30 November, 2022

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Gorbachev And Gotabaya 

By Sarath De Alwis

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”

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Latest comments

  • 26
    0

    Our “old soldiers” never die. They prosper and gather more riches. Even their families prosper. An old soldier – MR – is reported to request many millions to renovate his ageing mansion !!!!!
    They are even given pensions for plundering the nation.
    This never happens in many other countries.

    • 11
      0

      I simply don’t know ……. when I’m almost certain I know ……. the Lankans always manage to spring another surprise ……….

      • 12
        0

        nimal fernando

        The IMF has pronounced its action plan for this island.
        It has not prescribed any remedy to control expenditure (austerity measures), maybe hidden from patriots and public in a separate document.

        How do you deal with Defense budget which helps many civilians to become filthy rich over night and the army officers to build luxury houses, maintain a level of status and pay for children’s expensive overseas education and spend lavishly for daughter’s wedding (including handsome dowry), ………

        Nimal have you ever thought of being part of the solution than part of the problem?

        • 2
          0

          Brilliant, dear NV.
          .
          Every one of us must ask ourselves that question. That statement will not ruffle any feathers.
          .
          But if I state that the question is especially pertinent to Lankans knowing English, the hackles rise.
          .
          And the Defence Ministry budget? Heaven help if we raise that question. Does any country have a Ministry of War, or even an “Offensives Ministry”?
          .
          And if I say those living abroad, and those who don’t reveal their true identities are a problem, then everybody becomes my enemy. No, not a sweet guy like “leelagemalli”. But recently there have been some disagreements between us. He was ragged at Peradeniya thirty years ago, and he thinks that it is the NPP guys, or the Anthare, who are our only hope now, who ragged him.

      • 5
        0

        Dear NF,
        .
        NF,
        It is self-delusion by overestimating one’s true identity. This is common to our culture. They overestimate everything. Some of them do not even like to compare with their Indian neighbors. But the funny thing is that even the people of Bangladesh look at us with suspicion. Who knelt before Bangladeshis? The Rajapaksas are shameless, they sell power cheaply if they want it.
        That may be the problem today. They did not respect neighboring India and pursued Sino-Ceylon relations. I think that is the main reason for the catastrophic situation our people are facing today. Sino-Lanka, Sino-Pakistan, Sino-Nigeria, Sino-Maldives and all Chinese relations are under severe criticism today. Our people should be able to switch colored glasses. Unless our people change their attitudes with a paradigm shift, nothing will succeed for a better Sri Lanka.

        This is more common to our Sinhalese people than to our minorities. Those who served as teachers in a popular school make every effort to stand out, repeating his carrier. I really don’t know how our people can get out of this mentality.
        .
        tbc

        • 4
          1

          Just because they went to a so-called “popular” school doesn’t stop them from “bragging”: Some people are very proud just because they work at a popular school. Why this mentality?
. . A small world. . This is also common to their Sri Lankan communities living in the UK and Australia. Some Germans questioned me about this, saying that the country is labeled predominantly Buddhist, but the basic behavior of the people contradicts it.
Their separatist mindset is like a “heritage tattoo on the chest”: even though neighbors like the Bangladeshis today surpass us in every way, our people cannot build unity let alone small reforms within families. Reforms are common to any system over time. The EU is working on new reforms almost every week. They do not argue for no reason. Our people are only there to discuss and argue like “mad shop” and “fish shop” people.
They overestimate that they will be like Jews or other progressive people. I don’t know a single Sinhalese who doesn’t like to overestimate himself. Where does it come from ?Education ? From culture ?s
. Even though I have not lived in that country for more than 2 decades, I have experienced lies, blatant lies, every day from morning to night. If only a few of them are good, they overestimate their college degree.

          • 2
            3

            LM,
            “Our people are only there to discuss and argue like “mad shop” and “fish shop””
            You’re absolutely right. When LPG is 1500 and petrol is on a price formula, they vote for a guy that promises organic food. When someone gets rid of shortages, they ask who elected him to do it! So sad.

