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McCarthy’s criticism of “African Diaspora” elites is balanced by the book's focus on

Michael Manley, whose family the Manleys of Jamaica are the crème de la crème of Jamaica’s

black elites. His first wife Beverly Anderson-Manley came from the working classes



Books by and about Claude McKay

Home to Harlem  / Banjo  /  Banana Bottom  / Gingertown  /  A Long Way from Home  / Harlem: Negro Metropolis  /  Selected Poems 

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Books by Michael Manley

Politics of Change: A Jamaican Testament  / The Search for Solutions / Up the Down Escalator / A Voice at the Work Place

The Poverty of Nations /  Jamaica: Struggle in the Periphery

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In-Dependence from Bondage

Claude McKay and Michael Manley

Defying the Ideological Clash and Policy Gaps in African Diaspora Relations

By Lloyd D. McCarthy

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Race Struggle is Class Struggle

A Review of  In-Dependence from Bondage

By Rudolph Lewis


Lloyd McMcCarthy's In-Dependence from Bondage focuses on global capitalism and globalization, a 500 year history of exploitation that developed into racial oppression and genocide.  Though the book concerns itself with politics and economics, it views North-South relations from the personal and activist perspectives of Claude McKay (1890-1948), the well-anthologized (though little known) Harlem Renaissance Jamaican poet and novelist, and Michael N. Manley (1924-1997), the well-known (though little read) Jamaican Prime Minister (1972-1980; 1989-1992) who developed into an international statesman. Thus the larger subject of globalism is viewed concretely from a Jamaican perspective, through the Jamaican experience and the lives and careers of two of Jamaica’s finest sons.

In-Dependence from Bondage is a small book—171 pages of text with endnotes; 192 pages with bibliography and index). For many it might be read in one sitting. But that would not be the best way to imbibe the subtleties of the overall strategy and plan of the book. It is filled with surprises like Nanny the Maroon (1700-1740) and other early anti-colonialist Africans, the influence of Manley’s first wife Beverly Anderson-Manley (one of five wives), McKay’s relationship with Leon Trotsky and his Red Army training and his impromptu reciting of "If We Must Die" before his military comrades. All of which makes you want to take notes and do a second reading.

Each chapter ends with a recapitulation so there's much scholarly clarity in the work, even in the final chapter with its charts on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Human Development Index with regard to 10 African countries as related to 10 European countries (including US and Japan). These indexes are looked at from the impact perspective of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies imposed on African nations. African nations are getting poorer as European nations get richer. That is, the book has a larger agenda than just Jamaica but embraces in its focus the "African Diaspora," an all-inclusive term for the black worlds of the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as Africa itself. In-Dependence from Bondage goes beyond the facts of the black dilemma and the Northern elites' commercial domination of the Global South.

There is some criticism directed at Jamaican elites, like those of the Jamaican Labour Party (modelled on the British Labour Party) as well as other African elites in the "African Diaspora" nations in how they have buckled under to the new globalism via World Bank and the IMF and their policy demands on poor African countries and the disastrous effects on their infrastructure such as education and health. The book does not dwell on individual African governments, but more on charted outcomes and the quality of life or lack thereof for peoples barely surviving under corrupt rulers and even more corrupt Northern elites whose primary interests are PROFITS AND MORE PROFITS. The book concludes with a list of "what's to be done" based on the perspectives of McKay and Manley.

These recommendations can be found below, of which McCarthy says, "I have reviewed their written works [McKay and Manley] and have identified a list of their recommendations for the African Diaspora that accompany their fundamental message”:

Struggle to achieve a socialist society.

Make a great effort for change using radical art and politics to advance the priorities of the African Diaspora.

Develop a model of socialism and socialist strategy that is appropriate for the people.

Link the socialist strategy with the religious values of the people.

Invoke the ancestral spirit, if and when necessary: look to the African past for new ideas to guide the future.

Look to the past for ideas that can be adopted for present conditions and problems.

Counter media manipulation by developing alternative media to serve the African Diaspora.

