[The Headings in Capital Letters and Bold mean that the section can be read stand-alone, or this whole chapter can be read as one long article.]
The program of any political party depends on its aim and, for its implementation, on its strategy.
The strategy of a political party depends very much, in turn, on its aims. And inasmuch as its aims are not clear, so its strategy will be even more unclear. It will be confused and ad hoc. And the strategy of a party is intimately linked to its program, too. And this is the reason why we are including in our Political Program for the 2014 General Elections, a section on our aims and strategy, in particular our strategy compared with that of other political parties, mainstream and marginal alike.
We can also say that, in general, the more a political organization is democratically run, the more conscious its strategy is amongst its members, and the clearer its strategy is to interested members of the public. LALIT’s strategy is not opaque. Nor is it a secret. And it involves no manipulation of its members, of its allies, or of the public.
But let’s kick off with one or two definitions:
Strategy: The long term plan, which is to take us from where we are today towards where we want to be in a socialist society tomorrow.
Tactics: A series of actions that advance the party towards its strategic aims, or that represent parts of the strategy, but that should never move us in a direction that is opposed to that of our strategy.
Manoeuvres: Plots, tricks, manipulative behaviour by leaders, something that has no place in a genuinely revolutionary party.
Now, let’s start with two assumptions:
1. Everyone agrees that there are some forms of social inequality that are not only serious, not only increasing, but are also structural. We can say with assurance that there is absolutely no-one in Mauritius who denies this.
2. If there is such structural inequality in society, then we have to, in our aims, our program and our strategy take this into consideration, and not deny it, or mask it. Many parties, in fact most others, are hypocritical at this point, in that they deny or mask the structural inequality when it comes to doing something about it.
Let us now look at the following two drawings on the next page (Drawings available in hardcopy, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for any request) . They highlight the two divergent ways of seeing society for the purposes of defining aims, programs and strategies. Note that only one of them (the triangle) acts as if there is structural inequality that must be addressed. The other one (the circle) denies the structural nature of the inequality, despite the fact that is unanimously recognized.
1. One of them, the round one, pretends that there is no structural social inequality. This denial, in turn, exposes the aim of this strategic plan: the aim is to keep social structures, as a whole, as they already are. The aim is to maintain the status quo. It means leaving social inequality in place, while stabilizing it as much as possible by the pretence that, “We are all in the same boat!” It does not look at who is at the helm, who in first class and who is in the hold of the ship.
2. The other one (the triangular, pyramid structure) exposes structural inequality, and at the same time exposes dynamics for structural change. It, too, exposes its aim. It wants to overturn the existing socially unequal structures by recognizing the constant internal conflicts that the structural inequality, itself, generates. Only then, by lifting the class struggle to higher levels, and overthrowing the existing structures, can genuinely consensual structures be established, for the first time since the emergence some 10,000 years ago, of social classes. (Although we lived outside of structural inequalities for over 9/10th of our history.) Only then will there be a genuine “round” society, where we are, once again, 10,000 years later, in the same boat for real. Everyone will have the same relationship with the economy, that is to say, with the means of survival.
THE AIM OF LABOUR, MMM, MSM, PMSD COMPARED TO LALIT’S AIM
Let’s compare the aims of the traditional parties with those of LALIT, in broad outline.
Labour, MMM, MSM, PMSD
The main parties, Labour, MMM, MSM, PMSD, have very different aims, and so their strategies are also different. What they aim at is simply to run society as it is, but vaguely “better”. They overtly say they want to facilitate the lives of capitalists and entrepreneurs who have important decisions to take, and that they want by this to attract investors from abroad. They also want greater efficiency, they say, and to decrease corruption. With a bit more efficiency and a bit less corruption, they think, everything will be hunky-dory. At the very most, somewhere near the end of their programs, they say they want to eradicate poverty, especially extreme poverty. They also, of course, make ad hoc concessions to organized working people, and these may be quite substantial, in the interests of maintaining a minimum stability of the existing system. Keeping the existing system stable is their aim. Their strategy is, at most, to “replace” the people in Parliament for the next five years. And this is what they say their aims and their methods are. They will stop corruption, and increase the size of the national cake, thus increasing the size of crumbs, too, put meritocracy in place, and take care of those “left by the way-side”.
They know better than we do that those 70 elected seats in Parliament represent a teeny bit of the State Apparatus. They even know that a Minister’s power to change anything in society is minimal. But, since they have no plan for any big changes, their strategy corroborates with their modest little aim. The Permanent State, by contrast, is huge, and it has vast powers, built up in order to keep everything as it is, to preserve the status quo, to keep the ruling class in power, that is to say the bourgeoisie, which began to come to power here and there in Europe for the first time on earth, just less than 250 years ago. Let us just glance at an objective figure, to compare the power of the Permanent State and the elected part, i.e. expenses on each.
Mauritius State Budget for 2014
Total expenditure: Rs 101 billion.
