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Letter to LALIT about alliances, etc, and LALIT's Reply (2)


LALIT has decided to publish two letters that represent rather well two types of well-intentioned "call" that LALIT is hearing a lot. The first one (also published on the web in a separate news article, with our reply) is a call for an alliance of small parties (to face the two big alliances). The second one (published below with our reply) is a call for support for the Alliance Lepep by someone who, like many, is quite rightly concerned about the Labour-MMM proposal for Constitutional changes that will alter the kind of democracy we have for the worse.

We would like to mention that there is also a third call, and that is to rally small parties, but where it is already visible that there will be another call later: to support Alliance Lepep. This third call is a hybrid of the two we are publishing.

Here are relevant extracts from the second letter LALIT is publishing:

“Dear People at LALIT,

“In the context of the upcoming election, I notice that Lalit is opposed to both major alliances made up of traditional parties and is launching its own platform. Again, I applaude such effort.

“I am 100% opposed to the PTr/MMM alliance and their proposal for constitutional reform. I, also share the view that new, fresh ideas are needed in our political landscape and I am sympathetic to many of the real socialist values, ideals and principles.

“However, here are some questions that [concern me]:

“Since the proposed constitutional reform is central to the PTr/MMM platform and many of us are opposed to it, shouldn't our primary aim be to stop them from winning the elections or getting 3/4?

“Do you think that LALIT or any of the newer, smaller parties can do that?

“As much as I support many of the proposals, values and approaches of Lalit and several of the newly formed parties, it seems to me that it is not realistic to expect any of these parties to unseat the outgoing government and to win the elections! Pardon me if I am wrong in my assumption and assessment?

“Since I do not want to see the PTr/MMM win the election, it seems logical to me that I should look at the best bet to beat them and put my vote that way.

“'Although I do not necessarily agree with or in support of particular principles of parties that make up the main opposing alliance, it seems to me, that my best bet is to put aside those differences with those parties for this election and vote for them because in my estimation, Alliance Lepep is the only force that can match the force of PTr/MMM!

“Practical reasoning tells me that in a crisis, I need to put idealistic principles aside and do whatever is necessary to survive. I see the current situation in that context.

“I'd be interested to get your views and respond on this last point.

“Again, I fully understand the ideals you stand for but my question is how are those ideals going to win the war on hand? How to reconcile the ideal and the practical reality that we face? ”

Signed by name and address.

LALIT’s REPLY in full:

Dear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,

Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking letter. [I write in my own name and in the name of LALIT].

I think that your ideas on politics are, evidently and perhaps inevitably, the product of the rather hegemonic view that elections are the be-all and end-all of politics. (I say "inevitably" because one needs to be a political activist over a few years, as we in LALIT have been, in order to "see" that it is not elections that are the main lever of change.)

In LALIT, we do what we see as "politics" all the year round, in non-election years as in election years, and we, in fact, cause changes in the world around us without being in Parliament. We got village councils re-instated and village elections brought back after they were abolished; we got subsidies on foodstuffs brought back perhaps twice; we got old-age pensions back on universal footing; Kreol is now a subject in schools; abortion is no longer a 100% arrestable offense for any woman with a foetus on her hands; there is at least some (too little) social housing; there is some change in peoples' attitudes towards violence by police officers. And yet, this does not represent our program as such. What LALIT actually wants is to bring about a fundamental social change. (There are some 8 of our ELECTIONS documents on our website, over the past week or two -- in the news section and numbered in roman numerals.)

We would go so far as to say that the MMM brought about more positive change (and more change of any kind) before it had MPs in Parliament at all. And then, it brought about more change when it was only in the Opposition from 1976-82, than it has brought about since then, despite having on numerous occasions been in Government. When the MMM allied with Harish Boodhoo in 1981 and at the same time went into a New Social Consensus with the bourgeoisie, it came to power, but caused no change, certainly no positive change at all. And it destroyed its own possibility for bringing change ever again in the future. It simply does not have the credibility anymore. Labour lost its in the 1950s. PMSD and MSM never had much. So, today all the mainstream parties are pretty bankrupt when it comes to any question of being a motor for change. (Most small parties model themselves on these parties, aiming at "tweaking indicators", or "reducing corruption" or attacking some other symptoms of the problem, and not the problem itself: the basically flawed and structurally unreliable nature of capitalism, itself.

All this to say that the one big danger for LALIT, is to do things that are likely to wipe our influence off the map -- because doing them is so opportunist that we destroy the only things we have: our integrity, our clarity of purpose, and our love of the people, something that builds mutually over time.

So, it is not just the mathematics of elections, nor even, more accurately, just the arithmetic. Change comes about through changing the balance of forces, mainly between social classes, in everyday life and in politics, speaking very broadly. Parliament is just one thermometer, and measures just one very rough parameter.

Does this perhaps make our stand clear? We are against the status quo. So, there is no chance of us calling on people to vote for the Lalyans Lepep, however dangerous we believe the threat of the Second Republic to be -- because we need to challenge the status quo, as well as the mad-cap plan of Ramgoolam and Berenger.

Thank you again, for your gentle, thinking approach.

Signed, ................ for LALIT