24 September, 2020

Blog

George Floyd & The Nationalist’s Dilemma

By Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

George Floyd is no longer about the United States of America, or the West. It’s about the world, and the beleaguered, oppressed nations and communities of that world. The protests against his murder at the hands of a white policeman have thus become, from Baltimore to Berlin, a symbol of solidarity and unity among those marginalised nations and communities against the big stick wielders. It’s the protest of one half of the world against the other half, or one half of a country against the other half. It’s a statement against not just racialism per se, but against all forms of exploitation, bullying, and compulsion which we have come to accept as a given today. The third world, of which we are a part, can, must, and will take this as a symbol of the battles it’s waging against the world order. That the death of one African-American could bring together Kenyans, Indians, and even Europeans together certainly indicates the pent up bottled up rage against a state of affairs, and the big names who call the shots and the local lackeys who follow their lead. As such – and this is important and pertinent – it’s the protest of the periphery, of exploited nations and marginalised groups, against the centre: as much opposed to racialism as it is to neo-liberalism.

If the Sri Lankan government saw it that way – which we don’t know, since neither the president, nor the docile Ranil Wickremesinghe who penned a letter to Donald Trump earlier, has responded to the ongoing uprisings – it certainly showed its solidarity in a strange way. First, it obtained a court order against a protest organised by the only leftwing outfit in the country which saw it fit to demonstrate against the Floyd murder, the Frontline Socialist Party. Then, when the FSP went ahead and defied the order, it deployed the policemen. We’ve seen enough of errant police officers from the previous regime, and their utterly callous treatment of peaceful young protestors, to not be surprised at how they treated the FSP demonstrators in this instance. Still, the images were brutal, if not bordering on brutality: one video in particular, of a young woman being literally mauled into a truck by force by a (male) officer, stuck with me. But more that these despicable shows of disregard for the right of a political organisation to protest, what caught my attention was the irony of a government, elected to power on an anti-US platform, breaking up a demonstration against US hegemony.

What was more ironic and revealing was the response of some of these hardcore nationalists. Many of them are, ostensibly, driven by the same opposition to the West and its meddling in the affairs of other countries as the Left is. In fact, given the apathy of most Left outfits in this country in the face of Western meddling in the affairs of countries like us, I’d give the nationalist bloc the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the sincerity of their opposition to US hegemony. The mainstream Left, by which I exclude the FSP and, to a lesser extent, the JVP, has made its mark by its inability to take a proper stand against class and issues of relative disadvantage, which is why it has consistently failed to see beyond identity politics, and why it sees no contradiction between picketing against Mahinda Rajapaksa on the one hand and enjoying largesse from the previous regime – which was as anti-Left and anti-working class as the government it overthrew – in the form of bribes and positions in State bodies on the other. I disagree with the ethos of the Sinhala Buddhist Alt-Right – identity politics in a Sinhala Buddhist setting – but it at least has taken a consistently and morally justifiable stand against the entrenchment of the First World at the expense of the Third. 

At one level, it’s a paradox. How is it that a political ideology which rails against the West can, at the same time, take the side of policemen breaking up a protest against Western hegemony? How is it that a group which ostensibly stands for the rights of subjugated people the world over can take the side of Israel over Palestine, and spew Islamophobia? Have they forgotten that their preferred party today, the SLFP, and their former preferred icon, Mahinda Rajapaksa, took a consistent political and moral stance against Western intervention, whatever the country being subjugated by it was (be it Egypt in 1956, Vietnam at the height of the war, or South Africa until the end of apartheid), and took up the cause of Arab countries under siege by the West over Israel?

I believe these protests taught us an important lesson. It taught us that the nationalist Right is Janus-faced and is, even now, unsure about what face to project. Simply put, it has a progressive side and a regressive one. The progressive side channels anger at Western intervention (economic, political, or cultural), while the regressive side straddles that with anti-Western and xenophobic hysteria which dismisses every sort of legitimate criticism as a Western conspiracy. That is the only reason why, at the same time it writes diatribes against the pro-US tilt of the human rights lobby, it can dismiss the protests of African Americans as a disproportionate response to a case of police law enforcement. In other words, the nationalists read the disquiet of the African American community in the same way they read the disquiet of minority groups in Sri Lanka: not as a beleaguered race, but as a community entrenched by a mainstream liberal media that is undermining the majority race, the so-called maha jathiya. Where is the progressiveness in that?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that one of the main reasons why the Sinhala Buddhist Right came to dominate the political discourse in this country after the 1980s was the failure of the Left to come up with a meaningful response to the growing tide of ultra-nationalism. What the nationalists went on to say had been said before, and in many other ways, by the Marxists. Dayan Jayatilleka’s view, that the Jathika Chintanaya reformulated an old argument of the Marxists – that their ideology was not attuned to the cultural aspirations of the majority in Sri Lanka – articulated by Philip Gunawardena, doesn’t de-validate the JC’s economic, political, and cultural program, but it does help us understand the antecedents of the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist movement. What is cast aside is that the latter grew from, and not despite, the Marxist movement: without the LSSP and the Communists, and their strident campaign against the comprador bourgeoisie, as represented by the UNP and the right wing of the SLFP, there wouldn’t have been a nationalist program for the JC to take over in the 1980s. The Jathika Chintanaya, for its part, continued from where the Left had retreated, and substituted for its cosmopolitan nationalism a more ethnocentric variant of it.

