First of all, I wish to express my respect and gratitude to Colombo Telegraph for offering the space for open debate and discussion on the vital topics of the day.
I feel it is important that we begin to get beyond the highly subjective discourse on the political character of Prabhakaran and the LTTE, and approach the subject with a scientific sociological perspective. Where we position ourselves on the ideological political spectrum, and the way we charter the future, will depend on this exercise. This discourse has served to polarize Sri Lankan Society. The official position, supported by the majority trend has been to characterize both Velupillai Prabhakarn and the LTTE as fascist, representing the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world. At the other end, there are those who would immortalize Prabhakaran as a hero and a martyr, descending from the legendary line of Chola conquerors. I disagree with both these emotive, subjective interpretations, which violate science and the quest for truth and justice, and deny the theoretical and ethical foundations for bringing about reconciliation. Simply piling up bibliographical references as sources of indisputable authority, or appealing to the consciousness of the mob, or idealizing and romanticizing the issue will not substitute for principled theoretical debate and scientific dissection. My objective is to raise the challenge as to the path that can deliver us from the politics of fascist terror, once and for all!
My purpose here is to dissect this concept of fascism, both in its theoretical essence and its application in popular discourse. I have done this before in my previous articles. Somehow, some commentators have deliberately chosen to miss the point, with an allegation that I am trying to justify all of Prabhakaran’s and the LTTE’s political line and practice. For some, the theoretical argument is too complex to grasp. They don’t take the time to engage, but find satisfaction in taking this or that aspect, simply to record their statements. Some simply find pleasure in giving vent to pent up frustrations. Other’s rush to the judgment that I am a traitor, simply because I do not wish to take part in the ‘kiribath’ culture of the conquerors who feast upon the blood of a vanquished nation. It is time we got rid of this mind-set manufactured by the status quo that we have now eradicated terrorism and all notions of a Tamil nation, and can now live happily ever after in peace and freedom on our way to a miracle, in a paradise on Earth. These are fatal delusions that entrap us in political slavery. Question your own conscience. Are we on our way to paradise? Do we now bask, each and all of us, in the bright sun of freedom, prosperity and eternal happiness? Is there no alternative to the politics of deception and terror? Shall we not together define a path for us where no foreign power shall dominate us, where we would have got rid of corruption and abuse of power, with no despots or tyrants to rule over us, where we can be united as the People of Lanka to share the Earth as a human family, stand proud and independent in the community of nations, and together reap the bountiful fruits of the 21st Century?
As a Maoist, I have been one of the foremost, and consistent critics of the line and practice of the LTTE. I have argued that this narrow nationalist bourgeois line and practice would never serve the struggle for liberation, but shall play into the hands of the oppressor. This criticism has been based on defending the struggle for national liberation of the Tamil people, as a question of principle and a line of demarcation. I have held the position that the Tamil people constitute a historically defined nation, and that the modern Tamil nation has been forged through political struggle against violent national subjugation by the Sri Lankan State. I have upheld the right of self determination of the Tamil nation against this policy of violent suppression and national subjugation, as any democrat should. However, I have never advocated separatism as a solution to national oppression. Everywhere, I have stood for the unity of all anti-imperialist forces against the common enemy, imperialism and the neo-colonial State, in the revolutionary struggle to establish a People’s Democratic State, as the prelude to advancing to Socialism. I have stood against any effort by the State or its paid ideological agents to singularly target the LTTE as a fascist-terrorist force, which has provided the justification for a war of annihilation of the LTTE and of the Tamil National Movement, resulting in the consolidation of a militarist-chauvinist Comprador Capitalist dictatorship, along with the military occupation and political subjugation of the Tamil people. It is in this context that I have taken pains to debunk the theory and line that targets the LTTE as the singular generative structural cause of fascist terror, which serves to cover up for, and justify, the systemic, systematic, chauvinist-militarist suppression of the Tamil nation. I will resist any attempt to turn cause into effect and effect into cause, which would be a violation of truth and a perversion of science. The doctrine of the Lord Buddha teaches that truth can be ascertained and asserted over falsehood only by analyzing the logic of determination of cause and effect. I take up this issue only because various pedantic pundits, political sycophants and craven careerists have chosen to turn the logic of determination upside down, just to serve their masters in carrying out an agenda of foisting a chauvinist-militarist, hegemonic-supremacist, comprador-capitalist dictatorship over society, with the political subjugation of the Tamil nation at its center. Let us proceed to analyse the concept of Fascism and the way it is being applied to justify a war of annihilation and political subjugation of the Tamil nation.
