20 June, 2024


Redemption Of Joseph Stalin

By Sarath de Alwis –

Sarath de Alwis

“The most interesting kind of portraiture is that which arises spontaneously in people’s minds.” ~ Walter Lippmann

This pandemic is testing the moral fiber of our politicians. It is testing the mettle of our institutions dealing with public health and public order. The spontaneous portrait of Joseph Stalin – the Teachers Union Leader in people’s minds is that of a hero who stood up to the tyranny of power. After eight days in the health gulag in Mullaitivu, Joseph Stalin is finally free. Thanks to social media we know more about the man named after the Soviet Leader who led Russia after Lenin.

Our Joseph Stalin unlike the mustached Georgian who terrorized the Kremlin is a mild-mannered trade unionist. An idealistic recluse who preferred to serve in remote schools throughout his career, he leads a frugal life. He is devoted to his trade union work.

His father Anton Fernando was an activist in the China wing of the Ceylon Communist Party then led by Comrade Shanmuganathan. He had named his only son after the Soviet Leader. His close kin call him ‘Suresh”.

The General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Union and other protestors confined to quarantine camps have been released six days short of the mandatory 14 days of isolation.

The early release is ample proof that the forced confinement of Joseph Stalin and others was a political manoeuvre. It had nothing to do with the science of public health.

The episode has exposed an abusive officialdom. They have used public health regulations to curtail the freedom of citizens who dared to protest on streets against some proposed legislation.

Professor of Public Health Law, Lawrence Gostin of the George Town University has foreseen this eventuality. In a paper published in the early days of this pandemic, he said: 

“Public health gains credibility from its adherence to science, and if it strays too far into political advocacy, it may lose the appearance of objectivity. If public health conceives of itself too expansively, it will be accused of overreaching and invading a sphere reserved for politics, not science.”

The early release is evidence that collective resistance is the only way forward in dismantling this pseudo democracy. It underlines the need for a coordinated opposition focused on restoring at least the semblance of a functional democracy.     

A day earlier, the Minister of Health declared that quarantine regulations would apply not only to Joseph Stalin but even to Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx. A nauseating remark that betrayed her prejudice against the person referred to as Joseph Stalin.

Around the same time, the Minister of Public Security with a contrived display of great gravity, explained that the police were only enforcing a directive made by the competent authority on public health.   

The Media and Information Minister too got into the act. He described the teachers who protested as ‘Kalakanniyas’ a Sinhala epithet that identified the forsaken and the miserable.

The invocation of Marx and Lenin by the Minister of Health, the Public Security Minster seeking refuge in Public Health law and Media Ministers cruel choice of an adjective that makes nonbeings out of living people exposes the rotten core of this regime.    

Dictatorships and autocracies are not the result of a single persons narcissistic game plan. The voluntary servitude of an oligarchic political class is what sustains either a dictatorship or an autocracy.

The three Ministers referred to in this missive were competing to demonstrate their devotion, allegiance, and fealty to the masters they serve. To them Joseph Stalin was not a person but an  inconvenient irritant.       

The retired rear Admiral wished to demonstrate that he was in command. That he ran a tight ship. He is an incorrigible narcissist.

Detention in a quarantine camp after the magistrate granted bail was an unmistakable deterrent that would discourage public protests.

A dim-witted Minster of Health found the moniker ‘Joseph Stalin’ irresistible to make a mocking reference to Karl Marx and Lenin. She did us a favor. She demonstrated her half of whatever ‘wit’ she possessed.

The Media and Information Minister’s reference to the protesting teachers as ‘Kalakanniyas’ – ‘miserable dirtbags’ is much more frightening.

It conveys the elite entitlement mind of the man. To him there is no opposite view. Only scum would dare to hold a different point of view from that of his own. That is classic Goebbels who is remembered for his simple logic about making a square look like a circle.   

“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

Either our media minister has studied Joseph Goebbels or is blessed with the knack and instincts of the Nazi propaganda chief.

“You can’t change the masses. They will always be the same: dumb, gluttonous and forgetful.”

