5 March, 2021

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A Bleak Future For Humanity? 

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

It is a tragic irony. The UK, one time ‘the empire on which the sun never sets,’ today is humbled by the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first country to industrialize and then creating an enormous empire throughout the world. America or American imperialism is primarily its creation. 

Apart from that horrific giant, the Britain also created Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other colonies largely suppressing indigenous people. This pattern was followed or preceded by Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, France, and Germany to a greater or lesser extent. These are the countries largely hit by the coronavirus today. 

This might not mean that the pandemic is a result of their colonial abuses. But based on their exploits, they have also devastated the nature, the forests, animal species and the climate. The present generations in these countries are undoubtedly not directly responsible for colonial aggressions. But they are also responsible for the continuation of abuses of the nature and the climate. 

Who else is Responsible?  

It is also not the past colonial countries who are responsible for climate change and other abuses, but also the other powers like China, Russia, India, and Arabic countries. The list goes on and Sri Lanka is not exempted. Apart from being the first country inflicted by the pandemic, China is hit again and again by the coronavirus, like a sheer warning.   

It may not be that scientific to directly link the West, Colonialism, or westernization to the pandemic. However, there is a truth when we consider the link between the pandemic and the exploitative Capitalism; the latter being the main product of the West. Karl Marx and many other thinkers criticized capitalism (profit making) for the exploitation of the workers and the poor. The system kept the poor outside the gates to keep the workers’ wages low. This system still prevails internationally. The poor conditions of the poor countries are the sources through which the rich countries bring or allow migrants to work at cheap wages in their countries. 

Capitalism has exploited not only the workers, but also the nature, the environment, and the climate. By excessive lifestyles for the rich and tempting the middle classes or even the workers to aspire for the same, capitalism, has turned the humans to become quite inhuman and artificial. The way the animals are being exploited for food, entertainment and as raw material is despicable. It is true that these practices were there even before capitalism. This shows that the defect is not only in capitalism, but perhaps rooted in the aggressive, violent, and selfish nature of the human beings. 

During the last decades, the countries have competitively tried to ‘reach the moon’ and other planets to exploit them. They have already polluted the orbit with left-over debris or space junk. These will undoubtedly have adverse future repercussions. It is not scientific investigations on the space that should be stopped but competitive, commercial, and exploitative space travels.    

Other Defects  

Of course, the West also produced democracy partly based on ancient Greece and their notions. But the West have utterly failed to resolve the possible cataclysmic future dangers like further climate change, pandemics and (nuclear) wars utilizing democracy and international cooperation. As the things stand today, there is a great possibility of the major powers intentionally or unintentionally going for nuclear war because of trade wars, nationalist objectives, and imperial pride. Fascism can get added to it. Accidents can happen and the authorities who hold the nuclear buttons are utterly unreliable. 

On all these counts, the future of humanity is quite bleak. 

It is an outright mistake to focus only on climate change, global warming, or emissions. Look at the amounts of chemical, solid (iron and steel), plastic and other waste that the industries, and people discard daily? Given the present pandemic and other illnesses, the dispose of clinical waste from hospitals are enormous. Where are we going to dump them all? In poor countries? Dumping them anywhere would be hazardous.   

Most horrific under the present international economic order is the abject poverty. Millions and millions of people in poor countries (not excepting the so-called rich countries) are without basic amenities like proper education and proper health care in addition to food. It is quite inhuman to neglect these problems. The present pandemic has utterly exposed the neglect and inadequacies of the health systems in developed countries. In addition to the scarcity of trained health workers, there are no adequate beds, medical facilities, hospitals, intensive care units, or even adequate oxygen or ventilators. The development of many developed countries is quite superficial. The poor are the most neglected during this health crisis. These are obvious health crimes.                 

