Colombo, Identity, Jaffna, Long Reads, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Red Lines and Historical Realism

[Editors note: On the invitation of the Editors of Groundviews, this is a response to Some reflections on reading Dayan Jayatilleka and Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki) by Anapayan, strictly and solely in Dr. Jayatilleka’s capacity as Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.]

“Revolution is having a sense of the historical moment…” – Fidel Castro May 1, 2000

“Moreover the LTTE had given him [President Rajapaksa] absolutely no breathing space after his inauguration before beginning to take out convoys and soldiers.” –  Nick Burns, US Under-Secretary of State, 23/01 /2006, the Afterposten Wikileaks 34 cables dump

Does the Thirty Years War which ended in May ’09 function as a dead planet whose light reaches us later as a star that illumines our discussions and guides our way, or do wars cast shadows in which we inevitably live and debate till they dissipate? Or may we mix these metaphors, since the reality is a fusion?

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the GV essay by ‘Anapayan’ is the complete and total absence of a single word of criticism of the Tigers.  It reflects the view that the Tigers were “a necessary evil” and their cause “Tamil nationalism” (as distinct from the reality: Tamil secessionism). It eschews the path commended by Christian Existentialist German philosopher Karl Jaspers, who said that in order to find their way out of the situation of disaster they were in, all Germans who supported, however tacitly, the Nazi movement had to admit to guilt and responsibility of four types: criminal, political, moral and metaphysical (The Question of German Guilt’, 1947).

Anapayan’s essay is a pro-Tiger or proto-Tiger ideological intervention. For her/him the main issue is the crisis of the state. This formulation evades two realities. Firstly, the crisis of the state was at its most acute when it was challenged in four dimensions: by southern anti-systemic radicalism, its territorial integrity and monopoly of violence sundered by the Tigers and its sovereignty by an external armed presence. Most intense was the period extending for the two decades 1988-2008. That manifest crisis, categorized in conflict literature as ‘protracted deadly conflict’ or ‘protracted deadly emergency’ has been overcome by the Sri Lankan state led by successive elected administrations, most decisively and conspicuously by the Rajapakse administration.  The decided victory in war has resolved the crisis in some of its aspects, leaving others altered and still others intact but not unaffected. Furthermore, Anapayan’s blandly stated thesis that the ‘main issue is the crisis of the state’ obfuscates the more significant issue that not every “crisis of the state” produces a fascist response/outcome, and that such a response, its character and causation, becomes the main intellectual question, just as the Nazi response to the crisis of the Weimar state and the Khmer Rouge response to the crisis of the Cambodian state are the main focus of political, moral and intellectual concern and interest.

The protracted war was a defining historical factor of my adult lifetime, though my consciousness was perhaps more defined by the contrast between the liberating impulse of the JVP uprising of ’71 and its barbaric manifestation of ’86-’89, and the parallel but worse trajectory of the Tamil armed revolt between ’76-’82 and post ’84. The context of my lifetime has been defined by the more protracted crisis of the Sri Lankan state. Thus my political consciousness and resultant discourse, a discourse of reflection/intervention, has been defined by the interplay of (i) the zenith (Vietnam ’75 to Nicaragua ’79) and fall of the global socialist project and the Marxist paradigm (ii) the long Lankan crisis (of identity among other things) and (iii) the trajectory of degeneration (‘the rise and fall’) of anti-state movements in South and North, among Sinhala and Tamil youth.

My own work – and specific, defining  problematique — for over two decades at least (the ‘Unfinished war/neo-barbarism’ series in the Lanka Guardian of ’89) has not been exclusively or centrally on the crisis of the state but on a typology of armed non-state actors, and the problem of why certain movements are of a barbaric character, which inter alia, eventually result in their defeat due to the abdication of the moral high ground, while certain other movements, ranging from Vietnam to Nicaragua, maintain ethical standards and norms. (Hence my doctoral thesis and subsequent book, precisely on Fidel’s Ethics of Violence.) Indeed, it is important to note, since we are on the subject of Taraki, that he was my translator when I was making the same point to a radical student audience belonging to the Renaissance Society (the ‘Marumalarchik Kalagham’) on the Jaffna university campus in late ’82 or early (pre-July) ’83, while delivering a lecture on the Lessons of the Nicaraguan liberation movement. This lecture was later translated by AJ Canagaratnam I believe, and printed as a booklet by that Society. So I had been saying this for nearly 30 years, but someone wasn’t paying attention.

Most distressingly, Anapayan excuses the murder by the Tigers of the Tamil moderates and progressive nationalists: the fault was that the Sri Lankan state let them down, says he/she. Well, states tend to do so, but not all moderates are cannibalistically devoured even while the struggle is ongoing, by the other wing of a movement; and when that happens, resulting in disaster,  intellectuals and intellectual forums do not engage in or permit justification of such butchery. I wonder what Rajini’s daughters and Neelan’s sons would feel when reading Anapayan’s excuse for their mother’s and father’s murders (and murderers).

Anapayan argues that the Sinhala Establishment was eagerly awaiting the LTTE’s rejection of radical reform of the state, and was in fear of it doing otherwise. Even if true, that begs not just one but six major questions:

  1. Why did the Tigers do so when it was the Indian and not the Sinhala establishment doing the running (e.g. the Accord and the Interim Council of Sept ’87)?
  2. Why did the Tigers play into the hands of the ‘Sinhala Establishment’ by dodging and sabotaging all possibilities of reform from ’87 through to 2005?
  3. Why did the Tigers not conduct themselves politically in the manner that the Sinn Fein, the ANC/SACP, the Nepali Maoists and the Salvadorian FMLN did, in the face of Establishment traps and provocations?
  4. Why did the TULF reject the 13th amendment in 1987, fail to endorse Chandrika’s quasi-federal ‘packages’ of ’95 and ’97 and refuse to vote in favor of her draft Constitution of August 2000?
  5. Why did a dominant segment of Anapayan’s and Sivaram’s collective agency, ‘We’, cheer the LTTE and the TULF/TNA on in this obduracy?
  6. Why are these criticisms still not made and what does this tell us about the consciousness and project of that ‘we’?

Mr. /Ms Anapayan prefaces his/her essay with a telling quote from the late D Sivaram (‘Taraki’), to wit: “If the LTTE were not here, we would all be fucked”. The problem with regarding this as an especially insightful remark is that: (A) The LTTE (like some Kilroy from Kilinochchi) ‘was here’ (B) Notwithstanding which, and going by Sivaram’s and Anapayan’s yardstick, ‘they’ are f****d (C) ‘They’ were being f****d by the LTTE as well and (D) The LTTE was itself f*****d.

Anapayan chooses to overlook the basic theoretical and moral questions of the character of the LTTE as reflected in its political behavior, the character of the political community which sustained it as the hegemonic force when other options were available, and the fate of the LTTE in comparison to far smaller entities such as the Hezbollah, the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein and the Nepali Maoists. These have been the more important issues I have pointed to over decades.

His smorgasbord of my texts ignores their contexts and conjunctures: my interventions advocated reform options which were on the table or could have been brought to it at that time, but were then surpassed by the maximalism of the Tigers and their constituency on the one hand  and the vacillation of weak-willed Colombo administrations on the other (Wikileaks confirms that the UNP administration requested Norway to supply electronic communications equipment to the LTTE, to the consternation of India). Federalism is no longer on the table.

Mr. /Ms Anapayan and his collective ‘we’ are fully entitled to their ‘red lines’. Many of them

were crossed and effaced by the Special Forces, the Commandos, and the multiple spearhead Divisions of the SLA, the MiGs, Kfirs and Mi-24s of the SLAF, and the fast attack craft of the SLN. New ‘red lines’ have been drawn by the reality of the war and its outcome.

