring together the debate from multiple levels, several theoretical strands and viewpoints. The broad theoretical frame includes Jamesian political thought and revolutionary theory. The volume also features insider perspectives on the Grenada revolution, its implosion and political developments in post-revolutionary Grenada.
by Tennyson S. D. Joseph
Many of the theoretical assumptions and tactical approaches of the Grenada revolution were rooted in the experiences of early Twentieth Century Russia. The internal debates within the Grenada revolution largely ignored the pre-and post-Stalin theoretical debates within Communism, and showed little awareness of original Caribbean Marxist thought. This was reflected in the limited impact of the Caribbean’s foremost Marxist theoretician, C.L.R. James, on the revolutionary process in Grenada, despite the fact that James’ theoretical contributions addressed concerns which bore direct relevance to the later implosion of the Grenada revolution, and to a post-Stalinist global Marxism. This article therefore seeks to apply the theoretical insights of C.L.R. James to understanding the lessons of the collapse of the Grenada Revolution and in pointing the way towards the possibilities of a future anti-systemic project in the Caribbean.
Key words: Political Theory, Grenada, Revolution, C.L.R. James. Marxism, Socialism
by Horace G. Campbell
“It Takes a Revolution to make a Solution" – Bob Marley
This article arises out of a discussion on the concepts of revolution and revolutionary change in the Caribbean twenty-five years after the Grenadian revolution. Grenada is a small island in the Eastern Caribbean that gained international notoriety in 1979 when a small group from the New Jewel Movement (the New Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education, and Liberation) (NJM) led by Maurice Bishop seized power in a bloodless changeover of government. For four years this small group held state power in this territory of over 100,000 persons.
During this period the NJM embarked on a number of social reforms relating to universal health care, universal adult education and moving to provide food, shelter and clothing for the Grenadian peoples. Though the leadership had proclaimed that the reforms were revolutionary, the economy was still based on the export of primary commodities and tourism. There were no fundamental breaks with the old colonial production relations. Despite this limitation, the reforms in Grenada were far reaching enough to garner support from other parts of the Caribbean and from the Cuban political leadership.
by David Hinds
This article makes the argument that the politics of most Caribbean left parties were influenced by the experience of the Grenadian revolution and its ultimate demise. In particular it examines the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) of Guyana, one of the parties with close ties to the New Jewel Movement (NJM), the party that led the revolution. The article looks at the relationship between the NJM and WPA before and during the revolution, including the impact of the revolution on the WPA’s fight against the Forbes Burnham-led People’s National Congress (PNC) dictatorship in Guyana. Finally it draws a connection between the demise of the revolution in October 1983 and the shift in the WPA’s tactics and strategy in the period following the demise.
by Wendy C. Grenade
This article explores political life in post-revolutionary small developing states using the case of Grenada. The main argument is that the end of a revolution creates the need to break from the past and establish a new political order. This is generally facilitated by external forces and political accommodations among elites. Yet post-revolutionary conditions cannot escape the ghost of the revolution and the eventual integration of former revolutionaries into mainstream electoral politics. The Grenada case provides lessons to better understand post-revolutionary landscapes in small developing states.
Key words: Grenada Revolution, post-revolutionary Grenada, party politics in Grenada.
Remembering October 19: Reconstructing a Conversation with a young female NJM candidate member about her recollections of October 19, 1983
by Patsy Lewis
‘Remembering October 19’ presents a narrative account of the tragic events of October 19 that led to the killing of Grenada’s Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop and key members of his cabinet. It seeks to recreate the events of the day through the eyes of a junior member of the New Jewel Movement who had been summoned to Ft. Rupert (now Ft. George) along with other members of the NJM. The narrative is based on an actual interview with a young woman in her mid-twenties a year following the tragedy. This form of storytelling was chosen to present her interview in order to protect her identity and also to recreate the mood on Ft. Rupert that day. The piece is written from the perspective of the interviewee but shifts in the last paragraph to the perspective of the interviewer who provides the reader with some insight into her responses to the interview.
Key words: Grenada revolution, New Jewel Movement
by Wendy C. Grenade
Following is an interview which was conducted with Bernard Coard, former deputy Prime Minister of the People’s Revolutionary Government on October 17, 2008 at Richmond Hill Prison prior to his release on September 5, 2009
WG: Today is October 17, 2008, almost twenty-five years to the day since the implosion of the Grenada Revolution. What do you want a 25 year old Grenadian and Caribbean son or daughter to know about the Grenada Revolution?
BC: Firstly, it must be seen within the context of the many revolutionary upsurges of the Grenadian people over centuries. There are links between the Fedon Revolution, the slave revolts, the ex-servicemen’s revolt in 1920, the 1951 Gairy revolutionary upsurge, the 1973-74 revolutionary upsurges and the Grenada Revolution 1979-83. The Grenada Revolution should be appreciated within its historical depth, that is, at the level of Grenada; but also laterally or horizontally, as part of a Caribbean and wider anti-colonial struggle.
WG: Elaborate on the Caribbean and wider colonial struggles.
by Dr. The Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves
The spirit and ideas of Comrade Maurice Bishop, revolutionary icon and indomitable fighter for justice, popular democracy, and self-determination, are alive and flourishing, among the people of Grenada and the Caribbean. This extraordinary gathering at Point Salines embraces this anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist titan whom Grenada has selflessly given to the Caribbean and the world. This belated honour of naming this international airport in his memory, and as testimonial acceptance of his heroic contribution to its construction, is just and long over-due. The vanities of parochial, vengeful, and backward politics have at long last been exorcised from the citadels of the State apparatus. What we are doing today formalises a condition which has been indelibly etched in the people’s collective memory for quarter of a century. The outpouring of joy is palpable on this day which the Lord has made. Let us thus be thankful and rejoice in it.
From ancient times our people have been enjoined to honour and celebrate the lives of our fallen sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves in the service of the people. Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, and more particularly, the Funeral Oration of Pericles, in extolling the glory of Greece and the majesty of its heroes, resonate with aptness for Comrade Maurice: