Let’s talk programme and ideology
While Paul Bérenger is feverishly fishing for a suitable dhoti, pagri and lungi into which to hide, sulk and sink, Xavier-Luc Duval boldly asserts that he has no qualms to jockey for the post of Prime Minister.
He deserves to be congratulated for his courageous stand. Will he stick to his gun? Time will tell. So now we have two opposition leaders – Navin Ramgoolam and Xavier-Luc Duval – contesting the PM seat. This in itself is a good thing which allows us to transcend the age-old debate about the ethnic and caste background of a potential PM.
Now we can talk programme and ideology. The PMSD is social democratic only in name and is deeply immersed in neoliberal thinking just like the MMM. Will it change into a progressive party which will have a go at checkmating, weakening and dismantling economic apartheid, the huge economic power of a handful of tycoons controlling 80% of the economy or will it simply fuel the selfishness and cupidity of that group which represents less than 1% of the population?
The Labour Party under Navin Ramgoolam proposes economic democracy but within the party there is a minority of neocons who think that the neoliberal road is the one which the party should take and the step forward is to unseat Navin Ramgoolam. If they make it (they will not!), they will provide the leader of the MMM with the dhoti, pagri and lungi he so badly needs.
What does neoliberalism mean? According to Wikipedia it means: “… privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.
These market-based ideas and the policies they inspire constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.” In real terms, it means a small minority getting richer and richer and the vast majority getting poorer and poorer.
It means mass unemployment, low wages, precarity (general insecurity) and all social and psychological consequences. It means dismantling the businesses of the Dawoods, Vickrams and Atecks. It means scams, scams and more scams; more trafficking, profiteering, racketeering… It means more Trumps and Macrons grabbing us by the throat. Their motto is: “TINA – There is no alternative.”
But there is an alternative, a post-capitalist alternative as Paul Mason calls it in his book, POSTCAPITALISM. Many events throughout the world, which main media outlets under the sway of BIG MONEY simply ignore, show that people aspire for freedom and dignity and are prepared to fight for their ideals. Repression can only delay change but cannot stop it for good.
The Trump and Macron road offers no salvation but the Jeremy Corbyn’s vision is full of promise.
What is to be done
We must intensify the struggle against economic apartheid through a robust economic democracy programme. This means the development of small and medium enterprises in different sectors aiming at the local market first and foremost. If export possibilities exist, they should be explored. But we must get our priorities right. Economic democracy also means workers’ participation in planning, management and profits; revamping the coorperative movement; and relevant in house training.
We must guarantee food security. AREU’S motto must become the republic’s wisdom: GROW WHAT YOU EAT AND EAT WHAT YOU GROW. Land is sacred and should be used to grow food. We cannot go on importing 80% of the food we consume. Moreover it should be used to provide decent housing for one and all and a good supply of green energy. Fibrous plants can help us to generate carbon neutral electricity. A better use of our land can generate a lot of employment and a healthier way of life.
Improving the health of the population must become a top priority. It is estimated that 20% of the population suffer from diabetes and 40% from obesity. The food culture must change. Only a party with strong links with the masses can mobilise energies and resources to carry out this much needed revolution. Medical care given by our public hopitals and health centres must be improved. Beware of neoliberals who will allow the public health care system to decline in quality as a strategy to promote private health care.
The present education system must be scrapped because the information revolution has made it totally irrelevant. Instead of emphasis on language and subject learning, a paradigm shift has become essential. Now we must promote literacy and critical thinking. Monolingual literacy is vastly insufficient. The minimum should be universal functional bilingual literacy. How to achieve this? We have the necessary cultural and other resources but not the political will.
Mauritius has become a MARITIME REPUBLIC controlling 2.3 million square kilometres of sea. The sea has become an important part of our natural habitat. Yet, we don’t seem to have a plan to develop the Marine Sciences (Marine biology/Marine ecology, Marine chemistry/Chemical oceanography, Marine geology, Physical oceanography, Marine engineering etc.).
A general marine culture is yet to be invented. At the moment, we think only in terms of wallowing in the sun, sand and sea while every year several fishers die at sea simply because they cannot swim. Our maritime zone can, if properly exploited, be the source of employment, food, energy and other resources provided we ask those who think that the sea is only a provider of seaweed are made to vacate seats of power.
Antineoliberalist militants should also devise plans for sustainable development bearing in mind the damage already done to the planet.
Those who receive their orders from a bunch of greedy, selfish and racist bilionaires are the problems not the solutions. Grassroots militants capable of solidarity, sharing, love and care are the solutions.