Only history will tell what the durable ‘red lines’ of the Sri Lankan state, citizenry prove to be as reflected in a bipartisan democratic consensus, explicit or implicit. I wish Anapayan luck with what remains of his/her ‘red lines’. It might save Anapayan many years of wasted effort if he pauses to consider whether ‘red lines’ drawn in Florida by the Miami émigré Cubans have had a positive echo and salutary response in Cuba, among its people, or whether such hostile postures only make steelier the determination on the island, not to give in to pressure and to pre-empt any domestic bases for inimical external projects.  To shift from Diaspora politics, do such ‘red lines’ drawn by Kashmiri or Basque secessionists have a positive effect on the Indian or Spanish states and societies?

Freedom, as Engels so famously said, is the recognition of necessity.  For my part, I believe that there is no political space beyond the red lines drawn by the state (not this or that administration) and expressive of or undergirded by the overwhelming collective consensus and consciousness. That is an existential decision of very long duration. Within these historical-structural red lines though, there is adequate political space, which must neither be underutilized nor overshot.

I am modestly satisfied that with the LTTE decisively defeated as a fighting force, the future of the Tamil people will be decided by the competitive interplay of democratically elected political representatives of government and opposition, Sinhala , Tamil and Muslim, North and South, and the complex interface of internal and external factors.

I have been at least since the mid –late 1980s, a reformist of a modernist social democratic sort, but one who believes that moderates, liberals, progressives must have the guts to fight for what they believe, that which is valuable in their societies and the very space for effecting change, against those forces that threaten it most. I remain a ‘steadfast progressist’ as Prof Remy Herrera wrote while reviewing my book, in Afrique Asie, Paris. If in the Sri Lankan context I remain a revolutionary it is in the sense of a ‘Long revolution’ (Raymond Williams’ phrase); a modernist transformation, in the broad socio-cultural sense towards modernity, democracy and freedom.

Does this square with my support for the war and Mahinda Rajapakse? Certainly, provided one’s basic political literacy encompasses an awareness of the position of the Non Aligned Movement (of which I was very much a child and the ethos of which I was socialized into), the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and the ‘new pivotal powers’ (add Turkey, Indonesia and South Africa), on the foundational issues of national independence, sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity and the dismemberment of existing states through secessionism or centrifugal structures (the threat, under a ‘federalist’ flag, in Bolivia today). If Anapayan thinks mine is a Sinhala ‘supremacist’ view or acceptable only to such elements, he should re-visit the Geneva UNHRC vote of May ’09.

I supported the project of renovation – though not the outcome of systemic collapse — of Gorbachev. As the ’90s opened, an erstwhile comrade Dayapala Tiranagama and I debated in The Island and the Divaina, over my turn to reformist social democracy and defense of Gorbachev. Reformism and the preservation of the state through radical renovation is the best outcome, but when push comes to shove, the preservation of the state, especially from the forces of neo-barbarism such as the Tigers and the JVP, is a higher priority than radical reform and must be grasped as prerequisite for the possibility of such reform as a second or subsequent stage of the historical process.

Certainly I have supported Mahinda Rajapakse from 2003 and continue to do so, because if and when the choice is between Yeltsin and Putin (I deploy these also as political metaphor, paradigm and external posture) and as long as that remains the only real choice among those available, I opt for Putin (or a Putin)!

Though I do not think it applies fully in the Sri Lankan case, an argument made by no lesser a radical thinker than Slavoj Zizek, adapting Alain Badiou’s use of ‘Master-Signifier’ does lend theoretical-philosophical warrant to my own defense of and support for two Presidents in the context of the long crisis:

“The heroism of an authentic Master consists precisely in his willingness to assume this impossible position of ultimate responsibility, and to take upon himself the implementation of unpopular measures which prevents the system from disintegrating.…in contrast to hysterical revolutionary fervor caught in the vicious cycle, the fervor of those who prefer to stay in opposition and prefer ( publicly or secretly) to avoid the burden of taking over, of accomplishing the shift from subversive activity to responsibility for the smooth running of the social edifice, he [Lenin] heroically assumed the responsibility of actually running the State – of making all the necessary compromises , but also taking the necessary harsh measures, to assure that the Bolshevik power would not collapse…

…There must be One who assumes the ultimate responsibility, inclusive of a ruthless readiness to make the necessary compromises or break the letter of the Law in order to guarantee the system’s survival; and it is totally erroneous to interpret this function as that of an unprincipled pragmatic sticking to power, whatever the cost.’ (Slavoj Zizek: ‘Political Subjectivization and its Vicissitudes’ in ‘The Ticklish Subject’ p 237)

I have also been among the longest standing public critics, if not the longest standing (from ’97), of the incumbent and ancien regime of the Opposition, which analysts agree is one of the most important props of the status quo well before the Rajapakse tenure. I have argued for a transformation of the Opposition leadership long before the election of Mahinda Rajapakse to the presidency and have continued to do so into his second term! Now, are these positions identical, congruent or contradictory? Simple minds would take one or other of these views. ‘Anapayan’ obviously doesn’t have the dialectics to un-riddle it.

My argument regarding a strong state –and the Asian state in the post Cold War world–is analogous to and in places overlaps with that of Prof Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore’s controversial former Ambassador to the UN, one of Asia’s most respected public intellectuals. Intervening in the debate over the award of the Nobel Peace Prize he wrote in the New York Times that:

“…Over the past 30 years, the Chinese government has done far more good than harm both for China and the world…In the Western political imagination, the march to progress is made by steadily weakening the state and enlarging individual freedom. In the Chinese political experience the weakening of the Chinese state has inevitably led to chaos and enormous personal suffering…The Chinese government managed to find the right balance between opening up society and maintaining order — and that in a country of 1.3 billion people…Few Chinese believe that the West is trying to do China any good by trying to accelerate the political transformation. Indeed, most Chinese believe that the Western agenda is to unleash the same chaos in China as it did with instant democracy in Russia. When Jagland compared Liu to Sakharov, he confirmed the Chinese conviction that the goal of this prize is to destabilize China. If the West persists in its refusal to understand China’s fundamental concerns, it will do more harm than good with its good intentions.” (NYT, Nov 11, 2010)

Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Gramsci have highlighted the difference—unflatteringly–between West and East (especially the West and Asia) in terms of state and social formation, and Stalin once argued heretically but accurately that in the relationship to imperialism “the Emir of Afghanistan is more progressive than the British Labor Party”. (I venture the same case for Mahinda Rajapakse). A successful project of Sri Lankan social democracy has to incorporate this recognition of uneven development and the specificity of Asian concerns and consciousness into a new synthesis: an Asian social democracy, which is marked by a communitarian inflection, not a deracinated transplant of pro-Western liberalism.

In no way do I intend this as an adoption of the ‘Asian cultural values’ perspective or a rejection of universalism in political philosophy and thought. A group of quite outstanding thinkers have staked out a position distinct from the antipodes of liberal individualism and collectivist fanaticism. These theorists stand for a ‘moderate patriotism’ and a ‘communitarian’ perspective. They include Richard Rorty, Charles Taylor, Alasdair Macintyre, Michael Walzer and (if you revise the formulation to ‘left patriotism’ or ‘left republicanism’ instead of the ‘communitarian’) Regis Debray.

To my mind, the challenge in politics today is best summed up by Prof Zygmunt Bauman, Ed Miliband’s favorite thinker (whose work on modernity was an ingredient, many years back, in my M Phil thesis on socialism’s collapse). In an interview in the latest issue of The Russian Journal, Moscow, dedicated to the theme of ‘The Fears of the New Decade’, Bauman recognizes as equally legitimate, the seeking after security and freedom, and recognizes the problems of achieving synthesis:

“There are two values equally indispensable for a decent, satisfying, and dignified life: security and freedom. Security without freedom equals slavery, whereas freedom without security means indescribable risks and unbearable uncertainty. Both values, I repeat, are indispensable – and yet they are practically impossible to balance in a fully satisfying way: the more you have of one, the more of the other you need to surrender. Each compromise between the two is bound to be a transient settlement or a temporary armistice, and on any occasion the pendulum may start to swing in the opposite direction.” (Zygmunt Bauman, ‘In the Grip of Ignorance and impotence’, The Russian Journal, weekly edition of the Russian Institute Dec 29, 2010, issue 14/56)

Most neoconservatives and liberals omit the one in favor of the other. I do not, and try to grapple with the dialectic.