Economic Crisis

The global economy contracted by 4.3% in 2020. In the US, the contraction was 3.6% and in the EU 7.4%. Japan economy also shrank by 5.3%. That was not the main problem. Millions and millions of working people lost their employment and small businesses went into actual lockdowns. That was the main problem. By the way, there are some businesses which thrive under the pandemic, but without employing many people under them. 

If some governments were kind enough to implement ‘job keeper’ and ‘job seeker’ grants in 2020, those will not be available in 2021 in many countries. ‘Go and get a job’ is their cry. From where to get a job is the problem? Many capitalist governments intend to help businesses instead. The intention is to bring back the same old, exploitative, uneven, and undemocratic economies instead of any substantial change in progressive direction. In 2020, only China achieved a significant growth (2%). This does not vindicate China’s economic policies. Although claimed to be socialist, China also follows competitive economic policies for nationalist reasons. 

Although the World Bank expects a 4% growth in 2021 (wishful thinking!), it is conditioned by the success of the vaccination programs still to be started in many countries. There are controversies and confusions surrounding many varieties of vaccines. Vaccination politics are more prominent than vaccination policies. Apart from COVID-19, there are now the South African variant and the UK variant. There are possibilities of new variants emerging in the future.       

Political Trends 

There are some hopes for better international relations under President Jo Biden in the US. However, this would be limited to his first term of office, if not exaggerated. A crucial challenge for him internally would be the economy. While neglecting the pandemic, sustainable development, good relations with even customary friends like the EU, and further neglecting many other liberal, democratic, and humanitarian concerns, the Trump administration managed to limit the economic contraction to 3.6%. This was exceptional compared to other Western countries. If Biden fails like Yahapalanaya in Sri Lanka, Trumpism might emerge as clear Fascism. 

There are emerging authoritarian trends in all Western democratic countries, not to speak of semi or fully authoritarian countries in other regions. Now they are talking not only about rights, but also about duties and responsibilities. The military and police are being extensively used in Covid management. Emergencies, curfews, and lockdowns are also used. The liberal freedoms are limited. Young people who are used only to rights, and not responsibilities, are increasingly resisting. In addition, there are emerging resistance because of unemployment, low wages, underemployment, and economic grievances. These things will increase in the coming future. 

The military coup in Myanmar (Burma) is not an accident. The deteriorating democratic conditions internationally have helped the military (Tatmadaw) to stage the present coup articulating similar rhetoric like Donald Trump about election fraud. Condemning of the military coup is necessary. Attempts to get Aung San Suu Kyi and others free are more necessary. However, the facts and interpretations should be objective. Most of the international media says that the governing party, the NLD (National League for Democracy) received 83% of the popular votes. That is not correct. We need to understand the still remaining popular base for the military and the military party, USDP, as well. 

When the total seats of the two houses (nationalities and representatives) less the military representation (25%) counted, it may be around 83%. But that is not the popular vote. Myanmar still have the first-past-the post system. The NLD seats is not enough to change the present constitution unless some international actors want to create an ‘Arab Spring.’ What the international community should do is to allow the NLD and the USDP (and the military) to negotiate and come to some peaceful settlement. Too much interference would jeopardize the (slow) democratic process started in 2011. The biggest danger in near countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan or even Sri Lanka would be to take the example of Myanmar’s military citing international interference. 

Conclusion 

The coronavirus pandemic is not going to go away soon. Thus, the political and economic confusions attached to it. Even before the pandemic, the world was not in good or reasonable shape. The reasons have been numerous. The primary reasons have been the exploitation of the working people and the poor; the environment and the nature. The other animals also were not spared. We are also animals, apparently worse than the others. 

The societies we are living in are not reasonable, morally or in any logical sense. Neither the political systems nor the international institutions/relations. The leaders and many advocates preach about human rights but not follow or practice them themselves. People talk about democracy but not follow or practice the principles. There is something terribly wrong with the human nature, its aggressiveness, duplicity, hypocrisy, violence, and war mongering. The future for the human beings as appears today is quite bleak unless they change and revise and reform their societies in a constructive way. It is understandable that it cannot be done overnight, but people should go in that direction. 

