18 August, 2022

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Creeping Coup Or Civilian Democracy?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The TV News of December 8th 2021 showed Army chief Shavendra Silva striding out if the Ministry of Agriculture, trailed by the state minister and the Minister of Agriculture. The newscast of Dec 9th showed the Army chief saying that the Task Force on combatting Covid-19 had been switched to organic agriculture.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seems to be turning the Sri Lankan state into military-occupied territory. The process could be termed a creeping coup from above.

On the morning of December 9th an upmarket English-language newspaper contained not one but two columns, which, based on very different empirical material and from very different perspectives, rang the alarm bell about the prospect of military rule.

What political perspectives for resistance issue from these manifest contemporary phenomena and accompanying warnings?

As the writer of one of the two critical commentaries cited above, I can only speak for myself. I would say that the bottom-line is twofold:

* The main political contradiction of the current stage of Sri Lankan process is that between, on the one hand, encroaching military rule under presidential auspices, and on the other, civilian democracy.

* Therefore, the main strategic project and slogan must be to appeal to and persuade all civilian democratic political forces, whether they be in Opposition or Government, to rally to resist growing military encroachment and to safeguard civilian democratic governance, rule and processes of transition.

This is vital, because if the ongoing process of militarization accelerates, there will neither be elections by which to effect change – which may not concern the governing party–nor any elected civilian dominated sector and function of the Sri Lankan state—which will concern the governing party.

The old slogans of uniting Opposition forces on the basis of the abolition of the executive presidency should be cast aside promptly. What is at stake is far more fundamental. It is not the form –presidential or parliamentary–of the democratic state, but it’s very content and character: will it be civilian democratic or military despotic?

The broad bloc that is necessary for this battle goes beyond the Opposition; it must reach out to sectors of the government as well. It should also appeal to the democratic sectors of the military and its officer corps.

Currently the main obstacle I see to the formation of the broadest possible bloc in defense of democracy, is the limited perspective of the current JVP leadership.

For Marx, Engels and Lenin, it was hardly a matter of unconcern whether the political character of the state was an autocracy or a democratic republic.

For Trotsky, Gramsci and Dimitrov, it was hardly a matter of negligible importance as to whether the capitalist state was ruled by bourgeois democracy or fascist dictatorship.

However, for the JVP and the FSP, these are irrelevant.

They see only two realities:

(a) The crisis of the capitalist system—and in the case of the JVP, the open economy—and

(b) The mobilization of the popular forces for a mass struggle against an enemy they see as on the defensive if not the retreat.

There is absolutely no understanding of the character of the enemy, its strategic project and the material forces at its disposal.

As usual the JVP possesses an objective understanding neither of itself nor of its enemy, when such understanding of both these categories is the prerequisite for strategic success, as Sun Tzu emphasized in The Art of War.

In Louis Althusser’s For Marx, ‘conjuncture’ is defined thus:

‘CONJUNCTURE (conjuncture). The central concept of the Marxist science of politics (cf. Lenin’s ‘current moment’); it denotes the exact balance of forces, state of overdetermination of the contradictions at any given moment to which political tactics must be applied.’

Neither the JVP nor the much more sincere and less sectarian FSP, grasp the political, or more accurately, the politico-military conjuncture.

This is because they do not grasp and have never grasped ‘the Marxist science of politics’.

One cannot grasp the Marxist science of politics without a rigorous study of the founder of Marxist political science: Antonio Gramsci.

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Latest comments

  • 24
    2

    Gotabaya is setting up a military rule government. He is paving way for the military to take over the government when he resigns due to his failure – Gota Fail. What is shocking is Gota appointing a murderer Karannagoda as the Governor of North Central Province. Is Gota sane? Anuradapura is the home of Maithripala Sirisena. Is SLFP ok with this move? Shouldn’t SLFP protest against this appointment as it’s an insult to its citizens? There should be an islandwide campaign – #boycottkarannagoda.

    None of the politicians of any level of government should participate in any event organized or chaired or participated by this murderer Karannagoda. Will Maithripala and SLFP have the guts to organize this boycott?

