20 September, 2021

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Political Discourse About The Model State & Governance: Need For Grounded Theory In The Post-Colony

By Siri Gamage

Dr. Siri Gamage

When we examine the political discourse in the post colony on the desired state and governance, there are several features that can be observed 1) they are focused on personalities i.e. Prime ministers and Presidents, 2) focused on local conflicts such as ethnic conflicts, farmer conflicts, human rights issues deriving from state oppression and reactions by resistance movements. 3) focused on norms and ideals such as liberal democracy, 4) take capitalist/free-market oriented authoritarian states from the region as desired model e.g. Singapore or S. Korea. 5) draw from liberal democratic, Marxist, dependency or to some extent anti-colonial theory and discourse. 6) do not draw directions and inspirations from postcolonial and/or decolonial theory and discourse/agenda.

While there are grounds for each of these discourses and platforms, it is now necessary that the political discourse in the post colony has to move forward by drawing directions and insights from the postcolonial and decolonial theories and discourses on one hand and the ground realities of the State, governance, political practice, ideologies of nation etc. rather than relying on Western theoretical constructs and frames such as Marxism per se which seems to have not progressed much from the days of the Bolshevik revolution in 1918 and the Chinese Cultural revolution of a bygone era. The aim of this article is to highlight this imperative for the benefit of those concerned about the plight of post-colonies in the global south and futuristic imaginations for a fair society.

Before I embark on commenting on the above-mentioned points, let me quote from Appadurai’s review of two recent books (2021) dealing with the question of geography, history and knowledge as well as grounded theory:

Two new books—On Decoloniality, by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh, and Out of the Dark Night, by Achille Mbembe—help remind us of the history behind our geographies, setting the history of regions and continents back into the context of colonialism and empire. To do so, both books consider the different paths out of decolonization, only to find that neither the kind of nation-state that emerged out of decolonization nor the recent version of globalized capitalism that has come to define these nation-states has truly fulfilled the liberatory promises of decolonization. The strongest part of both books is their grounding in the areas from which they emerge—Latin America and Africa, respectively—and their common recognition that the heaviest price extracted by colonizers on the colonized in the past 500 years was not in the currency of labor and resource extraction but in the realm of knowledge, where colonial subjects were classified as the other in Europe’s empire of reason.

According to Appadurai, ‘Both books also represent a radical critique of European dominion over the rest of the world through the various ages of empire, and both agree that materialist analyses of this dominion—by Marxists, dependency theorists, and world-systems theorists—have misunderstood both colonialism and the decolonization that followed’ (Appadurai 2021). Referring to the book by Mignolo and Walsh (2018) in particular, Appadurai says, ‘Their joint goal is to make the case for decoloniality, the idea that a different form of decolonization or anti-colonialism was and continues to be possible in the Global South—one that does not rest on Western forms of knowledge but instead on Indigenous epistemological styles and claims’ (2021). This is an important point to reflect on when we attempt to articulate what is happening with the postcolonial State in the Post colony in the global south, in particular our over-reliance on western frames of thought including Marxism and its variations.  I wish to emphasise that I am not saying that Marxism and its variations have no value in analysing current state of affairs in the post colony.  My argument is that it is limited in many ways.  Postcolonial and Decolonial thought and discourse offer more relevant and sound analytical frameworks that we need to grasp if we are to move beyond the limitations of class analysis and the notion of Bourgeois State, working class and its liberation, infrastructure-super structure typical of Marxist thought/analysis. Some characterise such analysis as idealistic to say the least.

Political personalities are important to grasp the nature of specific regimes, their policies and programs, success and failures in terms of alleviating poverty, initiating development and education reforms, developing infrastructure such as roads and housing, or agriculture. When former colonies gained independence, such development was based primarily on the basis of western modernisation as a model to follow. In this effort, the leaders borrowed knowledge via experts, technology, financial and other assets from multilateral and bilateral agencies including States of the West. Various development and reform projects were launched with a finite timeframe and medium to long term goals. Politicians, beureacrats and professionals such as engineers, embraced such projects with both hands.

Governments changed along with the leaders and parties, coalition governments emerged out of the ashes of old parties and groups active in the political arena, and new regional players with political and economic significance emerged. E.g. China and India. New political and global concepts and philosophies emerged to account for the changes happening in the regions and the world e.g. globalisation, sustainability. Activist groups concerned about the negative effects of globalisation also emerged, especially by using new social media.

