19 April, 2024

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Search For Saviors In Crisis Times  

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

I know there is no straight road. No straight road in this world. Only a giant labyrinth of intersecting crossroads. ~ Federico Garcia Lorca

‘People never believe in volcanoes until the lava overtakes them.’ This pearl of wisdom occurred to me, when I listened to President Ranil Wickremesinghe sermonizing in parliament, that there is no other way other than the path he had decided to plod on.

Later in the day, the path he had decided to take was revealed in all splendors.

Legislation for revising VAT was enacted by a blatantly contemptuous, patently heavy-handed process of parliamentary maneuvering. No serious discussion preceded its adoption.

This revised VAT scheme will not raise the required revenue. It will bring unspeakable misery to ordinary people. It is a devise to take a land of hungry, angry people to a chaotic hell of bewildering price hikes in a hand cart.

Come January we will begin to see how this satanic circus will unfold.

The principal opposition party the SJB is confounding matters. Its principal economic spokesman adopted a lofty posture. He agreed that the President and Finance Minister was in the right direction. His complaint was that the people pushing the Presidents hand cart weren’t reliable and possibly, were heading in another direction!

The SJB must make up its mind. Hungry and angry people have no patience or breathing space for academic sophistry.

This convoluted logic of moral markets that regulate greed will not take the SJB anywhere any soon in the coming year when both presidential and parliamentary elections are expected.

Ordinary people, plainly shattered by their inability to feed and educate their young, burdened by the frighting thought that their elderly will not receive needed medical care will not be appeased by punditry on social market economics.

The NPP no doubt has a clear edge. But their studied silence on how they will deal with the IMF is decidedly deceptive. We are at a point when trust in government is nonexistent.

AKD’ projects himself as fighter campaigner for honest politics. Sajith claims a legacy – son of a former President – A proven performer of the good old UNP.

The NPP is attuned to the rhythm of the people’s heartbeat. They downplay the role of technocrats as decision makers.

The SJB wants to do two things. They wish to make their leader President. They also promise to introduce a social market economy.

Economics is not a science as physics. This difference is immediately relevant to what’s being discussed by the learned, not so learned and the vast majority who happen to live puzzled and foxed by the antics of those who claim mastery of economics.

It is time we understand that economics is only a discipline attempting to make sense out of a messy world. We cannot expect clean answers.

It is time for both AKD and Sajith to come to terms with what’s at stake. In human history there has never been an ideology that always pleased all.

As Thomas Piketty points out in his classic work ‘Capital and Ideology’ ideological conflict and disagreement are inherent in the very notion of ideology.

‘Ideology at any given time is a set of plausible ideas describing how a society should be structured at a particular time in history.’

We are at a crossroad. We must emerge from bankruptcy. In doing so we must address inequality.

As Piketty points out “Inequality is neither economic nor technological. It is ideological and political.

How the market should operate, how fierce or how benign competition should be, who has acquired so much merit to reach a tax haven, are all decided by “we the people.” Not by cronies, special advisors, and Chiefs of Staff.

It is the people who should decide the conceptual definitions of these mumbo jumbo terms.

The coming battle has two clear sides- ‘People’ and the ‘Power Elite’.

Ordinary people or most of them have a rough idea about the money power that controls money, banking and finance.

If you follow social media, you will learn about young people who with tantalizing eloquence disembowel the murky innards of the power elite.

People know what went wrong in the past 75 years. The internet and the world wide web have made young people better informed than ever before.

They communicate with one another directly, bypassing intermediaries who in earlier times could control and limit what people can share.

The UNP- SLPP combine is an aberration. UNP is near extinct. The SLPP as was demonstrated at its last ‘hurrah’ at the Sugathdasa stadium is a rotting cadaver.

We live in dystopian times. The ruling elite are oblivious to evil. In the coming year with elections due we can see some beauty in this dystopia.

Things are so warped, so horrifying, it allows us to dream of a different world. We still have the power to change our world.

In 2024 the tide will turn. People are determined to empower themselves.

People are determined to fight until they can assert themselves to install and ignite a new political order that is more fair, more humane, and more peaceful.

They will strive to select new leaders who will act more responsibly in accordance with the will of the people.

The purpose of this missive is to appeal to both Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa to call a truce to bring about the changes desired by ordinary people in political innovation and restructuring.

A market economy is necessary. Not a market society. As Karl Polanyi insists in his ‘Great Transformation’ the most seminal work in political economy written in the 20th century ‘a self-adjusting market is stark Utopia.”

“Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surrounding into a wilderness.”

The Bond Deals of which we have heard so much, the pump and dump deals that still need exposure are symptoms of a market society.

