The petty bourgeois revolution

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There is a strange obsession when it comes to politics in Mauritius. For some inexplicable reason, the dominant ideology is that we need more ‘professionals’ in politics. It is inexplicable for the excellent reason that politics is already wholly dominated by a petty bourgeoisie coming from the liberal professions: our parliament has never boasted capitalists, feudal lords, factory workers or peasants as its members, nor do they stand as party candidates. But then the refrain becomes that we need ‘good professionals’ without explaining what being ‘good’ means, or crucially, who will be distributing these certificates of professionalism.

The problem is that this thoroughly petty bourgeois idea of politics is not just dominant amongst the larger parties, but has also wormed its way into smaller political parties that claim to want to replace them. The result of fishing only in the petty bourgeois pond means that there is no real ideological difference that the smaller ones offer, only a deep confusion that sees the same people swinging wildly from one political fad – and party –to another, without reason or explanation.

The latest such party is the strangely-named ‘100% citoyen’. (What does that mean? Are there citizens that are less than 100 %?) A brief glance at some of the party’s most prominent figures will be enough to illustrate the deep political confusion and incoherence at its heart. It is led by a former PMSD-affiliated lawyer, José Moirt, who also heads the Affirmative Action group, calling for the reintroduction of a communal census as well as the state maintaining ethnic statistics in prison and employment. He is supported in his demands by a cleric, Jean Claude Veder. But neither Veder nor the Affirmative Action group seem to figure in the new party which supposedly is an entirely separate thing. Others in the group are Ivor Tan Yan and Dev Sunnassy. All three were previously associated with unionist Jack Bizlall’s ‘Muvman Premye Me’, itself dissolved no less than three times replacing a previous Bizlall outfit, Entente pour la Démocratie Parliamentaire. Then the muvman fizzled out in October last year after Bizlall lost interest in it, and Moirt, Tan Yan and Sunnassy found themselves in another outfit ‘komite 13 Oktob’ with the exceedingly vague aim of ‘improving politics’.  This komite proposed something quite weird: it would hold primaries (an idea lifted from Bizlall) with internal rules and age-based quotas (50% to be young people). To become a candidate, you need to collect 100 signatures which will then be parsed over by a ‘committee of the wise’ (who chooses them?) and pick who will be a candidate, who in turn will then come up with a programme. Nothing more was heard about the primaries or the programme, but voilà, in April instead, all these same people show up in a new political outfit ‘100% Citoyen’, also infected by the same vacuous rhetoric while everybody pretended that this was a brave novel new experiment rather than just another flowering of a confused and wildly unstable political current.

This problem is not just restricted to Bizlall and his successors, however. Other small political outfits with messianic pretensions similarly surface from time to time only to disappear just as quickly before appearing once again under another name. This silly past-time will continue so long as smaller parties don’t realise that they need new ideas to go along with the same old platitudes, the same old ‘professionals’ and a glitzy new party name.

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