18 September, 2019

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Whose Sovereignty: Sirisena’s Or Ours?

By Sarath de Alwis –

Sarath De Alwis

At his Sunday meeting with foreign correspondents, President Sirisena did not play any trump cards. It appears that he has either put all his cards on the table or has run out of trumps. 

He will not reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has wiped the slate clean with Mahinda Rajapaksa. He has concluded that the former President is a forward-thinking type in comparison to Ranil, whom he has likened to a privileged Pinocchio with a duplicitous nose as drawn out as the bond commission report. 

He has convinced himself that he has acted strictly within the powers vested in him. He does not see any absurdity, ambiguity or anomaly in replacing Ranil’s ‘crony’ plutarchy with Mahinda’s family oligarchy. 

This insistence by President Sirisena on his  monopoly of truth and authority is what Hitler’s crown jurist Carl Schmitt defined as ‘Sovereign exceptionalism.’ Sirisena may not know it. But he is relying on the same thought process used by all Fascists known in history. 

Modern constitutional law subscribing to the concept of sovereignty in ‘We the people’ does not acknowledge a single  bearer of sovereign authority. 

Schmidt in his tract “Political Theology” argues that ‘there can be no functioning legal order without a sovereign authority’ – the same argument that neo fascists such as Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dinesh Gunewardena make in their call for a centralized presidency. We must not blame Mahinda Rajapakse. He did not either vote for or advocate the 19th Amendment.  That Man has principles and disciples who pounce on them!  

The pro fascist jurist Carl Schmitt in his ‘Political Theology’ asserts that a “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” That is precisely the warped logic relied on by the High Priest of the Kelaniya temple and the ‘Podi Hamuduruwo’ of Hunupitiya Gangaramaya when they heartily endorsed Sirisena’s new choice of a Prime minster. To them ‘sovereignty’ is not the collective will of the people but of decision and domination- the personal privilege of the ruler. 

Restoring the Premiership of the Privileged Pinocchio is not our concern. But we must read the signs of these dark times unerringly.

It was fascinating to watch Dinesh Gunawardena delivering his homily on why a minority should make up a majority in the standing committee planning the business of the house.  These  atrocious perversions  in parliament were made by serious politicians who know what they are talking about. 

Watching the perfidy of Dinesh Gunewardena though painful held out some hope for the future. 

Such forays in to political madness have their limitations. The Marxist philosopher Adorno writing in exile described the early days of Hitler’s rise. In his ‘Minima Moralia: Reflections of Damaged Life says, “No one who observed the first month of national socialism could fail to perceive the moment of mortal sadness, of half knowing surrender to perdition that accompanied the manipulated intoxication, the torch light processions and drum beating.” 

Do those words not sound familiar to us in Sri Lanka in the tail end of year 2018? Do we not experience a sadness in intoxication, experiencing a catastrophe when we were hoping to celebrate democratic renewal and death when we hoped to feel the birth pangs of a society governed by the rule of law?  

Let us take stock of the situation.

Someone has precipitated a parliamentary crisis. What happens then?

Corrupt and inefficient politicians are denounced. The threat of anarchy and disorder has to be met with decisive historic action by the patriotic leadership. Breakdown of public order, inflation, economic decline and national interest demands a strong government to save the country. This is not the text of a filing by a Colombo based foreign correspondent who attended last Sunday’s press briefing by President Sirisena.

It is a rough synopsis of page 382 of the book ‘Fascism- Past, Present and Future’ by Historian Walter Laquer. He reminds us that Fascism is always a movement of protest and discontent. But we must ask Who is protesting and whose discontent are they voicing? 

Fascism has many shades and many names. People are attracted to Fascism or some shade of it for a variety of reasons. But there is one principal factor that precipitates the descent in to the horror of Fascism- It is a ‘manifestation of a moral and a cultural crisis in which traditional values, religious as well as humanist no longer act as restraints and as guarantees of political decency. Fascism arises when democracy develops a delirium. 

