26 September, 2020

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The Election Result & The Intelligentsia – A Response To Dayan Jayatilleka

By Mark  Salter

Mark Salter

Greetings Dayan,

You conclude your latest piece with the suggestion that ‘the intelligentsia must recognize that only a social-democratic reformist program can save Sri Lanka, and in the global South, the only feasible form of social democracy is a progressive, pluralist populism fused with a moderate nationalism.’

Hardly. As is readily evident from the US to the UK, Brazil to India, populism, and in particular nationalist populism is precisely one of, if not the greatest political threat confronting democracies today. And while some form of appeal to patriotism (pace Orwell) as opposed to nationalism is certainly important in an increasingly globalized, identity-driven world, there’s precious little evidence of moderate anything in relation to either notion in either the new Lankan government or its chief opponents in the SJB. Depressingly, both sides spent the recent election campaign engaged in the customary, futile exercise of seeking to outbid each other in the Sinhala-Buddhist-nationalist stakes. The details of this are as well known to you as anyone, so it’s a little surprising to see your quickfire electoral analysis glossing over this recurring – possibly even foundational – feature of post independence politics 

In this context, getting to a progressive, pluralist anything in Sri Lanka requires both vision and leadership. Vision regarding the contours of a just, genuinely inclusive polity based on the notion of equal, all-embracing citizenship, As opposed to the routine prevalent appeal to an exclusivist majority ethnic identity. Leadership, specifically meaning being prepared to promote ideas and policies that seek to take people beyond the comfort zones of established identities and habits, irrespective of crude political calculus of the popular appeal of such ideas. This Is precisely what several of the past initiatives you reject as failed cosmopolitan liberal projects have attempted to do: a case in point being what you inaccurately call the ‘Norwegian peace process’ – in reality a wholly Sri Lankan conceived and directed project in which Norway played a circumscribed, facilitative role.

Which brings us to Mangala Samaraweera, whose new ‘radical Centre’, project you dismiss on related grounds. (I’ll leave out a response to the – again inaccurate – neo-liberal jibe you as often casually deploy here). My aim here is not to tout this new initiative – I’ve no doubt Mangala Samaraweera can and will speak for himself on that count – but simply to highlight the way in which Mangala continues to emphasize the centrality of building an inclusive national identity to taking the country forward.

Is this a ‘popular’ political vision? Probably not at this point. Does progress towards a definitive settlement of the ‘national question’ crucially depend on a new generation of politicians assuming leadership in this area? Most definitely. Meaning, among other things, that those like yourself with the ear of the SJB leadership need to work double time to assist the main opposition party to make an ideological transition away from its current, outmoded outmoded ‘moderate nationalism’ (or ‘smart patriotism’, as you used to dub it not so far back) towards the articulation and promotion of a genuinely non-racial, inclusive Sri Lankanness.

There, indeed, is a worthy political project for the next five years for you!

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Latest comments

  • 20
    2

    Any political party embracing any articulation and promotion of a genuinely non-racial or non-religious, inclusive Sri Lankanness is doomed from the start. The only Srilankanness is a fuedal mentality so apparent when you see the adoration, the thronging crowds endow on politicians from behind steel pipe barricades, trying to hold their hands as if it is an honour, but the act quickly forgotten by the high and mighty. Also it is considered an honour or achievement when the politico carries your child for thirty seconds or touch the kids head. You can also gauge this from the fact that two murderers still in jail get first or second places in their respective electoral districts while many well known (but not accosted by law) criminals for various offences are successful to enter Parliament. This year with a new generation having a vote, it was expected that this servile attitude will not be seen and that better types will win, but sadly looks all is lost.

    • 7
      2

      Dear Mark,

      promotion of a genuinely non-racial, inclusive Sri Lankanness will be dream in terms of srilanka so long Rajaapakshe ghosts would be proactive. Media mafia is mainly handled by that family also after MR was defeated in 2015. Any blant lies can become the head line news in the TV channels that work diehard for the Rajapskes. So that to turn out to be fake perception to the public is inevitable. People’s political literacy remains no differen too that of the ones in Somalia even if the writing literacies are reported to be comparable to that of a developed country. And people believe more in myths than anything else, looking at the manner so called buddhgama followers rushed to Kelaniya temple in order to worship ” fake relics” that was introdcued by a sodomite of a fake buddhist monk. Later it became clear that the relics were nothing but was a joke. Millions rushed to the temple being misled by the news. Nothing from the STATE media reacted yet clearing the doubts. That is how people are being treated by media in that part of the world.

