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What politics Means to me as a Young LALIT member?


This article was drafted by Yann Jean, LALIT member in Port Louis branch for the L'Express Weekly newspaper, 2 April, 2010.

We need to differentiate between the populist and opportunist politics practiced by other parties, which I reject, and the politics of a party like LALIT. There is a world of difference. Because of the demagogy of these other parties, many young people believe that politics is "dirty". They are not totally in the wrong when you see the corrupt relationships between many Ministers and Members of Parliament, on the one hand, and the private sector, on the other. There are also political deals made with socio-religious organizations, that lead to communalism. And then there are repressive and oppressive laws like the Employment Relations Act and the Employment Rights Act. But this does not mean that all politics is rotten. It is only this kind of demagogy that is bad, when before elections, they stand on lorries and say they are anti-capitalist, while as soon as the election is forgotten, they act in favour of the bosses.

In any case, politics is not just in Parliament. Nor is it just around the First May meetings, which are due soon. Nor is it just in an electoral campaign, like the one coming up. Politics is, in fact, the best way to change the world. Why? Politics is what decides on everything, be it the economy, the education system, health care, the environment, work conditions, in other words, our whole lives. It is thus through politics that we can change the world. So, we cannot remain indifferent to politics, especially us, youth. On the contrary, if we are not satisfied with the way we are being governed, we must engage ourselves in politics. We must become active, and not remain spectators of politics. When enough people become conscious actors, then society can be changed. People need to know, to understand how things work, and why we need change. The youth who think politics is dirty have an additional reason to commit themselves to change this. Young people can bring in more vision and dynamism through our participation in understanding and getting together to change society, to make it more equal. We need to know which forces will be on the side of change, and work with them.

Why is politics the best way to change the world? There are some young people who think that "civil society" is the best way, that means associations, NGOs, "Forces Vives" and trade unions. But, "civil society" really only works by a means of lobbying. It is inside the system itself. It aims to rectify one or two wrongs at a time, not put the system itself into question. For example, the present system generates poverty, it creates it, just as it creates inequality. If we give 10 families houses, we are not solving the problem that society is producing 50 families that cannot buy a house because their jobs have been closed down.

By contrast, politics can look at reality as a whole (the economy, work, society, the environment, education, in fact everything), while at the same time looking at specific problems one by one. This is how a political party like LALIT is challenging the system as a whole, while addressing day-to-day problems. And we are not just dreaming like idealists do. We begin where young people understand. We gather people behind what we call "transitional" demands, that means specific immediate demands that we can see are realizable today, but that also open up a road map to a better world tomorrow. Perhaps the world will never be perfect, but we can certainly imagine a better world than the nightmare we are living today. Today, we work under oppressive conditions, in precarity. We live in insecurity. I am a worker, so I know. Poverty is on the increase. Big multinational firms and private sector companies pillage the globe and are prepared to risk ruining mother earth and wrecking human society in their quest for profit, just as they exploit our bodies and minds at work putting profit and productivity before human dignity.

Through politics, through a program that we together understand, we can put the present system into question, while also developing ideas as to how society can be organized in the future in a way that gives us all control over the place we work, and over the resources of the planet.

LALIT is coordinating a demonstration on 7 April against the British-planned "Park Maren" on Chagos. This is just one problem. But it also leads us to question a whole geo-political set-up: the need for decolonization, sovereignty, the right to return and reparations for Chagossians, base closure and clean up by the US. This is the kind of politics LALIT stands for, and why I as a young person am a member.

Yann Jean