            • 1
              0

              OC,
              .
              People don’t know what to prioritize and what not to. They just hang on to feelings. But today, the person who created the “May 09 riot” thinks that it doesn’t matter if he rapes a woman during the day. … I don’t really know how the mind evolved in general. If they are asked to eat “cow dung”; They do it without questioning twice… Sadu Sadu effect is in their genes.
              This is what Robert Percival wrote in his book. Sri Lankan behavior is unpredictable.
              https://www.buecher.de/shop/reise–abenteuer/an-account-of-the-island-of-ceylon/percival-robert/products_products/detail/prod_id/31348818/
              .

    • 4
      0

      The reunification of Germany would not have happened if MG had not been the main mediator involved in that great effort.
      Ever since we heard about MG’s death, I have noticed that regional radio and TV broadcasts in Germany have shown great support for MG.

      Some in some parts of Germany may have attacked him because West Germany had to pump billions into rebuilding a reunified East Germany.
      However, the majority of Germans would agree with MG. I have not heard many people criticizing MG.
      According to my knowledge, MG is one of the few good politicians I have happened to experience in the left political world.

  • 11
    3

    Many thanks, Sarath.
    .
    This article has just come on; I haven’t read it yet. Never mind; you are one guy who always talks sense.
    .
    Gorby deserves all the honours that will without doubt be lavished on him; probably by all except Putin.
    .
    Didn’t Gorby contest the Presidency of Russia (or was it still the Soviet Union) in 1996? What percentage of votes did he poll? About 0.5% of the votes. What does it prove? That he still had the courage to contest, and accept the result. He knew what it meant to stick his neck out, and take responsibility.
    .
    Before your article became visible, Sarath, I made some comments on Gorby below this article:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ranil-dinesh-have-a-past-not-a-future/
    .
    Now I find that some comments have begun appearing there. I have complained there that “old codger”, much loved by us (and by RTF?) has begun saying things anonymously.
    .
    I have never met or spoken to you Sarath, but I have spoken to your sister! You are decent people.
    .
    And we honour Mikhail Gorbachev, more than all else, because he was decent!
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

    • 7
      2

      Gorby and Yeltsin were about the same age, apparently. See the results of the 1996 Presidential Election:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Russian_presidential_election
      .
      These were the results:
      .
      Results
      Candidate Party First round Second round
      Votes % Votes %
      Boris Yeltsin Independent 26,665,495 35.8 40,203,948 54.4
      Gennady Zyuganov Communist Party of the Russian Federation 24,211,686 32.5 30,102,288 40.7
      Alexander Lebed Congress of Russian Communities 10,974,736 14.7
      Grigory Yavlinsky Yabloko 5,550,752 7.4
      Vladimir Zhirinovsky Liberal Democratic Party of Russia 4,311,479 5.8
      Svyatoslav Fyodorov Party of Workers’ Self-Government 699,158 0.9
      .
      Mikhail Gorbachev Independent 386,069 0.5
      .
      Martin Shakkum Socialist People’s Party 277,068 0.4
      Yury Vlasov Independent 151,282 0.2
      Vladimir Bryntsalov Russian Socialist Party 123,065 0.2
      Aman Tuleyev[A 1] Independent 308 0.0
      Against all 1,163,921 1.6 3,604,462 4.9
      Invalid/blank votes 1,072,120 – 780,592 –
      Total 75,587,139 100.0 74,691,290 100.0
      Registered voters/turnout 108,495,023 69.7 108,589,050 68.8
      Source: Nohlen & Stöver,[69] Colton,[70] CEC
      .
      It will display better if you go to the Wikipedia entry. But I know that many won’t, because CT readers (who say disparaging things about the hoi polloi) often don’t take responsibility for what they say!
      .
      This shows that Gorby took responsibility for what he had done.