Hence the retreat of the Left, and the replacement of it on one side by a pan-Sinhala pan-Buddhist nationalist program, on another by a post-neo-Marxist-postmodernist Left group, and on another by a populist-nationalist New Left formation embodied in the JVP, led to a jettisoning of its progressive ideology in favour of either a de-ethnicised view of nationalism (as with the post-Marxist groups) or an overly ethnicised view of nationalism (as with the nationalist groups). Newton Gunasinghe once noted an interesting phenomenon: the nationalist Right’s opposition to the open economy in light of the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, and the anger of the Sinhala middle bourgeoisie at the monopoly of Pettah merchants over trade. But there’s an even more interesting phenomenon: its opposition, not to the Open Economy, but to Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s so-called closed economy prior to it. Once again we come across a paradox: how is it that a nationalist movement can oppose the free market because it reduced the majority’s chances of dominating trade, and also oppose the closed economy because it destroyed the Sinhala businessman by selling him out to the Marxists? I think we’re approaching this issue wrongly here: by claiming it as a paradox, which it is not. The Sinhala Buddhist Right, as I wrote before, is Janus-faced; it speaks in, not just with, two tongues.

The nationalist movement must take stock of where it has gone, and return to its roots. Indeed, the theme of returning to one’s roots has featured very prominently in the rhetoric of Sinhala nationalist ideologues. It should be mindful of its antecedents and not find an enemy in the Left, even though sections of the Left in this country remain hypocritical in their obeisance to Marxism, as witness the unfortunate tendency of (ex-)Marxist trade union leaders, activists, artists, and intellectuals to join and support parties by no stretch of the imagination aligned with their ideological interests. It must replace its narrow, ethnocentric reading of history with a more cosmopolitan one, without erasing – and it is here that local Marxists of today have got it wrong – that view of history. By doing so, it will no longer see a contradiction between supporting a protest held against the exploitation by a global superpower of its most marginalised communities, and organising protests against the dominance of the human rights lobby, world trade, and debt and capital flows by such superpowers. The sooner it is willing to resolve this contradiction, the more progressive it will become.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    5

    I was looking for the audience, the audience of Uditha Devapriya. He was not penning for the world at large; he was inking for the masses of Sri Lanka. What a leaky pen has he. It has smudged the paper he was writing on!

  • 3
    4

    America always had a problem when it came to racism. That problem was exacerbated by America’s most openly racist President, who showed his racism even before he became one. His lies, now debunked, about President Obama not being born in the US, resounded among the right wingers and Republicans, who have a nasty habit of not doing research, to find out the truth. Trump stated (more lies) he had sent investigators to Hawaii to find out the truth, and stated they “were finding some very interesting” things there. After Obama was harassed into releasing his Birth records, Trump much later on grudgingly stated he was an American. Trump supporters must be basically having racist tendencies, or they would by now have been turned off by his open racism against Mexicans, Muslims, Africans, and the racist tropes that Trump utters, when he attacks people of color. He has even stated he wanted immigrants to come from White nations. The White supremacists and the KKK, are his supporters, and he’d rather lie and attack the Democrats, than say one negative word about them.
    He has been consistently tweeting lies from conspiracy theory websites, so much so that one not very intelligent supporter took a gun and shot into a pizza shop, because the conspiracy theory was that Hillary Clinton ran a pedophile ring from that shop.

    • 1
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      Contd.
      They will believe anything. Many of his accusations against her has now been disproved after his OWN investigators could find NO crimes by her. It is amusing that some Sri Lankans here still parrot those lies.
      But his policies and tactics does not seem to be working well for him. He is down in the polls, has lost a lot of support from various groups including women, and his incompetence in dealing with the pandemic, has resulted in the majority in the country preferring his opponent. If the elections were held today, he would lose. Only his naive 34 percent of supporters will stick to him, as they have despite porn stars, being impeached by the House, found trying to get dirt from foreign nations, his family enriching themselves from the Oval office, he has been fact checked to have lied over 20,000 to the country, there is corruption, international deals destroyed, and fleecing the tax payers by charging them every time he plays golf in his OWN properties. Either they are ignorant, or have bad judgement, perhaps both.
      Racism will never make any nation peaceful, or progress. The divisions caused by leaders who are racists, cannot help the nation succeed.

