“It seems to me that the COVID-19 crisis has faced politicians everywhere with an existential crisis – they actually have to govern… Most of them are only really interested in campaigning, marketing, and the prestige that power brings. And suddenly they are faced with responsibility. It makes no sense to them.” (Michael Walling, Artistic Director, BORDER CROSSING)
Democracy is not a thing or a static concept which, once understood, remains the same forever. It is a highly dynamic concept which evolves all the time and adapts itself to changing conditions. But there are a few fundamentals without which democracy withers and dies.
PRIMO: It exists when a great majority of people within a geographical space have joined forces to achieve a common goal.
SECUNDO: It fuels a grand project which will transform reality and drive human and material resources towards a higher and more noble level of civilisation.
TERTIO: It is serviced and strenghtened by enlightened and devoted leaders at different levels – villages, quarters, districts, municipalities, constituencies, trade-unions, NGOs etc. The leaders are ‘organic intellectuals’ as defined by the Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, and they live with the masses as fish in water.
QUARTO: It aims at taking control of state power to transform it and, in the process, it transforms society and helps it move to higher levels.
Democracy is not to be construed as just a means which enables a corrupt elite to find a niche in the state apparatus to satisfy their own petty interests by servicing the needs of powerful economic and ethnic lobbies.
WHITHER MAURITIAN DEMOCRACY?
The last 50 years have seen a constant withering of democratic ideals. Millennials (born in the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s) must reinvent democracy, not because they like or want it but because it is now a question of survival.
50 years after independence, we are still not a nation although most nation-building ingredients are present. We live on a Creole island, peopled by immigrants from Africa, Europe and Asia; our national language, Mauritian, and our official language, English, are Creole languages; our cuisine is exceptional for we have borrowed from Africa, Europe and Asia to produce something not found elsewhere, hence a Creole cuisine. So, we do have a common history and culture. Millennials feel this in their guts while their predecessors can think only of outdated beliefs and practices. They are yesterday’s news.
We have very serious problems due to global burning, climate crisis and Covid-19. On top of this, there are problems of our own making: food insecurity, very low literacy rate, gender inequality and ethnic division.
To tackle all these problems simultaneously, millennials will need new organisations, new leadership, new mindsets and a new democratic strategy. IT’S A QUESTION OF DO OR DIE. Pre-millennials have dramatically failed and will never learn. Democracy has withered and is dying. They have succeeded only in giving power to grotesque Trumplike buffoons. Yes, they are yesterday’s news.
Mauritian millennials will surely and successfully take up the challenge to build a green Mauritius where there is a supraethnic Mauritian identity and culture, food security, social justice, gender equality and universal functional literacy in, at least, our two Creole languages.