27 September, 2020

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From Jan8 To Aug 17 & After: The Mahinda Movement & The Future Of Sinhala Nationalism

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

…of battles won or lost—but waged—against the enemy.”  – (Che Guevara: ‘Message to the Tricontinental’)

The Mahinda Movement hoped for, believed in and fought determinedly for a victory at the August 17th election, but beneath the rousing nationalist romanticism there was always a tougher-minded realization that what was being waged was a resistance struggle; a peaceful people’s uprising which could well prove to be a rearguard action.

The main reference point of the Mahinda Movement’s public discourse after January 8th was not the 5.8 lakhs of voters, but rather the marker year 1815, the year of the betrayal of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe who had successfully resisted the colonial incursion of 1810.

1815 was the year of the Kandyan convention which sealed the surrender of the whole island to Western colonialism. This year was the 200th anniversary of that surrender.

1815 will be appropriately marked by the joint resolution being drafted for presentation at the UN in Geneva this September by the US together with what Asst Secretary of State Nisha Biswal calls the “international core group on Sri Lanka” (whatever that is), and which is meant to be endorsed by the Sri Lankan Government. US Asst Secretary for Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski says that a domestic inquiry mechanism will have to be “led by persons acceptable to the minorities” and have international presence”, “participation and “monitoring”. Reuters reports that the proposed US resolution which is expected to obtain Sri Lankan concurrence will include a US-UN “framework for reconciliation” for postwar Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Wimal DineshIn short we are to abandon national self- determination and sovereignty, and return to the centuries when Western imperialism determined our external political destiny and internal political order—the sole difference being that this time around, it will be behind a screen of an elected native administration. That is the neocolonial model pioneered in Latin America but long since overthrown in that part of the world.

I recall the working dinner at which it was resolved to organize the first public meeting after January 8th; a meeting which turned out to be the famous Nugegoda event of February 18th. While I was musing that we should perhaps toss in a maximalist slogan of two thirds of the seats for two thirds of the country and its people, Wimal Weerawansa looked up from his plate and completed the sentence solemnly and unsmilingly, saying “then we’ll at least wind up with one-third of the seats”.

I also remember the young ex-Peterite statistician on the team that drafted what turned out to be the bulk of the UPFA manifesto—but was initially that of the Mahinda Movement—estimating way back the first quarter of the year that we would lose the election, winning 94 seats, but constituting a strong nationalist rearguard in parliament which could serve as a bulwark and base camp for resistance and long-term resurgence. Throughout the months-long campaign that young man’s main conversational motif was Puran Appu’s resistance struggle of 1848.

The project of patriotic resistance had no option of accepting President Sirisena’s leadership over Mahinda Rajapaksa’s simply because the former showed no signs of giving leadership to the anti-UNP struggle. Given President Sirisena’s continuing compact with the UNP—which was inevitable given his compact with CBK—and given the UNP’s capitulationist compliance with the Western-minoritarian bloc, any renunciation of Rajapaksa in favour of Sirisena would have been a disabling of the struggle against the UNP and the project of Western-minoritarian re-moulding of the Sri Lankan state.

The real error was either the alliance with the SLFP rather than running as a new independent force, or far more accurately, allowing the SLFP bureaucracy a free hand in the negotiations with the party leadership instead of fielding a hybrid negotiating team which adequately represented the Mahinda Movement (the Nugegoda –Matara-Medamulana).

Today Sri Lanka has experienced a coincidence of three trends, which some may describe as cycles.

The first is that of the alternation of centre-left and centre-right regimes with their corresponding economic philosophies, namely state-led and market-led.

The second trend is the alternation between ‘Easternisers’ and ‘Westernizers’; between ‘look East/Global Southwards’ and ‘look West/Global Northwards’. In Maoist terms, in Sri Lanka today ‘the West Wind has prevailed over the East Wind’.

The third trend is the expansion and contraction of the ideological and political influence of the Ruhuna, the Deep South, the seat and seedbed of resolute Sinhala resistance in defense of the island.

