As the capitalist system lurches further into crisis, there are uprisings all over the earth: in North Africa and the rest of the Arab world, in India, in Wisconsin in the USA, in China, and in the UK, as broad masses of people join street protests at having to bear the burden of the capitalists’ own crisis.
The day will, without any doubt, come when in Mauritius people will once again rise up, and protest. The demonstrations will dwarf the protests that trade union bureaucrats call, in their ongoing petty competition with each other, as fragments vie for influence, even as they vacillate between allying themselves with Labour MPs against the bosses, or chivvying the MMM opposition against the Labour government.
People already know how to come out on to the streets. Working people already know that coming out on to the streets is, on its own, not enough if we want to change things. It may, for example, be enough to remove one party and replace it with another one that is, to all intents and purposes, the same, changing little or nothing.
Protest demonstrations have the potential to change things for the better only on condition that they are behind a program of which all of us in the demonstrations share a common understanding. Not only does this imply an increasingly shared analysis of the classes of people involved on both sides, increasingly shared demands, but also an increasingly shared plan of how these demands are dynamic and move towards socialism. People need to know what we are demonstrating against, and what we are rising up in favour of. So this means building a detailed Manifesto that will guide us through our demonstrations.
In Mauritius today as the crisis bites, we seize the occasion of further creating a Program. Already, against Police Brutality, there is the JUSTICE set of demands; for women’s liberation the MLF New Women’s Manifesto, on drugs and aids the Charter developed and signed by many organizations, on food security the Charter on Food Security prepared by the Common Front, on the Mother Tongues, two LPT-led Charters. Already we have the LALIT program for the politics towards an “alternative economy”, the Ecology Program, the Program for Freedom and against Repression.
As the Neotown scandal explodes, it creates the space for us to pose the question as to who owns and controls land. This, in turn, brings us to our first key demand.
Can the PT-MSM-PMSD Government give the Patel firm, a private Indian company, 60 arpents of land in Cassis? The MMM and the commercial press sees the matter as a political “mega-scandal”. In fact, it is worse. Far worse. Can a Government cede land for 99 years to Patel South of Port Louis or to Jin Fei in Riche Terre? Can Government allow the private sector to sell of hectares of land to billionaires from abroad in IRS projects? Can the State let Shopping Malls smother prime arable land? Can we be made to pay fees for sitting on a beach on an offshore island?
Demand No. 1: We want democratic control over all land, State and private sector, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega, Diego Garcia and Chagos. This does not mean the transfer of some control from sugar estate owners to big-planter bosses, as the Labour Party government program sets out to do, that is to say to enlarge the bourgeoisie.
We are heading for further food crises. This makes democratic control over land essential. Later in 2011 food prices are expected to rise further. Mauritius will be affected disproportionately, because our sources of food are so far away and there are expected to be ongoing fuel price rises.
Demand No. 2:We, the broad masses of the people, want food produced on a large scale on sugar estate land. We want to use the infrastructure of closed and closing down factories to be used for creating agro-industries for transforming and preserving food crops. We want agro-industries in Rodrigues, so that prices are stabilized for producers. We want to produce food, not cash crops, food to eat, and for export.
The Jin Fei and Patel projects, the IRSs, the Malls and Business Parks all pose a further question. They take up land but do not give work. The masses of the people have no democratic control over job creation, and yet we are totally dependent on wage slavery for our very existence. As we struggle on the platform to get democratic control of the land and sea, we will struggle for democratic control over job creation, too.
Demand No 3: Work for All. And we will not be duped by stupid talk of a mis-match between jobs and peoples’ qualifications. We all need jobs. And we demand an Equal Opportunities Act in which Government publishes the list of applicants and people nominated for jobs and their relevant quotations, on the internet.
Wages are remaining static, work is insecure, and yet food prices rise.
Demand no 4: Price control and an automatic Cost of Living Allowance for all workers earning less than the minimum wage necessary to live decently.
The Neotown scandal leads us to another key issue: we do not know what is in the contracts between Government and companies like Jin Fei and Patel
Demand No 5: “Freedom of Information for the People” Act. Labour hides behind the abuses that the press might make of freedom of information, in its wrangling with the commercial press, but now that there is internet, the Government should have to supply information for all of us.
Where investment goes
When Patel invests, when sugar estates invest in IRS, their aim is speculation. Their aim is to bet on the increasing value of land. This is one of the main dangers of finance capital having become so strong. It increases the risk and gravity of capitalist crises.
Demand No 6: Investment in production, not speculation. We want investment into job creation, food production, and the massive development of renewable energy.
Fossil fuels are beginning to run out. Prices will rise. Civilization will be thrown into crisis. While the tragedy unfurling at the Fukushima plant in Japan is showing us that the nuclear alternative to fossil fuels is fraught with dangers.
Demand No 7: We call for massive investment into producing renewable energy: sun, wind, wave, temperature differential, tidal and hydro-electric power. This will also create jobs.
Mauritius will soon feel the lack of water. Rodrigues is already on red alert.
Demand No 8: Build small dams in many places, and avoid water-greedy investments like golf courses.
This way we aim towards a socialist resolution to the capitalist crisis.