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A glimpse at Grenada
Posted: Monday, November 24, 2003

by Michael Delblond, Newsday TT

When Grenada passed from Eric Gairy's "Papadocracy" to the Maurice Bishop/Bernard Coard People's Revolutionary Government "Adhocracy," little did the Grenadians realise that they were jumping from the frying pan into the fire. In retrospect, it appears that the two co-pilots, Bishop and Coard, were like two co-pilots in the same cockpit with individual flight plans but nevertheless "flying blind" in stormy weather. When the inevitable crash came there were all sorts of speculation as to what caused the implosion, how it could have been avoided and how the blame should be shared. For obvious reasons, the Coards (Bernard and Phylis) and their supporters never left the public relations starting blocks. One of the hypotheses that was being bandied about was that the "soft left" (Maurice Bishop and company) went along with the "hard left" (Bernard and his gang) and found out only too late that they had been led up the garden path to the slaughter.

Not everybody agreed that the split was between "hardliners and softliners." Now, not even Bishop's worst detractors would conceivably countenance the mentioning of Bishop's and Coard's names in the same breath. However, a well-known Puerto Rican university professor sought to smudge the difference between the "Stalinist-type" Coard and the "supposedly moderate" Bishop. He also echoed the NJM charge of "one man rule" and cautioned against creating a Bishop cult. If I recall correctly, the professor was the late Gordon Lewis, an acknowledged authority on West Indian politics. Be that as it may, there are contents of a released secret speech of Bishop's which can conceivably cause even his staunchest admirers and apologists some measure of concern, even discomfort.

The secret speech referred to was delivered by Comrade Bishop on September 13 1982, and it included, inter alia, the "revelation" that some of the moderate elements (the bourgeoisie, as he called them) were invited to join the leadership to provide "protective cover" against those who might be tempted to seek the "revolution's" destruction. Bishop blandly suggested that "the moderate elements" were inveigled, and if they stepped out of line they would not only be ruthlessly dealt with but would be summarily discarded after they had outlived their usefulness. Bishop's admirers and apologists can conceivably argue that, walking the tight rope as he was presumably doing, what he said - even in secret - need not be taken at face value. They may further argue that much of what he said then might have been for the consumption of the "hardliners" and that he was simply executing (O! That word!) a balancing act, upon which his very life may have depended.

The "Revo" (as they called it) was known to send mixed signals. You may be surprised to learn that, on a visit to Trinidad, Coard's wife Phylis was asked, "When do you all plan to hold a general election to legitimise your People's Revolutionary Government?" She simply replied, "We've already voted with our guns." Ironically, when the PRG came crashing to the ground like Humpty Dumpty there was a Trinidad lawyer conducting an exercise in futility, canvassing Grenadian public opinion as to what should or should not go into their proposed constitution. See what I mean by "the left hand not knowing what the right hoof was doing." To return to Bishops' secret speech after that digression, in that same secret speech, we were provided with some interesting insights as to how laws were presumably made in PRG Grenada. Now, let Bishop speak for himself: "Just consider, comrades, laws are made when the Cabinet agrees and I sign a document on behalf of the Cabinet... And, like it or not, that's what everybody has to follow."

Brother Bish continued, "Or consider how people get detained. We don't go and call for no votes. You get detained when I sign an order, after discussing it with the National Security Committee of the party or with a higher party body. Once I sign it - like it or don't like it - it's up the hill for them (the detention centre, that is)."

We might, at this juncture, ponder the thought, "Whether any man or group of men is in possession of the requisite individual or collective goodness and/or wisdom to be the sole guarantor of another man's rights, freedom or well-being. I've quoted Bishop at some length because there are some spurious arguments being peddled about by our peculiar brand of pseudo-intellectual pygmies which purport to explain the Grenada fiasco in terms of some claptrap about "social" or other "democracy." As the saying goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." And say what you will about those PRG fellows, they made no secret of their plans. Forget the cock 'n' bull propaganda. As Bishop himself put it, they wouldn't be satisfied with nothing less than "exercising hegemonic control on power and over all the capital areas of the state." The NJM left no doubt that it's aim was "a dictatorship of the proletariat" (whatever that meant). In practice, of course, it meant "the dictatorship of a small clique of those of higher consciousness." The level of "consciousness" being determined by the political functionaries who happened at the time to have their hands on the levers of power, their grip on channels of communication, their fingers on the trigger and their heels on the neck of the people.

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