Cherries and Plums

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

By THUMB MARK II


1948 is a landmark in the history of the Mauritian working class: it was then that the Government of the island ceased to be a mere family affair, it was that very year which witnessed the emergence of proletarian leaders of the calibre of Rozemont, Seeneevassen, Forget, and Ramgoolam but, as expected, the rise of the working class was not unopposed. The plutocracy unleashed a formidable propaganda machine aimed mainly at disrupting the unity of workers, they had recourse to all means: ridicule, communal hatred, vilification and what not. From the workers’ side too came a few replies and today, when the workers’ efforts to get a better constitution have been crowned with success, we reproduce from ‘Advance’ of 14 February 50 one of the greatest articles published in defence of the workers of Mauritius. — B. Ramlallah, Editor


For some time now an intense and systematic propaganda is going on in the capitalist press against the new Constitution and against any progress towards the betterment of the working class generally. This propaganda takes all shapes, and it infiltrates even the ranks of the workers through people who are in the hands of those who are against any change in society. The whole movement is being directed from behind the scenes.
Where arguments are lacking, other methods are being adopted to bring down the prestige of those who are determined to see that justice is meted out to all alike.The capitalist press will go even to the extent of trying to hold the accredited leaders of the people to ridicule.
This time the Mauricien and the Cernéen, the apostles of reaction and obscurantism, have begun their pilgrimage of hate together. Cerisier, writing in the Cernéen, says that “Mon cher confrère (of the Mauricien) a fait naitre brusquement en moi la vocation d’écrire” and he is “contraint de me soumettre à son impératif commandement”. But to complete thispicture of the common consent and collusion, let us see further: “par l’une de ses fantaisies dont la nature est coutumière, nos prénoms à tous deux fleurent la grand opéra, et que mon patronyme, comme le vôtre évoque un spécimen fructueux et sympathique du règne végétal”.

After that the whole article is devoted to a wholesale attack against the awakening that is taking place among Indo-Mauritian workers.

So we have it, you have given yourselves away Messrs Cherry Tree and Plum Tree, for your agreeing together and your similarity in outlook and make-up are not mere coincidences, but the inevitable alignment of the forces of reaction to delay the certain evolution of the workers. St Simon saw through it, and more practical men saw it after him and made it possible for history to be reversed in a manner that is not only distasteful to your class but also distressing to the big magnates who can no longer command the will of the needy.

Your “patronyme“, Mr Cherry, “évoque un spécimen fructueux et sympathique du règne végétal”. You are quite right. At times you can think clearly in your own way. You can smell the decay that is going on in you. The miasma of the “règne végétal” that you and your likes have created with your midden of the Vegetable Kingdom must now be nauseating to you and must be tantalising your olfactory organs. Indeed, if you were to live long enough — if you do not die of complete coronary occlusion before that, something better than the “thrombose coronaire” you wished Dr Ramgoolam — it will suffocate you, and you would not have deserved better, because you are only a hireling of the same class as your master who has chosen to whip you with his money just so long as you can be of service to him.

The “grand opéra” is your scene of operation. For you and for those you are serving it is an opera; for the great mass exploited by your class it is an existence of drudgery, poverty and want and disease.

Your “prénoms fleurent le grand opéra”. It is only natural. You belong to the same class, the class of minority which for the protection of its vested interests will mislead and misuse a brave people because they were not born of greedy silver spoons in their mouths. You have reason to congratulate yourself and sneer at our ragged fragments, for you have at least the advantage of wealth and power for the time being.

We know that your only interest in the underdog is how much you can get out of him, with the least necessary to keep him enchained in perpetual want. Our interest in him, to your great chagrin, is what we can do for him so that he may rehabilitate himself in society. You can see this cannot be a mere misunderstanding between us, as some would have us think. It is a question of ideologies. There is a vast gulf which separates us, a gulf in which thousands of our class have been drowned in their common struggle for economic and social uplift. Do you think you can bridge that, and teach us to accommodate ourselves with your ideas? No! A thousand times, no! You must realize once for all that only a radical readjustment of our social system will satisfy us. Your heartache is only beginning. Between you and the people there is a vast difference in outlook, just because the trends of events in the world and the conflicts of interests rule that the proletariat cannot accommodate itself with a society it is out to destroy, in order to build in its stead a world in which each will draw according to his need — not as in your scheme of things in which a few wallow in wealth and a large number of men and women is held in pawn.

You and your likes may be clever artificers, but we have seen through the game. You cannot sell us that puppy again. Your time is done. It is best that you leave it to the rising proletariat to clean the Augean stable you will surely leave behind you — your remnant of corruption, your social injustices, your inequalities, your nepotism and your grab and take practices. We want to build us a society which will not be your oyster. We want to renew humanity, and in this natural process your skeleton is required for the museum of the future, so that posterity can realize what monsters you had been, and how stupid we had been to allow you to usurp our heritage for so long.

You may attempt to ridicule honest men like Dr Ramgoolam, and your hirelings and snivellers can pour out all the wrath on them, but all these crafty devices will no longer avail you against the tidal wave of workers’ awakening which will swallow you. You may fling epithets at us that will do no credit to anyone — which is unchristian, and you are presumably a devotee of Christ, the redeemer of mankind, the Christ that your class crucified in its scramble for power, because He stood for equality among men.

You may stick any labels on us. Our class is humanity itself, and we would not have worried about them, had it not been for the unwary you may entrap like a vampire in your hypocritical embrace. What child does not know the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the bear which grew big teeth to eat her the better. Your stomach is bursting with iniquities, and your brain is getting delirious with what is coming to you.

You and your masters tried to annex this country to South Africa where they are gradually sending their money, because in that subhuman continent human lives have no value and the South African negroes are looked upon as mere toys. There they will also find a readier market for their depredations.
When the cat is out of the bag, you attempt to turn the table on Indo-Mauritians. You must be taking people for simpletons; you are, indeed, doing wishful thinking and provoking the proletariat to do things that you would have liked it to do, so as to harass it the better. We are not your men; you have a few from our side who are helping you to do that work, but even they, with your press behind them and with their exaggerations and vilifying tongues, are not in a position to deliver the goods. They have been found out. You are, therefore, in a sad plight and in your anger you must be careful not to cut off your nose just to spite your face, for without my class your masters will go bankrupt. My class is the backbone of everything in Society, and without it all your big monopolies and trusts and combines, with their tentacles and vast wealth would be reduced to naught.

Plums and Cherries may agree, but the fight goes on relentlessly and fated to end to your disadvantage. Just to remind you: plums and cherries are commodities that the proletariat can devour. As for the trees, you know the wood cutter and his glistening axe. We can leave them to him. So, you need not flatter and din your tympanic bellies. That is the sound of the dying man. But meanwhile you can sing the swan song of a dying epoch.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 20 May 2022

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