Expenditure on National Assembly plus Ministers ‘pay: Rs220 million.
This means the elected part uses 0.2% of the national budget.
But, these mainstream parties have no ambition to change the Permanent State, anyway.
By contrast, what LALIT aims for, is to change society as a whole, not just the State, and not just the 70 MPs who change every 5 years and who represent 0.2% of the State. So, our strategy is naturally quite different from theirs. It has to be.
We aim to change society and to change, at the same time, the nature of power. More precisely, we aim to change the social class that is in power. No less. We intend to have the bourgeois state apparatus that reigns in favour of a small minority, the capitalist class, which everyone knows to be so, dismantled. In the short run, we intend to replace it with a truly democratic workers’ State. We aim for democracy to flower, to surpass the stunted, existing bourgeois democracy – in the political, economic and social spheres. And the only way to do this is through the conscious action, through the conscious mobilization, of a huge number of people, who know as they act, who are aware of what they are doing.
And since the one and only function of the workers’ state will be to expropriate the expropriators, who, over history have ripped the majority of humankind from the bosom of mother earth’s land, and once this is done, there will be only one class of people, in terms of relationship with the means of survival, then we will be living in a truly “round” society. And since there is only a single class, there will no longer be any necessity for a State apparatus at all. The definition of the “State” is that it is a corps of people who work so as to keep a class, usually a minority class, in power, exploiting and dominating others.
It will not be an easy task, even with us all acting together. But it is our aim. And it is not just important that we keep this our aim, but essential. It is essential simply because any other aim is merely pulling a fast one on people. It means you pretend you can bring about social equality, social justice, inclusiveness, a united people without structural changes. The country will remain in this archaic “class strait-jacket” so long as we do not attack the structures that uphold these class differences. Notice that when we say “class”, we are not referring to some little ladder of inequality within, say, the working class. A pilot or top IT technician or economist earning Rs300,000 a month has the same relationship to the means of survival, and of production in general, as a small planter’s labourer or a cleaning lady, earning Rs6,000: they all rely on the sale of their labour power (their “kuraz” , as the Kreol word, so accurately describes it). Whereas those who own shares, and are in the final analysis those who hire and fire us, do not sell their labour power, but buy ours. There lies the objective nature of “class”.
The important thing to understand about the “State” is that it is something outside of ordinary society, something permanent, and which is necessary only to permit one class to dominate others. So, the only role of the State is that it is the tool (an army of civil servants and police officers, organized in feudal hierarchies) whereby existing exploitation, domination and social inequality are maintained. When there are no longer different classes, when everyone becomes “people working in association to produce what we need and want to produce”, then there is no longer any need for a “state” that stands outside ordinary society, controlling it. In particular, repression will no longer be necessary, except some very minimal decentralized “force “to deal with rare individuals who are violent or sometimes act violently, rather than with whole classes of people. All the other functions of the state can, of course, easily be organized on a rotation basis, voluntarily. It will not be necessary to have a huge band of armed men outside of ordinary social control, organized in patriarchal hierarchies, as the civil service and police force are, any more.
So, evidently, for this kind of structural change, it will not be enough to put three crosses on a ballot paper to change some 70 people in the National Assembly, and then leave it up to them. The National Assembly, with all its laws, was created by the social class in power, i.e. the bourgeoisie, and it was created in this way so that it keeps this class in power. The bourgeoisie came to power for the first time in parts of Europe, when they, as a class, overthrew the previous ruling class, the nobility with all its kings and queens. They did this through a series of revolutions which began in France in 1789 (just 225 years ago).
For the working class (all those who live off a salary or wage) to come to power today, there needs to be a huge movement, involving hundreds of thousands of people all participating actively, and consciously (knowingly), so that together we can change the whole of society. This is what a revolution is. And for such a revolution to succeed, and succeed it must, it must be part of a series of world-wide revolutions. This explains the central place that internationalism, as opposed to parochial nationalism, holds in LALIT’s program.
So, clearly, our strategy is very different, and is bound to be very different, from that of Labour, MMM, MSM, PMSD.
SUBRON, BIZLALL's AND POPULISTS' AIMS SIMILAR TO THOSE OF LABOUR AND MMM
Some leaders who stake claim to being “on the left” like Subron, Bizlall, other unionists, and populist leaders like Rama Valayden, believe that their aim is different from that of Labour, MMM, MSM, PMSD. But, their belief is vague and not substantiated by their words or actions. They may even believe that their aims are similar to those of LALIT. But, their programs are so unclear, their class analyses so remarkable by their absent, their long-term aims so vague and hidden, if they have any, their stands in public in favour of “private property” so loud, that they end up acting as if their aims and strategies are the same as those of traditional parties. And they inevitably become the same. Indeed these leaders never miss an opportunity to declare themselves direct descendants of the leaders of the early Labour and early MMM, as if promising to go on becoming like them. Subron and Bizlall either adopt the identical strategy of the Labour and MMM in their respective first 12 years, and thus rush headlong into the same impasse that Labour and MMM are in today, or they, alternatively, fall into occasional “adventurism”, mobilizing people, calling for them to come out on to the streets, rushing towards the same destiny as all the traditional parties simply because they have no idea of where they are going. Just look at where all the leaders of the supposed “Lel Gos” of the MMM and of the MMMSP are today. Many have landed firmly in the bourgeoisie itself.