  • 12
    1

    Your point that nationalism is Janus-faced is well taken. From the time I was in the University, late sixties and early seventies, I have been struck by how the Sinhalese progressives looked outside to Vietnam and Palestine, and almost never, inside. In alliance with the LSSP and CP, that was where the supposedly progressive outlook of Sirimavo and the younger Rajapaksa were fashioned.

    They dared not look at the dirty dealing with which Independence was bought from the British. The 1947 election results for the combined Sinhalese nationalist forces in the UNP were disastrous. This nationalism could be made viable only by disenfranchising the Plantation labour. The British obliged. It was ruinous for our legal and democratic traditions. That is why we dare not look inside.

    • 9
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      Very well said, Rajan Hoole.

    • 2
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      RH
      Sectarian politics was creeping in from all sides. The parliamentary left sold out as early as 1963 when it betrayed the working class on its 21 Demands and wrecked the ULF.
      The decline was steady. But the Left was not communal, despite deals with the SLFP– that is excluding the VLSSP (MEP after 1959) which became a partner of UNP in 1965.
      After Congo (Lumumba’s murder) and the Cuban missile crisis, until 1975, Vietnam was a key rallying point for the left, not only here but even in Europe and the US.
      The FP was dismissive of the Vietnam struggle. Comments by Amirthalingam were notorious.
      Palestine came into focus by mid-1970s, and rather unusually it inspired Tamil nationalists even more than it did the left.
      Amirhalingam, earlier Eezaththu Mujibur, was dubbed Eezaththu Arafat.
      An anthology of Palestinian poetry in Tamil translation compiled by Dr Nuhman was compulsory reading in Tamil nationalist literary circles.
      Whatever happened to this Tamil nationalist affinity for Palestine by the early 80’s? Mother India, rather Indira Gandhi, held the answers.
      (Now it is back to Zionism and Israrel.)
      *
      The ‘far left’ communists and Samasamajists were consistent all along, (the former seen as the principal foe of the FP in the North).
      There is a slight mix up in detail about the Citizenship Act, which is not very important here.

      • 7
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        SJ, Your credentials on leftist ideas remain intact. We’ve heard enough of it. Don’t always harp on the mistakes of those who are no more there to defend themselves. Tell something towards what next, for a change!

        • 0
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          N
          Thank you.
          But this is not about you or me or anyone’s credentials.
          It is about an issue where the past still haunts the present.
          *
          The Tamil community has yet to understand what went wrong not just in 2009 but from many decades ago.
          It still believes the same old lies.
          If harping on the mistakes of those who are no more to defend themselves is an issue, can we discuss Prabakaran? JR Jayawardene? GGP? SWRDB? Sirimavo? Lalith A? Premadasa?
          There are plenty of people to come to the defence of those criticized, and some better capable than the accused to defend any action or inaction.
          *
          I have said things repeatedly about a fresh approach to the problem. For a start joining hands with forces that are natural allies of an oppressed people.
          I urge that an anti-imperialist stand is central to any liberation struggle.
          I cannot do it without harping on the past.
          Have you seen the responses?
          Are you ready for a change?

          • 2
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            SJ,
            I have read and re-read your, ‘I have said things repeatedly about a fresh approach to the problem. For a start joining hands with forces that are natural allies of an oppressed people’.
            I am puzzled. Where is the answer? Who are the natural allies you have in mind? We shall take it further when you give a pragmatic response.

          • 1
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            SJ,

            Tamils in SL are too small a community – and facing too many challenges – to take up the fight against imperialism, which is a result of centuries of evolution on a global scale. They have to pick their fights carefully and can’t spread themselves thin with grand visions of fights. There will be the US-West-India axis and the China-Russia axis, and even though Tamils in leadership lean center-left, they may have no choice but to take cover under the former.

        • 3
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          Nathan, SJ,
          With the 1983 pogroms still fresh in Indian minds, India was willing to do much for the Tamil people. Although the demise of Mrs.G and later MGR changed the calculus, had VP been realistic about how international realpolitik worked and been willing to give the Indo-Lanka accord a chance and worked with AA instead of murdering him, then something tangible could have been made out of the struggle. So the leftist critique of AA is not fully justified.
          The assumption among Tamil nationalists that IG would do a Bangladesh in SL was wrong, but much could have been gained from India’s support. Old style leftist politics didn’t have much resonance among the Tamils in the North-East and one can’t blame AA for that. Sinhalese leftists, except for a few who didn’t really have much political in their own communities, had largely succumbed to racial politics in the South; the Tamil middle class was – and probably still is – conservative, and those who aspired to lead them couldn’t ignore that fact.
          Today, with the Tamil economy depending on cash infusion from expatriates, and with Southern leftists having again shown themselves to be unprincipled and susceptible to racism ( can anyone ever work with Vasudeva, DEW and Tissa Vitharana again?), I don’t think old leftist politics will succeed in the North-East.

