25 September, 2018

Blog

Hazards Of Political Evil 

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

Evil is unspectacular and always human

And shares our bed and eats at our own table.” ~ W.H. Auden 

Tyrants, dictators, despots and autocrats don’t just fade away. When ousted from power they discover new virtues in democracy and leverage mobs and oligarchs to reacquire their positions of domination on a larger and more destructive scale. 

In the past three years of scandal plagued deeply dysfunctional democracy we have forgotten what it was like to live constantly under government coercion. Today three years after, we take our liberties for granted. The decade of unfreedom is erased from our collective memory.   

The threat looms large and loud. One oligarch at a recent parley that was labeled a ‘fireside chat’ at the Colombo Hilton openly called for a ‘little bit of a dictator’ to make things smooth for the rich to get richer. His logic was spookily soft! There is no such thing as a little bit of evil.    

This essay is an exploration of our current political discourse wherein everyone is doing what they think is somehow justified. That includes those now in power, those who hope to regain their lost power and those convinced that they alone are entitled to power.  

Patriotism as our experience has shown is a virtue of the vicious. 

“Evil” is an accusatory adjective that calls for some explanatory reasoning. Most people do things which somehow later turnout to be evil and remembered as evil. 

‘Who is Lasantha?’ Gotabaya Rajapaksa famously asked BBC’s Stephen Sackur. It was not arrogance of power. It was the evil of power. Trivializing human life is wrong. Trivializing murder is evil.  

Lasantha Wickremetunge met with evil in 2009 just before the carnage of the civil war ended. Richard de Zoysa’s tryst with evil was in 1990 just seven years after the pogrom of July 1983 that more or less unleashed the hell and hellfire that lasted another two decades. 

Journalist Poddala Jayantha is the most recent victim of evil that lived to narrate his encounter with evil. 

“They cut my hair and put it into my mouth, then gagged me. They struck both my legs, breaking one at the ankle. They used a piece of wood to smash the fingers on my right hand until they bled. They said, ‘This will stop you from writing.’ They eventually let me go, saying ‘We won’t kill you now, but if you organize any more demonstrations against the government, if you speak to the media, we will kill you.’’  

Finger pointing is not the purpose of this essay although it may appear to be so, given the illustrative episode cited.  

What is attempted is another quest for our collective moral compass amidst the drift to nowhere after a decade of unfreedom and three years of inchoate and chaotic freedom with the kleptocracy entrenched more than ever. It is a fairy tale that has no fairytale ending. 

The King saw the ‘Evil’ in all its monstrous complexity and terror. Together with his brothers he formed a great army to destroy the evil and rescue the land from imminent peril. The war was savage, but its intent was pure. Many died but the King remained true to his goal and refused to turn from the course he had set. 

It was a humanitarian war against an opponent whose evil the likes of which, the world had not seen before. The people saw the armies the king put in to the battle. They cheered their benign bravery. They sang hymns of praise for their deep-rooted humanism. The king was truly a Great King. The enemy was dead. But evil lived on, for evil does not die in battle.  Evil dies with the dead and lives with those who survive, for it can survive only in a human heart that beats and evil has the genius of adhering to the rhythm of the human breast.  It is a clever usurper of the space reserved for the human conscience.  

The fairytale where the goblin of evil defeats the good fairy is relevant to our post war politics. The post 2009 trajectory of our flawed democracy is clear evidence that evil results can flow from good motives. 

The war ended unleashing a torrent of rampant nationalism. What is attempted here is to understand the post war peace time evil that has gripped us since the end of the armed conflict. The raw political divisions that has emerged since the end of the military conflict contains adequate quantities of evil that makes this survey a national imperative. 

Make no mistake. We created the edifice of tyranny and evil. Impeaching the chief justice was a politically motivated vindictive act but did not amount to evil. 

When the chairman of the parliamentary select committee that found her guilty Anura Priyadharshana Yapa went to the gates of the residence of the ousted CJ to partake in a ‘Kavun & Kiribath’ feast, that was pure unadulterated ‘evil. It was even greater evil when he decided to accept cabinet office in the subsequent ‘Yahapalanaya’ dispensation. 