THE STRATEGY OF KEEPING THE STATUS QUO
So, looking at our two drawings of a circle and a pyramid, there are only two main strategies, one maintaining the status quo and one wanting to overturn it.
Labour, MMM, MSM, PMSD, Bizlall, Subron, Valayden essentially say that their strategy is the following:
“Change will come about, if as Mauritians, you rely on us, because we are sincere. Mobilize when we call on you to, vote for us in general elections when they come along, then our Party will improve the existing system in your name. We know what we are doing.”
There are 7 or 8 variations around this general theme:
Traditional electoralist: Mobilize just before elections, vote for them and get people to vote for them, then all will be OK.
Populist: Rally people around a leader, come out on to the streets when he says so, this will show how strong the party is. All will be OK.
“Caudillo”: The leader knows everything, like the aim, the strategy and the tactics. Let him look after it all. (“Bérenger knows what he is doing”.) Nobody else need worry. Just follow.
Bureaucratic: Often trade unionists. Negotiators seek changes of a bureaucratic nature: in a law here (limit mandates for elected people, prevent bosses financing political parties, pass laws to protect workers); in the Constitution (Bizlall’s strategy is this); and negotiators like Subron say, “Come out on to the streets when I say so, this way the Prime Minister will phone me personally, and I’ll negotiate some more money for you.” The power of the trade union bureaucracy rests in its being an interface that fixes the “rate of exploitation” of the working class by the capitalist, and in which workers’ labour power is a commodity. Bureaucrats control workers through a kind of “clientelism”, much as communalists do in their communalo-religious organizations.
Communalist: Many mainstream leaders rally their supporters on various communal, ethnic and religious bases.
Fascist: Here the leader is all-powerful. The masses only “make up the crowd”, or produce bouncers. Fascism is usually nurtured by a desperate bourgeoisie in order to control the working class in extreme crises, but often this fascist leadership it nurtures ends up with a State so over-developed and so violent that it allows fascism to control all classes, including the bourgeoisie itself, and it does this to hideous effect.
Technocratic: This is the tendency to give power to those best “qualified” to run things, some sort of managerial class.
Meritocratic: Only those who deserve or merit things should get them. The criterion of merit is not clear.
All these strategies, in all their different combinations lead working people towards one destination: keeping the capitalist class in power, stabilising the existing unequal system.
LALIT’s STRATEGY: CHANGING UNEQUAL STRUCTURES OF SOCIETY
LALIT and other revolutionary parties aim at something quite different from the others. We aim at change that depends upon the conscious action of a huge number of people in the working class. They, together with a party, like LALIT, aim to overthrow that tiny class that exploits and dominates the vast majority of people. Together we aim at creating a socialist society.
- There needs to be a momentum wherein masses of people are in the process of understanding the situation, in terms of where today’s society came from, where it is now, and where it is going.
- There needs to be a momentum whereby masses of people understand quite consciously the value of their own actions.
- There needs to be a momentum whereby masses of people understand that their future depends on changing not just those in power, but the socio-economic system that is in place, and that this change, will in turn, depend upon them;
- There needs to be a section of the broad working class – individuals and small groups – that, while being in the working class, at the same time also develop a political consciousness that comes from their past experience of struggle, or their knowledge of past struggles,
- And at the same time, there needs to be a program and an organization that can guide the process of building this momentum for change. And it is a strategy that is the 3rd out of 4 parts that make up a political program as a whole:
1. A shared understanding on the nature of different social classes, in Mauritius and in the world, and on the relationship between these classes, and between these classes and mother earth.
2. A shared understanding of the aim of bringing about socialism, immediate demands that will bring us close to our aim
3. A shared strategy, or plan, on how to make all this come true. That means a plan to move from where our analysis says we are towards where our aim is. It includes methods of struggle, and all the different types of action that will lead to taking power by the oppressed classes.
4. Popularization of the whole program, winning people over by rational argument, and by participating together in actions.
LALIT’S STRATEGY FOR TAKING POWER VS MAINSTREAM STRATEGIES
One way to define strategy is it is “The way in which the new society we aim towards will come about through the articulation of present demands, moving towards the future.” Even though “aim”, “program” and “strategy” are closely linked, the strategy part is the planned path towards the program coming true.
Our strategy like all political strategies aims at taking power. But in LALIT’s case, we pose two additional questions, “Who exactly will take power?” and “What is the nature of the power we intend to take?”