    • 5
      2

      Mark,
      your people; most of them in UK can easily interpret the meaning of universal franchise. But our people, a whole lot of them, would not know how to use it. No matter, crime promotors, murderers, drug traffickers of any other high criminals would easily be elected by their votes. That is the greater difference between your people and that of ours. So, how can we expect them to work for inclusive srilankenness. The level of wound is not curable as appeared to be. The title of the book is real nice, but inside, you dont find it at all nice. Buddhagama- the religion of the majority is more or less like the red colour satakaya (loin cloth being used by Mahinda Rajaakshe) around his neck -those who know it well, soaked blood shoud have been the reason it to be seen as red. That fits well to their profiles. God bless srilanka.

      • 1
        5

        Mr. leela ge …..,
        .
        Stop bending backwards whenever you see a European / White Skin or christian name.
        .
        That is called inferiority complex.
        .
        .

        • 4
          1

          I should not have such complexes because I have been getting on with them for the last 3 decades. Not as a refugee which was what your SO CALLED POWERFUL president did in the US as a pretrol shed assistant. That may be the reason him to be locked up in his JANADHIPATHI mandhiraya not facing to the daily press. Leaving all the truths aside, we will see how these bitch sons and their supporters would take the nation forward. – I am very pessmistic so as European leaders towards srilanka -we are not far from becoming an another SOMALIA in Indian Ozean.
          :
          SCP, to you, please go to MONTISOORI and try to learn the basics. That can help your circles first and then the society. Thank you.
          :
          However, punnakku eaters of your nature, would do anything and everything pleasing fake adulated criminals, since you guys seem to have nothing in your head than doing so. This was common in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. Remember ?

        • 5
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          Is that why you use a European name ? When did you last bend over backwards? Which beach and to which European?

  • 8
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    A worthy political project for the next five years – unlikely – labour for 20 years.

    • 10
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      I think DJ’s style would not keep him unemployed forever. – recalling his recent past, we know how he changed his lelf and right if wanted to get posted. Not long ago, he was seen as lap dog of Rajapakshe Mahinda. And we have not forgotten, how he close he was with that bitch s son number one – Wimal Buruwanse.

  • 7
    3

    Sad sorry shittiest of them all Sri Lanka by their cheap vindictive actions last week have shown off to the entire world as to what a breed of low petty-minded racists who by their prowess in voting have shown the world that they are the worlds biggest nincompoop jokers and today the Sinhala race is the laughing stock.
    \
    By voting into power a criminal family who had for the last many a moon being ruled by the IRC world’s best-known horuma boruma Rajapuka clan and their fellow breed of low life’s.?
    \
    In the world’s media, there’s many a joke being created and posted about the Yakko’s, now the late Udurawana is finally able to rest in peace.
    \
    The stock market has not reacted with any enthusiasm is still staggering around like an alcoholic drug-affected addict.
    \
    Nowadays they in the media they are highlighting as to the previously to win the election the freedom of the press denied media are now openly exposing on the numbers of the newly afflicted numbers.
    \
    If one scroll through the lists of winning MP’s there’s hardly a soul worth his salt.
    Most of them have been in parliament with a chequered many a criminal doing and the newcomers are no better.?

    • 1
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      RJ1952,
      “The stock market has not reacted with any enthusiasm is still staggering around”
      Haven’t you heard that Nalaka Godahewa has been appointed State Minister for capital markets?
      Should have been Minister of Pumping and Dumping.

  • 5
    4

    This sad sorry shitty a Rajapuk creation very badly urgently needs change in its name –
    The hour boru Rajapukistan.
    \
    Rhymes well.+

  • 6
    1

    Interesting piece by Mark Salter. But in the present political climate, where perfectly innocuous words have acquired almost obscene meanings, is it possible to sell a “just, genuinely inclusive polity based on the notion of equal, all-embracing citizenship”?
    “Norway” ,”Federal”, “multi-cultural”, have all been turned into dirty words in the popular mind, mostly by self-serving and ignorant clergy starting from the notorious Soma Hamuduruwo. Or if we go back even earlier, the inventor of Sinhala Buddhism, the so-called Anagarika
    Recently, a senior Intelligence official complained in public about an increase in Muslim entrants to the Law College. Are Muslims not equal citizens?
    However, even Ranil the so-called liberal has a lot to answer for, since his UNP opposition it was that scuttled CBK’s Package. CBK with her 62% Presidential margin (much more than Gota) might have settled matters without killing so many people on both sides.