When the Defense Secretary – a nominal public servant ordered the navy to stage a firework display in the Diyawnna lake to mark the ouster of the Chief Justice, it was unmitigated, unimaginable evil. The two instances are minor examples that demonstrate that evil is a composite of both villainy and intent.  

We the people obeyed in advance and created an evil monster. Most of the powers of the tyrant were freely given by us. In those troubled times, the people willingly allowed themselves to be coopted in the fight to prevent greater evil. What we failed to realize was that we were teaching power what it can do to whom we despised and to us when peace was restored. 

We allowed our institutions to be dismantled. We never imagined that the 17th Amendment could be tinkered with. The then opposition walked out on the debate on the 18th Amendment. That they did not march in to the well of the house in protest was not evil but qualifies to be a sneaky endorsement of evil.      

A democracy fighting terrorism must necessarily resort to some degree of violence, observe some protocols of secrecy and be willing to abrogate some citizens’ rights. 

While, this was sound strategy at the time of fighting the war, it carried with it the seductive allure of absolute power that made the ruling family run berserk after the end of the war. 

The end of the war brought a peace that did not reduce the power or the scope of the surveillance state. It hardly impacted the security regime. Freedom of expression was a luxury that was affordable to those ready to play hide and seek with the goons of the state intelligence apparatus.  

Dissent was treason. Detractors were traitors. Insularity was the patriotic benchmark. A ‘weltanschauung’ that transcended the patriotic tunnel vision of the ruling family was the sole prerogative of the quintessential ‘pariahs’ amidst the Sinha-le tribe! 

Independent Sri Lanka had many leaders. None can match the élan with which Mahinda brought his immediate family members in to pivotal positions of the state making them exclusive arbiters and monopoly holders of power in the fields of commerce [brother Basil] and ‘legitimate physical violence’ [brother Gotabaya]    

“It is the people who decide. What can I do if the people want them “was the savvy, suave and slippery response retort of Mahinda – the master of the art of coerced consent. 

We have often heard the refrain that “politics is evil,” or the lament about the “evil of politics.” We know what they are talking about, but we miss the most significant fact about ‘evil’. It distorts the rational choice of those who wield political power. Politics is not evil, only politicians turn evil. Because politics is about masses and mobs the collective evil is reflected through the masses and the mobs manipulated by those engaged in politics. 

The war is over. The lessons of the war are remembered. The war compelled the state to use fear to manipulate and control. The war made fear an instrument of power. 

When we are afraid, we obey. When afraid we either obeyed or remained passive in order to be safe. That is how we lived before 8th January 2015. 

Mahinda Rajapaksa had a simple governance style. He expected the people to be grateful for the value and the rewards of ensuring our larger self-interest- that of our country in general and Sinhala Buddhists in particular.

He taught his family the importance of ensuring the self-interest of the Rajapaksa clan. He taught his political stooges the importance of upholding their natural self-interest and that of his political machine – the party. 

Fighting terrorism is fighting evil. There is no harm in that proposition. One may even go further and claim the necessity for fighting evil with greater evil. But often that is not the way the dice fall. Some of the worst things done to human beings are done with the best will in the world. In a democracy blindness to evil can also be equally evil. Subverting institutions that guard against evil is the greatest evil of all.  

The Rajapaksa family rule may yet come back. Our memories are short. The betrayals and disappointments of the past three years have not only made those memories even shorter but has substantially contributed to obliterate them altogether. 

The Rajapaksa family regime was a ruthless juggernaut that demolished or abridged our freedoms with a bewildering ferocity that its total recall is now nearly impossible for those who watched it from the sidelines. Only those who carry the deep scars care to remember them today. 

It was an evil government that shaped public perceptions and manufactured consent. That it was dislodged in 2015 was more of an accident than a deliberate design. We forget that reality at our peril.

Contrary to the popular legend the Italian Niccolò Machiavelli was no villain. He was a pragmatic theorist of human nature. His advice has great purpose and relevance to what we face today.