The other parties have their strategies for taking power, and we will look at them in more detail, and one by one. Often their strategy is merely assumed. It is not clear or conscious – and their own members and supporters are in the dark as to what it is. We can, however, see their strategy from their actions.
So, to sum up. The MMM, Labour, PMSD, MSM, all aim to get their candidates elected as a majority of MPs in the National Assembly in General Elections and this way to claim the Prime Ministership. The Prime Minister will then name his Cabinet (the Executive) which will apply their program. That is their one and only basic strategy. It is an electoralist strategy, and it aims to keep the unequal social structure in place. They have no real class strategy, and consider each person an atomized “citizen”, equal on paper only. Each one has three votes every 5 years and that’s where equality ends. The structure of society is intended to remain as is. They share no common idea or philosophy of humanity, nor how to eliminate inequality of classes, nor even what the position of humans is on the planet earth. They may sometimes come out with vague “values” as their only program: things like national unity, social justice, Mauritianism, or modernity.
In the 2014 elections, the Labour-MMM alliance aims for a 3/4 majority so that they can change the Constitution, and they intend power-sharing in a Second Republic. But the strategy is not in any way to do with changing society, nor does it pretend to be.
SPECIFICITY OF LABOUR PARTY's STRATEGY
The Labour Party strategy can be seen to have five aspects:
1. They intend to win elections, or to win with a 3/4 majority.
2. They intend to “democratize the economy”. What does that mean to them? It means they use the State apparatus to increase the economic base of a rising sector of the capitalist class, the “State bourgeoisie”, relative to the old “historic bourgeoisie”. This way the entire capitalist class’s base becomes wider and more stable. The sector of capital that Labour favours is one that is in a state of motion, propelled upwards by State intervention in its interest, and which then stabilizes the precarious rule by the old established capitalist class.
3. Labour remains in power over time, and intends to continue doing so, by means of a “Historic Bloc”, which is traditionally around cane and sugar. Labour draws in 2 or 3 sugar estate bosses (even if the majority used to be with the PMSD and now prefer the MMM), large cane planters without mills (who are the pivot of the entire Historic Bloc, and the core of the State Bourgeoisie), small cane planters, who are Labour Party social base and village opinion leaders), plus crucially the unions of sugar labourers and mill workers. When the Plantations Workers Union and the Artisans and General Workers Union weakened, Ramgoolam and Nita Deerpalsing brought in Subron and the SILU-UASI he has controlled. This, they think, is a bloc that can continue to run the overall capitalist system relatively stably. Without such a bloc, there is no way that the capitalist class could rule in Mauritius: it is just too small. The State Bourgeoisie, too, cannot rule alone but in some form of alliance with the Historic bourgeoisie. This Historic Bloc explains why the Labour Government gave all the capital that Europe gave as “accompanying measures” over the past 15 years or so as compensation for the end of protective markets, to the sugar bosses. In the final analysis Labour represents the interests of the entire bourgeoisie.
4. A communal strategy, based on the supposed “majority community” (in fact a string of communalo-religious organizations) and others (Flore, Meeah, etc, in turn).
5. Labour continues to surf on the glory of its early years 1935-48 when Labour did represent working class interests, however unclear its program was.
SPECIFICITY OF THE MMM STRATEGY
The MMM has 6 particularities in its strategy:
1. It aims, like Labour, to win elections, and this coming one by 3/4 majority.
2. It is against “corruption”, promising bureaucratic measures against. What MMM sees as “corruption” is what Labour calls “democratization of the economy”. The MMM aims for existing huge companies to remain huge, because this is more efficient capitalism. The MMM represents the interests in particular of the historic bourgeoisie, and this since about the end of 1982.
3. A communal strategy based on the so-called “minority communities”, plus then plucking off minority bits of the majority community. And curiously it was the MMM that first gave official recognition to the communal Voice of Hindu.
4. The MMM surfs on its past 1970-81, when it represented the oppressed classes, in particular the working class.
5. The MMM surfs on the personality of Bérenger, their leader in early years of the working class, whose glory has done nothing but wane since 1981.
6. The MMM, more often in Parliamentary Opposition than in Government, has relied on a strategy described accurately by Ram Seegobin as a “pressure cooker strategy”. Bérenger heats up fires under different cauldrons in the form of pressure cookers one by one, and then keeps them on the boil. Militants like Ti-Moignac and Swadiq Peerally were the activists perhaps best known for “stoking such fires”. Then Bérenger uses the steam built up as electoral pressure.