A Market system is necessary. Capitalism has no alternative in the horizon. There are no easy solutions. The purpose of the state is to keep constant vigil on a fine balance between personal gain and societal wellbeing.

When society is subordinated to an unchecked market system a counter reaction – a societal counter reaction precipitates a crisis.

When social wellbeing is utterly, and totally undermined and social counterforce is driven to a corner a crisis is unavoidable.

Resulting Chaos created in this double movement can lead to ‘more brutal forms being adopted by the kakistocracy in command to solve the economic crisis.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake should be familiar with the writings of Antonio Gramsci – Marxist philosopher who died in one of Mussolini’s jails.

Gramsci says, Common sense is a chaotic aggregate of disparate conceptions, and one can find anything that one likes.”

The SJB and the NPP are vying for power. Both share a predicament. What do they represent?

Are they the voice of discontent?

Are they the voice of the future?

Is it too much to ask for a single voice?

This is an age-old dilemma faced by nations mismanaged and misruled. Philosopher Karl Poper addressed it.

“The question is not how to get good people to rule; The question is how to stop the powerful from doing as much damage as they can to us.“

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Latest comments

  • 10
    12

    I agree whole-heartedly with this, Sarath:
    .
    “The purpose of this missive is to appeal to both Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa to call a truce to bring about the changes desired by ordinary people in political innovation and restructuring.”
    .
    The two groups must tone down their attacks on each other, and focus on reducing the UNP-SLPP combine to as near zero as possible. This can, and must, be done, but without the two groups coalescing. Contest separately – you will be able to mop up almost all the votes in the seven southern Provinces. I don’t know what policy to recommend for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, but AKD is campaigning stronglyin Tamil:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzUTmFJcFyI&t=7572s
    .
    Tamil speakers please evaluate those three hours in Tamil. I don’t understand the language.
    .
    After the election results are known, thought could be given on how to form a government.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

    • 6
      1

      It is unfortunately true that most of the information spread by the NPP is in Sinhala.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzzahAixfFM&t=2804s
      .
      That’s a brilliant performance by AKD interviewed three months ago by the aggressive Chamuditha Samarawickrema.
      .
      Hiru TV Salakuna Live | Anura Kumara Dissanayake | Episode 398 | 2023-08-28 | Hiru News
      .
      This is 100 minutes of Handunetti only six days ago:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob8oUAD9t20
      .
      Hiru TV Salakuna Live | Sunil Handunnetti| Episode 413 | 2023-12-11 | Hiru News
      .
      For those who need something in English:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAuKXxX0wxo
      .
      Half an hour of Vijitha Herath three days ago, but the only comment below the YouTube, so far, is by me.
      .
      I hope that readers will actually listen to all this. It is a lot, I know.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

    • 9
      0

      Panini,
      Thanks for the link, I watched the last part speech by AKD!!! Good. Couldn’t understand the translation, but AKD’s speech in Sinhala, I could understand well!!!??? Let’s hope what is being spelt out becomes real, which would spell, Brighter future for all!!!???

  • 7
    0

    The writer’s motivation is to bring in a “Coalition” between the Sajith-led SJP and NPP -led by a “Team”.

    Will this ever happen? I doubt it very much. In Sinhala, it is said “Yadeka Noratha Ratha, Ekata Pesimak Netha”. – The Wheels of a Cart will never Meet Together. Same with a Railway Track. Look at the composition of the SJB. It is only a “Breakaway” group from the same “Elite” of UNP. What was the “Purpose” of the “Breakaway”? It was none other than “ONE” man (Ranil W) versus another “ONE” man(Sajith P). Any changes in “Group” composition or “Policy” matters? None.

    Then what is NPP? It is a “CHANGED” JVP (deviation from an “Armed” Revolution) to a complete “Democratic System” COALESCED with a NEW GROUP (not of JVP carders) but, educated and dedicated to National Building, that looks forward to building a PEOPLES FORCE – (Janatha Balaya) in managing the Governing Functions of the country and the people. Contd. 11….

  • 7
    3

    I thought it is well known that SJB is in cahoots both with the UNP and the SLPP.
    .
    Ideals are not the center of focus in such endeavors but sharing of power, how much of the pie each would get and who gets the cherry on the top.
    .
    I am not sure how proven Premadasa senior was, but Sajith appears to have neither a vision nor a plan. He seems like a wellfare guy who wants to build temples and pay electricity bills of temples and still rides on the popularity of his father. Given the relationship his father had with the JVP back in the 80s one can only wonder how he could form a successful alliance with the new face of the JVP – the NPP. But it is known that politics make strange bed fellows.
    .
    AKDs desirability for Presidency according to the latest polls is now above 50% – 51% to be precise. Meaning a common candidate from an alliance consisting of any of the rest of the parties can not beat him. If the Presidential elections are held first and if there’s any reliability in the poll results, AKD should come out victorious. Something that could be translated to a victory in a subsequent general election.
    .
    Sometimes you are stronger alone.

