17 October, 2021

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An Ideas Vaccine Against The Pandemic Of Gotabaya-Type Ultranationalist Despotism 

By Dayan Jayatilleka 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Both the regime ideologues and the anti-regime neoliberal ideologues view Lankan reality through the prism of ‘the Sinhala-Buddhist majority vs the minorities’, with the only difference between them being that for the regime it is a question of the ‘marginalized Sinhala-Buddhist majority’ vs the ‘privileged minorities’ while for the neoliberals it is, (as one said in a recent tweet) ‘marginalized minorities’ vs ‘Sinhala-Buddhist civilization state’. 

The reality is contrary to this frame whichever way its angled, and came into sharp focus in a series of incidents, most dramatically the Mahara massacre. Except for the very rich and well-connected, which the Sanders-AOC wing of the US Democrats would call “the 1%”, “the 99%” of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority is also suffering at the hands of a heartless regime, not in its ethno-religious identity but in its material, socioeconomic being and as citizens. Either you believe that the overwhelming bulk of the citizenry is satisfied under this regime, or you have to accept that the majority of Sinhala-Buddhists who constitute a majority of the citizens, are suffering and disgruntled.    

The regime’s Sinhala-Buddhism, though sincere as self-image, objectively functions as a disguise for the interests of a minority of crony capitalists, ex-military brass and a single clan. The regime’s cosmopolitan-liberal critics fall into the trap of their foe when they attack the Sinhala-Buddhists as a bloc and Sinhala-Buddhism as a communitarian identity. 

Urging a New Liberalism and outlining its platform in a December 2020 essay in Prospect magazine entitled ‘The Future of Liberalism’, Timothy Garton Ash, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, begins by identifying what went wrong, opening the door to authoritarian majoritarian ultranationalism. 

In a description that perfectly fits the Ranil-CBK-Mangala ‘cosmopolitan liberalism’ which created the space for the Gotabaya phenomenon and its triumph, Garton Ash writes:

“…Cosmopolitan liberals paid too little attention to the other halves of our own societies. We talked a lot about “the international community,” much less about national communities. By concentrating on the legitimate desire of diverse minorities for recognition of their complex identities, we failed to see how those whom early multiculturalists had assumed to belong to secure majorities now felt increasingly insecure and threatened in their own identities. This left the door open to the “white identity politics” of Trump and his ilk. The majority-feeling-like-a-minority resentment was heightened by liberal elites’…contempt for the half of society without higher education, especially when that other half expressed simplistic and politically incorrect views. Witness Hillary Clinton’s notoriously condescending phrase about ‘the basket of deplorables’.”

In a segment captioned ‘The State-Nation’, Garton Ash makes yet another observation enormously pertinent to the politically illiterate and obtuse Lankan cosmopolitan (neo)liberal intellectual-ideological conclave:

“This is uncomfortable territory for contemporary liberals. Some are altogether unhappy with the stubborn persistence of nations. But rather than drawing up our battered troops on a marshy frontline marked “internationalism versus the nation,” we need to regroup on the more defensible high ground of the nation defined in liberal terms…These are surely terms on which liberals can engage, arguing not about the need for a national political community—which was, after all, one of the main demands of European liberals in 1848, the year Marx published his manifesto—but about the definition and character of that community. As overnight frontier closures and national government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have again demonstrated, the nation is just too important, and too strong in its emotional appeal, to be left to the nationalists.” (Ibid)

Ranil-Mangala ‘cosmopolitan liberalism’ or rather ‘globalist neoliberalism’ did just that, namely, leave the nation, with its importance and strong emotional appeal, to be monopolized by the nationalists. 

