3 December, 2020

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Shylock’s Error & The Resolution Of Conflicts

By R S Perinbanayagam

Prof. R S Perinbanayagam

“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best” ~ Otto von Bismarck

I had written this short essay some time ago  and was not quite sure where to publish. After reading Prof.Laksiri Fernando’s recent essay “An Appeal To Tamil Political Leaders On The ‘New Constitution” I have concluded it should appear in Colombo Telegraph.

Drama is founded on conflicts of one kind or another.  It typically begins with the presentation of various characters who soon find themselves in a situation of conflict and as the drama precedes this conflict is developed and leads either to a resolution or to a tragedy. Insofar as drama is based in conflict, it is possible for others to learn something about conflict from various dramas.

One of the most sociologically interesting plays in the world of theater is Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Its focus is on the ethno religious conflict of western civilization: Jews versus Christians. In addition, it presents a crisis in European thought and culture about money and usury: the Catholic Church prohibited the lending of money at interest while the emerging trading circles among the Catholics needed credit for the conduct of their businesses. The coming of Protestantism eventually solved this problem – but the conflict between Jews and Christians endured.

In addition to these features about the play, there is another one that is of particular interest: the style and manner with which Shylock conducted his conflict with Bassanio and the cost he had to ultimately bear. If one considers the structure of the play as it develops, it will be seen that Shylock, from a position of moral strength from the very first movement of the play, to legal and political power and strength in the middle, ends up losing all.

In the opening movement, Shylock makes his famous speech declaiming the humiliations that he received from Antonio

Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gabardine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
What should I say to you? Should I not say
‘Hath a dog money? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key,
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
‘Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys’?

Even at this juncture, Antonio the Christian is unrepentant: He says:

I am as like to call thee so again

To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.

Even in the midst of a monetary exchange — a transaction — Antonio’s attitudes remain true to type. He does not want the money transaction as one between friends, but as between enemies. Insofar as the transaction between enemies – tribal and personal –it was morally worthy of Shylock to ask for the extraordinary bond: no interest will be charged but if there is a default, a pound of flesh will be taken instead. The mythic associations of this are clear enough: allusion to human sacrifice, no doubt practiced in Judaic society at one time – vide the story  of Abraham and Isaac and God’s command, etc. There is a nice symmetry between the overbearing arrogance, incivility and bigotry of Antonio’s attitude and Shylock’s   exorbitant demand.

In what I will call the second movement of the play, Shylock is still on good ground: the bond has been forfeited and the sanctity of the law demands that it be fulfilled:

Shylock: An oath, an oath: I have an oath in heaven: Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?  No, not for Venice.

The central episode here is the trial and it begins in an ironic note. The judge says to Antonio:

I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to face a strong adversary, an inhuman wretch; incapable of pity, void and empty of any dram of mercy.

Words that apply well, indeed better, to Antonio and his ilk for their treatment “The Jew”.  It is here that the play reaches a fulcrum. Portia enters the courtroom as a lawyer and both she and Bassanio offer to pay double the money owed. What should Shylock do? What could he have done? He is after revenge for untold humiliations, not only against him, but against his tribe as well.  He could demand the forfeit of the penalty and execute Antonio or he could relent now that his point has been made and take the money. The demands of tragic drama, the exigencies of character and situation created within the paly as well as the humiliations his people had suffered ensures that he rejects the money and opts for blood. In the end the Christians in turn do not show any mercy to the Jew: they deprive him of ducats, daughter and religion too by forcing him to become a Christian.

Where did Shylock go wrong? In summary, Shylock’s error was in demanding too much, so much more than the adversary can give. By asking for the pound of flesh, he was, in fact, seeking the death of his adversary for not so much as unpaid monetary debit but for a delayed payment. The issue at stake here is the want of proportionality the absence of a sense of necessary restraint and balance. In situations of conflicts of interest, as in political conflicts, players can ask for too much – too much recompense, too many rights, too much territory and too much contrition that either in the short run or long run, it can lead to problems down the line or even immediate disaster. The case of Shylock is a good example of these issues the conduct of the England, Germany and France after World War I is a good example too: It pauperized Germany, humiliated its citizens, undermined its social and monetary institutions etc eventually leading to the emergence of Hitler with his list of more exorbitant demands

Do these considerations apply to Sri Lanka? Are the Sinhala nationalists committing Shylock’s error or are the Tamil nationalists doing it? Or both segments committing this mutually destructive error? I will leave this question unanswered here and leave the matter to be pondered by the readers – at least the more intelligent, thoughtful and rational ones, of which there are some  in this forum.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    4

    This is funny.