The defeat of statist nationalism as project and ideology, which began at the ethnic periphery on January 8th, was extended into the heartland by August 17th. The defenses that remain standing in geopolitical terms are the two contiguous areas, the ‘Greater Ruhuna’ or the ‘Greater South’ (Kegalle, Ratnapura, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala) and in the heartland, Kurunegala-Anuradhapura. In a return to an ancient historical pattern, these are the ‘free territories’ of Sri Lanka; the liberated zones of the national resistance or national liberation movement.

In strictly politico-electoral terms the pro-Mahinda SLFP voters (the anti-Mahinda ones stayed home) and the broadly Mahindaist chunk of the SLFP parliamentary group constitute the anti- foreign hegemonist, patriotic zone of the Sri Lankan polity.

How will the three trends play out and in what patterns of intersection and interplay? The most literate social scientist of the ‘Yahapalana’ bloc, Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda, commendably eschewed the hysteria, both denunciatory and triumphalist, of untrained ideologues, in his postmortem of the election, and rightly defined the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa as a defeat precisely of ‘Putinism’.

To extend the analogy, the fate of Putinism – as that of its arguable predecessors of wartime patriotic leadership, Gaullism, or the career of Churchill– is never linear; it demonstrates ebbs and flows in response to perceived threats to the nation.

Putinism as a phenomenon rises whenever it is perceived that sufficient political space and respect is not granted to the state and the undergirding national heartland of any country (Russia being the classic example).

The political narrative of Mahinda Rajapaksa is not yet at an end. As that of Mark Twain, the political obituaries for Mahinda may prove to be greatly exaggerated. At its simplest level, he is still younger than JR Jayewardene was when he first led Sri Lanka. Winston Churchill, voted out in 1945, made his comeback in 1951 at the age of 76. De Gaulle had to step down as the leader of wartime and postwar France, only to return in 1958.

Much less dramatically, Mahinda Rajapaksa can draw satisfaction from the splendid yet understated performance of his son Namal, whom I have come to know as a much smarter politician and more seriously policy-oriented young man than I had ever reckoned him to be.

The future of the anti-UNP struggle and the patriotic center-left in Sri Lankan politics is presently bound up with but must not be reduced to the trajectory of Mahinda Rajapaksa or indeed the Rajapaksas. It is contingent upon (a) the gap between the political space and leading role in determining the island’s destiny that the Sinhala majority feels it is entitled to, and that it actually feels it enjoys under the status quo and (b) whether or not the existential concerns and core strategic interests of the Sinhala majority are realistically recognized, respected and guaranteed, in negotiations with the minorities and the West, India and the UN, over the destiny of Sri Lanka. Some say “geography is destiny” while others say “demography is destiny”. They are both right.

The period of dramatic frontal political warfare and open clashes is over. The patriotic resistance struggle will be a protracted political guerrilla war of attrition. The elections are over and have ended in defeat, but to borrow the watchword of African liberation movements fighting against Portuguese colonialism, “A Luta Continua”—the struggle continues.

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    Not the first time poor DJ is confronted with yet another unenviable task of coming to the untenable defence of the twice rejected Rajapakse despots. Also, I might add DJ’s absence in his regular public comments has left room for much speculation.

    Unfortunate still is the level to which he has fallen – in trying to stay with what is left of the beleaguered Rajapakse team
    “yet understated performance of his son Namal, whom I have come to know as a much smarter politician and more seriously policy-oriented young man than I had ever reckoned him to be” Not many in the wider electorate will buy that. Now that the father is gone the son is the next best bet will be popular belief.

