26 May, 2022


The Struggle For Power; The Real Stakes & Prospects For Freedom In The Land Of Lanka

By Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe

Ajit Rupasinghe

Ajit Rupasinghe

The Struggle for Power

There is an escalating, on-going struggle for state power between the forces aligned with the Ranil-Sirisena government and the Joint Opposition being forged and led by Mahinda Rajapakse. This will prove to be a decisive and extremely consequential struggle. That is to say, only one side can win and exercise dictatorship and hegemony over society. The space for cohabitation and coexistence within the various fractions and parties of the ruling class is evaporating in the heat of the bitter contest for power. This is because the Land of Lanka is being sliced up, economically, politically and strategically, by various contending foreign predator powers, out to get an economic stranglehold and, thereby, a strategic foothold in the island. The internal struggle between these two fractions of the ruling class is driven and determined by this overarching dynamic of inter-imperialist rivalry and contention. This is the concrete context, and the international content, of the internal power struggle.

High Stakes

The struggle for power is for high stakes. This is with major world imperialist powers and rising regional hegemonic powers, aligned as various blocs and alliances, contending for gaining strategic influence, leverage and advantage over the island. There is intensifying rivalry and contention for global economic dominance and strategic superiority between the US-led Western Bloc as against both China and Russia. This contention feeds into regional rivalries for asserting political-economic dominance and military-strategic superiority. It’s like a chess board of sheer chaos and anarchy as each contending power fires the flames of war to gain its advantage at the expense of the other. Every country is being internally divided and mobilized behind these competing, rival agendas.

The Chess Board

At present, the Ranil-Sirisena fraction is being backed by the US-led ‘Western Bloc’ and also India and Japan. The immediate objective is to contain Chinese penetration into the Indian Ocean, via the Maritime Silk Route. Exercising strategic control over the vital Indian Ocean sea lanes is the prize being contended, and the Land of Lanka offers invaluable assets in this regard. This intensifying rivalry and contention is bound to lead towards strengthening strategic cooperation, and ‘elusive forms’ of military partnership, with the US-led ‘Western Bloc’. Already, the UK (read US) has appointed a ‘non-resident’ Defence Advisor to Sri Lanka! There is also the “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between the US and Sri Lanka, signed by the Mahinda Rajapakse Regime, which offers access to all military and logistical facilities to the US, which has not been rescinded. This is while the Mahinda Rajapakse camp remains tied primarily, though not exclusively, to a China/Russia/ Iran –Shanghai Corporation – kind of strategic axis, as a matter of its survival. The Rajapakse Regime had entered into a ‘strategic partnership’ with China, during its term. China, in turn, greased the machinery of corrupt, crony-mafia, neo-colonial Capitalism, in return for gaining a strategic foothold in the island.

WigneswaranSo, the die is cast, and there is an intensifying rivalry being played out between major world powers in this internal struggle for power. All major international and regional powers have a deadly stake in the outcome of this internal struggle for state power. This is the basic, underlying gravitational pull of these contending players in the ensuing internal struggle for power. The geo-political theatre of intensifying strategic contention between these rival blocs of imperialist powers sets the stage for world politics, and determines also the real stakes being played out in this internal struggle for power. This contention shall be most decisive and fatal for the Land and the People of Lanka. So much is at stake. with so many world nuclear powers and players in the game, – US, China, India, Pakistan, Japan, EU, Israel, Russia – all manoeuvring for gaining an economic stranglehold and a vital strategic foothold on this island we call our homeland. So, where do we, as the People of Lanka stand in regard to this power struggle?

The floating of the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank (AIDB) by China, with one hundred billion dollars as its asset base, is a major projection of global economic power challenging US hegemony, and does offer an alternative to the West to these crony-mafia, neo-colonial ruling class agents. Besides, in the face of a steadily mounting process of legal prosecution and encirclement by the Ranil-Sirisena government, backed by the US-led bloc and the UNHRC, the MR bloc has to rely on Chinese funding, protection and patronage to ward off and fight its immediate enemies, and survive. That is part of the reason that the Ranil-Sirisena combo is also forced to accommodate Chinese interests and investments- ala the Port City deal. This is in the hope of driving a wedge in the Mahinda front, besides being completely financially bankrupt and in desperate need of Chinese funding. This game of strategic chess being played leads towards fracturing of the State, as each contender forms its own alliances in the pursuit of separate agendas, played according to the interests of the foreign powers that back them.