    Muslims comes here. They don’t use their quran to explain their mentality. Instead, they used western texts which are based on christian/Catholic Ideology. It is the same thing with Tamils. They don’t Talk Tamil. they only write English and discuss english literature and christ.

    but, Sinhala buddhists who talk sinhala and who want to preserve their culture are not allowed to do so. If they talk they are extremists.

    Why ?

    Muslims want to expand and Tamils want a State.

    Why nationalism is bad as long as it is not racist or interfering others ?

  • 6
    5

    A timely essay. I would say ‘both segments committing this mutually destructive Shylock error.’

    • 4
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      Dear Prof Laksiri,
      This is the reason why you should also appeal to Sinhalese political leaders on the constitution. Tamil political leaders have compromised their stand from abandoning independence and willing to consider a solution within a united country as well as they have stated that if power can be devolved under a unitary constitution, they are prepared to accept it provided that it will be substantial and there will not be any interference from Sinhala dominated central government. However Sinhala politicians are refusing to climb down from their entrenched position which ensures them supremacy and control over Tamils and their lands. Now you want Tamils to compromise on north-east merger also. If they agree to that, next will be to ask Tamils to drop demanding full land and police powers. With all these, what improvements are Tamils going to get with the new constitution. It is increasingly clear to fair minded international observers that Sinhalese are not going to offer any tangible solution to Tamils for them to live in dignity and safety in their lands of historic habitation. If you are honest, go ahead and tell Sinhala politicians to ditch racism and arrive at a fair solution which will be according to international norms, restoring to Tamils some extent of their lost sovereignty and territory.

  • 5
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    Thanks. Something important for all of us to think about. And well put, too.

  • 4
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    The French Statesman Henry Queville has another view of Politics.
    He has said ….
    Politics is the art of of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.
    Buying Time on National issues has become an art!

  • 5
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    “Are the Sinhala nationalist committing Shylock’s error or the Tamil nationalists doing it?
    I think both are equally responsible.
    Only the scientists who worki in the field of microbiology, glandular and brain physiological mutations that take place with respect to each nationalism will have an answer to question why they are on the path to committing a destructive error.

  • 1
    4

    Every Tamil and Muslim must read this article because it is aimed at them. The Tamils want 1/3 of the land and 2/3 of the coast line. Tamils have been fed with lies, myths and fantasies by their colonial slave masters.

    Muslims want to muslimise the Buddhist country.

    The generous Sinhalese Buddhists have given the minorities lots of resources and privileges more than they deserve. Tamils and Muslims get their own public holidays, and Sinhalese are forced to take minorities’ public holidays, also minorities are represented on the national flag as well which would never happen to minorities in other parts of the world.

    Actually, it’s Muslims who have employed Shylockian tactics to loot Sinhalese wealth and land.

    Muslims and Jews are identical twins, one is cunning as the other.

    Remember, it’s not Sinhalese who demand anything things, it’s recent migrant minorities.

    • 0
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      John

      Remember, it’s not Sinhalese who demand anything things, it’s recent migrant minorities.

      Sinhale is a failed state with respect to the majority community requirement. since 1948, Sri lankan political parties were developed based on the individual party ideology. So, the sinhala vote is divided. LEaders use nationalism card to get more votes. So, that lead the minorities to build parties specific for minorities and create trouble. In other countries it is conservative, liberal, labour, republican, democratic etc., and they different only with respect to the economic principals of the party. In Sri lanka UNP, SLFP, JVP devide only the sinhala – vote.

      In other countries rallyh around the majority and behind those two parties. In Sinhale, two major parties can not win enough seates to set up their govt. they need allaiences. So, the minority parties are king makers.

      So, first destrouy SLFP, UNP and JVP.