Improve the quality of community education.

Defy the external control of African Diaspora spokespersons.

Counteract bourgeois political party-controlled labour unions.

Facilitate African Diaspora cooperation through:

     trading goods and services that would normally be purchased from the North;

     controlling transportation systems, particularly for shipping;

     using joint ventures among African Diaspora communities to mobilize financial  

     resources, technology and skills for joint-investments; and

     sharing technology, marketing information and allocating financial resources for 

     mutually aided development.

McCarthy has discovered the sobering impact of post Cold War realities for peoples of the African Diaspora: “In some cases, the levels of human development has fallen below the levels that were attained under the previous forms of oppressive governments under which people in the African Diaspora lived prior to 1990. . . . The people of the African Diaspora must look within for solutions and toward collective political and economic action by the proletarian nations in the Global South for strategies to survive” (170-171).

McCarthy’s criticism of “African Diaspora” elites is balanced by the book's focus on Michael Manley, whose family the Manleys of Jamaica are the crème de la crème of Jamaica’s black elites. His first wife Beverly Anderson-Manley came from the working classes and she cleared the class fog from Manley’s eyes so that he understood more clearly the nature of the oppression and suppression of Jamaican women. His Fabian socialism underwent some changes so that he understood that Jamaica’s peasantry and working classes were being worn down by Fabian incremental socialism, rather than the wearing down of British and American elites. He renegotiated contracts with the bauxite companies, acquiring "51 percent of the shares in Jamaica's bauxite industry." In effect, McCarthy’s book and argument do not demonize black elites but provides a person for whom individuals among these elites can emulate, namely, Michael Manley.

McKay provides a model of emulation for the black petite bourgeoisie. His family owned 100 acres of land and was part of the upper peasantry. McKay joined the police forces for awhile but abandoned that when he observed its “Babylon” tactics against the poor and the working classes. McKay married Eulalie Imelda Edwards and had a daughter Hope McKay-Virtue. They left him in New York and returned to Jamaica.  The cause of which it is suggested may have been McKay’s homosexuality or bisexuality. McCarthy also provides welcomed suggestions that clarify McKay’s retreat from radical politics while he lived out his final days in Chicago and his 1944 conversion to Catholicism, four years before his death. The plausible explanations for this “about face” include McKay’s negative reaction to Stalinist governance and its aversion by the black masses, his friendship with Bishop Bernard Sheil, and his own aging sickliness.

Clearly, McKay took an anti-capitalist stance throughout his life, moving from Fabian socialism toward Marxism, but not necessarily Marxist-Leninism, discovering later its Stalinist direction. But his alliance with the working and poorer classes of the African Diaspora was steadfast as one can see in his poem "Enslaved":

Oh when I think of my long suffering race,

For weary centuries, despised and oppressed

Enslaved and lynched, denied a human place

In the great life line of the Christian West;

And in the Black Land disinherited,

Robbed in the ancient country of its birth,

My heart grows sick with hate, becomes as lead,

For this my race that has no home on earth.

Then from the dark depth of my soul I cry

To avenging angels to consume

The white man's world of wonders utterly:

Le it be swallowed up in the earth's womb,

Or upward roll as sacrificial smoke

To liberate my people from its yoke

Leaving Jamaica in 1912 McKay never returned. Jamaica remained under British colonialism until 1964, eight years after the Gold Coast became Ghana under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. The British left an unsound government for black prosperity, turning the natural resources of  the country over to foreign commercial interests.

I recommend you read Lloyd McCarthy's book In-Dependence from Bondage. It deals with many of the problems of present-day Africa. There is nothing in there I think you will find offensive. Clearly, the author favours Manley’s “democratic socialism.” There is much here to learn about the poet Claude McKay and Michael Manley in how they responded to global capitalism and today's globalization and the impact that those economic ideologies have had on the quality of life for African people.