Hitler came to power by undermining a democratic constitution. The first article of that democratic constitution stated simply with no adornment that power of the state proceeds from the people. 

After Hitler became chancellor the German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote a fabulously ferocious poem about what happened to the power that proceeded from the people. It makes great reading today.    

Poem by Bertolt Brecht

From the People proceeds the power of the State.
But where does it proceed to?
Yes, where is it proceeding to?
There’s some place it’s proceeding to.
The policeman proceeds through the station gate.
But where does he proceed to?
 

Look, there’s the whole lot on the march.
But where are they marching to?
Yes, where are they marching to?
There’s some place they are marching to.
They wheel through the gate and under the arch.
But where are they wheeling to?

The power of the State turns right about.
Something is in the air.
What can be in the air?
There’s something in the air.
The power of the State gives a piercing shout
And yells: Get moving there!
But moving why and where?
It yells: Get moving there!

There’s something standing in a crowd
Something which queries that.
Why should it query that?
What cheek to query that!
The state just shoots – for that’s allowed –
And something falls down flat.

What was it fell down flat?
What made it fall like that?
The power of the State sees something spill.
Something lies in the shit.
What’s lying in the shit?
Something’s lying in the shit.
There’s something lying deadly still
The People, why, that’s it!
Can that really be it?
Yes, that is really it.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    1

    All these can be very simply solved by Sirisena. All he has to do is just come out and say loud and clear that he will not seek a second term …….. as he promised in 2015.

    Then we can all start to believe the replacing of Ranil with Mahinda was truly out of his great love for the nation.

    Then the only question left is, whose love for the country is greater ….. Sirisena’s, Mahinda’s or Ranil’s.

    We will all end up singing love songs ………… Haka haka haka burning love.

    Man! …….. this love business is getting a bit too much for me. To hell with Lanka; I only have love left for Taylor Swift.

  • 0
    18

    Sarath has either misunderstood or misused Carl Schmitt here– though he, among us all, could read and understand all of Schmitt in the original German. Schmitt’s dictum that ‘sovereign is he who decides on the exception’ figures in his slim volume The Concept of The Political, which was not only written in the 1920s, years before Hitler assumed power in 1933, but was also an attempt by Schmitt to empower the President through emergency powers, so that he could thwart both the rising Nazis and the Communists. Having failed, Schmitt did briefly support the Nazis, but not sufficiently to be imprisoned by the victorious Allies.

    What is equally important is that it is precisely because Schmitt’s early and late (1969) work was untainted by his flirtation with Nazism that there is a well-known school of “Left Schmittians”, which includes the famous political theorist and Gramscian Marxist Chantal Mouffe, who lauds his ” agonistic” perspective.

    I would say I sympathize heavily with this school of thought.

    • 13
      0

      Ah! ……. the other Good Ol’ lover boy is at it again!

    • 13
      0

      Ah! ……. the other Good Ol’ lover boy is at it again!


      From Russia With Love

    • 3
      0

      Dear Dr.Dayan,
      No. I have not misused Carl Schmidt. This response is made at 4 am. my time. No time to look up things. True , his concept of the political was written long before Hitlers advent. Schmidt undoubtedly an original thinker did provide inspiration to the Nazis and it was no flirtation. He was dead serous in providing cover for the final solution. He was a Jew hater! He and Heidegger had a brilliance that outweighed their perfidy and hence were treated mildly by Jewish American scholars like Morganthau who shaped post war allied policy. Come to think of it , Why do you think, I am reconciled to your theoretical trapeze acts?

  • 1
    0

    For once Sarath de Alwis set an easy question “Whose Sovereignty: Sirisena’s Or Ours?”
    The pass rate will be nearly 100%.
    Come to think of it, did we lay-Lankans, ever have this ‘Sovereignty’?