  • 2
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    The merger of the North and East is considered important by the Eastern Tamils because it helps them face the Muslims who tend to dominate them economically and politically. If the East were to be merged with the North, the Tamils will be in an overwhelming majority and can run the province as per their wish, and also bargain with Colombo more effectively for more powers.

  • 1
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    It was the armed revolt of the Tamil youth[rightly or wrongly] that culminated in the creation of Provincial Councils as per the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987.The Muslims of the North-East region did not make any contribution whatsoever,but just sat on the wall for events to unfold.
    The scenario to-day,after the demerger,of the North and East,as per a Supreme Court ruling in mid 2000,is that the Muslims are gradually taking over the East,politically and economically.The Muslims are a majority only in the coastal belt of the Amparai district,stretching from Kalmunai to Pottuvil.
    This could lead to Tamil-Muslim clashes in the foreseeable future.

    • 0
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      Pygmalion

      This could lead to Tamil-Muslim clashes in the foreseeable future.

      Provincial govts are result of not becuase of Tamils but because of the Indian govt. Indian govt had to involve because they had the influence of USSR at that time.

      It looks Tamils want to beat Muslims in the East because they did not come to involve in Pongu Tamil with a new name.

    • 4
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      The supreme court decision on de-merger of northern and eastern provinces is illegal. Indo-Lanka accord is an international agreement under which northern and eastern provinces were declared as lands of historic habitation of Tamil speaking people and temporarily merged subject to a referendum at a later date when all displaced Tamils are resettled. This provision was made to pacify Sinhalese, but with a clause that this referendum will be postponed indefinitely. Tamils were told by India this referendum will not be held. Premadasa and Chandrika kept on postponing it while Mahinda got JVP to file action in Supreme court to order a de-merger. Since this is part of an international agreement, Srilanka supreme court does not have jurisdiction over it. It should have been challenged in the international court of justice. Therefore what was done by Srilanka supreme court is illegal and should be scrapped. Also Tamil people were not allowed to file their response to this dastardly act, which is a travesty of justice. India has shown its powerlessness by not negating this supreme court decision. Perhaps India is waiting to use this as a trump card against Srilanka.

  • 0
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    Dear Prof.R.S.P. and all participants,
    Thank you for a good article at a right time. Reading for entertainment is different from reading for learning. It was reading for learning in good old days that made the old folks wise and responsible. This is Literature for good learning you find in English just like you find Literature for good learning in Tamil as well. It is very unfortunate Sri Lanka resorted to Sinhala only from 1950s and I don’t expect any Sri Lankan went to Sri Lankan schools could have had the opportunity to learn any good Literature. After 1956 Sri Lankan politicians divided Sri Lanka rioting with mob violence against Tamils living as minority among Sinhala majority areas. Most Tamils living all over Sri Lanka were forced to flee to North and East for safety. The new generation of Sinhalese and Tamils are definitely divided as separate entities and the commonality that existed in former Ceylon had died. You can very well learn from all the happenings from the time of independence whereby the Tamils were made to flee as refugees and also made refugees in their own homelands in North and East as well. Of course they are a resilient and patient race and have been mercilessly used and deprived terribly. Even after the shameless showdown by the international Community after the mass murders carried out in 2009. Sri Lankan Government has reverted to fooling the world for it to continue with its oppression as is now seen clearly happening by the whole world.
    Now it is long past due for the International community to deliver the suffering Tamils from the hands of the Sri Lankan regime and that is what has to be done sooner than later.

  • 1
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    For the CT PhDs -Jaffna Brand, those who have enjoyed their good life with the government’s dole for destroying younger generations, to make their life fruitful at least even at its end, if there is another good place to loiter, in addition to CT, Keppapulavu fast to death protest site might be the an alternative. Jaffna PhDs are most corrupted category by Appe Anduwa, by alms it has been throwing to them named “Professor”. Believe me highly erudite gentlemen; those Tamils want to die not for Sinhala Air Force’s flesh. They are not erudite misers to lent money for double interest. They are fighting with death to get back their hard earned land from one of world’s most cruel armed force. Tame your tongue before you call those helpless are greedy example of Shylocks, demanding flesh.

    It is absolutely out of context to suggest Tamils are calling for flesh.

