24 September, 2023


Smart Patriotism, Loyalty To Rulers And Ignorance: A Response To Dayan

By Mahendra De Silva

The feeling of patriotism – It is an immoral feeling because, instead of confessing himself a son of God . . . or even a free man guided by his own reason, each man under the influence of patriotism confesses himself the son of his fatherland and the slave of his government, and commits actions contrary to his reason and conscience. –  Leo Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government

In a recent article in Colombo Telegraph Dr. Dayan Jayatillake has given some interesting descriptions of the dumb patriotism and smart patriotism. He has indirectly hinted that anyone who does not fit the above categories would be an unpatriotic. It appears that the purpose of Dayan’s article is to justify his actions in the last few years in politics of Sri Lanka. In this article I wish to contest some of his views on patriotism.

To start, I took following passage from his article;

There is dumb patriotism and there is smart patriotism. When the dumb patriot says “my country right or wrong”, he/she means that whether it does right or wrong in the moral sense, he/she will defend it. When the smart patriot says it, he/she means that whether it is in the right or in the wrong, it is his/her country; the only country she really has or belongs to. It is where he is coming from. It is the place he identifies with. It is where he is rooted. It is home. He will not defend everything its government or state does; but defend the country, he will. In that sense the smart patriot loves his/her country unconditionally though it may be a ‘tough love The dumb patriot thinks his country is the best in the world and even the greatest. The smart patriot does not and his love of country is not based on blind faith or an intrinsic, unwarranted sense of superiority. The smart patriot is constructively critical about his country but is fiercely loyal to it all the same. He will criticize it but will unconditionally defend his country from the hypocritical criticism of foreign powers and institutions responsible for or blind to far worse crimes.

My main disagreement with Dayan’s views on patriotism is that he failed to distinguish the difference between love for the country and love for the rulers of the country. He has taken the position that that defending the country and defending the rulers of country are the same. I would introduce a another category – intelligent patriots who believe that love for the country includes not only physical territory mountains, rivers and woods, but love for the entire people who live in that country. They believe real freedom and sovereignty of the country comes when there is communal harmony and respect of human rights of all the citizens of the country. They would cherish to achieve a Sri Lanka where all can live with dignity and self-respect and live without fear. Intelligent patriots believe that rulers are selfish and could always temp to abuse power and take away people’s rights. Intelligent patriots are ready to defend the country not only against the external threats but also against their own government. For Intelligent patriot, Country would stand above party affiliations and selfish personal interests. Their loyalty would be only towards the people. When a ruler does undemocratic acts and violate human rights, intelligent patriot would not hesitate to obtain the support of even external forces such as international community to their cause. I admired Mahinda Rajapaska when he protested the UNP governments of Premadasa against the human rights violations. He was bold enough to take a petition to International Human rights commission against Sri Lankan government. But as per Dayan’s definitions what MR has done in 1990 was and unpatriotic act against his country. Intelligent patriots are fully aware that it is his country but he is not prepared to defend the actions of corrupt selfish politicians who govern the country. He will not act against his consciousness. For an Intelligent Patriot, wrong is wrong even it is done by his own family or countrymen. Unfortunately in third world countries there are more dumb and smart patriots than in developed countries. This could be the main reason why there is lack of democracy and good governances in these countries.

Dayan with MS 2Dumb or Smart Patriots are the people who believe that defending the country is defending the rulers. They have a blind loyalty to their chosen rulers. Whatever the rulers do, they believe it. .Regimes that violates human rights and misuse power thrives because of the dumb and “Smart” patriots. Such regimes usually use fear tactics such as western conspiracies against the nation to rally round masses to deviate attention from its own human right violations and abuse of power. They use State Media effectively to brain wash the masses. When the ruthless dictator of Germany, Adolf Hitler started implementing barbarous Nazi policies, including the pursuit of total war and the extermination of millions of people in the Holocaust, there were many Germans who disapproved actions of their government. Nazis used persuasion and huge propaganda machinery to brain washes the people. They would brand the resistance members including Communists and religious leaders as traitors and severely punished them History has taught us that, inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph

When Dayan was defending Sri Lanka at the Human rights commission in Geneva, just after the war in 2010, I believed that he was an intelligent patriot. Whatever the violations happened at the last stages of war, people were happy that peace was restored back after decades of landmines and bombs. Majority of the people including Tamils were willing to forget the past and move forward. Dayan was effective in convincing this to majority of the members of HRC. He assured on behalf the Sri Lankan government that a proper investigation would take place regarding alleged war crimes. He also assured normalcy would be restored soon. He requested more time for the work to be done. International community accepted that that Sri lank achieved a major victory in defeating ruthless Tiger terrorism. They wanted Sri Lanka to move forward. Unfortunately the attitude of the Sri Lankan government continues to be aggressive. Rather than restoring the communal harmony and helping the affected people, they drifted towards chauvinism and exhibited enthusiasm for military actions. Instead of realizing the sufferings of both Tamils and Sinhalese people they went on celebrating the glory of victory. They wrongly identified themselves only with Sinhalese nationalism with the belief that Sinhalese majority would be grateful to them for generations and they cannot be defeated. They conveniently ignored the grievances of Tamils and Muslims, delayed normalcy to people of war affected areas. They also ignored the demand for human rights and good governance from concerned citizens, NGO’s and International Community.

When Dayan continued to defend and support Mahindra Rajapaskse despite serious violations of human rights and abuse of power, I considered him as a loyalist or a dumb patriotic I personally believe that Dayan is not a racist, and he appreciated the recommendations of LLRT commission. But he kept quiet when recommendations were not implemented. Is it because he is a “Smart Patriotic” that he did not make a strong voice against   extremist agendas of the then government including BBS? I do not believe that Dayan appreciated 18th Amendment which expands the powers of executive Precedency. Yet he did not raise a voice against it. I am sure that Dayan did not approve the unlawful and ruthless infringement of 43rd CJ Syrian Bandaranayke or jailing of the war hero General Sarath Fonseka at an unfair military trial. But Dayan did not raise a voice on any of these occasions. . As Mahatma Gandhi said Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.

It is an open secret that Dayan was close to former President. But because he was a “Smart Patriot” he could not do anything to change the attitudes of previous government. On the contrary pressure of western countries, NGO’s and the combined opposition at least managed to obtain some concessions and keep the some elements of democracy still alive in the country. If not for this pressure our country could have become a complete dictatorship or an isolated failed state like North Korea

Long time ago I remember reading an article from Dr.EW Adikaram under the title isn’t the Nationalist a Mental Patient? Most of us do not have that broader vision to understand the reality of the message. I agree that it is natural for a person to have a love for his birth country, community, religion, language, school etc. We should recognize that that even others different to us have the same love towards these ideals. It is ignorance that causes strong attachments and gives some people the belief that their country, community or race, religion or heritage is the greatest in the world. This could create prejudices and disharmony in the society. Hindus and Buddhists know very well that our present life in this world is only a temporally shelter in the never ending journey of   Sansara. For anyone believing in rebirth concept, a Sinhalese in one birth could be a Tamil or Muslim in some other life. A child at the birth does not know his community, race or religion. The value systems given to us by our parents and environment determine who we are. When someone lives over 20 years in one culture he becomes conditioned accordingly. Communal minded or nationalist would be like a frog in the well. His world is confined to the little boundaries of the land or culture he is born. He would fight for this cause until he dies. We Buddhists believe impermanency in all subjects. Civilizations, countries, languages and religions have born and vanished over million years of human existence.   A human being who understands this could still fight for causes which he feels just and right without being bias on any community, race or religion. Such a person would extend loving kindness towards all. They would feel the pain of not only Sinhalese but also that of Tamils, Muslims and others. They would think that they belong to the Universe and they are only a tiny particle in the universe. Such a person would invariably become a blessing to his her Country, Community or Religion.