SPECIFICITY OF JACK BIZLALL's STRATEGY
Jack Bizlall has 5 peculiarities to his strategies. They seem to be not consciously understood either by himself or his followers, but emerge from his actions:
1. He aims at becoming Paul Bérenger, replacing him. But he has two obstacles. Bizlall acts more like a Messiah drawing people around himself, while Bérenger in his earlier days organized the unions and the MMM on democratic lines, autonomous relative to himself. Secondly, he does not really know what he wants, but vacillates. In 1979, when he was leader of the so-called “Lel Gos” of the MMM, he took control at one point of the MMM Central Committee, but resigned after two weeks in office, and handed the reins back to Bérenger. Bizlall did not know what to do with his own victory.Bérenger, by contrast, always knows what he wants.
2. But in his quest to replace Bérenger, Bizlall had to create his own personal trade union base. He did this by busting the General Workers’ Federation into two halves in 1979. He used his own new purely union base as his political strategy, which only he knew he had. To begin with his new federation the Federation of Para-Statal Bodies (later to be the FPU), was “apolitical”. It was against its rules to be in the leadership of a political party! Then Bizlall began setting up political parties. So he would gather workers in the unions, help them, educate them, and then tip them into his political party, as it were. Of course it couldn’t work, and never did. But he tried it, as his various parties (FMP, PMT, MPM) got born, and died. Now he is again against political parties.
3. Over the past 5 years or so he’s got a new strategy. He will put pressure (not clear how) so that someone (not sure who) will change the legal framework of society, that is to say bring about a “2nd Republic”. It was him who prepared the terrain for Ramgoolam and Bérenger to come along with their hair-brained scheme of a 2nd Republic. So, Bizlall’s new strategy is to change society by changing the Constitution. He’s already drafted it. He clearly believes that it was a legal framework that created class society that we live in, and not the other way around. And there is no way that the ruling class will just pack in and listen to Bizlall and write another Constitution, let alone just adopt his. The strategy is totally erroneous. The proof: Ramgoolam-Bérenger are using it, in order to try and set up a dictatorship of sorts.
4. He intends to create a movement, he says, always just around himself, not around a commonly shared understanding of a program. This is easy because he is against political parties. In his organizations, anybody, he says, can join or leave as they please, and be in another political organization at the same time. So, for the past 15 or so years he has created movement after movement, which just like his string of political parties, all end up dead. Dead but not buried. He resuscitates them from time to time without a problem, and then they die all over again.
5. In his attacks against LALIT members, in particular against women members, he glorifies the use of verbal abuse and cursing, as a “strategy”. He says this is what one must do in politics: abuse your enemies, curse your adversaries. Otherwise, you are not a real militant.
So, Bizlall’s strategies are vague. His program is bizarre. The two booklets Toi et Moi and Entre Nous pose themselves as “programs”. But they are not. It is not clear what they are, but anyway Jean-Claude Bibi gave a famous and brilliant talk on these at a LALIT conference a few years ago.
CIVIL SOCIETY STRATEGY”
The political current that calls itself “civil society”, and often pretends it is not a political current at all, puts a great deal of emphasis on the mindless slogan “what’s needed is a change in people’s mentality”. So they tend to preach the good word. It is often a very elitist current, convinced of the correctness of the state of their own “mentality”. It is like a religious model, whereby people are converted, perhaps by divine intervention into changing their mentalities. This “civil society” that, being elitist, has no-one to question the garbage they think, has contradictory stands without noticing it. For example, they want more democracy, and the very first thing this entails, according to them, is to limit the number of times a Prime Minister can be elected. As if a decree replacing the electorate could possibly equal “more democracy”. It is merely one of those proposals (hardly a strategy) born of despair. Civil society often takes stands against politics, itself, which is dangerous because the only hope lies in a political struggle.
SOCIAL WORK STRATEGY
There is a “Band-Aid” type strategy, or series of tactics that social workers tend to come up with. If children fail an unjust examination set in foreign languages, they will “give free lessons” to individual children so that they can pass the exam, instead of challenging the examination. They forget that it is the education system and the language policy that needs changing, not the individual children. Similarly, if people can’t read, they will give “functional literacy” courses, ensuring that people can function in the given society. For them, learning reading and writing is not part of a struggle for freedom, but a necessity to fit into the given mould.
SPECIFICITY OF SUBRON's STRATEGY
Ashok Subron, and his party, Rezistans ek Alternativ (RA) and the Blok 104 they set up, they are a bit like Bizlall in many ways. Here are Subron’s specificities on strategy:
1. He goes into unions and union federations, splits them and keeps a bit under his control. Just as Bizlall did with the GWF in 1979.
2. He watches for when there is a bit of mobilization on an issue (like CT Power or Le Morne), he leaps in, and takes over sole leadership.
3. He lures workers, as Bizlall does, into his unions, with the aim of then tipping them into his political organization, RA.
