The dilemma faced by President Maitripala Sirisena and the way it is to be resolved will determine the course of future events and the emergence of possible scenarios. This dilemma concentrates the long-simmering, accumulated structural pressures, conflicts and contradictions of the Lankan State and Political Order. It ties them into a knot, demanding effective, radical solutions. The Sirisena Dilemma expresses what appears to be a mortal contest between the forces of ‘liberal-bourgeois democracy’ Vs the forces of ‘chauvinist, neo–fascist reaction’. That is what it appears to be. The truth is that the Sirisena Dilemma gives concentrated expression to the crisis of the neo-colonial Capitalist State. It is an organic, structural crisis that neither the bourgeois liberal democratic agenda nor the chauvinist-fascist agenda can solve the crisis.
Together, in their interaction, they can only exacerbate the crisis. This is since they are the twin organic components of the Capitalist dictatorship. They are the twin weapons of enforcement of the bourgeois dictatorship. In the era of imperialism, the historically progressive content of bourgeois democracy in the era of rising Capitalism is long negated, when it becomes a weapon for enforcing imperialist domination and neo-colonial subjugation. We in Lanka know how white fascist state terror is organically and inextricably interwoven with all the trappings of liberal bourgeois democracy. Revolutionaries know that these trappings and these deadly illusions are there only to cover the real naked, fascist-terrorist class essence of the Capitalist Dictatorship. We know how one feeds off the other and take turns in nurturing the real relations of domination, exploitation and oppression that forms the foundation of Capitalism.
Sirisena and his agenda for a ‘national government’ may be the final desperate option of a rotting and bleeding State. Sirisena’s role in history could be to bring this façade of irreconcilable antagonism between Fascism and Bourgeois Democracy to its highest pitch of explosive concentration, so that the sheer accumulated rot of the Colonial Capitalist State will be finally incinerated in the burning anger of the betrayed masses. Sirisena’s Dilemma may well call forth a revolutionary crisis, which could very well be turned into a revolutionary situation. For that we will need a genuine revolutionary party based on an advanced, scientific revolutionary theory, line and leadership, and an organization of professional revolutionary soldiers.
The Sirisena Dilemma is not of Sirisena’s making. It is an expression of contending rival class forces and interests within the Lankan ruling class intersecting with global strategic agendas of rival imperialist powers. It is important to concretely formulate and analyse the Sirisena Dilemma. It serves to reveal the global arena in which the various imperialist and regional power blocs are maneuvering to gain geo-political, strategic advantage and superiority in the Indian Ocean-Asia Pacific Region, including throughout South Asia and in the Land of Lanka. The Sirisena Dilemma arises from an acute conjuncture where the Land of Lanka is being played by rival global and regional imperialist powers in conjunction with local players, agents and power-brokers locked in a battle for state power and supremacy. At the heart of the Sirisena Dilemma is the increasing compulsion for the Sirisena Regime to change course away from the Chinese, Russian and Iranian sphere of influence linked with Mahinda Rajapaksa and move steadily into the US-EU-Japan-Indian strategic sphere of influence. This is an external compulsion imposed by the US-led “Western” imperialist strategic alliance.
This external compulsion feeds into the internal dynamics of political survival of the Sirisena-Ranil dispensation. This dispensation has to capitulate to the US-led strategic global agenda, if it is to survive. This is its lifeline to stay afloat on top and exercise its own class dictatorship over the Land and the people. It is the only way to ensure that there will be no return and revival of the Mahinda Rajapakse dictatorship. The new neo-colonial strategic architecture would involve the designing of a new structure of economic, political, diplomatic and financial cooperation (capitulation), based on an evolving strategic partnership with the US and India. There is no free lunch. The US, EU, Japan, Israel and India and other players shall sink their bloody fangs deeper into the lifelines of the country, separately, individually and collectively. There is no way of maneuvering out of this growing inter-imperialist vice nor to pretend being independent from it.
Yet, these moves are fraught with danger. It will play into the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa who would raise the resounding cry of national betrayal, international conspiracy and the rising threat of resurgent ‘separatist terrorism’. Mahinda’s only chance of grabbing and returning to power is to claim that he has been vindicated by history. That the Motherland of the ‘pure Aryan Sinhalayas’, the pristine Land of the Triple Gem which he liberated from the marauding Dravidians though an epic war of national liberation is being betrayed and the Sinhala Buddhist nation fatally imperiled. This is while standing up against the US and its allies and defying the whole of the international order. Mahinda will claim that this great historic victory and all the sacrifice and suffering, is being undermined and betrayed. Any and every concession, however cosmetic, to liberal democracy, secularism, pluralism, devolution of power will be painted as undermining the unitary State, and with it, the historical legitimacy, integrity and supremacy of the Sinhala-Buddhist nation. This shall appeal to sections of the armed forces who shall feel betrayed by any form of investigation into war crimes- whether by an international, or internationally supervised domestic mechanism. The betrayal of the Rana Viruwo shall resound and reverberate with raging nationalist ‘patriotic’ fervor. However much Sirisena tries to get out of this dilemma by downgrading the international call led by the US for accountability with the prospect of a domestic investigation, he stands on the head of a live landmine. The US will use this issue of accountability as a lever to press more and more insistent demands on Sirisena-Ranil government to become a puppet agent and enforcer of its global strategic geo-political agenda. If the war crimes issue gets washed away, it will inflame Tamil passions, who shall feel betrayed and discarded. It will surely give renewed life to the call for a separate state. This will, no doubt, reverberate to the shores of India and the US and offer more options for intervention.
