By Kumar David –
“The economic crisis is a social crisis careening into a political crisis. With no solutions the rulers are militarizing. Realising that the elites and their parties have no way out within the current system, students and the working masses have taken to the streets. Leaders of National Peoples Power (NPP) such as Anura Kumara Dissanayake say they are ready to give leadership for a new governance model to overcome the crisis. The faith people placed in the current system has been shattered”. Professor Hiniduma Sunil Senevi in the NPP publication Mawilma.
A thought first: To demand ‘leadership’ at this stage my raise the heckles of others. Better say “partnership”, and let history sort out the leaders. There are two sides or aspects to the substantive challenges confronting the country – (i) the defensive imperative of defeating the surge to dictatorship is primary in time, and (ii) once that threat has been settled, the tasks of change, systemic change, institutional change and transformation of the economic model comes on the agenda. I have no real dispute with Professor Senavi, I am only pointing out that we need to sort out these damnable dictatorial ambitions of the regime first.
The two-stage nature of the challenge requires organisational preparation in a corresponding manner. The defensive task of blocking the authoritarian ambitions of Gota and his bandits (including those from California now reaping a golden harvest) is a general task that everyone, except the Paksa clan, the cabal surrounding Gota and government parliamentary scum are agitated about. Sumanthiran has turned into a bold spokesman against a rising culture of state-terrorism – I am not referring to old issues but the beating up of trade-unionists, students and protesters right now. Trade unions, student movements and the SJB – certainly Eraj, Mangala, Rehan Jayawickreme and Champika – are on board. The alliance as it now exists is informal, actually not even that, it is simply tacit. A good thing that the NPP can do is to formalise this to a degree. I do not mean Pacts, Fronts and stuff like that but at least a round-table discussion, an exchange of views and a sharing of experiences. The reason it has not happened yet I think may be because the regime’s braggadocio thus far has been a puss vedillak, a feeble fart. To put out the military and shoot the masses, Gota’s entourage knows will be the end of the regime. These authoritarians knows their limits, they won’t cross the proverbial thin redline. What do readers think, is my assessment of regime diffidence a shrewd insight or dangerous complacency? Be that as it may there is not enough being done by all who are committed to the minimal task of defending democracy to coordinate their efforts and arrange exchanges of views among themselves.
System change, social change and institutional change are a bigger agenda. It first requires the winning of state power, that is winning the next election (don’t say Gota’s goons will falsify the election, of course they will try but as in Trump’s case it can be beaten back). A putative governmental alliance will be different from the partners in a defensive front and of course a common manifesto or programme of work is essential. I am not discouraging anyone from broaching this topic, arranging formal or informal chats with prospective partners, that’s fine, but it’s a different topic from getting together to push back the dictator right now and it will mature on its time own scale. I don’t expect an immediate election because though the Paksa regime is in the pits the crooked family, the corrupt appointees and self-seeking government MPs are not going to throw in the towel until they have squeezed out every profit and benefit that they can manage. To my erstwhile Leninist comrades I will also mention that the second decade of the twenty-first century is not the era for the capture of state power in the style of the great Bolshevik.
I have written all this many times but movement in these directions is not clear enough. True there are many protests and demonstrations against the tendency to dictatorship but there seems to be not enough coordination between different mobilisations and organisations.