4. For 10 years he has adopted a very legalist strategy. He has aimed, and still aims, to decrease communalism in the country by means of, of all things, the Judiciary. He goes to Court on one set of arguments, and then runs a parallel political struggle on another set of completely different arguments. He resorts to lies. He says he is frontally attacking the communalism in the Best Loser System by going to the Courts, but in the very same Courts he swears under oath in affidavits that he does not intend to touch the Best Loser System, but to leave it intact to continue as before. So, he drags his members, all the gullible journalists in the country, and tries to drag the entire population with him, before the Supreme Court, the Privy Council, the UN Human Rights Committee. For 9 years, he has been before judges in Mauritius, in England, at the UN, and what has he won? Two things: What he asked for under oath: no change in the Best Loser System, but merely the right, during just one election, to stand without filling in anything where you are supposed to put one of four predetermined “communities”. Second, he has engendered so much confusion that the broad masses, and even most of the intelligentsia no longer understands anything about the Best Loser. Subron cries “Victory!” when all that happens is that Ramgoolam and Bérenger come and piggy-back on him with first their temporary mini-amendment (as re-amended) and now with their proposed “toxic bundle” of electoral reform, best loser reform, no longer having to put one of the 4 communities, and the dangerous 2nd Republic.
5. He believes that a Tom-Thumb-sized politician like himself can “use” Ramgoolam and Bérenger, while, in fact, the contrary happens. He got support from Prime Minister Bérenger in 2005 and then Prime Minister Ramgoolam in 2010, and from both in 2014, but it is the MMM and Labour, and their political programs, that have benefitted. Ramgoolam is the prime beneficiary of most of Subron’s political and even trade union moves.
6. Subron utilizes the same “pressure cooker tactic” that Bérenger used. When CNT workers have a fantastic spontaneous strike, mobilizing on profound issues (against privatization, for job security), he takes over, uses the mobilization for scaling down demands to nothing more than a wage increase. He then organizes a ballot, pretending it is under the Employment Relations Act, in all work sites, with no further real aim than to push other unions out of the transport sector, as he has done in the Port and Cane sectors. CT power was the same. When he took over the pressure cooker in the Company Gardens, he gets his people nominated on to a Government Board that was set up. All the rallying is around him, as leader. The weakness of the working class under the neo-liberal onslaught is what he feeds on for his “strength”.
7. Without any class analysis, he happily allies himself with the powerful against their enemies. In the Bloc 104, he allies with powerful bosses … against the State. Even MCB bosses. And he allies himself with Nita Deerpalsing and Ramgoolam against the sugar bosses. And strangely, Ramgoolam paid his costs at the Privy Council case that Subron lost.
8. He resorts to the same kind of racism as Labour, in the sugar and cane sector, rallying people on the basis of thinly veiled racism rather than on clear class lines.
His is a “caudillo” strategy. With a spoonful of bureaucracy, pinch of adventurism and a dose of lies.
LALIT’s STRATEGY: WHAT IS IT?
The first different between LALIT and all the rest is that LALIT is working towards the working class taking power. It is not us, leaders, who will come to power. It is not the party that will take power. Our aim is for a different class to take power consciously, that is to say, knowing what it is doing, as a class. We aim at this kind of change in which class is in power – a minority of capital owners and controllers replaced by a majority that work for a living – at an international level, because the capitalist system is, and has for over a 100 years been, international.
To bring about this change, the working class and other oppressed classes must overthrow the class rule that is in place – everyone acting collectively. And once in power, the working class has a task before it of even greater size: re-organizing society, so that while dispossessing those who dispossessed humanity in the first place, it builds a new form of social organization. This will be producing goods and services through associations of free workers. So working people will build, based on what already exists in embryonic form, a society where everyone associates together to organize work, production, exchange, re-investment, sharing of goods and services. Everyone will take decisions collectively. This huge task is what is called building socialism. And it aims to do away with the State, which is after all nothing more than the instrument of class rule. When the ruling class has been dispossessed, there will be no further need for a State, and we can imagine not only a classless society, but also one without a state apparatus to dominate it.
WHAT LALIT's STRATEGY IMPLIES
LALIT has an interest, for its program to materialize, to work in the following directions, as from now:
- Towards more democratic working class organizations, and more of them, towards decisions being taken by a show of hands (as they already are in genuinely democratic unions, co-operatives, associations and clubs) with secret bulletins only being resorted to for elections.
- That the working class becomes increasingly conscious, meaning that it increasingly realizes how its actions can bring change.This involves increasing awareness of the exact nature of the aim, strategy and program of different parties, not just our own.
- That everyone, in particular the oppressed people come increasingly to realize the dangers facing the planet earth, and that the pillage being wreaked by capitalism, out of control as it is, in the name of profit and infinite “growth” must be stopped by social means, not just technical, if the planet is to be saved;
- When the working class becomes more active, as a class, when its more advanced sections link with a party like LALIT, then there will be the kind of momentum necessary to draw in other oppressed sectors: planters, women, students, small street merchants, and so on. All will become increasingly conscious of the program they are part of. And so it will be that the program and its strategy take form in reality.
WHAT FORCES WILL SUPPORT THE LALIT STATEGY?
