The year 2016 would undoubtedly bear formidable threats, bold new challenges and present new tasks of great historical and national importance. The need for this article is to try to penetrate the outer veil of appearance and illusion and the inner veils of self-delusion that blind us, so that we may grasp reality head-on, in the light of the momentous times we live in, and prepare to act on it. This is so we may grasp both the glorious prospects for human emancipation that lie on the horizon, but to be accomplished by overcoming the truly mortal dangers and challenges we confront. This is in the context of the very real existential threat being posed to the future of Planet Earth and all Humankind, including the Land and the People of Lanka. I shall elaborate as we go on.
The whole world order is shaking under the impact of a generalized, systemic economic crisis and wracked by volcanic political explosions. These include the wholesale bankruptcy and collapse of national economies, catastrophic destruction, mass human dislocation and unthinkable humanitarian disasters creating pitiless, unending suffering, degradation and misery for tens of millions, and the escalating spread of protracted wars of aggression, occupation and genocide that spell the doom and disaster of all civilized human existence. The Land and the People of Lanka are being inexorably dragged into this vortex. Into the vortex of inter-imperialist rivalry, focused on gaining strategic superiority and advantage in the Asia-Pacific/ Indian Ocean Region. This momentum is vital to the survival of each contending power, particularly the US, China and India. The political effects shall be so consequential and fateful that we need to understand the underlying dynamics that would account for these momentous conjunctures. We should discuss and debate about their causes and effects We should analyze the major political forces at play in respect of their compelling necessities and their interests and agendas, so we get to know the game and learn how to play, in our own way. Then only that we can identify the mounting threats and historic challenges that confront the people. Only then can we define and prioritize our historic tasks.
The historic task before us is to advance the cause of liberating the Land and the People of Lanka from this tightening stranglehold of world imperialism, to be played as pawns in the ensuing struggle for world domination. We would have to work out a sound, all-round strategy, program and plan that would raise the political consciousness of the people as to the real stakes being played. We would have to unite, mobilize and organize the advanced conscious social forces desirous of achieving genuine national unity, independence, democracy and freedom. This would have to be in conjunction with uniting and mobilizing all those who suffer unending poverty, misery, violation and degradation under the system. The exploited, subjugated, and oppressed classes, masses and nationalities must be brought together in a powerful and advancing movement of mass struggle, resistance, rebellion and conscious revolution, if we are finally smash the chains of imperialist domination and neo-colonial subjugation and win our true independence, democracy and freedom.
The Power of Artful Deceit and Diabolical Deception
We are trapped into thinking in terms set by either the ruling government or the opposition. We are taught and trained to frame our politics around a given ideological frame, that is, either to be for or against this or that ruling faction and coalition involved in the contention for state power, to get their turn to play the game, screw the people and rake in the money. The Ranil-Sirisena dispensation and the ‘government of national unity’ based expressly on the principles of ‘good governance’ shall pave the way for ripping apart the myths and illusions, lies and deceptions, that have kept the people blinded in enforced ignorance. It’s like the ‘last straw’. As much as there were such high expectations and ‘religious’ faith that the regime of ‘Yahapalanaya’ would deliver justice, bring about economic and financial stability and prosperity and provide a life with a purpose, joy and happiness, that whole dream is steadily vaporising into a nightmare for the exploited and oppressed masses, as the system spirals deeper into crisis and disintegration. The rising sense of anger, bitterness and betrayal can offer accelerated opportunities and prospects for the masses to realize the truth and to act on it. The clear truth that the whole Westminster system of parliamentary representation has been tested through time and designed precisely to divide, delude and enslave the exploited and oppressed masses to vote, legitimize and perpetuate their own oppressors and their state and political system, and thereby perpetuate their own slavery and misery in partnership with their slave-masters. It is this truth that has been kept hidden and the game played on. Yet, the table could be overturned and the game turned around by the masses acting in their own interests to uproot their conditions of oppression and end their slavery, in conjunction with the universal struggle for the emancipation of all humanity. Sounds crazy, but such epochal social revolutions can happen and have happened, and will continue to happen until all forms of domination, exploitation and oppression shall be eradicated and humankind reaches a whole new era of history, with the dawning of universal enlightenment and freedom.
