How to Use Democracy To Deny Human Rights
“You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
– Mark Twain
Since its rebirth as an independent state in 1968, this paradisaic island has been touted as a paragon of democratic political institutions promoting rapid economic growth and motivating its citizens to overcome divisions of religion, language, ethnicity, and region of origin. It is looked up to as an example of thriving democracy and constitutionalism in the aftermath, most recently, of Dutch, French, and British colonization.
One benefits greatly from venturing beyond a cursory look at this small island republic’s admirable history and digging into the respect for institutions borrowed from its Western overseers. In doing so, it becomes painfully transparent that proselytizing about the virtuous and egalitarian character of a representative democracy has been little more than another shrewd but effective tactic of the state to maintain its essentially illiberal nature with the end goal of enthralling the ancestors of present-day Mauritians and ensuring that their descendants are born under its yoke.
The Lack of Preexisting Cultural and Societal Institutions
Unlike a select few of its fellow African entities, such as Botswana or Madagascar, Mauritius has not had the advantage of precolonial institutions or cultural frameworks to promote resistance against the state’s encroachment on property rights or to provide guidance for development following the departure of the colonizers. With regard to Madagascar, several Malagasy tribes, specifically the Merina, had such institutions. This society, descended from Southeast Asian settlers, adhered to a legal code instituted by its Hindu aristocracy, which l’Estrac describes in Mauritians: Children of a Thousand Races, his 2004 work, as outlining a basic social order, the organization of justice, the status of the family, property rights, moral values, and territory. However, this lack of precolonial institutions or frameworks did not prevent the spark for an anarchic society from coming forth.
Beginning in the late seventeenth century, the incumbent Dutch colonial administrators witnessed not only the ruthlessness and violence they could inspire in rebels and runaway slaves, but also how this diverse group, comprising Malagasy and Indian slaves, could achieve peaceful coexistence. Taking refuge in the uncharted Mauritian wilderness upon their escape, this seemingly disparate group of former slave
Article from Mises Wire