    I have come to the conclusion with thug Gnanasara’s appointment as the Chair of the Presidential Task Force, the appointment of Duminda Silva another murderer as Chairman of Housing Development Authority and now appointing the guy who murdered 11, Karannagoda as the Governor, Gota is insane and mentally imbalanced. Maybe the LTTE bomb had this effect.

    • 5
      2

      Dear Sensitive Readers,

      Those abducted young sons during MR regime, went missing, and torments of the mothers are tremouring colombo citiy yet today. Nobody seem to be taking it serious. If MR sons were hurt by someone, the issue would hav ebeen brought before UNHRC….. by their father no doubt, … with our fools being back to the action.
      Those who cry today regarding MLECHCHA terror act in PAKSITAN -for our brother PRIYANTHA kumara, in the same time, stay as if they are no different to fierce crocoldiles fed with clay (standstill). Our sinhalayas hearts and its melt downs are very selective. They are the most racists in current day world. Not israelis, but our sinhala ballige puthas for sure. I have the guts to call a spade a spade….. even if many of us would not utter a single workd in terms of the LOSSES of those tamil youth.
      .
      What is Antonio Gramsci’s idea of hegemony?
      The Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) developed cultural hegemony to explain the social-control structures of society, and said that the working-class intelligentsia must generate a working-class ideology to counter the worldview (cultural hegemony) of the ruling class.

      • 3
        0

        No Sri Lankan is competent enough to establish an effective dictatorship: especially a Singhalese ……. Dictatorships also require competence.

        The only Lankan who could and did establish a dictatorship in Lanka, is Veluppilay Prabakaran.

        And he is dead.

        Pity he didn’t get nailed to a cross ……. for him to be deified.

        He certainly did love his people ………. in his own way …………..

    • 1
      0

      Buddhist 1
      What we ALREADY have is a military rule under Gotabhaya reinforced/protected by 2/3 in the Parliament.
      Who is supposed to stage a coup against Gotabaya?

      Soma

      • 0
        0

        Working in collusion for a take over, in case of necessity

  • 5
    1

    Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s own inconsistency in action smacks to me of opportunism.
    .
    He ends with something that has already been used to lampoon him:
    .
    “One cannot grasp the Marxist science of politics without a rigorous study of the founder of Marxist political science: Antonio Gramsci.
    .
    I’m older than Dayan, and I haven’t “studied” even Marx and Engels. I much prefer to go along with the NPP (doesn’t Dayan know that the JVP now has representation in Parliament as the NPP, and that their National List M.P., Dr Amarasuriya, isn’t even a member of of the JVP?)
    .
    Dayan himself was a Minister in Vaartharajah Perumal’s administration of the North-East Provincial Council, been a supporter of every chauvinist who held National Power in Lanka, and enjoyed lots of perks from them.
    .
    I’d much rather get guidance on Marxism from Professor of Engineering, Kumar David.
    .
    I know little of the FSP, but certainly don’t imagine them to be responsible for the dirty ragging in our Universities. Tell that to the effete Colombo 7 types (Dayan & parents also lived in Ward Place forty years ago – I don’t know where they live now).
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe

    • 11
      0

      Dear SM.
      Personal Inconsistency apart, may be we should address/ relate to the song – not the writer. Inconsistency is a part of growing up – we discard some views and change in any current social, political and even environmental situations as they exist before and after, as we move on in life. Many are Marxists in the Uni but become champions of liberal values by 30.
      Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events… Eleanor Roosevelt.
      May be discuss critically what has been said in its own context, to be fair by DJ.

    • 3
      1

      Sinhala man
      This is Dr.Dayan Jayathilake’s mind after a heavy drink.
      He will be sober tomorrow.

      Soma

    • 0
      1

      Sinhala_Man: This “Dr.DJ” is a man “Kicked Out” from the Rajapakse camp and he feels very bitter about the “Lost” opportunities even after reading the “Message” of Mahinda Rajapakse at the “Mahinda Sulanga” meeting at Nugegoda. Now he is on a “Contract” with “Sajith’s SJB” and it is another “Investment” hoping to reap benefits in the future. These are the “Intellectuals” including those of “Viyathmaga”, “Yuthukama” that the people must reject if Sri Lanka is to succeed.

