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New Left Review I/128, July-August 1981


Fitzroy Ambursley

Jamaica: The Demise of ‘Democratic Socialism’

The landslide victory of Edward Seaga’s Jamaica Labour Party (jlp) in the October 1980 general elections brought an abrupt end to the People’s National Party’s (pnp) eight-year-old experiment in ‘Democratic Socialism’. [*] I am grateful to Robin Blackburn, Robin Cohen and Mike Davis for their critical comments on an earlier version of this text. The fall of Michael Manley, the Socialist International’s most important representative in the Third World, has dealt a serious, if not fatal, blow to the gradualist strategy of social change advocated by broad sectors of the Caribbean left and somewhat hesitantly endorsed in recent years by the Cuban leadership. At the same time, the restoration of the stalwartly anti-communist jlp provides the Reagan Administration with an invaluable collaborator in its crusade to contain and roll back the wave of revolutionary mobilization that has swept the Caribbean and Central America since 1979. In particular it increases the grave dangers of intervention against the unfolding revolutions in Grenada and Nicaragua, both of which had enjoyed Jamaican support in their efforts to escape the noose-hold of us economic and political isolation.

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