    “Every Tamil and Muslim must read this article because it is aimed at them.”– Commentator John.

    Authors aim could be camouflaged as hoped as he is not new to write these type sneaky essays. But the shame for him on this is, John is a not person who writes comments in favor of Tamils. That means, practically he should have been the last to suspect or to detect the author’s hidden agenda. But what author did is so low grade game so it was ABC to John to get it. The learned professor could not contest John with a reply; but hiding.

    Though he called Tamils are Shylocks, because of his inferior ability put forward political statements of substantiations to his labelling, he stayed away from putting forward why he is calling them Shylocks.

    To write a childish dupe like this, with his educational level, he should feel ashamed of himself.

  • 1
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    “I had written this short essay some time ago . ………… are the Tamil nationalists doing it? “ The entire article, that it is, line by line, has been composed to reinforce the quoted original article. Author is lying through his teeth thinking that his game would be only new to Tamils. Is anybody in this web site new to the Appe Aanduwa’s Appa diplomacy? If so their IQ cannot have reached even to 79 to understand that above story is pure, unbelievable concoction.
    Here how it goes:
    How did this sentence get into the middle of the essay? ” Where did Shylock go wrong? In summary, Shylock’s error was in demanding too much, so much more than the adversary can give” This is a forcefully concocted sentence to substantiate the original essay that this is quoting. Is Sinhalese asking anything from Tamils? Could somebody explain me the synonym embedded in” taking forcefully” of the “asking by diplomatic agitation”? Where did this guy study English to convolute that language like this?
    it was morally worthy of Shylock to ask for the extraordinary bond: no interest will be charged but if there is a default, a pound of flesh will be taken instead. Constitutional Contract was inserted at UNHRC by Yahapalanaya in exchange for war crime investigation. When Tamils did say that there would not be any interest or penalty for all the war crime GOSL committed, if the constitution is changed unitary devolution, less than 13A? Why this guy is dreaming?
    The central episode here is the trial and it begins in an ironic note. The judge says to Antonio:
    I am sorry for thee.
    Is he optimistically predicting the UNHRC is little bit tough now with GOSL, but in the end Tamils will be losing?”

  • 1
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    The central episode here is the trial and it begins in an ironic note. The judge says to Antonio:
    I am sorry for thee.
    Is the author optimistically predicting that the “UNHRC is being a little bit tough now with GOSL, but in the end, Tamils will be losing?”

    He is after revenge for untold humiliations, not only against him, but against his tribe…

    Come on educate erudite! Merchant of Venice was written by a White man, not by a Jew. The feeling shown of Jew was from a Whiteman imagination! It is the biblical Mahavamsa creating the “Untold humiliation” about Judas, while neither Mahavamsa nor Bible can be historically confirmed. Your “Untold Humiliation” is stemming from within you. Tamils not asking for an investigation by them, but by UNHRC sponsored. If your government is ready to agree, you will have your fair chance of establishing the “Untold Humiliation”. Reflection of racism in medieval time was from Whiteman and in modern time by Sinhala man, neither Tamils nor Jews concocted those stories. Don’t confuse yourself. It was Whiteman Shakespeare created that feelings of that in his writing as Jewish suffering were “Untold Humiliation”.

    The author is quoting selected parts from a famous drama, but out of context. In the South Asia, though we have hundreds of Epics by sages and master gurus, we seat Shakespeare right next to Kalidas for his phenomenal creations. But, unlike Kalidas, whose Sakunthalam is only an adorable love story, Shakespeare’s creations are condemned for biased and racism. Though his classical workings are flooded with blowing out, vivid descriptive, delineations, they are taken away from classrooms for literature study, in the West. The author is bringing here an outdated & condemn material of his classroom time, to transmit his racial ideas.