When it comes to political discourses in the post-colonies, much of the analysis and explanations were focused on personalities rather than the national or provincial systems as such. Failures in development projects modelled along the prescriptions of Western capitalist states and economies (or their equivalents in Asia, Africa, Middle East or Latin America) were also blamed on local political players or parties. Masses were taught to rely on the leaders to solve all problems in the post colony and they were treated as super heroes who could produce magical solutions. The leaders on the other hand have gone to donor countries and agencies with the begging bowl. Ediriweera Sarachchandra, a Sri Lankan inrtellectual, playwright and literary critic once wrote a novel titled ‘With the begging Bowl where he characterises this phenomenon and his experience being Sri Lanka’s ambassador to France. Modern day ambassadors from the post colony – instead of writing such novels seem to keep writing project proposals for further borrowing or at least promoting the same so that the dependency continues but the fortunes of ruling political class are ensured? It is even astonishing to see the Marxist intellectuals have failed to understand the nature and content of such political class in the post colony in a grounded way – other than to characterise them as personalities or by means of old theoretical categories that were popular in the past.

There was a period when the political and social movements were guided either by the model of other capitalist states that were considered as model states e.g. Hong Kong, S. Korea, Singapore or the anti-hegemonic movements that drew inspiration from Marxist theory and its variants or liberation movements elsewhere. E.g. Vietnam war. The idea was that the socio-economic ills of the third world countries can be alleviated if they followed the example of such cases. For example, Sri Lanka liberalised its economy in 1977 with the UNP government gaining a large majority in the parliament.  The regime concerned not only liberalised the economy permitting foreign investment and trade but it changed the make-up of the governance system by introducing an executive style President directly elected by the people and concentrating the State power in the hands of one individual. This system continues with some amendments but there is also a continuing critique of the system in place by various intellectuals, political leaders, and sections of the population. If we take the example of Sri Lanka, the experiment on both fronts has failed i.e. economic and political. Human liberties have been increasingly curtailed, power of a few media outlets in determining election results increased, concentration of power in the hands of a few magnified, corruption and waste multiplied, accountability became a thing of the past, and the foreign debt and servicing of the same have become a national problem nearing the level of a crisis.

As the experiment of successful capitalist-free-market oriented state becomes unviable and further dependencies on countries like China, India, USA or the EU are inevitable, the local intelligentsia searching for solutions rely on alternative readings of the situation and dynamics at play-mostly ahistorical – by drawing from Western theories such as Marxism or allied political theories of the past.  Some trade unionists also seek explanations and solutions from similar theoretical discourses and writings. Of course, contemporary political discourse in the post-colony is also informed by key events in each colony such as confrontations with the state security forces, particular decisions made by governments impacting on the people, alienation of national assets to borrow from the powerful countries or multilateral agencies. However, such discourses are not able to interpret or explain the various forms of dependencies that have been created as a result of neo-colonial and postcolonial manipulations of economies, states, education, agriculture, communication and technology and various other fields. As a result, there is a tendency for the political discourse to go in circles corresponding to the election cycle where there are nominal elections or when the end of rule by ageing rulers come nearer as was in Zimbabwe. At times of natural calamities also some new discourses emerge but they evaporate into thin air when the immediate problem is partially solved and life returns to normality.

What is the outcome of such a scenario both in intellectual and political terms? Firstly, the political class comprising of old or new elites (business, military, traditional, religious, bureaucratic, academic) continue to enjoy power in the name of democracy, freedom, nation, development/progress, security, stability, and sovereignty. They enjoy many material and symbolic privileges often legitimised through the parliamentary processes or where they are absent through other forms of governance processes. A technocratic and bureaucratic layer supports the plans and projects of the ruling political class with muted mouths and eyes plus compliance and silence. Majority of the populations suffer in hierarchically organised systems of control (not governance) that keep the ruling political classes in power sufficient enough for them and their families, friends and close supporters to emasculate the system for personal gain by using nationalistic rhetoric of one sort or another. Voices of the marginalised majorities are circulating through the social media and in local discourses during weddings, funerals and other social occasions but very few political parties exist articulating the voices and concerns of the oppressed. Such parties have not been able to win power at least partially in such a context where the elitist political players backed by controlling media, big business, corporate sector, and the deal culture make the level playing field impossible for minor parties and groups to compete.

