By Kumar David –
There was a big response to Rajan’s lullaby to Basil (“Over the Ocean”), Ameer Ali’s Addendum to my “A Fire has been Lit” and my “The Only Way forward for the JVP”. That’s good, people are serious about how to get together to confront a common threat and the importance of action-unity for defensive purposes. Almost all emails or phone calls, as well as Colombo Telegraph Comments were supportive. However they included a few defeatist or narrow-minded outbursts. For example: “Nothing can stop Gota’s march to dictatorship”. “I do not agree that the XYZ will be the leading force in taking the struggle forward. They will not be able to muster the public for mass agitation without the support of Patali Champika”. “Sajith is a spent force; I will not be surprised if the SJB disintegrates”; “Ranil will never go for confrontation, SF is silent”. “I don’t like to work with pseudo Marxists; without Praxis we can’t do anything”. I endorse none of these but Colombo Telegraph readers need to know of comments that discourage united action. Please, I am not talking about who the next Great Leader will be, nor the next Government. I am emphasising that defence is imperative; crawl before you run.
In one of my columns I begged: “Initiate a common discourse. All who subscribe to a few basics should be welcome. E.g.: Stop the economic collapse or resign, reverse the pardon of king-pin murderers, rescind the fertiliser instant-ban and replace it with an organic fertiliser expansion programme, repeal the PTA forthwith”. The basics will have to be agreed between the JVP, the Sajith Balavegaya, the Left, liberals, NGOs, Tamil and Muslim parties, the radical clergy and others. The JVP, Sajith or someone of credible size must convene a round table pow-wow and for heaven’s sake let there be no bickering about convenorship, chairmanship, roundness of table and such stupidities.” Champika Ranawaka must stop bullshit talk that the JVP “should drop its ideology!” Preconditions disrupt united action. What if others demand that Champika must support devolution or Sajith must abjure the Executive Presidential concept as a precondition for a minimal-action-front to forestall the Gota trend to authoritarianism?
Having got this off my chest I wish to draw attention to trends in Burma since we can draw lessons. The anti-military mass movement which in the immediate aftermath showed vigour, seems to have been cowed. People did not mobilise in millions or hundreds of thousands not enough to throw the soldiers off balance and break the army. The opposition leadership, especially Su Ki was too compromised having bummed the Generals for too long to inspire confidence in the minds of the masses. And third Beijing has pulled the rug from under the opposition and now throws in its support behind the dictatorship and the Generals.
We are in a position to avoid the first two, though there is little we can do to forestall Chinese support for a putative Paksa dictatorship. Our opposition is better organised and will not be cowed down like Su Ki. The JVP, Sajith, other left parties and I hope the Muslims and Tamils will throw in their lot with mass mobilisation against a palace-coup. (I mean a regime abrogating democracy and arrogating all power to itself). Defensive mobilisation to stop Gota-led military absolutism seems promising. Unity for defence FIRST! Who will be president down the road? Which scavenger will get which portfolio? Which rogues will replace the present rogues? Let us cross these bridges when we reach them. When a house is on fire, pull the trapped children out first! Maybe the new house owner will a good man or an arsehole; let that concern not slow down rescue efforts now. I will return to these themes at the right time; that is after any Gota dictatorship perils have been extinguished. There is time enough before the next election cycle.
Now for China. Chinese actions in respect of Burma have proved that its foreign policy criteria are no different from those of nineteenth and twentieth century imperialism. It is guided by the simple criterion “Do what is best for China”. It is spearheading restoration of the Burmese military junta into international bodies, it is steaming ahead with port and infrastructure developments beneficial to itself, and it dismisses the pleas of the Burmese opposition. Lesson 1: If a Paksa military regime is imposed on Lanka, Beijing will stabilise it and support it in international forums. Lesson 2: What if the people of Lanka fight back? What if there is a General Strike? What if the unity of the opposition holds? What if anti-Paksa foreign forces (governmental or not) throw in some weight? For sure China will then recalculate its options. Therefore, even in respect of the Beijing factor internal mobilisation is what will swing the pendulum.