19 May, 2022


Freedom Without Discipline Or Discipline Without Freedom

By Vishwamithra

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” ~Albert Camus 

Freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, these are all enshrined in our Constitution as fundamental rights. No one can take them away; no President, no Prime Minister and no Parliament. The Judiciary, the third pillar of government, shall ensure that. The superlatively strong backbone of the Judiciary branch of government made it known to the country in the recent 50-day government fiasco. There does not seem to be any emerging threat from outside military powers, nor from any internal terrorist group to justify suspension of those fundamental rights. Yet when one advocates such suspension of these fundamental rights, especially at peacetime, one has to examine the mindset of those who advocate such suspensions. Yet what needs to be suspended is the very utterance of such blatantly phony needs for those suspensions of our basic rights and privileges.

Any politician would like to have total power over his people. Such a desire and appetite is a natural tendency of a person seeking to control his minion-serfs, the way our ancestral leaders sought to maintain their superiority over whom they reigned. Yet any political development does not happen overnight; nor does it occur in a vacuum. The context within which any political evolution takes place is of supreme measure; its relevance to the context cannot be ignored and political scientists and historians have proven the indispensability of context when they pen their conclusions and deductions and take time and space to write an accurate account of societal development through the ages. 

When a country is used to be ruled by Kings and Queens, when its citizenry, though mistakenly called sovereign, is condemned to the status of ‘subject’ instead of a free people, the affinity such people develop towards her rulers- the monarchs in our ancient times- could become increasingly affable. A sophisticated notion of liberal democracy in which all human beings are dealt equally would not appeal to those half-educated, self-righteous usurpers of political power who pursue their own sinister ends. Added to these sinister motives is the false sense of ‘character-strength’ that is built into an up-and-coming leader whose natural sensitivities are mainly focused on his or her own dictatorial demeanor.

The allurement to appeals of more and more powers concentrated in one single person, coating that concentration power with a veneer of ‘doer’s’ persona is not a fresh concept of governance. Since time immemorial, from the very dawn of civilization, man’s desire towards the magic of control over his peers has rendered itself as a sense of strength. His power of suppression over his fellowmen and maintaining such power has naturally lent itself as a veritable tool he could use to use his peers towards the ends so defined by the suppressor and this suppressor is unmistakably called the ‘leader’. 

Over the millennia, with the advance of the human family’s evolution, various stages of development of governance, some quite sophisticated and others reasonably undernourished, have contributed to the modern-day seats of power. However much sophisticated the systems that have evolved to produce the current cascades of power flowing from either the barrel of the gun or the art of reasonable persuasion through the ballot, one fundamental element has not changed. Man’s desire to cling on to self- aggrandizement at whatever cost has hardly left him; his twisted desire to control others who are especially considered weak and submissive, may have been suppressed temporarily and remain dormant but given the slightest encouragement and provision of other engaging circumstances such as war and phony patriotism, that sense of superiority which is really an indispensible product of related and unrelated socio-economic factors, assumes a more relevant role in a given scenario. 

Such a brutally realistic scenario is prevailing in the country today. With the legitimate and peaceful ouster of Mahinda Rajapaksa from the seat of power in 2015, with the advent of a new President named Maithripala Sirisena, his, Sirisena’s, grossly ill-advised responses to genuine differences he encountered with his own Prime Minister gave rise to an unprecedented constitutional crisis, the likes of which are usually associated with uneducated, undisciplined and uncouth leaders of the African or Latin American countries. That response from Sirisena is essentially an integral element of the pattern and culture that was being nurtured and nursed by his previous master Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena is a consummate product of the Bandaranaike-led ‘cultural revolution’ in 1956. Severely uncomfortable in the drawing rooms of Colombo 7, though lucid in the vernacular but woefully deficient in the English language and its nuanced idioms, prose and verse, Sirisena’s disdain for social-democratic values were bared open when he tried to express his disagreements with his peers.

In other words, while the contemptuous conduct of the Executive came in for total rejection of all who identify themselves with the modern-day democratic values that define a developing social-democratic society, by digging further into the pit, he became completely alien to the unsuspecting voter who voted him to power. Preaching from atop a secured political platform was mistakenly suggested as a solution to the burning issues of the day. Rhetorical nonsense in the native language was used to scorn his ‘new opposition’ which now consisted of Ranil Wickremaeinghe and the United National Party (UNP). In this maddening rush of events, the Maithri/Ranil combo presented itself as a weak and brittle representation of the governing powers. The resolution of the crisis so created by the Executive and his cohorts gave a new dimension to the country’s ailing cultural patterns. Independence of the Judiciary and the workings of a vibrant Legislature led by a fearless Speaker of the House produced a glimmer of hope for the continuance of a developing democracy in South Asia.

