By Basil Fernando –
Peaceful existence of a society and socio economic development of a country depends on the level of rationality of the organizational structure of that society. Being rational is not a new concept to mankind. Throughout human history there has been a great deal of dialogue on what is meant by being rational, how to identify whether a society is rational and also how to improve it.
Based on those dialogues, it would not be difficult to identify the basic elements of rationality. There is a great deal of documented literature on philosophical vision that helps one to acquire a deeper understanding of these basic elements. Here we are trying to identify those elements roughly.
The profound view that ‘truth’ can be reached to a great extent is foremost among the basic elements of rationality. The ‘truth’ implies the existing reality. It recognises the fact that the various aspects of the universe can be recognised separately as well as in general to gain a very close understanding of them. Underlying this concept is the conviction that there exists an external world, and the man has the ability to comprehend and grasp it, and also there are various methods and techniques that can be used to determine whether what is recognised is correct. A number of principles have been identified in the process of rational development of mankind testifying that the external world is not something that grows by chance, and there are interconnected and interdependent processes within it, and if those processes were not recognized, it could lead to various catastrophes.
The attempts to identify these realities have been gradually directed towards finding solutions for practical problems. This has given rise to the development of all the sciences. The study of various subjects based on their principles, and identification of the characteristics unique to each of them have been rendered possible by the progress of science. With the advancement of physics, a great deal of knowledge on all subjects has been made possible to be acquired today. Similarly, through the study of other subjects, a great deal of knowledge has already been acquired in the realms of diagnosis and treatment of various diseases while making consistent efforts to develop these subjects further. In this way, a great store of knowledge on each subject has been achieved by using scientific methods and techniques.
These exercises need not to be restricted to the phenomena of external world only; a similar level of advancement in rational choices can be achieved in the social sphere as well. In fact, there have been large-scale developments in various spheres of society. For example, agriculture depends on the knowledge gained on all the subjects related to agriculture such as soil science and seed germination etc. Today, the development of agriculture in the world has reached such an advanced level that the vast body of the traditional knowledge in agriculture that the people had accumulated over time through practical experience could still be utilised by giving it a formal and scientific facelift and also making positive changes and adjust it to suit the needs of the external world. It has been now realised that the benefits of such developments are not restricted only to the advancement of production capabilities, but also they could be extended to identify the potential problems that may arise in those sectors in the future. Therefore, those who seek to gain knowledge in a particular subject will not stop at simply identifying only the outline of it; instead, they pursue further to ascertain the practical aspects or the functionality of it, and also to intervene in them to some extent; at the same time they endeavour to make it a part of their life by identifying the problems that may arise in the future and finding remedies for them in keeping with the methods outlined above.
This is an extremely important principle pertaining to all matters of the economic sphere, that is, that there are some identifiable practices behind all these activities and if they are ignored without identifying them, it could lead to various troubles and disasters. In the same way, there is a consensus among the experts of economics, specialised in various branches of it that wholesome benefits could be accrued if those practices are duly identified and employed for better use. The issues such as how could a system of production be set up in a country, what are the principles to be taken into consideration in changing the system of production, how could the relationship between a country and the outside world be managed in such a situation, fall into this category.
The political arena is also similar to this, which implies that there are certain principles to be followed in governing a country. Identifying those principles are more difficult than identifying a physical substance. Identifying these principles is more difficult than identifying a particular physical substance. But the common principle applicable to every branch of science, i.e. the fact that there exists principles, and attempting to work by ignoring them will lead to great trouble and disaster, equally applies to these subjects.
But the principle that applies to every branch of science that such principles exist, and that abandoning those principles and going to work can cause great trouble and disaster, also applies to these subjects as well. This implies that the governance must be prudent and rational. Otherwise, the consequences of not being rational will have to be faced. The opposite word of rationality is nonsense. The consequences could be devastating when it comes to dealing with a variety of nonsense. This principle is extremely important in the context of Constitutional Law.
When a Constitution is referred to as the supreme law of the land, or the most exquisite law or the greater law, it implies that the Constitution provides the basis for the establishment of the key structures that have a significant impact on the country. The identification of that structure also has to be made, as mentioned above, through the same principles applicable to rationality. If a Constitutional system is developed outside or against this principle, it will invariably lead to various unsolvable problems and entanglements which will gradually plunge the whole society into a state of confusion. Enacting a Constitution which is not rational or logical could lead to have distorting impact on the economy which is a key component of the social system, and the other sectors such as production, import, export, financial system, banking system, etc. which constitute larger components of the economy, as well as the accounting system that oversees the disciplined functioning of the above.
The 1978 Constitution is a document devoid of such wisdom. So said because it has not been formulated taking into account the basic principles applicable for structuring the organisational pattern of the country. In fact, it has been formulated contrary to those principles. So much so, there is a massive confusion of principles here. The constitution of Sri Lanka has been structured in a manner leading to confuse the issues such as how should the overall power centre of the country be established and maintained, how should the decentralisation of power between the overall power centre and various parts of the country be carried out, what is the guiding principle on which the country’s financial and economic systems must be based and how to ensure that it is regulated on that principle only and thousands of other problems. It’s not only an incomprehensible document; but also a completely absurd document.
The people of Sri Lanka have experienced the consequences of this illogical constitution for nearly 50 years. The country has become debt ridden as rational principles conducive to preventing such a situation have not been followed. If the problems that have arisen in all other spheres of the country are analysed, it will certainly reveal that all the current crises have arisen as a result of the great confusion caused by the absurdity, worthlessness and the internal contradictions of the Constitution itself. This does not mean that there are no specific reasons for each issue except that there is no capacity in the overall constitutional framework to address these peculiarities. Those who are cognizant of the dynamics of society know that it is difficult to prevent the occurrence of natural problems in a society inhabited by different communities and people having different opinions. Therefore, the Constitution should be formulated on the basis of this knowledge in order to minimise such differences and gradually eliminate them so that a profound policy of reconciliation is developed for the country.
In view of the above, the entire society today should participate in preventing this catastrophe which has been caused by the Constitution mainly because the ensuing catastrophe is certain to have a profound impact on the lives of all, and the country is facing large scale problems that have never existed before.