25 October, 2020

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The National Question: The Eye Of The Storm

By Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe

Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe

Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe

Demarcation and Contention between a People’s Democratic Agenda And a Chauvinist-Supremacist / Neo-Fascist Agenda

Demarcations

It is important to raise the discussion on the National Question beyond just agitated and polarized polemics to a level of a theoretical discourse where contending arguments can be evaluated based on the sheer logic of rational discourse and persuasion. This will be important for two main reasons; The National Question is, once again, going to occupy center stage in the unfolding of volcanic political turmoil and violent contention that could tear and split society apart. The National Question is now bound up with the issue of truth, accountability and justice concerning allegations of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, including war crimes, sexual atrocities and crimes against humanity. These issues shall impact on how the National Question comes to be defined and resolved. In plain words, the Tamil National Question, the fate of the Tamil Nation, shall hang on who decides on how these issues are to be resolved. Those who stand for truth, accountability and justice as a matter of principle, shall stand for a democratic solution to the National Question, on the basis of respecting the right of self-determination. They shall oppose and resist all forms of chauvinist supremacy, hegemony and domination, in order to arrive at a political solution where the various nations, nationalities and communities shall claim, share and care for this Land as the united People of Lanka, while fostering and nurturing the progressive, liberating, democratic content of their distinctive civilizing traditions, culture and ways of life. They shall strive to forge new relations of mutual trust and respect, based on principles of voluntary union, solidarity and cooperation. This is a vision of a new Lanka, based on celebrating the unity, diversity, equality and integrity of the People of Lanka. A radical democratic vision of a liberated Lanka.

Those who oppose this democratic agenda shall stand to reinforce and perpetuate the reality of military occupation and political subjugation of the Tamil Nation. This is in order to seize power and enforce a neo-fascist, chauvinist-supremacist dictatorship and agenda. This logic and process will be driven by the contention between rival fractions of the ruling class, backed by their respective foreign backers and patrons. The whole of society will be forced to decide on which side of the barricade they stand on. The Tamil National Question will occupy a central place in a line of demarcation between a neo-fascist-chauvinist-hegemonic-supremacist agenda, and a radical people’s democratic agenda. These two opposing forces shall more and more forge themselves as the two final contenders in the battle for power and political supremacy. The organic depths of the spiraling, intensifying, engulfing political crisis will sweep away all in-between, fake players and compromises and leave the field open for the most decisive contention between the forces representing the future and freedom, against the forces of the darkest neo-fascist reaction.

No more Space for Capitulation and Compromise

The space for a middle path of cosmetic reforms and capitulating compromise will be narrowed by the rising anger, bitterness and awareness of a betrayed people. All such illusions shall evaporate as the system plunges deeper into crisis and the State itself faces an irresolvable crisis of legitimacy – the right to command sole, undisputed power and authority to exercise the right to rule over society through popular consent. Through the most bitter experience of being played and betrayed over and over again, the masses of exploited, toiling, oppressed people of Lanka shall become aware of the diabolical game of deadly deceit and fatal deception being played on their lives, dreams and future, and by whom and how it is being played. The time is ripening when the oppressed people shall sweep away all leaders and parties, discard all ideologies and rituals, and overcome all enforced divisions, that have barricaded them from playing their true role in history; To fight for the liberation of the land and the people of Lanka. This is to be in the context of advancing the cause of the universal emancipation of humankind from all forms of domination, subjugation and slavery. These advanced forces shall mount the stage of history to take command of the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed people of Lanka to achieve genuine national independence, unity, self-reliance, dignity, security and democratic freedom. Do not degrade nor dismiss such a possibility. The path of national liberation and social revolution has been drenched with the blood of the fallen martyrs, and their heroic sacrifice and that of the people remain warm deep in the hearts of those who have survived and yet to live. They shall learn to break their chains of subjugation and slavery, and rise to conquer their dream of freedom. This has been the logic and motion of history through which humankind has evolved and survived to achieve conscious mastery over Nature, Society and the Self through advancing revolutionary struggle and radical social transformation. Revolution is the midwife of history.

Inter-Imperialist Contention for Global Supremacy

The system of world imperialism lunges deeper into a spiraling crisis where each imperialist power is forced to expand its own empire of blood, profit and plunder at the expense of all its contending rivals. The world is being driven by the logic of the spread of genocidal war, based on the most reactionary-competing fascist agendas –some in the name of ‘democracy and freedom’ and others in the name of god and religion – aimed at establishing world domination. The Land and the People of Lanka are being played by the imperialist and regional powers in this deadly game of chess aimed at achieving world domination. They have all sunk their deadly fangs deep into our lifelines in order to play us as a link in their respective geo-political strategic agendas. If you are not aware of this dialectic of development, or if you prefer to run and hide away from these emerging realities, or if you insist on being framed and played by the rulers and their masters, then this analysis would appear contrived and extreme. But if you stand at the barricades of history, you shall see the looming demarcations and polarizations that the global system of world imperialism is driving humankind to confront and overcome. In this context, we are obligated to raise the discussion on the National Question to its proper scientific basis and theoretical status. This is, unless we are prepared to be played by the marauding, hungering wolves who shall prey on the Tamil Nation, as they shall play and prey upon the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation, The Hill Country and Moslem Nationalities, the various ethnic-religious communities, constituting the People of Lanka. Either we shall stand together and fight and win our freedom, or none shall.

