The Present Political Conjuncture: Fatal Delusions, Momentous Challenges and Historic Opportunities
Politics of Supremacy:
This article is addressed to the broad revolutionary-democratic platform that shared a minimum, common, transitionalÂ principle and policy towards the Tamil national liberation struggle, in an effort to orient this platform towards the future challenges and tasks. We would all agree that the decisive military victory gained by the State over the LTTE has changed the political playing field in a most dramatic way. This victory marks a turning point. The military victory heralds also the triumph of the dominant ruling political ideology of the Sri Lankan State, and its ruling class. â€“Sinhala-Buddhist Supremacy: This ideology was molded, nourished and reinforced by every successive government. This ruling ideology is now being centralized, concentrated and applied systematically in all spheres of life, as a way ofÂ exercising and consolidating undisputed ideological hegemony over the hearts and minds of the people. This ideological hegemony is to serve in the reconstruction of the unitary, Sinhala-Buddhist State on a quantitatively expanded and qualitatively deepened foundation.Â Ideological hegemony and political control is to be exercised by laying down the terms of political discourse and, of course, exercising violent suppression and repression against those who would cross the boundaries of the given terms.
The End of an Era: Or Riding the Wave ofÂ Conquest?
The decisive military liquidation of the LTTE and its leadership has certainly introduced new terms. It is presented by the State and the regime as an end to the era of ‘separatist terrorism’ and the ushering in of an era of peace, unity, equality, security, justice and democratic freedom to each and all alike. Within this, frame, it is held that given the new definition of the state and the political culture, there will not be any reference to the language of majorities and minorities. Implicitly, if I may be permitted to assume, this would mean that there would be no more reference to â€œnational-democratic rights”, or to the existence of subordinated nations, nationalities or ethnic-religious communities. It is a new era, where all nationalities and communities are to be subsumed under an all-embracing Sinhala-Buddhist state. In essence, the new terms declare that there is no national question to be solved, but a question of how the Sinhala-Buddhist stateÂ and social order shall ‘benevolently’ accommodate others. According to this supremely benevolent view, the new era shall enthrone and celebrate the status of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationÂ as the sole, sovereign and supreme nation that alone shall have the right to be a nation and, therefore, to form a state, but which shall ‘benevolently’ accommodate all others within its fold. True to the spirit and the letter of the message, the President has announced in international forums that there will be no talk of devolution of power, since this is a nation of equals-all united in a single unitary state. The President is in a sorry state. On the one hand he has to satisfy his international patrons that he is for some devolution of power, since otherwise these imperialist and regional powers will lose face, while ensuring his domestic Sinhala-Buddhist constituency, particularly the highly vocal Buddhist Sangha ( priesthood) and its political fronts, that there will be no such devolution to any Tamil national political identity. He knows that any concessions to Tamil national demands or aspirations will cause his own constituency â€“ and the armed forces- to revolt against his rule. So, he has to juggle, in the most facile and revolting manner of a cheap political broker, out to ensure his political survival at any cost, and to gain some more heavenly fortunes for him, and family and friends while he can, before the masses catch up with the game.
We do not believe that devolution of power is any solution. The issue at hand is honoring the right of national self-determination of an oppressed nation.Â This can be accomplished only by overthrowing and smashing the very state that is responsible for national subjugation. However the total suppression of nationhood and the denial of even some partial solution cannot be left unchallenged. The reality is that this benevolent Â accommodation is unfolding with the extension of emergency rule, the restructuring and expansion of the armed forces- hey! In peace time!, appointing of army generals as governors of the war-torn Provinces, continued detention of some 300,000 Tamil refugees under literally sub-human conditions, the further militarization of the North-East-and the rest of the country, expansion of the powers of the armed forces, alteration of demographic patterns through colonization and resettlement, bestial symbolic revenge attacks on media, compiling and publication of lists of media personnel, lawyers, activists who are deemed to be supportive of ‘terrorism, modernization of the nationwide espionage-intelligence network, talk of extension of the mandate of the President for five years without holding an election, – with much more to come. Therefore, it is not an end of an era, but the beginning of the end of an era of barbarity and terror, of deception and corruption, of the ideology and politics of chauvinist hegemony and domination- as the people shall forge their revolutionary leadership and organization Â to rise up and give birth to a new era of dignity, independence, justice and freedom for the People of Lanka in the form ofÂ establishing a people’s democratic state, as the foundation to wage the socialist revolution in order to advance the cause of Communism.
