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A fallen struggle

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Hal Draper dedicated one of his books on Karl Marx to ‘those who sow but will not reap.’I share Draper’s admiration for those persons who are tireless in their lifework of struggle and change making, but know that their goal is not an immediate or personal triumph. They put their utmost into powering through their leg of the relay, although they are not assured that they will see the end of the race. I know some fallen comrades who have blessed our path with such lives, some significant names that echo in halls of fame and some who seemed insignificant and have passed on as if they had never been. In the Christian tradition, they are christened ‘the salt of the earth’. In my own biography, they surround me as a crowd of supporters, inspiring my threadbare muscles and straying eyes with the mandate that we shared, the journey we planned. A symbolic roll call of those I am indebted to and am powered by includes Walter, Alfie, Philip, Buzz, Pauline, Marlene, Earlene, Solo, Santana, and Caspar.

THE STRUGGLE, FELLED AND FALLEN

The idea of living in a society so organized that “the development of each person is the condition for the development of all” is a compelling ideal. This promise of all-embracing development stands in stark and brilliant contrast to the persisting, ugly, unequal development that surrounds the world we know. It is therefore no wonder that this vision of shared fulfillment, which the German Karl Marx proposed, caught fire in people’s hearts. When my daughter was born, it was a season of lyrical excitement. In many sections of the region, the air was a pregnant balloon. In the towns, in the countrysides, young people and their parents too were persuaded that a different world was necessary; black consciousness groups and Rastafarians were chanting and educating the community on African identity and dreams; first nation indigenous leaders were affirming their right to a voice at the table; working class politics became self-organized and aggressive; women stood up for themselves in the streets, church leaders confessed and repudiated their colonial enslavement, and a layer, a sector of the educated, toyed with ‘class suicide’ and revolutionary leadership, coalescing in a timely political party. In Grenada, a vicious government was overthrown and in SVG, militants on Union Island, longing for change, rose up in armed revolt against the 1979 elections results.

The region was in the grip of a wave of hope and moral mobilization, struggling to create a way to bring organization and policy together. A people, very pregnant with long delayed dreams, needed the steady hands of a wise and sensitive midwife to help born our second major emancipation,

That period was a time when the word ‘communist’ was like a death sentence when attached to a person or group, and many communist and socialist formations did govern themselves indecently. Grenada and the Soviet Union, in different ways, did handle the socialist vision and challenge unworthily. I attempted to portray the character of a communist in lines such as these 30 years ago:

No, I am not a communist,

Not yet,

But one day…

When I’ll have my neighbour

Reigning in my heart

Alongside myself, then

I will be a communist.

TODAY AND TOMORROW

Nowadays, the goals that we learn to set hardly stretch further than our lifespan or beyond the offspring of our loins. The image of a relay race where others whom we do not know will receive from us and pass to yet others the future we are making, seems nonsensical to most. In cultivating the realm where the development of the poor make possible the redevelopment of all, what you sow, another generation will irrigate and further comrades will mould and harvest.

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