As a matter of habit, or simply that we cannot afford to think through the sheer magnitude, we do not make the effort to really understand the laws and forces that command our life and future, even if we are being literally dragged into the whirlpool of the most horrible, unimaginable consequences for humankind. This is no exaggeration, as I intend to argue and demonstrate. The danger lies in that we may be caught by surprise. Or, that we are way far too behind to catch up, for the people – and humanity – to take command and control of the future. Or, far worse, we may remain trapped in the very same political game that is being played on us by our rulers, as enforced by the state and the system. We may be lulled into believing that a change of government would turn our organic crisis around, heal all our bleeding wounds, and lead us all to the goal of unity, independence, democracy and prosperity. We just need to find the correct bricklayer that would somehow patch up the foundation. How many such bricklayers have we chosen and elected to power? We are lulled into believing that the system would work itself out, once the fundamentals are back in place. Well then, get the fundamentals in place as ‘Yahapalanaya’ pledged to the people. Why are we then still mired even deeper in debt and entering into even more vulnerable and fatal dependence on foreign predators, and corruption, nepotism, egoism and moral degradation eating into our souls, and the masses of exploited and oppressed people crying out in anger and desperation for the betrayal of their agonized dreams and aspirations? This sense of betrayal is reaching a crescendo and it could pave the way for mass uprisings. Who would benefit? China, the US, India, Pakistan, Japan? The return of Rajapakse? Or, even a more hideously terrifying, corrupt, crony, narco-mafia class dictatorship, in line with the above predator powers?
A Sinking, Engulfing Crisis
Look at the mounting disaffection among the people. All the crap that all successive governments accumulated, including the astronomical debt and daylight robbery of public funds, is heaped on the backs of the toiling people. Look at the budget. The state is simply bankrupt. Imagine, the budget attempted to hijack the EPF/ETF funds and to withhold pension benefits. These were temporarily withdrawn due to trade union action. It tried to slash the fertilizer subsidy. This budget tried brazenly to dump the spiralling crisis on the backs of workers and farmers and the toiling masses. The ‘government of national unity’ is planning to privatise – sell out- major state institutions and resources in key sectors, such as telecommunications. The government will have to beg the World Bank, ADB and IMF, once again, to bail it out. This would only mean even more drastic cut-backs on social welfare and social infrastructure and squeezing the masses dry. Already we are deeply in the red, whether it be the fiscal deficit, the trade deficit, balance of trade, external reserves and dept repayment. Yet, it plans to go in for its astronomical, ego-maniacal ‘megapolis/port city’ projects. This is even a bigger fantasy than the ‘Miracle of Asia’ projected by Mahinda. What insane desperation. A repeat of Mattala Airport, Hambantota harbour, Noracholai fiascos on a whole new irrevocably disastrous level. As forcefully and persuasively demonstrated by Ranil Senanayake in a posting on Colombo Telegraph, this is a ‘mega’ ecological and financial disaster. The Environmental Impact Assessment is flawed and duplicitous. This model and strategy of development simply ignores the rising perils of global warming and the rise in sea levels, the threat to the environment and all marine life, the sheer dislocation and loss of livelihood of the fishing community, and most of all the fatal dependency on International Finance Capital and World Imperialism. The Chinese contractor is buying out journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, state agencies to paint the picture bright. The Ranil-Sirisena duo, along with Champika Ranawaka and other lap-dog ministers and cronies, know the ‘mega’ spoils to be raked in, which would make the Mahinda dynasty look like errant schoolboys.