The Banner of the Sinhala-Buddhist State:
The essential truth is that the banner of the Sinhala-Buddhist nation-state is meant to deceive the vast majority of Â exploited and oppressed Sinhala â€“Buddhist masses- and everyone else- Â to come under the domain of the feudal-colonial Capitalist state, and to fall in line with Â the agenda of Â the Â present regime. Â Let us remember, this state has also mercilessly massacred tens of thousand insurgent Sinhala-Buddhist youth who rejected the ruling that this is their state. Â Life under this Sinhala-Buddhist state is a daily living hell for the exploited workers and oppressed masses, including the vast majority of the Sinhala-Buddhist masses, while a handful of ruling crony comprador capitalists monopolize political power, privilege, wealth and status. For the Sinhala-Buddhist masses, along with the vast majority of the oppressed masses and nationalities, life under this state has meant a life of brutal subjugation and violent suppression, combined with pitiless and intensifying poverty, misery, indebtedness and degradation. Â This is the essence of the class politics behind the banner of the Sinhala-Buddhist state. Buddhism is here entwined with the SinhalaÂ nation and constructed as the ideological foundation for perpetuating aÂ defunct feudal-colonial state, along with its corrupt Comprador-Capitalist ruling class-and its present oligarchic-mafiaÂ regime. This banner is a part of a deadly game of political deception. In this evil endeavor, the noble BuddhistÂ Dharma itself is being exploited to justify politics of conquest and domination and nakedly plundered for populist political gain. It is a perpetuation of the colonial politics of divide and conquer of the colonial-imperialist power. Â Until and unless we unravel the hidden reactionary class politics and agenda behind the enthronement of the banner of the Sinhala-Buddhist State, we shall remain slaves to the existing reality, lose our independent vision and Â betray our historic mission of liberating the people of Lanka, as part of our contribution towards liberating humankind from class society, andÂ the shackles of ignorance and slavery. Â
The Beginning of a New Era:
Counter to this dominant state ideology is the revolutionary-democratic analysis that the end of the war has further reinforced the generative social structures, the system of social relations and the dynamics of the class struggle for political power, that accounted for the war. The basic Capitalist social relations of domination, exploitation and oppression shall remain, and Â be intensified. The social conditions of extreme deprivation, poverty, degradation and misery shall remain, and be intensified. The political relations of national subordination shall take new and more intensified forms. The feudal-colonial state shall be reinforced. Imperialist and regional powers shall intensify rivalry to sink their fangs into the life-lines of the country to get a strategic stranglehold. The country shall be sold for profit and plunder. The rulers shall all share in the spoils. The defunct Parliamentary Opposition composed of the UNP, JVP and the TNA, is figuring out how best to join the triumphalist bandwagon, in orderÂ to share in the spoils and survive. All these characteristic features of the parasitic, putrid and defunct feudal-colonial/ comprador-capitalist State shall be reinforced under the cloak of a Sinhala-Buddhist banner. Under these conditions, the overwhelming tendency would be towards more destructive violence, political suppression, terror and abuse, on a qualitatively new higher level- on the march towards fascism. This is the new Â political conjuncture we have to confront!
The Political Playing Field:
During the war, the line of demarcation was that all those who opposed the war and stood for a democratic political solution were targeted as traitors and regarded as real or potential terrorists â€“ to be treated as enemies. All those who upheld the military solution were regarded to be patriots- and friends to be protected and nourished. Even then, this line of demarcation was wrong and dangerous. It was wrong and dangerous because there are many valued citizens whoÂ stood â€“ and still stand – for a democratic political solution, who did not – and do not -Â agree with the political line, strategy and methods of the LTTE. Those who called for a democratic political solution believed that the way to overcome the separatist ideology and politics of the LTTE was to integrate the Tamil nation as an integral part of the State.