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Latest comments

  • 13
    3

    Dear Writer,
    .
    The growing problem in our home country is RAJAPAKSHE-Virus.

    Particular virus is spread to all corners within the country. They dont care much about people s grievances in ” NEW NORMAL” sitaution being caught by COVID restrictions.
    People as all over the world as you see becoming familiar with COVID restrictions, but racism/thugism/lawlessness rule prevailing in our home country would throw it beyond the levels of Myanmar which is destroyed by a coup these days. Some speculates it is already comparable to Myanmar. Recalling the past since independence.. this island nation became known as the oldest democracy in Asia…. remember ?
    :
    The gravity of the problem is NOT yet discussed by MAIN STREAM MEDIA for known reasons. They are caught bygovt threat. Freedom of speech is growing as notimes in the past. Polonaruwe donkey paved the way them with an easy return, now the people have to face it. Are there any choice until 2024 ? So COVID is notthe problem in our country, but Rajapakshe mafia politics. They go on bailing out srilanken expatriates not giving them chance to enjoy their home country during their vacationing back home.
    :
    A dark cloud above SRILANKA is building.. how long it would darken the island is not predictable.

    • 10
      0

      Leela,
      I am not sure whether I am right or wrong I can remember some one was quoting that Dr. Laksiri (university of Colombo) honoured both Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapkse’s with doctorates in 2009 (or 2010) in recognition of finishing the war in 2009. In this war, over 40000 Tamil civilians were massacred and UNHRC concluded that war crimes are committed by both.

      • 0
        0

        Ajith
        There are typos in your comment.
        Too many zeros in numbers.
        Contact CT editor for correction.

        Soma

    • 11
      0

      “Apart from that horrific giant, the Britain also created Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other colonies largely suppressing indigenous people.”
      It amazes me how people like this author can enjoy the security and freedom of these countries but at the same time complain about being used as “cheap labour”.
      So Dr. Laksiri has surfaced again to give us his less-than- honest interpretations of history. Rather like the way he interpreted the constitutional coup in 2018. Now he seems to suggest that covid-19 is some sort of divine retribution for capitalism. Sadly he doesn’t provide any stats about how the Almighty has treated Communist countries, maybe because there aren’t any real ones left.

      • 2
        1

        “cheap labour”.

        Old,

        A Chinese man break even at $325, the poverty line. An American reach this at 25,000. But, WB says, on the opposite, that all under $700 are poor. China very badly undervalue at 325 only make others to think that China has much less poor. The minimum wage in US now is $15. A day wage is 8×15= $120. This one year poverty level $325 is 2 1/2 days wage for and American coolie. Old, please ask Mr.Laksiri who is paying such low wages to its people to stop support at $325. The democratic freedom for the American worker is additional bonus.

        • 6
          0

          M,
          Prof. Laksiri is complaining from Australia.

  • 4
    0

    Laksiri Fernando says “Of Course, the West also produced democracy”

    Yes,It is true that west produced democracy,but with necessary in built hidden safe guards to protect capitalism.

    It is how both capitalism and democracy survive simultaneously.

    Otherwise, how could you explain the other super power -Soviet Union collapsing and its offshoot Russia returning to capitalism along with China of course with or without democracy?

  • 3
    1

    Sri lanka being recognized as a pearl of the Indian ocean by Dr. Dudley Stamp a world famous Geographer in 1940s. How is being known since independence? Sri lanka is now a fragile country with an explosive population of over 22 million , quite larger to its resources and economic conditions. The country is already indebted to its maximum and over depending more on foreign Aids, Loans ,Grants etc from other countries and other international organisations. However , the politicians are still being able to deceive its majority population with bogus slogans , racial and religious hate mongering .
    Rupee real value is about 20% and the country being balanced with printing money each year. Now the rulers are trapped into a new phenomenon of either long term leasing and partly selling the country’s ports and other immovable assets particularly to China and India, which is going to result in those countries taking over and Sri lanka finally would loose its Sovereignty!