In this context, how should the parties and groups advocating on behalf of the masses negatively affected by so-called ‘dependent’ and Western-centric development policies and programs in various fields such as agriculture, education, health, commerce, communication and trade move forward[i]?Will the reliance on Marxist theory and its variants or the example of model capitalist state from the region concerned be sufficient?

My view is that those concerned about the plight of the people-in particular subalterns[ii] – in the post colony shall obtain directions from the postcolonial and decolonial theory and discourse – including Southern theory and subaltern theory – in order to:

1) understand and explain the global and regional dynamics at play with enough attention to the history over last 500 years plus the plight of post colony.

2) articulate an anti-hegemonic political discourse and agenda grounded in contemporary realities for specific countries

3) collaborate with like-minded groups, organisations and movements in the regions of the global south.

This is essential because decolonisation of the mind and body in the post colony is an essential task in order to engage politically, intellectually and imaginatively. Many of the writings that have come out from such thinking and discourses in the last few decades from Africa, Latin America, the Middle east and Asia to some extent are inspiring and informative to say the least. There is an emerging movement of scholars working in these fields exchanging views and experiences through Zoom seminars, regular conferences, internet based groups, workshops, books, journals and keynote speeches. Those in the post colonies concerned about the political and economic trends as well as culturally compatible and sustainable future can benefit from accessing these resources.

Finally, let me quote from Walter Mignolo – a Latin American decolonial theorist on Decoloniality:

Decoloniality means first to delink (to detach) from that overall structure of knowledge in order to engage in an epistemic reconstitution. Reconstitution of what? Of ways of thinking, languages, ways of life and being in the world that the rhetoric of modernity disavowed and the logic of coloniality implement. The failure of decolonization during the Cold War was due, mainly, to the fact that the decolonization did not question the terms of the conversation, that is, did not question the structures of knowledge and subject formation (desires, beliefs, expectations) that were implanted in the colonies by the former colonizers.

Today, epistemic reconstitution is taking place in many places and in many forms. But this is not a task you can find in the state and inter-state relations. This is a task of what I would call the emerging global political society: people taking their/our destinies in their/our own hands because the states as well as international institutions (IMF, World Bank) etc. are not to serve the people but to mediate between states, corporations and banks.

(Source: E-international Relations interview with Mignolo)

Further Readings

Appadurai, A. 2021. Beyond Domination: the future and past of Decolonization, The Nation, March 22/23 issue. https://www.thenation.com/article/world/achille-mbembe-walter-mignolo-catherine-walsh-decolonization/

DALZIEL, A.2019. Why is Southeast Asia lacking in postcolonial perspectives? Jakartha Post, Jan.30. https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2019/01/30/why-is-southeast-asia-lacking-in-postcolonial-perspectives.html

Brooks, H. Ngwane, T. Runciman, C. 2019. Decolonising and re-theorising the meaning of democracy: A south African perspective, The Sociological Perspective, 68(1), pp.17-32. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0038026119878097

Laffan, M. Prakash. 2018. The Postcolonial Moment in South and Southeast Asia, Bloomsbury Academic.

Mignolo, W. 2017.  Interview with Walter Mignolo/Part 2: key Concepts in E-intrnational Relations, https://www.e-ir.info/2017/01/21/interview-walter-mignolopart-2-key-concepts/  Accessed 31 July 2021.

Mignolo, W. Walsh, C.E. 2018. On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, Durham and London, Duke University Press.

Sarachchandra, E.2013. With the Begging Bowl, Sri Lanka, Vijitha Yapa Publishers.

Shastri, A.2001. Introduction-Postcolonial States in South Asia: democracy, Identity, development and Security, In: Shastri A., Wilson A.J. (eds) The Post-Colonial States of South Asia, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

pp.1-13.  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-137-11508-9_1

Shastri, A. 2018. Political Parties in Sri Lanka: change and continuity, Oxford University Press (Also Talk, Institute of South Asia institute, Berkley https://southasia.berkeley.edu/amita-shastri

Sheng, A.2020. Asia’s Post-Colonial Journey, The Statesman. https://www.thestatesman.com/opinion/asias-post-colonial-journey-1502923498.html

Uyangoda, J. 2018. Decolonial Thinking, Southern Theory, and the Search for Alternative Epistemologies in the Social Sciences, Colombo Arts, Biannual Refereed Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. Volume II |Issue 3

Useful Internet Groups

Postcolonial/decolonial thought in the global south

Decolonisation of education/higher education in the global south

Sociology Today (for the subalterns and post colony)

Asia thinkers and Writers

Multicultural society: myths and realities


[i] China with Chinese aid and loans have entered the scene today and this needs to be dealt with separately with the question as to whether it is a different kind of intervention or a different form of capitalist intervention?