    The impression the young man – “lawyer” we are made to believe – is he was far too big for his boots. The failed Indian Film Festival that left a trail of unpaid millions to the Hospitality industry among others, the extravagant disaster that went as the squandering Nil Balaya a.k.a. Blue Brigade, that mega-multi billion dollar so far failed project of that Krrish super-structure at the former Echelon Square – are all testimonies to the precocious unfulfilled ambitions and costly misadventures of the young Prince-pretender.
    .
    “But beneath the rousing nationalist romanticism there was always a tougher-minded realization that what was being waged was a resistance struggle; a peaceful people’s uprising which could well prove to be a rearguard action” As usual DJ deliberately confuses and takes refuge under semantics and fancy terms like “Putinism” This “rear-guard action” may never be as Camelot now hides behind his sisters and claims at their insistence he will quit the battle field three months hence. So shatters into smithereens DJ’s confidence in the “Nugegoda-Matara-Medamulana re-awakening” which was rejected by the wider Sinhala electorate this August 17. Equally flawed, in Rajapakse’s own words, is DJ’s conclusion “the political obituaries for Mahinda may prove to be greatly exaggerated” MR has written his own epitaph.
    .
    Is Dayan sinking to crass communalism in invoking “the betrayal of Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe” and reminding the Sinhala electorate of the debacle of “1815” Of course, the savvy Political Analyst is all too aware any mention of “ Tamils” will feed the vulnerabilities of the mass Sinhala electorate.

    What in the world is the “Western-minoritarian bloc” DJ appears to be suffering lack of sleep with. It is known, through sheer diplomatic inexperience, he overdid his hand during his stint in Geneva repeatedly offending the Israelis as well his over indulgence with the Arabs. Mahinda Rajapakse acknowledged the power and influence of the Israelis and then removed DJ from Geneva is all too well known. At least the semi-literate MR figured well having made an enemy of Israel DJ can no longer be useful or effective in the major diplomatic ball game.

    Did not DJ’s patron Rajapakse “abandon national self- determination and sovereignty” in illegally selling Lankan territory in the sensitive Colombo Port premises to the Chinese. There was not even a whimper of protest from DJ when this unfortunate clause was imposed on the Port deal by the Chinese – who had by then trapped the Rajapakses to whom the Chinese made offers, to para-phrase Puzo, the latter will not refuse.

    R. Varathan

    • 0
      0

      MAHENDRAN PERCY IS LUCKY TO RIDE THE PATRIOTIC STORM
      HE NEITHER CREATED THAT NOR WAS THE FEARLESS WARRIOR TO FIGHT THE WEST
      HIS SWINDLED MONEY IS THERE AND SO ARE HIS RELETIVES

  • 5
    0

    DJ: “The political narrative of Mahinda Rajapaksa is not yet at an end. As that of Mark Twain, the political obituaries for Mahinda may prove to be greatly exaggerated. At its simplest level, he is still younger than JR Jayewardene was when he first led Sri Lanka. Winston Churchill, voted out in 1945, made his comeback in 1951 at the age of 76. De Gaulle had to step down as the leader of wartime and postwar France, only to return in 1958.”

    What an idiotic comparison. None of those leaders nor their families were under investigation for having abducted, tortured and murdered fellow citizens, and stolen millions of dollars from state coffers. But you have been loony over the last decade, so one doesn’t expect anything better from you. Enjoy your well-deserved banishment from power for at least the next 5 years; I hear there are many jails in Sri Lanka in search of people who clung to the Rajapaska regime through it all.

    • 4
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      Agnos

      “I hear there are many jails in Sri Lanka in search of people who clung to the Rajapaska regime through it all.”

      How do you know that the prison department has already received 13 applications for 2 vacant position of Hangman (Alugosuwa)?

      By the way are you suggesting that Dayan should apply for the same? You are being very cruel to Dayan. Say sorry to him.

  • 16
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    If I am not mistaken, this is the man who was behind R. Premadasa and then tried to inflate Sajith as the future leader. Not only that he was the secretary of Vardharaja Perumal. I believe that chameleons are far better.

    What Sri Lankans need is not nationalistic and divided country desired by Weerawansa, Gammanpila, Amarasekara (the same man authored Yali Upannemi), Nalin De Silva (who had Natha Deviyo coming to his dreams), Dincesh and Vasu, etc, just for their survival. Too bad and too sad when these so-called academics are no better than Weerawansa!

    • 0
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      Harsha Munasinghe,

      Machang, get some drama producing team to scriptwrite and produce the Rajapaksha and the Clowns Tele, Stage, Cinematic and Street Clown-play. I am sure there will be a glut of script material and they will beat all time box office reocrds!