To repeat, the theoretical concept of fascism refers to a specific historical-political formation arising out of the extreme crisis of Monopoly Capitalism – Imperialism- as exemplified by Germany, Italy and Japan during the political conjuncture which developed around the 2nd World war. This concept refers to the structural and ideological impulse generated by States that had felt that they have been denied their rightful ‘place in the sun’, in the prevailing international order at the time. These states required the space for territorial expansion, based on a forcible re-division of the world, so they too could access raw materials, cheap labor and markets, in order that they may compete and survive as imperialist empires, against their rivals. The pursuit of world domination made necessary by the political-economy of Imperialism, required also an ideology of racial superiority. These historically specific combination of elements constitute the theoretical essence of the phenomenon of Fascism.
Following World War 2, fascism became a generic term applied by various forces to vilify and demonize their enemies. Consequently, aspects and dimensions of fascism, taken out of context, have come to be applied in the popular discourse with regard to state and non-state actors, that are by no means expressive of the extreme crisis of Monopoly Capitalism. In general, when these actors have resorted to widespread and systematic terror, deliberately targeted civilians, and when such policies have been accompanied by targeting specific nationalities or ethnic communities, and when these policies and actions have been enjoined by barbaric reprisals in the form of collective punishment, the term fascism has been applied. Indeed, these policies and actions do conform to some of the elements that constitute fascism, although the theoretical essence of the concept refers to the historically specific political formations that arise out of the extreme crisis of monopoly capitalism, as I have described above.
The LTTE had indeed resorted to widespread and systematic terror, deliberately targeted civilians, and such policies have been accompanied by targeting specific nationalities or ethnic communities, and these policies and actions have been enjoined by barbaric reprisals in the form of collective punishment. These policies and actions had been directed against the Sinhala people as well as the Moslem communities, and at times, against the Tamil people as well.
What are the root causes that account for this sociological phenomenon? What are the historical, ideological and political reasons that would account for this phenomenon? What are the generative structural laws that would explain this behavior sociologically? Within a scientific-sociological perspective, social practices and behavior are accounted for by the class character of the State and the attendant political-economic-social order, and the specific internal class character of the actors. This is the dialectical relationship between external environment acting upon an internal basis. Let us take an example, and please forgive the diversion. This scientific methodology is important since there is an attempt to argue that Prabhakaran was a pathological terrorist, where fascism had been seeded in his very genes, in the structure of his DNA.
This theory would indeed justify not only his physical elimination, but also the eradication of his political parentage, that is, the political annihilation of the existence of the Tamil nation and its democratic aspiration for independence and freedom. This theory is not only unscientific, it is dangerous. It can be used to justify genocide. The scientific method of dialectics, applied by the Lord Buddha and developed into its highest stage by Karl Marx, requires that any object or phenomenon be examined in its internal motion, development and transformation in interaction with a given external environment. For example, and forgive the digression, the internal chemical constitution of the molecule identified as water is made up by the unity and opposition between two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. However, this internal constitution exists in interaction with its external environment, and its behavior –motion- is accounted for by the influence and impact of its external environment. If heat is applied, the molecule enters into a form of motion- antagonistic motion, where the atoms come into increasing collision. The molecule begins to heat up in intense agitation. If further heat is applied, at a qualitative nodal point, then the molecule of water changes its identity and turns into vapor. If, however, water is placed in a cold environment, depending on the intensity of the coldness, it will turn into ice. The atoms will integrate rather than split. You and I, Prabhakaran and Mahinda, whoever it may be, could become either a monstrous killer or an enlightened liberator. It would depend on our circumstances and our options, not on our DNA. If you cage a dog all his life and beat him with cruelty, it would become a rabid killer. If you pet him and care for him with adoring affection , he would become a lovable, obedient pet. If you beat and rape your wife, she is bound to be unfaithful, if even in her mind, and perhaps harbor revenge. If you truly love and care for and honor her, she will be by your side as a friend and companion-all your life. That is the law of nature.