  • 1
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    We saw the article ““An Appeal to Tamil Political Leaders On The ‘New Constitution’”, but because of the nature of its extreme shamefulness we did let our hand fall on that comment.
    Even Don Stephen did do like that to beg Tamils Ministers to make accept the Soulbury Constitution.
    100,000 of thousands of Tamils begged mercy from that government for their lives. But anybody was caught by government with its horrendous teeth, PTA, was raped, tortured and murdered. This was done while LF was working as a consultant to that government. Out of the huge amount, not single person was spared by that government. Japan, America, Germany, Norway, Britain and many other countries with UN begged those beast to stop war and allow to feed the refuges who hungry for months. UN refused to leave but they threatened to bomb UN employees. LF was a consultant to that government. They took coordinates from ICRC and shelled while sick and wounded inside the hospitals. They tortured the Medical personnel who tried treating that desperate-s. Still that man was consulting. Then they decorated them with PhDs and Field Marshals titles and celebrated with firecrackers and Kiribati. Yahapalanaya government came to power with promise of “No leader, No Commander, No Soldier investigation”. To cheat the UNHRC only they started fake constitutional change. Then that guy wrote a special Book to support Joint Comedians to disturb the constitution making. Now they have won it to defy the resolution even without changing Constitution. Then to make sure even the last stone goes not turned, he wrote that essay begging Tamils leaders to support his concerns not the ones Tamil voted for. I wonder what was the special interest that person has to have the constitution making spoiled like that.

  • 2
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    The Merchant of Venice. To some it is a tragedy, to some a parable, to some a satire, and to others an allegory.

    But to none it is a “national allegory” – a debate that has continued to rage since 1979 when Frederic Jameson conceived it.

    Let me throw down the gauntlet. Perinbanayagam’s attempt to hypercanonize Shakespearean works is at best misconceived. It appeals only to English speaking mandarins like Laksiri and Hoole who are interested only in the Western canon.

  • 3
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    In an ‘Indian epic’ Maha-paratham there is a story of how pandavars were denied everything (similar to what Tamils are being denied everything now politically and militarily) by gouravars. Pandavars were a minority although they had legal and moral rights and gouravars were the majority. In the end pandavars won everything. A more important point is there are points to note in ancient literature both eastern and western but modern realities should be understood. Tiny England was able to capture vast territories from Australia to large parts of Asia and Africa to North America with their navy and know-how. Israel a small group survives in Middle-East with its know-how. Tamils should be able to outsmart the big powers that were behind the Vanni holocaust in cyber technology. Only such things will determine future realities. Then you can get arts graduates to tell stories about what happened citing literature.

    • 2
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      Brilliant.
      But the serious problem of Tamils is the enthusiasm with which they burn the bridges. I mean the leaders who were entrusted with the task. :-)

  • 1
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    One thing I should have added is Anglicized Tamil traitors who apportion blame, conveniently blame Tamils and keep quiet about the vicious role of western powers in the political powerlessness of Tamils and violations of human rights of human rights are never going to tell stories to western powers citing ancient literature if and when they get punished by bigger forces. Such is their slavery. Is there nothing in western literature on this?

  • 1
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    Prof. Perinpanayagam,
    I fear you have contributed to misdirecting the debate by using Bassanio and Shylock to personify two communities. It was never operationally true and after the political and physical dislocation of the war it is far less true today, even of the Tamils alone, than it ever was. Even if a number of individual Tamils were left out, many of us in the 1970s were able to identify with with the aims of a leadership that stood for federalism under a secular dispensation. We are nothing like that today and the Sinhalese leadership knows it and can use it to buy time.

    At least in the 1970s there was an attempt to build up a secular entity called the Tamil speaking people. Militarisation during the war threw up extreme Tamil nationalism that could not compromise.

    If we are serious about maximum devolution today we must bridge the gap between Hindu, Muslim and Christian and between high caste and oppressed caste. There is no such attempt now, while many Tamil community and political leaders conduct themselves as though their brand of intolerant Hinduism fits all Tamils except traitors.

    I fear living in a devolved entity under such leaders. We hope there would be a new generation of enlightened Tamil leaders to bring us out of this mess.

  • 3
    1

    Tamil Hindus and Tamil Christians from all castes were and still are by and large politically united. Divisions are being created by those with vested interests. It’s a fact that indigenous Tamil Hindus in north-east SL are a very ancient nation. This fact should not be denied in order to create religious unity.

    • 1
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      You make my point.