  • 7
    5

    But one thing’s for sure, the time has come to a transition of power; like the author has said from the elites to the people.
    .
    Enough is enough!

    Just to add to my comment above, there are no ideological differences or differences in values between the SJB and the UNP. Their split was purely driven by personal politics. Internal struggles for power and marginalisation of Sajith, not providing a room for his dream of becoming Sri Lanka’s president.
    .
    Therefore with SJB it will be more of the same, what we have seen from the UNP in the past. The baton will be passed from the Aloysius family to Maharaja’s or some such thing. Not much will change.

  • 9
    0

    II..The country and the people have been pushed to near collapse in all spheres of political, economic, and social situations. WHO brought about this situation are the very people, now spread into these groups of UNP, SLFP; SLPP; SJB, and all other “Minion” political outfits based on “Religion’ and “Ethenicity”. It is nothing but a “JOKE” for the very people who are “DISGUISED” in varying political parties to come and seek a “Mandate” to run the Governing function.

    It is heartening to note that the PEOPLE to a very large extent have UNDERSTOOD and REALIZED that “Enough is Enough”. The PEOPLE now DEMAND a complete overhaul of the “System” that has got embedded in the CORRUPTED “Triangle” – Political Culture at the apex and the base, Bureaucracy on one side and the Cronies on the other.

    Sajith P-led SJB is nowhere near to meeting the above DEMAND of the people in Policy or Action plans.

    I am glad NPP has REJECTED these coalition proposals from the very beginning of setting up NPP. But NPP has not ruled out joining them on condition that any such persons and organizations must AGREE and COMPLY with the setup POLICY FRAMEWORK and work as ONE TEAM. That is the ONLY way. Please let this AWAKENING to REALITY and CORRECTION be ALIVE and SUCCEED.

  • 10
    0

    Panini,
    Did you intend sahying this as phrased?
    “Contest separately – you will be able to mop up almost all the votes in the seven southern Provinces.”

    • 0
      1

      Dear Jeevan,
      .
      I meant it , yes, but as a one time Elections Commissioner you didn’t, I hope, take that to mean that the NPP would get 100% of the votes. Actually that isn’t anywhere near what I stated.
      .
      What I meant is that apart from the NPP and the SJB, no party would fare well. Unless in a rigged election, those who end up as the opposition always get at least 10% of the vote, but that will not give them many seats in the legislature.
      .
      We may end up with NPP+SJB being about 80% in the South. I wouldn’t want to forecast anything more optimistic that that. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the NPP: I’m working like mad to persuade votes for the NPP. If they get 60% in the “Seven Southern Provinces”, that would amount to a rout of all other Parties.
      .
      In the North and the East, I fear that Tamil and Muslim Nationalist Parties will get more votes than the NPP, although the candidates for the NPP in those areas will be mostly Tamils and Muslims. Upto you guys!
      .
      I hope that this doesn’t sound like me speaking in riddles!
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 5
    0

    Yes. Undoubtedly there will be a slowly emerging reality .But still there is too much fog floating around us. Whether there will be a “reasonable” understanding between the phone and the compass is very much doubtful. The anticipated new political landscape is being maneuvered towards a false bipolar setup.
    The two camps of yesterday, struggling to pretend to show rival faces (like Sugathadasa event) have finished their historic tasks.. What is remaining to be seen is not the imminent merger between the SLPP with the elephant, but the emergence of a fresh new “pole” against the united past giants. Dallas is undoubtedly a “force” to reckon with. However, where SJB stands is in doubt. Some members of the SJB (and SLPP)are sniffing around Sirikotha hoping their “ticket” luck. Meanwhile, the wise and generous behavior of some opposition key figures suggest the possibility that Anura may be “the” polar political head, at some appropriate moment. All these were catalyzed by the severe mis-match between the “Saubhaagyayee Dakma” and Basil.

    • 4
      5

      “…. imminent merger between the SLPP with the elephant, …. the emergence of a fresh new “pole” against the united past giants.”
      .
      Yes!
      .
      SLPP + Elephant hybrid has been consolidated, regardless of whether they make an official alliance or not, they woukd work together – The Ali Pohottuwa – meaning Big Bud – aka Kehelmala (flower of the banana tree)
      .
      …and AKD undoubtedly is going to be the Mr. New Pole. This should be interesting, far more interesting than the recently concluded Cricket World Cup Final.