    • 2
      0

      All sorts of qualifications are now being voiced about the legacy of Gorby, whom I still regard as one of the finest human beings who played a role in politics.
      .
      When I made these two comments on this article, there were no other comments visible here, but I had already described Gorby as one of the finest humans of our times in a comment here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ranil-dinesh-have-a-past-not-a-future/
      .
      I know that technically it was a “bad comment” because it had nothing to do with that article, and began like this: “Dear old codger,
      .
      You conveniently ignore the positive aspects of what the Aragalaya stands for and support the illegitimate but legal Ranil Wickremasinghe Presidency.”
      .
      There may be some things that I’m not yet aware of, but I know that Gorby was essentially a good man, even if a few things may have gone wrong under his watch. Yes, you can trace the Ukraine War forwards to American Presidents not honouring the promises made when the Berlin Wall was demolished. I will not therefore say that Gorby was a fool; he did his best. Reagan was, unfortunately not of the same calibre.
      .
      To the end, he was opposed to military expansion; he was against nuclear weapons. Today, we’re into a new Arms Race. Is he to blame?

    • 3
      0

      I find that Nathan has, earlier today, made two comments in which he appears to be voicing the same sentiments as I’m trying to voice now. They are here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-world-after-mikhail-gorbachev-sri-lanka-after-jr-jayewardene/
      .
      What both of us are trying to voice is admiration for a man who rose steadily in the system that he was born in to, and transformed it because he felt that it was the right thing to do. We are puny, insignificant guys who did not know him. We’re now trying to be too clever in seeking to analyse what happened in such a way as to blame Gorby.
      .
      Kumar Philips has written the most recent article on this man who changed the world for the better:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-world-after-mikhail-gorbachev-sri-lanka-after-jr-jayewardene/
      .
      Mikhail Gorbachev lived for over thirty years after his retirement on the meagre government support to which he was entitled. He ……… chose to remain in Russia, occasionally defending his legacy even though his legacy was already dead.”
      .
      There may be yet more articles to follow. Gorby will not know of them; in now honouring him we are trying to ensure that something of his legacy will live on. That may still guide the World on a better course.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 18
    0

    GR, if he really cares for the fellow citizens remaining in SL, should no longer RELY ON handouts from the national coffers. He and his clan SHOULD NOT ONLY return the excess wealth they posses to the national coffers BUT ALSO request those business men and women who got rich because of their associations with the clan to do so. Our Ex-Presidents DO NOT deserve any benefits from GoSL. MPs should not get pensons too. It is DISGUSTING to see Basil R etc still pulling the STRINGS.

  • 9
    6

    Let us not get sentimental, and recognize where he failed seriously.
    Gorbachev seriously erred in his understanding of American intentions.
    Pledges made to him were not honoured and we have seen the consequences.

    • 12
      0

      Gorbachav was convinced that the time has come for the Soviet Union to fade away.
      He knew his time has come to go and he went. No fuss! No regrets!

      On 25th December 1991,Gorbachev resigned and turned over his presidential powers—including control of the nuclear launch codes to Yeltsin.

      The only similarity between Gorbachav and Gota is that both resigned.-one was forced to While the other understood the historic process that made his inevitable and allowed the Soviet Union to collapse of its own weight..

    • 7
      0

      SJ,
      What you note is very true.
      There are many who still believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable.

    • 1
      0

      Yes, NATO’s expansion eastwards was wrong.
      .
      But Putin’s response was possible because the short fellow is evil.
      .
      I don’t know much about Marxism, but I don’t mind it. Gorby was a Marxist; so Marxism can’t be that bad.

  • 14
    2

    “Gorbachev And Gotabaya”
    Can one trivialize Gorbachev any worse?

  • 5
    0

    Gorbachev found a resolution. Gotabaya looking for resolution.

  • 14
    1

    Sarath: You are out of your mind to even mention Gotta in a sentence with Gorbachev. Please do not bring this great man closer to the murderer, thief, looter Gotta. May Great Gorby rest in peace. May Gotta go to jail what he did to Sri Lankan people.

