By Kumar David –
Year 2019 will go down as a black year globally for pluralism, socialism and democratic values. Nativism and sectarianism bestride the world, the toxic right-wing scores election victory upon victory. Liberal, socialist and enlightenment ideals are pushed on the back foot. The explosion of nativism is global from Trump’s anti-migrant rhetoric, to Modi’s Bill to permit new citizenship only to non-Muslim migrants, to Aung San Suu Ki prostituting her Nobel Peace Prize to justify ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, to Sri Lanka’s 72% majoritarian surge to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The world it seems is headed down a diabolical path into a new Dark Age and the choice is made by the voting public. At times it seems civilisation is but a thin veneer over man’s primitive psyche. Many authors on the left draw attention to the nexus between the resurgence of toxic right-wing politics and nativism (racism, narrow nationalism, ‘Brexitism’, ‘Hindutvaism’ and the like) but none deliver an appreciation of the historical and material-economic processes behind the phenomenon. Is their Marxism superficial and anecdotal, not analytical? This is a topic for a thesis length project.
The progressive programme of the Labour Party was pulverised in the December 12 elections and Britain veered down the isolationist Brexit path. It is only a matter of time before Scotland secedes. Apocalyptic fearmongering reached a new level of Nazi like paranoia at Trump’s Pennsylvania rally on 11 November. The truth has no bearing on what he thunders forth. He cares not a shit for America, it’s all about himself and lies about Latino emigrants from Mexico and further south. “Thanks to Democrat immigration policies, innocent Americans in all 50 states are brutalized and murdered by illegal alien criminals” he bellows. He ramps up rhetoric and whips up fear that the US is being invaded by criminals who want to destroy American families. He proclaims Mexican illegals are involved in drugs, murders and pimping in hoopla lapped by many Americans. This is an abrasion that can turn into gangrene.
Globally regimes are waging an assault on the separation of powers. “Truth” is what state-power wants you to believe, it has little relation to the objective. In Lanka the Attorney General’s Dept. as been linked to the President and PM, the judiciary is cowed and brave judges are an extinct species. State Intelligence Service for the first time since its inception has been placed under an ex-military officer (Suresh Sallay) and the port authority placed under a retired army chief. According to the Daily Mirror of 14 Dec 31 State institutions have been placed under the Defence Ministry, 48 under Finance, Economic & Policy and 23 under the Buddha Sasana, Cultural & Religious Affairs. Furthermore, 17 institutions have been placed under Urban Development, Water Supply & Housing Ministry. “Accordingly, 88 institutions come under the Prime Minister”.
As I explained two weeks ago, though few took notice, authoritarianism needs to reorganise the state – both state institutions and the influential corporate sector – electricity, petroleum, banks, and ports. In an insidious process starting at the top and filtering down loyalists are being posted in a subversive redesign of institutional structures to blend into and conform to a deadly controlling of strategy. The potential longevity of a Rajapaksa-clan-regime makes this fascistic option real and frightening.
The bad old days have returned quickly and with a vengeance. Gamini Akmeemana writes in the Daily Mirror of 13 December: “In any democratic state with law-and-order machinery, the police would be tasked to protect the abductee, and to find, arrest and charge the abductors. Precisely the opposite has happened. She seems to be undergoing harassment which has become a prolonged ordeal. So far, she has had to make statements at the CID headquarters four times and restrained by the law from leaving the country. The victim has become the hunted”.
A troubling prospect about the US is that though up to now there has been no attacks on Asian immigrants if it comes to the worst, thousands of Sri Lankans domiciled in the US will be at risk. Asians have been spared because as of now there is no political mileage in it for Trump; white-racist Trump Base hatred is focussed on Latinos. Hundreds of Indian origin scientists in Silicon Valley, however, have been sent home after visa extensions were refused. Crookedness cuts two ways; while some are suppressed others find favour. Tump is to sign an executive order declaring Judaism a nationality – not just a religion. Jewish students will then have access to university admission benefits currently available to ethnic minorities.