4 December, 2020

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JVP’s Vision And Policy Frame Work: Is It Dogmatic Or Scientific?

By Hema Senanayake –  

Hema Senanayake

Hema Senanayake

“There is no place for dogmas in science. The scientist is free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for evidence, to correct any error. Where science has been used in the past to erect a new dogmatism, that dogmatism has found itself incompatible with the progress of science; and in the end, the dogma has yielded or science and freedom have perished together.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer

It is clear that dogmatism and scientific thinking cannot coexist. In this context, it might be necessary and important to investigate whether the JVP’s Policy Frame Work is truly scientific. If it is not scientific, then you know where it belongs.

JVP accurately identify one thing. On page 27 of the policy document it says: “Economic prosperity and social justice are two essential components to usher in a righteous society.” Let us agree on this statement. However, I intend to focus only on the component of “economic prosperity.” How do they propose to achieve economic prosperity? The answer to this question has been explained under the chapter titled “A Modernized and Industrialized Country” (pp. 12 to 25, English version of the policy doc.)

The first paragraph of this chapter begins as follows:

“Human lives must be simple and easy in a new Socialist State. Hence, consuming goods and services and issues related to the law should all be simple and carried out in a manner that would prevent the unwanted wastage of time and energy. This could be done by getting together as required the simple and advanced management methods, administrative methods adopted by various developed nations around the world.”

Look at the last sentence of the above quote carefully. What does it say? It implies that there are developed nations around the world and those nations have adopted advanced management and administrative methods which methods would be used by the JVP to achieve in a new Socialist State. But the problem is that all the developed nations are capitalist countries and none of them are socialist states. Even though the so called developed nations, having all “advanced management methods”, collapsed economically in 2008 triggering what is now known as “The Great Recession of 2008.” Hence, the JVP’s above assertion is silly and novice in regard to economic governance. Plainly, it is dogmatism. My objective here is not to ridicule the JVP, instead I intend to show them that they need to master on this subject of economics further because as they clearly identify that “economic prosperity” is one of the two components needed in order to “usher a righteous society.”

A few weeks before the Western and Sothern Provincial Council elections, the JVP had published its “Vision and Policy Frame Work” as a booklet of 46 pages.  Since I write analyses on economic and economic policy issues, a friend of mine asked my observations in regard to the economic policies set out in the book. I felt that I must wait until the provincial elections were over.

I hope, JVP has published its vision and policies of governance with an objective to venture into a broader discussion with people about its policies. Therefore, an intellectual discussion about their policies should not be ignored. But I will focus only on certain aspects of economic policies.

JVP wants to establish a New Socialist State. Any type of State will fail, if it cannot guarantee two things economically. Firstly, the State must guarantee the economic efficiency in producing goods and services; secondly, the State must guarantee the distribution of distributable output for the optimum wellbeing of its citizens. Therefore, by this definition, North Korea is a failed State and Venezuela is failing fast if some prudent policy measures are not put in place.

In fact, capitalism is prone to periodic failures but recovers. The dogmatism persisted in capitalist economic theory and practice has shattered during the global economic crisis of 2008. The former U.S Federal Reserve chairman Allan Greenspan made a shocking but arrogant admittance of this fact.

At a congressional hearing held in October 2008 in the midst of economic recession he was asked: “You found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?” Greenspan agreed: “That’s precisely the reason I was shocked because I’d been going for 40 years or so with considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.” He further said “I have found a flaw.”

The arrogance of the admittance of failure it seems arose from the belief that even though such crises are “normal functioning events” in capitalist system, there is no other viable alternative. Therefore, the JVP must first understand in view of the above admittance of Greenspan that there are no pool proof “Advanced Management and Administrative Methods” in economic governance in developed countries.

However, Greenspan’s view itself a dogmatist view that needs to be defeated intellectually to facilitate the emergence of new economic science, through which, new reforms could only be grounded upon and be implemented. This is a high-end philosophical task. But the JVP ignores it and decided to rely on imaginary “advance management methods” existed in advanced countries to steer the economy in their new Socialist State. Wrong!

Sometimes, I feel that Karl Marx still stay ahead of capitalist economists in regard to the construction of efficient economy. Because, he knew well that if socialists can’t establish an efficient economic system than the capitalist system, the socialist system cannot prevail. Therefore, Marx accurately identified an essential feature in establishing an efficient economy. He intimates that in an efficient economic system, the use of social resources in producing goods and services must be efficient. This is plain truth; and no capitalist economist including Von Misses would reject this notion. If it is so, can we imagine that Marx did not prescribe a mechanism to ensure the use of social resources efficiently in producing goods and services? In fact he did but I have reasons to guess that so called socialists are not aware of it; hence let me quote Marx first and my explanation will follow.