      • 1
        0

        Ruchira

        “…and AKD undoubtedly is going to be the Mr. New Pole.”

        He is leading another racist Sinhala/Buddhist good for nothing party. The country instead of going through a period of renaissance it is stuck in quicksand.
        Please read the following:
        Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s National Liberation Movement skirts minority rights
        By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

        https://newsin.asia/anura-kumara-dissanayakes-national-liberation-movement-skirts-minority-rights/

        The behaviour of JVP old guards are worst than quicksand.

  • 9
    0

    Inequality in Sri Lanka is produced by ancestral wealth, the rise of middle class entrepreneurs who then make alliances with those of traditional wealth and corrupt politicians with little ability to deal with local problems. Rule by patronage and pilfering of the national till are routine in the governance of the country. The reasons for inequality in Sri Lanka are different. No point in mouthing Piketty and Gramsci in the same breath. We have different problems to deal with. AKD promises a social revolution to change the picture. It is a novel idea. Sajith promises the same old pattern with no new ideas. The question is whether AKD can succeed given the context of the forces, both internal and external, he has to contend with. He is yet to reveal a credible economic plan despite long talks. He has not given an answer to how the ethnic issue is to be solved, what he would do with the burgeoning army, how the yellow robed mafia will react etc etc.

    • 5
      0

      “AKD promises a social revolution to change the picture. It is a novel idea. “
      Novel? Many more had promised the same ages ago.
      The point is whether one can achieve it by winning elections.
      That if achieved will be much more than novel!

      • 3
        0

        At this point of life, in Langkang, nobody is going to reap any benefit by getting into the theoretical arguments of “Socialistic administration good, or capital market administration good”. If you want to draw a painting, first secure, and protect the wall. Then you engage in what kind of drawing you want to draw. The wall you plan to draw is on its last foundation before being swept away. Found a way to stop the UNP-SLFP gang’s never-ending flood of destruction. Even Ceylon, like resources rich land, has proved that handling this type of destruction possible only for some years. Forget about the fake Mahavamsa, but in all the past history Ceylon kings and colonial governments have been bringing labor from South India and somewhere else. Now nearly 2.5 – 3 M people have gone outside seeking various forms of jobs. Out of them the refugees and indentured slave workers going to the Middle East are foul smelling shame of the Aanduwas’ which occupied the ruling chairs. The rascals who ruled from 1948 are on “Rule by patronage and pilfering of the national till.” They always form Muslim-Sinhala governments, but they are destructive for Sinhalese, destructive for Muslims and destructive for Tamils. Who else can be worse than this UNP-SLFP union? The question is” which the Ceylonese community wants to vote for them anymore?”

    • 2
      0

      ” He has not given an answer to how the ethnic issue is to be solved, what he would do with the burgeoning army, how the yellow robed mafia will react etc etc.
      It is a question that needs to be directly asked at Anura. For me, he is a socialist; I am not. He speaks in Sinhala; I do not. So I do not have a lot to interpret about him. Yet it may not be enough to conclude on him because he has not yet revealed a comprehensive plan on how everything in the economy is going to approach. Will seeing the economy as an isolated aspect of Lankan’s life will fix the current so, completely deviated economy? The economy in Langkang is the result of one or two past governments’ mismanagement of the economy. The problem of Langkang’s economy is far beyond a simple discussion if a one essay or one group of people like CTyers. Watch the rain out there in the country from North to South. Why are the people suffering from this monsoon rain which comes every year. What foul actions of the past successive governments have contributed to this suffering.

    • 2
      0

      Is that because the Aanduwas were split on the line of communism-socialism and Capitalism, or they wanted Sinhala Only, Standardization, Buddhism only, and spent a $400B on genocidal war, not caring the canals and drainage system, or they just wanted to enforced their power hungry greedy on all aspects of people life and time after time they use scaring tactics to ensure the people firmly tied on their leashes and would only circle within the line they draw? So, my contention is the economy is not the only one that remains to be fixed in Langkang; anything of Lankaweyans’ social, economic, cultural, political……… life is crucified from the start, by the “Hindu, Catholic, Sinhala Buddhist, Telugu, Tamil, English, and Sinhala” criminal Don Stepen and his future generation. Evil says he will follow Don Stepen, step by step. He says the Army cannot be challenged by no one. Then he threatens anybody challenging IMF’s sincerity in giving the loan on the hand of kleptocrat but insist obeying IMF. Did he get a mandate from anyone to raise that massive loan & spent on his wish? He is bullying, threatening, blackmailing, warning, slapping the wrist of his opponents and the people protesting his crooked opportunistic wisdom only to appease IMF. (But he is one who said the Langkang borrowing are not recorded in books. What did do about it?)