What Goebbels said in so many words, our man condensed in to one word- ‘Kalakanni’

Autocratic rule is not a one man show. It takes shape with the active help of a clique ready and willing to offer voluntary servitude to the wielder of power, the source of ultimate authority.

Voluntary servitude of self-seeking political humbugs has made our republic a despotic democracy. It began with the end of the civil war in 2009.

A nearsighted opposition fielded the general who led the war against the president who directed the war. The reelected president was anointed the supreme guardian of the national interest and patriarchal father of the nation – The “Appachchi” of all.

Those interested in learning how the post-civil war patriotic state took shape should read Professor Nira Wickremesinghe’s brilliant analysisProducing the Present: History as Heritage in Postwar Patriotic Sri Lanka” 

The New York Times is wrong. Sri Lanka does not look like a family firm. A family fiefdom is more apt. If indeed it does, it has more to do with voluntary servitude and public complicity. 

Democracy offers freedom of thought and speech.

Voluntary servitude of the three minsters as demonstrated during the incarceration of Joseph Stalin offers adequate and eloquent evidence to the limits of our freedom to think and speak. 

The 20th Amendment did not produce a dictatorship. It has reintroduced the illiberal democracy of JRJ with some ingredients added to make it bit more peppery.

This is a new kind of democracy tilted perhaps towards an illiberal authoritarianism.

This government has a substantial foundational support. There is a new oligarchy that is bent on centralizing power, concentrating wealth, and manipulating public opinion.

Plurality of opinion is inconvenient. Debate is a mere formality. Shutting off debate is both pragmatic and efficient.

Politics is about retaining one’s own power. The art of politics is to make people believe that what the government proposes doing is really their choice.

The idea of a ‘strong man’ and ‘strong leadership’ needs voluntary servitude at the base of the pyramid.

The modern world is too complex a place for a lonely leader at the top.

Voluntary servitude of the ruling elite of the Chinese Communist Party underpins the  authority of Xi Jinping. Putin has his own servile power apparatus.

The strong man has a simple mission – to rescue the nation. To ask why it is necessary to rescue it or from what it needs to be rescued from is both heretical and unpatriotic.

The few perfunctory checks-and-balances of the 19th Amendment served only to “stop getting things done”.

Those who offer voluntary servitude to the strong leadership know how to get things done.

Getting things done as the three Ministers cited in this essay have demonstrated is not that difficult. Silencing and intimidating dissent, persecution of protester is the endgame.

Jon Keane Professor of Political Science at the University of Sydney has produced a new tome on the phenomenon of democratic despots produced by voluntary servitude. 

“Clever despots strive to be both agile and attractive to those they seek to master. Their task is to magnetise flesh-and-blood people, to encourage them to pay attention to their leaders and to be charmed by their tunes. Real people must be persuaded of their rulers’ rightness, convinced that their leaders’ authority and the system are good for them and their country, and that they have no serious alternative.”

China offers us a classic example. Harvard Educated Chinese Billionaire and high-ranking international relations analyst Victor Gao is an unabashed admirer of his boss Xi Jinping.

He justifies China’s detention of around 1 million Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang. “You may call it repression, or you may call it educational or training schools’ teaching methods.”

Let us turn to the current wave of protests over the matter of fertilizer. There is nothing objectionable to the use of organic fertilizer. 

It is the right way to go. Using only organic fertilizer is a fantastic idea. It is like our simple Buddhist hope of attaining ‘Nirvana’.

Yes, there is indeed a ‘Nirvana’. You read about it. You are conditioned to aspire for it.

That said, reaching that nirvana in the short span of one year involves putting reason to sleep. 

But then, voluntary servitude tells you that it can be done.

With voluntary servitude you put reason to sleep. When you make a strong leader the custodian and protector of the national interest, you are well on your way to voluntary servitude.    

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Latest comments

  • 13

    Thank you Mr Alwis for your valuable article.
    “Voluntary servitude of self-seeking political humbugs has made our republic a despotic democracy. It began with the end of the civil war in 2009.”.