Yet when a so-called ‘strong man’ makes an attempt to enter into this chaotic theatre of Sri Lanka’s politics calling himself a strong and decisive man, there is in fact an irresistible genre in such a ‘fresh’ entry. However, when that person is trying to dictate that freedom so closely guarded and fearlessly defended is being sacrificed at the altar of discipline, then the tale assumes a definitively negative shade. Discipline has to come from within; it should not be imposed with the aid of bayonets and bullets nor by the fear of abduction or being jailed. Discipline imposed upon a free people by uneducated, ill-informed and greedy politicians is neither discipline nor freedom. Pseudo-thinkers must be called for what they are: utterly pseudo. 

When caught  up in these chaotic winds of political uncertainties, the people can become utterly susceptible to the sweet words uttered by would-be dictators; they could become victims of their own ignorance and laziness. Discipline from within, as Buddha, the Great One taught us thousands of years ago, would prepare us for any untoward exigencies. Discipline preached and enforced as a matter of constitutional demand on us is a bitter concoction, if gulped down, would not only incapacitate the organism of man, it will kill him in the very short run itself. Therefore, the balancing act of freedom vs. discipline is no balancing act. It is subjugation of freedom for the facilitation of power to a greedy man who is waiting on the threshold. 

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com                   

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Latest comments

  • 2

    There would certainly be no corruption if the Politicians like Gota practice discipline o

    • 4

      Gota is not a politician. He is an army ‘deserter’, a no one fraudster and a covered. Iwant him to prove to the Silly Lankan citzens that he has given up his US citizenship by producing legal document by the US government office and mainland security.

      • 2

        Gota was a security guard in California. ………… That’s more experience than Mahinda or Sirisena …… and perhaps never-done-anything-much Ranil too!

        If they are presidential material in Lanka ……..why not Gota with his real first-world cutting-edge experience?

        They don’t come any more disciplined than American security guards. ……….That’s their bread and butter.

        Go Gota ………. make Lanka great again ………. that is ………… if there ever was a time ol’ Lanka was great ……………..

        • 1

          nimal fernando

          “Gota was a security guard in California.”

          I cannot confirm or deny the above though according to reliable sources he also worked for IT company in its admin section.

          I also cannot confirm or deny if he ever worked as state executioner.

    • 0

      No corruption?
      Parents memorial on the public dime?
      Sil cloth for political gain?
      Mig deal
      The Avant Garde Maritime Security Services (Which should have been a navy contract)
      Even if not directly involved he was in charge when most of the high profile murders happened.
      Children were kidnapped for ransom and murdered.

      So what is this discipline your talking about?

  • 4

    According to this “everything” is guaranteed in Our Constitution.
    But Dr Ranil is hell bent on changing it . Isn’t he?.

    Persons here and a whole host of others in Lanka have no problem having three meals a day with a nice drink in the evening , after going for a power walk in the recreational areas provided by the previous Government.
    And reading reports of their children and or grand children who graduate nowadays even after AL from Dollar Schools run by Foreign Educators.
    Of course those lucky persons would love have Freedom .most probably without Discipline.

    But how many of our inhabitants qualify to be in that Class, like that one Dr Susitha .who was seen with the PM at a High Tea in TT.
    Who has been , and still enjoying ” Freedom” to a Tee ..

    Even According to our Guardian Angels tat the UN, 25 percent of the population are malnourished.
    That is a whopping 5 Million souls.
    Does this Freedom mean anything to them.

    Don’t know why Buddha has been dragged in , because the main thrust of Dr Ranil’s Yahapalanaya is to down grade Buddhism,..
    Besides it is the Buddhists in the main who are in that UN list.

    • 1

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Even According to our Guardian Angels tat the UN, 25 percent of the population are malnourished. That is a whopping 5 Million souls.”

      Did the 5 Million become malnourished overnight on 8 January 2015?
      You should take into account nearly half of the ministries were allocated to SLFP crooks between 9 Jan 2015 and 26 Oct 2018.

      By the way the old crook Sillysena is still the leader of SLFP.

