9 June, 2023


A Free Democracy Or Political Inferno? The Choice Is Clearer Now

By Vishwamithra

“Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.” ~ George Orwell

The United National Party (UNP) has become muted. The political party that championed the cause of democracy has lost its voice; an increasing tendency for retail politics has made it an anachronism in modern-day politics. Its machinery has lost its skipper; the one that is pretending is making incoherent statement after incoherent statement and the backbenchers do not seem to have guts to challenge such a weak and slimy leadership despite it’s become increasingly evident that its chances at the next polls are slim to none.

Come 2020, if timely adjustments are not made to the processes of effecting changes to its leadership at the highest level that includes party nominee for the Presidential Elections, the country will be in the hands of some those who pretend to safeguard Buddhism, the Sinhalese kind. The so-called land of the purest kind of Buddhism, the home of Theravada, might well go up in flames, once again, like in 1983. The pent-up emotions so inflamed by the rhetoric of the Gnanasaras, Ratanas and Asgiriya Chapter Monks would engulf the total psyche of the majority numbers. A political inferno would be waiting to explode. Much to the sad plight of the minorities, both Muslims as well as Tamils, the sane leaders of the majority would be silent; their impartial judgements, their unbiased decisions and their valid and legitimate appeals would go unheeded.

Sri Lanka’s socio-political landscape would have to be redesigned, if one were to make it look like normal and worthy of beholder’s eye. One would not realize the gravity of religion-based anxieties that are essentially buttressed by narrow-minded sloganeering led by the likes of Gnanasara and Ratana. These sloganeering appeals which are ostensibly harmless but if made to a consistent rhyme and rhythm, could be devastating both to the opponents of those who engage in it at first and secondly to the country at large.

Malefic effects of such religion-based discriminations and racial profiling are, more often than not, not only very well known to those who willfully do it but such effects in turn are used as causes to engineer more radical and dramatic social change. The political leadership that is essential to advance these vulgar ventures is provided as a matter of course once the initial momentum is given by the so-called custodians of the religious sects and movements. Arguments as to what comes first, whether the environment that rendered suitability for such movement or the movement that was responsible for creation of such an environment are redundant now. By the time such movements or the environment are born, the real effects have already materialized; a destructive sequence of events has been created; men and women have already been driven to a frenzy of phony religious devotion and fake-patriotism has overridden all rational and reasonable thought.

The above is not a flight of fancy; nor is it an attempt to denigrate one religion and make a potentially destructive process look urgent and looming. Space and time for such luxuries have been foreclosed. With the fast approaching election season, the mind of the voter had to be reset to suit the beneficiary parties, in this case, the Rajapaksas and their cohorts. Some privately-owned television channels and the frenzied social media activists are already in the arena, sharpening their daggers, so to speak, not just waiting for the opportune moment, but willfully trying to be the parents of such mayhem and chaos that would ensue such a breakdown of social discipline and political order.

But what is most depressing single aspect of this looming social disorder is the incomprehensible silence and inaction of the United National Party and its weak leadership. It looks like our UNP-Nero is found, not fiddling, but confused and impotent while the country is about to erupt into appalling disorder and chaos. Abdication of elementary duty and responsibility is not pardonable. Generations to come will rush to subject them to scorn and their cruel judgment would condemn such leaders into history’s dustbin. The UNP does not seem to care; if such lack of empathy is intentional and deliberate, it’s so tragic and the density of sadness that would befall our nation as a whole would be incalculable.

It does not take an intellectual mind to understand these palpable facts; in fact, those so-called intellectuals do get bogged down in their own analyses and ill-based segmentations; the obvious evades them and honesty eludes these pundits. All signs are significant; they tell a story one cannot ignore; they demand leaders to gather them and strategize and act on them. Those leaders who disregard facts will earn the scorn and contempt of generations yet unborn.