Timothy Garton Ash makes a strong, explicit pitch for a liberal patriotism, which the Lankan Opposition democrats should adopt:

“Ours will therefore be an inclusive, liberal patriotism, capacious and sympathetically imaginative enough to embrace citizens with multiple identities…Such an open, positive, warm-hearted version of the nation is capable of appealing not just to dry reason but also to the deep human need for belonging and the moral imperative of solidarity. While the coronavirus pandemic initially triggered a bout of national self-isolation, it has also showed us the best in community spirit and patriotic solidarity. Liberal patriotism is an essential ingredient of a renewed liberalism.” (Ibid)

He mourns that post-cold war liberalism had ignored the warning of French political philosopher Pierre Hassner that the irrepressible human “yearning for community and identity, on the one hand, and for equality and solidarity on the other” would be re-born. Garton Ash writes that “…Community and identity are values (and human needs) often emphasized in conservative thought, while the socialist tradition has paid particular attention to equality and solidarity.” He then places his cards on the table: “…In the half-jesting spirit of the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski’s celebrated 1978 essay ‘How to Be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist,’ I propose that we should be conservative-socialist-liberals.” (Ibid)

It may be some interest to the Lankan reader that a critical revaluation and rectification of Liberalism had been suggested along broadly compatible lines by me in the late 1990s in a South Asian Liberal Review published by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung and concurrently in the Lanka Guardian magazine, later reproduced in my 2014 volume ‘Long War, Cold Peace’. (See: ‘Liberalism’, in Chapter 5: Reflections and Perspectives, ‘Long War, Cold Peace’, Vijitha Yapa, Colombo 2014, pp 415-419.) 

If as Timothy Garton Ash posits, ‘cosmopolitan liberalism’ led to a hollowing out and the consequent victory of the authoritarian ultranationalist Right in the First World/West, how much more dangerous has it been in the Global South (with Brazil and Sri Lanka as examples)? How much more appropriate would the splicing of his two formulae, ‘liberal patriotism’ and a ‘conservative-socialist-liberalism’ be, and how necessary the supplement or ‘booster’ of a left-liberal populism (Mexico’s President AMLO, Bolivia’s President Arce), in the societies of the South, such as ours?

The current crisis of humanity has four facets: the pandemic, climate change, economic recession and ultranationalist despotism. Just as the global rollout of the anti-corona vaccines will decide the fate of the pandemic in 2021, the outcomes in the other three crisis-domains will be decided by whether or not a ‘vaccine of ideas’ with the composition suggested by Timothy Garton Ash, Jake Sullivan, and above all Pope Francis in his latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti (celebrated by philosopher Charles Taylor), is produced and distributed among humanity. 

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Latest comments

  • 7
    3

    Dear Mr DJ,

    There is a saying that devil devil is not so black as he is painted. But it should be otherway around in terms of Rajapakshes and their crime friendy politics. Situation before the people today in SL is even darker than expected. They spread blatant lies one behind the other, permamently thinking that stupid majority would never notice it. World ranking scales prove that srilanka is one another to be fallen that deep as is the case with Greece. Nevertheless Gotabaya go merrygo round to animate the villages WHOSE MIND SETS are the easy pray for any cruel acts of politicians.
    Those countries that were under dictatorships in europe became like birds that were set free from cages, at the time, east european countries became independent. They seem tob e enjoying the democracy in such countries irrespective various other problems. However, our people to support for a tinpot dictator in making is beyond my comprehension. It is all because people s knowledge being weaker. Among the parades gathered to Kegalle Pani BEEMA maker showed the world, how stupid the people have been as of today.

    I thought srilanka would respect the BASIC rights of its citizens. Actually any leader except RAJAPAKSHES, never reacted inhuman to own citizens.

    • 4
      3

      Dear Friends,

      Srilankens are caught by family rule of the hambantota criminals.
      .
      Please watch the video below
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gopqlQQeqvA

      I really respect Kesaral Gunasekara.. the kind of politicians are doing their job also being in the govt.

      • 6
        1

        Dear LM: I listened to this “Harang” live, on that date, from the beginning to the end, however much it was “Nerve Cracking”. Just listen carefully to your “Respected”, Kesaral Gunsekera. To me, this bunch of SLFP MPs, led by “Appaya” who planted a prop up “Mukkuwa” to pass that “20A” is nothing but “Rouges” and “Traitors”. They defeated their own “19A” and planted a “Mukkuwa” to pass the “20A” with that required “2/3rd” majority. The “Appaya”, the “Leader?” of the party absconded from the voting. All these “Bastards” including your “Respected” hypocrite “Donated” their self-respect to create a “Monster” that all of us are talking about. Listen to his answers to the questions, especially that was posed in regard to the abundantly clear “Distancing” between the President and the PM. He says I don’t know. Is he worth to be called a “Politician” and a member of the Executive Committee of SLFP? Did you listen to your “Respected” man at the last “Satana” program? He is now “Playing” another card to form a “United Front” to “Salvage” the country. My foot. This whole “Rotten to the Core” “Gang” must be KICKED OUT. Period.