    • 5
      1

      OC
      Agree very much, but for the negative outlook.
      “Patriotism” cannot feed mouths. Fascism can blame the Muslims and Tamils for the impending collapse. For how long?
      Let us work towards a way to unite all potential victims of the novel Fascist threat that awaits us as the economy stars to falter.
      Never say die!

      • 2
        1

        S.J,
        Can’t help feeling negative these days. But I see some hope in the battle between Ratana and Gnanasara for the National List slot.
        Maybe the Sinhala Buddhists are not as united as they seem to be.

        • 1
          1

          OC,
          I think Ghansara should be given a chance. Let s hope the best. Athana Methana Natana Rathana should derobe and get married to live like a lay man. I see something in Ghansara, I really dont know what it is. That can however, strenghthen the opposition against rascals dominated ruling govt.

        • 1
          1

          old codger

          “Maybe the Sinhala Buddhists are not as united as they seem to be.”

          They are not.
          SLPP received just 6,853,690 votes.
          However, 9,410,195 registered electors chose not to vote for the patriots.
          What does it say?
          According one analysis SLPP received 75,000 less votes than the votes Gota received in his presidential elections.

          The Sinhala/Buddhists have been going gaga since 1950s.

        • 1
          0

          OC
          Rouges will sooner than later fall out.
          But our actions to protect the land and its people need to be regardless of such expectation.

  • 0
    0

    Mark Salter looks like a Caucasian; when faced by such it is clear that N. Perera doesn’t come up with this sort of balderdash:
    .
    “In this election, 97% MPS are Sinhalese Aryans elected to the Parliament. This shows Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese Aryans and moreover CIA gave a clear picture of Sri Lanka. 74.9% Sinhalese Aryans, 11.2% Tamils, 4.2% Indian Tamils, 9.2% Sinhalese Muslims and 0.5% others.”
    .
    It appears here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lanka-rides-a-gotabaya-surge-blends-to-a-sinhala-buddhist-ethos-election-sends-a-chilling-message/
    .
    As for me, looking myself in the mirror, I’m quite happy to acknowledge myself to have mostly Dravidian genes. I’m pretty sure that is the case with Perera as well.
    .
    Until such time as we begin to acknowledge that there is no “pure” race – and certainly not among us Sri Lankans, we will continue to destroy this country, section by section. We use three languages in this land, of course. Leelagemalli, you had elsewhere asked (SJ and) me to write something. I’m wondering whether to give my villager thoughts on ethnicity, languages – and schooling; that last being a subject that has again surfaced in the context of a Royalist having destroyed the UNP!

    • 0
      1

      Please get it right Mr SM. I woke up by reading your comment. However, I feel very like speechless.
      .
      Not Royalists or anyone alone but srilanken MEDIA mafia under Basil destroyed it. Dont you know in the high days of GOOD GOVERANCE, they requested local media to take the side of PUBLIC if they really want to see tangible changes. :::: howeever that man who is close to SRILANKEN press none other than Basil Rajakshe pumped million int othe acounts of MEDIA men. This has been a long process by that viruelnt bunch.
      . It was a long term proces and look at JVP. This is the thoughts of naive people that would always would attack Ranil W. I am not means a supporter of him, but RW and CBK were decent leaders as repeatedly displayed on the TV screens over the recent past. Alone that FAKE govt introduced by Gamarala and its nemesis was a good example to you and the ilk giving a hint about powerful nature of RW. Entire world stood behind him incl. UKs leaders.

      • 0
        1

        This is why I repeated, YOU GUYS as capable writers,

        if you could bring good articles revealing the ground reality of LOCAL MEDIA MAFIA – and how they change the public perception so that criminals would win the end. No much attention is given today if anything would come from Opposition forces. JVPrs are beaten to the earth for their political gains. Is this at all fair ?
        :
        What a country ? If minister of HEALTH of ministry of health would achieve lot for the people by reducing the prices of cancer drugs and costs of heart stents and several more tangible changes giving concessions to the people, that is very unfortunately, being not taken as ” real good values” but Rajakshes gossips become BREAKING news for headlines makers in main TV channels and alsoin printed media. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

        On long run, this would become clear to the nation, but right at the moment not.

