Haiti: Reflections on a revolution in historical and contemporary perspectives

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Cambridge]On: 18 December 2014, At: 03:32Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office:Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>International Journal of African RenaissanceStudies - Multi-, Inter- and TransdisciplinarityPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscriptioninformation:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rars20</p><p>Haiti: Reflections on a revolution in historicaland contemporary perspectivesFrancis KornegayPublished online: 10 Oct 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: Francis Kornegay (2008) Haiti: Reflections on a revolution in historical and contemporaryperspectives, International Journal of African Renaissance Studies - Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, 3:1,113-117, DOI: 10.1080/18186870802321632</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18186870802321632</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content)contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and ourlicensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, orsuitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publicationare the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp;Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independentlyverified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilitieswhatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantialor systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and usecan be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rars20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/18186870802321632http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18186870802321632http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>BOOK REVIEW</p><p>International Journal of African Renaissance StudiesVol. 3 (1) 2008</p><p>pp.113-117</p><p>ISSN (Print) 1818-6874ISSN (Online) 1753-7274 University of South Africa PressDOI: 10.1080/18186870802321632</p><p>Francis KornegayCentre for Policy ResearchJohannesburg, South Africafrancis@cps.org.za</p><p>, by Peter Hallward, Verso, 2008. 442pp. </p><p>, by Madison Smartt Bell, Pantheon Books, 2007. 333pp.</p><p>Haiti, only the second country to gain its independence in the Western hemisphere at the turn of the nineteenth century, remains to this day the most enigmatic of mysteries in the political history of the Americas and this, in spite of its central place in this early history of the hemisphere. Perhaps this can be understood as Haiti having been something of a proverbial nigger in the woodpile in the transatlantic Age of Revolution whose fate was intimately and inconveniently intertwined with that of the thirteen young, post-revolutionary former colonies on the American mainland to its north and, across the Atlantic, to the French revolution which triggered the beginning of Saint Domingues traumatic transformation into Haiti. In a very real sense, the case of Haiti is also a case of victors history written from the vantage point of the dominant socio-racial and class forces that came to dominate the political, economic and cultural relations of the Euro-American transatlantic, with particular reference to the early post-colonial United States (US) conceived in birth as half slave, half free and post-revolutionary France. And </p><p>IJARS-5 Book Review.indd 113 2008/09/08 05:39:51 AM</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>ambr</p><p>idge</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>32 1</p><p>8 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>114 Francis Kornegay</p><p>yet, much of transatlantic and inter-American history is only dimly understood in the absence of an in-depth understanding of the black revolution on Saint Domingue and how Franco-American collusion strangled it in its crib, and how this crib-death has resonated down through the ages in distorting and stunting Haitis national development </p><p>Haitis slave insurrection was an unwelcome departure from the script of Franco-American democratic transformation which was not intended for the benighted black race who were consigned to being beasts of burden in the transatlantic plantation-based political economy and the world the slaveholders made from the southern former colonies of the American mainland, on down throughout the Anglo-French-Spanish Caribbean basin of which Saint Domingue was the crown jewel, into the southern mainland of Iberian America shared by Portugal as well as Spain. Besides Saint Domingue, this revolutionary-challenged colonial geography brought into play the slave-holdings of Jamaica and Cuba impinging on the security interests of the metropoles and on that of Americas southern slavocracy. This contradiction would ultimately lead to the Haitian successor republic to the former Saint Domingue becoming the hemispheres </p><p>the colonial powers led by the US and France, followed by its transformation into the </p><p>of African independence. The idea behind this ruthlessness was the Franco-American and wider European colonial security interest in containing the Haitian revolutions resonance within the slavocracies of the antebellum American South, and elsewhere throughout the Caribbean. Herein, therefore, lay the early nineteenth-century roots of American and general Western foreign policy responses to the Third World anti-colonial </p><p>the Cuban revolution of 1959 would epitomise and, like revolutionary Haiti, inspire a similar ruthlessness in an attempt at isolation and containment. </p><p>This background sets the stage for Peter Hallwards comprehensive study of Haitis contemporary predicament revolving around the turbulent political career of Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide as Haitis off-and-on head of state interacting with American and French diplomatic agendas vis--vis one another, as well as with regard to Haiti and the Caribbean. The problem, however, is establishing the historical link between Haitis current predicament (as laid out by Hallward) and the antecedents of todays politics in the complicated socio-racial class dynamics which animated the Haitian revolution and </p><p>when it comes to what Hallward depicts as the Franco-American-backed elite compulsions to dominate Haitis political and economic agenda residing in a collection of social </p><p>industrialists, professionals, intellectuals, academics and journalists how do they relate to the old colonial racialclass/caste structure which confronted Toussaint with a very complicated terrain for managing while balancing an equally challenging diplomacy </p><p>IJARS-5 Book Review.indd 114 2008/09/08 05:39:52 AM</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>ambr</p><p>idge</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>32 1</p><p>8 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>115</p><p>involving France, the US, Britain and Spain? And how did, in class terms, the beheading of the revolution in Toussaints capture set Haiti upon the ill-fated historical course it has pursued up to the present, under its current peacekeeping occupation by MINUSTAH, </p><p>among between blacks and whites, complicated further by a buffering mulatto-cum-coloured middle class or by Madison Smartt Bell (Pantheon, 2007) is particularly informative in surveying this terrain