        • 3
          2

          Simon,
          dont get me wrong dear. I really dont know him and his politics, but for some times now , I have watched him adding his thoughts to the kind of discussions. Actually, this is the nature of highly corrupted srilankens. That has lot to do with srilanken genes. Be them sinhalaya, Muslims or tamils are the same Yes, these men are well aware of the facts that Rajaakshes brothers are shortly before being found dead in drains, as was the case with Gadafi family in Lybia. But our problem is that people down there back them even their lovely ones would have been raped and murdered by Rajakashes and their men yet today. Either opposition is weak or they stay passive as usual. What happened to JVPrs today ? What is wrong with University community ?
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObJpXb4hXfQ
          I dont see much difference between Rajaakshes and Dhammika Bandara from Kegalle.

      • 3
        1

        Lella,

        They don’t deserve respect. They are the worst Rajapaksa slaves who are now trying to rope it the drop-outs. Once they have recaptured them, where do they go? Madamulana!

    • 1
      4

      leelagemalli,
      … ‘any leader except RAJAPAKSHES, never reacted inhuman to own citizens’. You forgot JR!
      .
      BTW, the Tile of the article could have begun, ‘An Ideas Vacuum …’.

    • 1
      2

      COVID-19 vaccine will start a new round of tribal disagreements. All COVID-19 vaccines include swine matter (as with most vaccines and medicines). Superstition followers oppose this. Those vaccinated will survive!!

      The perfect pandemic for Rajapaksas!!

  • 6
    2

    A brilliant incisive analysis.
    Dayan has exposed the current political scenario.Two lines sums it up.
    ………For the regime it is a question of the Marginalised Sinhala Buddhist Majority vs the Privileged Minorities…..
    ……….For the neo-liberals Marginalised Minorities vs Sinhala Buddhist Civilisation State……

    Further down in this fine essay Dayan has hit the nail on its head.

    ………The Regimes Sinhala-Buddhism……..objectively functions as a disguise for the interests of a Minority of Crony Capitalists, Ex: Military Brass and a SINGLE CLAN. THIS MINORITY IS WELL REPRESENTED IN THE viyath maga.

  • 17
    3

    Dr. Dayan Jayatilake,
    The use technical terms and professional jargons to educate the masses is not useful. You can talk about liberalism, capitalism, socialism but the importance is to understand that majority of the population is in the dark or mesmerised by a few opportunistic families. Even the majority of the population are capable to understand what is good and what is bad in most instances they cannot make a decision whether this act of person is right or wrong. For example, if you ask corruption is good or bad almost 99.9% will say bad. However, when you tell that Mahinda bribed a Muslim MP to vote for a constitutional amendment and you ask a person it is good or bad many will not answer that question even though they knew it is wrong.
    Dayan, You were on the same group when you gave full support to Mahinda government which also included Gota. You couldn’t leave his government when hundreds of people massacred or even Lasantha was murdered. Why?

    • 6
      1

      Ajith: I stand in salute to you for the splendid manner of “Belling” the cat – DJ. I was among the crowd when he appeared with a “Message” from MR at that famous “Nugegoda meeting that was dubbed “Bring Back Mahinda”. He read out that “Message” in heroic style and tone and joined the “GANG” to name MR as the “Nugegoda Man”. As for me, I will never ever listen to a “Mas Vedda” (Hunter) if he starts preaching “Buddha Dhamma”, because I know what the “Strategy” and the “Plan” are. I admire you for that last line penned: “Dayan, You were in the same group………….. and concluding with that Million Dollar question “WHY”. Thank you again.

    • 3
      3

      Because the alternative (not exterminating Tamil terrorists) was worse.