  • 0
    3

    So we are totally rooted ….Aren’t we Dayan !!!

    I am talking about the Sinhala Buddhist Havenots …

    ..Whose poor not so posh sons and daughters sacrificed their lives to allow the Elite, , Anglicans , Vellalas and even the Wahabis to join hands and betray our mid income Nation this time, to the same British plus Miss Biswal on this 200th Anniversary of the mother of all betrayals..

    How fitting is that the main actors Batalanada Ranil and Whisky Madam are the descendents of the same people who did it in 1815.

  • 3
    0

    Sinhala nationalist bonkers!

  • 7
    0

    What a father the late and great Mervyn de Silva and what a son

  • 2
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    Dayan,

    Please refer to the following sentences copied from your essay:

    “I also remember the young ex-Peterite statistician on the team that drafted what turned out to be the bulk of the UPFA manifesto—but was initially that of the Mahinda Movement—estimating way back the first quarter of the year that we would lose the election, winning 94 seats, but constituting a strong nationalist rearguard in parliament which could serve as a bulwark and base camp for resistance and long-term resurgence”

    Where is the strong nationalist rear guard given that almost 80 of the elected MR’s men have now joined MS’s camp. You know, like everyone else, that in Sri Lanka winner takes all. Did you read the India Express article saying that MR’s camp is now reduced to a rump? In my opinion most of the remaining 15 odd men will also seep through with time.

    You can now stop dreaming about “long-term resurgence”. Forget your racist attitude and behave like a grownup, educated, and intelligent person.

  • 2
    0

    Dayan,
    Are you now cash-strapped after MR’s loss?
    Is that why this same essay appear in three outlets simultaneously: CT, Daily Mirror and Saturday Island?

  • 1
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    “I am puzzled as to why this imbecile is writing still at all because no one will be there to care to read his filth! “

    DJ is no imbecile.

    DJ will continue to write so that camouflaged by the tiring verbiage he may slowly metamorphose into a supporter of who he thinks is the more gullible – RW or MS.

    Five years is too long a segment of life for him not to profit from his “gifts”.

  • 2
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    Readers of CT like me were wondering where this nutcase was all these days. He was thinking up some pseudo-intellectual explanation for the defeat of his master, Rajapukkse. He does sound pompous. There were three trends he says. But the only trends were that there was first no centre-left ideology, the only true left party the JVP opposing MR, second no Westernisation as the opposite was not the East but China, a growing hegemonistic power, left only in name, but soon to be as colonial as any power in the West, tying up the resources of Africa and enslaving the elite of the Third World, like in Sri Lanka, through the bribery of leaders like MR. And the third is that if the Ruhuna and the hear belt of the Sinhalese in Hambantota to Kurunagala are the seat of a power, this is not shown in the election results. There was clean victory for MR.

    The sycophant in the nutcase, now want to make MR the equal of Churchill and de Gaulle. They were not guilty of abuse of power or massive corruption. They did not seek to convert their families into royalty. In fact their families are absent from politics today despite the fact that Churchill’s family did have influence in British politics from old times.

    In despondency, the man tries to make an idiot who is alleged to have cheated at his law exams the future leader of Sri Lanka. His type of politics is dead. He should change horses. He is good at doing that. Time will tell.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan don’t talk about anti-UNP philosophy. The entire UPFA campaign was about anti-minority. When the Old King lost, he called TNA to jump on to the chair. Don’t fool others. Shame! Shame!

    Don’t flip-flop about King Rajasinhan. He is a Tamil. In 2015 January, Your Dutugemunu, had the stage ready; right during the vote counting, call Ranil and fell on feet and pleaded to save. Then he surrendered it to Ranil ran out of the Temple Tree House. The coward of the century. You were in the UN. You rarely understood what it means. But Old King di know what it was. That why he risked to your other Hero Premadasa’s murders and went to Geneva.

