By Sarath de Alwis –
The modem revolutionist knows full well that man is not superior to principle, that principle is superior to man, but he does not fly off the handle with the maxim, and thus turn the maxim into absurdity. He firmly couples the maxim with this other, that no principle is superior to the movement or organization that puts it and upholds it in the field. . . . . .. He knows that in the revolution demanded by our age, Organization must be the incarnation of Principle. Just the reverse of the reformer, who will ever be seen mocking at science, the revolutionist will not make a distinction between the Organization and the Principle. He will say: “The Principle and the Organization are one.” ~ Daniel De Leon (American Socialist)
The world is young again. It is full of good will, hope and expectations. Society confronts the state face to face.
It demands a change for the better. Everybody seems to know what’s at stake – their liberty and their dignity. These young people know that Liberty is not a pronoun for a shopping plaza. It is a basic human entitlement – a principle. They know that justice is fairness and not gimmickry performed by black robed trapeze artists.
Someday scholarly minds will explain these events, how they happened and why.
These are my random reflections of a fallible, opinionated mind.
There is an explanation for the people’s cry ‘Gota Go Home’. It is provided by a principal backer of this sorry carousal.
Dilith Jayaweera – entrepreneur, media mogul, public thinker and by his own admission a key player who ‘contributed lavishly’ to bring this government to power has explained the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the current predicament of the Gotabaya presidency. You can listen to his full speech here.
Dilith Jayaweera says that the ‘stakeholders’ of this regime have lost confidence. That is the rub of the matter. The people on the streets are tired of the CEO. They are sick of the ‘stake holders who brought in the CEO.
They want this failed enterprise liquidated. They are reclaiming the republic.
The much-discussed IMF report states that ‘Major policy changes since late 2019 exacerbated the pre-pandemic vulnerabilities. The new government promised to build a people centric economy through tax policy changes to promote production and reduce the cost of living. In this context income tax and VAT were cut in late 2019 with estimated revenue losses exceeding 2 percent of GDP. ‘
Why did the Gotabaya presidency embark on this reckless injudicious trajectory? It had nothing to do with building a people centric economy. It had everything to do with neo liberal corporate greed.
In May 2018 the ‘Viyatmaga’ held a grand shindig at the Shangri-La. A country weary of a miserably meandering administration heard Gotabaya Rajapaksa presenting an alternative vision.
It was a memorable milestone of a march of folly. As Barbara Tuchman who coined the phrase March of Folly said it for all time “No one is so sure of his premises as the man who knows too little. “
The sycophants around the candidate knew better. This is how the author of ‘ Gota’s War’ flatterer extraordinary C.A. Chandraprema reported the event in the Island newspaper.
“At five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, long lines of vehicles two abreast were seen on both sides of Galle face, to enter the driveway to the Shangri- La hotel.”
The fawning chronicler had every reason to be electrified. Everybody who was somebody in commerce and industry attended the event. It attracted merry blenders of tea, entrepreneurs with access, captains of high net worth and shroffs brining coin to the land.
As Chandraprema reported “Inside the rugby field sized ballroom was probably the largest gathering of professionals ever seen in this country in one place… The meeting was attended by the cream de la cream of the private sector including the top business magnates and no doubt what they heard from all the speakers, would have been music to their ears.”
The music that the oligarchs of Colombo heard at the Shangri-La ‘s rugby field size ball room in May 2018 has today transformed in to the determined cry in the towns and hamlets of the land including practicing professionals, intellectuals reading the pulse of the people and academics who have mastered the disciplines they teach – Gota Go Home.
Chandraprema wasn’t indulging in hyperbole. The promise made at the Shangri-La shindig was music to the ears of the oligarchic class that emerged in post war Sri Lanka.
Professor Neera Wickremesinghe has made a seminal study of how Mahinda Rajapaksa constructed a post-civil war patriotic state. “President’s vision merges nation and state and promotes a love of country based on a particular reading of the history and foundation myth of the Sinhala people, where all other groups—those formally known as minorities—are present merely as shadows and not as constitutive elements of a common political culture.”
It is in this patriotic state that people were lulled into a state of cosmic inertia that permitted the looting of people’s wealth.
This is not a revolution. This is not an uprising. It is just that the young people, the weary middle aged, and the destitute old have all discovered whose hand is in the cookie jar.
Saroja Savithri Pauraj militant activist, Harini Amarasuriya the idealistic parliamentarian, Otara Gunawardena the entrepreneurial prodigy, Hirunika Premachandra the political firebrand represents hope and promise.
The hope and promise will endure no matter how long it takes to make Gota go home.
There is no united opposition in parliament. They are engaged in reading the fine print and debating the relative merits of capitalism, socially responsible market economy and simple equitable economics that is generally understood as socialism.
The voices in the street are on a different wavelength. They wish to renegotiate the relationship between society and the state. This simple fact seems to escape the convoluted minds of the political class.
Whether capitalist, socialist or in a mixed economy modern society especially the younger people like my five granddaughters and one grandson dislike regimentation. They don’t like to be told what they should and shouldn’t do. I agree. They are wiser and smarter than us.
Modern societies are run not by politicians. They are run by a managerial class. A divided society has arrived at a unity demanding a social transformation. Whether the man goes home or not he has to get off his high horse. All kings’ horses and all of king’s men will not get Humpty Dumpty together again.
Gota Go Home Chant reminds me of stuff I’ve read and long forgotten. Karl Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program is one such.
The Gotha Program was the common platform adopted by the fledging Social Democratic party which combined trade unions and political forces with vastly different world views. It was reached in the German town by that name. In 19th Century it managed to agree on seemingly impossible goals such as universal suffrage, freedom of association and limits on the working day.
Intellectuals of the NPP, the clever minds of the SJB, the experts of the 43rd Battalion and the kind leaders of the Tamil National Alliance must explore the possibilities of a Gotha program for Sri Lanka in the digital age. The German socialists did that to contend with Bismarck’s repression.