The development strategy – rather, the survival strategy – of a defunct neo-colonial State, run by a terminally corrupt and cancerous ruling class, captured in the vision of ‘megapolis and port cities’, shall serve to polarise society vertically and horizontally unlike ever before, not to mention environmental degradation and ecological devastation on an unimagined scale. Feed the people who feed you! Free the masses who slave to free you to indulge in your insatiable craving for power, privilege and pleasure! Should this not be the guiding principle of a philosophically enlightened, humane and scientific strategy and path of social development – at the very basic minimum? This whole strategy of survival is based on feeding off parasitism. It is based on luring in the rich, the international and local billionaires – the robber barons – to spend their money, followed by millions of ordinary tourists who are expected to treat the Land of Lanka as their ideal paradise. A blind, craving and desperate political economy based on feeding off and reinforcing parasitic and fatal vulnerability. What if the world economy continues in its spiral of endemic crises and collapses? What if we are headed towards a Great Depression, unthinkably more devastating than before? These corporate billionaires would either sink their deadly fangs deeper into our life lines to bleed us dry, or, flee to safer territory. The ordinary middle class tourists would certainly get affected. Then the economy of Lanka would collapse like a pack of cards, and the poor will have to pay the debt. Like in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Far more critically, this is a strategy for tying us up even more fatally into the geo-political strategic agendas, that is, the politics of survival, of this or that foreign power, while opening even wider, the floodgates of multinational corporate exploitation and plunder.
The model of development centred on ‘Megapolis and Port City’, offers fertile and lucrative grounds for ensnaring the Land and the people of Lanka into the fatal web of indebtedness and servile dependence. The fact is that China, a rising global imperialist power, has already driven its screws into the lifelines of the economy and politics of Lanka. No government can now reject this project. It would have the gravest repercussions. It can only negotiate new terms and bring in new stakeholders to sweeten the pill and minimize, if not neutralize, the strategic stranglehold that China had begun to wield. The US shall drive its own screws in to get its own strategic stranglehold on the island. The rulers, with all their real differences and struggle for power – whether it be the Ranil-Sirisena dispensation or the Mahinda Rajapakse rot of naked despotism – they shall have to obey and play to the marauding dictates of these rival centres of imperialism. After all, they are but fundamental and integral agents of imperialist domination and neo-colonial subjugation. The rival factions of the ruling class shall contend for their turn to rob the people, but they shall always collude and conspire to keep each other protected to keep the system alive.
Bleeding Wounds and Volcanic Fault-Lines
There is nothing magical nor astrological about 2016. Just that it would bring together and further concentrate the simmering, volcanic contradictions and divisions that lie deep within, and account for, the volatile and degenerate politics of Lanka. Things are heating up and building towards a nodal point of qualitative change and transformation, affecting the prevailing political economy and its attendant social order. Let’s look at some of the glaring and volatile focal areas.
The Tamil nation will soon run dry of the tears from crying out for truth and justice, and to be recognised as equal partners of the state. Some 200 hundred Tamil political prisoners continue to languish in the dungeons of hell. None of those disappeared have been accounted for and no closure provided for grieving loved ones. There is no discussion of a policy of graduated de-militarization. There is only colonization. The comprador-landlord-Wellala Tamil national leadership is tied to the system and its international, regional and local players, and can offer no real and lasting solution. None of the real Mafia godfathers who had together robbed the people to the tune of trillions, have been arrested, indicted and put behind bars. Billions stashed away have not been recovered. There is no strategy or plan to resettle those remaining displaced by war. Land grabbing continues. The BBS delivers a lightning rod to inflame neo-fascist communal violence against national minorities, in the name of the Dharma –with impunity. So shall Hirunika establish the real norms of good governance with impunity. The new amendments to prohibit communal hate speeches were manipulated to contain draconian repression aimed at entrenching the new dictatorship. The cost of living keeps soaring, even when international oil prices have come down to an all-time low. Drug barons, rapists and murderers are part of the Cabinet. The former governor of the Central Bank, Ajith Cabraal, will not be prosecuted, even in the face of the most outrageous financial crimes, in order to save the skin of new governor, Arjuna Mahendran, and that of the Prime Minister, who should have been hauled into jail for the biggest Central Bank scam ever. Wheeler dealing is the name of the game.
