5 July, 2022

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The Fall Of Mahinda And ‘The End Of History’

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“Of battles won or lost—but fought…”—Che Guevara

Having argued for years that (a) Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa is no dictatorship but a unipolar democracy because of the meltdown of the centre-right UNP under its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and (b) that the Opposition should put forward a liberal nationalist instead, my perspective has been at least partly vindicated. Why then was Mr. Sirisena my second choice rather than my first? An obvious reason is the Ranil-Chandrika factor (or factors). The second was his program of fast-track radical political reform and its possible centrifugal consequences.

The Opposition strategists got it right and therefore they won. They outmaneuvered and outplayed Mahinda Rajapaksa and his camp, and in that sense deserved to win. The Opposition’s strategy was to win the vast majority of the minorities and a minority of the majority, by generating a split in the majority vote. It worked. The game plan was transparent and had been rolled out by Mangala Samaraweera in a Sunday paper months ago. If the 2012 video of Dr. Rajitha Senaratne is authentic (and I haven’t heard any statement to the contrary) the game-plan went a few years back and had at least one particular provenance, at the outset. He addressed a media conference that year to disclose that prominent pro-Tiger Tamil Diaspora activist Charles Gnanakone had attempted to inveigle two MPs with large financial blandishments, accompanying it with a narrative that “they” had decided to replace the Rajapaksa administration, that Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Samaraweera were on board, and that at an appropriate moment, ex-President Kumaratunga will return to Sri Lanka in order to break into the SLFP.

This bears very striking resemblance to what actually went down. It worked because the compensatory vote from the majority community was not sufficient to compensate for the near-total loss of the minorities and the slice of majority votes garnered by the excellent choice of Maithripala Sirisena as candidate. To reiterate, the Opposition game plan proved to be a good one, and it succeeded.

It could not have done so if not for the intrinsic weakness of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Presidency. President Rajapaksa paid heavily for the sins of his family. The post-war model of the Rajapaksa administration was not compatible with the social needs of peacetime. That postwar model was animated far more by the doctrine, attitude, mindset and discourse of Gotabaya Rajapaksa than Mahinda Rajapaksa. If Mahinda Rajapaksa won the war with the managerial dedication of Gotabhaya, he lost the peace and therefore the election also because of the personality and policy impositions of those who failed to transcend that time and progress towards normalcy.

When the TNA leadership met President Rajapaksa before the investiture of Justice Wigneswaran as Chief Minister, they told him that they could contribute a million votes, should the Northern Provincial Council be made viable. The first item on that agenda was the replacement of Gen Chandrasiri with a civilian governor. As it turned out, Gen Chandrasiri was not merely retained but also extended, thereby dashing the hopes of the TNA and going contrary to the indications given to India. That decision was pushed through by Gotabhaya. There went the last chance of Mahinda Rajapaksa obtaining any portion of the TNA’s vote bank.

It was Dr. Rajitha Senaratne who told me that Mahinda Rajapaksa had ordered while still overseas, the arrest of the BBS rabble rousers after Aluthgama. That arrest was thwarted by an intelligence report presented to the president upon arrival, that any such crackdown would probably trigger nationwide rioting. That dereliction, coming on top of the optics of Gotabhaya at an event featuring the top BBS monks, with the consequent impression of tolerance if not patronage of the BBS by the state apparatus, caused the loss of virtually the entirety of the Muslim vote.

The grave mismanagement of foreign policy, again driven in the final analysis by the hardline defense bureaucracy, lost us the support of India, while the BBS factor lost us the Islamic states of the OIC. This created a broad Indo-US-Islamic external coalition with considerable local assets, and a vested interest in regime change. It worked.

The main challenge that President Sirisena faces is twofold. One is domestic geopolitics. The majority of the majority ethno-religious community, the core of the island’s demographics, did not vote primarily for him but rather for his opponent, President Rajapaksa. The other is that the program and platform of President Sirisena involves an untested systemic transition which may result in unstable multipolar ‘jockeying’ and prove susceptible to external and minoritarian pressure groups. I would urge him to drop the abolition of the executive presidency and the fast-track approach. Instead he should be a normal President, serve his term while retaining executive power while slimming down the surplus power of the executive through a gradualist and consensual approach. A referendum on whether the executive presidency should be abolished, retained or reformed would be a good idea. If he sticks to a fast-track abolition (and permits neoliberal economic policies as well), the Sri Lankan State will not only be scrubbed clean as it should be, but also vulnerable to centrifugal pressures (especially at its ethnic periphery) and thus weakened, retrenched, diminished. Theda Skocpol has through painstaking socio-historical research, sourced much of violent upheaval in such a retrenchment of the state.