I always bear in mind that discontent can propel politics more than one way; that a few years down the road, our society can throw up an option to the Right of and far more hawkishly praetorian than the status quo, and that those who hysterically condemn the incumbent administration as a National Security State may be yet to see one!

I argue that if it is not to generate a social tsunami of a backlash (albeit subterranean at the outset), any new wave of reform of the Sri Lankan state and polity must be underpinned by a prior guarantee of security; of the conservation of the wartime achievement in all its dimensions, from every version of everything the LTTE represented. It is only when and if the public, the enfranchised and therefore ultimately sovereign citizenry at large, is existentially convinced of this, that society and polity will risk moving in the direction of radical reform, striking out for new horizons.

  • TT

    I say, “If the LTTE was here, we would all be fucked”.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Dayan

    Certainly I have supported Mahinda Rajapakse from 2003 and continue to do so, because if and when the choice is between Yeltsin and Putin… I opt for Putin (or a Putin)!

    But wasn’t that the choice faced by the Tamils as well, between Devananda (Kethesh’s “sole alternative”) and Prabakaran?

    You may say now with the benefit of hindsight that Devananda outlived Prabakaran, but can you predict whether Mahinda will be alive in 10 years the way he is currently leading? (sigh, since he is your employer your answer will be quite predictable…)

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Wijayapala, both Putin and Mahinda were/are elected. I must have missed Prabhakaran’s election as the leader of the Tamil community.

  • Davidson

    Tamils have been robbed(I don’t use the ‘f’ word) of life for 6+ decades – it continues unabated:
    Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:
    ‘’…….. IDP’s being denied access to their former places of residence
    Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in conflict affected areas
    Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
    Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
    The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed equitably and in line with the announced scheme
    Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
    Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity based biases
    Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking in even basic allocations
    Preventing willing and capable NGO’s/INGO’s, international community and Diaspora from helping people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
    Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and their families
    Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
    Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
    Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
    Continuing disappearances of civilians
    List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
    Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
    Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
    Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of armed personnel of the forces
    Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
    Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
    Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
    Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
    Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the civilian communities
    Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
    Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government. .…’’

    Every time some sensible articles appear in the GV, Dayan posts his verbal diarrhoea here to please the President.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    “I am modestly satisfied that with the LTTE decisively defeated as a fighting force, the future of the Tamil people will be decided by the competitive interplay of democratically elected political representatives of government and opposition, Sinhala , Tamil and Muslim, North and South, and the complex interface of internal and external factors.”

    Aday Dayan Master, very nice one! So you are saying that there is nothing that is needing to be changed in the system for the Tamils to be getting what they should be getting. The oppositon doing what it is doing and the government doing what it is doing. Nothing to be changed. But you are saying it so nicely, with interfacials and interplays, making it to be appearing something very sophisticated like, and very general also. When you are speaking like this nobody is able to be saying anything because you are actually saying nothing really. I must be getting Our Majesty to be reading this. Right now when he is talking the crap it is sounding like the crap. This is sounding like you are givng scientific formula for the crap.

    But I am happy you are like this now. Sometimes in the last year I am reading in the Groundviews you are saying something like the struggle nowadays is to be egetting the 13th amendment implemented or somethinglthe ike that one. I am looking for article but cannot be finding it, maybe Sanjana removing it. Anyway, when I am reading it I am getting very worried thinking my god, now the Dayan Master is going to be fighting for the 13th Amendment and now the government will definitely be having to be implementing amendment because the Dayan Master is having sooooo much infuence in the government. I am not sleeping, eating little also. Then when you are going to the French side you are slowly forgetting 13th amendment, maybe even forgetting to be counting beyond 13 now. But it is making me happy, to be knowing that our country is safe now, no chance of the division of the country becasue the Dayan Master is forgetting the amendment. Now this ingerfacial thing you are writing is showing very clearly that we are totally out of the danger. You are just like us, just crapping on in another language.

    • MV

      @ The Mervyn Silva

      “So you are saying that there is nothing that is needing to be changed in the system for the Tamils to be getting what they should be getting.”

      Indeed! The groundviews is funtioning. The TNA is getting elected to the parliament. All these mean there is a fully functioning democracy in Sri Lanka both in the past and the present. There is nothing to be changed in the system for Tamils to be getting what they should be getting – now the “terrorism” all wiped out, it will be an interplay of democratically elected representatives to determine the future of Tamils.

      But for how long this interplay before they actually decide upon something. I am sure all are eagerly waiting for this “home grown solution” that MR had in mind.

      • The Mervyn Silva

        Dear the MV,

        As member of the government side I can be assuring and reassuring also that it is nothing but inter-PLAY and a very enjoyable PLAY at that, at least for us in the government side.

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dr Jayatilleka wrote

    ”I argue that if it is not to generate a social tsunami of a backlash (albeit subterranean at the outset), any new wave of reform of the Sri Lankan state and polity must be underpinned by a prior guarantee of security; of the conservation of the wartime achievement in all its dimensions, from every version of everything the LTTE represented. It is only when and if the public, the enfranchised and therefore ultimately sovereign citizenry at large, is existentially convinced of this, that society and polity will risk moving in the direction of radical reform, striking out for new horizons”

    sure this captures the essence of some exsicentional dimension of the Sinhala Political psyche. But the hard and historicized emperical ( and recorded) reality of the Sinhala Nationalism is that it never found ( not even signalling in that direction) such security. Instead in a downward spiralical manner the ontological insecurity widens- taking, naming and blaming some ‘other’ ever present enemy.

    It was the Mahayaan Buddhism in the 5th BCE, then the Invading Thamil kings, then the intra rivalry, then the European invaders, then the Catholic and Christians , then the UNP, the JVP and the Thamils, the LTTE, and Sartha Fonseka. Along with this endless list of ‘enemies’ and their agents (including but limiting the UN, EU, I/NGO, Pakyasothi Saravanamuththu, Jehan Perera and many others) were the grand scheme of Jaththantrana Kumanthrana” thesis against this poor/selfless island.

    I do agree that LTTE contributed to the apocalyptic sense of fear and egenerated epistemological fears into Sinhala minds that produced an ontogenesis determiniation to fight.

    But why is that SL is under such fear of attack from so called enemies all the time? What makes this island so special? It is ”Niramala” Buddhism, Uthum Sinhalas, the strategic location of this (A)Muthu Ataya or other factors? how many other states on this planet are facing such galactic threats? How have they manged? Or is this one phenomenological factor that happens in SL here and now to shape the entire galactic destiny between the Sura and Asuaras?

    Jayatileka argues that

    ”only when and if the public, the enfranchised and therefore ultimately sovereign citizenry at large, is existentially convinced of this, that society and polity will risk moving in the direction of radical reform,”

    this give us a conclusion that the state of SL will never be at rest because her enemies are eternal like her (largely self architectonic) insecurity.
    Jayatileka has written a preamble for a new ethnoreligious Sinhala Nationalism embedded in political eschatology. As in the history, again ruling elites have employed writes to reconstruct some eternal fear so that the masses are always wanting a messiah in fact a Maharaja to rescue them. H.E Rajapakse has done well by hiring a new Mahanama to compile a new Mahawansa. This time the writer belongs not to some Mahavihara fraternity but to a modern club of Sinhala hegemony wrapped with some synthetic revolutionary theories.

    Are we to conclude that if there is only one Sinhala left, s/he will continue to fight this enemy: which is not more than his/her own long shadow.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Suren

      But why is that SL is under such fear of attack from so called enemies all the time?

      The answer is so obvious that virtually everyone has missed it. For the Sinhalese it is so incredibly obvious that they would never think to point it out to anyone else. The people who are the most clueless tend to be educated anthropologist types and think they know everything. Everything you have cited: Tamil & European invaders, Christian imperialism etc. are merely symptoms of this fundamental factor. So is the Mahavamsa itself.

      The Sinhalese consider Sri Lanka to be special because there is no other country that has or had a Sinhala civilisation. Sri Lanka is also the last country in S. Asia to have Buddhism. Therefore any threat to the Sinhalese or to Buddhism in Sri Lanka could spell the end for both. This mentality existed prior to the colonial era (evidence: Mahavamsa) and may very well have ensured the survival of both.