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Latest comments

  • 28

    Do you need to write such a long article to explsin the diabolical confusion of Dayan.Most CT readers do nit need to be conviced of his simple optertunistic spinless and brainless behaviour with which he has done himself in here.

    Dont give gim foder fir him to chew his brain on such lofty conepts.His brain has chewed it self over.If MR had shared his loot he would be able to do a brain transplant.Without it he will be writting garbagefor our entertainment in utter desperation.

    Poor DJ.

    • 5

      Mahendra De Silva –

      “Do you need to write such a long article to explsin the diabolical confusion of Dayan.Most CT readers do nit need to be conviced of his simple optertunistic spinless and brainless behaviour with which he has done himself in here.”

      Instead of replying to Mahinda Shills and Whitewashers, ask them and challenge them to reply to what Anura Kumara Dissansayaka of JVP is saying about their Boss Medamulanma MaRa.

      [Edited out]

  • 5

    When Dayan Defines what Dumb and what Smart are, then it is again defined by another human being who wants to criticize others. In other words, Dayan says I am intelligent and come behind me and all others are dumb.

    Leo Tolstoi should have talked what he wrote in side the Roman Kingdom and in similar present day kingdoms. I am sure, he would have been crucified or he would had to drink the Toxin and die.

  • 8


    Don’t waste your time on DJ. He is a well known ingratiate. The sad thing is no matter how much he praised MARA, MARA himself took no notice of him. DJ’s is a pathetic case where non of MARA’s largesse flowed no matter how much DJ howled MARA’s praises.

  • 4

    My thoughts exactly. His endless stupid writing at CT is the major reason that I no longer read CT. (plus the new sensationalized tabloid journalism the editors seems be growing fond of) Initially I too thought he is an intelligent patriot. In fact I thought that he is someone who went beyond that and a more liberal practical intellectual. I assumed so. Since I hadn’t followed his writings extensively by 2009 from the little I saw, But, in the past few years I saw his true colors when he is flying in full speed. To my dismay proving me that he is no liberal, but really dumb opportunist. All he has is swagger, bravado and braggadocio and inflated ego and name throwing- would sum him up. nothing else. For the old saying goes people think you are smart as long as you keep your mouth shut, DJ is the case in point. Perhaps the definition. I would like to believe after having fallen from grace(after war ended), god complex hit and he had some sort of a nervous break down. In the last few years he was actually taking over the Role of Mervin(unfortunately not his father but the thug boot-licker most loyalist MR fan. Sad part is even Mervin Silva realized that and left MR, DJ is still sniffing the rear-ends of wanna be dictators, in the name of “Smart patriotism”. Pls don’t insult the smart people of SL.

  • 3

    Thank you Mahendra for starting this administration of Antivenom to multi racial, multi religious and multi cultural colourful and beautiful Mother Lanka from the bite of snake DJ, and the other snakes HLDM. Your reply to DJ is timely because of the April elections.

    Section of the SLFP , UNP, JHU, JVP and other minor parties coming togethert through the effort of Ven arable Sobitha Thero and Ratna Thero and other political leaders had made the citizens of Srilanka to realize the need for the change of regime. They acted wisely on 8th Jan.

    For PIVITHURU HETAK move to gather further momentum between now and the general elections we need many doctors who can administor different types of antivenoms to save Mother Lanka from the bites of different snakes particulary the ones which are wounded and angry.

  • 4

    The failure to see what the DJ has been doing – legitimizing the eradication of minorities and the sinhala buddhistization of this island and constructing a deep state entrusted with this mission – and the failure to identify these actions as being subversive of the state and criminal in their objectives and take immediate and effective actions to expose and punish him and his associates, will lead to fascism seizing the state and spreading to become a global threat and the legitimization for the launching of a great war that will reshape the world.

