[Marxism] Jeff Sommers article on Haiti

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 4 07:50:46 MST 2004

In my critique of Conn Hallinan's Counterpunch article defending liberal 
interventionism, I alluded to a telegram of an Admiral Caperton who 
urged that the Marines be sent into Haiti on the basis that "Such action 
now imperative Port au Prince if United States desires to negotiate 
treaty for financial control Haiti." Subsequently I got a pdf version of 
an article titled "Haiti and the Hemispheric Imperative to Invest: The 
Bulletin of the Pan American Union" that appeared in the Journal of 
Haitian Studies by Jeff Sommers that provides a fascinating account of 
that sordid period. I got his permission to put it online at:


Here is the opening paragraph:

The African-American diplomat, activist, and artist James Weldon Johnson 
declared in 1915 that "while Mr. Bailly-Blanchard, with the title of 
minister, is [Haiti's] representative in name, Mr. Farnham is its 
representative in fact."1 Roger Farnham was an NYC investment banker 
with significant investments in Haiti, while Blanchard was the U.S. 
Government's man in Haiti. Johnson recognized the simple question that 
we routinely ignore even today when examining empire--either in its 
historical or contemporary dimensions. Implicit in Johnson's observation 
is his understanding of what constitutes "the state." Many years later 
Marxist theorists such as Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser developed 
theories revealing the state was not merely the government but instead 
those exercising power, whether in the public or private spheres. Both 
then and now this analysis is too often lacking when examining the 
course of American empire.


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