The Revolt of the Respectable
We have seen that by mid-1937 the articulation of the Jamaican social formation was beginning to change at the cognitive level as different classes and strata were touched by the ideology of Ethiopianism. Elements from among the middle class, petty bourgeoisie, peasants and workers, moved by various economic pressures, responded to a set of beliefs which stressed the wickedness and inevitable consequent decline of the white man. Other determinations, however, kept the different class elements apart, isolating the more radical Rastafarians. Ethiopianism provided no basis for effective political action, threw up no lasting organisation. For the articulation of the Jamaican social formation to change enough to produce the labour rebellion, there had to be new organisations to give the cutting edge to new political practice and progression to new levels of consciousness. In the mid-1930s these began to emerge parallel with Ethiopianism, among all the class elements listed above. Most important, as part of this complex of interrelated developments, the consciousness of peasants and workers became concentrated enough for them to seize the initiative in May-June 1938. This chapter and the next will discuss these new patterns. Already involving a violation of ‘objective’ chronology, the treatment of the peasants and workers will be held over to Chapter VIII, so that we may go directly — and dialectically — from them to the labour rebellion.
KeywordsPublic Opinion Middle Class Land Settlement Class Element Political Practice
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