17 October, 2021

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Lanka Asymptomatic; US At ICU; India Near Morgue; Deadly Everywhere: Can The Authoritarian Pandemic Be Stopped? 

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The Twentieth Amendment augured authoritarianism in Sri Lanka, but though it laid the constitutional framework manifestation has not yet been toxic yet. Democracy in Gotabaya’s Sri Lanka is not lethally imperilled as is India’s subverted democracy, nor is demolition of democratic institutions and electoral impartiality being attempted on a Trump and Republican’t Party scale. A cynic would say “It has not been necessary”. Lanka’s president and government retain overwhelming support; the opposition effete and not taken seriously as an alternative government – Sajith is a pantaloon, the Left small, Muslim politicians purchased. The conjuncture of the two unfolding perils; the abys the pandemic is winding towards and the retarded-growth-debt-inflation imbroglio which earns censure in the copybook of liberal economists, has not alienated the masses yet. People are not wildly anti-Rajapaksa, so why should putative authoritarianism bring out water-cannon and rifle? Gota has no need to display the ugly side; the iron fist stays in the velvet glove. To switch to now fashionable terminology, authoritarianism remains politically ‘asymptomatic’.   

Elsewhere the global march to authoritarianism seems unconcealed and unremitting. A knave called Francis Fukuyama theorised pompously in 1992, and all the world’s liberal clowns swallowed it as divine revelation, that the End of History had arrived and that a capitalist free-market world was the zenith of historical evolution; hear ye hear ye, the kingdom has arrived! He had in mind of course the pushback of Marxism, the discrediting of socialism and the triumph of economic individualism over collectivism. On this score he had the intellectual upper hand for a while except for the statist East Asia which was more resilient than capitalism in the prevailing conjuncture. Though he scored points for some years what he did not reckon with was that capitalism and liberal democracy would be blind-sided from the right; right-wing populism, racist-religious extremism, strongarm neo-fascism and eventually institutional authoritarianism. Though FF’s thesis has collapsed, I do not gloat. To pushback this blackest of devils left, democratic right, liberals and all civilised society need every ally they can find; Biden, Merkel, every anti-Hindutva Indian, the JVP, oppressed minorities the world over, and even the ilk of Franc Fukuy.    

I have argued previously that “Trump is the last warning” meaning that if underlying socio-economic conflicts and contradictions at the root of the right-extremist-populist crusade (I sometimes call it populist neo-fascism which I defined in a previous essay) were not resolved America would slip into an abys into which it would crag the world. The issues at the root of resentment such as the hopelessness of the old working-class in eastern states and rural folk in the mid-west are known and need no recounting here. A bold restructuring programme going beyond liberal economics can approach these concerns but if the Biden-people stay true to their Ivy League credentials they will fall short. Bidden can’t afford to take his eye off the livelihood ball, crucial to working people, and focus excusively on fashionable elitist interests. 

The ugly alternative is a wave of Trumpism which may recapture Washington in four years. Its ideological character has been laid out for all to see; trashing of electoral institutions, subverting results of fair elections, using the Presidential Pulpit for an unending stream of Gobblesian lies. It went further this week when Trump’s lawyer Joe diGenova demanded that fired cyber-security chief, Christopher Krebs, be “taken out and shot” for contradicting the Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and Trump loyalist Michael Flynn, pardoned last week, and many others have called for suspending the constitution, a declaration of martial law and fresh elections. Though democratic institutions have proved resilient and stood up to this wrecking-ball, damage has been done and they may crumble under sustained future assault. Though democracy has weathered the storm the bigger setback is not Trump, written off as an idiosyncratic looney, but rather the Republi-can’t Party. All but a few Republican’t Senators and Congressmen have toed Trump’s line. That they are damning the very ideals they deem precious in the land of the brave and the home of the free does not trouble them. Baffling!

Against this background the pulverisation of democracy in Narendra Modi-Amit Sha-Hindutva India is less shocking. The litany of Modi’s ‘achievements’ is beyond belief.  Kashmir seems locked down in perpetuity, the police whose reputation was at a nadir has sunk lower, it hounds the poor, obliges the rich and prosecutes Muslim ‘suspects’ after anti-Muslim pogroms. The Electoral Commission whose independence was held in esteem since independence is in the process of being turned into a tool of the ruling BJP. The worst is that India’s Supreme Court, once respected for its jurisprudence and whose independence was held in the highest esteem before Modi’s current term, has become a pliant tool of BJP politics. The calamity of the Supreme Court best epitomises India’s rapid descent to banana republic status. The Economist (28 November 2020) carries a long report called “Subcontinental Drift” on the march of Modi-Sha-Hindutva authoritarianism.

