Manley’s path not milk and honey
Dr Al Grey's piece 'Time to revisit Michael Manley's path' printed in the Sunday Observer of December 22, 2013 is a very fascinating article — almost like a manifesto for national development.
Naturally, there are pieces of the article that need to be looked at seriously as, if some of these proposals were implemented, they would be good for Jamaica.
However, I'm not sure though whether the Manley path should be revisited. For he, after coming back to power 1989 (defeating Seaga and the JLP), admitted that he had made lots of mistakes in his previous administrations.
The problem with Manley's path is that although the theory of Democratic Socialism was idealistically good, practically, it had limited value.
Why? Because the 'ideologically-driven university-type revolutionaries' in his party wanted his socialism to be taken its logical conclusion — where the State indeed controlled all aspects of the commanding heights of the economy, and regulated people's lives.
But Manley wasn't prepared for that. Manley was not prepared to go all this way. And he was fortunate that the militants in his party didn't get their way. For, if that had happened, Manley and Jamaica could have gone the way of Maurice Bishop and his Marxist New Jewel Movement of Grenada. There, the hotheads of his party executed him because they wanted a more doctrinaire and dogmatic form of socialism cum communism. This tragic event led to President Reagan's military invasion of Grenada with the loss of lives.
I suggest that it's not ideology — left or right — that Jamaica needs now, but more centrist policies that try to accommodate all shades and opinions of the Jamaican economic and political spectrum.
That is the challenge of good leadership:. To effect reasonable and workable compromises between all stakeholders.
George S Garwood, PhD