For the working class to come to power, which is LALIT’s strategy, there need to be three conditions that unite together, when the time is ripe:
1. The conscious action of the working class, the largest social class, when it acts as a whole. Note that, by itself, the working class is always, independently of any political party, like it or not, in constant conflict with the bosses: workers are absent, come to work late, seek more days off, call for wage increases, and each of these actions or calls is part of this on-going, perpetual conflict. And then, occasionally there are uprisings. But when the oppressed rise up in rebellion without any program, without being conscious of what they are doing, without putting their heads together to think – as was the case in the 1999 national uprising – then neither the on-going conflicts nor the occasional rebellions will bring about any lasting change in society. On the contrary, rebellions leave society going round in circles, maybe provoking even worse repression, or sometimes bringing in one or two good measures, not so much called-for as “granted” from above in the interests of stability.
This continual struggle in the working class is part of why in LALIT we do “pre-political work”, as we call it, in the working class. It is work at a level of consciousness that is not yet political, but is rather at the level of the raw conflict. It is important that we do not, however, permit ourselves to be used as a kind of interface between the bosses and workers, to help them all the better fix the price of human endeavour that they buy. It is also important that we are not sucked into the industrial relations bureaucracy.
2. The increasing politicization of experienced workers on each work-site. What is called the “avant-garde” or vanguard of the working class is a part of the working class, which is both integrally in the working class, and also outside of it in terms of understanding so much more through sheer experience, is most often, in all down-turns, reluctant to act. We are right now still in the down-turn following the Reagan-Thatcher onslaught (coupled by the technological revolution making so many workers redundant).This advanced part of the working class knows what does not work, and is not going to try it out lightly. And yet, in an upturn, as change becomes an impelling necessity, this part of the class is the essential interface between the whole of the working class and a revolutionary political party, which is the third thing needed, and the one we can choose to build. In an upturn, it becomes adventurous and brave. This is the real leadership of the working class, invisible to all except their co-workers on the same site.
3. A revolutionary political party, structured democratically, whose members by their own will, and independent of their origins, want to participate in creating change. “Will” is all that is needed. Members of a party are those individuals from any social class that have the will to fight for socialism. They represent both this will, and also the storehouse of knowledge of political theory, revolutionary practice, history of working class struggles, and the creators of the program that will be built up together with the other two forces already mentioned.
The unification in an upturn in history, of these three forces, is built over time. It can be very quick. But, quick or slow, it is built on things like a regular publication. Reading, writing, discussing articles in party branches, on work sites, and in the neighbourhood become the life-blood of a revolutionary party. The fact that it is a regular publication means that, over time, there is shared understanding built up, through reading and writing about, and discussing, different struggles. Distributers seek new readers, they become members, they contribute articles. This is how a strong link is created between the party and the advanced sections of the working class, who are (remember!) integrated thoroughly into the whole of the working class. This way a program is built in a democratic and living way. This is how human creativity helps with the quest for a new society. So, a regular publication is one of the key strategic tools for bringing together the three forces that will support the kind of change we seek.
So, LALIT exists around apolitical program. Our program is not just an electoral ad-on, but an on-going political program. It is not engraved in stone, but changes with the evolution of the objective situation. But, what is important is that people come towards LALIT because they do not agree with the structural inequality of society, whereby different classes of people have structurally different roles, and they come together because they want to work together to create a structurally more equal society.
POLITICAL TASKS BEFORE US TO MAKE OUR PROGRAM COME TRUE
There are three levels of work of strategic importance before us, for our Program to succeed in changing the world as we want it to:
At party level
*Re-enforce our party structures, particularly our branches. This is important not only for internal democracy, but also, linked to this, so that our own coherence on political issues, enriched by deep discussion with others in the party structures, makes us more effective. In the long run, branches become an increasingly important “media” that make LALIT less and less reliant on the commercial media.
* Maintain financial autonomy (never depending on the State or part of it, on the bourgeoisie or part of it, nor on State organizations of other countries, particularly imperialist ones, like Germany, France, USA.)
*Continuously re-enforce our theoretical work and publications, like REVI LALIT, making sure our theoretical and other political work is known to the broad masses of workers, and in particular to more advanced sections of the working class. This is, amongst other things assured by:
- Writing in the mother tongue of the people, Kreol. This is a strategic choice, not just a tactical one.
- Constantly work towards increasing the distribution of our Magazine in the working class, as a strategic aim, so that we draw in people on an ideological basis, and not on any other basis, like communal or other irrational basis.
- Constantly work towards encouraging more and more people to contribute written articles for the Magazine.
- Work constantly towards linking struggles at grassroots level, through the publication, with other such struggles, and link them to theoretical points and practical demands.
- Work constantly towards high level, accurate intellectual production and publication.
And all the while, developing our Program through
- Taking position on all important political, economic and social issues as they come on to the agenda, whether they are national or international.