  • 3
    2

    Welcome back, Dr. Laksiri Fernando,
    .
    You’ve already given us a some new perspectives on a number of issues. For instance, the way you’ve grouped the “Colonial Powers” as the worst affected by COVID.
    .
    However, it looks as though your main message is forus to understand what’s happening in Myanmar. Yes, we’ve got to develop some rational views on what’s happeing there.
    .
    I haven’t really taken stock of all that is hapening there; thanks for those observations that you have given us.

  • 5
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    Dr Fernando

    Pardon my ignorance, but I can’t seem to get your point, you are all over. You start with ”……here is a truth when we consider the link between the pandemic and the exploitative Capitalism; the latter being the main product of the West..”, & that old colonial powers are ‘largely hit by the coronavirus’, perhaps, implying its god’s will for being ”responsible for the continuation of abuses of the nature and the climate”. Are they ‘alternate facts’ as the Trump spokeswoman would say?

    Cont.

  • 5
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    Cont.

    OK, you say capitalism exploits poor people but is socialism the answer? If so, which socialist country provides its citizens with a higher standard of life? I thought it is the Nordic countries & Switzerland but I may be wrong. Then you talk of international ‘abject poverty’, US foreign policy under Biden, climate change, pollution, inadequate medical services, military coup in Myanmar, all in the same breath & finally conclude that the world is not in good or reasonable shape, the primary reasons being the exploitation of working people and the poor; the environment and the nature. You blame it all on ”human nature, its aggressiveness, duplicity, hypocrisy, violence, and war mongering”. Therefore, ”the future for human beings as appears today is quite bleak unless they change and revise and reform their societies in a constructive way”. Certainly, but before we consider it in a global context, lets concentrate on SL because, right now, we seem to be up shit creek without a peddle.

    Cont.

  • 6
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    Cont.

    Just one more thing. I don’t know if you live in SL or elsewhere but I live in UK & I don’t agree with you that ‘ poor are the most neglected during this health crisis’, maybe in SL. The pandemic was unprecedented & all countries were caught off guard. Yes, the hospitals & services are stretched to the limit but nobody is deprived of treatment due to shortages of staff or equipment. By the way, there is no UK variant, only South African & Brazilian, which are deadlier & spreads faster but the current vaccines are considered effective. Over 9m have been vaccinated & about 200,000 are being vaccinated daily & the govt. is confident that by Sept,. over 70% will be vaccinated & ‘heard immunity’ achieved.

  • 3
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    Pcont.

    Pardon the spelling. Its herd immunity, not heard

  • 2
    0

    A Bleak Future For Humanity?
    Humanity is in real shit……..Gota and Mahinda – hen shit!

  • 2
    1

    Thank you.

    I agree with the exploits by the humans.

    Future is bleak because the third world immigrants come to the first world and spent all their money on buying death to their mother country?? arms….arms…ammunition…The Toilet Washers Inc. We still watch the MGR/Nambier/Amma DUSH..DUSH and running around the trees “stuff” in our spare Time in far away places. Any further development is impossible except ways to spin some money somewhere by any means. beat Nambier one be rewarded with Amma….so the story goes.

    The ones who have done well such as Malaysia, Singapore, India are the ones who look after their Nation as well as the host countries they serve.

    SL is like a prostitute for all other Nations including the above mentioned Asian Nations too. They all love what she had to offer to date. The arbs/Chinese/Portuguese/Dutch/British….now the entire planet…very popular lady our Mother Lanka…ever green.

    • 2
      0

      Actually the whole article is a full dose of Antidote which is in desperate need to erradicate the poison of the society , that is only if the sickness of the society is not beyound healing.