    • 1
      0

      If the Rajapaksas return even half the money that they stole/ wasted, our bread will not reach Rs 300/= per loaf.

  • 7
    17

    The “Perestroika” I knew was an American conspiracy to disintegrate the mighty Soviet Empire and emerge as sole superpower. To me, Gorbachev is a traitor who promoted American interests that facilitated the collapse of the Soviet Empire. I believe that, before “Perestroika”, the military power of the USSR insecured the United States. Hence, the “Perestroika”, the American conspiracy. Well, within two decades in power, Mr. Vladimir Putin single handedly brought Russia back to its former glory making the US administration insecure again.Today, Russia possesses ICBMs that can destroy the United States within minutes. That may be the reason in 2022, the US provoked Russia to launch a military operation in Ukraine and ceased the opportunity to impose thousands of sanctions against Russia, and may be expecting a revolt against Mr. Putin and the collapse of mighty Russia again. Despite false propaganda emanating from Britain, Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is continuing as planned.
    Contd’…..

    • 5
      7

      Champa ……………. Aiyooooooooooooooooo

      “The “Perestroika” I knew was an American conspiracy to disintegrate the mighty Soviet Empire and emerge as sole superpower. “

      Are you being serious?

      • 2
        5

        Native Vedda, the imposter
        If that is not what happened, please explain what happened.

        • 1
          1

          Champa

          “If that is not what happened, please explain what happened.”

          It took you more than 10 years to grasp where this country was driven towards and the clan and their b***s carriers were not only bigoted crooks but also murderers.
          Don’t bother go to bed come back in 20 years.

          Keep an eye on your patriotic leader and soulmate Wimal Sangili Karuppan…
          He is running about like headless chickens. What exactly does he want?

    • 5
      2

      Champa
      I suspect that many comments on CT in your name are part of a conspiracy to make an a** of you.
      I have yet to find the conspirator. Could it by any chance you?

      • 3
        1

        SJ,
        Surely you aren’t suggesting that Champa wrote this. ” in 2022, the US provoked Russia to launch a military operation in Ukraine and ceased the opportunity to impose thousands of sanctions against Russia,” ?

        • 0
          0

          OC
          Do you look at Calvin & Hobbes? (Absent from DM these days.)
          There was a short series with Calvin cloning himself a few times using his invention of a human duplicating machine.
          The clones went out of control and did naughty things for which poor Calvin got pulled up by his mom.
          I am not insisting on duplicates for anyone, but that is among interesting possibilities.
          *
          Once long ago, before gravatars invaded CT pages someone stole my identity. All I could do was to report to mum (I mean CT) and change the e-address that I used.
          Can a gravatar be stolen?
          I am still working on possibilities– but only a few days left though.

          • 0
            0

            SJ,
            I have Calvin on my FB feed. Yes, I remember the Time machine in a cardboard box.
            The gravatar seems to be a function of the email address. So, unless two addresses are the same, (very unlikely) the gravatar cannot be stolen. But then, WordPress allows users to use pictures as gravatars (like our friend Native ). It may be possible to use a picture of someone else’s gravatar.
            On the other hand, maybe C is smoking something?

            • 1
              0

              True. You named one who uses another’s picture.
              I am desperate to defend C.
              Cannot someone at the gates of CT be bribed?

              • 1
                0

                That’s a picture of Pol Pot in his final years.

                • 1
                  0

                  ASD,
                  Yes! I’m looking for a picture of Native that I can use.

        • 2
          0

          old codger
          Ohhhh …seized the opportunity not ceased.

      • 0
        4

        SJ
        I don’t write comments to please you or other readers. Please feel free to challenge the topic I am writing about.

        • 4
          0

          C, you say “I don’t write comments to please you or other readers.”
          Nor do I.
          So there is something that we strongly agree on.
          *
          But when there is nothing worth serious comment, I do not miss a chance to share my amusement

  • 6
    3

    I seldom read. I listen, watch, observe. Don’t read much.
    I made exception on two world personalities. Goebachev was one; Thatcher, the other.
    They both are giants.
    .
    If Russia let Gorbachev down, US is partly to be blamed.
    If Britain let Thatcher down, Thatcher is to be blamed entirely!