      • 0
        0

        Dear leelagemalli,
        .
        For Chandrika, I have a good deal of respect. She had the courage to campaign on a Peace Platform and did her best. Unfortunately, Prabhakran was obdurate. When her two terms as President she gave up.
        .
        I don’t think that Ranil’s record was in any way comparable. He clung to the leadership of the Party. He is not a friendly and outgoing man. Going into bond scams etc. is not something I want to do now.
        .
        I think that he mishandled Sirisena, made him feel insecure and inferior. Anyway, there’s no point going on with postmortems. As for that thing about Royal College, I just thought it a good joke. These schools, and “alma maters” are taken much too seriously in Sri Lanka.
        .
        If you want me to be serious, I re-affirm that the schooling of every child should be taken seriously. Actually, I’d wrtitten out a four part comment, butonly one has got posted as yet. I must attend to it now – having searched for the place where I placed Part A.

  • 0
    3

    Sri Lankan voters generally follow North Indian voting. When North India goes to the nationalist extreme so do the Lankan voters. Unless and until North India sheds nationalism (and racism) it is very unlikely SL will break the trend.

    The national question has a sad racist definition that excludes 85% of Sri Lankans. For that reason it is doomed. If it is rephrased to include all then it is workable.

    Sinhalese also need a Sinhala only nation as Tamils want Tamil Elam. Muslims can decide if they want a separate nation. Division of the island equitably into these nations is the only solution to the national question of Sri Lankans. (Unless of course there is no national question and everyone lives in one nation which will be ruled by racism as people are divided).

    SJB was used as a vehicle by Tamil and Muslim politicians to creep in to parliament. Even fewer Sinhalese will vote for it the next time. JVP was floored because it picked up ethnic community equality dumped by others.

    • 3
      1

      Nations are ethnic and linguistic and never been on a religious basis, as ethnic and linguistic ties are stronger than religious ties. For example there is very little common between a Sinhalese or Tamil Christian with a White British Christian or a Black African Muslim with a Turkish Muslim. The only country that was formed on the basis of religion Pakistan fell apart and tore into two on the basis of ethnicity. A common religion could keep the largely dark skinned Dravidian eastern Bengali Muslim bound to the largely light skinned Indo Aryan Punjabi/Pathan Muslims of the west. The Sri Lankan Muslim identity is a basically a religious identity and not an ethnic identity , despite claiming to be otherwise and trying to justify it with a fake Arab/Moor origin , that a other than a few hundred families , they hardly have. They are basically South Indian Tamil Dravidian converts to Islam. A little bit of Arab in a few families does not make them Arab or anything else. They are part of the Tamil nation and if they wish to change or deny this can become part of the Sinhalese and change their language. The island had from ancient times had two nations Sinhalese and Tamil. Sinhalese down south and Tamil in the NE .

      • 3
        1

        There is no history of any Islamic nation for them to claim a nationhood. They are recent Tamil Dravidian converted refugees/immigrants from South India , who have no history of nationhood or land ownership in the island to claim nationhood. Arriving in the Tamil east as refugees fleeing Portuguese and Sinhalese persecution a few centuries ago and now due to current political situation and Tamil dispossession, does not give them a right to steal the land of the Tamil people in the east and claim a separate nationhood for them. If they do not want to live with their fellow non Muslim Tamils , then can move to the Sinhalese areas and become part of the Sinhalese nation. We will see how they will be treated by the Sinhalese .

        • 1
          0

          The concept of nation is post-capitalist.
          Nations have defined themselves in context.
          Ask yourself why Telengana wanted to part from Andhra, although speaking the same language.
          Will the Hill Country Tamils like to be part of a Tamil Eelam, even if there is geographic contiguity?
          I doubt if a majority of Tamils outside India will like to be part of a global ‘Tamilnadu’.
          *
          The Sikhs are identified as a distinct nationality from Hindu and Muslim Punajabis..
          *
          Han Muslims are recognized as a nationality in China with a huge Han majority.
          Bosnian Muslims and Croats are the same as Serbs by race. But religion played a role in the emergence of separate identities. Muslims were recognized as a nationality in Yugoslavia.
          *
          If the Muslims here want a separate identity one cannot impose a Tamil identity on them.
          Why do Tamil and Kerala Muslims accept their linguistic identity while those in the north-west of India would not?
          Much depends on how they are received by the majority.
          Many Lankan Tamil nationalists have a hegemonic attitude that hurts people.
          Try a civilized, sincere and friendly approach and they even may come begging. Talk in a haughty fashion, they will be driven further away.
          *
          Let each community decide its identity.

      • 2
        1

        You are right. IF not how is it that the Muslims speak Tamil all over Srilanka-Hambantota to Point Pedro as their mother tong.

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