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(en) France, UCL AL #318 - Dossier Haitian Revolution: Aimé Césaire's perspective on "agrarian caporalism" (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 23 Sep 2021 08:38:42 +0300


A man of letters and Leninist from Martinique, Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) devoted several writings to Haiti, including a play, La Tragédie du roi Christophe (1963), and a historical study, Toussaint Louverture. The French Revolution and the colonial problem (Présence africaine, 1960), from which these few paragraphs are taken. ---- Because Toussaint was aware of the imminence of war and the extent of the danger, everything that was likely to reduce or paralyze local production became an enemy. Enemy, absenteeism of owners. Enemy, the influx into the cities of the rural population. Enemies, indolence and laziness. Enemy finally, this fragmentation of land that some advocated, but which, however justified it was, could only immediately result in a vertiginous drop in production and the abandonment of the cultivation of export products.

There, Toussaint was going against the tide and he knew it. All the peasantry in the world know "the hunger of the earth". But Toussaint was holding on.[...]

But to renovate the economy, it took more than the land: hard work, hard work, and specialists. The specialists, where to find them? They were all white; former settlers, owners, or former managers.[...]

Unfortunately, if Toussaint's ideas were good, his method was less so. The most delicate problem for a revolutionary is that of the connection with the masses, there needs to be flexibility, invention, a sense of the human being always awake. And that's where Toussaint was fishing. Waging war night and day, military deformation lay in wait for him, which is mechanism and schematism. He fell there. He stopped inventing, contenting himself with applying to any new situation the military scheme he had ended up developing.

Was the social situation worrying? The serious economic situation? He thought he could solve everything by militarizing everything. This is where he got lost. If the connection with the masses is the connective tissue of the revolution, his was sclerosing. He was no longer persuading. He decreed.[...]

It was easy to say to Toussaint[about his cultivation regulations of October 1800]: "This is the return of old forms of work. It is in fact the return to slavery."[...]

It is not enough that a slogan is correct. And undoubtedly the concern[...]for the economic recovery of Santo Domingo was right. But we must succeed in making it more than a watchword. We must succeed in making it live in the consciousness of the masses. In short, corporalization compromises mobilization. And this is where Toussaint failed. The best sign of this failure is that it had to resort to repression. In Plaisance, Marmelade, Limbé, Dondon, around Cape Town, everywhere, the peasants rose up.[...]The revolt was put down[...]. But the warning was serious for Toussaint. On the eve of a decisive game, there had appeared, and most serious, a crack in the system.

https://www.unioncommunistelibertaire.org/?Dossier-Revolution-haitienne-Le-regard-d-Aime-Cesaire-sur-le-caporalisme
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