          • 0
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            Correction: “…except for a few who didn’t really have much political support ….”

          • 2
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            Agnos,
            I have said on CT that murdering RG was a monumental mistake. I have said that the Jaffna man is stubbornly conservative. I also have said that Leftist ideology is unsuited for our times. We agree.
            .
            Except for Pieter Keuneman, we never had a truly leftist politician in our midst. The rest were trade unionists. Of our socialists of the ilk of NM Perera, save for a few, the rest never had the tenacity to stick to their beliefs.
            .
            SJ enjoys living in the past.

          • 0
            1

            Agnos
            Thanks.
            I am unclear as to what you mean by ‘old leftist politics’, as there are varieties.
            There is a general leftist world view which was considered dead and buried in 1991 but regained recognition when crisis hit global capitalism in quick succession.
            I will agree that there is no parliamentary path of success for the Left with electoral politics heavily loaded against it.
            Despite the surge in sectarianism I will not be dismissive of the Sinhalese Left. The JVP used communal politics all along (from 1965 to date) but for a brief spell when Bala Tampoe got them recognized by his chapter of the Fourth International. The reality of electoral politics made Wijeweera do an overnight somersault on the national question in 1982. (Kumar David has faith in the JVP, which I severely lack, certainly in the short and medium run.)
            There have been those who split with the JVP leadership on that count, including Lional Bopage. More importantly, there are visible changes in the Frontline Socialist Party that split from the JVP.
            *
            Whether or not left politics succeeds in the NE, the Left is still the sole voice of sanity there.
            The Tamil nationalists cannot forever go on cheating the Tamil public with pledges of getting the International Community to intervene, and thereby isolate the Tamils from other oppressed sections of SL society.

            • 2
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              SJ,

              The currently ascendant variety of leftism globally doesn’t extol the virtues of autocratic states. So parties can go as far left as what ‘democratic socialism’ would entail; they can condemn the West and capitalism all they want, but they should not be aligned with Russia/China and thereby lose legitimacy.

              What has the FSP done about some of its activists in Jaffna being disappeared by the military, like Lalith and Kugan? How trustworthy is Kumar Gunaratnam of the FSP, given his shifting allegiances of the past? And FSP is largely a fringe party in the South without any serious electoral support.

              Outside electoral politics, mobilizing would require street protests, trade union activism, etc., but who among the Sinhalese is willing to do that and risk the wrath of GR, possibly being abducted and disappeared under the current conditions in SL?

              Just like other societies, Tamils will have their left and the right. But I am not seeing any serious activity on the left.

              • 0
                1

                Agnos
                (1)
                I will not give a clean chit for the FSP, but know of changes occurring within.
                KG’s conduct has to be understood in the context of the personal harassment he faced. This is no excuse but an attempt at an explanation.
                What could FSP do about the disappearances but protest? Even the JVP was inwardly happy.
                The good thing is that the FSP consistently protests against all disappearances and unlawful detentions.
                *
                I wouldn’t count on parliament to deliver even social democracy. It can serve as a campaign platform, no more.
                Wherever the Left won electorally (Bolivia, Honduras, Venezuela and Nicaragua recently; British Guyana much earlier) the right resorted to dirty tricks. It has failed in Venezuela and Nicaragua, but not given up.
                While rejecting the parliament as the means, one defends it against right-wing subversion, as fascism is the bigger threat.
                Russia or China as protection against US aggression will not be taken amiss. Endorsing China as socialist is unlikely for the revolutionary left. Russia plays a positive role in Syria and Iran. That does not mean endorsing Syria or Iran as progressive. But they are anti-imperialist bastions, as were many monarchies in an earlier era.

                • 0
                  0

                  (2)
                  Tamil nationalist politics never had a left option. The nearest it got there was in 1953. Vanniyasingam, the wisest FP leader chose to support the Hartal because the Communists protected the FP in Jaffna against Tamil Congress hooligans until then and even after, up to 1956.
                  *
                  The SLFP, although born of the UNP, had its roots in the Sinhala Mahasabha. The FP had no serious ideological difference with the TC and represented similar class interests. Sinhala Only drew many Tamil government servants and teachers to the FP.
                  As a result there was an impression of its being more progressive. Reality was otherwise. It voted against every progressive legislation (including the Paddy Lands Act) and once the TC became irrelevant, it joined the UNP led alliance of 1965.
                  The left performed convincingly even in the 1960s but won only once in one electorate.
                  The surge of sectarian politics hit it hard.
                  *
                  The left is active at community level and its May Day rallies in Jaffna and Vavuniya still are more impressive than those of the Tamil nationalists.
                  Its electoral performance is no measure of social activity.

                  • 0
                    0

                    SJ,

                    You are willing to consider unprincipled stands in supporting FSP leadership, or the Russian intervention in Syria/Iran, and justify it as ‘protection from US aggression.’