Line of Demarcation

In its concrete, historical context, the demarcating question is framed whether the Tamil people co-habiting in the North and East constitute a nation, and therefore enjoy the inherent constitutional and fundamental democratic right to nationhood and statehood; Or, whether they are to be considered an ‘alien’ ethnic minority being subject to the political hegemony and supremacy of the dominant, majority nation, as defined and dictated by a hegemonic-chauvinist-supremacist State and enforced by its terminally corrupt ruling class? This is the essence of the line of demarcation. This is the very same line of demarcation, the very same volcanic structural fault-line – that culminated in a most brutal, protracted internal war, and has now plunged the land and the people into an even worse pit of crisis and disintegration. This time around, the line of demarcation has become that much more volcanic as the Tamil National Question itself has been entangled in a web of international power politics and internally, the ruling class has split into rival, desperate antagonistic camps for their own survival, where they shall all capitulate and compete for the banner of Sinhala-Buddhism supremacy and hegemony. The Tamil nation, along with the Land and the People of Lanka shall be thrown into the vortex of imperialist/neo-colonial politics. These developments may truly plunge the Land and the People of Lanka into a vortex of inter-imperialist rivalry and penetration, driving the logic of internal civil war. These are the most fatal stakes involved.

Right of Nationhood and Statehood: The Essence of Self-Determination

Nations are forged through historical evolution, when communities inhabit a given territory and share a common heritage, social economy, language and psychological make-up over a period of time to have evolved as a distinct and stable community. Nations are also forged through civil war and political struggle. The United States was forged as a nation through military conquest, a separatist war and united through civil war. Australia was also forged by invasion, occupation and subjugation of the native population. Israel has also been forged through invasion and military occupation. The modern Tamil nation is a historically evolved distinct and stable community of people who had lived in the areas of their historical habitation for over centuries and whose nationhood has been reinforced in modern times through decades of bitter struggle for national liberation and self-determination. Tamil nationhood is a historically established and politically affirmed fact of life. So, away with all pedantic and bigoted interpretations of history. It is never a matter of who came first. In that case, the United States of America would belong to the Native Americans and the Zionist nation of Israel would have no basis for existence. Throughout its historical evolution, this Land of Lanka has been inhabited mainly by Sinhala, Tamil (both indigenous and Hill Country) and Moslem people’s and other national minorities such as Ja, Malay and Burgher. They have all shed their blood, sweat and tears for this Land. This is their historic homeland, to be shared and nurtured together as the people of Lanka. It is of course an indisputable fact that the Sinhala-Buddhist nation had also been forged and unified through war and conquest and has become the numerically preponderant majority. It is also a fact that Sinhala-Buddhist civilization had laid the foundations for the evolution of this nation since ancient times. Indeed, it has a proud heritage adorned by marvels of scientific, philosophical, architectural, technological and literary achievements. The Sinhala-Buddhist nation has its pride of place in the Land of Lanka, but not at the cost of degrading nor subjugating any other nation or nationality. Not does this pride of place confer any exclusive privileges over others. The claim of singular and exclusive right of nationhood and statehood to the Sinhala-Buddhist nation as a basis of denying this right to others is an expression of ‘dominant nation’ chauvinism – and should be rejected outright. It does not matter what the source of historical narrative or authority is invoked. Indeed, the true great stature of the Sinhala-Buddhist nation lies in according the same pride of place to all other nations and nationalities as integral components of the one, indivisible people of Lanka. It is the systematic denial and violent suppression of this fundamental democratic right of nationhood and statehood to the Tamil nation through imposing and enforcing the supremacy and hegemony of the dominant Sinhala-Buddhist nation as a weapon of dividing and conquering the people, as implemented and intensified by every successive Sinhala-dominated regime that lies at the very root of the ideology and politics of separatism. The politics of separatism was hatched in the incubator of systematic, gross and intensifying violent suppression of the right of nationhood and statehood of the Tamil people. Terrorism was of course fathered by the State against Sinhala, Tamil and Moslem people. The military liquidation of two Sinhala youth insurgencies in the South equaled the brutality and barbarism of state terrorism in the North. It is important to establish the law and link of dependent and antecedent causation when you analyze a problem. That is basic Buddhist epistemology and scientific method, which lies eons beyond the tribal-racist, ‘blood of the lion’, Neanderthal mind-set of neo-fascist/ chauvinist forces, constituting the dominant ruling class- regardless of party, banner, coalition or color.
As a historically evolved nation forged through immense struggle and sacrifice, the Tamil people also enjoy the inherent right of statehood. A right they had enjoyed throughout the pre-colonial era. Statehood can be exercised either in the form of internal, autonomous self-rule within a single state, or as a separate, independent state. Internal self-determination does not mean two separate countries, but parallel forms of autonomous self-governance coexisting within an undivided country and expressed through a form of power sharing at the center and periphery. The forms, mechanisms and institutions of internal self-rule can be so articulated creatively and flexibly so it does not discriminate nor disadvantage any nationality or community, but provides the firm basis for voluntary union and positive coexistence. If the democratic foundation of sharing power is firm and unassailable, then we would never have to fear of enforced separation, but be assured of positive and enduring coexistence based on relations of voluntary union and spirited cooperation.