- Nurturing our existing links with parties abroad and working towards making new links,
Individual members have individual responsibilities, amongst other things, to:
- Win over and recruit new members,
- Read as much as they can, or otherwise make sure they are always educating themselves further,
- Defend LALIT’s politics as best they can, at work as well as in the neighbourhood.
LALIT, whenever possible and fruitful, works within common fronts. Right now, for example, we are in three at national level: The Diego Garcia Committee, BDS Mauritius and a Collective against the New ID Cards.
At the level of the working class, as a class
LALIT members also:
- participate in what we call pre-political work, in the women’s movement, education associations, young peoples’ groups, but not in communal/ethno-religious groupings,
- develop the LALIT inter-trade-union-grassroots strategy in all sectors
- Promote the mother tongue, in the framework of high level multilingualism
- Work towards women’s emancipation
- Work towards internationalism, not nationalism.
- Promote autonomy in working class organizations (so that they are or become independent from organized religion, from the State, from political party control, from imperialism, from external financing).
Relative to Links with the Advanced Sectors of the Working Class
Members learn to identify real “advanced” sectors or the working class (in downturns, as there now is, this is not easy because the advanced workers do not jump in and join any old thing, but are, quite rightly, cautious). So, in times like these, oral histories can be recorded, making notes on past big strike movements like 1979 and 1980 (for the LALIT Magazine for example). Distribute the Magazine amongst advanced workers. Encourage them to write for the Magazine. Discuss other articles with them, either individually or in small groups.
SALIENT FEATURES OF LALIT's STRATEGY
1. We see all our actions, as far as possible, within an international context, and with international links. At the same time, we regard with circumspection any nationalism and “Mauritianism” and “nation-building” strategies that are designed to mask structural inequality in society, even when parading as “anti-communalism”. Communalism and other forms of racism and prejudice are best minimized through class consciousness and never much advanced by national consciousness, except in the very limited scope of living in the same nation state.
2. Our party depends for recruitment on our program, initially on the aspect of it that interests someone, and then in its totality; this is what unifies us. We do not consider that we get nearer our aims by manipulatory measures in the advertising mode, nor through a “strong leader”, nor through populism, nor through sectarianism.
3. We base our recruitment, in large measure and in particular, on our regular publication, where it is the ideas that attract like-minded people to join us.
4. We base our work on the conscious will of the working class, meaning that workers become increasingly aware of their own role in politics, and aware of the value of their own experience. This depends on us participating in mass actions.
5. We articulate together various struggles – the working class struggle, the struggle against imperialism, for women’s emancipation, the homeless peoples’ movement, the struggles of small producers and merchants, the grouping together of survivors of police violence or family of victims killed in custody – and we do this in a conscious way, where participants in the struggles become aware, as deeply aware as possible, of the links. (This contrasts with many other parties who see, for example, the women’s struggle as one that must be put on hold while the working class emancipates itself first!)
6. As a guiding principle, we base our mobilization on an anti-capitalist thrust, and avoid ever allying ourselves with capitalists, even against the State (which is after all a bourgeois state, in any case.)
7. Our strategy depends on our integrity, as an organization and as individuals. This is not only a moral choice, but it is a programmatic exigency. It implies, in turn, independence from the ruling class, the State, and organized religion.
8. LALIT has a strategic avoidance of any personality cult. For LALIT, the concept of “leadership” is a vital concept at the level of the broad masses of people, who are not atomized, but cluster around various kinds of “leaders” – what Gramsci called organic leaders. Each worksite, just like each neighbourhood, has leaders, unknown outside this small area, who are thoroughly part of that group of people, but who have, over time built genuine confidence of others in them.
LALIT believes that the taking of power by the working class will most likely involve a series of inter-related actions: elections, a mass general strike movement, workers setting up co-ordination committees on all work-sites, in all neighbourhoods, as happened in 1979. And, before taking power, there will almost certainly be a period of “dual power”, when older forms of power and the new forms will share power. This dual power will be partly in the hands of the new organizations created by working people in their struggles and the remnants of the old State that still hang on.
What is, in LALIT’s view certain, is that the capitalist system has not got the capacity to solve the world’s problems, in absolute terms and in the relative terms of what people today expect out of life. Nor does the capitalist system have the capacity to resolve the environmental disasters it has created and is continuing to create that menace us with a collapse of all human civilizations on earth if not actual extinction. So, preparing a socialist challenge is urgent. If not, the capitalist-provoked crises that inevitably occur, will lead to a new form of Barbary that we see them already sowing the seeds for: The world leaders of capitalism, like the USA and Israel, wreak total havoc in ancient civilizations “bombed back to the stone age” as George W. Bush so proudly claimed – like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Palestine and even inside the monster itself, when heavy arms are turned on the inhabitants of cities like Ferguson, USA – seem to be a trailer for what lies in store for the rest of humanity in the future, if we cannot do something to prevent it.