      I can provide further evidence by the following story. The Sinhalese believe that the Tooth Relic was brought to Sri Lanka by Prince Danta and Princess Hemamalini. If you go to Sri Lanka, often you will see pictures or artwork of them. They are carrying their belongings and appear to be homeless. Hemamalini has her hair up and in some art it is glowing. Danta is carrying some kind of weapon. The story goes that they were from Kalinga which had the last Buddhist kingdom in India (not entirely true, as by that time there was still traces of Buddhism in Bengal). This kingdom was on the verge of conquest by a non-Buddhist neighbor, and the prince and princess heard that Sri Lanka was still a bastion of Buddhism so they traveled there.

      this give us a conclusion that the state of SL will never be at rest because her enemies are eternal like her (largely self architectonic) insecurity.

      There may be no cure for Sinhala insecurity, but the real question is how to prevent violence against non-Sinhala communities. I believe that if the Sinhalese learn more about Tamils through interaction, the more they will see that modern-day Tamils are no threat to them regardless of what happened 1000 years ago.

      • TT


        Very few Sinhalese know the contents of the Mahawamsa, I guess. On the other hand the few people I know who know alot about that book support a multi ethnic nation.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Suren, don’t be melodramatic: the democratic Tamil representatives will have to negotiate with the main governing and oppositional formations (whichever they are at the given point in time) and arrive at a solution….What’s wrong with that? It should be simpler than before because there is no LTTE to murder those democratic leaders.

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear Dayan,
        Your long silence created doubts that In Paris you have exchanged your activism do diplomatic glories. Thank you for re emerging between. Even while some fundamental disagreements with your ‘personal’ political theories ( and obvious motives) I respect your continuous social engagement. I am not aware of anyone else in the entire establishment of the SL political management for such social dialogue at a time we need them most. SO thank you

        We agree on many issues – I presume
        1. NO separate in SL
        2. NO federal constitution ( at least inteh enar future)
        3. The (Thamil) diaspora separatist ethos only promises to harm any possible agreements
        4 A collective Thamil representativeness should demand democracy from the southern rules
        5 13 amendment is a the basis for such long term negotiated power sharing

        yet you honestly know that GoSL had delayed, derailed and even dismissed ( including you) those who demand democratic recovery based on an actual time table and genuine approach. The denial in demilitarization of the North East such a fundamental topic I as a moderate have no answers when I engage with Tahmail Nationalists.
        The President himself has acknowledged ( in this Thai Ponggal Message at Sangupitti) there is a new underworld in North.
        This having a 70,000 strong armed troops. Then tell me why is at least the 13th amendment in its spirit and letter not offered by the post LTTE sinhala regime even after some 18 months since the annahilation of LTTE?

        Instead you have floated the primodial issue of the (in)security of the Sinhalas and added the Mahawamse-Old Testament with Israle-Sri Lanka comparison. Are we to then conclude that SL will be /is the Israel of South Asia and there will not be any sense of liberal democracy in the near future even if they build the most sophisticated anti terror army in the world backed by undeclared nuclear weapons and supported by every powerful western state?


        simply tell us when , what and how much the Tamils in NE should do to increase this ”sinhala secuirty”

        I simply hope you will not write to say that they should accept Douglas, Karuna and Pillayan as thier leaders?
        (that will be like you writing that Southern Sinhlas should accept Mervin Silva, Duminda Silva or even Ranil and Sarath F as their leaders if democracy is to return? because all them have faced some kind of elections and are ” representing” the masses

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Has anybody wondered whether Canada would have as liberal a federal system as it does, if France had been next door to Quebec rather than an ocean and a continent away?

      David is right on something else: like it or not, the Mahawamsa is as structural a feature of collective Sinhala consciousness and identity as the Old Testament is of collective Jewish consciousness and identity. How intelligent is it to decry and argue for the removal of either?

  • veedhur

    Jeeeez, I am lost!!

    Let me try to understand.
    1.State(singhalese?) won the war. This is reality. Tamils have to accept what they are given because the LTTE lost.
    2. Dayan keeps changing the ‘solution’ and definition of the ‘problem’ depending on the ground realities and more importantly depending on who is in power.
    3. The local butcher in the corner shop in the market I frequent to ( a singhalese and a regular voter) also has the same views. He says it in his own way and he doesn’t have any doctoral degrees!

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Of course I keep ‘changing’ my recommendation regarding the ‘problem’ and the ‘ solution’: when the Tigers were around , especially after a reformist option was on the table since ’87, they were the problem, and the solution was their military defeat and elimination as a fighting force. You expect me to keep reeating that now under changed conditions? Some one else writes that last year I was all about the 13th amendment. Why don’t i keep writing about that now? Because elections have been held in the North and the democratic representatives of the Tamils must sit with their Southern counterparts and work it out. It is no longer my politico-intellectual burden as it was before an electoral process and space reopened in those areas. Now it is up to the Tamil politicians. I have only cautioned that they should not overshoot the mark, but that again is their choice.

      Veedhur, if your neighbourhood butcher is for moderate devolution through the full implementation of the Constitution in all its provisions, and stands for a multiethnic, multireligious, multilingual national identity, as well as for complete equality of the rights of citizens and strong anti-discriminatory laws, the you are in luck, as are all of us! Maybe we should relocate to your neighbourhood?

  • TT


    State is not Sinhalese. Look at the parliament, Cabinet or the composition of the state by population. It is multiethnic.

    Tamils must accept something lesser than what LTTE fought for. Yes, because the LTTE lost. If this is to be challeneged, it must be done in war, again because I doubt any change can happen without that.

    I tend to agree with #2.

    Your #3 is totally irrelevant though our maid is a respectful Tamil and she says the same thing you say with a bit of spicy words, MGR quotes and proverbs!

    • The Mervyn Silva

      Dear the Double T,

      You are having the Tamil maid? How nice! Where you getting her from? I am also looking for one. I am always thinking reconciliation is coming more swiftly and rapidly also if we are all having the Tamil maid and the boy in our house. Teaching them to be respectful-like. I am glad your maid is already respectful. I am sure you must be saying if you not showing me respect, only the military solution available.

      In the parliament also we are having few Tamil boys. The Devananda and the Karuna. Very respectful also. Before we are saying jump they are jumping and hitting head against ceiling also and then alughing like idiot thinking they are showing nice trick. No Tamil maids in parliament yet. We are hoping to have some soon though.

    • The Mervyn Silva

      “Look at the parliament, Cabinet or the composition of the state by population. It is multiethnic.”

      Aday the Double T,

      Your household must also being on the multi ethnic side with the respectful Tamil maid also! I am understandig very well now what you are meaning.

  • Sri

    Dr Dayan Jayathilake,

    Your preempt attack on Anapayan (What a name? Who is he?) clearly indicates that you are on shaky ground. Otherwise why attack the messenger instead of the message.
    The prerequisite of any Tamil to write on national question is that he should unreservedly condemn the LTTE,then and only then his writings will evoke attention.
    This is a majoritarian racist mindset.
    As usual your articles are full of irrelevant quotations from various sources.
    What you are attempting is to say that there is always a tradeoff between Security and freedom.
    Are you not contradicting yourself? If so, how could you claim that after 1987 LTTE had several options other than war?
    It should be the other way round!
    When LTTE was in the scene the security would have been the serious concern of the state.
    Several writers have shown conclusively that irrespective of LTTE the Sinhalese establishment is paranoid about security since the time of Mahavamsa!
    But according to you Security has become a concern only after the complete annihilation of LTTE? What an argument ?
    You are coming out with lame excuses for not honoring your promises and just behave like an applogist of a colonial power!