Those on the revolutionary-democratic Â Platform who protected the national struggle led by the LTTE, did so as a principle of upholding the national-democratic rights of the Tamil nation, while criticizingÂ the bourgeois nationalist ideological-political line of the LTTE, including the resort to terrorism as a policy. The genuine advanced revolutionary forces felt that the traditional, parliamentary Â â€œLeft” had betrayed the Tamil national struggle, and the revolutionary class struggle itself, by becoming part of the Capitalist State. They found reason for the degeneration of the Tamil National MovementÂ into a form of extremely narrow bourgeois nationalism Â in the internal character of the class forces within the movement, reinforced by the betrayal of the parliamentary Â â€œ Left”. They strived to build a revolutionary-democratic movement that would rupture with this history of betrayal and with the bourgeois-nationalist line and politics of the Tamil National Movement. These questions were regarded as internal questions of the national liberation-democratic revolutionary movement, and the method of overcoming differences was to carry out a very sharp ideological struggle over questions of vision, principles, line, content, direction and consequences for the revolutionary-democratic movement in Sri Lanka. These Left forces called for a democratic political solution which would be an alternative to a separate state. In fact, the Maoist revolutionary forces were seriously at variance on a principled basis, with the political line, strategy and methods of the LTTE. They tried to influence the broad revolutionary-democratic platform on this basis. Their critique was that: No nation that does not struggle for the liberation of other oppressed nations and people will never achieve liberation. No liberation struggle that turns its guns on the people will ever lead the way to liberation. The people must achieve their own liberation through waging conscious, organised mass political struggle to overcome their conditions of exploitation and oppression, and so become the masters of their environment and the world. They need no condescending saviors. Nor do they need to rely on any imperialist or reactionary power. Indeed, they need to target the system of imperialism,- the source of national subjugation- as their internationalist duty. They need to build their revolutionary leadership and organization armed Â with a Â scientific philosophical vision and ideological-political line of emancipating all humankind. Maoist revolutionaries held the position that it is necessary to defend and uphold the struggle for national self-determination of the oppressed Tamil nation on the basis of building the unity of the proletariat , the peasantry and all oppressed nationalities and progressive forces to carry forward the new democratic revolution. It is with this shared ideological-political principles that these revolutionary-democratic forces struggled for a political solution that would provide dignity, equality, security and autonomy to all our nationalities and communities- so there would no longer be any reason for a separate Tamil state. This is a summation of the advanced revolutionary-democratic position. To regard this whole revolutionary-democratic constituency as traitors and enemies of the state is wrong and dangerous- not only for these revolutionary-democratic forces, but also dangerous for the state and the regime.Â Any effort to plunder the military victory to entrench and perpetuate the corrupt, arrogant, dictatorialÂ dynasty or regime will crack from within and be overcome by the collective power of a united, conscious and awakened revolutionary people.
Overcoming the Politics of Separatism:
The truth is that these revolutionary-democratic forces love their country, the people, and humanity more than any other. They did not want the country to be divided.Â They wanted to unite the people and the country as a condition for advancing the revolutionary democratic transformation of the state and society. They believed â€“ and still believe â€“ that the way to unite the people and the country is to share this land as one indivisible home â€“equally of all its nations, nationalities and communities.Â What they opposed â€“ and still oppose â€“ is the policy of imposing a highly centralized, hegemonic, feudal-colonial, Sinhala-Buddhist, unitary state, ruled by fundamentalist-theocratic principles, on all the rest of the people, including the Sinhala-Buddhist oppressed masses. This policy will continue to breed its counterpart in the form of the politics of Â separatism. The only way to overcome the politics of separatism is to make that demand redundant through a democratic restructuring of the state and political order which accords pride of place to all its rich diversity ofÂ national and cultural identities . For Maoists, this was the common minimum transitional policy and program to defend and advance the solution to the national question.