McKay's optimism was elevated by the Russian soul and its struggles against the Tsar and Western imperialism. He not only recited to them his poem If We Must Die, written in response to the 1917 East St. Louis Massacre,  but he  wrote several poems dedicated to the struggle of Russian workers including, “To Holy Russia”:

Long struggling under the imperial heel,

Some dared not see the white flame of your star

Dimmed by the loathsome shadow of your Tsar.

But men who clung to sacred dreams could feel


Some day you would put forth your arm of steel

And drag the manikins from near and far,

Before the mighty people’s judgment bar,

To answer for the ruined commonweal .

Down from their high, dishonoured place you hurled

The cowed, incompetent, corrupted few;

The blood-bath flag of a new life unfurled.


Revealed your soul alike to Slaw and Jew:

The eyes of the too-long submissive world,

Lifted in golden hope, are turned to you.

McKay, believed as many, that socialist Russia was capable of rising above racial and ethnic oppression endemic to Western capitalism. Maybe the spirit of the times were such that such optimism was justified.

You will find in the book an extended discussion on the possible impact of a reformed World Bank and IMF. These possible reforms are discussed at length. But McCarthy discounts them as ultimately unworkable because of the present ideological aggression of Northern elites. He settles on the recommendations listed above in how the “African Diaspora” might proceed to deal with the disastrous outcomes of these North-South economic issues of exploitation, racial oppression, and governance from the perspectives of McKay and Manley. But it is Manley rather than McKay who makes a clear case for a movement away from capitalist-survival-of-the-fittest ideology. For instance Manley quotes the Brandt Commission Report to show the overwhelming economic disparity between the Global North and the Global South: "The North, including Eastern Europe, has a quarter of the world's population and four fifths of its income; the South, including China, has four billion people, but living on one fifth of the world's income."

In Manley's Search for Solutions, one can find clear statements of his disregard for capitalist organization of the economy and his hopes for a renewed sense of purpose from "democratic socialism":

In a Capitalist society, a Capitalist Government makes decision primarily in the interests of Capital, the assumption being that once the owners of Capital are treated with due deference, the social order will take care of itself. . . . A look at slavery and the plantation system will prove most instructive. The only concern of the plantation system was to provide owners of capital with maximum profits regardless of human misery.

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The apologists for capitalism maintain that man is a selfish, greedy animal that can only be motivated by selfish individual gain. As Socialists, we challenge this assumption since we believe that man is motivated to work not only to satisfy the base needs for himself and family, but just importantly to satisfy the fundamental need for creative self expression. This is the quality that separates man from beasts. It is the driving force in man that Socialism seeks to mobilise in the national interest. . . . The economy is organized to serve the interest of good social relations and human development.

Manley based the above conclusion about "democratic socialism" in the cooperation and collaboration he discovered among the Jamaican peasantry. He concluded that there must be democratic control of a nation's resources from the broad depths of any great society.

McCarthy commands convincing facts with regard to the state of Black Africa. He is a clear thinker and measures his thoughts and his words. There is no doubt however where he comes down: the people must struggle to free themselves of corrupt elites both at home and in the North. Possibly from McCarthy, one may learn too that there are other perspectives that can countenance the contradictions of African leadership. Like both McKay and Manley, the author is optimistic about the future of the Global South, that the peoples of these nations will support a leadership that can find a way out of their domination by the Northern commercial elites.

McCarthy has reviewed Manley's South-South cooperation proposals as a sound alternative to the North-South exploitation that has occurred over centuries.  Manley's more practical perspective is one that can be recommended unreservedly in good conscious to those African Diaspora leaders who want the best for their citizens, those who live daily in dire straits of poverty and powerlessness.  

posted 26 February 2007

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


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#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

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#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

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#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files: In-Dependence from Bondage  / Comments on Addae "ABCs"  / Southern Needs  /  Manley’s Legacy   Claude McKay Bio  Black Consciousness Poet—Claude McKay  Southern Needs

The Life and Times of Black Poet Claude McKay   In-Dependence from Bondage  Manley’s Legacy   In-Dependence from Bondage  Comments on Addae "ABCs"