      • 0
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        Rajan Hoole:

        I fear you have contributed to misdirecting the debate by using Bassanio and Shylock to personify two communities. It was never operationally true and after the political and physical
        If we are serious about maximum devolution today we must bridge the gap between Hindu, Muslim and Christian and between high caste and oppressed caste. There is no such attempt now, while many Tamil community and political leaders conduct themselves as though their brand of intolerant Hinduism fits all Tamils except traitors.

        You don’t agree to this. IT becomes just extremisms.

        Tamils are Hindus. Because of that, Tamils should promote who True Tamils are and not everybody. Let the christian – english people of Tamil Origin be english speaking christians. anyway, they live overseas and not relevant in Sinhale.

        IF they are muslims or christians they are just Tamil speaking people. there are people who say they are Sinhala yet they can speak Tamil too. Why they are not classified as Tamils?

        On the other hand, Muslims and Tamils speaking english or arabic why they are not designated as English or arabs ?

  • 0
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    “The coming of Protestantism eventually solved this problem”

    I would rather say that Protestantism was an outcome of the problem. Emergent capitalism had to do away with the ban on usury.
    But it was the emergent bourgeoisie that wanted a break with a seemingly inflexible church. The three main forms of Protestantism of the time adopted positions to suit three different contexts.
    Once you start bending rules there is no end to it: God or His “Word” have a minimal role in matters of religion.

    Islamic banking is a means by which one has the cake and eats it. That is clever. But many Muslims do not equate bank interest to usury and that is even cleverer.

    • 1
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      I do not know if Muslims countries do not borrow from international banking facilities. But, there are no real Islamic economic power house. One or two nations have bank account balance by selling oil 5 to 10 times (an immoral hike) the cost of making oil. Then they preach about the interest, within their community. An open and effective cartel, OPEC, is only in oil industry. Theoretically, it is against UN’s trade policies but everybody just sitting and watching while these countries mercilessly swindle the poors’ hard earned money with oil trading plutocrats. Ex: Lankawe’s Mass have no pocket money to catch a bus, but robbing from them through Appe Anduwa, Saudi is building Universities in East.

    • 0
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      Mr Sekera:
      You have proposed a sound Marxist rejoinder to my essay. I would however stick to my Weberian interpretation!
      RSP

      • 0
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        Thanks.
        I seldom ask anyone to change his/her views.
        To be honest, the basic analysis was based on my general impression at one time, but I should thank the erudite Protestant Christian academic, for showing me the theological fine points of the breach and how they fitted with the interests of the emergent bourgeoisie.

        Similar factors operated in the Mahayana–Hinayana break and in the development of the Sunni–Shia rift. A sociological dimension exists in the conflict that is stronger than the theological, which is highlighted in later day conflicts.

        • 0
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          Hei there Sekera:
          Whom are you calling a “Protestant Christian Academic? !!

  • 0
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    sekera.

    I am rather pleased that I agree on your erudite perception of Islamic Banking.
    Having the cake and eating it has been made an Art by our Muslim brethren!

    Dr.Gnana S.

    India has gone back on their pledge for a Merged North-East Province.Their Foreign Secy.Jaishankar who was in Colombo has intimated this to the TNA Leader Sampanthan,just yesterday.

    • 0
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      Foreign secretary had stated that India will not insist on north east merger in the new constitution as conditions now are different from 1987. However he said that if Tamils want, they can agitate for the merger, which means that India will not stand in the way of Tamil demand. As far as India is concerned, it is in a real soup with regard to Srilanka mainly due to foreign policies followed over the years which were drawn up by pathologically anti-Tamil North Indian racists and corrupt Keralites. In effect India has bitten the nose to spite the face. Look at the cock-eyed Indian foreign policy. The best regional allies to India are Nepalese and Srilanka Tamils. They have antagonized both. Contrast to this both Bangladesh and Srilanka are being treated as friendly nations, when in fact they are both anti-Indian. Now China has set foot on Srilanka firmly and cannot be dislodged for next 99 years. India has missed the bus and now thinks there is no other option than to bend backwards to please Srilanka. Hence this stand by foreign secretary to distance themselves from legitimate rights of Tamils. India will never get anything from Srilanka by extending carrots as they will only be hoodwinked. There is a god above and India will have to pay dearly soon for this betrayal, purely for their selfish needs.