“Now in a well-ordered republic it should never be necessary to resort to extra-constitutional measures; for although they may for the time be beneficial, yet the precedent is pernicious, for if the practice is once established of disregarding the laws for good objects, they will in a little while be disregarded under that pretext for evil purposes. Thus, no republic will ever be perfect if she has not by law provided for everything, having a remedy for every emergency and fixed rule for applying it.” 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 7
    3

    Was not killing without mercy, thousands of unarmed/lightly armed young men and women, in 1971 and in 1988/89, evil?
    Sirimavo and Premadasa got away with it.

    Mahinda and his clan in positions of power fought and killed well armed rebels in a tough “war without witnesses” – even those who surrendered with white flags, and, hundreds who were taken away by the army on the last days of the war, merely disappeared.
    Was this not evil in disguise, not only in a well-ordered, but also a Buddhist republic?

    • 4
      2

      A well written, POWERFUL article indeed. Sarath de Alwis has observed everything correct and he took the reader through guiding them in identifying THE VISIBLE part of the PROBLEM. This part speak of the Hegelian Dialectic (THE PROBLEM, REACTION, SOLUTION FORMULA). The very same formula that DAVID ICKE explains (in YouTube) in beautiful presentations on the JEWISH ZIONIST ( ILLUMINATI /The Rothchilds criminals) working on the NEW WORLD ORDER project on the JEWISH-ISRAELITES’ WORLD DOMINATION……………This aspect has seen ZIONIST mechanized WARS & CONFLICTS engineered between Races/Religions/Nations being waged to keep the world in total CHAOS as it will be easier for them to manipulate the world population in their usual DIVIDE & RULE Strategy which is in the workings at present………………… The SRI LANKAN issue is very similar and just one of the links in the above mentioned GRAND PLAN and the PROJECTS of THE NWO (The New World Order) which is programmed by the Zionist Jewish Masters of the WEST (British/US) and which is implemented through an ELITE RULING FORCE (GOVIGAMA MAFIA RULING ELITES in SL) which is the UNTOLD & the INVISIBLE PART, that directly comes under the command of the MOSSAD/CIA/MI5/MI6 secret agencies that gives training, pumps funds, draws up plans for these guys. This SATANIC teaming up has made the GOVIGAMA ELITES their protégés in their COVERT & OVERT assignments & OPERATIONS that has to be implemented according the NWO plans. —-over to PART2—-

    • 0
      2

      PART 2—– The Zionist Jews did one thing very smart. They created the ELITE groups to take over the countries and these ELITES have the OXFORD/CAMBRIDGE educational backing, plus they will all (strangely) have a LAW DEGREE (by hook or crook), a well social standing and the most important factor is they will have the control of the Major Religion in the land or the territory which they will be ruling. In Sri Lankan case, the well renowned GOVIGAMA MAFIA FAMILIES became the RULING ELITE Force who are commanding the TOP ECHELONS of the power structure. The RAJAPAKSES and their antics is uncontrollable as they belong to this EVIL LOT that has all the power behind them, protecting their own clans and the members of their families in the SELF IMPOSED position to appoint the TOP JOBS that secures them the PRESIDENCY, PRIME MINISTER and other relevant posts that help them to wield ABSOLUTE POWER without any hindrance coming from any other group in the PLOITICAL CESSPIT. From the beginning of the last century (20th), the GOVI MAFIA worked hard to keep everyone else at bay and programmed and mind controlled the population to accept them as the MASTERS of the LAND and also the self imposed HEROES who protects the race, religion and the land from the internal and external threats. —–contd. in Part 3——

      • 0
        2

        Before any elections, there is a SELECTION process that decides who contests on what platform. Currently, the discussion about the SELECTION of GOTA or any other figure from the Rajapakse family banditry is the PROCESS which is being given a wide publicity as the DEEP STATE (Zionist Masters) must have allowed them to come to an agreement in the end about who contests against whom. The ELECTIONS are a big hoax and a racket that it can bring only a GOVIGAMA slave as the next President or a PM to lead the nation. All the pundits who are discussing about the political future of the country and elections will not go beyond THIS LINE. The line has been drawn a long time ago by the Zionist masters who are the real owners STILL of the territory we love to call it as Sri Lanka, Shri Lanka, Sinha-le, Hela…etc, etc. The Govigama Mafia Elite families are just managers appointed the the Global Zionist Order to manage on behalf of them. Gnanasara, Champika, Gammanpila, Rajapakses are contract killers or assasins employed by the Zionist system to implement the NWO Agenda methodology catered differently to different regions.