  • 7
    4

    The problem is giving one vote to every citizen. Governance is a specialization; you can’t leave it up to every citizen to vote to select governments, they don’t know what they’re doing. You must entrust this responsibility to industry leaders.
    .
    If you put an educated experienced individual against a mealy mouthed rascal on a debate stage (on and off stage which politics these days have been reduced to) obviously the uneducated mealy mouthed rascal is going to win. Simply due to the fact that he speaks the language of the ignorant masses.
    .

    • 7
      1

      Cont./
      .
      Also don’t expect anything good so long as buddhism is given a place in politics and public office. Let’s restrict buddhism to the temples and provide an education and training for the +2 million cattle monks so they can start contributing to the economy instead of being a drain on public resources.

    • 2
      10

      sitrep24,
      “they don’t know what they’re doing.”

      This is absolutely correct when think of the way the descendants of asylum seekers from Hindusthan who were given citizenship by Sinhalayo in this country use their votes. They still have their tribal mentality and cast their votes only to those who belong to their tribe.
      The voting in this country should be limited to citizens of Sinhale by ‘Descent’. Those who obtained citizenship by ‘Registration’ should be excluded. Those who prepared the Constitution made a blunder by giving equal status to ‘Citizens by Descent’ as well as to ‘Citizens by Registration’.

      • 4
        2

        Eagle,
        “The voting in this country should be limited to citizens of Sinhale by ‘Descent’.”
        Actually, it would be better if Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims got two votes each and one vote for every two Sinhalayo.
        In the last 70 years, the dumb Sinhalayo and their cheevaradhariya feudal lords have proved that they are incapable of running the country.

      • 1
        3

        Dear EE

        Let us focus on the folks who came to work in SL under the colonial free movement within the common wealth first and foremost. Anything beyond that is already a generational issue and the planet history was followed the same.

        With regard estate labourers who came within the last 10 year period was the cut off point our GOSL discussed with the Indian government and agreed to return some back to India on this basis??

        I want to understand the SJV/FP motive/actions then specially affecting the workers vs the locals mainly Sinhalese wishes and needs then? this action set a very wrong president to all that happened thereafter in our Nation…….understandably this has created a trust issue within Sinhalese and Tamil speaking Ceylonese which was not case before then…should SJV was discussing this on a humanitarian grounds then he would have invited all the Indian workers to Jaffna? he knew what will happen to him should he made this proposal?? he could have stood for elections in Upcountry and spoke for their rights?? why did he then found themselves making a cocktail transferring these issues to Jaffna?? please share your thoughts.

        • 1
          3

          I also think any of the minority representation of the governance of the Nation before the Independence had no credibility regard to real representation as these folks (specially Hon GG/SJV etc) who inherited the colonial benefits “self appointed’ themselves as an accepted politicians and moved into the world of sectarian politics as a way of “lifestyle” then after the Independence.

          The blunders continued until 1970 when they had a real awakening in Jaffna when some of them got kicked out by their electorates. Then came the real colours of Traitors/Turncoats etc and the real killings/attempts on their oppoennets started in 1972. This is whilst Hon SJV was well and alive…….no paramilitary speeches on human rights abuses of the elected then by this lot?? then came the Rathap pottus and missing and armed children to be found boat running between the shores of Jaffna and Tamil Nadu.

          Comment and share your knowledge on this please.

  • 3
    8

    Dear Dayan

    Without all the political science terms for the analysis (I am not that educated for such terms) I share the following on a common mans point of view who grew up in Jaffna

    The only think that is condescending to my people is when someone analyse something about their aspirations and needs without any understanding nor any historical prospective about the community.

    FP/TULF have forced things down the throat of my people (against the will of the people) at gun point and now you at leisure seem to offer further sodamisation by the same as a solution to their needs. I am not sure how this forms as any political analysis of any nature??? You have not laid the facts down for your analysis as either you know or you do not know anything as to what happened in Jaffna since Independence and how things transpired ever since 1977 elections. The Ratha Pottu Mafia FP/TULF handy works since 1970 losses (most of them were voted out) onwards to 1977 and then to 1981.