                    However, when the broader Tamil polity in SL makes a similar argument that they need India and the international community to support them in the face of ‘aggression’ by the South, you are quick to condemn that.

                    Smaller communities or groups will always need some form of help fro the larger powers, and in the process, they will always compromise something. Russia is not in Syria for altruistic reasons, but wants to leverage it to gain more influence in the middle east. The Syrian crisis was not purely America’s doing. Turkey/Qatar and Saudi Arabia/UAE supported militants from different camps for their own ends although the U.S. was a part of it.

                    • 0
                      0

                      To continue, working class voters are not immune to racism as seen in their support for Trump here and for the Sinhala nationalist parties in SL. So slogans like ‘workers of the world, unite!’ ring hollow to me. Russian and Chinese communists may try to exploit the left in developing countries, but they can be racists and expansionist as well.

                      The left indeed has a role to play, fighting for better rights for everyone, for secularism, against caste oppression and racism, for a livable wage and better working conditions, for mobilizing protesters and voters, etc. But without much electoral support, their ability to accomplish things will be limited. The JVP’s armed insurrections failed twice. The PLOTE, EPRLF and other Tamil groups that espoused Marixst rhetoric failed as well.

                      So when you say Tamil nationalists are lying about claims that the international community and India will come to their aid, you have to concede the leftists claiming that ‘revolution’ is around the corner are lying as well.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Agnos
                      1.
                      US meddling in the Middle East this century was cynical. Its attempts at regime change were least in the interest of the people.
                      In Iraq and Libya, Russia erred by abstention, but learned its lesson in time for Syria. If not for Russian support Syria would have seen US-Saudi-IS coup.
                      I never gave altruistic reasons for any super power. The point is that Russia protected Syria. (Also Syria was a friend of the Soviet Union. The friendship sagged under Yeltsin, but survived to recover under Putin.)
                      The plan of the US to topple a Russia-friendly state went awfully wrong. In fact, Russia held back until 2015. US meddling in Syria started in a Jordanian border village.
                      Saudi Arabia is a partner in crime with the US across the Islamic world. At the time of the trouble, the US was very warm towards Turkey. Sums went wrong when the US warmed up to the Syrian Kurds for its purpose when its Islamic fundamentalist allies failed, and Saudi-Qatari and Saudi-Turkey relations soured.
                      *
                      Iran has been a US target since the Shah fell. Without Russia Iran would be weaker. But Iran is too strong-willed to be dominated by any other.

                    • 0
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                      2
                      Tamil nationalists were always anti-Left but for the instance when the FP supported Hartal 1953 (for reasons said earlier). They has no need to be anti-China or anti-USSR then, but they took sides decades before the national question was ‘internationalized’.
                      *
                      India sought to put JRJ’s government ‘in place’. Otherwise, India showed no previous interest in the Sri Lankan Tamils. What did the ‘Tamil cause’ gain by Indian intervention?
                      At least Nehru was principled in the Citizenship Act, but could not get very far.
                      Whether the International Community is taking the Tamil leaders for a ride or the latter are on a ‘virtual ride’ of their fancy is debatable.
                      My point is that the Tamil leadership continues to take the Tamils for a ride using illusions.
                      I complain that they lost friends among oppressed people who were supportive to varying degrees, and wilfully made enemies of China and Russia imagining that it will warm them to India and the US. (Their objections to Chinese housing in the north and Chinese archaeological surveys at historic sites in the North are hilarious.)
                      It is their folly. But the Tamils of this country have paid the price in the past several decades.

                    • 0
                      0

                      The declaration that ‘revolution’ is around the corner’ is something that comrades David, Vasu, Bahu et al. should defend.
                      A revolution is for the people to carry out. A left party can only inspire and give direction. I do not think that people were promised a revolution by the revolutionary left to gather mass support.
                      There are times when conditions favour change and times when they do not. from late 1970’s there were setbacks. But, overall, things are brighter since the late 1990s. There are reversals here and there, but the pattern is that pro-imperialist regimes are losing ground.
                      Regardless of that the task for the left is to work amid adversity with determination.
                      There is no alternative (not the TINA of the Thatcher era but of a new era in which imperialism is in deep trouble).
                      If socialists fail, only the fascists will win.
                      Is there a capitalist alternative?

                    • 0
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                      Agnos
                      I cannot go into detail re the JVP, PLOTE, EPRLF etc. here.
                      They were narrow nationalist first and ‘left’ after that.
                      Look at the clumsy anti-people conduct of each.
                      The JVP’s left ideology has not grown much beyond the “Famous Five” (I mean lectures).
                      *
                      I am not defending anything that the FLSP did, but said that the specific charge against KG has to be seen in context. There was debate within the FSLP about it, which had impact on KG’s role in the FSLP. It is a disciplined party and does not conduct domestic quarrels on the high street like the UNP, SLFP or various Tamil alliances.
                      They take criticism seriously, although they do not always act on good advice.
                      They have some way to go.

