Fiji (reply to Phil)

Lou Paulsen wwchi at
Thu Aug 3 23:13:04 MDT 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: Philip Ferguson <plf13 at>
To: marxism-digest at <marxism-digest at>
Date: Thursday, August 03, 2000 7:42 PM
Subject: Fiji

>The problem with the position taken by the two Lous is that it doesn't
>offer any way beyond those racialised divisions.  It just suggests that the
>Indo-Fijians are a dodgy group who aren't really legitimate Fijians and
>don't deserve equal rights.
>Philip Ferguson

I am not going to respond to everything right now because, due to the
situation in Philadelphia, and due also to the fact that my wife's mother is
seriously ill, I just don't have time to be thorough.

But I will say this: Phil, this discussion started with the issue of
sanctions.  It's not my job to say how Indo-Fijian or Melanesian-Fijian
communists should make the revolution in Fiji.  Frankly, I think that under
the absolute best circumstances they will have a hell of a hard time making
a socialist revolution in the Fiji Islands without some serious advances by
the revolutionary movement in some much larger and/or more economically
advanced places.  At the moment, the whole economy is supported by tourism
and by the Lomé convention, which means that imperialism can pull out the
plug and sink it whenever they please.  Anyone for "socialism in one
archipelago"?  It's not a cheery prospect if they have to go it alone.

That's why I haven't even pretended to come up with solutions that 'offer a
way beyond' these divisions.  However, SINCE you press me on this, I believe
the Leninist position on self-determination is a starting point.  I KNOW you
are going to complain that this is inapplicable to Fiji because you believe
the two main groups constitute parts of a single emerging nation.  My
response is that I don't much care what you call the two groups, whether you
call them communities or races or national proto-fragments or some other
word entirely, I think the same general principles apply.

OK, the next problem is that so far as I know there is no socialist party in
Fiji.  NO, the FLP is not a socialist party.  I don't care that Chaudhry is
going to a meeting of the Second International next week.  The FLP is a
Labour party, and although it is not an Imperialist party in the same way
that Tony Blair's Labour party is, still you can see the resemblance.
Therefore it's misleading for me to talk about what the FLP "should have
done," because it's impossible that their kind of party could have adopted a
Leninist policy without a hell of a long struggle first.  The nature of a
Labour party, IF it does not have socialist input and direction, is to
represent the narrow short-term interests of whoever 'organized Labour'
happens to be at the time.

But let's pretend that a socialist party did exist.  If I were absolutely
forced to GUESS at what I WOULD come up with some sort of strategic approach
for communists in Fiji, IF I were to go there and live there for a while and
were for some reason asked my opinion, I would GUESS that I would say
something like this:

"The most important problem we have here is the division among the groups.
The workers are in separate unions.."  (Phil, according to a news item from
a couple days ago, there was a strike involving members of the "National
Taukei Workers Union", did you know that?  Had you heard of them before?)
"..and vote for separate parties and don't trust each other. "

"Therefore, we are going, for the near term, to forget the whole business of
winning elections and making electoral blocs and fighting about
constitutional provisions, and we are going to concentrate on establishing
the principle that we socialists are against all forms of discrimination.
And since the Indo-Fijians are the most prominent labor organizers and
socialists, for historical reasons, they are going to take the lead.  They
are going to launch a campaign against discrimination against indigenous
Fijians.  They are going to fight discrimination in housing, employment, and
broadcasting, and opinion in general..." (I know you think there IS no such
thing, Phil, but Matheson thinks there is, and Davies thinks there is, and
I've read it myself, and IMHO you're just wrong.)  "We are going to try to
bring indigenous Fijians into the industrial work force as quickly as
possible, and fight all forms of discrimination that are keeping them out.
We are going to make it known that we are an intercommunalist working-class
party, not an Indo-Fijian party.  And when we hear an Indo-Fijian
petty-bourgeois [I'm not saying Indo-Fijians are all petty-bourgeois, but
there are some] going on about how the indigenous Fijians are lazy, and
uneducated, and waste their money, and aren't industrious, and aren't
thrifty enough, and don't eat the right foods, and don't want to live in the
21st century, and should be expelled to the outer islands and leave Viti
Levu to the Indo-Fijians and 'right-minded' indigenes, etc. [all of which
are actual comments from the discussion board], we will stand
up and tell them that this is what petty-bourgeois around the world say
about poor people from an oppressed agricultural culture, and we aren't
going to listen to any more of it."

"Furthermore, we are going to call for an end to ALTA.  We are not going to
defend the colonial oppressions of the indigenous Fijians any more.  Yes, we
know this might mean that chiefs will get more money.  This will be a good
thing.  As things stand, when poor indigenous Fijians ask the chiefs for
some of their rent money, the chiefs say they don't have any because of the
unjust Indo-Fijians.  When these injustices are no longer present, greedy
chiefs will not have the land issue to hide behind.  Yes, we also know that
some of the sugar land will then also be cultivated by indigenous Fijians.
That is also a good thing, because it will lessen the system of communal
segregation which infects the sugar industry so.  Yes, it will also mean
that some Indo-Fijian farmers will be thrown off their land.  We do not
intend to abandon them, but we are going to have the most intense discussion
with the indigenous Fijian workers to find out the best way to help them.
We want to advance the interests of the Indo-Fijian tenants by intercommunal
unity against imperialism - not by relying on old imperialist colonial

"And while we are doing this, we are going to stop agitating for a
constitution that will allow an Indo-Fijian to be Prime Minister.  And we
are ABSOLUTELY going to stop going to the imperialist powers and demanding
that they pressure Fiji in any way.  And we are going to demand public
apologies from anyone who got involved in the scheme to break off the
western part of Viti Levu."

"What will all this do?  All the businesspeople - imperialist and
Indo-Fijian - will hate us.  That will also be a good thing, because it will
prove that we have no allies outside the toiling masses.  The indigenous
Fijians will see that we are their best and hardest working allies.  If the
chiefs take a stand against us, so much the worse for them and the better
for us.  When it is chiefs AND bourgeois on one side, and workers and
tenants and poor indigenous communities on the other side, and everyone sees
it, then we will have the kind of unity we want, and it will have been
gotten in the right way - in the struggle."

THERE.  That's the kind of thing I think of when you write about "a way
beyond these racialized divisions."  Now, I hasten to say that I know it is
ridiculous for me to argue that the above few paragraphs, written by someone
who has never seen Fiji and who knew nothing about it two weeks ago, are
likely to be the REAL program which Fijian communists should really follow.
But what I am trying to do is show the KIND of way Leninists would proceed:
by building unity in practice, not by trying to beat indigenous people over
the head with a constitution to force them into a united single nation
whether they like it or nor.  If imperialism poses a situation where racial
disunity is the order of the day, then you move heaven and earth to break
out of the prison of that situation and avoid at all cost doing the things
which you are EXPECTED to do by the laws of the imperialist racial program.

Lou Paulsen

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