  • 4
    0

    Democracy in different countries are different. Sri lankan democracy is we every five years or so elect the same group of thieves. Everybody says cheers to one of those and argue about those with hair splitting theories..

  • 5
    0

    Good piece Sarath ………. but all in vain; unfortunately …….. nothing has stood in the way of tyranny …….. not even History

    Bugger morals/ethics ……. good/evil ………. strong always triumph over the weak

    Until the Rajapakses (similar to Trump in the USA, who has made earlier unthinkable now respectable ……. these are historical-trendsetters that have a profound impact on a society) …….. there were doubts about all these in the Lankan society/polity ………. now there are no doubts but only certainty that this is the way to conduct the business of the nation

    The Rajapakses made corruption and murder “respectable” and “moral”

    There is no doubt or ambivalence in the society or in the various religiosities (if the vote and the support from the clergy is any indication) that this is the way things should be

    Rajapakses are practical doers …….. we are impractical dreamers ………you know that whatever we write will have no effect; none whatsoever

    In the end, “morality” is nothing but …….. a tool to get things done ……. that’s the way it has always been

    Unlike other Lankan leaders before them …….. the Rajapakses are bold, brave and certain ……… in the use of “morality” to get things “done” …….. and make all that “respectable” in the process

    Gotta hand it to them ……. at least that!

  • 9
    1

    the doyen of Sri Lankan writing has delivered yet another masterpiece. My God what writing.

  • 2
    8

    I am still having nightmares of a bullet that wizzed past my ear – the Wicramasinge – Prabakaran agreement which surrendered 1/3 of the country to Tamil separatists.
    Yahapalana hook up with a Gamarala on top, which holds Guiness record on most inefficient government in world history , paradoxically has saved the country from Wicramasinge machinations for division of the country into federal blocks for the time being, by its sheer inability to do anything.
    Somehow If Wicramasinge gets the gun into his hand again he will fire the federal bullet this time around with greater precision, it is highly unlikey we will be lucky for the second time. THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE SOME RESPITE FROM THIS DEADLY POSIBILITY IS TO BRING RAJAPAKSA BACK TO POWER AGAIN. Else get prepared for another round of blood shed again. It is sheer lunacy to belive that Rajapaksa evil is worse than 30 year terror. Sarath Alwis is getting madder and madder every passing week.

    Soma

  • 4
    3

    How much democracy and freedom means to an overwhelming number of Sri Lankans who are trying to make ends meet, have a roof over their heads and and are going hungry to send their children to a school How many do not have money to buy a few monitors books and pencils for their children? Economic freedom and adequacy is what most people want. We have a government that is rudderless, a government pulling in different directions and a government more corrupt than the previous government. Authors like this one can pontificate as much as they like without considering the plight of those who feel they have no hope of even a modoum of economic emancipation. Writings like this draws me closer to the Rajapaksa’s as they at least gave some opportunities and hope to those who now feel they have no hope. Our GDP is below 3.75%, our stock market is scraping the botttom, our debt is double what was when the Raja[aksa’s left government, we are selling our family silver to buy our staples, racketeer friends of this Yahapalanaya lot are roaming free in Singapore and some have the audacity to tell us we could fill our stomachs with freedom.

  • 7
    2

    Soma my Bro, indeed you are fortunate to escape that bullet but obviously it has damaged your ear drums/Tympanic membranes to the extent now you are deaf and dumb. Just like my 90 year old Mom who is now short of hearing (age related issue otherwise in a perfect physical condition ) who is in in denial and keeps finding fault with people who are trying to converse with her, you too seems to be oblivious regarding your short comings.

  • 10
    2

    The Sinhala-Buddhist people are making a grave mistake. After defeating the Tamil fascist Prabakaran, they are in the process of creating their own Sinhala Prabakaran. In January 2015 they displayed rare political wisdom in halting the Rajapaksas’ march to total power. But unfortunately the people who achieved the impossible through their smart thinking and adroit voting are now showing signs of laxity and resignation. But we can’t blame the people. The totally adrift Maithri-Ranil government has shamelessly betrayed the people who brought them to power. This has emboldened the Rajapaksa Mafia to regroup and spread conspiracy theories with the help of the rogue media to recapture power. Sad to say, but it increasingly looks like they’re going to return. Many people who voted for Yahapalanaya are now shifting their support. Sep 5th will be a day of reckoning. What an irony: in defeating Prabakaran, the Sinhala-Buddhist people have created a fascist tyrant of their own.

