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									Global Nationalisms: The Montreal Congress of Black Writers and the Case
                   of Caribbean International Opinion




                         Solidarities Through History
                               March 30, 2007




                   Prepared by
                   David Austin
                   Université de Montréal/The Alfie Roberts Institute
                   Montreal, Canada




                   January 7, 2006
In the mid-1960s several Caribbean nationals formed the Montreal-based Caribbean

Conference Committee. They were young, bright, and full of ideas on how to transform

the Caribbean, and the world. Many of them (Robert Hill, Franklyn Harvey, Alfie

Roberts, Tim Hector, and Rosie Douglas) would later emerge as central members of the

Caribbean’s New Left. Their political vision was shaped by Marxism and, in particular,

their mentor C.L.R. James. Not only did James conduct political classes for them but,

given their keen political senses, James was, in many ways, as much a beneficiary in the

relationship as they were. It was members of this group that organized the historic

Montreal Congress of Black Writers in 1968, one of the most important post-

Second World War gatherings of Black radicals. The meeting brought together many of

the leading Black Power figures of the time – Stokely Carmichael, James Forman, Harry

Edwards – along with such notable Caribbean politicos as C.L.R. James, Richard B.

Moore, Walter Rodney, and Robert Hill. During the Congress, members of the CCC

released the Caribbean International Opinion, which, going against the grain of the event,

sought to situate Caribbean and Black struggles within the global context of sixties’

social movements. The first and only issue of the journal included detailed analyses of

the Vietnam War and Paris 1968, as well as two contributions on Marxist theory by

C.L.R. James. In my paper, I will explore the CCC’s politics (literary as well as their

political activities) which, though emphatically Caribbean, also sought to vindicate

Marxist humanist theory, straddling the line that artificially separated, and at times,

brought together, the seemingly disparate streams of nationalism and Marxism,

Black/Caribbean politics and liberation/radical humanism. I will also situate the work of

the CCC within the context of Quebec’s nationalist movement which, drawing on many
of the same influences as the CCC (Sartre, Fanon, Césaire, Black Power, Malcolm X,

etc.) also sought to balance its particular struggle with a concern for global social change.

								
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