This is a government that seeks its survival in wheeling and dealing with corruption and abuse of power, and to come new terms of survival by selling out to imperialism. New terms of neo-colonial subjugation, dependence and indebtedness. The US will spread its tentacles – as it already has- around this new national government and demand its subjugation – of course with diplomatic finesse. Just look at the train of top US (and UN) officials that visit us to assure us that they are solidly behind us. They offer ‘democratic partnership in development cooperation’, in all fields of economic cooperation, prosecuting war crimes and entrenching democracy and human rights, helping the process of accountability and national reconciliation with justice and so on. Underneath all the pledges, is the recognition of this island as a vital strategic link in assuring the ‘safety and security of trade routes’. Let us learn to read between the lines. We shall soon be tied up as a vital strategic link in the chain of global imperialist politics. Few know of, or would care to remember, that the US and the GoSL have already signed the ‘Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement’ which provide all land, sea and air military facilities to the US. We were in the forefront, along with Bahu and Vasu, in exposing this deal and protesting against it publicly, including storming the US embassy and the office of then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe. The issue was raised in Parliament and Ranil then withdrew the Agreement. The Mahinda Rajapske regime, without even Cabinet approval, signed this agreement. So much for patriotism and the defence of the ‘motherland’. I challenge anyone to deny these facts. Now, have we turned away from this trajectory of subservience and servility to imperialist and regional powers? Are we articulating a path of national independence, unity, democracy and prosperity for the people? Is this new ‘government of national unity’ articulating a path of strategic self-reliance and self-sufficiency, based on a surplus-generating, dynamic agriculture, with industry and manufacturing to grow and serve that strategy of independence and self-reliance? Or, are we bleeding the peasantry dry by just sustaining a bare subsistence agricultural economy, along with the steady and irrevocable pauperisation of the peasants – the very backbone of our economy? This is a lop-sided and distorted neo-colonial economy that thrives and survives by feeding the insatiable appetites of global and regional imperialist predators, international financial racketeers and drug-dealers, in league with a bloated class of local crony-mafia capitalists and commission agents.
This ensuing scenario shall further exacerbate all class, national, caste and gender divisions. Most of all, the polarisation between those who wield and monopolize power, wealth, status and privilege – the ruling class – and those who would be cast aside and be thrown to the wolves of poverty, misery and degradation. This will be combined with neo-fascist terror unleashed upon the national minorities and all oppressed masses and forces of resistance to hold the tottering system together. Whoever rules and commands state power, this is the irreversible internal logic of this defunct neo-colonial state and political order. These simmering contradictions would reach explosive proportions. This could lead to the re-establishment of a neo-fascist dictatorship. Or, it could give rise to mass rebellion, resistance and revolution. That all depends on how we think and act.
An Overview of the Emerging World Situation
The emerging world situation is characterised and driven by several overriding factors and dimensions. The most fundamental logic and motion of the emerging world situation is driven by intensifying rivalry and contention between and among major imperialist powers and their respective blocs and alliance structures. Let us recall that there have already been two world wars due to this inherent structural logic of the system of imperialism. I do not have to recount the sheer horror and barbarity, the scale of mass destruction and devastation caused. A third world war would bring about a thermo-nuclear devastation of Planet Earth. An ecological devastation that could lead to evolutionary extinction of life on Earth, including the human species.
The wars being waged across the world, particularly focused in the Middle-East/ Gulf and Caspian Region, are due to the logic and motion of the system of world imperialism. It is caused primarily due to the needs of US imperialism to expand and consolidate its empire, in the face of intensifying rivalry and contention by China and Russia ( by the rise of BRICS and the Shanghai Corporation), and cracks and divisions within its bloc. In some sense, it is caught up in the same logic that led to the internal decomposition and external collapse of the once invincible Roman Empire, except that this is under the system of modern imperialism containing the prospect of universal and irrevocable destruction and devastation. Let us not forget that the US deployed atom bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima even after Japan was ready to surrender. Let us not forget the war of aggression in Indochina, with its attendant train of barbaric crimes against humanity. The existence of the Zionist state of Israel and the continuing genocide of the Palestinian Nation for over sixty years is made possible by the diplomatic protection, financial aid and military support supplied by the US. The growth and expansion of ISIS was – and continues to be – planned, funded and mobilized mainly by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, a member of NATO. Israel supports Al Nusra, a branch of Al Qaeda in Syria, while Turkey supports ISIS- all Islamic, fundamentalist terrorist forces, tacitly backed by the US. Turkey wilfully downs a Russian aircraft – an act of war! These are not civil or local wars. These are inter-imperialist, geo-political proxy wars being played by all the major imperialist powers in an intensifying contention for global strategic advantage and supremacy. The crisis in the Ukraine was also a product of this logic. All aimed at regime change in Syria and Iran? All for the control of strategic resources and trade routes? Yes. But, more fundamentally it is to secure position in the world as the only, unrivalled super power that commands the military capability of extinguishing the world and humanity at its will. Such is the irrevocable logic of empire.