    • Sri, on your last point about the Sinhalese establishment being paranoid regardless of the LTTE, I’m afraid I can’t agree, though I’m interested in seeing what these writers you mention say on it. Contrarily, I think the GoSL wasn’t that paranoid throughout the ’70s and ’80s, nor very security-conscious, which was what enabled the separatists to build up. I think the move towards a security-conscious state started with Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranjan Wijeratne and gradually became more encompassing. Today, even after the war, it is not always possible to take a picture in a public place of no consequence without feeling nervous. However, I think this paranoia is mostly because no one can quite believe that the danger is past. If there’s no stirring up of feelings by external elements, I think we’ll rapidly see a ratcheting down of this paranoia.

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear David,
        this year it appears I have more to engage ( or waste lol)

        your last point is the exact one I am raising with DJ. Since he is uncustomarily silent, I ask. (some say you are his protege?)

        The securitization of the state and society in a Foucaultdian sense has never stopped in SL. It is historicized. There is always the paranoia.

        So, is this ontological insecurity an actual, empirical reality ”out there” or an extra prorated imagination (with some valid factors like the Tigerish Terror)?

        How did other states with similar insecurities deal with them? Do you think that the Sinhala-Buddhist ethnorelious nationalism reproduces such hegemony over and over to maintain the elitist status of Sinhal politics in the island over the other ethnies? After all according to Mahawamse that is what Prince Vijaya did against Kuweini and her clang ( at least one of )the- indigenous first nations of SL.

        It will be a great study if one can engage to detect how the two main Sinhala political Parties ( and form 1970s the Thamil parties) sold this fear factor at every election since 1948.

        Mahawamse records that Gauthama Buddha preached to the Yakkas in Mahiyangana during his first visit to the island. beside the question who these YAKKAS still remains? the fact that so compassionate Gauthama used fear (creating water/fire/thunder etc) to terrorize the YAKKAS who then pleaded his leadership poses few political security question in our modern understanding of such structure and agency modalities.

        DO you thinking this is a mythology that justifiably using fear in Buddhist literature? or an actual fact legitimizing the hegemony of Buddhist ( and later Sinhala)missionary out reach in pre-Buddhist SL, employing fear as tool of governmentality?

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Yo, Sri,

      I am not really saying anything about Anupayan that Dayapala Tiranagama isn’t, in his trenchant comments on the latter’s essay in GV which occasioned my own. Tiranagama’s point ( he makes it twice over) is one I reiterate: the critique of and rupture with the LTTE’s practice and theory is a precondition for legitimacy. Anupayan fails to meet this condition and in fact delegitimises his intervention by justifying the LTTE’s murders. Does he think this will gain him a sympathetic audience in the South for the rest of what he says?

      • Anapayan

        To all,

        As usual we are debating all the issues except the point I have raised here.


        First of all I wrote this piece of article as an observer of this conflict since late 1980s – since my early teens. On the other hand this is a ‘detached’ observation whilst being a ‘participant’ in the Tamil community.

        Therefore this comment should not be taken as a Tamil point of view rather its an attempt to understand the conflict in a different way with the benefit of ‘Tamil knowledge’. (The discussion point is not about ‘objectivity’!)


        C. Sundaralingam and V. Navaratnam advocated for separation before the emergence of Tamil militancy, therefore they were spared of being ‘delegitimized’ by the Southern constituency. Instead they were electorally punished by the Tamil constituency for their ‘extremist’ position.

        I am neither advocating for separation nor armed violence, still raising a well ‘ignored’ point – in the analysis of the failure of Tamil moderate politics of post independent Sri Lanka – is at risk of being ‘delegitimized’ by the GV community for simply because of the LTTE’s emergence during my generation.

        This discussion reminds me of TV talk shows of late 90s, where initially Kumar Ponnambalam took part as a Tamil politician and gradually he ‘assumed’ the role of the LTTE spokesman. It was the other participants and anchors of those programs, who pushed Kumar to take that role and Kumar’s own intention to bask the LTTE’s ‘reflected glory’ also played a role. Eventually he ended up being grilled by the CID regarding his utterances during a talk show on Swarnavahini television.

        Personally speaking, I live in a western liberal democracy and I don’t see the relevance of identity politics in a world with ceaseless globalization. But in Sri Lankan context we need to be aware of “specificity of Asian concerns and consciousness”(Courtesy:DJ).

        Therefore I am not going to assume any roles other than my role as a ‘detached’ observer of this conflict. Also I have to admit that this ‘detached’ sense developed over the time and I had to undergo my own de-indoctrination process, that doesn’t mean that I have gone through a ‘proper indoctrination’ under the LTTE rule, mostly I lived in Colombo. Here I am talking about a ‘social indoctrination’, that prevails within the community irrespective of space or place.

        The point is, I am not here to be ‘pardoned’ by anyone or to assume roles other than mine.

        I am against capital punishment and I condemn any sort of killing. I have clearly stated my position on LTTE’s politics and crimes in my article.

        I used the names of Neelan and Ketheish to drive a particular point about Sivaram’s concept on Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency practices. Nowhere in my article I justified their killings. Dayan has changed his observation from “excuse” to “justification” for some unknown reason.

        I presented an argument that Tamils viewed those gentlemen as part of the Sri Lanka’s CI nexus this view was primarily influenced by Sivaram’s CI conceptualization.

        It is absurd to demand condemnation from me for LTTE killings where I don’t even agree on ethical application of violence or just-war theory.

        I am not aware of any such ‘declaration’ process – condemning killings by the LTTE – being put in action for the GV community members.

        And what about Sinhalese members, are they expected to condemn all the state sanctioned pogroms with popular Sinhala support, massacres, extra judicial killings and years of incarceration of Tamil youths without trial?

        A genuine reconciliation cannot happen in this fashion in the context of government advisers still thinking of trade off between security and freedom.

        It is absolutely essential that we should not be fixed with pogroms or gruesome killings rather we should look at the larger picture / context.

  • wijayapala

    Suren, I’ve already answered your questions yesterday. You won’t learn anything by invoking anthropological analysis with the Mahavamsa.

  • Sri

    David Blacker,

    I disagree, Why and How UNP in 1957 was able to mobilize the Sinhala opinion against BC Pact and successfully forced Mr Bandaranaike in abrogating the pact?.

    Again How SLFP during 1965-68 succeeded in preventing the implementation of Dudley Chelva Pact in 1965?

    In both instances there was bi-partition support among the Sinhala hardliners including Maha Sangha.

    Why in the 1972 Constitution the unitary state was given constitutional status? and in 1978 it had become an entrenched clause so that it could not be altered without a referendum.

    When Federal Party was advocating federalism it was accused of harboring separatism as their hidden agenda.

    Sell out to Federal Party was a frequent accusation against opponents! and used it in every general elections in Sri Lanka.

    All these happened years before the birth of separatism/terrorism in Sri Lanka.

    How anybody account for this behavior of Sinhalese? Is it Mahavamsa mentality? or security consciousness?.

    The Sinhalese felt very insecure throughout their history.

    Again you say the separatists were able to build up during 1970s and 1980s because the state at that time was not security conscious.

    Actually the separatists were able to build up only after 1983 riots. The government could not do anything because of the sympathy that had evoked internationally including India for the Tamil cause after the genocidal riots and the consequent guilty consciousness among the Sinhalese.

    LTTE is no more.

    Terrorism has been completely eradicated and now is the time for Sri Lanka to build up a modern, united country not only in words but in real terms.

    Freedom for all!
    Democracy for all!

    No need to compromise in the name of security!.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Sri,

      The common fear before the war was that the Tamil politicians would separate the N-E and link it with Tamil Nadu, the “other” Tamil homeland.

      This view might be silly until you place it next to the notion expressed in the other thread that the killings of Kethesh and Neelan were justified because they were close to the government.