    • 1
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      Pygmalion

      “Having the cake and eating it has been made an Art by our Muslim brethren!”

      Doesn’t it show the Muslims are moving along with time, finding modern solutions to medieval problems?

  • 0
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    It is not that Shylock asks for too much, but rather, how dare he ask anything at all? that’s the Christian logic of the play, into which Shakespeare brings some complexity.

  • 0
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    Dear Prof.
    Having read the Merchant of Venice I had developed an antipathy towards the Jewish people which was quite unwarranted. I feel that the analogy not quite justified and or appropriate. I subsequently realised as to much I had been wrong when I came to meet and socialise with Jewish people who in the most are progressive minded and socialistic in their approach to humankind. Bensen

  • 0
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    I am quite puzzled by some of these comments and I suppose I will continue to remain puzzled and contemplate the Buddha’s parable about the six blind men and the elephant in the meantime!
    However, I would like state that this essay,not to put too fine a point on it, is not really about Shakespeare. My allusion to the Merchant of Venice was merely the prelude to the last paragraph. I was WONDERING whether the time was ripe for the Tamil spokesmen to wake up from their dream of a Tamil kingdom and the Sinhalese spokesmen to overcome their “Duttugemunu’s Insomnia” and attend to the practical politics of constituting a functioning Sri Lankan polity by taking the facts the ground, as they exist now,to heart.

    • 0
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      I knew your article was about Sri Lanka and the National question ( read Federalism). But doing a different kind of reading, I would like to know who Shylock is vis a vis the state. It may not even be the Tamil person. It is I think the Muslim who is villified here. If we want to have analogies, we need to know what the problem is. The problem today is an agressive state ( read neo liberal for the proto capitalist state of Venice); and Shylock as standing for the people in Keppapilavu and the Muslim in the South. How dare they ask anything at all. It may not even be about federalism or devolution. It is about managing identities and othering some others in the building of the state and its associates; even a weak neo liberal state. In the process we have to have demons. Tamil politicians do not know where they stand here. They I think are outdated in their approach.

  • 0
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    continue to remain puzzled and contemplate the Buddha’s parable about the six blind men and the elephant in the meantime

    Excellent satire!

    You contemplated Merchant of Venice to Tamil situation. (You are ignorant of the current status of “Merchant of Venice” Drama. Western schools categorized it as explicit racism. ) Then you are comparing the readers to blinds in the Buddhist (?) story. One time nine goats went on a narrow jungle path. There was a pit on a sharp turn. All first eight goats fell down. The ninth, the” CT PhDs –Jaffna brand” stepped on their heads and crossed the pit. Then it turned back told the goats in the pit to struggling to come out, “Bloody fools- You blinds, you didn’t see the pit in the path” and walked away. One can be nasty, but cannot reach the level of the goat called others blind!
    You said you had written it before the article you quoted. You made lie after lie! You played open game thinking everyone in the web site is only Modayas.

    “However, I would like state that this essay,not to put too fine a point on it, Basically you are not ready to accept your underhand trial is caught. So you are reluctant to say sorry to readers you attempted to misguide, but blaming back them, like a nursery child, who did not know the game was being played on an open public forum.

    I puzzled and remain puzzled after seeing comment and contemplate the story of the owl and crow, in which the owl looked at crow and said” Friend Why you and others are hanging upside while only me sitting straight”. Come on Man! Fix yourself before you preach to other.

    Who are those people freely throwing out PhDs for these levels?

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      I am lost.
      Can I have a translation please?

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    “I am lost.” It would be ideal if it is in the Keppapulavu jungle, as I asked you earlier.

    Can I have a translation please! Don’t struggle. Sorry, It is little bit beyond for you. If it for you I too would have thrown a lousy satire comedy like you.

    Did those not needed translation were capable of improving the IQ to be above 79? Did the Universities made any help? “Maaraathaiyaa Maraathu antha diease that deep rooted in those minds. .

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    The writer could pose the question to TNA…………. the major representative of Tamils, the successor of LTTE who were the “sole representative” of Tamils.

    No need for modern “Dutugemunu” if there’s no threat of an ethnically cleansed, mono ethnic, race based enclaves being created in Sri Lanka.

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