chapter  3
16 Pages

Underdevelopment in Haiti: Some Rencent Contributions

The 'totalitarian' label is unwarranted as well. A totalitarian' government is usually defined as one that 'makes a strong effort to control all aspects of the lives of its subjects." If this definition is accepted, as several authors have noted, the Duvalier regime hardly was totalitarian,' for no such effort was being made. Religious freedom was permitted and cultural expression was no t unified. N o coherent ideology was established, bu t whatever happened to serve the concrete circumstances of a particular moment best was brought to bear. 'Fur thermore , the regime of Papa D o c lacked the dynamic and missionary zeal which distinguished the totalitarianism of Stalin, Hit ler and Mussolini. '10 In many instances effective control was lacking. The economy was not brought under tight government leadership and the administrat ive weakness at the local level m a d e a totali tarian solution impossible:

The authoritarian character of the Haitian state is not to be confused with effective control over rural areas. The strongly personalized and centralized state is at one and the same time a weak governing body in rural Haiti. The primary characteristic of government in rural areas is minimalism. So long as rural revolt does no t threaten its hegemony, the gove rnmen t has essentially ignored peasant farmers, being content to maintain law and order through indirect forms of taxation.11