    Fake public perception indeed misled the gullible mind set for their comeback. Over 70% of voters are the rural people in our country. Many of them would respect facts and figures, but become easy prey of the predatory politicians. Mahinda Rajaakshe as the single person should be made accoutable for the current mess. If the nation is blessed with proper law and order, Mahinda Rajaakshes would not have been reelected.
    Media mafia (visual media than the printed ) and Rajapakshe power greedy politics with the direct support of uneducated sanga community should take the responsiblity of today’s mess. Gotabaya/Nandasini is reported as one of the stupidiest leaders of the world today.

    If MaRa could realize the good goverannce qualities of US/European counterparts and how they did it in their retirement, this country/nation would have achieved a lot in the aftermath of the war, for the betterment of the country/nation. –
    Not any retired president in the US ever dreamt of getting reelected until clown Trump. Trump#s emerge was a victory for the supremacists. But his short-lived politics achieved much only did lot more irreparaeble damage to the entire world

  • 11

    I see the other side of the coin in this “Episode” and that is the “Dictatorial Militaristic” style that came into being with the establishment of the “Presidential Rule” by Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapakse. In that context, I extend a “Big Thank You” to Minister Sarath Weerasekera, Minister Pavithra Vanniarachchi, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, The Director of Health, The IGP, and his “Police Dogs” for “EXPOSING” the “Hidden Agenda” of the “Presidential Rule” of “Rajapakses” of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Now the PEOPLE are aware of what is “WAITING” for them. Now “TWO CHOICES” are available – (1) Live with the “SUPPRESSION/OPPRESSION” or (2) “RISE” against the “BUDDING DICTATOR” and his oppressive administration.

    • 6

      Great writing as usual. It is good that Stalin was released.The State has egg on its face. But then, pompous buffoons like Weerasekera, Keheliya, or Pavithra are not known for having any shame.
      Still, it remains to be seen whether the government will change course on the KDU issue. That would be ironic, considering what happened to SAITM.
      I believe the protests against private education are misguided. The state simply cannot provide free quality education to all who qualify, just as it can’t provide free healthcare. What we have is an eyewash. Parents may not pay school fees, but they pay huge amounts to tuition masters. So why not get them to pay for schools, and thereby improve quality?
      At least we can be sure that people called “Dr” Weerasekera and “Prof.” Jayasumana actually deserve those titles.

  • 9

    Thank for the excellent article.
    May I add:
    ….”They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise”……
    A good example is the use of the words : Janathawage eithiyata pawaranawa” at opening ceremonies and which is used regularly now.
    A road or a building is built with our taxpayer money, and the Minister comes for the opening ceremony and says : “ I now bestow (or grant) this to public ownership”. As if it was not ours till his benevolence, caused all this to come into being – and so as to get the public to forget that he has creamed off quite a slice of the funds.

    • 5

      Dear My View,
      the majority would not know that it is their TAX funds.
      At the time 5K grant was provided to the people, we got to see, that some ” api pindhenawa janapathi mee weda walata- we are so grateful president to have offered us 5000…. ” . That PIG born to Ranathunga family ((kandha mahatha ballah) made every efforts to pain the picture in favour of the govt. As if those funds dont belong to the people.
      It is not even 25 US dollars, however it is much less than any other likeminded countries distributed to who are really in need in the region.
      I think failure lies in the main stream media. They do very little improving the awareness of the poeple. This may be against their principles made on the symbiosis between crook politicians and them.

  • 6

    “You can’t change the masses. They will always be the same: dumb, gluttonous and forgetful.”

    This statement is hundred per cent true in our country. This is applicable to not only Sinhalese but also to Tamils and Muslims. However, Tamils and Muslims are not able to select or elect the government, Sinhalese contribute significantly to the impact of this to entire island because they are 75% of this island. Therefore, it is easy to cheat them using the fake patriotism. Since the so called independence it is the same richest westernised group govern this country.

  • 4

    “The spontaneous portrait of Joseph Stalin – the Teachers Union Leader in people’s minds is that of a hero who stood up to the tyranny of power.”
    Only anti-Government dumbos think this junkie is a hero. He and the dong keys who supported this guy ruined the respect children and people had for teachers.
    A similar blunder was made by Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero. By encouraging nurses to strike while the country is experiencing a pandemic, people lost the respect they had for nurses.