In human situations, in social practice, the internal constitution does not react blindly to its external environment. Human beings have freedom of choice as limited and determined by the range of options available and by the dynamic nature of their consciousness. People react to their world and act within their societies, and exercise their freedom, based on their class consciousness and interests, and psycho-social make up. A worker or poor farmer will react differently to a strike than a rich businessman or a policeman. An oppressed person will see things differently than an oppressor. A dictator will have an opposing world outlook and class interest than that of its subject masses, and their social practices and social behavior will be opposed. Even within these categories , individuals will behave according to their specific psycho-social constitutions. Nothing in their DNA prescribes that they shall irrevocably or inevitably become either fascist terrorists or enlightened liberators. No one is born a fascist, or terrorist. Everyone is born with latent potentialities, which are realized in relation to their life experiences defined within a given environment. The entire basis of criminal jurisprudence is based on this scientific understanding; to ascertain truth by examining facts in the light of all possible evidence, determining the interaction between external factors and internal motivations .
Study the recent literature carefully. There are those who argue that Prabhakaran’s ‘fascism’ is derived from his DNA, that it is constituted by a genetic-type. It is held that this man was born with a biologically determined predisposition lodged within his very DNA cells to become a fascist terrorist. (Are Karuna, Douglas and KP, and for that matter Wijeweera, also congenital pathological killers?) Why be selective? White supremacists have held on to this theory of biological determinism to enslave Blacks. ‘Aryans’ have applied it to justify world domination. Colonialists applied this theory to justify colonial domination and commit inhuman genocidal atrocities. This is a form of biological determinism that has no place in scientific sociology. To categorise individuals, communities and nations on the basis of DNA is a racist argument. It is the basis for asserting racial supremacy, one which was used to justify the holocaust against the Jews and the fascist agenda of Nazism. This is the extent to which the debate has been degenerated by pedantic, pontificating, obfuscating sycophants, parading as ethically-bound intellectuals of the first order! These are the real fascists disguised as enlightened democrats, par excellence –the worst kind! From a scientific –sociological perspective, we would have to locate fascist behavior within this matrix of historical causal factors, the political context, and the interaction between these external factors and internal socio-psychological constitutions and motivational imperatives.
The State and political order constitute the generalized external environment that influences and determines the parameters of social behavior. The State embodies the generative structure of the system of social relations within which we derive our identity, define our values and modify our behavior. In my view, the modern Sri Lankan State was crafted by the British colonial power, in close league with the class of local Compradors, in order to ensure that the colonial order would be preserved and perpetuated – in a new form, through a system of parliamentary democracy that had been tried and tested for centuries in Britain itself. Parliamentary democracy is the best form of rule to divide, deceive and enslave the masses, to exploit and suppress them, and to get them to legitimate and mandate their own slavery through regular elections, where the status quo will be repeatedly returned to power, and where the masses shall exercise their freedom of choice in competing and fighting each other to bring their oppressors to power.
Now, the case is that the dominant Sinhala Comprador rulers exploited this system to rob the votes of the majority Sinhalese by manipulating their national-democratic/ anti-imperialist interests and turning them against other minority nationalities. In this endeavor, both the UNP and the SLFP (then MEP) exploited these nationalist aspirations of the Sinhala masses by competing to introduce the “Sinhala Only” Language policy and to construct a Sinhala supremacist, hegemonic – chauvinist unitary State. . This policy divided the workers and oppressed masses and turned the majority Sinhalese into implacable enemies of the oppressed Tamil masses. Neither the Sinhala nor the Tamil oppressed masses benefited from this project, except the Feudal-Comprador ruling class. This State and this ruling class is today represented, defended and reinforced by the JHU, the JVP, the UNP, the LSSP, the Cotta Road Communist Party, MEP and all other political parties representing the ruling class. From there on began the politics of state chauvinism directed against the Tamil-speaking people, including repeated state-sponsored pogroms and communal riots. We know the litany of unspeakable crimes against nature and humanity committed against the Tamil people, even before the LTTE was born. Innocent Tamil civilians were hunted , hounded, raped, looted, hacked and burnt to death by state-sponsored goons, aided by the security forces. It is the State that resorted to widespread and systematic terror, deliberately targeted civilians, where such policies have been accompanied by targeting the Tamil people, resulting in barbaric forms of collective punishment. The same policy had been applied in crushing the two Sinhala youth insurgencies in the South. Fascist terror applied by the state as a systematic policy finally gave birth to the fascist terror of the LTTE.
