When working class people and their socialist political parties said, for over 100 years, “We want to be sure of food, at the very least,” there was a chorus from the Government, from all the mainstream political parties, from the press, and most loudly from the bosses, that this was impossible. If people have food, they will not work. And they must work. They must work for us. Otherwise the sun will fall out of the sky. Food was the whip for the modern slave-drivers. They made us cower by threatening to starve our children. How do we know?
Because then came the epidemic. All of a sudden, the Government could distribute a food package of basic supplies for 35,000 people, delivering it to their homes. The Press remained silent. Even the bosses bit their tongues, so as not to speak at all. So as not to be noticed. People had food. And the world did not end. The sun stayed up in the sky.
When working class people and their socialist political parties said, for over 100 years, “We want to be sure of a guaranteed income, at the very least,” there was the same chorus: “Oh, no, you can’t have that. If you get an income, you lazy wretches, you won’t work for us anymore! The sun will fall out of the sky!”
Then came the Covid-19 epidemic. All of a sudden, the Government could guarantee that bosses paid wages up to Rs25,000 per month, if you please while you stayed at home, and that even self-employed could get a check of Rs5,100 representing half of the minimum wage from Government, and this check could be delivered to their door, if they don’t have a bank account.
Think of that for just a minute. Think of what it means.
When people in the working class said we want price control over basic food and other necessities, the chorus was the same, “The sun will fall out of the sky!”
But when the epidemic came, all of a sudden, the Government could pass a Regulation for fixed mark-ups. The Minister could threaten profiteers, denounce them as the worst scoundrels.
When socialist political parties for 100 years said, “Why are there two kinds of health system? A bad one for the rich, where they pay money for over-prescription, over-investigation and over-surgery, and a good, if threadbare, one for the rest of us in the free, universal system?” And there was a chorus of garbled messaging, so hideous that it does not even make sense to repeat.
Until the epidemic came. Then the clinics were drawn into the universal system. Easy as pie. Even hotels were drawn into the universal, free hospital system. And the sun still didn’t fall out of the sky.
So, you stay at home, you get food, you get money, prices are controlled, the health care system gets united, and the sun still remains up in the sky.
So, now the question is: How do we organize to maintain this new logic? How do we organize work, food, housing, health care now? From now on? How do we move forward after the epidemic has exposed the putrid ideology of capitalism, one that divides us into totally opposing classes? How do we end this division into those who employ and those who are employed by? More accurately, those who sell their kuraz, and those who buy kuraz? How do we end this residual, vestigial slavery? How do we change things to end this division into those who sell part of their lives, like 8 hours a day to someone else, and those who buy parts of other peoples’ lives?
Because the bosses can’t maintain that this is “moral” anymore, because the times of the epidemic proved its immorality. So, why should they persist afterwards?
In the USA, when they pay social security, when they bail out the big and subsidize the small companies, the Federal Reserve just print more dollars. Easy as pie. This is possible only because we worship, as in religious worship, these greenback dollars – our Governments reserves are in dollars, we accept international trade to be in dollars, individuals and companies hoard dollars. Countries like Mauritius or India or South Africa, however, have to borrow. This, too, has to be changed.
So, we cannot just change the system in Mauritius. It is indeed an international struggle. As international as the coronavirus has shown us that our destiny, as humans, is.
For LALIT, a personal view.