“The actual sale of commodities for money tests the validity of the expectation that any particular labor expended is indeed social and necessary labor. It is only after sale that the social and necessary character of the labor expended in producing a commodity is guaranteed. The commodity producer produces the commodity on a speculation that the market will validate the social and necessary character of labor.” (“Marx’s Theory of Money in Historical Perspective”, Duncan K. Foley, 2003)

We use labor in producing a commodity. Also, we can use the same amount of labor in producing a useless commodity too. If labor is used to produce a useful commodity that helps to increase the wellbeing of citizens, then the use of labor is considered useful and efficient. So, how do we determine whether the use of labor is efficient and useful? As pointed out in the above quote Karl Marx answered as follows:

“It is only after sale that the social and necessary character of the labor expended in producing a commodity is guaranteed.” What does this mean? This means that the sale is a necessary feature in ensuring or guaranteeing an efficient economic system. In other words the use of “market mechanism” is an essential element in establishing an efficient economic system.

So, what the socialists did in almost all the Socialists States? They virtually eliminated the “market mechanism” which is the best planning tool ever evolved by human being in establishing an efficient economic system. Soviet Russia virtually eliminated the market mechanism by introducing directed price system. But, one intelligent man who knew Marx’s prescription of the use of social resources efficiently denounced such anti-socialist measures of the economic professors of Stalin.

He wrote: The professors forgot to explain how you can estimate real costs if all prices express the will of a bureaucracy and not the amount of socially necessary labor expended. And as to prices, they will serve the cause of socialism better, the more honestly they express the real economic relations of the present day” (Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed).

Therefore it is very clear that a New Socialist State of JVP must not eliminate the “market mechanism” instead it must guarantee the efficient functioning of market mechanism itself in order to achieve continuing economic prosperity.

Once we accept the use of market mechanism, immediately we need to resolve the issue of MONEY because without money there is no market. The need of a good currency in socialist system was clearly explained by Trotsky.

He says; “A successful socialist construction is unthinkable without including in the planned system the direct personal interest of the producer and consumer … which in its turn may reveal itself fruitfully only if it has in its service the customary reliable and flexible instrument, money. The raising of the productivity of labor and bettering of the quality of its products is quite unattainable without an accurate measure freely penetrating into all the cells of industry- that is, without a stable unit of currency.”

Accordingly, the JVP must ensure the maintenance of an efficient monetary system, unlike in Venezuela or in Cuba. Also, in general, capitalism is relatively doing a very poor job in maintaining a good monetary system even with all its sophistication. It is a separate discussion and hence I ignore it in this article.

However, when we have a system to express the value of almost all goods in one single unit of measure (i.e. money) and when we accept the market order of production as the main system, by these two measures, we quickly resolve the major problem of macroeconomic planning of production because the market mechanism flexibly determines the quantity, quality and variety of almost all products and services under demand-and-supply basis. Even the most sophisticated central planners can never do this more efficiently than market mechanism.

Perhaps, now one might argue that the Mattala Airport does not validate the socially necessary labor and resources expended on it. If it is so, it is clearly an economic inefficiency.

However, so far we have briefly discussed as to how we can establish an efficient economic system. I hope the JVP will initiate a discussion about it among its members. We have yet to discuss the socialist distribution of distributable output which is totally different from capitalist system. Let us discuss it in the next article.

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  • 4
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    “JVP’s Vision And Policy Frame Work: Is It Dogmatic Or Scientific?”

    Satanic

    • 1
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      Sri Lanka desperately needs a voice to speak of ECONOMIC JUSTICE.
      Today’s Daily Mirror has an excellent cartoon of the EPF funds being eaten and destroyed by the Colombo stock market which is the rich man’s CASINO. Because of the EPF funds lost in the stock market, poor pensioners will have a 2 percent decrease in their pensions it is assessed.

      The poor today subsidize the rich to get richer. This is the JRAPASS MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT! Basil Rajapassa so called Minister of Economic Development knows nothing about Economics or development and does not have a degree from a university – so what do you expect!
      This model of so-called economic development is Social and political UNDER DEVELOPMENT and DE-DEVELOPMTENT enables POLITICIANS to loot the people. It is ECONOMIC INJUSTICE in the name of Economic Development. TRICKLE UP is the name of the game!
      The UNP and SLFP are both is this game of looting the Sinhalaya Modayas who are blinded by neoliberal economics.