Sirisena may be compelled to abandon the UNP to keep his hold on the SLFP and come into some understanding with the Mahinda camp. Joining this chauvinist-fascist camp will not be an ideological problem for him. He functioned as the Acting Defence Minister and Commander-in Chief towards the end of the war. Already, Sirisena is
betraying pledges given to the UNHRC on the issue of war crimes and setting up an international accountability mechanism. This is besides courting the likes of Bodu Bala Sena and the like. Sarath Fonseka can be brought in to tip the scales. Yet, the growing trend among the Sinhala masses is to distance themselves from the Ranil-Sirisena government which they voted into power, since it is proving to be the same old wine in new vessels, except that it is that much more stale and bitter. Spineless Yankee Ranil may be, once again, kicked out, just by pitched agitation, if not a coup. Whoever wins the battle for state power, the Land and the People of Lanka will be sold down the tube. But, the juggling will not hold for long. The global and regional situation and the environment in which this struggle for power is being waged is highly inflammable and volatile, and will demand a resolution – either through the ballot or the bullet, including the possibility of foreign military intervention. So, let us prepare for the coming storms and learn to chart our own course towards the freedom of the Land and the People of Lanka!

The Politics of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry 

These rivalries between contending imperialist powers lie at the roots of the wars of genocide, massive destruction, horrible abuse and degradation and humanitarian catastrophies that have overtaken the Greater Middle-East/Gulf/Caspian/West and South Asian Region, and which lay behind the almost fatal stand-off between the US Alliance and NATO against RUSSIA over the future of Ukraine. The future of the South Asian Region is also imperilled by the rivalry and contention between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Both are nuclear powers, ready and poised to attack, in defence or deliberate provocation. There is fierce contention between India and China for regional supremacy and hegemony. Underneath all the diplomatic exchanges and economic partnerships, these conflicts continue to simmer, and cannot be mitigated nor resolved permanently. They can only be managed and manipulated, since the survival of the one requires the conquest and subjugation of the other. That is the historical tendency governing empires of blood, profit and plunder. That is the very nature of the system of Modern Imperialism. The power struggle in the Land of Lanka could verily decide the balance of power and shift the prevailing ‘strategic equilibrium’ into one of strategic volatility – and vulnerability. Exercising strategic dominance over the Asia-Pacific/ Indian Ocean Region has become of vital importance for all contending powers. Any decisive move to change the existing ‘equilibrium’ could set off a chain reaction, including the possibility of nuclear confrontation and war. The entire environment, the objective world situation in which this internal power struggle in the Land of Lanka is being waged remains like in a state of ‘dynamic strategic equilibrium, balancing a delicate and shifting stalemate’. It’s like a powder keg being managed with utmost care so it will not explode and throw the whole system and social order into utter chaos.

Future of the Tamil Nation

We believe that the future – and the liberation – of the Tamil nation is bound up with the future – and liberation – of the Land and the People of Lanka. This is in as much as the liberation of the Land and the People of Lanka is bound and entwined with the liberation of the Tamil nation, along with that of all oppressed nationalities, communities, groups and people. The Land of Lanka belongs to the People of Lanka, to be shared, defended, nourished, preserved and celebrated as their one and only, indivisible homeland. The People of Lanka are constituted by the unity, dignity, equality and integrity of all its diverse nations, nationalities, ethnic-religious communities and all other groups in society, with neither favour nor discrimination to none. We seek the liberation of the People of Lanka, through the path of our common struggle to overthrow imperialist domination and feudal oppression in order to establish a People’s Democratic State that shall give expression to the unity and integrity of the oppressed nations, nationalities, communities and people of Lanka. We also wish to expose and oppose any and all forces who shall try to divide us and derail us from our shared struggle for liberation and our common cause for human emancipation.