  • 6

    There are many men, women and children in Sri Lanka who worry where their next meal is coming from. While freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, are all important, basic freedoms like freedom from hunger, freedom from homelessness, freedom from economic uncertainty are more vital for many. The challenge is to find the right balance, and ensure the basic freedoms are met. In fact if these are not met, the other freedoms would not mean much to those who don’t enjoy the basic freedoms..As Danushka Medawatta said, “While freedom of expression is, without a doubt, one of the most important rights that perhaps functions as a premise for other rights, it is important to establish the framework within which one may swing one’s fist without striking another’s nose”. This I would say is a form of discipline. I would add to this and advocate the author and others to campaign to end freedom from hunger, homelessness, economic uncertainty and freedom from hopelessness. The need for discipline has to be looked at more objectively and not through subjective prisms.

  • 4

    I think it was Sir John Kotalawala who said we got ‘wal booru nidahasa’ (freedom in the jungle) with the democratic system imposed by British. What has this democratic system without discipline done to this country after independence? I do not know where this Viswamitra live. He/she should talk to ordinary folks in this country to find out what they think. They identify ‘wal booru nidahasa’ and lack of discipline as the main cause for the pathetic situation this country face. Many people think our ‘Ranaviruwo’ who saved the country from terrorism should come forward and save this country from political terrorists who ruin this country.

  • 3

    That’s right K.A.S., I was just about to say the same thing. What benefits the malnutritioned children of those 40% who earn $2/- a day? If the freedom of the Colombian vultures who suck the blood of our nation while ridiculing their culture and religion has to be curtailed so be it.


  • 1

    “Freedom without discipline”

    People know who enjoys that (wild) freedom

  • 0

    Gods who they want to destroy they first drive them mad.Now we have thee questions before us to where we need responses before the next elections.
    Country lost most on.1. Bond scam 2. 52 day fake government 3. Army worm. Bond scam we know the Auditor General has given the figure. Army Worm it being counted, Fake govt. it will take ages to count and the damage done to the image to the country is infinite.

  • 0

    MALNUTRITION IS DUE TO TO INDISCIPLINE IN THE GOVERNMENT. Indiscipline does not mean the physical indiscipline exhibited recently in the Parliament but it is in Thoughts ,Words and Deeds. If lord Buddha’s preaching are adhered to without merely erecting statues for him all over Srilanka we will have disciplined society without leading to malnutrition.
    ‘Arasan Ev-vali- Kudikal Av-vali’ meaning that the Subjects follow the king in their activities. In Srilanka the subjects follow the indiscipline of government in various ways .

  • 0

    There is a man who says there can be no prosperity without development, no development without stability, no stability without discipline and no discipline without the curtailment of the citizen’s freedom. To him, discipline means that only the citizens have to conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, not the rulers and their henchmen, who can be corrupt, collect commissions, live the high life and generally abuse power.

    There are several court cases against this man but no progress can be made because he and his counsel are engaging in delaying tactics, often by adopting cynical stratagems, to get the cases postponed repeatedly. Is making persistent attempts to delay court cases an example of disciplined conduct?

  • 1

    Is this Vishwamitra article meant to maintain discussion on the GR pontification, ‘The Daily Mirror’ 12 February 2019, “How can there be freedom without discipline?”?
    It cannot be a coincidence. Or is it?
    In spite of more than 500 years of being ‘subjects’ of foreign rule, we had a discipline based on tradition which shunned wrongdoers. The punishment was social boycott. We had ‘elders’ to settle petty quarrels.
    Unfortunately following independence the society got hijacked by ‘wrongdoers’ who visibly prospered limitlessly and selfishly.
    We are left with having to choose the ‘better of the bads’.
    We have this glimmer of hope that the ‘bads’ will clean themselves.

  • 2

    UNP of RW , JVP and TNA alliance has lost both of icon of values of democracy since 2015 January 8th!
    While that UNP has been an advocated neither Disciple nor the democracy of Island by leadership of western political-powers .
    The monopoly of Western that mass media kept long silent of Central Bank robbery by UNP highest leadership ?
    Is that disciplined of valued of western civilization of so-called “Democracy” voice by USA UK and EU countries embassies in Colombo
    What type of discipline that man who looted billions of by Central Bank Bond scam of public money has not taken by UNP leadership ,even not a single at any judiciary action by Court of law in our country.
    Nation has recently turn into lawless land by dead of judiciary; it has NOT that look after the RULE of LAW by Judges.
    In fact needless to say that Judge’s accountability and responsibility cannot escaped by politically covered operation of UNP leadership! That back by TNA and JVP line of politics.

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