  • 3
    5

    At last Sarath Alwis has managed , no doubt with greatest difficulty, to get himself to put down Rechard de Zoysa’s name by the side of Lasantha Wickramatunga. Some justice. Recently Shymon Jayasinghe, another pathetic Rajapaksa hater also did the same on this column. What’s happening? No Mr Alwis there are 59, 999 more unnamed, unaccounted innocents in addition to Richard de Zoysa who went same way in 1989. They were captured, tortured, burnt half alive. Then there is unmentionable 1983 cruelty which turned our history up side down. And what of the most babaric event that took place on this soil – Jaffna library. Who were in power, who instigated, who executed? How can a man like you spend so much of your time and effort on a few names like Lasantha. ( Who is Lasantha by the way? ) How come you don’t posses any sense of rellative significance? You seem to know the weak side of human psychology.. Just one name is enough to move the masses with persistent propaganda . Reminds me of the dead body of the Sirian baby which was washed ashore that galvanised the entire Western world. How many such babies are blown into pieces by air raids a day? For three long years anti Rajapaksa propaganda has shown little results. Why and how – you guys have the entire government machinery and 2/3 in the parliament. That is the million dollar question.

    Soma

    • 6
      3

      somass

      “No Mr Alwis there are 59, 999 more unnamed, unaccounted innocents in addition to Richard de Zoysa who went same way in 1989.”

      Well you are gifted with selective memory. I envy your ability to forget other mass killings.
      I remember how under the weeping widow’s rule innocent youth were killed and dumped in rivers, in 1971. Maybe you are too old to remember the day when hell fbroke loose or the first time . Could we have their names please.

      “Then there is unmentionable 1983 cruelty which turned our history up side down. And what of the most babaric event that took place on this soil – Jaffna library. “

      Again you have selective memory lapses. I envy you.
      My Elders witnessed the first post independent riots targeted against a particular community. And that public racist SWRD Banda was never held responsible for the murder, destruction, rape, ………………… ?
      The 1983 was not new and will not be the last.
      The state, politicians, police, armed forces, saffron clad thugs, local thugs, ……………. were involved in those riots.
      Please stop pretending that 1983 and 1987/90 were the only incidents that had ashamed you or the Sinhala/Buddhist state.

      For reasons of simplicity and repetition lets forget the killing of Tamils in North East from 1975 to 2015. Could you give us a figure.

      Are you deriving sadistic pleasure mentioning 1983?
      Are you saying that was not enough?

    • 0
      2

      Fully agree with Soma. These pathetic Rajapaksa hating yahapalanistas managed to hoodwink the masses once. But not any more. In their singular hate towards one man (& his family), they are prepared to maintain a blind eye on the whole country being driven to the precipice by the current gang of robbers and murderers in power. That 59,999 is just a number of no relevance to them. You saw them dancing at Western embassy functions to the tunes of baila with glasses of whiskey flowing…………That is their virtuous way of life……. To them masses and their wishes are the evil (so they try to stick various labels on masses)…………The acolytes of majarapalanaya continue on their vulgar way of writing hosannas……….

  • 3
    5

    NV
    I have to ask you the same question I asked Sarath Alwis :
    “How come you don’t posses any sense of rellative significance?”

    Soma

    • 3
      2

      soma

      Note I have dropped ss conjoining your pseudonym.

      “How come you don’t posses any sense of rellative significance?”

      Every unnatural death in itself significant, hence one cannot or should not compare a death with another.

      One cannot tell the kith and kin their loss alright because the particular person didn’t die alone, there are other deaths too. None should be assuaged with your nonsensical illogical heartless reasoning.

      Even one unnatural death is too many.