The Politics of the Tamil nation in the Context of the on-going Struggle for Power

Let us focus on the future of the Tamil nation in the context of the on-going struggle for power. The future of the Tamil nation is to be decided, not by the political will of the Tamil people, but by the outcome of the intensifying power struggles within and between various contending dominant fractions of the ruling class. Not only the future of the Tamil nation, but the future of the Land and the People of Lanka shall be decided as an outcome of this power struggle. It will decide our future. It will shape our destiny. Following the war, the Tamil nation is undergoing a political metamorphosis – a radical, organic, internal transformation. The Tamil National Movement and the Liberation Struggle has split into many rival factions. The fate and future of the oppressed Tamil nation has come to be decided not by the internal revolutionary struggle of the oppressed Tamil masses, but by the financial power and political influence of the International Tamil Diaspora and international powers and institutions, including the UN. That is to say that the logic of determination of the internal and organic struggle for self-determination has been uprooted from the soil of the people and transplanted in the soil of imperialist politics and the politics of collaboration, compromise – and eventual betrayal.

At this present conjuncture, in the face of this mortal power struggle, the Tamil nation is facing a critical turning point in deciding its future and path of liberation. They would have to choose between basic, rival and contending political camps, represented in terms of their present political leadership. Either to repose faith in the Ranil-Sirisena grand alliance. That would mean to repose faith in the US, the UN, India and the international Tamil Diaspora. This would mean to repose faith in a coalition of forces that have already hijacked the fate and the future of the Tami nation, auctioned the issue of truth, accountability and justice, and flushed the struggle for liberation down the drain. This dominant trend is represented by the landlord-comprador fraction of the Tamil national leadership, represented by the Sambandan-Sumanthiran combo. Within this bourgeois- nationalist class formation are also those trends that look towards a Greater Tamil Eelam with Tamil Nadu as its pivotal axis. More importantly, there is the Chief Minister, Hon. C. V. Wigneswaran, who symbolizes a trend that resists being co-opted by the State and is struggling to preserve the dignity, integrity and autonomy of the Tamil nation. It is to be mentioned that the gesture by the Hon. Chief Minister in visiting the Naga Viharaya to offer his respects and prayers to Lord Buddha in gratitude for having the National Anthem sung in Tamil on National ‘Independence’ Day and his statement that ‘ for every step taken by the Sinhalese towards the Tamils, my people shall take ten steps toward them,’ reflects great and genuine statesmanship and is worth more to achieve national reconciliation than anything ever imagined by the dominant TNA leadership. However, these forces remain weak and do not dare to mobilize the masses in resistance to being subjugated. Then, there is the militant nationalist tendency that stands to resist any form of compromise and capitulation, any form of surrender and subjugation – either to the State or to the Wellala-landlord-comprador leadership. But, they too are trapped in the ideology and politics of bourgeois nationalism and are not yet oriented towards building principled revolutionary unity with the South. Finally, there are those forces and tendencies that stand for the independence and integrity of the Tamil nation and seek to realize national liberation through its own independent, self-reliant, revolutionary struggle, in unity with the oppressed Sinhala, Moslem, and the Hill Country Tamil people. This political and ideological trend still has to coalesce and define itself. So, we have to distinguish between these rival, contending political forces and trends and analyse how they stand with respect to the on-going struggle for power.

This rising conjuncture also presents opportunities and possibilities for radical ruptures and revolutionary breakthroughs to advance to a whole new way of social organization where humankind shall learn to love, care, share and nurture their world and themselves and discover their own freedom in the freedom of the other. Do we dare to Dream and Fight for our Freedom; Or remain hapless pawns in this deadly game of chess? Perhaps, we too can learn their game, learn to play our own game, where we can together fight for our liberation and WIN! Let not the blood of the fallen martyrs and heroes be in vain. Let the not the legacy of endless sacrifice, endurance and struggle for liberation be betrayed, played and sold out. Learning lessons and advancing the struggle for liberation on a more solid scientific foundation is one thing, but to deny, distort or sell out the glorious legacy of struggle and sacrifice to overthrow oppression is an act of treachery. This shall be a main deciding criterion for evaluating the major players in the coming battles ahead.

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Latest comment

  • 6

    This is like a Sri Lankan ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.

    AR, know ye this; a few false moves and it will be checkmate for Yahapalanaya.

    Bro MR was Liberator. Now he has a flat tire. What to do? The new kid on the block will be Gota – with MaRa blessings. IF MS/RW don’t watch their step, and fail to deliver what WE the PEOPLE mandated, Gota will ride in as a white knight. He will make the Era of the Liberator look like a Daham Pasal picnic.

    Now that will be one helluva horror story, and all.

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