As an early critic of the negative postwar trends, I could see it coming. However, I chose to get off the fence and support President Rajapaksa (just as I did President Premadasa), because I regarded and still regard him as far more sinned against than sinning, and his merits as greatly outweighing his demerits. Put more simply I tend to support the hero—or, as in this case, the anti-hero–especially if he is an underdog (provided it isn’t rabid, like the Tigers or the JVP of the ’80s). I have no regrets.

What has happened is not merely the defeat of a President. It is the end of a cycle; perhaps even an age. What has dawned may be a new one or a return to an older pre-war period. That remains to be seen. Yet there is something else beyond this. It is the defeat of a certain idea, project, paradigm, way of being and set of values, which may be traced back to the political struggle against the CFA and reaching a high point in the military victory and diplomatic success of the last war. The ethos could be regarded as that of wartime, or more dramatically, the Spirit of 2009. Despite all my criticisms I supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in all three of his elections- 2005, 2010 and 2015—because I shared those values more than I did those of his opponents on each occasion. This time five million people shared those views but that was not enough.

What has happened is not only an end of a paradigm but a more basic sociological phenomenon. The father of ‘elite theory’, the Italian Vilfredo Pareto, wrote of a pattern in the history of societies of the rotation or circulation of elites of two main types, for which he borrowed the symbolism appearing in Machiavelli’s The Prince, and dubbed the Lions and the Foxes. Mahinda Rajapaksa was a Lion and he represented the age of the Lion. He and it have now been replaced by the age of Foxes.

In his “The End of History and the Last Man”, Francis Fukuyama famously applauds the definitive victory of liberal democracy as a universally acceptable idea of organizing governance, but his applause is deeply tinged with regret. He views this victory as one of the end of the heroic age and values that Nietzsche had extolled (looking back nostalgically at Homeric Greece). Nietzsche had been bitterly sardonic about the imminent triumph of what he termed “the age of the flea” and the arrival of the un-heroic Last Man, whose consciousness was essentially that of a consumer. Fukuyama, a liberal who applauded the victory of liberal democratic capitalism, was nonetheless enough of a philosopher to lament that arrival.

All that said Maithripala Sirisena as President is infinitely preferable to having Ranil Wickremesinghe or Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in that role. The people have voted for change and the unipolar situation has ended. I hope the new leadership will reconsider the fast-track systemic change and instead consult the people at a referendum before undertaking any adventurist experiments with the constitution.

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Latest comments

  • 62
    2

    Dayan,
    As a journalist, you are disgrace to your father!

    You now speak about a plan hatched by Mangala in 2012 to oust Mahinda. Just prior to the elections when everyone was clear that Mahinda was going to lose, you were hopeful and praying that he should be retained. Why didn’t you talk about this plan then before the election.

    [Edited out]

    You can’t buy or convince anyone with your rhetoric now. Everyone knows the Chinese/ American Indian influences in our politics
    Jam

  • 46
    2

    These types of poeple are just a chewed up beetle leaf. Now he is in the spitoo thrown by his oen master. Havind guys like DJ to represent sri lanka is a shame. Go get your self a job and make your self valuble to this country and not been a pain in the butt. Real born sucker you are and a big time looser, moron.

  • 41
    1

    I hope this depitakatu will go away for good.

    Seeing Dayan’s name in print brings vomit to the mouth. How can the sperm of great men produce garbage like this. Or was it a mix up?

    I pray to the Almighty please spare us the torture of having to put up with vermin like him.

    Amen.

  • 29
    0

    So what is going to happen to friend Rajpal Abeynayake.

    He is going to be plotting how best to kiss Maithiri’s rear end .

    • 1
      0

      how about your own kind the elusive KP, Karuna, Pillayan?/ Douglas is already Chandrikas catch- she did mention she had no problems from him for 11 years.
      If you touch them you are the most dreaded terrorist once again- tight rope for villagers so just leave it to the urban folk to develop matters as it comes along.

      You may have heard Bob Dylan first sing `you may be the queen of england but you have to serve somebody and daily noise Rajpal is no different because he works for the prevailing authority.

      You village mutts have many a skeleton in your cupboards than the eye meets.

  • 37
    1

    Dayan,

    You have proved to be a complete Mutt – now totally unemployed and unemployable too.

    Go hangout with MR and have some Hamabdnthota Ganja – it will help restore neural connections in your brain that you have long lost.