  • Suren, I’m not sure what you mean about me being DJ’s protege. Many commentators on this blog (and elsewhere) find it impossible to engage with an individual’s ideas unless they can first pigeonhole that person into a convenient category that enables them to decipher the idea based on a perceived bias rather than its content. This has led people to call me a government stooge, a war criminal, a para suddha, a Tiger mongrel, and most amusingly of all, a Sinhala-Buddhist! Being DJ’s protege must be one of the more milder ones, and I’m not sure who should be more insulted, DJ or me 😀

    Both you and Sri are correct in the sense that the Sinhalese have had an overall historical sense of insecurity. Being a tiny island in immediate proximity to what is arguably the world’s most populous nation would make anyone insecure, but add to this the fact that SL is the last bastion of Buddhism in South Asia (if you discount Bhutan) and the Sinhalese language worldwide, and you can’t really blame the Sinhalese. On top of all of this, SL has been continuously invaded and eventually colonised for several centuries. So an immediate suspicion of anyone perceived to be trying to change the Sinhalese hegemony of the island is quite natural.

    An immediate parallel can be drawn with Jewish Israel, which sees itself as the spiritual and geographical home of the Jews, a besieged bastion in a sea of enemies. Centuries of persecution and decades of invasion by the Arabs have made the Israelis deeply paranoid of any attempt at compromise that might perhaps endanger the Zionist ideal in Israel. Sadly, this has not been resolved over there. While the Jews seem to prefer a separate Palestinian state to an integrated and unitary Judeo-Arab one, their refusal to allow Palestine full sovereignty might well result in that very situation happening. The 21st century is hardly the time in which pure racial nations will be tolerated by the world.

    Another parallel is the United Kingdom’s historical relationship with mainland Europe. Constant invasions and wars created a deep British suspicion of anything European, particularly of their coastal neighbours such as Germany, France, and Spain. This can be seen even today in the UK’s long reluctance to integrate fully with the EU.

    Having said that, I still don’t think the Sinhalese have been paranoid in the area of security, or even very security-aware for most of their history. In spite of having been invaded several times by India as well as Europe, the Sinhalese were still prepared to invite the British in. Even in this century, most Sinhalese didn’t see a problem with inviting the Indians in to settle the separatist issue, in spite of the fact that the last time the Kandyans did that, the British stayed for a century.

    I don’t see any real attempt in Buddhism at using fear as an instrument of evangelism; and certainly not in comparison to the monoaesthic religions of the Middle East. Using fear as a tool of governance is a basic tenet everywhere, isn’t it? How else will the law compel if it cannot coerce?

    Sri, the Sinhalese reaction to Tamil separation isn’t particularly unique, is it? Since the Tamil call for a separate state more or less paralleled our independence, any devolution of the central government concept would be seen as the first step in that direction. Unfortunately, the national leadership of the country made no attempt to create a national identity that spanned the ethno-religious ones, opting instead to use the majority Sinhalese identity as the national one. Therefore, any attempt to reduce Sinhalese hegemony became an attack on the nation itself.

    Therefore, since leaders such as SWRD and JRJ had committed themselves to that route, and built up their voter base on that precept, they were forced to maintain that status quo if they were to maintain power. Acknowledging that a federal system such as Canada’s (drawn out along language/ethnic borders) could still be possible within a united SL meant shifting away from the concept that SL = Sinhalese, and no Sinhalese leader was prepared to risk that unknown territory. Eventually, the Sinhalese must accept this if future SL politics are not to remain hopelessly race-led.

    In light of this, Sri, the Sinhalese reactions to the Banda-Chelva pact, etc, are not a result of paranoia, but a result of a genuine belief that federalism or any devolution along ethnic lines was a threat to the nation. This belief is still held, and unless opinion leaders set themselves the task of changing this, the only option is to allow Sinhala-Buddhism to be the accepted identity of SL. The latter may seem totally negative at first glance, but it isn’t necessarily so.

    I stand by what I initially said about SL’s security-consciousness in our post-independence history. The LTTE and other separatist militant groups became a viable fighting force only after the influx of willing recruits in the aftermath of Black July, and I said that the GoSL’s naivete in regard to security stretched well into the mid-’80s, but these groups were well on their way to setting their doctrine and structure back in the late ’70s. The GoSL’s gradual change under Athulathmudali and Wijeratne were a direct result of the increasing military/terrorist success of the militants.

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear David,
      pardon me if i had hurt your feelings, My intension was not at all that.
      having spent a greater part of my my life under such politics of terminology ( Para Demla, Naadar, Kallathoni, and of course the modern version of all that Demala Kotiya), I will be the last to use such terms. My ‘protege’ term was only to bring some semantic thoughts – and bit of humor. pl. accept. I am sorry

      RE Securitization,

      it is very striking that both you and Dr Jayatillake had ( almost at once) have brought the parallel of Israel to Sri Lanka. This is true and possibly holders a potential research study. The Ethnoreligious nationalism and the subsequent (in)securitization with extreme militarization in both states provide some parallels
      (Prof Jonathan Fox a member of my research council has done extensive analysis on this if you are interested in)

      I agree with your observations of political history and the ”minority’ syndrome in the Sinhala polity-state structure. That was the preamble to my own ”Democratic Debate” article

      then except for the Zionist camp everyone concerned of ME or even world peace agrees, that Israel has to change and give up her nonsensical Mosaic ‘promised’ land claim if any sense of permanent peace is to return. This is the stand from Arafat to Obama.

      I hope your writing is in that context and not justifying or legitimizing the illegal occupation and the predator level of militarization by the Israeli Army!

      I think we can ask the simple question from the Sinhalas (and you and Dr J who seems to have some insights to their collective thinking)

      when/how/ what level of security will enable the Sinhalas to recover themselves totally? At what level of securitization will they be ready to share ruling political power with the Thamils and Muslims? What is the maximum limits of such internal/external security indicators will exchange democracy?

      The geopolitical realities of India and 80 million Thamils across cannot be changed. Neither we could erase our near and far histories.

      Then as the majority nation – who always had and will have power to decided the destiny of this island and of all who share it ,
      what is the expectation of the Sinhala Polity? the subterrainian political psychology of Security, Safety, Protection, non interference, non threatening but support , aid , investment, military help?

      do you not see both these factors are interdependent variables? because as per any school of security studies ( Copenhagen, Frankfort or Aberystwyth ) labeling, naming and self construction are the core issues of securitization.

      • Suren, apologies are unnecessary. My reply was not in offence.

        On the subject of Israel, my feelings are that there must be full sovereignty for Palestine, or full integration with Israel; preferably the latter, as the former is less durable and more likely to result in more conflict in the future. However, just as I said that the Tamils must take steps to regain Sinhalese trust, so must the Palestinians with the Israelis. Violence must be fully rejected, and Holocaust denial and other anti-Israeli rhetoric must be condemned. In addition, regardless of whether Palestine is granted full sovereignty or integration, the Arabs must recognise Jewish Israel or the new Judeo-Arab nation as the rightful home of the Jews, and their right to exist in the ME.

        On SL and the Sinhalese, I think the current insecurity of the latter will dissipate when the clear and present intention of the Tamils for separation and/or revenge is removed. If I as a Burgher-Tamil think this intent still remains, you can imagine how a Sinhalese feels.
        As for when and how the Sinhalese will share power; I think that question itself presupposes that the Sinhalese have that right. I think it’s more constructive to separate the national identity (ergo the seat of power) from that of the Sinhalese, so that any subsequent devolution isn’t perceived to be a diminishing of the Sinhalese in favour of the Tamils, but a straightforward devolution of the political centre to the provincial.

      • indonicus

        “It is very striking that both you and Dr Jayatillake had ( almost at once) have brought the parallel of Israel to Sri Lanka.”

        Hmmmmm. I think Dayan is speaking through a ‘medium’. LOL

      • Now, now, Indonicus, I know you have trouble with mediums, especially the English one 😉 so don’t add thinking to your already overtaxed brain.

      • indonicus

        LOL It’s true isn’t it? I mean Dayan speaking through your “medium” these days? ow long has this been going on?

        Has he promised you anything? Or is it just love?

        It’s one thing use a pseudonym but this arrangement is really cool! Well done!

      • Lol, it’s true, isn’t it — you do struggle with this medium? “Ow” long has this been going on? I mean, the only contribution you seem to have to make to this discussion — or any discussion — is your wit; or rather half of it 😀

      • indonicus

        And apart from resorting to the last refuge of the English Educated Sri Lankan pseudo-intellectual (the perceived superior command of English), you haven’t answered my question:

        How long has Dayan been writing stuff using your name? You may respond with childish drivel but answer that too if you can.

