Is Mauritius a Fertile Ground for Communism?

Mauritius Times – 60 Years 

By Jay Narain Roy

In this last article of the economic series, I wish to discusss this rather alarming question. It has become necessary at this stage to discuss this matter in an outspoken manner if only to make people think about the central issues that face us. There is in the country a habit of living in the cloud, and of discussing complaisant and dead issues. Some do it because they know no better, others do it cunningly to keep attention focused on non-essential, airy things.

I am not convinced that the people in Westminster are fully posted with the real state of affairs in our country. Fenner Brockway is the only man from Westminster who tried to understand our problems at close quarters. It is necessary for more friends of the colonies to visit us after they have studied our problems. MPs and other friends must visit us from time to time if only to study things from the angle of Britain and to realise how this colony, even after a century and a half of British rule, has been left unEnglish in spirit, and how vestiges of slavery loom in a disguised manner. The facts I have narrated in the course of this series should make very disturbing reading, and it does look like a veritable blot on the government and democratic institutions of England.

We want Britain to know our problems better and understand the aspirations of the people. Mauritius has a record of loyalty, and our boys have never lagged behind any territory when the time has come to respond to the call of the Commonwealth. For a small territory, the average man has left no stone unturned to come to the aid of the Motherland in her hour of need. In Mauritius itself, there is no trace of communism worth the name, and there is not even one intellectual person who thinks along that line. In fact, we are conscious of the fact that the British system of socialism with its spreading awareness and its consistent economic reforms is the best guarantee the world has to forestall communism.

Mauritius is slowly but surely imbibing the English brand of socialism, and we have reached a juncture in our history when we expect two things from the British Labour Party: a systematic study of our problems and expert advice as to how we can consistently introduce vital reforms to bring about a substantial change in the day-to-day life of the average Mauritian. The Mauritian, like any other person on earth, is essentially interested in his economic welfare. The super-propaganda that people lower down think racially or communally or that they want to detach from Britain is a tissue of cowardly lies that our economic opponents have adopted as their main spearhead.

What contact has the average Mauritian with Whitehall or with Westminster? The millers have a highly paid official who although paid partly by the small cane-grower is invariably a Tory senior politician. He comes often to be the Whitehall oracle on Mauritian affairs. He comes to have his thumb on the Mauritius House, and in this way, over there, they have occasion to hear one side of the story. This position has gone on. Does not the Government of this country know this gross injustice of Mauritian contact with the Motherland? Does it not know what part of funds on sugar cesses actually go to planters and workers? Does not British officialdom in Mauritius realise that many public bodies run from public or semi-public funds have been left under the influence of the millers, that salaries outside Government follow discriminating standards between Whites and non-Whites, that the superstructure of industrial management follow a racial pattern that should hurt against the principles of the Income Tax Department, that some unqualified people have been allowed to create an economic paradise for themselves while the rest of the people are daily being embittered against what they cannot help feeling is a tacit connivance of the authorities.

The Ministry has been made to step into this position of unpopularity and so far, no attempt is being done to redress the situation from the angle of the people. The problem yesterday was economic, and it continues to be so and no amount of social palliatives will be able to exonerate the Government from the ugly situation which it has either consciously or unconsciously landed this country. The Government has obviously been run on the supposition that it is in the interest of Whitehall to govern with the millers as the principal ally, as unrests among the people can always be put down by the force of arms as were the cases in 1937and 1943.

At every step in our Mauritian life, there is something that should hurt against the susceptibilities of the Mauritian. The races, football, the War Memorial, trade, commerce, appointments, salaries, conditions in the industries, control of bodies and funds, treatment of ex-soldiers, metayage, land rents, Crown land rents, social services — at every step there is ground for people being disgruntled. Who is responsible for this woeful state of affairs contributing to widespread misery, unemployment, prejudices, colour bar and discontent if not the Government? We realise that Rome was not built in one day, and we realise that the new officialdom which still has the initiative of the government is trying to profess new platitudes. But what we want is a fundamental economic change with the people as its aim. It is in that direction that there is complaisance, soft-pedalling and in some cases lurking evidence of sabotage.

In this terrible confusion of issues, socialism, which was the sheet-anchor of the people is being associated with the unholy legacy of officialdom and it is getting direly singed in the process. What else will emerge from the tears and sighs of the suffering multitude if socialism is sorely mortgaged into the debts of its predecessors except the sorry spectre of communism with its breath-raising manifestations? Are we not gradually and inexorably heading towards this sorry scheme of things in the adroit desire to manœuvre power and to push the representatives of the people to face the rub and the scar?

This is enough to make both Reduit and Whitehall look up, as it will no longer be possible for the people’s representatives to continue to shoulder responsibilities under the circumstances when the flock look up to us and are not fed. This intriguing situation created by a century and more of appeasing politics cannot be dumped on the shoulders of innocent people who have to face the music before they are able to realise the deep maneuvres of the situation in which they happen to be enmeshed. I hope the Government will realise that it will do neither the Ministry nor even Whitehall any good to remain in the situation comparable to sitting on the top of an active volcano.

The other half of the responsibilities of the new situation should invariably fall on the real, super-governmental power of this land. It is unnecessary for me to say that I mean the chimneys and their varied ramifications. I want to end this brochure by addressing this group straightaway.

You may think I have consciously said nasty things, that I have exaggerated, that I am embittered or have an axe to grind. I can honestly assure you that I happen to be in politics much against my will because I sense the squalor around it and I feel that in all this created mess I can see things clearly enough. Let us admit that you and not Whitehall are the real rulers of the land and in your hands, and not in the hands of Whitehall lies the destiny of the people. You are too conscious of this position as you are too conscious of the fact that you run the bigger imperium and you have easily been able to tame successive rulers to your way of thinking because it was obviously easier for the Government to have you as allies as long as the people were inarticulate.

Now the position is very much changed. You seem to run this country on the supposition that you must either keep your sway or disappear from this country. You cannot conceive of a third course. Those who advise you in this course are very poor friends and by no means your well-wishers. By doing what you are doing you have been perpetuating a situation which can never be upheld either by the laws of man or the laws of God. We are all human beings very much like you. We can measure ourselves against you if not this evening, surely tomorrow morning when the sun is out. So far Whitehall was of Tory conception, and you had your way all along the line. Things are changing here and in England. How long can your ill counsellors succeed in maneuvering the situation to keep your unmistakable sway? I repeat how long?

Socialism wants the welfare of all, and who does not recognize your brain and your organising power as solid contributions to the seeming prosperity of our common land? You fondly think that by waging war against us (just because you have more money) you can eternally grip the destiny of the people. History has scarcely recorded a more foolish attitude to the vital problems of a country.

Either you are badly advised, or you cannot read the signs of the times. What if socialism were to come out temporarily or permanently scotched from the ordeal. Socialism fights against your 200 years of exploitation. You might, if you sink millions, regain power though your stooges, and flunkeys and mercenaries. But how long, how long before communism is tightly at your Adam’s apple to end the very last vestiges of things we are so eager to preserve?

Don’t be such a huge fool. Look at things objectively and rest contented with your share of the cake if you don’t want to risk it all. It is an honest, friendly tip. it is never too late to mend. If you be headstrong and all that, tant pis.

5th Year – No 227
Friday 12th December, 1958

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 12 May 2023

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