  • 31
    0

    Dayan, Dayan……got it wrong again :-)

    …go back to the real world and see….you might have seen this coming…

    funny ….now talking about getting the TNA vote…only a few weeks ago you were talking about our Douglas Devanada…who even failed to deliver his own seat LOL

  • 31
    3

    Dayan,

    I always maintain about Who you are:

    Opportunistic, Racist and a liar.

  • 21
    1

    End of a political clown to0 who changes his opinion like the weather.

    Dayan J, you are still fighting the cold war in your head.

  • 13
    0

    The greatest event in the recent history of Sri Lanka and the best, (with apologies to William Wordsworth).Let us wait and watch. Bensen

  • 5
    3

    “Of battles won or lost—but fought…”—Che Guevara

    The battles Che was talking about was neither for any chauvinism, nor for some privileges for a part of the society,

    Without solving our political issues through a negotiation nothing will change. We are going to fight the next nepotism, next corruption, simply we are not developed

    What is left today?
    1. A war hero, like Adolf Hitler, who decided for a “Endloesung
    ( Final solution)”
    2. A Goebbels. who justified everything Adolf Hitler done in UN
    3. A union leader sitting as an alibi for left, who was an idol for workers for years, luckily German Union leaders had a different consciousness
    4. Catholic and protestant church supporting the regime ( exception was
    bekennende Kirche Bonhoefer´s faction very few) Majority of Christians like Bhuddhist factions in SL supported the regime in Germany
    5. White vans, with thousands of abducted and disappeared
    6. Military takes the civil administration in north and East
    7. Every 10 meters we have a military camp
    8. Para Tamil military forces, who still have weapons and play an important role of implementing govt., forces and their interest

    What will you do now? I mean you Dayan Jayathilaka, Vasudeva Nanayakara, the mourning Tamil woman from Geneva, Rajiva Wijesinghe and all the left overs politically?

    No doubt, you will enjoy your pensions, properties you have built up.

    What is your role in the society? What do you tell your students, who believed you?

    Please let me know?

    You know the decision the leaders in National Socialism has taken. I wish you won´t

    Don´t classify me as an mental or someone who cannot write proper English, this will drive you apart from issue

    Thank You

  • 11
    1

    I can understand all these – but DJ was dishonest in predicting that MR would win again, despite knowing well that it will not happen.

    He is like the Karna of Mahabharatha.

    • 4
      0

      he is a former alter boy in love with the dictator and that is natural like the socialist he is craving for places where he brushes shoulders with similar scum.
      majority sihala minority christian and very convenient to say a confession with blood of the martyer on both hands be it sihala or tamil youth. While the christian west has no legal death sentence.cardinal and his loving bishops being persecuted is very sihala buddhist shit bucket.
      Its all in the genes not in the name for fame of mistaken identity.

  • 22
    1

    Dayan Jayatilaka is a disgraceful person.
    Last few weeks he despicably worked for dictator Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    Now what a shame he talks about.

  • 13
    1

    Recently in an interview with private media, you open up a theory that Ranil- Chandrika will hand over Mahinda R to war crime for some million Dollar deal.

    Will you strip off your doctorate if this will not happen in next 10years.
    Because it is a shame you to be address as a Doctor with full dirt in your mouth and difference to your buddy Wimal Modawansa

  • 13
    1

    Dayan, your time is up. You slept with MR twice and got the boot. You had not outlet. Then you latched on the MTV News First and led the public astray about diplomacy, governance and Geneva-gate. Then you tried to sleep with Mahinda Rajapakse for the third time dropping all your big talk like a brick. Now the people have spoken. You CANNOT be taken seriously about anything you write or talk at all. Media should not entertain Dayan. He is bloody humbug and schemer. You are just a BIG TALKER. Please get lost forever or go the MR’s home in the south and you can sleep with until he give another kick in the backside.

  • 13
    0

    Dyan, you probably believe your own spin. You are so buttressed by your hatred for CBK followed closely by you distaste of RW…. u write with polish but lack credibility…. your mumbo jumbo international relations is also full of verbiage like GLP…… Take the wood out from your eyes and see MR for what he is two bit cur a chandiya, from the Gama who put in his family and golayas and helped himself to borrowed funds …..now intellectualizing things in retrospect … pithy really. go back to the gutter…….
    Rik

  • 14
    1

    Dayan de Silva

    Do not talk nonsense. You are not a Political Scientist. You are a worthless stooge. You need to accept the fact that those people such as Ranil, Chandrika and Mithripala that you are always trying to attack are much more capable and educated than you. You might say that you have a first class honors degree from Peradeniya and a PhD from Griffiths. But you have not learnt a thing. Your head is full of rubbish theories. You are not a gentleman or a good and responsible citizen. Now that MR is not there to give you a meal at peoples expense, you are a nobody. Accept that fact and just shut up.