    Strike action is a curse introduced to this country by Marxist dong keys. The Government should ban employees of Government and semi-Government Institutions resorting to strike action. After all, the tax payers are paying their salaries to work and not to strike. They also get ‘Pin Padi’ or EPF after they retire. JRJ did the right thing by sacking the employees of the Department of Railway who resorted to strike action.

    • 3

      Striking and expressing your opinion is definitely a part of Democracy. Eliminating striking is definitely a democratic way of action. Strikes really have made a difference for the better in so many places. Whether you pay them through taxes or not, you don’t own them like a slave.

      • 4

        Peaceful protests are a democratic right. I don’t think strikes are a democratic right. Strikes promoted by Marxist politicians ruined the economy of the country from the time Sinhale gained Independance. No one is forcing the people to work. Those who are not happy with the conditions should leave the job and do something else without resorting to strike action.
        Employees in the Government and semi-Government Institutions do not work as slaves. They are the most privileged group in the country eating up 86% of the Government tax revenue for salaries and pension. But the productivity of these guys is low.

        • 2

          I didn’t see you complaining about Nurse Hamuduruwo when he was asking people to vote for Nandasena. What’s different?

  • 8

    Thank you for the enlightenment in your elaborate well written article. In the USA I am so glad that we got rid of a despot within 4 years, but he is only threatening to come back. I hope the plight of Sri Lanka will change and true leaders who care about the people and not controlled by religious freaks run the country. It might have to become darker before the dawn.

  • 0

    A real narration of the Lankawe’s political psychology.

    The few perfunctory checks-and-balances of the 19th Amendment served only to “stop getting things done”. That was it. I may not use the word perfunctory, because after Ranil sold the Hangbangtota port, after started a raw with IMF and West and made sure that no FDI will flow through, and after recently he contributed the developing theory of it was not Puran Appu but it was Mao who fought for the freedom of Lankawe.

    There was a botany professor arguing here in CT that why is it good after banning fertilizers, then googling to see what to use in place of fertilizers. There is a reason, in Pavitra – Rambo ruling Lankawe, why he went to the final level in academic achievement. If these guys are wearing garments it is a shame for those clothes.

  • 0

    Marx is not looked down upon in the academic world, as sheepishly Pavitra trying to picture him. His intelligence is unchallenged. His care for the working class is not contested. But his theories, which are no longer suitable for this world, are used by crooks like Pavitra and her masters to fool the Modayas to hide their Human Right violations and bash the West. That is where Marx’s theories hurt, they are going in support of these crooks. Pavitra is the person who marketed Kali’s Dhammika Paani for Covid-19. She threw empty vessels in the river. She and her masters rated them as Hitler to come to power in the last election. It is her master who carries the Russian PhD for war crime. Nobody knows where the money collected for Covid-19 went. Media is suspecting the Covid Fund has already ended up as another Hambantota Help Fund.

    Pavitra’s this talk is showing that she does not care about people equal even to a hair on the donkey.

  • 1

    The notion of voluntary servitude is an excellent base for analysis of the present situation. One would expect the pot-dumping, pain-drinking witless Minister of Health and her ilk to be in voluntary servitude because they owe their positions to the Rajapakses. The crucial issues is whether the 6.9 people in such servitude will leave it. The chances are that they may not. At the appropriate time, the Rajapakses will work their strategy of arousing ethnographies-religious tension to ensure that the 6.9 stay united in approbation. My futile hope is that like Sarath and me who are passed three score and ten, the mortality of the Rajapakses will be proved soon to liberate the 6.9 from their servitude. But, the issue is whether they have put in place a system that will perpetuate their rule. The signs are there. The military and the current attempt to take over higher education are attempts to create such a system. Thanks as always for a thought provoking article, Mr. Alwis. Keep writing.

  • 3

    Joseph Stalin, and people think of the horrors of the Russian Revolution. He should change his name to reflect the modern socialist stance. JVP might feel powerful play-acting the Russian Revolution part, but it’s high time names, communist looks, dress, and logos are replaced by conventional appearance. Otherwise, people are terrified.

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