  • 4
    2

    Sri Lanka has wiped out the pandemic and dismantling COVID operations…what a joke
    https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/NOCPCO-no-more-in-operation/108-226510

  • 16
    3

    soman

    Where can I buy insignia and medals just like the ones Shavendra is wearing?
    I want to decorate quite a few Tamil and Sinhala speaking armchair generals whom I am very fond of.

    • 4
      2

      Native – Gota is dishing it out generously – I guess should be available at Amazon.com
      you need to hurry as Gota may grab them all before the black Friday sale ends .

      • 5
        0

        Rajash,
        .
        There are speculations, that Gota will commit suicide soon not being about bear the TENSION, being grown due to his incapabilities – and the mess created by him without having the knowledge in mlechcha politics that is being practised in SOUTH ASIAN countries. He was the one who dressed him to be a visionary leader with the assiatnace of the SLPP idiots that have nothe basic knowledge about anything but about SLAVE MINDEDNESS.

        • 2
          0

          Gota may have lost his marbles, but not his inherent cowardice.
          For all their mental infirmities, suicidal people just get on with it.

          Gota has always been a coward, very much like Prabakaran. He will therefore want to prevail, in any shape or form until the bitter end.

          Little does he realise that when the music stops, the end will be terribly messy.

    • 2
      4

      Native
      Do you also need fake cyanide capsules?
      You have to tell me in advance.

      Soma

      • 1
        0

        soman

        “Do you also need fake cyanide capsules? You have to tell me in advance.”

        It depends when you need them.
        By the way don’t you think Gota looks very sick, looks like an American psychopath, Dennis Rader, aka “The BTK Killer”?
        .

  • 5
    2

    DJ: the US State Dept. has a 5000 page file on the War Crimes of US citizen Goat Rajapakse and also Shavindra Silva, but rushed to gift Silva a Covid-19 surveillance “Hospital” to test, trace, track protestors!!!

    The US is the biggest military POLLUTOR on the planet with 800 military bases all over and produces and sells more weapons of destruction than the next 7 countries together according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, but talks endlessly about Human Rights, Minority rights and climate change!
    The US military business, bioterrorism, media and Research Industrial complex is the biggest pollutor and emitter of Carbon on the planet but the hot air CoP 26 made no mention of global militarization and Climate change and the US being the biggest spreader of militarization while spewing hot air about Democracy, Human Rights and Minority Rights!
    Yes, US citizens Basil and Goat work for and are backed by the American Deepstate with its Coid-19 MASK, to destroy the Lankan economy, debt trap it, Militarize and colonize Lanka, and turn it into a US military base in the Indian Ocean.

    • 5
      2

      The biggest producer of weapons and pollution on the planet per capita is having a Democracy Summit these days! This Fake Democracy promote, also promotes its own citizens, like US citizens Basil and Goat Rajapakse, to become dictators in small strategic islands – from Haiti to Lanka- , who work for and are backed by the American Deepstate with its Coid-19 MASK.
      These Rajapakse US citizen first families are working for the American Deepstate- to destroy the Lankan economy, debt trap it, asset strip it, as seen the sale of the Kerawelapitiya power plant to a US Company, Militarize and colonize Lanka, and turn it into a US military base in the Indian Ocean.
      This is why Biden did not invite its citizens Basil and Goat to the democracy summit!

  • 11
    2

    DJ, Regardless of what Marx, Lenin, Engels, Trotsky, Gramsci , Dimitrov , Putin said Lanka already has unofficially established military rule. Karanagoda too is appointed Governor now. DAN SEPADA. ?? Lankans were asking for it.

  • 4
    4

    errrrr whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat ?

    Marx Lenin Trotsky blah blah blah .

    I dont get it . it looks like someone has lost their marbles.