  • 1
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    hes back….from the hole he was hiding after his now famous article on the mahinda-maitri reconciliation .
    I like the 94 seat prediction. again he knew it but not mahinda who thought it was going to be 117.
    After reading this article.. i yearn for d good old days of mahinda… when colombotelegraph was banned. and I would not have been able to read crap like this

  • 3
    0

    I remember this monkey once yelled “Ranil Wickramasinghe must be factored out….” in one of his pissu articles. Now what? The promiscuous eunuch has ruptured his borehole but not short of empty ranting and long wet-dreams! But the truth is RW has had the last laugh and fucked the hell out of the silly clown! Hooooooooooooooooo!!!

  • 1
    0

    Another load of crap from the would-be master of obfuscation!

    Dayan’s sentiment expressed as “… what was being waged was a resistance struggle; a peaceful people’s uprising”, would better describe what happened on January 8th and August 17th, than Dayan’s view that it was for his hero!

    And now he is trying to project Namal as the next in line with his view that he is “a much smarter politician and more seriously policy-oriented young man than I (Dayan) had ever reckoned him to be”.

    From the frying pan into the fire!!!

  • 3
    0

    You are spot on sir.
    We have to see it right let alone today.
    These buggers that have the feeling – we the sinhalese are only folks own all rights within the island should be marginalised, should we all have future. This man DJ is facing a backfired situation today, being branded as the number one loser of among all those who worked through every wrongchannels to support former president for his idiotic agendas.
    We are all srilankens. Returning from SWITZERLAND I am telling you, there are lots of tamil migrants living in that country. They are all considered as former srilankens. So for outside world, they are all srilankens, but the idiots even today feel that we the sinhaalese only are the srilankens should change their henamiti thoughts and delete them from their hard discs if the country and nation should be brought forward.

  • 3
    0

    Dayan, you increasingly remind me of:

    Father McKenzie, writing the words
    Of a sermon that no one will hear
    No one comes near
    Look at him working, darning his socks
    In the night when there’s nobody there
    What does he care

    All the lonely people
    Where do they all come from?
    All the lonely people
    Where do they all belong?

    [Eleanor Rigby by Beatles]

  • 0
    0

    Dr Dayan,

    Good to see you back. You always manage to attract many comments.

    “The period of dramatic frontal political warfare and open clashes is over. The patriotic resistance struggle will be a protracted political guerrilla war of attrition. The elections are over and have ended in defeat, but to borrow the watchword of African liberation movements fighting against Portuguese colonialism, “A Luta Continua”—the struggle continues.”

    “La lucha continua no terminara facilmente” very likely from a letter Che sent to Fidel Castro in 1965 when leaving to Bolivia where Che was killed.

  • 0
    0

    I wish to say Sinhalese nationalism is not that going make ground reality of Tamil Eealm state; but instead of that encouraged and promoted by US and UK hegemonies’ class of cosmopolitan political class back by local own moribund administration led by UNP-RW ,MS and CBK regime are the key backers of New Federalist State in North.

    How that UK established state of Jews in 1948 came into being.
    We as nation has to learn lessons of Anglo-Saxon’s , UK politicians and politics engaged work act of Jewish state in West Asia.

    Which is very important to us that current, that war crime committed in Iraq by Tony Blair commitments of interfere and intervention of last General Election 2015 August 17th back by UNP -RW, MS and CBK line of new political culture being appear Sri-lanka system of undemocratic political norms.

    By UK power of Empire of that gun rule politics by forceful- means that all Palestine were exterminate of their land of Arabs by Anglo-Saxon power of hegemony.

    When we have to have reconnaissance of how Palestine lost their Territory and motherland, we found that British politicians conspired many years to look for Established Jewish state some where in Middle-east.

    Well even after end of second world war they forcefully push out the millions people of Palestine out of their land. Indeed puppet state of Israel become proxies state of UK and US hegemony of assist by Anglo- Saxon look after the vested interest of West Asian oil-resources and power.

    Indeed last 68 years after 2 world war by aggression launch against Muslim of Arabs by Israel state become key player by Jewish race which undermined overall Peace and sustainability of Development of Arab world.