                  • 0
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                    SJ,

                    I have to reply here since the site doesn’t have a reply option under your other comments below.

                    “India sought to put JRJ’s government ‘in place’….”

                    It was not just about JRJ. There was an electoral alliance between MGR and IG, and the former’s unique interest in and support for the Lankan Tamils mattered. A similar combination of leaders in TN and the Center hasn’t come back again yet, but it can happen again. What would the Tamils do by ignoring the only leverage they have–their ties with TN and its importance within India as the second largest economy? Would other “friends” you speak of provide a greater leverage than that? Despite the cultivation of some ties by the late Shanmugathasan, I think China would care even less about Tamils in its current incarnation. Russia has no interest in Tamils at all. India should care at least to some extent because of TN and the religious ties. The Tamil left can cultivate ties with the Indian left as well as the left in other countries, while the Hindu nationalist elements among Tamils can seek to cultivate ties with BJP to some extent. I say this strictly as a matter of strategy — I am opposed to religious nationalism in reality.

    • 3
      6

      Rajan Hoole,
      Protests against George Floyd’s death are turning towards slave traders. Demala people in Sri Lanka also should protest against colonial rulers and slave traders who brought Dravida laborers to Sinhale to work in tobacco plantations in Yapanaya and tea plantations in the central highlands. These laborers were called ‘Indentured Labor’ or ‘Bonded Labor’. After exploiting them to make money, colonial rulers abandoned them in Sinhale as Stateless people. Sinhalayo are not responsible for any problems they encounter in Sri Lanka. Sinhalayo did not invite Demala people to this country but they gave citizenship in Sinhale to a large number of these Stateless people. Some were repatriated.

      “This nationalism could be made viable only by disenfranchising the Plantation labour.”

  • 5
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    I believe these protests taught us an important lesson.
    US has a frame of Liberty that free breath given by GOD advantage of the right to breathe free.

    Liberty without equality means the domination of the most powerful. Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community, If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.

  • 0
    6

    The protests in the US which were sparked off by the death of George Floyd has little do with his death per se and much to do with a despicable attempt to further a left wing, anarchist ideology with the mainstream media like the CNN being ready and willing collaborators. The protests have resulted in mayhem and destruction across a number of US cities, almost all of which are controlled, ironically, by the Democratic Party of the US, which is now dominated by a faction embracing a rabid left wing ideology. Sadly, the young writer of this article, perhaps due to his naivete, inexperience and youth and Marxist leanings, has chosen to go along with the herd.
    There is no denying that the homicide of Floyd is utterly unacceptable and reprehensible, esp. given that he did not offer any violent resistance during his arrest. But what is suppressed by the mainstream media is the fact that Floyd was a repeat criminal offendor with a number of jail sentences under his belt and had certain drugs in his blood at the time of his death, so his being presented by some as some sort of a matyr or hero is totally unwarranted.

    • 0
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      Continued from last post:

      If you want a martyr and hero, take a look at David Dorn, a seventy seven year old black retired police officer who was shot dead by the rioters in St. Louis while he was trying to protect his friend’s pawn shop (owned by another black) from looters.

      Statistics don’t bear the the central myth on which the protests are based, that there is racially-motivated policy brutality in the US police force. Statistics for the past years show that more whites than blacks were killed in each year by the police during operations. It is true that the number of blacks so killed are disportionate to the percentage of their community in the total population, but it is also true that blacks commit crimes at rates disproportionate to their population in the US. What is more, most of the blacks were killed by black police officers! And US cops are more likely to be killed by black criminals than by their white counterparts.

    • 0
      0

      Typical Trump supporter nonsense. The Media has not organized protests. US has a very chequered history of racism towards the black. Lincon did not end it , not did the civil rights movement. It continues with the ghettoization of the innercity black. profiling in policing. hundreds of innocents being incarcerated. Goerge Floyd just lit the flame to the underlying cause. I don’t see anything similar to the Sri Lankan cases though.

      • 0
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        a144455:

        This has nothing to do with Trump: I would have expressed the same views before Trump assumed office.

        I didn’t say that the media had “organized” the protests. Pl. read the comments before your respond. As you would have seen, these protests were peopled almost exclusively by young men and women with hardly any mature adults to be seen. The vast majority were white. These young folk are largely the product of brainwashing by an academia, media and entertainment industry that is dominated by a left wing ideology and they are taught to despise authority. The extremist elements among them resorted to violence as we have all seen. The agenda of these people go beyond protesting against what they perceive to be racial injustice and the biased coverage of main stream media organisations such as the CNN, BBC, MSNBC is patently obvious.

        Gettoization: What has that got to do with racism? If you are in a getto, whose fault is it but yours?