All is not lost, Indian democracy like the American version will fight back though the cow-belt electorate will inflate Modi for a while. Fanning hatred of Muslims, China and Pakistan can pay rich electoral dividends. For now, resistance to Modi-Shah will come from the periphery outside the cow-belt; Mamata’s Bengal, the Dravidian South (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka and Telangana) and Maharashtra. The once proud Indian Communist movement (CPI and CPI(M)) have run out of steam and Congress is a jelly. A multipolar (political, ethnic and religious) alliance must be forged to defeat the BJP juggernaut. If democracy is vanquished in India, the Rajapaksas can rightly ask “Why retain it in Lanka?”

To touch on every major example in Africa (Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia and more and more), Belarus and the Central Asian -stans, Putin, Erdogan, Hungary and Poland is beyond the scope of this column, but readers well known that democracy is in the ICU is some and in the morgue elsewhere. In China the Han majority is unconcerned about the gross repression of the Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The super spreader of this autocracy pandemic is the same everywhere; hopeless and despair in livelihood concerns, racial or religious extremism, anger at material/financial inequality, and dangerous ideology. I spoke of combating this with a multipolar class, political and ethnic alliance. It can push back some of this not others. If the enemy can be split and a portion fragmented away conditions for victory will improve. Take Gotabaya; his political progenitors are militarism by choice and SLPP racism and corruption by inheritance. This alliance can be splintered and that would be a first step on the road to victory.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    “The worst is that India’s Supreme Court, once respected for its jurisprudence and whose independence was held in the highest esteem before Modi’s current term”
    There have been scandals concerning the SC of India.
    One glaring example:
    In 1973, Indira Gandhi passed over three senior judges to appoint a pliant contender as CJ of the SC. in 1975, when a high court barred her from holding office because of election irregularities, she declared a national emergency, suspended civil liberties , and jailed her political opponents. When her decrees came before the Supreme Court, a bench of five justices, led by her appointee, sided with her.
    There are plenty of verdicts and scandals involving SC judges that preceded Modi.
    It is true that things are deteriorating fast. By the SC was never ‘clean as a whistle’.
    *
    “In China the Han majority is unconcerned about the gross repression of the Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang.”
    Can the author please tell us if any group among the Han majority is mouthing anti-minority slogans.
    Can he compare the steps taken to counter US-Saudi-Turkey inspired secessionist activity in Xinjiang with any in other countries with secessionist movements. Is is a fraction as harsh as in Hong Kong?

    • 2
      0

      No SJ I have seen no evidence of people discriminating against or attacking Uygur or any other minorities during my rather extensive interactions (including Universit teaching and PhD supervision) in China. It is the State that is the culprit. The CCP does not like challenges to its monopoly of power and does not like competing mass organisations such as the Catholic Church and Fulan Gong at one time and now the monolithic Islamic culture in Xinjiang. I will touch on these two points in my next Wednesday and next Sunday columns.

      • 0
        0

        What was involved in Xinjiang is not Islam but foreign instigated separatist acts of violence.
        As for the Catholic Church, you know how political it was in the middle of the 20th Century. The Chinese government took a stand against its meddling in Chinese affairs. Since then the relationship is smooth, and there was no persecution of Roman Catholics.
        Falun (not Fulan) Gong was not quite a religious organization. There was politics to it. Putting it on par with Islam and Christianity does not seem right.

        • 2
          0

          BTW
          Was China any less fond of the Vatican than Castro was (until the Vatican changed its line when it made little difference to the survival of Cuba)?

  • 3
    0

    ”….Gotabaya; his political progenitors are militarism by choice and SLPP racism and corruption by inheritance. This alliance can be splintered and that would be a first step on the road to victory”

    Not so sure, we all know about militarisation & corruption but it is acceptable to the majority of SL. Is there a leader in the opposition who can take us on the road to victory?

    • 1
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      I can see no leader at the moment who can do what you mention. This is way I am advocating a broad alliance which can chip away at the putative authoritarian allainces and ideologies.

      • 0
        1

        The time is ripe, KD, to get this broad alliance together. Mangala would come to mind as one who can see right from wrong and provide leadership. The movement will also need organising power and intellectual strength from a number of people one can name (and whom for certain, you see too).

        It also needs support and counsel from right-thinking leaders from the clergy; and again, there are but a few good men here who can provide a counter-narrative to the mainstream and leadership of this cause..

