Lesson 8

The Social System

Society is an organisation of mankind to safeguard and protect its own interest.  When society is organised and is made evident by regulations, rules, and laws, every member of that society must obey the said rules, regulations and laws.
        Always, therefore, live up to the organised system of society of which you form a part.  The only alternative to this is rebellion.  You should never join rebellious movements against society except there is good reason and justification for it.
        Society is intended to maintain the greatest good for the greatest number, and that is always uppermost so that in thought you may have to reform.  Any society must be calculated to bring about the greatest good for the greatest number, and you must obey its laws, otherwise you are an evil genius living in the midst of that society and that society will seek to destroy you or compel you to obey its rules, regulations and laws.
        You cannot live by yourself in a society, you must live upon the goodwill of your fellows.  In that society, therefore, you must respect everything that tends to the good of all.
        You should always seek to have something at stake in the community in which you live - property of some kind, so as to merit the regard and respect of the community, because society as organised into a community counts first its worthwhile citizens before it thinks of others.
        Property in a community is an evidence of your status in the society of the community.  If you have no property, have value of some kind to be considered substantial.  The police, the officials and the government recognise property holders as the citizens of first claim in an organised society.   They are generally recorded to be identified.  You must, therefore, teach the people to own property and to be known and recognised members of the community.
        Always adopt a friendly attitude to the police in your community, because the police is that civil body of officials who are supposed to protect the citizens and see that their right is not infringed upon.  You should always welcome the police.  The police are never the public enemy, but the public protector.
        You should help the police to maintain order because if the community loses its peace, you will have riots and probably bloodshed.   No peaceful citizen wants to be caught in such a dangerous state of public affairs.
        Never join to incite public disorder.   Keep away from it and be innocent to all that happens, by way of revolution.   Never allow the U.N.I.A.'s name to be mentioned as among rioters, you will destroy the usefulness of the organisation in that community and may cause suspicion to be cast upon it in other communities.
        Disavow always any attempt to label the U.N.I.A. with riotous behaviour.  Whatsoever object is desired in a civilised community it can always be achieved by the approach of good reason and good judgment.   Always use that good reason and good judgment.
        You are not in a community to overthrow the law in that community, you are there to live under the law.  The national aspiration of the race is to find expression not in revolution where you are established when you are under other people's government, but to accomplish the end in Africa.  Therefore, never preach rebellion because you will disrupt the society in which you live and it will crush you.
        The highest service a citizen can refer to in a community or organised society is to maintain and preserve peace.  When the peace is disturbed, it is likely that anybody may get hurt and sometimes most innocently.
        Never join the [m]ob, you will likely be shot or injured even for curiosity.  If you are once shot or injured in a riotous demonstration, it is almost evidence against you that you were one of the rioters, so keep away.
        When the riot act or martial law is read or proclaimed in your community, keep indoors.  Give this advice to the people.
        Never join a mob in a foreign country under a foreign government or where you have very little political influence.


        Politics is the science of government that protects those human rights that are not protected by law.  Law is already established.  Politics add to the laws or change the laws.  You should play politics to get good government.
        It is advisable that you become a tax payer of some kind or qualified under the statute to be a voter in your community.
        To be a voter, you must have the franchise.   To have the franchise you must register as a citizen.  Always be a citizen of where you are.  When you become a citizen seek to know all other citizens or as many as possible in your district, you may need them and they may need you for political action to insure good government.
        The state, the nation or the community in which you live directly is always governed by politicians or statesmen.  You should know them and become well acquainted with them for your own good.  You need them in trouble and out of trouble.
        Always try to know the Mayor of your city and the government of your state or island, or country and also other government officials.   To know them before trouble is to get help when you are in trouble; not to know them is to be at a disadvantage when you are brought before them.
        Always treat them courteously and friendly even if you don't mean it, but let them always believe you are friendly.
        If you are to be a leader in your community this makes it even more imperative that you should know everybody of political consequence, because you will have to approach them not only for yourself and for the organization, but, for the members of the race who look up to you as their leader.
        You must never sell yourself to the politician, but you must get around him in the most skillful manner and get all your rights and the rights of others dependent on you out of him without selling yourself to him, to keep him in office, especially if he is not a good man in the community.
        Always make your vote count for bringing about the reforms you and others think are right for your community.  Never exchange it for money.  You should see that every citizen who has a vote does vote on an election day, especially when you have reforms to be enacted.
        Whatsoever may be the conditions that give you the suffrage, live up to those conditions to maintain and hold the suffrage, because just at the time when your vote may be most needed may be the time when you are not qualified because of carelessness.
        In countries where as a race you are not allowed to vote, work always to get the vote by way of reform.  Use the help of everybody, but have political power to bring about the change that will give you the vote, otherwise you would be governed without your consent.
        To vote is to make the attempt to share in the government of the community with others.  You should never be a political slave in a community because others will take advantage of you.
        Always cast your ballot for good government.   Never support a corrupt government.


        Always make your government know about your presence.  Never hide from the government.  Whenever possible, seek an interview with the government on behalf of the people you lead.
        Always impress government that your movement is not to controvert the established order of that government, but that your people seek a homeland in Africa which is not to be achieved by any revolution in the country in which you domicile as a citizen, but if possible with the cooperation of that government.
        Leave all policies of an international character affecting the organization desired for a government in Africa to the international officers and don't complicate yourself with your government with anything revolutionary where you are.  You will get the worst of it.
        A constitutional political agitation is not a riot.  If you are a citizen, you have the right of public assembly and the right to protest against anything that is politically wrong, but that does not suggest that you must riot because good government always puts down riots and always has a way to settle its political difficulties in the interest of society and the community of which you are a part, and in which you have a voice.
        When you riot against your government, you are rioting against yourself because the government cannot exist without you.  That is why there is a constitution.  When the constitution is insufficient to give you all the protection you need change it by political action through voting for changes, not by rioting.

Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, edited by Robert A. Hill and Barbara Bair (University of California Press, 1987), Pages 240-244.

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