Meantime, Mahinda shall bide his time and play his cards, propped up and beefed up by his Chinese, Iranian, Russian and other friends, and by the train of crony-narco-mafia capitalists who thrived with him. Slowly and steadily shall the forces of fascism nurture and manufacture communal tension, play and prey on stoking the subterranean fears of foreign domination and subjugation, kindle the simmering cinders of Sinhala-Buddhist ‘patriotism’, feed upon the anger and frustration of the masses against the ruling regime, to strike once again at the throat of democracy and civilized decency. Sirisena expects this backlash. He must prepare for it. More than that, he must overcome it. He must prove that he, and he alone, is the new undisputed, incorruptible and invincible leader and commander of the besieged Sinhala race, destined to protect, preserve and nurture the Dhamma in the Land of the Triple Gem. This is part of the scenario, one segment, of the unfolding and imploding Drama of History in the Land of Lanka we are presently living through.
The play at hand for Sirisena would be to neutralize, isolate and marginalize Mahinda Rajapaksa, while uniting, retaining and consolidating the hard core political and vote base of the SLFP (and of the UPFA). Either that, or – in the face of a mounting threat- rehabilitate and re-enthrone Mahinda as the Great Anti-Imperialist Patriot”; Savior of the Nation, the conquering hero of the ancient tribal Sinhalayas, who vanquished the alien Dravidians through war and conquered their territory”. Sirisena must, of necessity, carry the banner and the cause of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy and hegemony, if he is to face the inevitable onslaught to his power and domain from whatever source or coalition of forces.
The Mahinda camp shall persist in destabilizing the Sirisena-Ranil dispensation. If the Sirisena-Ranil alliance gets effectively challenged and threatened that would pave the way for a return of Mahinda! The Mahinda agenda may also try to make tactical amends with Sirisena – and Chandrika. This will depend on the balance of forces between the UNP and the SLFP. However, the hard core Mahinda camp waits to pounce on any crack in the coalition, and there will be cracks in any alliance. The conflict here is essentially not so much to do with the form of governance. It is not a conflict between a limited executive presidency Vs an executive prime minister and cabinet supremacy. It has to do with preserving the chauvinist, hegemonic unitary State under the command of the Sinhala-Buddhist ruling class – as opposed to a ‘secular, bourgeois-liberal’ State with devolution and sharing power as the basis for a political solution to the National Question. As always the National Question and the fate of the Tamil nation will be held hostage to these intra-ruling class battles. Yet, Sirisena cannot toe the very same rabidly chauvinist-supremacist-fascist line as Mahinda. So, he will have to toe a necessarily vague, vacillating, duplicitous line on the National Question to keep the national minorities on board, while satisfying the blood instincts of the hard core Sinhala-Buddhist political base- for which he must compete with Mahinda. How to marginalize and isolate Mahinda Rajapakse to capture his Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist power base, while holding out the pledge of pluralism and democracy? How to attack Mahinda without splitting and undermining the SLFP and the UPFA, which would only serve the UNP to monopolize power and dictate terms.
This scenario could serve to strengthen the hands of the JVP and the JHU. The JVP and the JHU must function as the true trusted guardians of bourgeois democracy and the unitary neo-colonial State, if they are to survive. They must head the anti-corruption campaign to appear as the saviors. They would prefer to see both the UNP and the SLFP being undermined, so someday, they would appear as the only available choice to rule the country. They would hope and pray that their role in propping up Mahinda and their chauvinist-fascist role in the war and after, will be forgotten-or recollected, whatever sells at the moment. It is given that through all the antics, both the JHU and the JVP will flip and flop- appearing to be the modernist, extreme liberal-democratic force to woo the national minorities, the imperialists and the compradors, while catering to the Sinhala-Buddhist ideological and political base. We shall see political duplicity, maneuvering and cunningness that may still surprise us. All reactionary political forces – whether it be Sirisena, Ranil, Chandrika, Anura, Champika, Mahinda, Wimal, Dew, Tissa or Vasu – are drawing battle lines, taking stock and position and gearing up for a showdown for State power. They all know that the new spiral of crisis will strain the system to the extreme, and will bring the game to a head. It is time to make the decisive play for State power to decide which fraction of this reactionary comprador ruling class shall exercise the hegemonic comprador class dictatorship and take the turn in raping the Land and bleeding the people. .