  • Actually David you Dr.The Yarn, Hudson Samarasinghe of the SLBC and many others remind us of the character ‘Squealer’ in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’
    Squealer is a small white fat porker who serves as Napoleon’s right hand pig and minister of propaganda, holding a position similar to that of Molotov of Russia. Squealer manipulates the language to excuse, justify, and extol all of Napoleon’s actions. (Napoleon is of course our very own PresiDunce) Squealer limits debate by complicating it and he confuses and disorients.(Just like you and Dr.TheYarn. However, when questions persist, he usually uses the threat of the return of Mr Jones, the former owner of the farm, to justify the pigs’ privileges. Squealer uses statistics to convince the animals that life is getting better and better. Most of the animals have only dim memories of life before the revolution; therefore, they are convinced. In the end, he is the first pig to walk on his hind legs.
    Four pigs who complain about Napoleon’s takeover of the farm are quickly silenced and later executed. Reminds me of Lasantha, Pradeep Eknaligoda and many others.

    Napoleon is the main villain of Animal Farm. He begins to gradually build up his power, using puppies he took from their parents, and which he raises to be vicious dogs, as his secret police. After driving Snowball off the farm,(thats Ranil Wicks, Sarath Fonseka etc) Napoleon usurps full power, using false propaganda from Squealer and threats and intimidation from the dogs to keep the other animals in line.(the dogs here are obviously the armed forces and police) Among other things, he gradually changes the Commandments (that’s the Constitution) for his benefit. By the end of the book, Napoleon and his fellow pigs have learned to walk upright and started to behave similarly to the humans against whom they originally revolted.

    I am convinced that if you guys continue the way you all are doing now…distorting facts not acknowledging civilian casualties by the armed forces etc… you guys who now walk on two legs will start walking on four legs in the not too distant future!

    I would urge you all to read Orwells “Animal Farm” and “1984.” And if you guys have already read the books, please re-read them.

    • And I suggest you read The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf, which is full of short sentences and manageable words that you will no doubt have no difficulty in comprehending. If all else fails, you can look at the pictures. 😀

      • The Mervyn Silva

        Good one the Blacker!

        After the last great Patriotic War we are having and the new war against the Diaspora is beginning we are all reading this book in the government. The parliament library is having many copies with the word Big Bad Wolf underlined for everybody to be knowing what we are now up and against.

        If this presiduce Bean is not liking long sentence like the Blacker is saying he cannot be Sri Lankan. Sri Lankans are usually loving the long sentence. We are having long sentence for three decades with long war. Now we are having another long sentence preparing for war against Big Bad Wolf.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Folks, life being far too short to keep this debate going, let me summarize my view which you may take on board or discard.

    1. No minority however defined (national minority, minority nationality) succeeds in obtaining a fair and satisfactory political outcome without winning over a majority of the majority community.

    2. This does not mean conforming to the lowest common multiple of majority opinion, but it does mean conforming to the highest common multiple of a majority consensus.

    3. An abiding failure of Tamil political leadership has been the failure to do the latter.

    4. The bottom line of re-merger and federalism are way beyond the highest common denominator of majority opinion in Sri Lanka, in the past and the foreseeable future. Even if these are a mere opening gambit in negotiations they sour the atmosphere and make progress difficult, as does the slogan of the 13th amendment ‘as a first step’. This is not reducible to Sinhala consciousness: from the UK to the Philippines, from Bolivia to Bangladesh, there is an aversion to federalism.

    5. On the other hand there are positive examples such as that of Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, which, led by the Sinn Fein, settled for something – devolution within a unitary state– which did not entail British troop removal, unity with the Republic of Ireland, or even a federal system in Britain.

    6. Of course this game can go on, but as situations the word over demonstrate, this only means unresolved crisis and conflict, which arithmetical majorities find easier to live with than do minorities, especially ones on a demographic decline on the ground in the relevant theatre.

    7. The choice is that of the Tamil political leadership in whatever permutation and combination.

    8. I have written on this subject for decades. I warned against neo-barbarism in the Tamil struggle and its consequences in my Lessons of Nicaragua lecture (later booklet) on Jaffna campus in the early ‘80s, long before the UTHRJ’s Broken Palmyrah. I have been on that (partly guilt-driven) merry-go-round from the early 1980s, especially post July 83, and witnessed it wind up in the massacres, continued secessionist strivings and the putschism of the North East Provincial Council despite the opening up of reformist space from ’87 to ’05. I have also awaited the dawn of self criticism and the triumph of moderation and rationality following the outcome of the war, to little or no avail. I have no intention of being a sucker or having to re-learn lessons in realism. Nor do I have time to waste, when intellectual energies can be better spent.

    9. The struggle for realism and rationality within Tamil political consciousness is primarily a task for the Tamil community and needs to be conducted within it. It is not my main intellectual concern.

    10. Marx, Engels and Lenin always held that nationalities issues, like any specific democratic issue were subordinate to and should be viewed through the prism of the changing needs and strategic interests broader ‘general democratic struggle’ of the people. That is where I am at and always have been. Perhaps I should have been there more consistently.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Anapayan,

    Never my mind use of the terms ‘ excuses’ or ‘ justification’ for the murders by the LTTE: respond on this issue to Dayapala Tiranagama; after all it is his wife who was murdered by the Tigers, not mine, and it is him, among others you owe an explanation to for your attempt to explain the LTTE’s atrocities away.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Anapayan

    As usual we are debating all the issues except the point I have raised here.

    As I mentioned to you earlier, we did not quite understand what your point was. If you would like us to debate your point, you’ll have to steer the conversation in that direction and avoid sidetracking yourself with Sivaram CI theory, justification for Kethesh and Neelan killings etc.

    Therefore this comment should not be taken as a Tamil point of view rather its an attempt to understand the conflict in a different way

    How is your perspective “different”?

    C. Sundaralingam and V. Navaratnam advocated for separation before the emergence of Tamil militancy, therefore they were spared of being ‘delegitimized’ by the Southern constituency. Instead they were electorally punished by the Tamil constituency for their ‘extremist’ position.

    Actually they were punished for contesting independently from ITAK and TULF, respectively. The Tamil electorate was mostly unkind to those who deviated from the party line. It is this party loyalty aspect of Tamil politics that explains why Tamils consistently voted for ITAK/TULF throughout its flip-flops from M. Thiruchelvam’s accommodation to Amirthalingam’s confrontation.

    Evidence: the voters in 1977 embraced Amirthalingam’s platform of separatism but rejected V. Navaratnam whom TULF accused of being “traitor” (sound familiar?), even though everyone knew that Navaratnam had a much more consistent track record of supporting separatism.

    The exceptions to this trend were in 1956 when the Tamils shifted loyalty from the TC to ITAK and during the CFA when they abandoned Anandasangaree’s TULF for the TNA (or maybe it really started in the 80s when the Tamils embraced the extraconstitutional militants and got disillusioned with TULF).

    I used the names of Neelan and Ketheish to drive a particular point about Sivaram’s concept on Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency practices. I presented an argument that Tamils viewed those gentlemen as part of the Sri Lanka’s CI nexus this view was primarily influenced by Sivaram’s CI conceptualization.

    And I asked you whether this view had helped or hurt the Tamils. You were unable to give a response.

  • TT


    A good compromise between the devolution demand and the fear of disintegration (and subsequent horrendous violence that awaits) would be to divolve power into 3 large regions that are not racially demarcated.

    1. Region 1 – Northern province, North Central province and North Western province

    2. Region 2 – Eastern province, Southern province and Uva province

    3. Region 3 – Western province, Central province and Sabaragamuwa province

    • How will this three-province setup help anything? It will neither satisfy Tamil aspirations of self-determination nor provide the necessary national level devolution. To satisfy both sides, the solution can be neither overly ethnic (eg Ontario/Quebec) nor totally removed from ethnicity as in your three-province idea. The 13th Amendment’s devolution along existing provincial borders will allow equal devolution throughout SL, while allowing the Tamils to have some autonomy in the Northern and Eastern provinces. This will still allow a future move away from race politics without the need for a redrawing of provincial borders. Do you see any problem with the 13th being the basis for a solution?