[ii] Whether the middle class is part of subalterns need further discussing because it plays a significant role in determining who comes to power in the elections.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    A very complex set of issues, but much needed to get former colonized countries on correct track. Needs to be worked on with great structure and at consistent pace. Collaboration between like-minded nations will give greater understanding. People and societies will need to go deep into themselves to understand what they are about, and what is truly needed….almost religiously. In the meantime, government bleeding money needs to be removed for a government with greater social democracy.

    • 1
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      I believe most of our post-colonial problems come from ingrained attitudes in our own thinking.
      In the first place, why did we become colonized? How come the Cholas, Chinese, Portuguese, even Malays, invaded us? If the Portuguese could come halfway around the world, why couldn’t we ? If our civilization was as glorious as we are told, why didn’t we at least occupy Kanyakumari if not Lisbon? There is a basic luck of curiosity in our culture. We are led to believe that religious writings contain the answers to everything. We are told about 2000 year old Anuradhapura but not told that it pales in comparison with 4000 year old Luxor. In short, we must look at adopting some of the good ideas of colonizers, instead of rejecting everything wholesale in favour of some ill-defined pre-colonial “glory”.

      • 0
        1

        Omg OC,……how working backwards can you get? How skewed can your understand be? We were happy and content the way we were for millennia. We had no need to invade other places. Our culture and way of life was our own. After invasion, we did accept all that the White man gave us, and tried to move along their path. It gave us nothing. Now the White man himself is looking for an alternative path along our epistemological values, and we are not structurally ready for that, as we have lost it. It needs to be recreated.

        • 1
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          Ramona,
          How come you’re writing from Pittsburgh and I’m in good ole Sri Lanka? And the author is in Australia. People vote with their feet, I hear.

          • 0
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            Not like that at all, OC. We are all in global village now, and not sitting in isolation in one place and glorifying the West and its colonial legacy. No, even the West is looking for better epistemologies it missed or disregarded at one time, for their survival depends in it.

            • 0
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              …all in one global village one,….

        • 1
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          The “white man” has progressed in his own country and attained heights in governance and has welcomed immigrants from countries like Sri Lanka to his own “welfare state” where all are equal.
          But, when our own citizens who are also dual citizens of such states assume positions of responsibility in Sri Lanka, they ignore what they learned in their former countries of exile.
          No other country pardons convicted murderers and gives them positions of responsibility in governance.

      • 0
        0

        This poses the question: Have we been a dependent nation all along? A very fundamental question. e.g. Dependent on other countries for our knowledge. e.g. Buddhism,Islam and Hinduism Because for understanding history we rely on Mahavamsa etc writtin by Buddhist monks. They had a vested interest in recording history in the way that protected Buddhist/Sinhjala kingdoms. Any critical examination probably will show that our history is more complex that a geneology of kings. Secondly, our colonial history has been written from the point of view of the coloniser(and our own intellectuals who were trained in London etc.). This history does not bring our a People’s histrory as such. e.g. subaltern (powerless commiunities)history, provincial history. In India there are lot of studies about Dalits. All what we read about Ceylonese history is how good the British were introducing democracy, and so on. Not about the struggles of the oppressed Sinhalese,Tamil,Muslim and the rest. Thirdly, the post colonial history is no different. It is also about the way colonial institutions including the government, education etc function in society, the leaders,elites, etc more than about the average folk and their life struggles in the face of elite hegemony? The academic rigour required to write anything to do with history in an acceptable way to the academia made it a privileged discipline rather than one accessible to the average Lankan. Now we need to open our eyes to this privileged writing of history and its limitations.Find a way to write a decolonised history. First we need to look at what a decolonised history will look like? What are its tools and approches? We can learn a lot from Subaltern history here.