      • 1
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        Don Stanely

        JVP is a curse to this island, another opportunist Sinhala/Buddhist racist party, a lot of blood in their hand.

        JVP never surrendered its arms,

        never apologised to the people,

        never accepted Provincial Council nevertheless it contests and enjoys provincial perks,

        hypocrites,

        outdated Pol potists,

        never reviewed its Rohana’s lectures,

        never apologised to the up country hard working people,

        never explained as to how it managed to de-merge North East provincial council under the law of the land,
        ………….

        never said sorry to people for being in bed with MR,

        never came clean about war crimes committed by the armed forces which included some of their former cadres,

        ……

        “Sri Lanka desperately needs a voice to speak of ECONOMIC JUSTICE.”

        These JVP Sinhala/Buddhist terrorists are not the alternative voice.

    • 1
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      Dude Hema, The free market is a good idea!

      In Sri Lanka the market is grossly distorted by INFORMATION ASYMMETRIES as Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz discussed. Please read Stiglitz.

      A Corrupt President and his family and cronies buy and sell and land grab in the Miracle of Asia and keep everyone else in the dark.

      To succeed we need economic data and INFORMATION, but there is no Freedom of Information act and data is cooked at the Central Bank.
      CONCLUSION: there is NO free market and there cannot be a free market as long as their is PUTRID and CORRUPT GOVERNANCE. This is why the JVP’s political economic analysis is very important.

      • 0
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        JVP is doing a far better job in EDUCATING Sinhalaya Modayas and Exposing the CORRUPTION of politicians, than the UNP which is as CORRUPT as the Jarapassa regime..

        UNP politicians when to Hambantota on a fact finding mission to expose ECONOMIC LIES AND CORRUPTION, but have now forgotten about the original mission after the attack by Jarapassa thugs. The fact is that a busload of MPs do not need to go to do a serious analysis of economic development. You need 2 experts in EVALUATING DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

        We still need a report on the findings re the WHITE ELEPHANTS in Hambantota – the port, air port, cricket stadium and convention centre and the funds that building and maintaining these cost the tax payer.

        • 1
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          S. Modaya,

          You need more than two experts to find the truth and transparency on these projects.

          You need structural civil Engineers to evaluate building constructions and inspections.

          You need environmentalists to check environmental damage and environmental effects, climatic changes and effects on protection of wild life, natural habitat and other environmental effects.

          You need Accountants to audit checks and balances.

          You need surveyors to find the allocation of Land for all these projects and the utilization of these land for maximum utility and their economic contribution.

          You need quality control experts and human resource experts to check maximum utilization of both human and material resources.

          How can you make a profit with an International Airport which only Three planes landing per day with around 100 people who use as a transit hub.

          It takes minimum 5,000 gallons of fuel per each Landing and Take off.

          http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/question192.htm

          Where is the Profits or to even cover operation costs……if a plane takes off from Colombo and transit in Mattala to drop 10 passengers and again take off to go to ME or Europe or Malaysia.

          Also Mattala is off-route from the travel path, meaning extra fuel
          been burned.

          Both Hambanthota Harbour and Mattala Airport are White elephants, including money loosing Sri Lankan and Mihin Air.

  • 2
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    Hema Senanayake

    “It is clear that dogmatism and scientific thinking cannot coexist. In this context, it might be necessary and important to investigate whether the JVP’s Policy Frame Work is truly scientific. If it is not scientific, then you know where it belongs.”

    Scientists are skeptics. One needs to come up with with good reason and data, before the idea is accepted. The JVP experiment still continues.

    Political ideologies and religious and beliefs are when subject to the scientific methods generally fall apart. To prevent this, they brainwash the followers from an early age, so that they are hardwired in their brains.

  • 4
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    The JVP needs a re-branding in toto. They don’t intend it but they come across as a very sinister organization. There is simply no transparency in their organization. They simply refuse to acknowledge the reign of terror they unleashed in the 80’s. They tout socialism, yet socialist states are the worst human rights violators. The JVP does however do a good job exposing corruption and provide far better opposition to govt than the UNP.

