Despite the initiative by the Rastas those forces which harangued Bishop on the question of elections but turned a blind eye to the elections in Guyana still hoped to foment discontent from within. The elementary initiatives towards solving the needs of the working people were affected by the deteriorating security situation as the incidents of bombings and shootings increased, culminating in the June 19, 1980 bombing attack at Queens Park, St George. The Prime Ministers and the officials of the State had gathered to celebrate Labour Day when the bomb exploded. But no one on the platform was hurt; the force of the bomb killed three children and injured others. Some of the elements involved in this bombing campaign were involved in the large scale planting of ganja. This ganja was not for local consumption but for the international capitalist market and the big planters attempted to use the centrality of the weed in the lives of many youths as a leverage to move the Rastas after the previous attempt at demonstrations had failed. Ganja and its use pose a serious problem throughout the Caribbean for the way in which the trade is now linked to international gangsterism. Those imported psychologists and doctors who describe ganja as a dangerous narcotic forget that the British State imported ganja into the Caribbean up until 1907 to sell to the Indian indentured workers. The use of ganja by youths in the sixties and seventies was a principal method of social control and as soon as a youth was perceived by the state as rebellious the charge of – possession of ganja was always a useful weapon in the hands of the coercive apparatus of the state.
Found in Rasta, Ganja and Capitalism, from: THE RASTAFARIANS IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN by HORACE CAMPBELL. Source: Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4, RASTAFARI (December 1980)
Image source: AP Photo/David McFadden
According to James A. Munch, who worked closely with Harry Anslinger for many years, Anslinger worked so diligently to try to arrest leading jazz musicians in the 1940s because he felt that they were “role models” for young people. But beyond that, he didn’t like jazz and considered it degenerate. He once wrote in a memorandum that swing had been invented by a pot-using musician, and he didn’t like swing. In Munch’s words, the effect that the musicians were after from marijuana was a lengthening of their sense of time, so that they would be able to put more grace notes into their music than if they simply followed the written score. Munch complained that a regular musician would just play a piece of music the way it was written, but that a musician ‘who used marijuana would work in about twice as many notes, would “jazz” it up.
Found in Marijuana and Civilization, from: Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft by Dale Pendell, Gary Snyder. 1995.
Rastafarians apply the theory of Babylon to Jamaican society as well as to the rest of the world. In Jamaica Babylon encompasses the concerted efforts of various agencies representing the power structure, those who have a stronghold on available resources. One of the most important characteristics of this group is that it excessively emulates Western culture. The culture of the oppressed, consequently, is relegated to a second-class status. Western culture is seen as the measuring rod to demarcate that which is superior. Babylon in this sense entails “part of a world view and cultural perceptions” which degrades anything African. Transcending such perceptions, the Rastafari idealize Africa.
The Rastafarian critique of Babylon transcends Jamaican society and includes denouncing capitalistic systems as well as certain communistic regimes.
Rastafarians refer to these systems as “anancy regimes”, oppressive systems based on shrewdness. International Babylon is represented by the industrialized nations of the world, spearheaded by the United States, as well as key religious institutions such as the Vatican. According to the Rastafari, international Babylon has a long history with a succession of oppressive eras. They note that oppressive regimes such as those of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, British, and Americans have dominated world history. From the Rastafarian perspective, all of these regimes were inspired by the activities of “Nebuchadnezzar, the infamous king of the Biblical Babylon“. It is within this
overall historical context that the Rastafarians explain their experience and ultimate mission, the overcoming of the oppression of Blacks and humanity at large.
Social Movement Endurance: Collective Identity and the Rastafari
by Alem Seghed Kebede, Thomas E. Shriver, J. David Knottnerus.
in Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 70, No. 3, Summer 2000, 313-37