    • 2
      7

      You seem to be enjoying best of the both world and am lost regards to your non stop proposals based on sectarian basis………..sorry it does not change anything for us as we are always the equal stake holders of the entire Nation not limited to the ghettos you are trying to corner us using the cover you get from the TNA (the real minority)perhaps?? that we have Cleary established a while ago and to be exact 1970 onwards and thank you all the same.

      Come what may we will get there with all the good people of SL from all walks of life to reclaim their Nation away from the gun trotting killers from all communities we had in our Nation ever since 1970’s tq and the consequence we all live everyday to date.

      Can tell us why you are looking for a solution for the Jaffna man and woman pls in specific terms ie exactly?? pls Note If you are offering solutions to the Muslims and upcountry Indians per se please make separate article tq.

      • 1
        3

        Dear Dayan

        In the future kindly consider laying down the Problems first for your analysis with a time line will help one to benefit from your kind work. Ensure it is different from per se each and every other segments of the community/Nation. Once you do that we can start journey of mapping what is a normal issues of a Mother Lankan Citizens vs issues that cam about due to racism/discriminations/prejudices.

        No wall the work you do is based on the pretext of what “GG/SJV/Amir/Tamil and Sinhala armed insurgencies” did in our Nation sighting various dilemmas faced by the post colonial Nation for which our elected politicians have tirelessly worked to avoid all the pit falls as best as possible. The fact none of the above have caused us the Nationhood and landed us all in the lap of the Geo Political psychos is for you all to sit down and teach each other the lessons learned.

        • 1
          3

          First and foremost even for other ghetto parties to be part of a National Part tome a credible party that can contest elections (not coalitions) one need to have credentials/qualifications/capabilities to do so. The problem is I can pickup a gun shoot others and find causes any donkey can do but to run a country to date it takes a lot talent even with the fore works the above has created to date.

          As an example when a elected MP from anywhere stand in a parliament during Budget debate and talk about language and religion is where you make a call to remove that from our parliamentary democracy??? if you cared about your electorate who send you their you would be looking for possible funds in the respective areas to empower peoples life and make a case for that before and after??

          • 1
            2

            It is time we have some telecasted committee hearings of various National issue where we can actually watch these elected discussing matters (not religions and languages) so we can evaluate for ourselves if these individuals we elect are fits or misfits for the job in hand that is to deliver social justice through development/Nation building activity.

            We can start having a various/respective parliamentary committees assigned to discussing Fisheries issues up North/Foreign embassy issues in Jaffna?? Park strait marine pollution/coral./fish stock/environmental issues etc??

  • 3
    4

    DJ hits the nail on its head when he said,

    “The regime’s cosmopolitan-liberal critics fall into the trap of their foe when they attack the Sinhala-Buddhists as a bloc and Sinhala-Buddhism as a communitarian identity.”

    This is exactly true. These fools, out of their inherent racism, attack all Sinhalese. What choice that leaves Sinhalese than to retaliate? This is how Rajapaksas win war after war and election after election.

    Point number 2 is the anti-Rajapaksa camp has minority racists who cannot work with each other and with Sinhalese beyond the presidential election. This happened in 2015. They all came together in January 2015 to topple Rajapaksas but by August 2015 they have all crept back into their racist caves! It gave Rajapaksas the killing chance to stage a triumphant comeback.

    Knowing this well, Rajapaksas will first hold a parliamentary election in 2024 which divides the anti-Rajapaksa camp into Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims (UNP/SJB+JVP, TNA, SLMC+ACMC). Winning more seats than UNP/SJB is easy for SLPP. Thereafter they will hold the presidential election against a divided Opposition.

    If they want to topple Rajapaksas, TNA, Vigneswaran, Ponnambalam, SLMC and ACMC must join UNP and contest as one party at the parliamentary election. Stay together in parliament. Form a diverse government sharing ministries and then take on the presidential election.

    • 2
      5

      Dear Gatam

      All need to become a Sri Lankan first by shedding ghetto references first so they do not contaminate the party they form together. They all need to demonstrate capability/qualifications to do so do…this is not a job for any unemployed……we have several menial jobs for them in paddy fields/chicken factories and at the port so they can make a living too….others can live off their pensions they are not fit enough to do the real work. If I were the head of state I will open all the cases in the past these lawyers and judges have sat through/conducted/delivered verdict based on their performances/morals discussing Nation Politics now too.