  • 5
    3

    This is Dr.Dayan Jayathilake’s mind after a heavy drink.
    He will be sober tomorrow I hope.

    Soma

    • 2
      1

      S
      Don’t be so dismissive of DJ.
      He may not know what is good for Sri Lanka, but knows what is good for him.

  • 7
    1

    Prof KP,
    The dictatorship was requested by a one time Anunayake (May now well be the Mahanayake) of one of the premier Buddhists sects (am not sure Malwatte or Asgiriya chapters) requested some years ago, that they would like to have a dictator Like ‘Hitler’ in Sri Lanka.
    The prayers and wishes of the Buddhist clergy has been answered by God, the most graceful and merciful, in response, it would appear!
    Sri Lankans should be happy and accepting the new development as their wishes granted, by God, the almighty.
    What a beauty!!
    Now, you all should make up your mind to enjoy it, without blaming Gota, Mahinda, Shavendra, SLPP or any one at all
    Please remember, God has answered your prayers in 3 ½ years!!!
    God bless Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans of all hues and colours, ethnicity, race and religion!!!!

    • 3
      0

      Apologies. Error, should be addressed to DJ and not KP

    • 3
      0

      That was Vendaruwe Upali, a priest who belongs to neither Asgiri or Malwathu chapters but ‘Devadaththa’ nikaya!

  • 2
    1

    I am really fedup of repeating two things:
    .
    1) What we ALREADY have is a military rule reinforced/protected by 2/3 in the Parliament.
    Who is supposed to stage a coup against Gotabaya?
    .
    2) Existing Democrasy has never been any obstacle for embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism favoritism, impunity and irresponsibility.
    So what’s better than the presnt system for one who is already on top?

    Soma

  • 7
    0

    Whatever the form a military coup takes it relies on certain social forces, the composition of which depends on social context.
    The author has somehow not addressed this matter or the political thought that guides the process.
    Thus the creeping coup is made to appear apolitical.
    *
    DJ declares: “The old slogans of uniting Opposition forces on the basis of the abolition of the executive presidency should be cast aside promptly. What is at stake is far more fundamental.”
    I do not see why the abolition of the executive presidency should be cast aside promptly. That is an idea that has appeal to all democratic forces, except perhaps the aspirants for the post and hangers-on.

    • 0
      0

      SJ
      Existing Democrasy has never been any obstacle for embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism favoritism, impunity and irresponsibility.
      So what’s better than the presnt system for one who is already on top?

      Soma

  • 10
    5

    SL army is made up of only shameless cowards. They do anything politicians instruct them. Murder, rape, arson, looting, rioting, COVID-19, agriculture, dog washing, toilet cleaning, abduction, drowning, hotel construction, drain cleaning, feeding sharks, etc.

    The most shameless army in the world!

    If the army had one person with courage, what happened to Indira Ghandhi would have happened to Rajapaksas.

    • 2
      0

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    • 3
      0

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    • 2
      2

      GATAM

      We should be grateful that the Sri Lankan Army does not take matters into its own hands.

    • 3
      0

      “If the army had one person with courage, what happened to Indira Ghandhi would have happened to Rajapaksas.”
      *
      What about the man who sung his rifle at Indira’s son? Was he the last brave soldier?
      *
      Do you really admire assassins?

      • 1
        0

        SJ, calm, collected and thoughtful responses to the most provocative statements. An admirable quality.

  • 4
    2

    H.E. the President looks frightened in this photo. Shavy looks upbeat and rearing to go..

    • 0
      0

      Bernard,

      Dont focus on the PICs of the articles, most of them are set by the EDITOR.

      But I understand, INCUMBENT president would not be able to close his eyes, with self clreating problems of the day. Lack of knowledge will kill him soon.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSxfAi0tbmM

      Just listen to what that UNEDUCATED minster of finance has to say. the kind of ballige puthas became our leaders curse should go to the SLAVES.

    • 1
      0

      B
      Do not read too much meaning into photos. They are selected to serve a purpose. They may even be photo-shopped as necessary (although not here).