But our leaders seem simply oblivious to these facts. Their collective ignorance has condemned them to these lofty heights from which, if they fall, would eventually destroy them for good. People’s grievances cannot be ignored, but if such grievances are ill-defined and communicated through ill-fated channels, the validity and legitimacy of those grievances become close to zero. That indeed is utterly saddening and depressing. Man’s pursuit of happiness and success in life cannot be measured in terms of his leaders’ ambitions. Leaders would pursue their own goals and attainment of those goals may not be compatible with the subjects’ limited ambitions and desires. Mundane desires of the followers are legitimate in the context of overall life and its challenges and demands, yet he too cannot be allowed to justify his ungainly pursuits just because he happens to be a follower instead of a leader.

As the title of this column suggests, the choice before the people cannot be clearer; its starkness cannot be ignored and the weight of the choice cannot be heavier. One political entity, led by the Rajapaksas, is being openly backed by the fringes of the political spectrum. Religious extremities, racial prejudices and adherences to tribal mentality generate violent responses from those who adhere to such edges of societal development. When their prejudices are finetuned to sloganeering of politicians, emergence of violent outbursts becomes almost normal. Mature democracies have learnt to avoid these outbursts and the necessary governing structures are more so in place to tackle these outbursts which are considered outside the norm.

What was considered outside the norm became within after the ill-timed release of Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, the ill-reputed political hack whose outer attire happens to be a saffron robe. It is indeed a desecration of the very religion and way of life as preached by Buddha, the founder of the religion he is purported to represent. The release of Gnanasara cannot be a coincidence. Release of a known agitator just six months prior to the next Presidential Elections in no way could be regarded as an act of mercy. The dangerous political underpinnings of such a decree cannot be understated, nor could it be callously disregarded. Therein lies the whole argument for lack of sound judgment on the part of the Executive.

A dysfunctional government apparatus coupled with a cruelly conniving team of race cum religion-rats can lead our land into a chaotic disorder of unprecedented proportions. Defiance of the norm and freedom granted to a conduct unbecoming are all parts of this unholy mosaic of national disharmony. Tamils and Muslims of the land again will be treated as alien to the country which they call home. Whether the Sinhalese majority likes it or not, they have to concede that this land is not exclusively theirs. They need to get over the adolescent notion of a need to right historical wrongs done unto them by the colonial powers who have left our shores more than seventy years ago. Seven decades is a long time a for a nation to mature; it’s more than sufficient to let bygones be where they should be. Turning this democracy into a political inferno can be avoided, but it needs extreme vigilance and utmost patience on the part of all our political leaders.

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 1

    The Hong Kong “governor” has capitulated to the demands made by the citizens of Hong Kong.

    • 2

      US puppet bondscam Ranil should be impeached and his butterflies flying a neoliberal LGBTQ flag are the true danger to Sri Lanka. Bondscam Ranil has been protecting Mahiand Jrapassa family under the US brokered fake “reconciliation” plan to turn the Sri lankan parliament into a Cesspit of Corruption and impunity called Parliamentary Privileges, to push the US agenda to colonize Sri Lanka through the corrupt politicians and parliame. This is why Prasad Kariawasam is there as a US policy Hitman.
      Fact is that the biggest threats to Lanka are:
      1) USA and its Special Operations Forces (SOF) that organized the Easter Crime;
      2)US puppet Bondscam Ranil and his financially illiterate Finance Minister, Mangala the Moron, and the butterfly network who are in the pay of the USA along with Prasad Kariyawasam and others;
      3) American weaponization of Buddhism and Islam –

      US Special Operations Forces (SOF) own and operate IS and were behind the Easter Sunday suicide bombings to Weaponize religion, Divide, distract and Rule Sri Lanka – get SOFA and MCC agreements while pretending to fight terrorism. FBI and CIA were already in the country to cover up and destroy the evidence – although police sniffer dogs found US fake diplomats with bomb materials at JAIC Hilton. FBI and CIA must reveal how IS came to Sri Lanka but no news or arrests of foreigners involved in the Easter disaster. Alina Teblitz was visiting Buddhist monks to sell SOFA and violating the US constitutional sepeartion of state and religion – part of the weaponization of Buddhism
      US Embassy in Sri Lanka should be SHUT DOWN!

