FIGURE OF SPEECH: "Political parties by themselves are not able to solve the well-known challenges that we face as a nation."
"Why Social Movements Matter for Political Parties" was this year's theme for the Annual Michael Manley Lecture, presented by Professor Rupert Lewis of the UWI Mona on Tuesday at the Tom Redcam Library in Kingston. Enlightening and thoroughly researched, Lewis' presentation engrossingly (for the most part) explored aspects of Jamaican, regional and international political culture and history, even as it sharply drew attention to pressing modern-day realities that hit close to home. Below, TALLAWAH highlights five key points from the address by Lewis, who is currently at work editing a collection of Marcus Garvey's writings on Jamaica:
1. "We have to know what we're planting. The [political] party is one of the important mechanisms for "planting" and for the regeneration of modern Jamaica. I still have some hope in the institution of the political party. In the 21st century, the challenges are radically different from the challenges of previous generations."
2. "The fact that parties are not ideological entities in Jamaica is not necessarily a bad thing. The path to prosperity requires focus on what really matters, and in addition to the role of the state, I would add the importance of markets. So parties, in my view, will have to pay more attention to the practical markets."
3. "In these times, political parties have what I call a liminal side to them, which comes to the fore when the struggle for power is acute, and when there is a crisis."
4. "I have argued that the party is the engine room of politics. It operates on the formal, as well as informal levels. In the context of party competition, what is important is not only the formal/informal, but the statement of party goals and objectives."
5. "The political parties by themselves are not able to solve the well-known challenges that we face as a nation, but there are positive aspects to what is taking place in Jamaica. In almost every community, there is something going on, with people engaging and trying to solve problems. There is a variety of NGOs, society groups; there are churches, community organizations. They constitute a social force that can counteract, on the ground, the more negative aspects of social movements taking place.