  • 12
    0

    What is wrong with this man? ‘Age of foxes’? Cant he accept the defeat of his hopes gracefully-or should I say disgracefully?

  • 8
    0

    Dayan de Silva

    Do not talk nonsense. You are not a Political Scientist. You are a worthless stooge. You need to accept the fact that those people such as Ranil, Chandrika and Maithripala that you are always trying to attack are much more capable and educated than you. You might say that you have a first class honors degree from Peradeniya and a PhD from Griffiths. But you have not learnt a thing. Your head is full of rubbish theories. You are not a gentleman or a good and responsible citizen. Now that MR is not there to give you a meal at peoples expense, you are a nobody. Accept that fact and just shut up.

  • 6
    10

    Congratulations to Maithreepala Sirisena, and his team. Commiserations to MR and his team.

    Thank you Dayan for your columns during the campaign. More often than not I disagreed with you but I found your writing very interesting and readable. I am surprised by the venom that some of your critics throw at you but that is the price you pay when you say what you very well know will annoy your audience.

    Hopefully you will continue to entertain, educate and occasionally annoy us with your classy contributions.

  • 4
    0

    MaRa calls Donkey an NGO man.
    Now Donkey brays back MaRa is an Anti-Hero.

    Donkey and MaRa scratching each others’ dirty backs to hide both are long term CIA stooges.
    Dayan Jayatilleke’s cover is going to blow soon when the Chinese realise how Mahinda Rajapaksa had taken them on a ride.

    Worrying to see comments too playing down what a crook father of the donkey was too.

  • 6
    0

    Don’t think anyone beyond your household cares who your first or second choice was/is and justify same & do us all a favour by not try creep into MS camp.

    Just get a regular job now and carry on.

  • 6
    0

    Oops Day an , You just missed the plane.Gotta has left without you. He was looking for you to help him carry the loot.

  • 10
    0

    I am shocked to see this article from Dayan. I do not know with what face he wrote this. He is the one who was supporting and defending Rajapakse and predicted that Rajapakse will win. Its time for you to rest your pen Dayan. As most of us predicted you are a spent force and you should now go and polish the shoes of your friend Rajiva. Although Rajiva too was with Rajapakse at the end he realized his mistake and changed side.

  • 8
    0

    It is one thing to support a person of your choice but it is horrible when you utter absolute untruths such as ” if Maithripala wins they will hand over MR for a war crimes investigation ” I also heard you commenting on ITN even on election day- trying to make use of the terrorism in Paris to influence the voters when this was an unlawful thing to do. I lost what little respect I had for you. You are just as third class as the rest of MR’S advisers. Only difference is you come in the guise of an intellectual but by now most people have seen through you.They recognise you for rotting garbage .

  • 12
    0

    Even Mahinda chased you out. You are a shame for everyone who knows you. Now you want to come up with a “mada baldiya”. Just pour it over your head.

  • 10
    0

    You shameless disgrace of humanity..put your not too smart head on the ground and keep it there

  • 7
    0

    You just wasted much valuable air time and the printed page and is just a spent force.There is a whole bunch of you who operated under the “spell” of Hero Worship and did not have the analytical mind or character to judge the book according to its content.

  • 5
    1

    Dayan De Silva,

    Your best bet for a juicy position will rest on your dear friend Prof Rajeva to put in a good word with MS. You can then go there with your tail between your legs!

    • 1
      0

      But the tail has been twice sold.

  • 9
    0

    Every leader needs their boot licking jokers.
    Premedasa had AJ ranasingha and Azwar.
    Chandrika had Dilan, SB
    MR had a whole heap – Mervin, Sajin Vass, Kudu Duminda, Mahindananda and ofcourse JOKER Dayan Jayathilake.

    Its really difficult for me to believe that he is his fathers son. May be there was a switch in the hospital.

    PS: this is the VERY SAME Dayan who was with the EPRLF when it had a armed para military group backed, trained and armed by India and when EPRLF declared independence.

    • 0
      0

      [Edited out]

  • 10
    0

    I think the Srilankans are smart enough to understand the making of a dictator in Mahinda RAjapaksa and voted him out.
    We Srilankans are also smart enough to unmask a turn coat, wannabe Marxist or very simply a political prostitute.
    We reap what we sow.
    From now on let the bovins eat grass, let’s savour our liberation to think independently and critically.
    Adieu mon chère.

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