The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

Marxist perspective plays a pivotal role in my understanding of our contemporary Caribbean societies. I wish to show my readers versatility; from explaining “Romantic love” to analysing the Caribbean using Marx’s concepts. Is this to say I’m a Marxist? In my opinion, Marxism enhances our ability to understand the problems and contradictions which exist in contemporary Caribbean societies and provides an articulated vision for change. However, there are several aspects of Marxism I disagree on. Hence, if you wish to label me, label me a ‘Williamsturgist’.

In contemporary Caribbean societies, as in any capitalist society, there exist two main social groups: the powerful and the powerless. Marxist perspective enlightens us about the continual struggle that both groups are engaged in. Those who have power and resources will not give up voluntarily (who in SVG comes to your mind?), and those with less power and fewer resources hope to better their plight and obtain more resources.

The basis of this segregation lies in the infrastructure. The ruling class owns the means of production and the working class is forced to sell their labour in order to survive in Caribbean societies. Workers work 8-4 each day or even two jobs to cover bills and food. In SVG, many females are forced to work in the office and bedroom for the same salary. An examination of Caribbean societies shows that individuals are not truly equal. Exploitation and oppression lie at the heart of contemporary Caribbean societies. This breeds inequality under capitalism.

Only labour produces wealth and much of this wealth is appropriated in the form of profits by the ruling class. The production of goods is structured in such a way as to produce great benefits for a minority, dominant group. This is at the expense of an exploited and oppressed majority group. Workers are paid wages less than the market value of the goods they produce. This is an essential attribute of contemporary Caribbean societies, as wage earners must earn less than the value of the goods they produce to maintain the profits generated by this relationship and enable further investment.

However, although exploitation exists, workers in SVG and the wider Caribbean seem content and accept their status. Marx believed that this is a state of false class-consciousness. Workers do not recognize that they are being exploited. Exploitation is disguised by the ideas of equality and freedom. The capitalist buys the labour power and the worker has the freedom to choose his or her employer. Marx felt that the worker in the industrial setting experience alienation. Workers have no sense of empowerment for the work they do and feel alienated from the labour because it no longer belonged to them, but rather to the capitalist.

Marxist perspective also helps us to understand the conflict in Caribbean societies. A main assumption of the conflict perspective is that human beings are inherently selfish and uncooperative. This sheds light on many ills in our society. The economic crises are still inherent to Caribbean societies and in recent years these crises have become more severe and more frequent. If you look at the recent financial institutions ‘bail-outs’, it appears that those with economic power still have disproportionate influence over the superstructure. It was alleged that a financial institution in SVG was on the verge of collapse; however, those with economic power (ruling class) were immediately allowed to withdraw their monies amounting to millions of dollars, whereas the working class had to wait and follow procedures before they could have withdrawn their monies.

Marx did not foresee the emergence of a middle class. Nevertheless, there are two main social groups in societies (those who rule and those ruled), and their relationship is one of exploitation and oppression. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class while the ruling class ideology distorts the true nature of society and justifies the status quo.

Vanrick D. Williams
[email protected]  

 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

4 replies on “Marxism and the Caribbean”

  1. Your analysis beautifully describes life in Marxist Cuba today (see below or go to http://www.national post.com and search for this outstanding description of the agony faced by the Cuban people) where the standard of living is way below that of SVG and where there exists a rigid class hierarchy. Same holds for North Korea where no real middle class exists and where most of the population lives in near starvation conditions while the capitalist south is an exemplar of freedom, upward mobility and prosperity.

    Marxism has never worked and will never work anywhere it is applied.

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/06/06/michael-j-totten-an-eyewitness-account-of-cubas-shocking-wretchedness/

  2. Rhonda Alleyne says:

    Vanrick Williams……good job is assisting with an explanation of socialism. I really hope Peter Bignose reads and understands this article. The guy knows nothing about socialism, yet he runs around giving unsuspecting persons the impression he knows what he is speaking about.

    As I always say, when I hear people criticizing socialism – – they have no idea what they are talking about!

    The same holds true for C.ben-David. What this guy did not tell us, is that Cuba has the highest standard of education in the entire Caribbean.

    C.ben-David also did not tell us that Cuba has the highest standard of health-care in the Caribbean either.

    OK, so in Cuba, they lag behind some Caribbean islands in various developmental areas. …..BIG DEAL!

    Does C.ben-David understand the discrimination and pressure the Cubans faced, especially over the last 55 years?

    These people still live in the 1960’s………..

  3. @ C. ben-David…”while the capitalist south is an exemplar of freedom, upward mobility and prosperity…” you mean South Korea? Lol! Rubbish! Idiotic rantings of a confused individual. No one should waste their time to enlighten you. You call this an analysis of substance? I call this a pretentious hodgepodge of a wannabe Marxist.

  4. C. ben-David says:

    If life is so wonderful in Marxist Cuba, why are their so many defections (tens of thousands to the United States over the past five decades), including the most recent this past weekend as reported below from the BBC?

    “Six dancers with Cuba’s National Ballet have arrived in Miami after defecting while on tour in Puerto Rico at the weekend.

    Pedro Pablo Pena, director of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, said the four men and two women had found their careers on the island limited.

    Cuban dancers, who earn $30 a month on average, often defect while on tour.

    The most recent case was in March 2013 when seven members of the same group defected during a visit to Mexico.

    Mr Pena says he spoke to four of the dancers on Sunday and pledged to support them while they determine their next steps.

    Mr Pena himself is an exiled Cuban dancer and has taken in numerous ballerinas throughout the years.

    He told Spanish news agency EFE he believed at least 35 dancers had sought asylum in the US since 2007.”

    How many people have ever fled TO Cuba to seek political asylum? Almost all of the handful have been criminals like Huey Newton and Robert Vesco.

Comments are closed.