The Political Agenda Driving the Military Solution:
If the military solution has being aimed at liquidating the LTTE- and with it, the Tamil national identity, in order to super-impose a centralized, hegemonic Sinhala-Budhist State, then it is wrong, illusory and dangerous. Modern nation states have developed as a function of Capitalism and in resistance against national subjugation. The modern Tamil nation has been forged through decades of bitter political struggle and immense sacrifice. No democratic force would deny that the Tamil nation had been subjected to systematic and intensifying discrimination and violent suppression by the State. The Tamil civilization has had a most decisive impact on the formation of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization, and in forging a sense of a shared Lankan identity. The modern Sinhala nation too has been forged through centuries of heroic national liberation struggle against colonial domination and occupation. The two nations, along with the Hill Country Tamil, Moslem and other nationalities, have all made contributions towards an articulation of the People of Lanka, and enriched our shared cultural legacy. Why should these nations kill each other over claims of ownership and legacy? Can they not work out a way to live together, where they can unite to protect and preserve our common roots and shared legacy, and stand proud and tall as one indivisible nation, as the People of Lanka? Can they not recognize the inherent human dignity of each nation, people and community, and find a solution that restores and purifies our own sense of collective dignity and humanity? Yes, they surely can and will. The problem lies not with the people, but with a corrupt and arrogant feudal-colonial/ comprador-capitalist state and its ruling class, which have taken turns in intensifying the polarization and militarization of the national question. We have to build our capacity as the People of Lanka to hold the state and the ruling class accountable for having degraded and defiled us all, through the politics of chauvinist supremacy and domination, and bring it down through uncompromising revolutionary class struggle.Â If we fail in this duty and responsibility in this most momentous hour of our destiny, we would have lived and died in vain. All the blood and limbs of our poorest sons and daughters sacrificed would be in vain. This is why we must all engage in a deep and thorough soul-searching to grasp and uphold essential truths and principles that will clear the path of liberation for the oppressed People of Lanka.
Lines of Demarcation:
The line of demarcation is now beingÂ re-drawn between those who love or do not love the country- between patriots and traitors. The underlying premise is that the state is the embodiment of the country and the nation. The state has made enormous sacrifices in protecting the Motherland. The state is the repository of patriotism. The political logic is that to love the country, one has to pledge loyalty and submit to the vision, ideology, political will and agenda, of the state and the regime! The problem is that there are many powerful political forces, and broad social constituencies, who genuinely and fervently believe that to love the country is to come under the domain of the State and the Regime. President Mahinda Rajapakse has been vested with the glory of coming in line with legendary heroes, such as Duttagamani, who ‘liberated the Land, the Race and the Religion from alien Dravidian-Hindu ‘invaders’. The regime is reified as the all-conqueringÂ repository of the Dharma, and of the path of civilized, democratic coexistence. The danger lies in that this gives open space for extremist, fundamentalist forces, both within and outside the state, and especially the commanders of the State themselves, to advance their own political agenda, including to suppress any opposition that stand in the way, in the name of suppressing traitors. This gives rise to various hit squads and death squads- such as the Mahasona Brigade- operating under various commands, as before. Furthermore, there will appear various contenders to the throne. Some will share it, just to dig deeper into the lifelines of state power. The state â€“ and the regime- will be strained from within. It will be difficult to hold all the reigns of power within any one institution, such as the Executive Presidency. This logic will irrevocably give rise to a state ofÂ anarchy and terror. Even to the real possibility of a military coup-de-tat. The State and the regime will be caught in a logic of increasing centralization of political power, sinking deeper in the mire of corruption and abuse, while intensifying political suppression and violent repression against the revolutionary-democratic constituency, and the people.
The Need of the Hour:
That is why we must not lose our faith in the search for truth. We must not loose sight of our shared vision of freedom. We must grasp and build on principles. The solution lies in recognizing that Sri Lanka is the home equally of all its people and finding a way to share this land as equals- not through a policy aimed at militarily liquidating the political status of an oppressed nation. This policy will inject a level of chauvinism, intolerance, arrogance and fascist terror on a scale never witnessed before, that wouldÂ irrevocably fuel the struggle for dignity, democracy, independence and freedom.
Shall we regain the best of our collective heritage and our shared humanity, to rebuild the Land of Lanka- as the home of all its nations, nationalities and communities;- as a bastion and fortress of all that is decent, human and civilized? A human community that has learnt through decades of blood and terror, that has lived through horrifying human misery and degradation andÂ therefore, has found the political will and the courage of conviction to seek and define their own path of human liberation. A path that is infused with the shared vision of a Democratic Republic of Lanka- owned and governed by the People of Lanka. Indivisible and Invincible! Do we dare to grasp this rare, historic opportunity? Even at the cost of our lives? The need of the hour is for allÂ revolutionary-democratic-progressive social forces to come together so they may play their role, and make their best contribution, towards ushering in an era of solidarity among all nations, nationalities and communities that constitute the People of our Beloved Land of Lanka. This is a historic challenge and responsibility for all genuine democratic, progressive people who stand for freedom- with justice and equality for each and all! This is an opportunity for us to mount the stage of history so our future generations may lay claim to a Land of Freedom, as an inspiration to all humanity.