        Racial profiling: This happened and probably still happens for the simple reason that blacks (esp. black youths) have a higher probability of committing crime. It’s just common sense. Remember the time when Tamils were stopped, searched and “harassed” in the streets during the time of the war with the LTTE? That was because at that time while not all Tamils were terrorists all terrorists were Tamils!

        Continued.

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        Continued from last post:

        For a case similar to George Floyd’s but not involving a black man, see the following:

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/02/dallas-police-officers-video-bodycam-tony-timpa

        As for the claim that US police “brutality” is racially biased and what sort of brainwashed morons take part in these protests, see

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_m8npIh4eQ

        and

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

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          LJ
          Racial bias of the police in the US is well documented.
          Killing a White man does not mean that there is no bias.
          The Sri Lankan police too kill a number of Sinhalese, but its communal bias is undeniable.

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    Uditha Devapriya

    *** I admire your hope and Enthusiasm. You come from the majoroty.
    Let me analyse the following and give you a lesson in something which you are an amateur
    1) George Floyd is no longer about the United States of America, or the West. It’s about the world, and the beleaguered, oppressed nations and communities of that world.
    *** Sadly it is not . Institutionalised Racism will flourish in countries where it exists. In civilised Countries there are Checks and Balances . Take Sri Lanka where under Gotha it goes on unabated. West is evolving and I hope in the UK it will reach a Crescendo when Rishi Sunak becomes a PM. We already have one in in Ireland “ Varadkar” where old prejudices have crumbled although he is Gay and half Indian.

    2) The protests against his murder at the hands of a white policeman have thus become, from Baltimore to Berlin, a symbol of solidarity and unity among those marginalised nations and communities against the big stick wielders.

    *** No it hasn’t. All it has done in the US is it has caused Destruction and the sufferers are the Blacks in terms of lost Jobs. But the hope in the US is by 2030 whites will be in the Minority and any aspiring President will have to address Black Grievance.

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    George Floyd’s death highlighted Police brutality & racism, which, in UK, even led to pulling down of monuments erected in remembrance of apparent ‘philanthropists’ who, in reality, made their fortune from slave trade or the oppression of natives in conquered lands, & some perceived national heroes, such as Churchill, who believed in British Colonialism & openly considered non whites as inferior. The ‘black lives matter’ protest certainly opened up a can of worms & I wonder if the Conservative UK Govt. would now allow a debate on the hypocrisy of these National heroes & accept the uncomfortable truth where achievements have been hyped up & failures conveniently air brushed out in history lessons. As Asians, we too, belong to the general ‘black’ category but discrimination largely effects those domiciled in these countries & it seems that only FSP in SL decided to protest (defying the law as well) in solidarity with the BLM movement.
    Personally, particularly as a Buddhist, I believe all lives matter. I heard how an autistic Muslim teenager was beaten up severely by the police for defying the curfew & it’s no secret about Police brutality, as well as, torture & even murder in the hands of the armed forces of SL. Isn’t the FSP aware of the racism, injustice & brutality in SL?

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      For decades the Sinhala Buddhist politicians have used the minority as tools, for political gain. We have had repeat performances of Sinhala mobs attacking Tamils and Muslims, at various times, for some reason or the other, and as always they target the innocent people, terrorize them, destroy their places of worship, burn their properties and businesses, and end up killing some of them.. How can we forget the massacre, burning, and looting in 1983? For a few days, the leader of SL was mute, said nothing, he did not condemn any of the violence, but simply said “the Sinhala people have retaliated”. Is that any way to unite the country and stop the violence? We know that Sinhala politicians were involved in organizing the racist mobs that went around in trucks, looking for victims. Sri Lanka’s racist politicians in action.
      How can we forget that dark day in our history when thousands of Tamil citizens were killed, including 53 in the Welikada prison. The indifference by JRJ shown, and the blunder of not clamping down on the violence that same day has resulted in Sri Lanka never able to recover, and that anger still simmers in the Tamil diaspora, for good reasons. Many had to flee their homes, businesses, and have their personal belongings looted, burnt, and destroyed.

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        Contd.
        Years of their hard work gone up in flames. The government did NOTHING to protect them, and their properties. Ever since that terrible day, we have seen similar although less severed incidents of violence against the minority, and once again our leaders are condoning the violence by saying and doing nothing, being complicit by being silent. The current regime has had an ugly history of being the same, and even being nice and cozy with the saffron robed terrorists, who spread the hate, and provoke the racists.
        Racist leaders = racist mobs=violence=destruction of property and businesses= hit on our economy=no unity =no peace=no progress.
        Forever a third world nation (or banana republic).

