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Thoughts for the New Year: Opposition Parties Unify?

31.12.2021

It is the fashion to call for opposition parties to “unify” to better attack the MSM-led regime. But, “unify” to do what next? That is the question.


What program?


We, as a world, are in crisis. The pandemic itself is a crisis. Capitalism cannot even assure something as simple as the fair distribution of vaccines world-wide. That is how serious things are in the world. 


The pandemic has, in turn, provoked an economic crisis, worsened the existing one. Capitalism is getting society deeper into the same crisis, leeched resources into the world of making money from money, pure gambling, that makes the rich richer, the poor poorer. And leaving the vast majority of people without control over our lives. But, we the people, demand control over our lives. This means there is conflict. And it takes the form of class conflict, not because we “choose” it, but because the ruling capitalist class is at war with anyone that questions this dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. And it is on core issues like this that we know who to ally, or not to ally, with. So, that is, indeed, the question. In LALIT, over the course of the epidemic, we have allied with some 10 organizations – trade union, consumer and women’s organizations – on key programmatic issues, preparing joint Charters and Demands over the two year period.


Meanwhile, at the same time climate change and other human-provoked, pollution-caused “tipping points” are existential threats to life. Humans face extinction from nuclear war, too. The USA, nuclear-armed to the teeth, is on purpose every day heating up a new Cold War, its war-machines encircling China, “containing China”, which is not allowed “out”. Meanwhile, Russia is still encircled by NATO’s military from the last Cold War against the Soviet union. These are the facts. Just consult your map of US military bases on the internet.


In this reality, the Opposition parties refuse even to take a stand against the Pravind Jugnauth offer to lease Diego Garcia to the USA for a military base for 100 years. They stay silent. So, once the Ramgoolam and Jugnauth Governments had gone to the UN system, one after the other, and won against the UK-USA occupiers, we have to stand by and let them cede Diego Garcia away? The Mauritian State did not act of its own volition. It only acted because of the decades of mobilization, constant political pressure put on them – by the Chagossians and by LALIT, together with trade unions, women’s and consumer associations. We were “unified” around this a program to do just this. And the Mauritian state, with the African union, won. Only to make this abject offer of a lease? And thus have Mauritius participate in future wars, even nuclear wars? And be occupied militarily? And we cannot even get the Opposition parties to oppose this? Only LALIT and our brave allies in the working class and women’s movement, together with former President Cassam Uteem, take a stand on this, loud and clear. All the rest collude with the MSM Government. This is the kind of program we call for from the Opposition Parties. How can anyone “unify” with political parties that are in favour of military occupation of part of the country?  


Should we forget, the most significant driver of pollution in the country – and this driver includes nuclear pollution – and even the most significant carbon footprint made in the Republic of Mauritius, is this doomed and dooming military base on Diego Garcia. And military vessels, warships and nuclear driven submarines, pollute the high seas every day. Do environmentalists in the Opposition join with us in LALIT to cry out to the Jugnauth Government, once and for all, to call for this base to be closed down and cleaned up? And converted to civil use? Do these opposition groups call for Jugnauth to withdraw his offer of a lease? No. Silence. Do they call for the closure of all the ports in the Republic to all war-ships? No. We do.


PROGRAM, POINT NUMBER ONE: “We stand for the de-militarization of the Republic of Mauritius, starting with Diego Garcia. We dedicate ourselves to closing all Mauritian ports to all warships – and this means Port Louis, Port Mathurin, Diego Garcia, Agalega, Tromelin, and St Brandon. ” That is the question that needs to be made clear by any political force, or even any “civil society” group.


And then, on the economy.


In Mauritius, the capitalist class was unable, even when the pandemic struck, to be creative enough even to divest from tourism – so clearly useless in a pandemic – and to invest, at least partly, in vital production, like a proper food industry, for a start – one that can ensure employment as well as food security, housing, and foreign exchange – but instead has wasted two whole years, gobbling up capital provided to it by the Jugnauth government. How can we not oppose this?  But what do the Opposition parties say to this? Radio silence.