  • 2
    0

    time he was sent to siberia as he is reading too much CT in moscow
    he is lucky to have a lumpen foreign minister

  • 0
    3

    Sarath Alwis is suffering from some kind of grandiose phobia. He is substituting terminology/ political theories applicable to world wars and big Europe/America/Japan/China to small Sri Lanka. His attempt to create fear in us is like Santa Claus to elders. So far we have had major elections on time, ahead of time excepting JRJ’s referendum. There won’t be fascists here. Reason: polity is divided between 55 and 45. That too is rotating every ten years. And 55 cannot manhandle 45. IF Sirisena Rajapaksa combo tried to POSTPONE an already scheduled election by Ranil that is cause for worry. This time around they are only forcing a premature election on people and trying to use that to drive fear into their heads as dreadfully undemocratic is an extremely silly exercise, to say the least.

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      somass

      “He is substituting terminology/ political theories applicable to world wars and big Europe/America/Japan/China to small Sri Lanka.”

      You are insulting Sri Lanka as a small country.
      It is supposed to be a great country comparable to all wests, India, China, Japan ………….. put together, for it is the only country to eradicate terrorism by clutching UN human rights charter in one hand, A K 47 on the other, rescuing refugees by the other, ……………… It has produced honest, secular, benevolent, colour blind, compassionate political/religious leaders like Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala, Mahasanghas, S W R D Banda and the first women prime minister, ………………….. Mahinda, ………… his brothers, ……………… Champika, Wimal Weerawansa, K M P Rajaratna, who could not rest until shoes are made from the skin of the last Tamil, Dutta Gamani, Athulath, Cyril Mathew, Dinesh, ……….. Shenali Waduge, ……………. you, Johny baby, ……………. thousands of single handed generals, neck snapping admirals, and many more

      Its like mustard seeds, tiny in size dynamite in taste, ………… How could you belittle this powerful country. The country now produces from A to Z, thanks to Sirimao’s self sufficiency drive, … and Mahinda’s non neo con economy.

  • 4
    0

    Dear Dr.Dayan,
    No. I have not misused Carl Schmidt. This response is made at 4 am. my time. No time to look up things. True , his concept of the political was written long before Hitlers advent. Schmidt undoubtedly an original thinker did provide inspiration to the Nazis and it was no flirtation. He was dead serous in providing cover for the final solution. He was a Jew hater! He and Heidegger had a brilliance that outweighed their perfidy and hence were treated mildly by Jewish American scholars like Morganthau who shaped post war allied policy. Come to think of it , Why do you think, I am reconciled to your theoretical trapeze acts?

  • 1
    2

    Somebody said after his mornig walks Sarath De Alwis goes to Sirisena’s house for breakfast. All bunkam. Here, he has criticised Sirisena.

    (or is it because Sirisena fed Sarath De Alwis with hoppers and Sarath was annoyed as he preferred corn flakes?)

  • 1
    0

    My dear Manoda,

    Sarath De Alwis goes for his morning walks at Independence Square where I do occasionaly. We have exchanged pleasantaries.

    Appa Sira lives in Paget Road. Appa Sira does not know what corn flakes is, which breakfast both Sarath and I eat.

  • 1
    1

    Some say Sarath De Alwis is a Sirisena boy, I doubt it. But, he is definitely not Ranil’s boy. Is he Sajith’s boy? Yes perhaps.

    (Only Sarath De Alwis knows, he must tell us)

  • 3
    0

    Are we Sri Lankans electing unqualified People’s Representatives to Work for the Betterment of the Country and Her people?
    Or are we Pandering to the Lies of Greedy Individuals, whose only Intention in seeking Office is to Fill their Own Pockets?
    After all the Example is right before their Eyes!

  • 2
    0

    Dear Malathi,
    It is ages since I last visited Independence square. I am quite self sufficient in Bataramulla. I don’t have the morning walk fetish. A walk to and from my home to Arpico super gives me all the exercise I need sans the capital outlay on jogging shoes, pants and related paraphernalia.

