Sunday, April 4, 2010

C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Chapter 11, "The Black Consul"

Can we just sum this up by stating that Toussaint was bourgeois in both policy and mores?

Toussaint put great stock in the bourgeois virtues of work, education, and sociability. He strove to make the colony productive and to develop the human capital of its people. His methods were authoritarian rather than liberal: for instance, he compelled the black laborers to stay on the estates, while guaranteeing them a share of the produce.

Besides serving the end of economic development, his protection of propertied interests was also designed to forestall conflict with metropolitan France. This was also true of the favor he showed to whites. The black masses remained suspicious of the whites, however, and James argues that Toussaint's signal failure was neglecting to explain his approach to them. I will allow myself to doubt that the masses would have been swayed. In any case, this division between Toussaint's policy and popular attitudes became his key political vulnerability.

Toussaint's ruled as a dictator. He took advice from many people, but made all decisions himself. This arrangement was codified in the constitution he promulgated for the colony. This constitution opened up a new breach with France, since it gave no place to metropolitan France in the rule of the colony at all. Napoleon, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge Toussaint's position as ruler of San Domingo at all -- avoiding an open beach as yet, but refusing to grant legitimacy as well.

1 comment:

馨儀 said...

i trust everything will be fine. bless you!........................................