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The social origins of democratic socialism in Jamaica

Author: Nelson W Keith; Novella Zett Keith
Publisher: Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1992.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In 1974, following a successful parliamentary election, Michael Manley and his People's National Party took Jamaica onto a self-proclaimed democratic socialist path. The project failed even prior to the subsequent electoral defeat of the PNP in 1980. This short-lived experiment has evoked considerable interest among development scholars. In this book, Nelson Keith and Novella Keith challenge current interpretations  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Nelson W Keith; Novella Zett Keith
ISBN: 0877229066 9780877229063
OCLC Number: 23969681
Description: xxiv, 320 pages ; 24 cm
Responsibility: Nelson W. Keith, Novella Z. Keith.

Abstract:

In 1974, following a successful parliamentary election, Michael Manley and his People's National Party took Jamaica onto a self-proclaimed democratic socialist path. The project failed even prior to the subsequent electoral defeat of the PNP in 1980. This short-lived experiment has evoked considerable interest among development scholars. In this book, Nelson Keith and Novella Keith challenge current interpretations of Jamaican events and develop an alternative theoretical model: national popularism. Without dismissing the negative machinations by the United States, internal mismanagement, and a variety of other problems, the authors argue that the events in question speak less of a failure of socialism than of the fragility of a national class alliance that coalesced temporarily, amidst a crisis, around a "new" politics. While incorporating radical impulses "from below" as well as socialist policies, the new politics was rooted in liberal democratic strains that had evolved historically in ways that could accommodate these impulses. The Manley project can thus be better understood as the "management" of peripheral capitalism rather than a budding socialism, for which there were few supports in the society. In their rich historical analysis of race and class in Jamaica, the authors trace the emergence and demise of progressive "alternative paths to development" in the Third World. Their approach provides a model for class analysis that avoids over-reliance on economic factors, gives socio-historical elements their full due, and contributes to a reassessment of significant events in Jamaican history. The authors' conceptual model allows important insights to surface that are obscured in the discourse on "socialism and its failure." There was, in particular real cultural and ideological change in Jamaica in the 1970s, as the Rastafarian worldview made inroads into an erstwhile neo-colonial culture.

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