    • 0
      0

      M
      If Russia let Gorbachev down, US is partly to be blamed.
      If Britain let Thatcher down, Thatcher is to be blamed entirely!
      *
      There is a little mix up I fear. It should rather be:
      If Gorbachev let Russia down, US is partly to be blamed.
      If Thatcher let Britain down, Thatcher is to be blamed entirely!

  • 6
    14

    They were both very bad for their respective countries.

    Gorbechev – He believed the false promises of the west. if not for him I do not believe this Ukrainian war would be there.

    Gota- A very poor politician who naively believed that all the foolish things he promised needed to be implemented. Any politician worth their salt would know that promises are to get votes and running of the country is a different matter altogether.

    History will not judge either one kindly.

  • 5
    0

    Sarath is a good writer but without any new ideas. So you try to add weight to what you’re writing by throwing names around. But when you compare these giants to the dwarfs you’re writing about, you create unintentional mocking sarcasm. Or maybe that is Sarath’s intention. In the previous article he compared JR to Nietzsche and Napoleon; and Amunugama to Weber and Gramsci. In today’s article he’s comparing Gotabhaya to Gorbachev. All what these two have in common is the letter ‘G.’ What is he going to do next? Compare Ranil to Lenin?

    • 0
      0

      ASD
      His new ideas may be exactly as what you have listed.
      *
      As Lenin put it: “From each according to his ability”.

  • 0
    2

    We are worshipping him as Hitler still and blessed by,why suddenly Gandhi

  • 3
    1

    Gorbachev ended the Cold War. The Former East Germans are better off today after the collapse of the Berlin Wall…………………..

    Is Srilankas.Warlord parachuting to Srilanka tomorrow at the junction of Malalasekera Mawatha and Bullers road?………………

  • 1
    0

    In the thirties, there were Chinamen in baggy thin cotton longs, who carried a bundle “pottani” of colored clothes – silk and cotton – on their heads and stopped in homes on request, showing their wares to housewives to buy. Compare with the modern Chinese !
    Later, there were “Afghans” wearing longs who were “money lenders” who waited at entrances to banks on salary days – to lend and collect – from public servants and pensioners.
    How the Chinese and Afghans have transformed today, is astonishing.
    We ‘Ceylonese’ are still almost the same.
    And, fighting among ourselves !

    • 0
      0

      The Chinese (Chinaman is an offensive term) and Afghans have a history of actively rejecting imperialism for well over a century.

  • 2
    0

    Gorbachev is a granite stone pillar. He is the only honest communist leader who ever resigned his position saying he failed, when the naive communists staged the coup against him. One of our colleagues wrote here about a few months ago that if Evil “Ranil had not been born, the world would have been better”. Then let me write the inverse of that. “If President Gorbachev was not born, by now, half of the world would have been deserted as atomic wasteland”. I read somewhere in the late 1980s that Russians prayed him, wherever he visits, as “Our Founding Father Lenin has re-born”. He proudly accepted that flattery and enjoyed it.

  • 2
    0

    I feel he might have lived for a couple of more decades if Putin had not started the war and sacrificed Gorbachev’s beloved citizens. The news of every young Russian child’s death at the war front might have been attacking him like another gun shot at his heart. He showed love as much as he showed to the world. The Nobel Peace prize was honored by being granted Gorbachev. It is nothing compared to the Nile and Mississippi flows out from his heart dreaming a better world to the human being’s life. I feel he might have lived for a couple of more decades if Putin had not started the war and sacrificed Gorbachev’s beloved citizens. The news of every young Russian child’s death at the war front might have been attacking him like another gun shot at his heart. Let us make him live with us for a few more of his births by restlessly struggling to bring a peace-loving world for human beings and other life forms. But, on his this birth, let him rest.

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