      It is a good way to see their real inner sanctums others very deceptive to see..

      • 2
        2

        Dear TV,

        In all honesty we all know it cannot happen. Sri Lanka never was and never will be one nation. There is no one language, one religion, one foreign policy, one destiny, one law or at least one national anthem that unifies the 3 nations within the island!!!

        With that thinking, you are (innocently) part of the problem.

        • 0
          2

          ok I approve 3 states but would please also consider one for the Indian Upcountry a Little India too please.

          I think 4 state is better starting point than 3?

          I hope this is more solution oriented:)

    • 1
      1

      ‘This is exactly true. These fools, out of their inherent racism, attack all Sinhalese. What choice that leaves Sinhalese than to retaliate? This is how Rajapaksas win war after war and election after election.’
      .
      Not only the ‘regime’s cosmopolitan-liberal critics’ but every Tamil on this site, apart from Thiagarajah Venugopal.

  • 3
    6

    DJ,
    You always talk about the ‘Minority Problems’ as if majority Sinhalayo are living in a bed of roses. Can you please convince your minority friends that they not only enjoy the same rights and freedom the majority Sinhalayo enjoy as citizens of Sri Lanka but enjoy few extra rights that Sinhalayo do not enjoy.
    In case of Tamils (Vellala), Sinhalayo have allowed them to retain a Malabar customary law called ‘Thesawalamei’ that they brought when they entered Sinhale illegally and settled down in Yapanaya.
    In case of Muslims they have been allowed to enjoy few privileges such as special marriage and divorce laws, Kadhi courts, freedom to marry several women and underage women and special leave for Muslim women.

    • 6
      1

      Eagle,
      “convince your minority friends that they not only enjoy the same rights and freedom the majority Sinhalayo enjoy”
      You keep on lying. Sinhalayo have more rights than others. Are Hindus allowed to look for ancient shrines in Kataragama? Are Tamils/ Muslims allowed to colonize state land in the South?NO, NO, NO!!

      • 2
        2

        OC,

        Tamils and Muslim have colonized the “south” including Colombo to the tune of two million but the Northern Province has less than 1% Sinhalese.

        • 0
          2

          G

          Is this million with a 6 zeros or 5. Get confused with the SL million and the International?

          SL million equals to 200, 000?

          International 2 000 000 ?

        • 3
          0

          Gatam,
          The minorities in the South went there at their own expense. They were not given free land by the government. The Sinhalese were settled in the East by the government and given free land. Why are minorities treated the same way?

          • 2
            0

            Why are minorities NOT treated the same way?

    • 0
      4

      Dear EE

      I agree what you say above without the reference “allow” and “enter” and “settle” etc in the 2nd and 3rd para.

      We had a Nation with fully defined citizenship. If any needed discussion that was all done by the GOSL and India then period.

      This audacious event of disputing Indian workers citizenship down south by SJV/GG then is to “play good cop / bad cop” by the same then who had their personal estates and interest then and needed workers in SL and Malaysia for their estates and their colonial masters estates too. It was Hon SWRD who later nationalised the same must have hit hard this foreign/local interest that was doing slave running the innocent Indian workers who should have been send home for a different dignified journey in their own land and villages with their own identities. This is why they separated into TC and FP then and joined to form TUF/TULF later in 70’s after the Jaffna man had enough of their dramas??

      Just as the freely moved Indian laborers in the estates then also the Muslim traders who moved from India and settled in Kandy etc? This segment is different from the Local Muslims who has been there earlier had no issues with the locals/Buddhism etc??

  • 5
    1

    nka has no concrete plans to receive any vaccine. Sudarshini, says we still are studying the possibilities. It will cost closer to a $ Billion, for which govt is looking for loans. Govt pretty much has left the fate to WHO and others to decide. In the mean time Lanka already seems to have the mutated virus which is now causing wave in UK . It has been picked up in few other European countries and today in Australia, This starin caused much rapid spread and not clear the vaccine has any protection against it

  • 3
    0

    Sorry strain not starin, Lanka not nka.

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