    In fact if we reconnoiter the past 6 decades of war and peace of Arabs world that Jewish community undermined and unprecedented crimes against humanity & accountability play bigger role than any other country in West Asia region. It is sorry part of story Arabs become victims of genocide policy has been apply by Anglo-Saxon political suppressing of Islamic religion.

    The state of Israel destabilized whole region by cosmopolitan political class that vested interest of Western’s hegemony.
    There for creation of founded of Israel state ‘genesis’ for Jewish community had been victimize by Germany Aryans. Judaism all teach that are superior humankind of pseudo history of religious fanaticism but other than Christianity and Islam. But the equal not accepts by Jewish.

    In present context of Tamil nationalism understood they are super-race which they attempted to bolster with all sorts pseudo historical and
    pseudoscientific research. One hundred millions of Tamil Nadu base Tamil race india, the demand and claim of New Tamil (Eelam)-Separate state in an Island of Sri lanka. By the that time Tamil claim has been become so-called genocide by minority Sinhalese race in fifteen million people in small Island of Sri lanka. Well Sinhalese-Buddhist lived Island more than 2600 years ,that religious roots goes India, were Buddhist originated & spread from land of birth lord Buddha.

    Tamil ruthless terrorist outfit of LTTE and TNA of electoral party in Sri Lanka parliamentary members are both on common objective to established Tamil Separate state in North-East part of an island.
    LTTE was launch 30 civil war that against Sinhalese race and Democratic State of Republic of SL.

    It was defeated by MR ruling alliance 2009 May.Restoration of democracy state and eradicated of Tamil Terrorism by war battles of the leadership of MR democratic alliance that become so-called “War Criminal”; which was label brought forward by Global Tamils Forum(GTF) World Tamil Congress(WTC) Tamil Nadu and US, UK, Canada and other EU those countries lobbying elements by racist Tamil nationalism in Island and outside in many diaspora of Tamils.

    Bullying Sinhalese race and their Govt. by Tamils hard landing back by international community of aim of US and UK hegemony politics in Indian Ocean. The well that entry tactics intervene of Tamil war crime issues is nothing else that is laid foundation in US military base in Sri lanka’s strategic location. All counter measures of US against country Territorial integrity and sovereignty of an Island.

    Tamils having their long term political objective and strategy of Eealm state has certain ideology root has been discovered by

    “Tamil nationalist in India is less heinous but it is based on a behalf in the historical reality of the lost continent of Lemuria, once the home of a great ancient Tamil civilization” by
    Samathi Ramaswamy –Lost land of Lemuria ;fabulous geographies ,catastrophic ,histories (Berkeley CA 2004)

    I wish to noted that Dr Dayan Jayatilaka has to read more that fact finding mission not that Sinhalese nationalism ,but Tamil nationls are deep roots and network working to Split island by first puppet land, then turn into Strategic point in Indian Ocean collaboration with agenda of US vested interest back by promoting Tamil Nationalism in Globally.

    It has been suggest Tamil orthodox and irrational of pseudo history beliefs Tamil nationalism arising substitute not that short living of Sinhalese nationalism in Sri lanka.

    Very inception of Sinhalese nationalism different context of history roots ,it was arising due to colonial occupation of West and south Indian invasions of dominated land by oppressed and suppressed nation by many centuries and well 425 years western nations occupations.

    There is justification of de-coloinilaztion of Sinhalese nationalism fought for liberation for Independence of Island.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan Jayathilaka was always present where there were anti RW or CBK rose.

    Examples:
    At the time Premadasa worked on anti deemo agendas, DJ stood by him.

    This time MR worked against the good governance – the shameless bugger against stood by MR.

    But returning from Europe, 2009, DJ criticised MR and his external politics. However, when it goes to revenge , he does not care about the COUNTRY; but hateful and revengeful agendas.

    That is just to revenge. That has nothing to do with the prevailing politics of the country.

  • 0
    0

    Is Dayan still writing after so many wrong prediction? Funny. Dayan, pls take a break, relax and then come back. You are killing yourself man.

  • 0
    0

    Shut your mouth and get off. MR lost because of your advice. Everyone who was close to MR camp knows that. Now its time for you to shut up and do some good work (if possible)

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