21 June, 2024


Religionisation Of Politics: Amour Of The Authoritarian Personality 

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

We live in dark times, times of lost hope, times of wrecked promises. The common candidate has turned in to a protean political swindler. The autocrat knocks on the door. 

As the blunt and bright political satirist Art Buchwald put it these are not the best of times or the worst of times. These are the only times we’ve got.

New Year festivals are measures of time. From our tribal days, we have relied on festivals and rituals usually linked to harvesting times as a device that offers a renewal of life. On this new year, our nation is focused not so much in a renewal in life but to make sense out of chaos that surrounds us in life.

After a life and death struggle to free ourselves from a tyrannical autocracy which succeeded somewhat partially, we seem to be again blinking at the abyss, tottering at the top of the precipice of parochial prejudice.

A group of Marxist philosophers now known as the ‘Frankfurt School’ fled Hitler’s Germany and took refuge in Berkeley California. In that Academic refuge, the leader of the group Theodore Adorno edited a volume titled ‘The Authoritarian Personality’. It was a part of a larger project that covered what bothers us today. It was called “Studies in Prejudice”.

The thinkers led by Adorno dissected the ‘Authoritarian Personality.’ They used what was called the F scale- the Fascist scale. It identifies nine principal traits in the authoritarian personality.   

Power and Toughness is carefully projected. Conventionalism is observed with meticulous attention. Submission to authority was amply rewarded. Anti-intellectualism was religiously observed. Superstition was ingrained. Destructive nature was habitual. Cynicism towards general norms was natural. The authoritative personality had an exaggerated concern over sex.

Now, if the reader can identify the Authoritarian personality in our midst today using this F scale designed by the cream of 20th century thinkers my toil would be amply rewarded.

Ours, is a primitive society.  Our cultural traditionalism resists economic incentives and opportunities. We want school uniforms. We do not want vouchers. We need the fertilizer in a bag. We do not want to decide what fertilizer to use. We have stopped thinking for ourselves. The authoritative personality, the powerful patriarch, beloved of the Sangha does all the thinking we need.

The Sangha endorse what the leader wants because they are in comfortable collusion to keep things as they are.

Now comes our greatest misfortune. By a combination of fortuitous circumstances, we succeed in changing the helmsman. Hope was short lived. The changed order is not coercively authoritative. It is pigheadedly in pursuit of a mirage of its own making.  In the age of artificial intelligence, exponential technological progress, our replacement of  the autocrat is caught in a time warp.

He believes that Sakka the king f Gods painted the profile of the Rabbit on the surface of the moon! The same Sakka entrusted with the task of protecting this sacred island. 

This polluted piety and debased devotion is the bane of pluralist and democratic Sri Lanka. In a recent article Tisaranee Gunasekera with characteristic fidelity to fact and luminously lucid logic encapsulates our standoff with contemporary common sense.   

“The TNA is a democratic Lankan party. Comparing it to a man-eating demon illustrates how a warped version of Buddhism is being used to portray the minorities as the inimical and devilish ‘Other’ intent on destroying Sinhala-Buddhists. This deadly practice began with the Bhikku Mahanama, the author of Mahawamsa. Mahanama enshrined the three myths which have become the bane of pluralist and democratic Sri Lanka – sacred land, chosen people and holy war.”

With Sangha in authority, over matters political, our entrapment is deadly. The vertical transmission of cultural and social values is a weapon that was developed with exquisite élan in the decade of the Mahinda Rajapaksa monolith.   

Rajapakse brothers are sponsors and patrons of nearly all Buddhist ventures in to electronic and digital media. This Vertical transmission is as effective as genetic inheritance.

Karl Marx told us that economic development would bring about pervasive cultural changes. A century and half later, Samuel Huntington in his ‘Clash of Civilisations’ insists with more than adequate proof that cultural values are an enduring and autonomous influence on society.

Bhikku Madagoda Abayatissa thera is the spiritual pilot and rhetorical navigator of the ‘Pohottu Party’ and the Rajapaksa Klan. Speaking at the launch of a book – ‘Punchi Chandayen Janapathiwaranayata Kalayuththe Kumakda’ – Lessons of the mini election for Presidential stakes’ he presented the flight plan for the Pohottuwa party. “We must build a nationalist movement as was done in 1956.”

We have come a long way since 1956. What happened in that watershed year was a historical change of course. What the monk remembers is the negative side of that change. There was also a positive side of that change that Pieter Keuneman the Communist later recalled. “I doubt whether we will ever witness so moving a spectacle as the people streaming in to Parliament, as they did after the election of 1956 and reverently and affectionately stroking the benches where the members they elected would sit.

Despite the disorder that followed the negative aspects of the 1956 that Rasputin of the Rajapaksa tribe recalls today, the country has progressed. Received wisdom assumes that economic development impacts traditional norms and values. We mistakenly hope that absolute assumptions, beliefs and practices of the tribal order will make way for a plural order that is rational, tolerant, trusting and participatory.

Cultural change is path dependent. Who sets out the path? In our Sri Lanka the Buddhist clergy still exercise that prerogative.

Mahinda Rajapaksa during his Presidency gave Venerable Medagoda Abayatissa thero a firsthand experience of the perks that await mercenary monks. He is anxious to have them restored. It included a state security detail, a Pajero SUV among others.   

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Latest comments

  • 1

    The Apay Aanduwa of 1956 signalled the start of the continuing sodomisation of this once bright and cheerful land. (But not before Sir John gave MP Themis a thundering slap for his insolence.)

    The day our Bauddha-Sinhala politicians learnt to cultivate the Bauddha-Sinhala vote was the beginning of our misery. Division, discord, suspicion and racist hate all followed in quick time.