and how it interacted in the unfolding of the revolution on Saint Domingue. Toussaint, himself an had to navigate intra-black class differences between established black freedmen like himself and the so-called and masses of black slaves and peasants who, in turn, were further broken down into creolised slaves born on Saint </p><p>structure were the loyalists to the monarchy and the sympathisers </p><p>among blacks and coloureds. The type of authoritarian presidency that Toussaint would have wanted to install (and </p><p>which was actually contemplated in the young American republic on the mainland) as </p><p>republic, was not to be with his demise. And, as seems clear from Bells account, Toussaint was in class of his own in being able to manage and navigate these inter- and intra-racial </p><p>historical evolution of Haitis complicated socio-racial class structure into its current socio-political terrain at the root of the countrys endemic instability and chronic vulnerability to </p><p>history is much too brief (in summarised form) to shed any light on how the islands socio-racial class dynamics inform the turbulence of the Aristide era, resulting in the </p><p>politics of containment says it all in terms of the historical and contemporary continuity, </p><p>transatlantic power politics of the US and France. Here, represents </p><p>up,Haitis post-Duvalierist status quo; one that stood Americas Cold War regional interests in the Caribbean in good stead as a bulwark against the kind of anti-imperialist nationalist radicalism epitomised by Cuban Fidelismo and later transformative bids such as that of </p><p>intervention under the Ronald Reagan administration. Clearly, Washingtons prevention of yet another revolutionary regime coming to power </p><p>in the Caribbean, alongside its Cuban nemesis, seems reason enough for the manner in which both Democratic as well as Republican Party administrations have sought to contain and stir political developments in Haiti. This is made all the more apparent </p><p>IJARS-5 Book Review.indd 115 2008/09/08 05:39:53 AM</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>ambr</p><p>idge</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>32 1</p><p>8 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>116 Francis Kornegay</p><p>by the rise of Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian revolutionary bid in Venezuela and the </p><p>and, indeed, to prevent its post-coup electoral victory in 2006. Hallwards authoritative account chronicles this saga, which is as much about the political trials and tribulations </p><p>Toussaint. The problem is that Haiti seems far from escaping the burdens of its unfortunate history as the step-child of the transatlantic Age of Revolution. If the Democratic Clinton administration was ambivalent about Aristide in spite of Congressional Black Caucus support via former D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy to the point of hobbling his regime </p><p>under the black face of Secretary of State Colin Powell, was openly hostile. The failure of the anti-Chavista coup in Venezuela was not to be replicated in Haiti, as all options </p><p>to Aristides abduction and banishment to the Central African Republic toward the end of February 2004. Apart from the Bush administrations hostility, Aristides sin in the eyes of Washingtons nemesis on Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac, stemmed from </p><p>modest amount of annual interest which amounted to $21 billion. This is said to have clearly rankled the Chirac government, which also had its hands full with the implosion of its west African jewel in Cte dIvoire, for which it also needed US support in the UN Security Council (where France had brought Washington up short on Iraq).</p><p>imposed on Haiti as the price for Frances recognition a vindictive burden which arguably has to feature as a chief factor in Haitis post-independence underdevelopment </p><p>of the World Conference on Racism and Xenophobia (WCAR) and its upcoming review conference in 2009, French reparations to Haiti on the basis of this debt imposed on it </p><p>An intriguing question that begins to surface as another US presidential election cycle </p><p>promised opening to the successor Castro regime of Raul Castro will be accompanied by </p><p>IJARS-5 Book Review.indd 116 2008/09/08 05:39:54 AM</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>ambr</p><p>idge</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>32 1</p><p>8 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>117</p><p>This is by no means an inconsequential question, in as much as Washington has lost </p><p>fact that any continuation of a posture of containment or consideration of a rollback strategy regarding Hugo Chavezs Bolivian diplomacy will only further alienate the rest of the Americas from the US, as South America, in particular, further consolidates its regional identity under Unasur (the South American Union of Nations). Thus far, apart </p><p>former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the current incumbent, Condoleezza Rice, has not given much reason for hope. </p><p>Franco-American narrative contained in the report to the UN on Haiti comes under question as well. Hence, beyond Bells biography of Toussaint, and Hallwards biography of the politics of containment surrounding Aristide, there is yet another chapter to be written in Haitis troubled history as a nation and in its relations with its giant neighbour to the north. And here, it is instructive to ponder the what ifs and what might have beens in appreciating the historical legacy of Americas indebtedness to the success of the abolitionist social revolution heading to Haitis independence. In comparative terms, Haitis anti-slave rebellion turned out to be more of an authentic revolution in overturning a socio-racial class order than the American independence war. The latter, in real terms, was an essentially transatlantic English civil war featuring a unilateral declaration of independence for white male settler-propertied liberation against the British crown. More than that, Haitis black revolution proved pivotal in shaping the geopolitical and cultural </p><p>Napoleon had chosen to accommodate Toussaints bid for an autonomous self-governing </p><p>had succeeded in his military conquest? Either way, a much different scenario would have unfolded on an American mainland divided between American and French spheres of </p><p>and the future of its plantation-slave economy. Thus, does American history and the inter-American history of the Caribbean need to be thoroughly revisited in understanding the contemporary dynamics of this region and the role played by Haiti in shaping it, as well as why Haiti has remained a political backwater as it struggles to overcome a legacy that, in different ways, the books by Bell and Hallward so authoritatively chronicle. Perhaps a future work combining the historical and contemporary perspectives of both works will answer some of these pregnant questions while, in the meantime, American policy </p><p>the disastrous consequences of containment.</p><p>IJARS-5 Book Review.indd 117 2008/09/08 05:39:55 AM</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>ambr</p><p>idge</p><p>] at</p><p> 03:</p><p>32 1</p><p>8 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li></ul>

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