By Kumar David –
At this moment of writing (5pm on Wednesday 4 Nov in Colombo) the presidency is poised on a razor thin edge. The outcome will be decided by the last ballots to be counted in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which Democrats had expected to flip comfortably but now biting their nails and some still to be counted postal ballots. I find it abhorrent but it is possible that Trump will be declared the winner later tonight. In respect of the popular vote Trump and Biden are neck and neck. If this is what happens in the great American democracy why complain about the aberration of democracy in Sri Lanka?
In India Modi is running a government that has locked down Kashmir because it is a Muslim state, cut off its physical and Internet access with the outside world and arrested the Sate’s Muslim political leaders. The Arab countries have turned their back on the people of Palestine, across the -stans and Eastern Europe fascist parties are making advances and, in some cases, have formed governments. It is of intense chagrin, but in this context it should come as no surprise to those on the left and to liberals, that a sworn autocrat Gota and a rightist party have won the confidence of the Sinhala Buddhist masses by large margins.
An interesting aspect of the US elections is that the traditional or blue-collar working class voted for Trump, may not be by large margins but it did; vide important industrial states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. The free market championing liberal mouthpiece The Economist moaned that “Mr Trump has repeatedly desecrated the values, principles and practices that made America haven for its own people and a beacon for the whole world”. It accused him of “Partisanship and lying undermine of norms and institutions” (Sic! What happened to the magazine’s much vaunted style guide?). However, the working class in America’s manufacturing heartland was not interested in liberal values and preferred to keep faith with a crude, uncouth slimeball. This reminds me of trade union organisers who complained bitterly during the civil war in Sri Lanka that the working class was a rabidly racist lost cause. It is a shocker that the working class whether in America or the developing world has lost its broad perspectives and turned into a reactionary and racist mass.
At this moment of writing it seems that Trump has the edge but whoever wins it will make little difference to our predicament in Sri Lanka. We are on the horns of a dilemma; one horn is China the other a bifurcated India-America contraption. The American cold-war on China will not be different whether the Democrats or the GOP wins the presidency, the Senate and the House. Both sides are terrified of the rise of China, both fear the flip from a one superpower world to a two-superpower world. And the direction is clear, the rising power will eventually displace the old power at the top. The so-called Thucydides Trap. Therefore, Sri Lanka will continue to be taunted and haunted by the security interests of the two sides. Furthermore, bankrupt as we are, we have no choice but to knell before Xi Ping two days ago, Modi yesterday and Pompeo today. Corona virus began to ravage us anew just we started lifting our heads after the first wave of the pandemic and the curse is now visiting us again.