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    JVP is thorough out it history since 1965 Under PDN Wijeweera or Rohan or Attnayake not base on sciencefict outlook, it was Anarchist-terrorist outfit. JVP has no change color of Dogmatic politics and economic policy since its origin. JVP policies are more destructive than constructive of path of capitalism and its democracy are concern, that in Sri lanka. It had been proved party action last 45 years of its anarchist foundation has not change at all.
    To be learn Marxism to JVP far from reality. The hard core of JVP political carders are even not READ COMMUNIST MANISFTERO BY MARX.
    Even they read they that did not realized essence of Marxism its teaching. For example hard core Wijeweera high level carders are like in (1966 to 68) Nimalsri Jayasinghe alias of Loku Atula, Income Tax Karu alies Karunatana, Piyasiri and Milton core group of Wattala branch and Sanathha Borlukatiya alies Sanath Withrana (teacher) cannot read ENGLISH at all. No any of them having higher education level at all. Marxists books available at that time in Sinhalese language.
    Later join group late 1968 of Peradeiniya group of Lional Bopage, Sarath Wijesighe allies Ranhami (who represtaitaive of Padu cast of group Kegalle) and Samratunge of Kuliyapitiya of Bola Samara (another Rada or Padu clain by lower cast) Kumanayaka, Premasiri Siriwaranana, Smarajeewa alies Boga (Kanarawell), Sarath Wijesooriya ( Runanwella), Ekanyake( Galle) Podi Dissnayake -Monaragala, Justin Fernando of Kegalle, Sujith Hanagama /Kegalle, Vitlan Perera(F) from Waddua, Gamine Samarnaya Anurdapura,join politics after being to Campus at Peradeiniya.
    This was largest group join higher education member of JVP since its established 1965.Non of them are basic knowledge of Marxism at all. Ever-never read books of socialism, no knowledge of theory Marxism- Leninism and sciencefict knowledge capitalist development of colonial POLITICS OF Ceylon or Sri lanka.
    Majority of them may be that radicals that originate from rural roots but poor of knowledge politics that was inexperience and no background Parties political activities by themselves.
    The result of such background leads to JVP anarchists-terrorist politics of Wijeweera Five Lessons of Political classes to gain by overnight attack captured from capitalist class- power of state.
    This group played leading role of JVP anarchist -politics and practice TERRORISM SINCE THEY JOIN WIJEWEERA JVP IN 1968 LATER PART.JVP was never Marxists political Party, it was terrorist outfit cannot be Scientific outlook politics its beginning.

  • 2
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    I applaud Hema Senanayake’s incisive look at Socialism and Economic prosperity.

    I have no economic background. That makes me look totally irresponsible to pass judgement one way or the other on Hema Senanayake. Yet, I wish to run down my thoughts.

    I don’t believe in Socialism. I don’t have a reason why I don’t. Don’t rush. I favour Capitalism only slightly, even for Social justice. Here again, Social justice is a receding goal.

    Hema Senanayake’s outright condemnation of JVP’s Policy Frame Work(PFW) is causing some discomfort.

    Hema Senanayake argues that PFW is silly and novice. I feel that it cannot be both at the same time. If it is silly, it cannot be novice; If it is novice, it cannot be silly.

    If PWF is novice, it is too early to call it silly.

    Hema Senanayake defends his position stating that ‘the so called developed nations, having all “advanced management methods”, collapsed economically in 2008’.

    His statement is true. But, does it justify his position, … .

    The so called developed nations, have recovered credibly well, within a short span of time. There was no austerity measures imposed on the citizens (except in certain countries that are corrupt).

    The experience of the developed nations should stand JVP in good stead with their PFW. But, whether JVP can bring home their promise is another story.

    Now, let me take Karl Marx’s prescription, that “market mechanism” is an essential element in establishing an efficient economic system. This the reason why I favour Capitalism slightly. Yes, the “market mechanism” is in-built in Capitalism.

    The Socialists have failed for one main reason. They cling on to the wrong end of Karl Marx’s stick. They give priority to Social justice over ‘market mechanism’.

    • 1
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      My sentence, ‘I have no economic background’, has a spelling mistake. (It speaks for itself, I suppose!). Correctly spelled it should read, ‘I have no economics background’.

      The error is regretted.

  • 2
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    JVP still has to attain maturity. Some things said are good. Some things said are not practical. Some things done are facist and revolutionary. So we have a mixed bag of unpredictable consequence.

    What sticks in my mind is that they supported the current regime and were instrumental in perpetuating this hegemony. Also their 500 tank project which was good in concept but poorly implemented. Also they have not yet completely divorced themselves from their bloody past.

  • 3
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    After the next presidential election everything will be allright.any Presidential candidate can’t win the election without the support of minorities.(north and east will oppose the Rajapaksha on next election).even Ranil can win the election because the racism of Rajapaksha allready visible to the minority communities.Jarapaksha will bite the dust along with Balu sena,Sihala Ravaya,etc.