  • 1
    0

    The “white man” has progressed in his own country and attained heights in governance and has welcomed immigrants from countries like Sri Lanka to his own “welfare state” where all are equal.
    But, when our own citizens who are also dual citizens of such states assume positions of responsibility in Sri Lanka, they ignore what they learned in their former countries of exile.
    No other country pardons convicted murderers and gives them positions of responsibility in governance.

    • 1
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      As the experiment of successful capitalist-free-market oriented state becomes unviable and further dependencies on countries like China, India, USA or the EU are inevitable (Countries becoming dependent on each other in negotiated trades is the best formula to preserve world’s peace – independent from any economic theories those advocate total growth of world wellbeing.)
      The failed Marxist Left are with no land to stand on so sinking in their anti-West theories in Mariana drenches.
      The theorists who switch their idealism are no different from Sinhala Buddhist Moadayas who votes for (UNP-SLFP) alternatively in election. The Foolish man sitting on the branch and cutting it down is no different from the Sinhala Buddhist pundits living in foreign lands and thriving on the Europeans systems but criticizing the European systems. Why couldn’t they go back to Lankawe and have the Lankawe Sinhala Buddhist extremism corrected? It that because the Lankawe Sinhala Buddhism has not advanced enough or become comfortable like the Australian Sinhala Buddhism? Or are they covering them with Dharmapala dressing of “Anagariga Sinhala Buddhists” postulation? Well, but there is a very best reason why they don’t like to put out for discussion. There is no point in they are bringing it to CT as CT”s lay readers have no ability to understand such noble thinking.

  • 1
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    Decolonisation, Reconstitution, Global political society and alternative epistemologies sound grand but what our mother tongue speaking citizens need are opportunities to earn a living, to feed, clothe and educate their families and be out of debt. The debt trap China lured us into was our excessive craving outside citizen movement demands, the craving of living beyond our income and hence inability to repay. Yuan flowed. Best discourse is to print a little more money and get the local issues under control as it applies to the all important health and education. The choice is to lose either self respect or global black money and this has been an everlasting issue with those who stepped into that arena. Mammon goal is unquenchable.

    • 3
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      dtg
      “The debt trap China lured us into was our excessive craving outside citizen movement demands, the craving of living beyond our income and hence inability to repay.”
      *
      I would have thought that it was the great JRJ that rescued us from our frugal habits forced by shortages into splashing it out in the good old tradition of “kaapanlaa, beepanlaa, jollykerapanlaa”

      • 2
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        S.J,
        “would have thought that it was the great JRJ that rescued us from our frugal habits “
        Isn’t it strange that we survived for 2000 years without air conditioning but can’t since the 80’s? Is it a sign of evolution speeding up?

        • 0
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          Oh gosh OC! You put your foot into it yet again. We need to teach this Old Codger, people, the correct way to look at things : After our ancient cooling forests (where we lived amongst for millenia) got chopped down by the Whites and afterwards Lankans themselves, for plantations, and roads and cities, the country became considerably hotter.

          • 2
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            Ramona,
            In case you didn’t know, forests have been chopped down since the 1840’s. Air conditioning has become fashionable since 1980 or so.

            • 0
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              That’s because more and more air-blocking, heat absorbing sky-scrapers and other tall buildings started coming up+ tarred roads and highways. And even more trees were cut. After JRJ’s Western capitalistic drive.

            • 1
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              Ramona,
              The Middle East is much hotter than SL, but even in the 80’s there were large buildings without a/c. Nor did buildings in the hot parts of India have a/c.

              • 0
                2

                OC,
                ME goes down to almost zero at night, and the buildings probably retain the cold. Those buildings in India are usually old ones that are large airy with high ceilings. Also they might be in the northern places where it is much cooler at night. Also the humidity is much less in ME and Northern India. We are almost on the equator and surrounded by water, and full of water vapor.

                • 2
                  0

                  Ramona,
                  “ME goes down to almost zero at night,”
                  Not in summer. I have lived there. What I am pointing out is that people have been able to live without wasting energy for all this time, even in worse climates, and climate change is not an excuse for unnecessary consumption of energy.