  • 3
    0

    Dear Sarath

    My appologies. I always thought it was you in the Independence Square where I go for walks.

  • 2
    0

    Sarath,

    Are you a Sajith’s boy; please tell us as this is a main topic in our dinner table

  • 1
    0

    No more counter points Dayan ????? I guess you have run out of ideas. I have noticed when some one of repute write facts Dayan will respond with his alternate, just to satisfy his grandiose mind and make others believe that he is of same caliber(not fake), but if the writer bothered to clarify by specifically addressing him , you do not hear from him there after. That is Dayan ,PhD in alternate facts. Sarath, in my list of scums the first three are Dinesh,Vasu and Wimal. I can put up with criminal politicians ( of course Lanka is full of them) but not hypocrites who I consider as real danger to humans. The real criminals do not even bother to hide their deviousness. But above three are like snakes.

  • 3
    1

    Sarath De Alwis wants Ranil gone. Why why why why ……..

  • 2
    0

    Some say Sarath De Alwis is a Sajith stooge. I am not sure. But one thing I am sure – he hates Ranil. Then what difference there is between Sarath De Alwis and Maithripala the inhuman?

  • 3
    0

    If Sarath De Alwis goes shopping at Battaramulle Arpico he must be living in Sri Subhuthipura, which is an upmarket area. No wonder he eats corn flakes.

  • 1
    0

    Sarath De Alwis who are you? Are you Sajith’s boy?

  • 1
    0

    I don’t know Sarath De Alwis, only today I knew he resided in Battaramulla and walks to Arpico Super and not at Independence Square! From the very first column from S De A I read, I always eagerly wait to read his columns which are always balanced and very informative, and I do always look forward to same. On the other hand, on Gamarala’s side kick Dayan’s columns it is plainly evident every column of his is tainted with bias towards individuals he is closest to. As a matter of fact lately I have been eagerly awaiting Gamarala’s side kick articles to snipe at him and expose the nitwit in him.

  • 0
    0

    Non resident.

    It is not even worth to compare Sarath De Alwis and Dayana Jayathillake. Sarath De Alwis is a super human being even though he promotes Sajith. He is hi fi but writes to the ordinary folk like us. We can’t wait for his articles. Dayan Jayathillake is a despicable human being good for the animal like Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapakse. Dayan Jayathillake articles are just wobbly and most end praising his dead father and mother with made up stories, which we are uninterested of.

  • 1
    0

    Non resident.

    It is not even worth to compare Sarath De Alwis and Dayan Jayathillake. Sarath De Alwis is a super human being even though he promotes Sajith. He is hi fi but writes to the ordinary folk like us. We can’t wait for his articles. Dayan Jayathillake is a despicable human being good for the animal like Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapakse. Dayan Jayathillake articles are just wobbly and most end praising his dead father and mother with made up stories, which we are uninterested of.

  • 1
    0

    In our family talks we have no problem with Sarath De Alwis and we are willing to lay out a red carpet for him. Except my wife, who is worried whether Sarath promotes Sajith who is a real rascal. We saw on internet Sajit joking and eating with Mara, Gota, Uduwe Dhammaloka, Medagama Abhayatissa, Vasu, Gommanpila, Mahindananda and the very bad crowd like one of them. He has no UNP qualities and Sajith is a big time rogue. A nidan hora and his housing program is a failure. It will not solve housing problems, just a waste of our monehy. Sajith’s sister got caught with counterfeits. And Hema was at the Pirith ceremony too.

  • 0
    0

    I think Sarath De Alwis is hi fi and he belongs to the top of the societal hierrachy. Only a feeling.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan Jayathillake is a scum of a writer. I hate him.

  • 0
    0

    Like Kiriella said any fool can fight I say any fool can shop at Arpico. Elevate yourself to Keels please if you want to label as hi fi. I do despite difficulty.

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