By Sarath De Alwis –
Mikhail Gorbachev has died at the age of 91. On the day Gorbachev died, we saw a Black Uniformed Law enforcer telling “Anthare Protestors”, “You can hold meetings. No demonstrations”
Those who study history know that history repeats. Those who do not know history repeat history. Those who think that they make history take a special delight in repeating the demonstrated follies of history.
Gorbachev explained how he shepherded the tyrannical Soviet Union’s Monolith towards an open society he explained himself.
“I began these reforms, and my guiding stars were freedom and democracy, without bloodshed. So, the people would cease to be a herd led by a shepherd. They would become citizens,”
Did he really intend that? I doubt. There was nothing wrong with the repressive machinery of the Russian state. Gorbachev’s problem unlike his predecessors was that he understood hunger. People in the Bolshevik monolith were always hungry for freedom. That did not bother the party or party bosses.
By the time Gorbachev arrived people were hungry not so much for freedom but for food. Gorbachev knew why. The economy had passed the stage of fragile. It was heading to total collapse. Something dramatic and fundamental had to be done to prevent a headlong hurtle into the abyss. He recognized the need for a “system change” – Perestroika.
To effect ‘System Change’ he launched ‘Glasnost’ or “Transparency and Accountability” which meant that the political elite and the state apparatus could not maintain business as usual or what we call the status quo.
Until the very end he wanted to save the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Baltic States Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia could not avoid bloodshed in their quest for freedom.
When confronted with the choice of letting go or crushing the Baltics ‘Aragalaya’ Mikhail Gorbachev decided to be a human being. It was a superhuman leap for a dictator.
Gorbachev will be remembered. He will be remembered because he was clever and did not need to show how clever he was. Instead of trying to be an emotionless jackass he decided to be human.
I see a parallel with Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I am not suggesting that our candidate even approximates the cerebral endowments that Gorbachev possessed.
But at times, to be human takes superhuman courage. In the last seven years I have never uttered or written a word either in praise or compromising with Gotabaya Rajapaksa. This is a first for me.
When Voltaire was on his deathbed the attending priest wanted him to renounce Satan. The Philosopher blurted out a classic exit line. “Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies “
Old Soldiers never die. They fade away. In politics just as in religion to arrive at error and then discover the right path is the way to sainthood.
Sooner or later, we will hear from Gotabaya. The devil with all his errors is smart. As Charles Baudelaire noted “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”