In Fiji it would appear that Indians, by virtue of their history, are more disposed to dealing with the world capitalist economy than Fijians. This is because many more Fijians than Indians live in isolated rural communal settings -- on the periphery of the periphery. Indians were the indentured labourers introduced into Fijian society as part of a global capitalist economy dominated by Britain. Despite its semifeudal nature, indentureship carried with it aspects of capitalism, including waged labour, rational calculation and individualism. Even though Fijians, prior to Indian indentureship, were part of this global economy, their involvement has never been as extensive as that of Indians. Although Plange acknowledges the involvement of Fijians in the market economy, mainly in the production of sandalwood, kava, bechede-mer and copra, he also points out that, under the colonial state. `Fijian access to, and effective participation in, the newly introduced economy from structurally vantage points were discouraged'.
As a result, Fijian traditional culture seems less disposed to individualism and accumulation than Indian. This difference is arguably part of the reason for the growth in capitalist enterprises among Indians. and the relative few among Fijians.
Now if, as I have intimated, an ethnic-based political regime requires economic support from its constituency to survive, it is difficult to see how this regime can last as Fijians are not in a position to provide such support (the land issue notwithstanding). On the other hand, if the regime seeks alliances with non-ethnic interests in order to survive. Then, in the long run, its ethnic basis for mobilisation will disappear. In such a situation, the regime will have to reform its mobilising rhetoric, turning it away from ethnicity if it wants to remain in power.
The problem of articulation
In order for a political regime to persist in power, it must have at its disposal the means for developing and propagating its ideas. As Plato argued in his Republic, the creation and propagation of myths is necessary to shaping the structure of a society. The people in charge of this process, the intelligentsia, usually articulate ideas and values to ensure the survival of a particular social formation. It is the educated elite which creates and rationalises knowledge which then becomes truths for the society at large. It is this intelligentsia -- the writers, painters, university lecturers, school teachers, lawyers, physicians, scientists, journalists, religious leaders -- which ensures the longevity of hegemony of a ruling elite.
But is the current regime better placed than the opposition convincingly to articulate its ideas and values nationally and internationally without the use of repressive measures? In the long run, in my view, the opposition, which is predominantly, though not exclusively, Indian, is in a comparatively better position than the ruling elite, because levels of education are higher within the Fiji Indian intelligentsia than within the Fijian ruling elite and its mainly Fijian supporters.
Historically, education in Fiji has been segregated and community operated. Since the nineteenth century, religious and cultural organisations have established most of the community-based schools for both Fijians and Indians. According to Naidu, up until 1994, the government directly owned and operated only 2 per cent of primary schools and 8 per cent of secondary schools. Because government-owned schools are better funded, equipped and run, however, many of the community-run schools are of comparatively poor standard. A second characteristic of Fijian education is that, while there are more Fijian than Indian schools (though ethnic segregation is not as widespread as in the past), there are many more Indians in post-secondary education than Fijians. Furthermore, many more Fiji Indians have postsecondary education and university diplomas than Fijians. While Fijians are qualified in a small number of areas, Indians can be found in a wide variety of fields, especially business, science and technology, journalism and education. The predominance of Indians, relative to Fijians, in the top professions is not a recent development.