The on-going debate on the presidential election could be comprehended in terms of two dominant intellectual trends: Lop-sided logic and crass political opportunism. The debate centers on which of the main contenders – Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) or Maitripala Sirisena (MS) – offers the best hope of stability, security, development and democracy. For the purpose of convenience and clear demarcation, I shall consider the arguments put forward by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka who speaks on behalf of MR and Dr. Kumar David on behalf of the common candidate, MS. DJ’s argument in defense of MR is a case of crass political opportunism and proven sycophancy, while KD’s argument is one of myopic, lop-sided Trotskyite logic.
DJ would have us put the positive and negative aspects of MR on a scale. This is to demonstrate that the positive far outweighs the negative. What slavish intellectual bankruptcy! What a disgusting manner to sing for one’s supper! MR is on record for having raised corruption, nepotism, abuse of power and violation of human and democratic rights to unprecedented astronomical heights. He has raised the banner of supremacist chauvinism and generalized militarism as no other. He has concentrated state power under his hegemonic dynastic rule and exercised the naked terrorist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the people with unparalleled brutality. He has brought shame and infamy upon the country as no other regime. The moral decomposition under his watch is cancerous and putrid. For the sake of his survival, MR has dragged the people into the jaws of inter-imperialist geo-strategic contention and sliced up and sold out the country to international and regional predator powers as never before in our history. No one has exploited and perverted Buddhism and the Dhamma and turned it into an ideology of neo-fascist hegemony. MR has fatally divided, fractured and polarized society vertically and horizontally almost irrevocably. MR will go down in history and straight into its dust-bin for having exercised the most bloody tyrannical terrorist dictatorship over the people. For the war-mongering broker that DJ is, the only saving virtue of his Master is that MR led a war of annihilation against the LTTE. Not withstanding all the genocidal terrorist crimes that it entailed. If, as he claims, the LTTE was a terrorist-fascist force, then it could only have been fathered by a terrorist-fascist State. Then, what is the status of DJ, who is a foremost apologist and ideologue of that state and Regime? But, the logic of historical causality is beyond such a craven militarist who has made sophistic sycophancy his career model.
Kumar David is a progressive democrat who opposed a military solution and still stands for the right of self-determination. I can certainly unite with his democratic views and aspirations. Yet, KD’s prophetic promotion of a single issue-common candidate is naïve as it is blind and fatally illusory. The Mahinda Rajapaksa Regime is not an aberration, nor a monstrosity. It is a logical trajectory of the Lankan State. The British designed and foisted this colonial State on us by transferring its state power to the most loyal, lackey compradors who could be trusted to keep the system alive and thriving. Every successive government took turns in intensifying and unleashing Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and supremacy and in suppressing the Tamil nationalities in the North-East and the Hill Country and the Moslem nationality. Every successive government resorted to emergency rule to suppress the rights of the people. Under this ruling class the workers, farmers, fishermen and all toiling people have been driven to poverty, indebtedness, misery and degradation, while the minority of propertied classes whom they represent amassed their wealth and monopolized power and privilege. The history of this modern neo-colonial State is drenched in the blood of the people. It is set up to open the floodgates of imperialist profit and plunder, while enslaving the people through the game of bourgeois elections. The MRR is but a ghastly continuation of this very same neo-colonial State and system.
MS, (nor for that matter, KD’s projected saviour Ven Sobitha) is not about to dismantle this chauvinist-hegemonic unitary State and pave the way for a democratic, pluralist, secular State. He is there to give it a clean-up, wipe off its blood stains in order to open these flood gates even wider. He is there to let off the steam so the system may not overheat and explode. There is a pattern of deception here. JR represented the open market economy with an open face. Chandrika outdid JR with an open market with a human face. Mahinda executed the open market economy with a chauvinist face. Now, Maitripala promises the open market with a compassionate face. The JVP promotes the open market with a socialist face. The JHU stands for an open market with a technocratic-fascist face. All the better to devour you – little Red Riding Hood! Wake up, Comrade Kumar David.