                  • 0
                    2

                    OC,
                    I too have lived in the desert (not in the ME), with temperatures well over 100- F . Not bad at all because the air is dry. But guess the coastal areas may be different in the desert. Yet, you must have been there in your younger days, since you are an old codger. That time the buildings were not so high and there was air-flow from the sea. At one time, we didn’t even use fans in Sri Lanka. Houses had cooling tiles on them with no ceiling (though once in a while you’d see a polonga or two weaving through the wooden beams). Now you are old and do not feel the heat as young people do. And most people in Sri Lanka suffer with the heat in the congested cities with the huge buildings that impede air flow and trap heat.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Garendias, not polongas

                    • 0
                      0

                      OC,
                      That’s not a skyscraper. Air can still flow at the top. Walls are made from cooling mudbricks, not reinforced concrete.

                    • 0
                      0

                      OC
                      I admire your stamina.
                      But that is not nearly enough to have the last word with rtf.

        • 0
          0

          OC,
          Do not say that we will soon be a species that cannot survive in fresh air?

          • 0
            0

            S.J,
            Some people already trust only bottled water.

  • 3
    0

    I am rather amused that an otherwise sensible writer finds Marxism etc. obsolete and unsuitable because they are “Western theoretical constructs and frames”.
    Is Western theoretical constructs and frames some kind of monolith?
    What non-Western theoretical constructs and frames do we have to rescue from our crisis?
    *
    True that there much to draw from ancient wisdom.
    But ancients derived their wisdom not by locking out all that was alien.
    They were not parochial by any means.

    • 0
      1

      Where have we gone so far with Marxist analysis(in various forms) in the case of Sri Lanka? Has it not been purely theoretical – except in the JVP at some time and CP,LSSP etc before? When are the threticians come down from their ivory towers and visit the villages to learn from those millions who are struggling and their life stories? Then build theory in a grounded way? The middle classism in theoretical analysis(borrowed) has not moved our people an inch. But still they keep reproducing the same with a righteous attitude. what I tried todo in this article is to draw attention to a different set of scholars and practitioners from Latin America etc who have presented valuable ideas for the global south. Sri Lankan scjholars and progressive political activists need to pay attention to these new trends in intellectual disourse based on the idea of decolonisation. (see our institutions are still colonial).

      • 1
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        s
        When did the country have a chance to get anywhere with Marxism?
        The two big Marxist parties were at best junior partners in a centrist government.
        If you want an example in the region, see what Kerala and West Bengal had achieved for the poorer sections. But they were not independent states.
        *
        I will not dismiss the left here because I know what they achieved since the 1930s.
        *
        What have you against theory?
        The greatest revolutionary leaders were all good theoreticians in their own right.
        Even Chavez had his Bolivarian model which inspired much of South America.
        *
        Glad to hear your praise of decolonization models.
        Have you bothered to read any Sri Lankan left journal?
        I know a few which addressed that and other matters? But we are in the middle of an almost racist narrow nationalist paradigm. That has to be overcome first.
        *
        Is armchair criticism any better than Ivory tower theorizing?

  • 0
    0

    “Western theoretical constructs and frames such as Marxism per se which seems to have not progressed “
    Those who dreamed of establishing Kandy as the capital of thier Kingdom, and Dalada Rest house as the palace and rule it over with the Sinhala Buddhist colonialism is seeing their dream fading away within last 10 years, preaching about 500 years old European colonialism. These people are not just jobless, but well trained on how to force the Sinhala Modayas to swing to all direction. It has become the Colombo-Australian latest runway dressing fashion the hypocrites teach political moralism. Those who see European growth as mere sex addiction and has not seen where Lankawe is sanding international ratings in using the rape, but misinterpreting Buddha’s teaching as pure religious barbarianism. Truth is Buddha’s secular religion is no different from European modern thinking of equal rights. Those who recent of criticism on their shortfall and rebels against free media, how can they write political criticisms on others’ thinking? Lower end Hypocrisy.