  • 1

    Over to you Dayan. especially on your “silence” on the issues raised by the writer.

  • 2

    Simon, I beg to disagree.

    It is necessary for the likes of Mahendra de Silva to fully challenge and disrobe the likes of DJ in a comprehensive manner, so that impressionable minds among the readership see the other side of the coin and are therefore enlightened.

    If not, DJ and his likes will run away with a clear field in front of them, without a challenge from anyone.

    Merely sniping, ridiculing or disagreeing with DJ in short comments of sarcasm on ‘Leave a Reply’ is obviously is not working.

    Mahendra has not dignifying DJ by any means by his reply. He has merely exposed DJ with some powerful and well structured reasoning.

    Even though he might ignore readers comments (as he normally does), I bet DJ will now be obliged to respond.

    • 0

      As it is the case that people would still bend before the high profile politicians, many on CT stage too, would have views supporting to the most dangerous kind of high profile abusers. This is the nature of lanka from the indepedence. They have to improve their thinking patterns else, not many which is the decisive factor of democracies, if country should really be brought to the right direction.
      Not many woudl agree with DJ, but there still a considerable number in the coutnry that MR and his henchmen have been doing to the nation to be considered as nothing wrong – those masses would hail DJ or Mahindapala or any other men and women that would blow housanas to please Mahinda. This is the culture which is known to Egypt, Zimbabwe or anyplaces where alike men were in. My wish is at least to this people to get it .

  • 4

    I don’t think that racism rusted brain can understand the difference between patriotism to people and patriotism to Mahinda Family.

  • 3

    Well said Mahendra. But this is like pouring water on a duck’s back. Anti Tamil sentiments are ingrained in the system and I think more than 90% of the Sinhala Buddhists are racists and unsympathetic to Tamils. Men like Dayan, Nalin de Silva and Gunadasa Amarasekara thrive on this mentality. Dayan is not a “donkey”- the so called patriot knows that his comments have an audience among the Sinhala Buddhists. Dayan is ambitious and wants go better places than his father (who stuck to being a very good journalist). Dayan is sucking big time to politicians and the Sinhala Buddist mindset- hoping he can win a very high position. Offer him a good deal like a prestigious UN Posting or something of that ilk. All this shit and crap that he writes shamelessly will stop then. He has no dignity or shame- MJA

  • 0

    “intelligent patriot would not hesitate to obtain the support of even external forces such as international community to their cause”

    You are really stretching the definition. An intelligent patriot would support the War Crimes inquiry as well? IPKF? Geneva? Sanctions? An intelligent patriot would support sanctions against his own country?

    Intelligent patriotism is not very popular here in Sri Lanka

  • 3

    Good analysis of DJ by Mahendra. Obviously, this man DJ, is out of the job and out of favors. Just like his boss, DJ has lost his mind, so he writes just like MR taking the megaphone speaks to crows, after climbing on window seals and walls. They now don’t know what to do, how to get back to spot light. To cling on to the power they had. DJ is up there in full force to bring the new government down ASAP. Since as long as CBK and RW is in decision making positions, DJ will never have a chance. He dreams and dreams big. His earlier dream was to become the president of SL, now his dreams are becoming smaller. At this point he is satisfied with a diplomatic post. But the taste of FM post MR offered is good enough to kill anyone. Smart patriotism my foot. The people still give this guy some space in media, or air time are the crazy ones. These people belong in the dustbin of SL politics. OTherwise he himself claimed that he is no longer going to write in English. Cause he thinks he can still fool the sinhala readers.

  • 0

    Dumb Patriotism! Smart Patriotism!, Intelligent Patriotism! and traitors!

    A nice continum

    How Marx and Engels would have defined nationalism and patriotism.

    They were supposed to be internationalist?

    What has Dayan to do with Marx and Engels?

    Dayan has of course proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he is a racist and fascist

    Can we call him as the foremost fascist, racist of Sri lanka in the 21st century?

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