Sirisena also shares a sense of mission and destiny as the guardian of the Sinhala Buddhist nation and the Land of the Triple Gem”. He stood watch over the war and rejoiced in the enthronement of triumphal Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony and supremacy. The dilemma is how to be a staunch chauvinist and centralist and yet deliver on pluralist democracy? To the ‘hard core’ Sinhala Buddhist vote base he must appear as the only true guardian of the Sinhala-Buddhist, chauvinist-hegemonic unitary State, while to all other nationalities and to the world he must appear to be the angel of pluralist democracy. The Sirisena Dilemma arises from not being able to walk this tight rope for too long. It is a profoundly volatile schizophrenic dilemma.
The need for this so-called “Western” bloc of imperialists to pry Sri Lanka away from the growing and encircling Chinese strategic vice called for regime change. It called for packing Mahinda Rajapakse and his immediate crony-mafia cabal that directly fed off the China factor packing, and bringing in forces such as Ranil, Chandrika, Mangala, headed by Sirisena, with the JHU, JVP, TNA and SLMC on board. This “Western” imperialist agenda found fertile ground in the rising tide of generalized mass anger, bitterness, resentment and sheer revulsion against the corruption, abuse and tyranny of the crony-narco–mafia Rajapaksa cabal. This made possible for peaceful change of regime. It was the democratic aspiration of the oppressed masses, nationalities and ethnic-religious communities that deposed Rajapaksa and voted for Sirisena. Yet, as always, the democratic will of the people and their mandate have been effectively manipulated, exploited and hijacked. The victory of Maitripala Sirisena and the replacement of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Executive President has been openly and fervently endorsed and embraced by this “Western” bloc. Even to the extent that the international investigation into war crimes would be deferred, and substituted by a ‘domestic’ investigation- at the request of the new regime. Not to mention the vast funds being committed in the form of investments, loans, grants, concessions etc.
One horn of the Sirisena Dilemma is that the oppressed masses, nationalities and ethnic-religious communities would have to be sold down the tube to pave the way for the next wave of neo-liberal imperialist penetration and plunder. The road must be cleared for the next spiral of domination, subjugation, exploitation, oppression and degradation that this requires. How to contain the masses who have now awakened to the demand for justice, democracy, transparency and independence? How to contain democratic reform to cosmetic changes and centralize state power and the class dictatorship at the same time? How to sedate the masses with spectacular arrests of secondary mafia cronies, while keeping the neo-colonial system of institutionalized parasitism, terror, abuse and corruption alive? So, this is an untenable tightrope to balance. The rope might split at any time. The crisis of imperialism and of the neo-colonial state will only continue to intensify and explode. All the patching up will not serve to protect the system. The whole game may get exposed to the masses.
This process will open up rare historic opportunities for advancing the revolution. But to grasp and act on these opportunities, revolutionaries must smash and leap out of the box. They must demolish the ideological apparatus and the mental-intellectual frame that keeps us blinded and imprisoned within the Capitalist system. Revolutionaries dream of a new world of Freedom dawning on the horizon. They feel it in their hearts and minds. Their boundless love and selfless devotion to the people and unswerving dedication to the cause of Revolution serves them to fly high in the skies like soaring eagles to see the ages gone by and the ages dawning on the far distant horizon. Revolutionaries are missionaries of history. They are inspired and infused with an insatiable passion for truth and for the cause of the universal emancipation of humankind from the chains of property and slavery. That is why true and advanced Marxist revolutionaries insist on grasping and applying the Science of Revolution as the guide and path of the Revolution. Nothing less and Nothing More!
Revolutionaries must not get caught up in this entangled web of bourgeois politics. Some try to say that cornering and attacking Mahinda to ensure that he would not return to power is the main contradiction and the main danger. Some say that advancing a ‘bourgeois reformist liberal’ agenda is a necessary transitional stage. On this basis, they justify their support for the Sirisena-Ranil-Chandrika dispensation. They seem to forget that, in the era of Imperialism, the so-called ‘bourgeois–liberal’ agenda is now historically outmoded and defunct. It has become the handmaiden of Fascism. This is the era of People’s Democratic Revolution and Socialism. To promote such bourgeois democratic illusions is reactionary and counter-revolutionary. The time has come to break with all bourgeois democratic illusions and with the foul politics of class collaboration. The line that says that we do not face a revolutionary situation, and that therefore, we must engage in non-revolutionary/reformist work to build up our strength is simply rank opportunism and defeatism. The time is indeed ripening to organize and initiate the revolution. We must leap to catch up. We must be armed with the most advanced, scientific, revolutionary theory, line, strategy, program and Tactical PLAN centrally aimed at the mass revolutionary seizure of State power. For this, we must unite to forge an advanced detachment of the international proletariat in the form of a vanguard Revolutionary Communist Party.