The US is a declining empire. It is wrecked by an intensifying spiral of economic crises giving devastating effects to such explosions as financial meltdowns, sovereign debt crises, inflation, recession and cycles of depression. Internally, it is threatened by a profound crisis of legitimacy of its entire system of rule. Barrack Obama was the last of the ‘liberal-democratic’ option. He proved to be even more of a loyal servant of the powers that run the empire than others before him, including George Bush and his team of ‘neo-cons’. The spread of wars of genocide, rendition, inhuman torture, drone strikes against civilians, arrest and detention without a warrant, violent repression against national minorities, cut-backs on dwindling social welfare and so on, have been the hallmarks of this avenging, Afro-American supreme warlord of the US empire. Under his watch, the global corporate magnates such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan, George Suarez and such were not only bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars, but these international finance capitalist conglomerates were consolidated on a much more concentrated level. This is while tens of millions of citizens were left dry, having lost their homes, their livelihoods and their dreams.
Do the imperialist powers that are posed to challenge US global hegemony, namely, Russia and China, offer any solution? An alternative path towards universal peace, security, freedom and prosperity? These are but rival concentrations of international finance capital, rival and contending imperialist powers, in their struggle and effort to establish their own world hegemony – as the dynamic of their marauding and parasitic survival. This the inherent logic of Capital in its dying stage of Imperialism. Wars for the re-division of the world, driven by the need to expand their empires of blood, plunder and profit at the expense of all rivals, and even at the cost of the survival of Planet Earth and Humankind. One may become subdued and satiated by being able to buy a BMW, or for the less fortunate, a fridge, TV or mobile phone. A sense of victory and security! How fatally fragile and unpredictable? Tens of millions have already been displaced, uprooted and left to die as economic outcasts, homeless immigrants or refugees. The vast majority of humanity suffer in endless poverty, misery and degradation, with no hope for a better future. Where is the world headed?
This emerging threat is compounded and made even more ominous by the growing threat of an evolutionary ecological emergency caused due to global warming. Taken together, these two overriding global factors – inter-imperialist rivalry for world domination and the emerging prospect of a third Thermo-Nuclear World War, combined with the threat of ecological evolutionary extinction of Planet Earth and all Humanity, constitutes the concrete historical context and the emerging and intensifying world situation.
Our Historic Tasks
As the people of Lanka, we would have to do some deeply honest and profoundly radical thinking about our path of development, about our future, that is being decided by a gang of criminals who take turns in dividing, deceiving, robbing and bleeding the toiling masses dry, and who survive and thrive by selling out the country to foreign predators for a share of the spoils of profit and plunder. Naked corruption, abuse of power, craving for glitter and glory, pimping off fat commissions, moral decadence, neo-fascist repression, endless exploitation and oppression, along with the universal violation of nature and humanity are but the endemic features and dimensions of a defunct neo-colonial State. The path to a bright future lies in uniting as the people of Lanka to build a movement of mass resistance that would take on all hated tyrants and oppressors to overthrow and uproot their rotting state and system, to establish a people’s democratic state; The People’s Democratic Republic of Lanka that shall function as an advanced liberated base area of world revolution against imperialism, to advance the goal of the universal emancipation of humankind.
*The writer is Secretary of the newly formed Revolutionary Internationalist Communist Group of Lanka.