“Port Louis, we have a problem,” as those organising space missions might say. To avoid any confusion, these wee thoughts are not for those organising end-of year gatherings but rather those august gentlemen who own political factions. Parties, as opposed to groupings, are a fairly modern invention in response to growing populations and the devolvement of power from aristocratic circles. There was nothing like them in Classical Athens, although there were tensions between supporters of various leaders. There was also a clash of ideas between populists seeking to exploit the masses and honourable men who considered an educated and experienced elite necessary in order to guide the third estate.
Is it healthy when the only form of identity a party has is its leader? Apart from sectarian prejudices, there’s no distinctive philosophy anymore and not much semblance of policy. What would the MSM be without a Jugnauth, the PMSD without a Duval, the MMM without its Paul or Labour without a Ramgoolam? Even when alternative dynasties exist, apparently there’s something unpalatable about the likes of a Boolell or a Mohamed.
Party names have become meaningless. There’s little socialist about the MSM or any other party, although remnants are seen in the paralysed-statals. As for movement, medically it refers to the emptying of the bowels rather than political stasis – or traffic in Port Louis. The LP lost its soul when it was hijacked by a bourgeois clan, while the MMM has been in uncharted waters since realising the dictatorship of the proletariat wasn’t a terribly good idea. Militant and comrade evoke memories of Stalin, as soulless a man as ever lived, or anarchist militants like the shadowy figures infiltrating the yellow-vest movement. As for the factions that have abandoned the MMM, they’re mainly based on personalities – other than Paul.
At least Lepep managed to bring out a campaign policy document in 2014, and for once not at the last minute. It contained some excellent words but many seem to have been lost in translation. Mind you, it didn’t need a statement from on high to point out that the Sage was not immortal so the change in leadership of the alliance was no surprise. The talk about sunburst lights simply hid the real problem that the party leadership remained a family affair. However, how many leaders in any party allow other names to shine and be their possible successors, or even be a deputy leader – except for short-term expediency?
Admittedly being a member of a political family provides some training. Even Pericles was descended from a powerful and historically influential family but it was his personal qualities that brought him to the forefront. The pity is that too many MPs couldn’t even organise a beuverie in a brewery, especially the dummies chosen for reasons that only sectarian lobbies understand. Moreover, there must be something wrong when most people assume all politicos are on the make. In Ancient Athens, any citizen could be expelled from the city-state for ten years if they were thought to represent a threat to democracy, generally for dishonesty or misleading the people. Although dumping leaders in the sugarcane fields might seem just as effective as banishment, with global warning the temptation to remove them to a French sandbank sounds ever more attractive – or alternatively to outer space.
Incidentally, the exploration of outer space has presented Mount Olympos with its own dilemma. There’s even a movement, so to speak, that suggests we relocate to somewhere beyond mortal eyes but, for the moment, most gods are content with their traditional abodes, just as mortals seem willing to accept the status quo – family parties. Perhaps it’s just an extension of the festive season…