    • 2
      0

      Why is he doing this? That is the only way he protects him of his Batalanda & economic crimes and Old Rowdy Royals’ economic and genocide crimes. That is the sole purpose of these people to reject a person appointed to the presidency of the country through a mistake of the politically novice, immature legal draftsman lawyers. As soon as they find the mistakes (they always do it when they use it only, not during writing the constitutions drafting and voting at the parliament) they never pass amendments, but make the mistakes as their Koran, shout loudly Buddhahoo Akbar, and follow it without any leniency. The Evil Emperor is efficiently sustaining every crime that takes place in Langkang but explains that is the only way to satisfy the conditions of the IMF. Impunity King is his other name! His method of running the economy is to keep borrowing from China and its branch IMF but blaming India for giving $4B loan without conditions. What the $3B loan can do to the $85B indebtedness of the government, if the people are not prepared to toil day and night to take care of the politicians’ borrowing? Evil UNP & Rowdy Royal politicians have fused them tightly together to save from parliamentary positions without elections, don’t want to hold elections, don’t want to take care of the loans and peoples.

    • 2
      0

      Ponder about this situation in your mind. “One is trying to force you to jump in a 200 feet hole in the earth. You see an alternative to avoid this in jumping into another which’s depth, you don’t; it could be 250” or only 6”. What is the disadvantage of jumping into a hole that is 250 feet, instead of 200 feet? There won’t be any change in the result, i.e. immediate death. But suppose the alternate hole is only 6 feet, you get a chance of climbing out of it when your leg pain is gone. Electing the UNP-SLFP (new Slap Party) union, by carelessness or after careful consideration, is like jumping in a pit of 200’, which is not going to have any recourse. Why are you worrying about not knowing about Anura economic strategy? Old Rowdy once said “Known devil is better than the unknown angel. That is not always true. What about if the known devil 200’ depth pit, an unmitigable mistake? Let us make it short. It is the first time Anura would be in power if he is elected. In Tamil they say “if you are fully drenched in rain, what is the difference between chill and cold?

    • 2
      0

      At this point of life, in Langkang, nobody is going to reap any benefit by getting into the theoretical arguments of “Socialistic administration good, or capital market administration good”. If you want to draw a painting, first secure, and protect the wall. Then you engage in what kind of drawing you want to draw. The wall you plan to draw is on its last foundation before being swept away. Found a way to stop the UNP-SLFP gang’s never-ending flood of destruction. Even Ceylon, like resources rich land, has proved that handling this type of destruction possible only for some years. Forget about the fake Mahavamsa, but in all the past history Ceylon kings and colonial governments have been bringing labor from South India and somewhere else. Now nearly 2.5 – 3 M people have gone outside seeking various forms of jobs. Out of them the refugees and indentured slave workers going to the Middle East are foul smelling shame of the Aanduwas’ which occupied the ruling chairs. The rascals who ruled from 1948 are on “Rule by patronage and pilfering of the national till.” They always form Muslim-Sinhala governments, but they are destructive for Sinhalese, destructive for Muslims and destructive for Tamils. Who else can be worse than this UNP-SLFP union? The question is” which the Ceylonese community wants to vote for them anymore?”

    • 2
      0

      Do Sinhalese community want to vote for this UNP-SLFP union, who promised from 1948 to until now that they will bring the Miracle of Asia, when they finish Tamils genocide, when Burgers chased out of the country and when Muslims are suppressed to bottom. Now what else remains to be done but where is the miracle of Asia? Evil postponed the date of miracle to 2048, when the IMF conditions are fulfilled. He said he would get the Colombo Pong Cing from China but ended up selling Hangbangtota port. He said he will bring the Volkswagen factory; he brought only the ban from EU and FATA for money laundering. Dudley said free rice; Sirimavo said Moon rice. They say something, but they achieve only the opposite. It is time for Sinhalese to test if Anura is like that too, or different. Here the talk of market economy or Socialist economy is not going to make any difference. The IMF loan is intended to deter China but not to change anything in Langkang. The comedy part of that is, IMF’s loan is pegged on yet to come Chinese debt reduction plan. Can you cite a paradoxical comedy scene equal to this from any of the movies you saw from Hollywood, Bollywood, or WattalaWood? Will China bald its head because the IMF wants to give it haircut to deter it from Ceylon?

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