  • 1
    0

    “Sumak kawsay is a neologism in Quechua created in the 1990s by socialist-indigenous organizations. Originally created as a political and cultural proposal, Ecuadorian and Bolivian governments later adopted it. The term refers to the implementation of a socialism that moves away from Western socialist theory and instead embraces the ancestral, communitarian knowledge and lifestyle of Quechua people. In Ecuador, it has been translated as buen vivir or “good living”, although experts in the Quechua language agree that a more precise translation would be “the plentiful life”.[1][2] In Bolivia, the original word in Aimaran is suma qamaña which has been translated as vivir bien or living well.[3][4]
    In the original Quechua phrase, sumak refers to the ideal and beautiful fulfillment of the planet, and kawsay means “life,” a life with dignity, plenitude, balance, and harmony. Similar ideas exist in other indigenous communities, such as the Mapuche (Chile), the Guaraní (Bolivia and Paraguay),[5] the Achuar (Ecuadorian Amazon), the Mayan tradition (Guatemala), the Guna (Panamá), etc.[6]
    Since the 1990s, sumak kawsay has grown into a political project that aims to achieve collective wellbeing, social responsibility in how people relate to nature, and a halt to endless capital accumulation. This final aspect makes the project an alternative to traditional development.[7] Buen vivir proposes the collective realization of a harmonious and balanced life based on ethical values, in place of a development model that views human beings as an economic resource.[3] Indigenous movements in Ecuador and Bolivia, along with intellectuals, initially used the concept to define an alternative paradigm to capitalist development with cosmological, holistic, and political dimensions. The 2008 Constitution of Ecuador incorporated the concept of the rights of nature, as did the 2009 Constitution of Bolivia. Diverse theorists, such as economists Alberto Acosta and Magdalena León, say that sumak kawsay is not about a finished and completely structured theory, but rather an unfinished social proposal that can be improved.”
    EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG
    Sumak kawsay – Wikipedia

  • 0
    1

    Where have we gone so far with Marxist analysis(in various forms) in the case of Sri Lanka? Has it not been purely theoretical – except in the JVP at some time and CP,LSSP etc before? When are the threticians come down from their ivory towers and visit the villages to learn from those millions who are struggling and their life stories? Then build theory in a grounded way? The middle classism in theoretical analysis(borrowed) has not moved our people an inch. But still they keep reproducing the same with a righteous attitude. what I tried to do in this article is to draw attention to a different set of scholars and practitioners from Latin America etc who have presented valuable ideas for the global south. Sri Lankan scholars and progressive political activists need to pay attention to these new trends in intellectual disourse based on the idea of decolonisation. (see our institutions are still colonial). finally, why can’t we Sri Lankan categories of analysis extracted from the eveyday usage? People use categories,other tools to describe and analyse whats going on in society, government, parties, parliament, in development projects, etc. Why do we need to rely on imported mostly westrn/european categories? I am no saying they souodnt be used at all. but we need not depend on them entirely. In popular usage ghere are various phrases used to characterise experiences of events, happenings. and so on. They point to important categories of analysis we can use.

  • 1
    0

    Sumak kawsay is a neologism in Quechua created in the 1990s by socialist-indigenous organizations.
    In Lankawe this phenomenon is called “Sinhala Buddhism” and it started well ahead of the modern South American Communism, that was in 1948. Are we giving up on becoming Asian Singapore and wanting to become South American Singapore? Do the South American wipe their back or wash their back? That was the problem: we could not beat the West so we were planning to beat Japan, Korea, Singapore.
    ” When are the threticians come down from their ivory towers and visit the villages to learn from those millions who are struggling and their life stories? May I know where this ivory tower is? Is that the one Rambo fell from, with his Dhammica Paanee, in Australia?
    “But still they keep reproducing the same with a righteous attitude. what I tried to do in this article is to draw attention to a different set of scholars and practitioners from Latin America etc who have presented valuable ideas for the global south. Is Australia also in that global south? Because our new colonial masters’ Global south’s theories seem to taste like Dhammika Paanee.

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    “Why do we need to rely on imported mostly westrn/european categories Yes I think the known devil is better than the unknown angel. Australian Labels would be sweeter than European Labels, anyhow.
    Where have we gone so far with Marxist analysis(in various forms) in the case of Sri Lanka? Has it not been purely theoretical – except in the JVP at some time and CP,LSSP etc before? Did Lankawe communism go somewhere, anytime? If so, I didn’t know that the Kandy Ayatollahs are out of job, now. My elders are saying it never lost the soft heart to JVP, which is the culturally (murder) most advanced political party of Lankawe sans EPDP.
    If a Sinhala Intellectual talks, it is always absolutely pointless, meaningless, worthless talk.
    Oh my God; Oh my God; Oh my God! Kolai Kolai Kolai; the theoreticians murders are worse torture than the Sinhala Buddhists’ 1983s.

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