By Ken Post (auth.)
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Extra resources for Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath
The question can be seen from another perspective. In general, peasant agriculture has great weakness as a form of production. In order to survive and expand, the poor, middle and rich peasants had to compete in the production of crops for the world market with both non-Jamaican producers and with Jamaican capitalist farmers. To do this they had to develop their forces of social production. Yet, the very nature of their production was an obstacle to this. The poor and middle peasants continued to exist and even to increase in numbers after the turn of the century, and their form of production continued to be largely non-capitalist, dependent upon family labour and reciprocal pooling of work with neighbours.
In this way, the antagonistic contradiction between slaves and masters in Jamaica was displaced onto a nonantagonistic one within the British power bloc 39 Eight years later, the Sugar Duties Act of 1846, another blow from Westminster, finally removed the preferential treatment which West Indian sugar had enjoyed on the British market. Trinidad and Guianese sugar weathered the storm, but most of the Jamaican plantations, over-extended, inefficient and under-capitalised, could not meet the competition of Brazil, Cuba, Louisana, Mauritius and, increasingly, European beet sugar.
Whereas the planters suffered after emancipation, the urban·based merchants tended to prosper, because the collapse of the largely self-sufficient estates meant an increased demand for the circulation of commodities. W. Gordon, whose judicial murder in 1865 we have mentioned. He went into trade in 1836, and by 1843 his business was worth £10,000. In 1846 and 1848 he bought three properties, said to have been valued at one time at £160,000, for £5,200. 62 For the planting class in decline, therefore, he must have personified the forces that were supplanting them.
Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath by Ken Post (auth.)