Originally published in 1972, Eusi Kwayana's The Bauxite Strike and the Old Politics, offered profound lessons for class struggle in a multiracial society. Many decades later, Kwayana's work remains urgently relevant.
A product of Guyana, and a classic of Caribbean radical history, The Bauxite Strike and the Old Politics examines the struggle of Afro-Guyanese mine workers in what was the soon-to-be nationalized bauxite industry, as they faced off against the racism and sexism of the Canadian-owned aluminum firm, ALCAN, the class collaboration of the Guyana Mine Workers Union (GMWU), and the hostility of Forbes Burnham's government toward their self-organization and self-emancipation. Through these events, Burnham's regime -- which initially claimed to be a patron of global African solidarity, cultural renewal, and a cooperative society -- began to reveal itself as a collaborator with the empire of capital, an oppressor of Black workers, and a promoter of racial insecurity in Guyana.
Kwayana's work leads us to reconsider the nature of representative government and electoral politics. Black power, for Kwayana, began to transcend the notion of a Black ruling elite s equal opportunity to enter the rules of hierarchy. Through engagement with Guyana s bauxite workers, Black Power became synonymous with Black workers control. This new edition includes an introduction by Matthew Quest, and an appendix of rare ASCRIA (African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa) documents and writings by Kwayana, spanning this period of Guyanese history from 1972 to 1974. This new material documents Kwayana's fight against government corruption, his participation in Guyana s cooperative movement, and his facilitation, in 1973, of a multiracial rebellion of landless sugar workers.