It is not surprising that this myopic Trotskyite would spread the illusion of democratic change of the chauvinist-hegemonic Capitalist State through yet another of its trusted comprador agents- whomever that may be ( Ven Sobitha, MS or any other). KD has become a maverick mechanic that would repair the neo-colonial Capitalist State and System through the magic of a single issue-common candidate formula. Now, he acts surprised and betrayed that MS has caved into the JHU agenda by not abolishing the Executive Presidency! It is MS’s agenda as well. So much for placing faith in social democratic gimmicks. Well, that is the defunct theory and practice of Trotskyism as Dr. Vickremabahu has exemplified by his craven collaboration with the UNP. The same Trotskyism- with a different face!
There is a rising wave of mass expression of the need for change. In the absence of an immediate revolutionary alternative, it is natural, logical and inevitable that this would focus on regime change- as opposed to system change. This sentiment is to be understood and sympathized when it arises from among the suffering masses. I certainly identify with these mass sentiments. Besides, the demand for regime change also issues from genuine democratic, progressive forces. I do not intend to dilute or derail this sentiment. In fact, if MS is the only alternative as seen by the masses and progressive forces, then it will take its course and consequences. What I do reject is when those who claim to be Marxists call for reinforcing the Capitalist State and system and spread poisonous illusions among the masses- as opposed to doing all they can to raise their awareness and class consciousness and build their organized revolutionary unity, strength and fighting capacity to overthrow the State and the system and establish their own political power.
Every effort is to be taken to send MR, and his mafia-home – or to prison. No effort should be spared to overthrow this terminal crony-narco-mafia regime and its cohorts and to hold the whole rot accountable to the people. The foul stench is that much unbearable. Yet, however tantalizing, the solution does not lie in replacing that with yet another face and yet another fraction of the very same ruling class. For however long and what it takes, the solution lies in mobilizing the exploited workers and oppressed masses and nationalities in a common front of revolutionary struggle against imperialism and the neo-colonial state in order to establish a people’s democratic State that would guarantee national unity, independence, democracy, prosperity and freedom for the people of Lanka. This is the long, hard road to freedom and the conditions will surely mature for that to be the only way out of all the horror and destruction of the system of imperialism and neo-colonial subjugation.
The rejection of Marxism and the revolutionary path is fuelled by the lack of a single Socialist country in the world today. It is reinforced by the sustained assault on Marxism and Communism being carried out by imperialism, world reaction and its ideological agents. This requires elaboration. Capitalism took several centuries wage the bourgeois democratic revolution to overthrow feudalism and to consolidate on a global level. This new economic, political and social order based on a new form of class exploitation passed through series of advances, set-backs and reversals. How much more tortuous and challenging would be the path to establishing and consolidating Socialism on a global level, given that the goal is the final eradication of the system of class division based on private property, along with all the social relations of domination, exploitation and oppression generated by it. As it is, Socialism is still in its infancy and has had to grow and sustain in relatively backward individual countries under imperialist encirclement and internal counter-revolution. We are still at the first stage of socialist revolution and here is still a long way forward. So, we will hold on to the path of Marxism, Socialism and Communism through all the temporary set-backs and reversals. We shall sum up historical experience and learn lessons and advance the science of revolution to new and higher thresholds. Whatever it is, genuine Marxists (Maoists) shall never capitulate to imperialism and neo-colonial subjugation, nor poison the masses with the illusions of reforming imperialism and the Capitalist State to prolong its cancerous life. That would be the role of defunct Trotskyites and their social democratic ilk.
This alternative path of revolution will not appeal to any and all those who benefit and live off the spoils of imperialist profit and plunder. Nor to the ideological agents who serve this parasitic system. Let them delight in poking fun and jabbing darts while languishing in the gloom of political slavery. They have no vision nor dream beyond the system of imperialism that has already plunged humankind through two world wars, and is now driven towards a Third, Thermo-Nuclear World War that could threaten the very survival of Planet Earth and Humankind. Not to mention the universal plunder and pillage that has driven the vast majority of the people of the world into mounting poverty, indebtedness, misery and degradation and caused irrevocable environmental destruction. As the whole crisis of the imperialist system explodes and the neo-colonial state begins to implode, our message will appeal to the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed masses who slave under this defunct system to keep the propertied and privileged classes alive and thriving. It will be the only path to freedom for those “who have nothing to lose, but their chains, and have a world to win”.
*The writer is: Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party-Maoist