      Don’t be too clever.
      You have been trying very hard to justify SLFP/Mahinda/Weeping Widow’s killing while vilifying JR/Premadasa/UNP massacres. You have chosen your well known selective amnesia as a vehicle do exactly that.
      Please go away.
      Forum users are not buying it.
      Please share your thoughts(?) with Champa, wannihami, Hela, Eagle Eye, NTW, sach, …………………. and get some cheap applause from them.

      • 0
        1

        NV
        “Note I have dropped ss conjoining your pseudonym.”
        Who cares?

        CT has provided a forum for Tamil racist humbugs like you. CT does need services of people like me Champa, wannihami, Hela, Eagle Eye, NTW, sach, …… too in order to proceed – you know tricks of the trade. You must be thankful. We are not here to sell anything. Just to highlight the stench of hypocrisy behind Tamil racism. You are millions, we are a few. Your utterly illogical, ” Yanne koheda? Malle pol” type insults are occupying half the space. Have some restrain man.

        “You have been trying very hard to justify SLFP/Mahinda/Weeping Widow’s killing while vilifying JR/Premadasa/UNP massacres” . So that is the reason why Tamils en bloc vote for UNP!

        Soma

        • 2
          0

          somass

          “CT has provided a forum for Tamil racist humbugs like you. “

          Now you know why I add ss to your pseudonym to portray exactly who you are. Ill informed, paranoid, pathetic, banal …… Sinhala/Buddhist member of fascist gang who enjoys selective memory lapses.

          “So that is the reason why Tamils en bloc vote for UNP!”

          Is that why the war criminal paid your favourite Tamil terrorist VP to stop the Tamils voting in 2005? Without VP the psychopath there is no MR, no gloating, no new rich, no army, no AK 47, no war ships, no commissions, ………………….

  • 1
    0

    We are a much talked of NATION of “Anthologists”; “Anthropologists”; “Aarchaeologists”; “Historians” etc…. etc… populated by eloquent speakers; analysts; writers; thinkers; etc…..etc… With this well “ARMED” brigade, have we come up with “WHAT TO DO” to “REINVENT” and “AVOID” the impending “DISASTER” that we see NEARING us day by day; hour by hour? On 05 Sept. the biggest “SLAVE MARCH” organized by the “SLAVE MASTERS” is set to be staged. One “Rejected” by a majority of “Freed Slaves” in a District, but once again “CROWNED” by our own elected President , the other day “VOWED” to bite the very helping hand and topple this Government and bring back the “Deposed King” by next “Sinhala/Tamil New Year. There are so many, many in that camp of “SLAVE DRIVERS” who have “VOWED” to install that very deposed King and his “Kingdom”. While we talk all the time of the “HISTORY” of that “Fiefdom”, and also have LOST all hopes of an introduction of good governance even under a concocted term “Yahapalanaya”, have we ever given serious thought and consideration of a “NEW SET UP”? Have we, YET planned to do WHAT NEXT? NO. Isn’t time ripe to make a START towards that ? We have to and that will be an up hill task ; yet it will not be that difficult, if all our skilled brigade of “PROFESSIONALS” come together and kick out both the historical “Fiefdom” and the present “MYTHICAL” Yahapalanaya” and stage a “COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION”. Why not consider that aspect and address our ESSAYS to FREE the “SLAVES” from both the previous and present “SLAVE MASTERS” and prepare to stage that “REVOLUTION”.

  • 1
    0

    {“Evil is unspectacular and always human And shares our bed and eats at our own table.” ~ W.H. Auden}
    Evil breeds fast by self-division.
    .
    We, the Lankan silent majority, bike the roads full of potholes left by the fast limousines of the rich and the nouveau riche. The two teams in the home vs home game, keep us distracted with the potholes.
    Some of the potholes described by Sarath de Alwis here are crater sized.
    .
    The silver lining is our realisation that the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity is feeding on us.
    We must issue tickets to the drivers of fast limousines.

  • 1
    0

    Sarath continues to lament over the death and harassment of less than 5 names but conveniently forget the tens of thousands of tortured and killed from 87 to 91, they too had names, mothers and children, except they were poor, not influential. Why is Sarath so silent about them, was he greasing the wheel at some point or a cog perhaps, hope not for his own Karma’s sake.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.