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      Raj-uk
      Are you really domiciled in the UK as your user name suggests and, if so, what sort of racial discrimination, if any, have you faced thus far as a Sinhalese Buddhist? If you have indeed suffered discrimination, why do you continue to live there and not return to your motherland Sri Lanka? Furthermore, if blacks and coloured people suffer discrimination by whites, why do you think they flock to these Western countries, sometimes even illegally and at the risk of their lives?
      I don’t know much about the case of the autistic muslim youth being allegedly beaten by Sri Lankan cops. If there was indeed “racism” involved ( Islam is a religion, not a race) as alleged by some, why didn’t the FSP protest against this too (as you question)? Well, the simple answer is FSP’s attempted protest in front of the US embassy the other day was never really about the death of a black man in a far away country but, by their own admission, againt American “imperialism” and “hegemony.” Pl. see my separate comments above for further information.

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        Mr Leonard Jayawardena

        Just to answer your question, I am now a British citizen & I have not faced any direct discrimination so far but I am aware that discrimination exists in a subtle form which became very obvious to me when some of my close work colleagues voted for Brexit purely because of the immigration issue. That is why I can empathise with minorities in SL who face hostile treatment & injustice because of politicians trying to capitalise on the ‘nationalistic’ feelings of the masses. Trump is doing it but thankfully much of Europe has not given into far right rhetoric yet.

        I prefer to pay higher taxes & be even considered third class (as some of my SL friends would put it) in UK, knowing that I am looked after by the state & living in a democratic country where politicians are held to account, where I enjoy a higher standerd of living & life without hassle (I can pay my taxes, renew my passport or contact any govt. dept. by Internet or telephone without leaving the house

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      Raj-UK,
      Racism was promoted in Sinhale by Brits. The country they colonized is Sinhale where Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo were the native people. Native people were considered as their enemy because they resisted colonial rule. Colonial rulers brought Dravida laborers to Sinhale to work in their plantations. Under the infamous ‘Divide and Rule’ policy, Brits use particularly Malabar Vella Ala Demala people to oppress Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo. In that game Brits promoted racism among Demala people to ensure that the conflict between Native Sinhalayo and imported Demala people will continue even after they leave.
      In 1948, Brits returned the freedom that they robbed from Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo but Native Sinhala Buddhists did not get ‘True Independence’ because the power was handed over to Sinhala Christian ‘Kalu Suddas’ and Vella Ala Demala elites. Whenever Sinhalayo attempted to introduce changes according to their aspirations as a free and sovereign nation in a democratic and peaceful manner, racist Demalu who were not really a part of the country that was colonized by Europeans resisted and resorted to violence because they did not want to lose the privileged status they enjoyed during colonial rule.

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    It all revolves around certain Sinhala ultra-nationals being drunk on the Aryan-theory. But, there’s hope: any fair-looking Sinhala nationals touting the Aryan message are actually those with Colonial or Chinese/Malay/West-Asian blood in them (hence the fairness), who are getting delusional arousal over the superiority issue. The Masses of Sinhala Buddhists of course are embarrassed by the Lankan ultra-nationalists play-acting the Hindu Sena role. However it is believed/hoped that the groups in Sri Lanka who are standing up for Black-Lives matter, are actually protesting the treatment of the minorities, under-castes, and under-classes in Sri Lanka. They are not janus-faced – they are just confused. The true intent is there in the end. And if greater Socialism is to emerge from it, that would be a huge Triumph for the Motherland. Development of Walauwa-economy for example, mustn’t be confused with the deluded Sinhala alt-right.

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    SJ, where is the answer for Nathan,s question ??? or should I say clarification of your own statement. Who are those natural allies you have in mind ??? I am too curious to know the answer. When confronted you just side stepped to have a discussion with Agnos totally ignoring Nathan. Usually I avoid reading UD articles but decided to read the comments alone. LJ, you are wrong to label this protest as left wing anarchist ideology. There was similar incident almost 18 years ago in LA when Rodney king was brutally beaten by police. Just because a person is intoxicated dosent give a free ticket to police to murder. Since Floyd,s murder there has been two other death in similar manner and there was one prior to Floyd in Louisville, KY involving a lady who had nothing to do with what you say, but was killed inside her own home. Also there was a Australian citizen (young female) who was also shot and murdered few years ago.

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      C
      Please read carefully the dialogue with Agnos.
      He and N asked the same question.
      Agnos was specific about issues arising and covered sufficient ground enabling a civilized debate of benefit to others (and enjoyment to both of us, I assume).
      I think that my responses to Agnos should suffice you.

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    SJ, there is no answer at all other than you reminiscing on “old leftist politics”. The facts are in Agnos response. As Nathan said “You pretty much enjoy living in the past and want others to follow you”. Can you tell us what kind of progress did the Left make in South/Latin American countries you mentioned Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela other than trying to stay in power.After trying the rest, people in Spain, France and Italy too experimented with the Left and ended up no where.. Could you tell what is left ??? in today,s so called left wing parties.The answer can be found within our neighbor right next to us. Current Kerala CM is a person worth mentioning , only because he is pragmatic and we are aware of the fate of oldest Left Bastion in West Bengal which ruled for decades.

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