  • 1
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    A thought provoking article for those who believe in socialism but the problem is the JVP is a nationalist party that do not listen to others.
    To implement its policies it has to come to power first. Due to their dogmatic and anti Marxist -Leninist ideology and the down fall of the socialist system thanks to Stalinist policies and particularly due to its pro Sinhala stand on the national question no one can expect them to come to power in foreseeable future.
    If the JVP wants at least to be a decisive factor in the political landscape it has to win the hearts and minds of Tamils and Muslims by accepting the urgent need to devolve meaningful power to the minorities of Sri Lanka .

    • 1
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      Until JVP believes that every human has a right to work hard and become rich, VP will not be successful in their Politics.

      Becomming rich through hard work and through sheer Talent is one’s own right.

      Therefore JVP cannot dictate terms or put a ceiling or limit people working hard to make Profits in Business or become rich with their born talents. It is those Talents only that bring Jobs and revenue and make societies rich.

      Today the Billioneers in China is second only to USA. Same with India. Also Etheopia has Billioneers now contributing to society and now one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

      Business, innovation and enterpreneurship is a Talent and a skill which cannot be taught or copied or bought. It should be encouraged and helped like arts, drama and other skills.

      Therefore JVP should adjust their party policies to suit 21st century and to get maximum opportunity from the great talents and skills that our citizens have. Innovation and constant development and upgrade a must.

      Our whole agriclture, farming, manufacturing, storig and distribution methods and our irrigation systems are aged old 19th century old methods and systems and they should be upgraded to 21st century.

      Old Carl Marx theories do not exist today even in Russia. It’s no more collective societies but either collective or individual enterpreneurships that grease societies.

      To be more competitive both education, health and all service sectors should be run by both private and public sectors. Then only there will be competitition, hard work, innovation, cost cutting,price marking and finally profit making. Any business or service without Profit and bonus ad expand and grow is doomed to be failed and a failure. Today Sri Lanka’s curse is this……no expansion or growth and constant strikes and labour unrest.

      No enterpreneur will run his business without a profit and the wages for Labour will be decided by the market demand. Nobody should dictate or force on this. The more skill and hard work the more and better pay.

      Government should furnish and provide capital resources and tecnology and necessary skills to individuals to be enterpreneurs.

      Also innovation and resource management is a must in any growing society.

      Finally it is the competition that gears the society and decide the Price, demand and supply and reduce corruption and wastage.

      Business, trade and enterpreneurship is a Talent and a skill like a sport or an invention. JVP should encourage and help enterpreneurs. Also Private/ public partnership is the best for any society.

      It’s time for JVP to think ahead and think broad. But not the Rajapakse Mahinda Chintana type corrupt business mafia, but Jenuine Business community.

      Hope JVP will read these comments.

  • 0
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    By and large ‘Win hearts and mind of Muslims and Tamils’ is needed, but there is pre-conditions put forward by Trotskyist, not that Our nation interest. And democracies revolutionary package included rights of Minority is part of Democratic changes in Sri Lankan led by Masses of People’s leadership NOT by the JVP Leadership.
    Stalin who wrote book of Marxism and National Question.
    Trotsky was an anarchist, but that he was NOT Bolshevists-or Marxist in the terms of Socialism guided by Marx and Lenin. Trotskyist teaching was more destructive policies in Soviets and Sri Lanka
    (Ceylon) since 1935 by leaders of LSSP Philip Gunawaradana, NM Perera, Colvin R.de Silva, Leslie Gunawaradana and Edmond Samarakody.
    These bunch of leaders that So-called LSSP party and its class totally misled Socialist movement and working class more 60 odd years in Sri lanka.

  • 0
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    JVP [Edited out] if anyone want challenge I am prepare come anywhere in the world why and who really the are.

  • 1
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    At the moment Sri Lanka has one of the highest Populations comparison to Land Mass. Sri Lanka even beats Bangladesh when calculate Population to Land mass.

    Also we have more quantity than quality when compare the population standards.

    Therefore it’s time to introduce strict Family Planning methods starting with maximum two children per family across the board among all comunities.

    Otherwise soon there will be a population explosion and it will lead to depleting resources, jobs and difficulty to sustain and also could lead into theft, robbery, riots,murder, communal problems and finally mass murder.

    Both JVP and LTTE reduced population Burden to some extent in Sri Lanka, although this should never happen again.

    It’s high time to think seriously on survival skills, resource management and population control.

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