I just have a couple brief comments on your analysis.
Two things. You claim that the Haitian people chose to
into a life of simple subsistence farming. And you
argue against a
common popular view in the U.S today, that the international community
has almost single handedly determined the Haitian reality.
First of all, I agree that
the Haitian people WANTED to
retreat... I share your distrust of the assumption that
progress is clearly good and to be preferred over a more simple form of
existence. There is nothing
romantic about the possibility that the
opposite may be true.
Secondly, I agree that there is a tendency to outweigh the influence of the international community and to virtually ignore internal and historical factors in many analyses of Haiti. You made some very good points in your review of Farmer's book. In the effort to make his point, Farmer seems to have gone to the extreme. (I think you may have been a bit hard on him, though!). The problem is, I think you are perilously close to the opposite extreme, down-playing the impact of external forces.
You seem to view the events of this period as primarily based on
free choice. Yes, the Haitian people WANTED to retreat, but WHY? They
had just freed themselves from slavery to a system of productivity, and
were not about to re-enslave themselves to the same ideals no matter who
the master would be. Though you claim
it wasn't the only choice, you
the alternative is much more a paper alternative than a live
option. You call their
best REALISTIC possibility. I
think I have a very different idea of the meaning of *choice*. You state;
Did they make their own choice. I think they did, not from a position of
power and strength, but they chose what they thought was best for them
given the situation they had inherited.
This is not a CHOICE. A choice implies viable options, and the
power to select from them. As for who they
inherited the situation from,
that is apparent. From these same foreign donors the Haitian people
recieved a variety of gifts that would help them to shape their future:
class/color divisions, militarism, and so on. I would simply argue that
it is important to recognize both the internal and external forces at play,
then and now.
I realize that you are aware of this as you write, Bob. When I say
you are perilously close to an extreme, I mean only to question the weight
you give to choice in these posts. When you say that
they traded their
right to live under government and the possibility of participation in it,
for the freedom to avoid its worst abuses, it seems to blame the victim
for choosing her fate. I just don't think that becoming subsistence
farmers, by choice or not, means becoming non-citizens by default. The
forces that pushed the masses out of the circle were remnants of the same
forces that excluded them to begin with.