You might think an ancient daemon would be disconcerted at finding three ladies in the forefront of fresh thinking. Far from it – and not just because Mrs Fazila’s suggested everyone becomes transgender or whatever. As the spirit of thoughtfulness, I would love to see think-tanks everywhere. Come to think of it, more water-tanks could be handy too. Cyclones, political or otherwise, are notoriously unreliable.
Unlike other religious set-ups, Mount Olympos is moving with the times, as this column, if you’ll pardon the expression, has been trying to illustrate. Ever since the last election, your Epi has been trying to fathom where any alternative force could come from – and been distressed to find it’s far from obvious.
No new force got near winning a seat last time, so perhaps it’s time for single-member constituencies, where local candidates might have a greater chance. Why not invite Dr S. to do an analysis of the socio-religious implications? It might finish off the blockheads once and for all. Only four non-block candidates scored more than a handful of votes. They all have their attractions to sections of the population but none of them is sufficiently ‘malin’ to lead a broad movement. Will a think-tank alone be enough unless it leads to a movement? And there’s always had to be a leader, from time immemorial. As Sheila knows, that can pose a terrible problem.
Then there’s the matter of ideologies. Everyone pays lip service to Greek concepts of integrity, decency and meritocracy, as they do to poverty alleviation. The devil lies in the detail and the implementation. Many alternative groupings couldn’t organise a bottoms-up in a Phoenician brewery without help from Dionysos or are bent on the dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the lessons of history. Economic policy is the stumbling block, with the false assumption that progressive ideas and capitalism are incompatible. Followers of Arete are found on both sides of the political divide.
Progress most often comes from within existing parties but that’s very difficult when faced with dynasties. It doesn’t help that politicos have to fork out so much money to stand as candidates – and expect to see a return on their investment. Mind you less expenditure is the solution, not public financing, but little progress can be made until there’s a change of mind-set, in attitudes and expectations. And how do you achieve that? Too many Admirables expect everything for nothing; few would give anything to a political party without demanding tenfold in return. These heavenly isles will never be able to emulate countries like Sweden and Canada while they cling on to third-world attitudes and politicians. They’ll remain like France.
Thinking alone won’t get you very far – you’ll need to fight. You might start by demanding the proper registration of political parties, with their accounts – and safes - open to public inspection. And then insisting the good governance measures, so wisely proposed, are put into effect. A reduction in the powers of politicians would be another useful battleground, not to mention the genuine independence of public institutions. Incidentally, what’s happening to the police? They seem to be catching criminals quite quickly these days.
It’s no co-incidence that, during Athens’ glory days, it was accepted that public speaking was confined to noble, thoughtful individuals, untainted by self-interest. Like yourselves. By the way, you might think of a better name. Mauritius Society Renewal is a bit unwieldy – not to mention ungrammatical. How about New Society?