      Playing the victim card is an illness by default and all of us are infected by it ,
      atleast by certain level of degree, its like having mercury in our blood and that is how dangerous playing the victim card and blaming others , very Self destructive, coupled with racism, bigotry of all forms against certain people and especially those who dare to step aside and look into the eyes of the bunch of hypocrites and say , I am not one of you and I dare to be different and not afraid to say it or display it.

      The worst and most digusting part of hypocrisy, is one that justifies, protects racism and bigotry by organized religoins and fake nationalism.
      cont.

  • 2
    0

    Dear Prof.Laksiri Fernando ,
    Sir,

    This is an article that perfectly addresses the current crisis we are living in and have brought upon us by ourselves , we are all in it.

    Your Article is near perfectly focessed,
    devolopment of the entire article is explained with presicely illustrated examples, details and description and mainting unity within context.

    The flow is in perfect coherence,perfect logic and easy on the minds to absorb and each followed by perfect sense, and nevertheless , your english standard of reltively error free and its standard of correctness is aboslute pleaseure to take time and read.

    At-last we see an article perfectly covering almost every single fact and not speculatives.
    Thank you Professor .

    • 1
      1

      Cont
      Taking note of Prof.L.F.’s article’s contents,

      Thus the following , destruction of the enviorment is not caused merely by use of plastic, or by extraction of natural resources , use of energy that emit pollution or consumption of meat.

      It is all to do with bias exercised by each camp, with the fullest blessings of their religous fraternities and the political Clout.

      And when power changes hands , someone must pay for the sins of the previleged and none but the truely pious, sincere, honest and innocent becomes the scapegoat.

      It is all to do with greed and selfishness.

      Everyone wants more than their needs, and regretfully todate I am yet to see some sincere gentleman like Dr Harsha de’Silva , *(I still trust and respect him, though some dishonest lowly elements of past government tried hard to slander him.)
      people like him must gather like minded intellectuals and put party politics aside and offer to provide the government with some insight to help the economy in the present times.

      What is needed ,is to have factual data on consumer needs,.once this is available a none compromising quota must be introduced for every commodity ,let it be food , cloathing Tobbaco , alchohal ,meat, fishing , construction materials , etc.

      • 1
        0

        .The main crisis is reduce childbirth to one child per family for next 20.years .
        Over population is the main cause.
        India and china’s 2+ billion is the main issue , seems India has no intention of introducing one child policy and they along with China needs more to sustain.their population.
        So you guess the answer.
        Let us keep our population under controld our resources .
        That alone is enough to eradicate the poverty and build the highway to 1st world with least dependence of other sources .
        The urgent crisis is to control the poplulation growth., without it we will get no.where.
        If people want more than one child ,.they should be encouraged foster Orphans ( not adopt) that also will help reducethe burden
        nyone who can think rationally will agree that over population is not only the main cause ,infuture India chinago may go to way over water for their 2 + billion , which is only goimg to grow.

  • 3
    0

    If any religion permits more than one wife , it should not be banned , it must be fully encouraged , but with new amended law , you can marry the numbers according to your faith subject to that you marry only divorcees and widows and if you and the other wife have children you can not have anymore ,simply because you will already have children from both wives to take care , marry a extra wife
    must be solely to provide security , protection and livlihood and it must be also mandatory to continue the 1st marraiage unless the 1st wife wants a divorce.
    However previlege must be offered for whose wife is barren to take a 2nd wife
    who is a spinster.
    All religous banks must be reverted to
    internantional banking, no religous
    laws be allowed to function.beside the law of the land besides other than the ammendment marraige laws and all religous courts must be brought under the country’s one judicial system.
    only meat product should be permitted to be lebelled with the religous symbol.other must just say fit for vegetarian or no meat or geltian.
    The Religous schoold too need
    changes.
    Leaders must forget worrying of tomorrows election.and make the max use of the 2/3 to sincerely change.

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