LALIT's Women's Commission held a three day residential seminar over the weekend to discuss three aspects of the party's politics, and to relate all three to the actual present preoccupations of working women. The first of the three areas of discussion were the post-general election political situation. The session began with a reading of the recent Lalit pamphlet on the political context (see web article on Context) and then went on to discuss, in particular, which social classes the new Government and new opposition represent.
The new Labour Party and its allies government has already made bus transport free for all students right up to University level, for everyone over 60 years of age, and for everyone who is handicapped. The price of milks has been lowered by forcing importers and suppliers to respect fixed mark ups. The old age pensions have been reverted to their "universal" mode, that is to say no-one has to prove that they earn less than any amount in order to qualify. These and other popular measures have made the Labour Party supporters to claim that their party "understands the lot of the needy", and has led the MMM and its allies in opposition to cry "wait and see how after the Municipal elections the Government will make you pay."
But how does Lalit explain these measures? The Social Alliance government clearly represents a particular section of the bourgeoisie
which wants to become, through state intervention, a part of the really big time players. In order to get enough power to make the existing big bourgeoisie "make space", the Labour Party with its Social Alliance partners has started in its first 100 days back in government, to implement a series of pro-working class measures so that it gets social support sufficient to force the big bourgeoisie into a more congenial mood. So, when the Labour Party talks of "democratizing the economy", what they mean is that the Cheecooree Estate can also be in line for a permit for Integrated Resort Scheme developments, not just Medine and Deep River Beau Champ, when they all lay off workers.
The MMM has come to represent no class interests at all. After having given up representing the interests of the working class and other oppressed classes, as from about 1981, just as LALIT predicted would happen, it has gradually inexorably liquidated itself as a party. It now no longer represents even the big bourgeoisie, which is having to resort to the PMSD and PMXD for a future party. Meanwhile the PMSD and PMXD talk of re-uniting, while MMM continues to lose members and agents to both, as well as to the Labour Party. The MMM's main ally, the MSM, continues to weaken further. It was a party that existed only in Government really; out of Government it is very weak.
The session on the economy began with reading the leaflet that came from Lalit's last week's press conference on the crisis in the sugar industry. (See web article.) This showed up the precise nature and pattern of the unfolding crisis in the sugar industry. Women then discussed Agro-Industry Minister Boolell's "Road Map" for the sugar industry for the next 10 years. They also studied the way in which the bourgeoisie through the MSPA and Chamber of Agriculture are responding to both the crisis itself and to the Roap Map. Then Lalit's own proposal and transitional program were discussed. From the point of view of ordinary working women, it is the question of unemployment and of the temporary and seasonal nature of work that presents itself as the problem.
A whole session was devoted to the question as to what exactly a "demand" is, what a "good" demand is in the sense that it brings about dynamic changes and the possibility of dynamic changes towards our ultimate goals, and how to spot a really bad demand. Examples from the women's movement issues were often used. As when a woman is raped in a particularly vile way, there are people who say "Bring back death penalty!" or "Introduce castration!" when such actions only amplify destructivity and even codify the very barbarity against which people are protesting. These type of demands are the worst type of demands, in that they even strengthen the very patriarchy, the very macho attitudes, that are indeed the root cause of rape.
The seminar was a wonderful experience for all of us in it.
Further meetings were planned in a decentralized way by women members present.