  • 1
    1

    Dayan, two of your points struck me: “…….encroaching military rule under presidential auspices…………”
    “……………..if the ongoing process of militarization accelerates, there will neither be elections………..”

    Yes, it quite looks those are near possible things that can happen in SL soon. But why bother? It was encrypted in the DNA or the evolution of our nation, wasn’t it? We were a country which was ruled under the monarchy or tyranny of ancient kings. We were obedient ‘yatath vasiyo’ of the kings for over 2000 years until the Brits forced us the so called ‘democratic’ way of governance which is only 200 years old – a mere 10% of our history. So it is only natural that we always love to go back to that 90% wouldn’t we? In short, we Sri Lankans, whether Sinhalese or Tamils or Muslims do not deserve the modern democratic way of governance. We only deserve a monarchical way of government. 6.9 people demanded that just 2 years ago, so be it!!

  • 6
    1

    DJ,

    “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seems to be turning the Sri Lankan state into military-occupied territory. “

    Thank you. At last you have noticed it.
    What is Military/Civilian ratio in the north and east? – is it 1:5?

  • 0
    0

    The starting of the trouble dates back to the formation the SLFP and running it
    ever since . Every effort was to force the people into accepting their approach
    come what may . For this end , they used every possible loop hole in the system
    to win elections by lying and deceiving the voter . And for this , the country had
    more than enough resources in the form of Class , Castes , Ethnicities and
    Religions . Nothing was left untouched if it brought victory . So the foundation
    has a long history . And the history of crying foul of a pending Military coup
    dates back to 60s against the SLFP coalition . The difference between then and
    now is , we had politicians at the top then and a former military man at the top
    now , strongly backed by his Hero Brother ! Major Montague Jayawickrama ,
    C A Dharmapala , Kobbakaduwa , Anuruddha Ratwatte , Sarath Fonseka and a
    few more that were brought into politics by both major parties . There is
    surely a marked difference between Gota and the rest as far as the way they
    behaved in their jobs and the economy of the country then and now ! I don’t
    believe internal factors alone decides who rules the country ! It is same even
    to the JVP .

    • 0
      0

      whywhy,
      .
      I agree with most of that.
      .
      But try to remember that there were poor monolingual Sinhalese.
      .
      Is social mobility a good thing? We all say yes, without really meaning it. This is a significant part of the problem.
      .
      What of the future? I’m beginning to understand the extent to which we’re controlled by the media.
      .
      Why doesn’t the dislike button work on YouTube? Google owns YouTube.
      Who are the richest people on the planet?
      .
      Larry Page, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk.
      .
      Got it?
      .
      In the circumstances, I will vote for the NPP. Can’t you see that they have improved immeasurably. Don’t split the anti-Rajapaksa vote. Consistency helps others to make up their minds.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe aka Sinhala_Man

      • 0
        0

        Sinhala_Man ,

        You seem to be taking my comment to anther level that demands quite
        a bit of space to get into elaboration . Discussing the point of Social
        Mobility itself is going to be a painful exercise , it is quite complexed .
        Discussing a future JVP is a complex issue too but your readiness to vote
        for them and telling me not to split the anti-Rajapaksa vote is a kind of
        bad guessing I suppose . As I had always maintained a Neutral stand
        about referring to , studying , analysing and predicting Srilankan
        Politics , past , present and future , I do not intend to lift or let down any
        party in any of my comments . And , there’s no question of JVP doing
        everything it can to prove that it is the best available alternative at
        present . I didn’t even try to compare them to anyone else . My point
        was about the role of External involvement in bringing about any
        change in the structure of our politics , regardless of who is aiming to
        fill the gap ! And also reminding Dr Dayan that his invention of Coup
        is half a century old !

  • 4
    0

    May the scoundrel who was instrumental in making this country a hell on earth by enacting a presidential form of governance, rot in hell.

    • 1
      0

      Harischandra,
      .
      Amen.