    That is now the benchmark. Our Sangha now anoint the balls of those leaders they approve – never anybody other than a patriotic Buddhist sycophant who parrots their undying resolve to ‘protect Buddhism’ (as if Buddhism needs the protection of a devious politician).

    Till we can free ourselves of these curses, the misery will go on.

    • 0

      Thanks, Spring Koha,
      It is the existence of the likes of “Justice & Fairplay” and you that make life bearable for those who live on this island.

  • 1

    This forum, nothing but a collection of everything anti buddhist..where marxists, UNP liberals, jeppas, evangelist, pro ltte, islamic fundamentalists come together to express their hate towards the country’s buddhists and political powers that represent them. sum of all muslim and tamil politicos speaking only for their crowd is no Sin… their racially biased actions are overseen. This yahapalana collection of anti buddhist come together to create a monster in the mojority and their clergy.. this power struggle has no ending … you cannot win over the majority to respect you demands by creating a monster in them.

    • 1


      “This forum, nothing but a collection of everything anti buddhist”

      Why do you think so?
      What makes one an “anti buddhist” or a “pro Buddhists”?

      “you cannot win over the majority to respect you demands by creating a monster in them.”

      Could you clarify.

      • 0

        See all of you, the people who hate buddhists and the political parties that represent them do not See the amount of racism represented by tamil and muslim political parties.. could you call any of the tamil or muslim politicians .. national politicians?? they are communal politicians ?? The UNP itself is dominated by the evangelist.

        Now, all buddhist haters flock in here at CT to criticize the buddhists , their beliefs, their clergy and their politics. ?? My question is … does it change the ground situation in the country ?? No.. It does not lead to a harmony between your view and the view of the majority buddhist. You are simply having a chance to spit out your hate towards buddhist.

      • 0

        I see a positive side in this anti Sinhala Buddhist propaganda. Tamils (Tamil speaking people) living in Sinhala majority areas could eventually consider to relocate themselves into North East.

        • 2


          Let the Tamil/Sinhala speaking people decide where they want to live. As far as I am concerned I have already agree to fight for a ten square mile “promised land” for all Sinhala/Buddhist fascist noisy minority where you should be able to build your Sinhala/Buddhist Ghetto.

          I think rest of people will have no objection to let you fascists dwell in a confined area than let you mess the entire island.

    • 1

      It is a side effect of MR regime’s anti-free speech attitutde. Colombo-Telegraph attracted a lot of people who could not or were fearful of expressing their opinions in local forums. So naturually there is an anti-Sinhala Buddhists attitutde. By the way, most of us are critical of modern day Sinhala-Buddhism and not the classical, philosophical Theravada Buddhism. Most of us are critical of the “anagarika dharmapala” aryan Sinhalese. Ancient Sinhalese were not aryan. They were “Yakka” and “Gothra” mixture starting from Pandukabhaya (Not the idiot Vijaya). Pandukabhaya had more in common with modern day Veddha people than the so called aryans. And this applies to all of the great Sinhala kings. The great builders were mainly indigenous NOT aryan.

    • 0

      I wish that all Sinhala Buddhists read this forum in order to understand the line up against them and prepare themselves for the appropriate response.
      We shall prevail.
      I am a Sinhala Buddhist and a Rajapaksa supporter.

  • 5

    No one is more disappointed over the decline of the true Buddhist values than those who are now being categorized in these columns as “agents” of foreign powers all out to destroy Buddhism.

    The Buddhism we know and venerate, calls for monks to renounce all worldly desires and pleasures, and concentrate on further improving their own-selves through meditation while propogating the Dhamma – all in peace.

    They have no role to play in any violent political activity (including protests) be in parliament or wherever. With the taking to robes they renounce all such involvement. They also have no political affiliations, do not subscribe to racial discrimination or considerations. I refer to Buddhist monks only.

    The concept that Buddhism is the sole preserve of the Sinhalese is pure rubbish. The core value of the Dhamma is non-violence and “meththa” towards all.

    Incitement, hatred, violent speech are taboo and out of resonance of the true buddhist monk.
    There are many of us who value and venerate the dhamma as preached by the Buddha. We do not believe in “interpretations” of the original teaching to “suit the times” for the convenience of some.

    Tying up Buddhism with a political ideology is a sin. It can only come from a mschievous mind supported by irrational people.

    The lament of those who have shown concern has been the manner in which those in yellow robes have incited violence, led protest marches and have become pawns at the hands of scheming politicians.
    Those who are in favour of that lament love and respect their Buddhism, and those who are not in favour are urged to rethink on the great Buddhist philosophy once again.

    • 0

      Additionally any religion nor any language belongs to anyone who do not subscribe to uphold the law of the land in which they are allowed to cohabit. When one does not even qualify to be a citizen then how could one say they are a Sri Lankan belongs to certain religion and speak a particular communication methodology ie a language??

      We the Sri Lankans who are Sinhala and Tamils speaking people of Mother Lanka happen to practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and the non believers too who uphold the law of the land do not recognise/acknowledge/accept the “misfits” of our nation who is running riot amongst us since 1948. These “misfits” the racists, religious terrorists (not limited to any particular religion) will not be allowed to squander our lives/dignity/bring bad name to Mother Lanka and “her religious faiths”……..As far us the “real Sri Lankans” are CONCERNED the “war” is not over until we “put away” these misfits for good. This can only be achieved by the Security Forces who are our children too in the Police/Army/Navy/Air Force/Secret services standing by and protecting “us the Sri Lankans” at all times upholding the law of the land against any fear/intimidation/harassment/harm.

      No country has ever progressed when any human society (race, religion, culture) entertained such “misfits” as we have in Sri Lanka today. We have done this for 70 years….sometime falling feels like flying……even after we have lost several hundred thousand of our Mother Lanka children……we still do not know how fast we are falling??

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