        It also needs to exploit natural outpourings of real discontent (there are many areas and these are growing), in order to help persuade the so-called “69 lakhs” who swallowed the pakse guliya.

        Sri Lanka is going to have to gird its loins and get going, else it will be playing “whack-a-mole” for generations to come, if one is to observe how fast the royal family is churning out future heirs!

  • 0
    12

    PART ONE
    .
    Starting with the axiom that
    two years ago, Donald J. Trump and Gotabaya N. Rajapaksa, were not only two Americans with bloated egos, but also two of the nastiest humans ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of this Earth, it may still be that a hundred years from now, Professor Kumar David, and more definitely me, would have been long forgotten after having assiduously pushed up a number of daisies, whilst those two nasties will be seen as having brought an end to two of the bitterest disputes of the 20th Century.
    .
    True or not, let those two nasty guys believe that they are leaving behind Legacies of Peace. When real Men of Peace try to broker Peace Accords, a sell-out to the enemy is feared.
    .
    A few months ago, a “deal” was made between Israel and the Emirates, which may actually end the seemingly endless strife in the “Middle-East”.
    .
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/abraham-accords-peace-agreement-treaty-of-peace-diplomatic-relations-and-full-normalization-between-the-united-arab-emirates-and-the-state-of-israel/
    .
    I hope that other readers will click on that link and cogitate upon the irony of the godless Trump being so popular with Fundamentalist Christians that they see him as a second Messiah.

    .

    .

    • 2
      0

      Well SM you will be pushing up daisies while I more likely be pushing up bramble bush thorns.
      Yes sure read Jeevan Hoole as well, not instead!

    • 0
      0

      Dear Prof. Kumar,
      .
      I knew that you wouldn’t take my comment as an insult; at least the impression that I have of you is that of an enormously talented man who is interested mostly in driving our society on to a better future.
      .
      You write so well that I always make a point of reading what you have written, for the wit that is incorporated in it.
      .
      I harbour some optimism about the outcome of Hoole’s bold initiative.

  • 1
    21

    PART TWO
    .
    .
    Isn’t it similar to Gota
    being seen as the culmination of the evolution of the Buddha Dharma? Reading Professor Kumar David is fun, but may I suggest that for the next five days we focus on this great writing by Professor Jeevan Hoole?
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/call-for-immediate-war-crimes-trials-trade-embargoes-against-sri-lanka/
    .
    It may just be that we could see real peace emerging in Sri Lanka as a result of that initiative.

    • 1
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

      For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

      • 0
        0

        Ms SCP,
        thanks very much for making it short.
        .

  • 3
    1

    The Sri Lanka Sinhala people never had a leader. They had corrupt politicians. The net worth of Sinhala politicians after entering politics have gone up exponentially. They screw the Sinhala people and move on. In the process they have to fan anti Tamil and anti Muslim racism to take the country from the gutter to the sewage.

  • 5
    2

    Who will win the election in Tamil Elam before 2009 (if created)? Democracy or terrorism?

    It should be apparent to all peace loving people that the only way forward for SL is to divide the island equitably into mono-ethnic Sinhala Only Elam, Tamil Elam and Muslim Elam (which Muslims can decide to go with either in which case that nation will also be open to Muslims).

    There is no other way. Do it before the next war.

    SL is in the midst of an international tug of war. If India does not get it their way, India will support the division of the island so they can have at least a piece. If China does not get it their way, China will support the division of the island so they can have at least a piece. That will lead to massive bloodshed, genocide and violent ethnic cleansing. Avoid all that ahead of time by peacefully relocating 10% of the population and dividing the island.

    Those who disagree with me will agree after the next war.

    Killing people to keep the island as a one nation is not worth it. Divide it so everyone will have a home.

    • 1
      0

      Division will not be easy; it will present its own set of problems.
      .
      The challenge is to reconcile, and remain one. It won’t be easy. Both sides must work at it; there must be give and take.

    • 1
      0

      G
      “If India does not get it their way, India will support the division of the island so they can have at least a piece. “
      India last tried it in East Pakistan around 50 years ago, where there was a direct interest, namely to weaken Pakistan and have a friendly state where there was none.
      Since then India has been cautious. It encouraged a separatist dream here but did not even passively help its realization.
      *
      “If China does not get it their way, China will support the division of the island so they can have at least a piece.”
      This guess is even worse.
      Can you give a precedent or any other evidence in support of this.
      *
      The rest is b******ks.
      *
      “Those who disagree with me will agree after the next war.”
      Is it a warning or the usual unintentional joke?

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