This capitalist class hogs all the good arable land, and either plants sugar cane on it – even as the sugar industry cascades from crises upon crises, even as the state has to bail out this sinking colonial vestige of an industry  -- and this class just pays the odd bribe to a Minister or top cadre in order to get a permit to parcel and sell off arable land, turn it into golf-courses for rich adults to play on, hogging all the water resources, or concreting the arable land with villas for millionaires, absentee landlords for the most part – local and imported. Do the Opposition parties say they intend to put a stop to this selling off of the land? This re-colonization? No. Do they object to the refusal of the MSM to force the sugar estates to diversify, phase by phase into food production, through job creation and to ensure foreign exchange and housing instead? No.    


And do Opposition parties intend to force divestment out of tourism and cane, also into a sustainable fishing industry? Do they call on the MSM meanwhile to stop giving permits to French, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and other ships to plunder the Mauritian EEZ waters? And does the Parliamentary Opposition have a program to oppose the MSM’s politics on this? To get the capitalist class to invest in sustainable fishing? Or to invest, as a government, itself? No. Silence. 


PROGRAM, POINT NUMBER TWO“We dedicate ourselves to getting the capitalist class to divest from cane and sugar, divest from tourism and finance, and to invest in production, beginning with agricultural diversification on sugar estate land, and fishing in all the Mauritian seas, with allied food preservation industries – for food security, for job creation, for foreign exchange and for building houses for all, including for young single men and women who want to live an independent life, including for women suffering violent partners, including for people living with disabilities.” This is what is called “the land question”. That is what we want Opposition parties to make their stand clear on. What is their position? We believe that the land is for the people. 


The second biggest pollution driver in our Republic is, we must remember, caused by the sugar estates using pesticide and herbicide, and blocking the natural flow of flood-waters to enable their machines to get an easy way to work. This must be addressed as part of the land question. And then there is the sea question? After de-militarizing the sea, how to use it sustainably? That, too, is the question.


Can the Opposition Parties please at least announce their program on these two issues:


- Getting the UK-USA military off the Republic of Mauritius’ land and sea, and banning all warships.


- Using the land and the sea in the interests of the Mauritian people – for food, for work, for housing, and for foreign exchange. 


For today, we put forward just these two points from our program.


So, please, when asking LALIT to “unify” with other opposition forces, please pose these questions. At the very least, then get back to us. 


Conclusion


The capitalist class still reigns supreme world-wide, and within the capitalist class, it is still the finance capitalists, gambling capitalists, who reign supreme. 


Capitalist Governments have tightened up their repressive arsenals world-wide to ensure that this minority class continues to reign over the massively majority class, those who work for a living. We have to oppose these governments.


We also have to oppose, whether in government or not, fascist right-wing movements, rallying movements. They have raised their ugly heads world-wide again, just as they did one hundred years ago, against existing capitalist governments. 


In the USA, the white supremacists staged a failed coup-d’état to try to keep Trump as President, and they are far from having been quelled. On the contrary, they strengthen. As we, activists, oppose Biden’s war-mongering, we have, at the same time, to oppose even more strongly these fascist movements.  In Brazil, Hungary, India and the Philippines, extreme-right wing, mobilized mass movements have managed to come to power – by means of elections, as, it is worth remembering, Hitler, too, did. All this to say that “programs” are important. Most of these extreme-right movements come to power to replace corrupt centrist pro-capitalist governments. 


In Mauritius, we have a government in power that refuses to kick out the USA from Diego Garcia and refuses to make the capitalist class divest from industries that do not serve the people. We need a government that will do this.  


But in the Opposition, there are forces with the same program as the MSM, or that take no stand against the UK-USA’s occupation of Diego Garcia, nor against capitalism, or even finance capitalism in its extreme neo-liberal form. Instead they, like the Trump base, attack workers from abroad in their cry, like Trump supporters, that the elections were “stolen”. Trump supporters blame “Mexicans”. Here opposition groups blame “Bangladeshis”. The comparison needs to be born in mind.


We say: the MSM must be opposed on the basis of a program on the big issues. Starting with the two points we put forward in today’s article: 


1. War or peace, occupation of freedom, military pollution of a clean-up?  


2. The land question. And this includes the question of the sea.


LALIT, 31 December 2021