LALIT held a press conference today at Grande Riviere Nord West announcing an “eta de lye”, or “what is the state of”, the mainstream bourgeois political parties. It is an open conference to be held in the two public holidays next week, All Saints Day and Indentured Labour Day, Tuesday and Wednesday, LALIT member, Rada Kistnasamy announced. Although open, it is not public, but only for those wanting to look towards political change. Anyone wanting an invitation, please ring on 208 5551. We will be looking, he said, at the totality of political parties since the struggle for Independence until today, 2011.
Lindsey Collen then gave the outline of the reasons for the “state of the bourgeois political parties” Conference. She said that it was now generally believed that the mainstream political parties are rotten and corrupt. People are not wrong to think so, she said, taking as an example the present scandal on the acquisition by Government of the private clinic owned by the Jugnauth family, family of the President and the then Finance Minister. There are levels of corruption involved. First the Labour Party and the MSM are both, as Government, responsible for acquiring for Rs144 million, land building and inappropriate and old equipment from people in Government. This is the first level of political rot. But if you scratch the surface, it gets worse. The MMM, the only mainstream parliamentary party not directly involved, has used the issue first to blame the MSM for this scandal while trying to ally with Labour, and then used it to blame Labour and try to ally with the MSM. And now again the first tactic. Scratch the surface, and you'll find the parties are further steeped in corruption. When the MMM and MSM were in Government together in 2004, Pravind Jugnauth when Minister of Finance, at a time when Paul Berenger was Prime Minister, gave the sam Jugnauth family Rs 50 million, when the State did not defend the outrageous claim for breach of contract over the Sun Trust Building. Then, there was not even a bit of land and a building to show for it. Scratch further, and we will find that, inasmuch as we do not propose a new political organization, we all become corrupt by pretending that amongst these mainstream parties there is something worth salvaging.
However, the danger is that when everyone realizes the degree of rot, there are two fundamental choices: either we reject politics altogether, which would be fatal, and which would open the way to fascist and other populist and harmful politics, or we knuckle down and build new political organizations, bearing in mind our analyses of why the past ones failed and continue failing.
And this is where LALIT has decided to come in with an “eta de lye”.
This Conference designed to put on trial traditional mainstream bourgeois parties comes at a particular time of history. She mentioned two important background realities: the capitalist system, on a world and Mauritian level, is in a severe crisis, and is being put into question by every thinking person. A system that has predominated in the world for some 250 years (out of humanity's 100,000 years of taking decisions and organizing our lives together) is perhaps in its death throes, after 100 years of prolongation, since the last crisis at the beginning of the last century. Not only are huge banks bankrupt, but whole countries are bankrupt, and their bankruptcy in turn threatens banks with further bankruptcy. Finance capital has hit its expiry date, she said. The second important reality is the hideous situation in which mother earth finds herself, being ransacked by capitalism and imperialism for 250 years. Scientists, and she says its 90% or more of scientists, have raised the alarm. On some 9 different issues, the environment is threatened with going over critical thresholds, that will begin to produce irreparable damage. Three of these critical levels are, in fact, tipping points, where the irretrievable damage done is sudden and catastrophic. She said that while scientists like biologists and quantum physics scientists who look at energy conversion, are unanimous to say that decision-making under capitalism is not organized in a way to be able to avoid the serious problems ahead. Yet economists and social scientists are taking this as “given”, just as fundamentalists take religion as unquestionable.
Lindsey Collen went on to say that this double-crisis can only be addressed politically – almost by definition. She said civil society and CRS do-gooders are just not addressing the cause of the problems at all. And in order to address problems politically, we obviously need political organization, she said. And we need to discuss how they should not fall into the rot and corruption of the existing mainstream parties. Hence, she said, LALIT's planned “eta de lye”.
We are already skirting around some of the problems that we will uncover, she said. She listed seven, all interlinked. The existing mainstream parties have no critique of capitalism, but they, like social scientists take it as a “given”, when it has become the cause of all our major problems, and only denounce it in a ritualistic electoral discourse. Secondly, they have no, or no longer have, any shared vision as to how they see that society could be in the future. Thirdly, for those parties that began in the working class, like Labour and the MMM, and which in their early years worked for genuine change, they have seen their tactics become their strategies, and even defeat their strategies. Fourthly, the electoralism of the parties has tied them to tactics, and shortened the length of their vision. Fifthly, the parties do not have (and in the case of the MMM no longer has) proper structures which ensure internal democracy. They are just a leader and the rest. Sixthly, they almost proudly lack all principles and even a pretense at the high moral ground. Lastly, the parties have relied on using marketing, and psychological manipulation in order to influence people.
So, this brings us, she said, to the program for this unusual conference, which we think comes at a crucial time.
The program was then shared out amongst journalists from the Press and Radio. Le Mauricien, Le Defi, Radio One and Radio Plus were present.
The first session is on the political parties, one by one. We have party members and guest speakers, and a lot of time for discussion, too. Jean-Claude Bibi will kick off with an analysis of the two parties that started in the working class, Labour and the MMM. He will be followed by Alain Ah-Vee on the other two mainstream parties in Parliament, the PMSD and the MSM. Ram Seegobin is preparing a talk on the totality of other parties, some 62 in all. (Laughter at this “tall order”.)
The second is on the political bankruptcy on a series of issues, ranging from drug policy and education to economic politics and food security. Papers will be presented by two trade unionists, Jane Ragoo and Reeaz Chuttoo, by two members of the Centre Idriss Goomany Committee, Imrhan Dunoo and Ally Lazer, by a representative of Arc-en-Ciel, the LGTB organization and the MLF, a women's organization. Jooneed Jeeroobhurkhan is sending a paper on the subject.
The second day will be on “emergent programs”, already being born in the past 5-8 years, and being adopted by dozens of organizations. The three aspects of “programs” will be analyzed and put into practice: the analysis, the demands and the mobilization behind them.
Questions from journalists were replied to. Present for LALIT were Rajni Lallah, Alain Ah-Vee, Ram Seegobin and Roland Boussac, as well as the two mentioned in this article.