Now, to reverse cause and effect by labeling the LTTE singularly as the generative structural source of fascist terrorism, is to diabolically violate truth. This argument that reverses cause and effect is used to justify the war of annihilation waged against the LTTE, and to justify the whole train of barbaric crimes and hideous atrocities committed by the State. Even the official report of the LLRC recognizes the chain of cause and effect that produced the war, although in the most antiseptic vocabulary. Now, the cause has been enthroned in the form of a militarist-chauvinist/ mafia-terrorist Comprador Capitalist Dictatorship in the form of the Rajapakse troika and its corrupt cronies. This is while the Tamil people have been subjected to direct military rule and occupation, deprived of their land, dignity, nationhood and livelihood, agonizing over their loved ones disappeared and unaccounted, unable to care for their widows, disabled and orphaned, without hope, and without leadership. This is while the Sinhala masses too are led down the tube, driven to even more poverty, misery and degradation, under the neo-liberal development trajectory encapsulated in the “Miracle of Asia”.
I repeat, the LTTE is to be held accountable for its own hideous and barbaric fascist-terrorist policies and actions, which have no place in a liberation movement. It was led by a right-wing Comprador Capitalist leadership, which had no need for mobilizing the oppressed masses in waging revolutionary struggle to liberate themselves. It was guided by the most narrow bourgeois nationalist ideology. In fact, the LTTE suppressed the initiative and freedom of the masses and relied on making deals with Imperialism and regional hegemonic powers. The masses were simply bargaining chips, used as pawns in a deadly game of imperialist chess. The LTTE functioned as the elite vanguard, as condescending saviors that ended up in terrorizing the masses. In this sense, the LTTE was the mirror image of the JVP. Yet, for all this, we oppose any analysis that would target the LTTE, or for that matter, the JVP at that time, as the main enemy of the people as a way of covering up for the State, which is the fundamental generative source of the politics of fascist terror in our country. The only way to supersede the politics of insurgent terrorism, and the politics of fascist terror in general, is to construct a democratic state and political order that shall find meaning and purpose, derive strength and sustenance in the voluntary union of all its various nations, nationalities and communities, enriched by the bounteous diversity and inspired plurality of its people.
What are the implications of this analysis? The implications are that we take account of the crimes of the State committed against all of us, and on this basis engage in a radical democratic restructuring of the State and the political order so that all sources of supremacy and domination are eradicated, all social relations that generate subjugation and subordination be revolutionized and transformed, such that all the nations, nationalities and ethnic-religious communities – all citizens- shall share this land and live with dignity, equality, security, autonomy and democratic freedom under a State and political order designed, owned and governed by them. Then, there would be no need nor place for the politics of fascist terror. That is the momentous historic challenge before us, if we are to survive as a modern, civilized and liberated nation.
Of course, the intelligence agents that shall study and report to their authorities, the learned sycophants, and certainly the authorities themselves, shall not take the time or effort to grasp these truths and act on them. That would be committing political suicide. They shall conjoin in the effort to demonize those who dare to speak the truth , as is the routine fashion, while the ideological-political environment shall be created to take action to silence them. I am fully aware of the possible consequences of my writings. Fear is the most powerful weapon in the hands of despots and oppressors. Fearlessness in the cause of truth and justice is the ultimate decisive weapon that can bring them down. People can be killed, but the truth, and their dream of freedom, shall live on in the hearts and minds of the oppressed, to inspire all future generations.
All those who value truth and justice, who cherish freedom and democracy, who love this country and honor human dignity and simple decency, would rise above the din of the paid lackeys, the cringing careerists, sycophants, and rabid fascists, to raise their philosophic consciousness and scientific understanding, in order to reconcile and unite this divided and bleeding country by ending the era of dictatorship and ushering a better and bright future for all those born and unborn in our Land.
(I appeal to those who would care to read and comment, to study this article and deal with its arguments as a whole, in a reasoned and critical manner, instead of giving way to jaundiced impulsions just to reinforce their ingrained, subjective predilections and prejudices. As for the paid professional lackeys, I expect them to come up with even more convoluted, eclectic sophistries backed by piles of bibliography, which are a poor excuse for reasoned debate which would take on the basic assumptions and facts as presented, seriously).
*The writer is the Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party ( Maoist)