  • 0

    “Whether the Sinhalese majority likes it or not, they have to concede that this land is not exclusively theirs.”
    The very truth the ‘Enlightened one spoke of’. ” Bikkhus, thus, this body (Pancha Skanda) is just a collection of five aggregates, made of the four elements, ‘Earth, Wind, Water and Fire’.” # Anaththa Lakkana Sutta#

  • 5

    Ranil may be confused and incapable but he knows the Sri Lankans well, especially those inclined to support the UNP.

    As long as he pretends to know everything about everything, get on business class to go to European cities for conferences they don’t know anything about, talk of Royal college and his “big” family , these pro-UNP types will follow him because they think he is a”deep” man born with the right “blood”

    There is no need to show any results. Keep on bluffing.

    I think even the great white hope of the UNP this Premadasa , who sounds so stereotype,will be a huge disappointment. In this country full of dirt , only rubbish will come up in the dirty water

  • 1

    ranil is the weakest leader the unp has had worse than dudley
    but dudley wa an honest man
    he did not do deals with the opposition
    ranil thinks only of himself and his future
    he protects anyone who gives a big monetary donation to the party
    dudley would never have done that
    election gimmicks like giving small plots of land to the landless are signs of desperation
    hoping to get nomination from a toothless party to send it down the gadarene slope

  • 2

    “The pent-up emotions so inflamed by the rhetoric of the Gnanasaras, Ratanas and Asgiriya Chapter Monks would engulf the total psyche of the majority numbers. A political inferno would be waiting to explode.”
    The writer has carried his arguments to their logical conclusion, which I find rare among Sinhalese intellectuals. Yes, we are living in close proximity to an apocalypse. The tendency after July 1983 was to play down its corrosive significance. Many clung to the belief that the UNP was the moderate democratic, party. I have not seen from any Sinhalese, an in-depth discussion of the deep state founded by Jayewardene (my Arrogance of Power, 2001) and revived by Gotabhaya under his brother’s patronage. Sirisena, in desperation, seems to have grabbed hold of it thinking that it was his life boat. One of its key aims is the Weli Oya settlement under the Mahaweli Scheme for which there is hardly any water (given dire shortages in the NCP). Another is to exacerbate divisions between Muslims and Tamils in the East, commenced by the use of the newly deployed STF in attacking Tamils in Karaitivu alongside a mob imported from Colombo, in 1985.

  • 1

    Another fine piece of writing by Vishwamithra. But are any of our self-centred political leaders reading this? Our island state is sleep walking towards the next catastrophe. Nothing is being done to change the who-cares attitude of a befuddled government. Those who will harm us (again)(both at home and elsewhere) take strength from these glaring shortcomings. Future upheavals will not only affect the ‘minorities’ but a significant slice of the Sinhalese community. We really should stop using the term ‘minorities’ to describe nearly 30% of of Sri Lankans who sweat and toil in this island paradise. It is like taking the field with 7 to play a eleven man game.

  • 1

    “Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.” ~ George Orwell

    So if George Orwell has said something it must be true ?

    • 2

      Andare 2.0

      “So if George Orwell has said something it must be true ?”

      George Orwell is not a Sinhala/Buddhist fascist. Therefore he must have been right. In fact he fought against the fascists in Spain.

      He had written many novels, books, stories, biography, etc.
      You should spend time reading his Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. His experience fighting the fascists along with International Brigade was narrated in his
      “Homage to Catalonia”, and he learnt the hard way
      “Curiously enough, the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.”

      Wasn’t it what the coalition of the willing attempted to do in 2014/2015?

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