    • 4
      0

      DJ, isn’t it irony, where successive governments ( in some of which you too were involved) forced military rule / suppression on the NE Tamil community. They also tried starving ‘by cutting off essential items and medical supplies. Thanks to those 6.9 million, soon the whole country will have the privilege of experiencing it. Of course NE Tamills are nonchalant in stating “seen it all , done/experienced it all”

      • 4
        0

        Sorry forgot to add to my last comment, even your great theoreticians Marx, Trotsky, Engels and Lenin could not have seen this coming.

    • 1
      0

      Harishchandra,
      Good Day.
      ‘Esema weva’ to all those who sustained it after declaring to abolish it at every subsequent Presidential and General elections the successfully contested for not keeping to their election pledge!

    • 1
      0

      You are quite wrong here Haris! Forget about JRJ who created the presidential system but how many times the other Presidents promised to abolish it? Just one fellow+PM were somewhat able to reduce the powers during Yahapalanaya but what happened after that? The whole country overwhelmingly turned it out! They supported (with a 2/3rd vote) the next president to re-establish this autocratic system! It is the people who want this dictatorial presidential system as much as the presidents do! That is why in another comment here I said Sri Lankans do not deserve democracy – they love a super powered king to rule them. That is in our DNA! N.B: This does not apply to the very few people who appreciate the egalitarian values and democratic way of governance.

  • 0
    0

    SJ
    Existing Democrasy has never been any obstacle for embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism favoritism, impunity and irresponsibility.
    So what’s better than the presnt system for one who is already on top?

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      soman

      “So what’s better than the presnt system for one who is already on top?”

      Do you think Gota is made up of all the following attributes, embezzling, nepotistic, encouraging cronyism favoritism, impunity and is also irresponsible.

      Its about right.

  • 0
    0

    Dr. DJ: Please don’t try these “Dirty Tricks” in politics. I understand you have a “Contract” to uplift that never successful “Sajith”. You also have an uphill task of suppressing the newly emerging JVP/NPP to achieve the goals set for you by the “BOSS”.

    You say: “JVP neither understand itself nor its enemy”. What “BS” is that? Hope you understand all that I want to say in these two letters “BS”. I invite you to listen to the interview with Lalkantha of JVP SLvlog had and it must be still available on youtube. In this interview, Lalkantha specifically mentioned the “THREE” forces – the TRAPS laid by those opposing a “Union” of “Progressives” in facing the present crises in Sri Lanka. Your above presentation is “ONE” of those.

    If JVP/NPP read through your article and come across that “Marxist Science of Politics” theory you try to enshrine into a political agenda, they will tell you to do the same thing that AKD said of the Presidential Commission report of ex-Judge Abeyratne appointed to recommend the withdrawal of civic rights of the Opposition. I know for sure you will be called upon to read the oration at the funeral of “SJB”, because you are a “Selected” person to perform such duties.

  • 2
    0

    Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
    The Sri Lanka Army has been engaged in agriculture for decades. It is nothing new. Therefore, I don’t see it as a militarization of agriculture. However, Sri Lankan Tri-forces should stop their senseless, lavish anniversary celebrations wasting public money.
    Gotabhaya has zero knowledge of agriculture.
    Producing organic fertilizer for paddy cultivation in a factory is a joke. It is a green process which has to be done right on the soil.
    The positive side of using an organic method for farming is, it does not create a crust on the soil as in the case of chemical fertilizer.
    The drawback of using ‘liquid organic fertilizer’ is that it has to be sprayed almost every week. Our paddy seasons are unique; ‘Yala’ is six months’ long and ‘Maha’ is four months’ long. Therefore, Gotabhaya’s decision to use liquid organic fertilizer for our paddy cultivation is costly and insane.
    As seen on TV News, farmers who used imported liquid organic fertilizer have complained of experiencing a strong (ammonia) smell and clogging up their spray tanks which is proof that the liquid fertilizer hurriedly imported by the government is defective, and, therefore, recalled immediately.

  • 1
    3

    Actually, I think putting the task force towards this Agriculture issue is a good thing. Now that there isn’t much they have to do wrt Covid.
    A lot of the garbage the farmers are doing is politically motivated. Lets see if in a few months what will happen.

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