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LALIT looks back over 2013 and forward to 2014

30.12.2013


The end of 2013 sees a Government that rules with a precarious majority. Having lost its ally from the 2010 general elections, the MSM, to the Opposition ranks, Labour now relies on three MPs bought over from the Opposition, odd-bods like Guimbeau and Celh Meeah, while its ally in Government, the PMSD, quavers. PMSD Minister, Michael Sik Yuen has just finally been expelled from the PMSD today, 30 December, 2013. What will happen now is anybody’s guess. The nearly two years left of the Navin Ramgoolam mandate seem very long for him to hold things together credibly.

And yet, oddly, the Opposition is also a precarious institution at this end-of-year: its two leaders are fragile: Re-Make Leader Aneerood Jugnauth is now quite an age, and Paul Bérenger, his partner and MMM leader, has spent the year under treatment for cancer. Seen like this, for both of them to be offering anything fairly certain to the electorate for the next seven years (two years until the election deadline plus a 5-year term), seems rather too long a time to be credible.

And meanwhile, all the other institutions of the bourgeois State are in even deeper crisis than Government and Opposition: the police with 700 officers suspended, the judiciary brought into disregard through the eternal delays and even judges’ secretaries accused of falsifying judgments, the unfounded “allegations” that keep people locked up, the “confessions” that the judiciary fails to question, the two Ministers of Justice arrested, different Ministries putting out conflicting communiqués about the ambit of the new biometric ID Cards, many MPs arrested on absurdly fragile grounds, para-statal bosses often in disgrace and criminal lawyers now being arrested on the same flimsy pretences on which other people are, with impunity, arrested daily. The Labour Party’s “democratization of the economy” is now exposed for what it is: contracts and tenders for those who support Labour, so long as the big, historic bourgeoisie continues to rake it in unimpeded. And very little, except constant and increasing insecurity in terms of material well-being, for the working people.

All this disorder reflects quite accurately the total incapacity of the capitalist economic system to offer the vast majority of people, those who have to work by the month to feed their families, even the least security in life. The Government has not even tackled food security or energy security with any conviction, let alone income security. On the contrary, it has continued to subsidize land speculation and cash crops instead of food production, energy from coal instead of a vast plan for proper renewable energy.

LALIT’s brief study earlier this year of 6 neighbourhoods, on a random house-to-house basis (leaving out the very rich and very poor), found that half of people do not live in a house where they have security of tenure. Most of those without security live in what they call “lakaz zeritye” where the bully of the extended family often rules the roost, often in a housing estate, and where there are too many heirs to divide the existing house that is still in the name of an often deceased father or grand-father. Government, when it says, 9 out of 10 Mauritians are home-owners gets this figure by posing the question: “Do you pay rent?” If you do not pay rent, and are not an out-and-out squatter, you are assumed to be a home-owner! What a hoodwinking statistic. The Government should ask the question about land deeds, if it wants the statistics on home-ownership. But the important figure for a self-respecting State to want to get hold of is how many families are or are not living with security of tenure.

LALIT also found that around half of all adults do not have a pay-slip at all; this means either they have no work or totally insecure, piece-work, part-time, contract or seasonal work. So how can the Government put unemployment at only 8 or 9 %? Simple. The Government’s definition of someone “unemployed” is someone who worked less than one hour in the past week. (Repeat: one hour in the previous one week.) This is a second hoodwinking statistic.

Curiously, to take the two absolutely fraudulent official figures together, you need a pay-slip even to apply to buy an NHDC house.

So, while the figures look good, the social situation they are supposed to reflect is very insecure. So, it is no wonder that in so many cases the fragile unit, “the family”, is imploding into deviousness and quite chilling blood-shed. The stresses on the family are too high, and they are being masked by the Government’s façade of deceptive “statistics”. It is no wonder that more young people end up in drugs and drug-dealing. For them, too, the stresses are far too high, the real problems too hidden by a veil of hypocrisy. It is no wonder people are emigrating in “sauve qui peut” numbers. They, too, are trying to escape the stress that the present stage of capitalism imposes on them, hoping the grass may be greener on the other side of the world.

But, capitalism on a world-wide scale is in crisis. Since 2007, the State has had to shore up the Banks and the productive capitalist enterprises, too. The poor have had to have their VAT contributions and pension funds used in order to float finance and productive capital. At one end of the supposed spectrum, the USA, was reduced in 2013 to a long civil service shut-down, and reduced today, on the eve of the New Year, to suspending payment of unemployment benefits to over a million desperate people. The USA budget debt is astronomic now, and its balance-of-payments is murderous. And look at the other end of the spectrum, how the State in many countries is in near-collapse, if not collapse: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Greece, Syria, Italy, Pakistan, Libya, the Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Madagascar. This gives an idea of the state of capitalism today, and of its State. And, all this disorder expands, while at the same time there is a total incapacity for capitalism to control its destruction of the planet and its vital resources: air, water, earth, life. The delicate balance is being irretrievably threatened. All scientists know this. But the media, world-wide, hides and distorts this knowledge, because most of the media world-wide is controlled by the very capitalists that make money out of ransacking the planet.

But the good news is that people are learning the lessons of political change. It is necessary to mobilize and “desann dan lari”, as people did in the “Arab spring” and in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. It is necessary, but not sufficient

In order to bring about change for the better, you need political organization, too. Not just indignation, not just self-righteous anger, not just civil society do-gooders clubbing together or thousands of people going down to the City Square. You need something else, and that something else is political organization. Good intentions are not good enough either. As humanity has long known, good intentions pave the way even to Hell.

In Mauritius, people have been hesitant to follow either union-led demonstrations that are without a proper program, or Quixotic “demarche” like those of Jameel Peerally, Nitin Chinien or Jeff Lingaya. It is as if people know that proper political organization needs to be constructed

In fact, what is needed both in Mauritius and elsewhere, at this time in history, is mobilization, true, but mobilization that is built while a common understanding is being built, while a program is being agreed upon. What is a proper political party, one that can and will bring the kind of change that is necessary? It is an organization with members who agree on the broad lines of a political program, and on which they act together. And what is a political program? It is an analysis on which we agree, as to what the problems are with present-day society, some idea of what kind of society we would like to build, and an agreement as to what the specific demands are that would unify us, and move us from where we are now, to where we want to be. And finally a program includes being aware of who one’s allies are, as one increasingly popularizes and develops one’s program amongst these allies. So a political party, and its program, is about action based on a common understanding. This means human thought processes, shared with others, agreed upon, and deepened and refined constantly.

All this is very rational, even self-evident. But there has, for two or three decades, been a great deal of propaganda flying around that politics itself is rotten. When what is in fact rotten is bourgeois politics. Not all politics. Politics for a new kind of society is the only way to build a new kind of society. There is no short cut. This is what LALIT is about. Building a kind of party that can respond to the real problems of today’s society.