At the Cross-Roads of History

If this most basic democratic right is not honored and if it is to be further violently suppressed, then the country and society shall be at a permanent state of violent division and conflict. A country or nation divided shall fall prey to foreign powers, as has been the case throughout colonial history. If the demand for sharing power on the basis of equality and autonomy is to be denied and suppressed, then the Tamil people shall learn better how to fight for and win their independence and liberation. As Mao had stated, “where there is oppression, there shall be resistance’. So, we stand at the cross-roads of history. Whether to adopt a radical people’s democratic path and agenda, based on respecting the right to Tamil nationhood and statehood, leading to a united, self-reliant, independent, democratic and prosperous future. Or, to languish in the gloom of tribal-fascist bigotry and fall prey to each and all marauding predator powers out to devour us from within. The choice is ours – yours and mine.

*Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe – Secretary – Ceylon Communist Party-Maoist and Chairman – Anti-Imperialist People’s Alliance

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    The politics of separatism was hatched in the incubator of systematic, gross and intensifying violent suppression of the right of nationhood and statehood of the Tamil people.

    These words must be etched in stone and placed at the portals of all our institutions, beginning with The House of Parliament.

    • 0
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      Nathan

      Tamil people you talking about are less than 5%

      Soma

  • 2
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    There was some hope in the minds of the Tamils when the so-called yahapalanaya government got installed. It is a fact that this government would have never come to power without the bulk votes of the Tamils and a large number of Muslims. Now this hope is fast receding and is being replaced by frustration and anger with the overwhelming presence of the military in their midst ever showing their intimidatory presence to the hapless woman headed families in their tens of thousands, continuing to occupy the grabbed lands and grabbing more lands, arrest of rehabilitated youths through the notorious abduction on white vans and several other oppressive measures continuing eight years after the end of the war!

    Sengodan. M

    • 0
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      Sendagon

      “There was some hope in the minds of the Tamils when the so-called yahapalanaya government got installed.”

      Who gave you hopes?

      You must avoid taking sides within cut-throat hate mongering politics among the Sinhalese. As it stands more than 50% of the Sinhala electorate have voted for Rajapaksha – that is some number.

      Back room horse trading is not the approach to solve a “national question”

      Soma

  • 0
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    Excellent article by Surendra. The national question will remain the urgent issue of the day until a large number of Sinhalese start speaking out on the atrocities done to the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

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    Surely there can’t be 2 Tamil Nationhoods – Tamil Nadu (Eelam proper) and Eelam (Sri Lanka). They will soon merge into one, and soon cause the ultimate imbalance in monetary, cultural and religious entitlement of the one and only Sinhala Nation.

  • 1
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    Surendra.

    After reading your essay,I am reminded of having read a similar piece of reasoning by that French Philosopher Montaigne in my salad days at Peradeniya.
    Thoughts and Ideas transcend continents,whether it be France or China!
    Oops! France,China or Srilanka!
    Fine.I appreciate your thinking!

  • 0
    0

    These truthful writings by this honest Author is well known to all those in power in Sri Lanka. As we watch the direction of Sri Lanka it is very obvious the policy of those in power is to make hay while the sun shines and nothing more. When the hay was getting scarce in 2015, they made a change to get more hay and now they got more hay, it is the time for those in power to make hay for themselves. The truth and the future is not a concern again. For now again North and East can be made to hatch fear among their voters and prepare them for their next come back. Comparing the Tamil rebellion of the oppressed Tamils to the world terrorism and oppressing the Tamils more and more with increased arrests and dreaming of annihilating all non Sinhalese and scaring the Tamils to convert or die! Let us wait for the next time of getting more hay!

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