  • TT


    Talking of minority rights…………..

    Although Tamil is a minority in Sri Lanka, there are not a minority in the region. They are a majority in the region and Sinhalese are a minority.

    It means Tamils become a minority only if they accept the nation of Sri Lanka as a seperate and distinct nation in the south indian region. If the fail to accept that, they don’t become a minority in Sri Lanka in their own admission.

    If they don’t accept Sri Lanka it means they are looking at the entire south Indian region as the subject of the solution. In that case Sinhalese become the minority.

    One cannot cross tracks and gein both ways.

  • TT

    Excuse me for the spelling. It should be Dayan.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Indonicus, your ignorance seems pretty vast, since you obviously do not believe David Blacker exists. This guy won the country’s top literary award for English language writing some years ago for his novel A Cause Untrue. His website The Blacklight Arrow was the best of those covering the military aspect of the last war. Suren, I would be honoured to call David my protege except it just ain’t true. We’ve never met, for one, and while we are are co-thinkers on many Sri Lankan issues, he doesn’t like Commies, while I sort of do (though we agree on the suppression of the JVP’s Second Uprising).

    • indonicus

      LOL Dayan, I do not for a moment doubt David Blacker exists and I have read some of the stuff he writes even though I do no think much of it. My point is not that. [Edited out: Please, no ad hominem attacks.] It is my belief that the two of you have an arrangement. [Edited out: Please, no ad hominem attacks.]

      Anyway good luck! I hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship!

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Dayan,
      we were mere school boys when you did radical politics in NE. Our (my) respect for you will (largely)remain if not for your Pathological haterad to LTTE and the unconditional/blind support for this regime, both obscuring your often valid analysis.

      My question: when /what will make SL be secure enough for her to genuinely embrace a liberal mode of democracy with equal political power sharing with the minority (nations?)

      your Israel/Old testament comparison scares me. because Israel after 50 years , with nuclear weapons, and the worlds most anti terror army is still not feeling secure and refusing to sharing power.Beside you have often used Israel as a classic example predator politics in the modern world.

      • wijayapala

        Dear Suren,

        Our (my) respect for you will (largely)remain if not for your Pathological haterad to LTTE

        You’re right- all Sinhalese should love and worship LTTE for all the suicide bombings and other killings over the last 30 years. I am so glad you are condemning anyone who criticizes the LTTE like a proper minion should.

  • Dear Dr.Dayan…more like Pinocchio and jiminy cricket.

    Pinocchio Paradox
    There is a popular conception that Pinocchio’s nose grows only when he lies. Under this condition, the Pinocchio Paradox is an analogy for the liar paradox, expressing the dilemma of what will happen if Pinocchio says “My nose will grow now.”
    If he is lying, his nose should grow, but if his nose grows, then he is actually telling the truth. On the other hand, if he is telling the truth and his nose starts growing, then it will violate the condition that his nose grows when he is lying.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Indonicus, ain’t it a shame that the board of the Gratien trust, headed I believe by Michael Ondaatje, didn’t exactly share your views on Blacker’s writing?

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Here’s an alternative hypothesis: the main problem is not the sense of insecurity of Group A but the abiding collective delusion of Group B.

    How else could one describe a state of mind in which a status not accorded to 70 million co-ethnics in neighboring India, full federalism, was and still is sought for a merely a million strong community?

    How else to define a mindset which expected and demanded that India step in to save the murderers of the grandson of India’s iconic founding Prime Minister?

    How else to explain a mentality that was so wildly wrong in anticipating the Tamil Nadu voter behavior in May 2009?

    If the sense of insecurity of Group A is mere paranoia, how to explain official reports from Ottawa and Delhi about the possibility of continuing terrorist-secessionist threat, including to the life of the Indian PM?

    When faced with the aggressively delusional Group B, is it a wonder that Group A feels insecure?

    Is it not these aggressive delusions that make Group A seek cast iron conditions of security?

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Dayan,
      your common reply (even while you don’t address it to me), generates further questions.

      Your favor for a dominant nation state for the Sinhalas in the real sense of Realism is known. This makes your claim to be a fan/follower of the Communist ideology a paradox. I think your ideology is well suiting the pure Stalinist Nationalism. I have read the similar securitization in the pages of Hitlers hand book for Nazis the ‘Mein Kampf’, where he rationalizes the security of the German People against all the enemies around.

      Even if we decide to forgot the historical facts of Sinhala hegemony as influential variables for the modern result of Thamil nationalism, It is an undeniable fact that the Sinhalas have been searching security even against their own ethni. This is true of the history such as the Kotte and Kandy kingdom and in modern politics of JVP of 1971 and 1988.

      Have we not seen this long list of enemie of the state in Sinhala mind?
      the previous regimes considered you , Vijaya Kumaratnge, Richard De Soysa as enemies and the present regime considered Taraki, Lasantha, as enemies

      so in the real sense it seems you (and Rohan Gunaratna) are the ideologues of this modern melodramatic paranoia that is reconstructed to justify the present illiberalism?

      If you say that the state of SL is under threat from the grave yard shadows of a now annihilated school boy guerrilla group, and thus what Sri Lanka does is justified, Then we have no arguments: USA will invade and re-invade the ME for the actual threat, that comparatively democratic state faces from the all combined forces in the world?

      Next round at UNHCR you may have to defend the Zionist Israel and her bed partner USA. Then students like myself will have to watch your historic defense of GOSL on You Tube and wonder whether we shared the same planet

      good to engage with you. as it proves finally each one is made of our own normative values than the textbooks around us.

      • Dear Suren,
        in Sri Lanka if someone was to point at the moon…a majority of the majority would look at the guys finger. A small minority of educated “Useful Idiots” would look at the moon and quickly turn their eyes towards the pointing finger…and only a few people like you, Heshan, The Mervin Silva etc. would look at the moon and not at the finger.
        Quo vadis Silly Lanka???

    • Agnos

      “How else could one describe a state of mind in which a status not accorded to 70 million co-ethnics in neighboring India, full federalism, was and still is sought for a merely a million strong community?”

      Well, Sri Lanka is not India, not in size, not in the character of its leaders and people, not in the inveterate racism directed against minorities, not in the character of its secular democracy.

      “How else to define a mindset which expected and demanded that India step in to save the murderers of the grandson of India’s iconic founding Prime Minister?”

      They wanted India to save thousands of innocent civilians as well as cadres who were conscripted as claimed by the GoSL itself.

      The spinmeister has swallowed his own propaganda for long that now he has no perception of reality.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Suren, how would I defend anything at the UNHRC from Paris?

    Agnos writes of me:”…he has no perception of reality.” I think that’s a better escription of (a) the fanatics who got themselves boxed in at nandikadal, and (b)the idiots who thought that ndia or any external forces would save them. It is also a better description of (c) those who thought the May 2009 move at the UN HRC could succeed while I was ambassador/perm rep :))

  • Hela

    In arguing against Dayan, no one seems to explore how to win the majority of the majority to their respective positions.

    They fail to realise (or are in denial) that there is a real or perceived security issue that the majority faces which must be addressed. This issue cannot be addressed by threats (mainly manifested in the Western hemisphere at present in the modes of suspension of aid (GSP+), aiding and abetting TGTE, WTF, TAG etc. Some have taken it such extremes as boycotting literary functions organised by NGO in order to punish the state!!).

    A liberation movement needs to take a higher moral ground than an oppressive state if it to win a liberation struggle. Both JVP and LTTE lost their respective armed campaigns due to them being taking a far inferior moral ground than the state.

    The LTTE is a natural progression of the exclusivist, separatist Tamil politics played much before 1948 (I was just reading Ramanathan’s representations to Donoughmore commission in 1924), which was later taken over by Samuel Chelvanayakam through his ITAK politics from 1949 through to Vaddukkoddai resolution in 1976.