Myths in the guise of reality | Daily News

Myths in the guise of reality

Anyone having even a prima facie glance at the present political situation would not fail to observe a plethora of myths and fallacies traded as fact and truth by interested parties. They prevent the observer from going beyond a superficial understanding and penetrating to the essence of phenomena. Our endeavour here is to examine some of them.

One such fallacy propagated for some time and taken up in earnest now is that the country needs a strong leader to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Coupled with it is the myth of kingship and its benevolence. The world has moved far away from the age of kings and dictators.

Democracy has advanced so much that it is people’s sovereignty is best expressed by republican and collective leadership. While it is true that leaders should be strong and resolute, they need not be dictatorial and ruthless. The examples of such leaders paraded for emulation are such that they have been in most cases deposed by the people subsequently. Nelson Mandela, for example was a strong leader but he was not a dictator. Nor did he cling on to office. In fact, he honourably retired after a single term despite Constitutional provision to contest for a second term.

Ferdinando Marcos was also a strong leader but he failed to solve the problems of his people. Often it is said that the separatist war against the State was won because we had a strong leader in Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The victory of the war was a result of several factors and the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time is a fortuitous circumstance. We had a stronger leader in President J R Jayewardene at a time when the war was just beginning but he failed to win the war.

Stability of government

Another myth, a modern one that is propagated is that the State should be unitary to defend the country. It is forgotten or concealed that Sri Lanka became a unitary state only after British Occupation in 1815.

It was earlier a union of provincial kingdoms. Even when the entire island was ruled by a single monarch there was provincial autonomy. If one looks at the world today one could see that federal states are nor less secure than unitary ones and some of them are very powerful indeed.

Another fallacy coupled with the above is that devolution of power to regions would trigger centrifugal forces leading to separation of devolved units. It is not the case since devolution of power is coupled with power sharing at the centre so that the leaders of the devolved units also have a stake in preserving the unity of the country. In neighbouring India, for example, stability of government is derived mainly from the cooperation of the provincial states with the central government.

Devolution of power

Also used as a reason for opposing devolution of power is the myth of an imminent resurgence of the LTTE or armed uprising among the Sri Lankan Tamils. Those that say so are the very same people who boasted in 2009 that the LTTE and separatism was dealt a death blow from which they would never recover. In fact, they went as far they could to ensure it. There is no situation on the ground that warrants such an assertion of a resurgence of separatism.

An interesting development of the post-January 8th development is the so-called super-abundance of democracy. Not only have politicians defeated at the polls appointed as Members of Parliament, political exigencies to prevent a stalemate in the alignment of political forces following the elections Members of Parliament were coaxed into cross over to the opposite side.

It has resulted in a situation where the SLFP is simultaneously in the Government and the Opposition and its members are free to move to and fro at will. In consequence the concept of democracy has been so stretched that it now borders on the absurd. Thus anarchy reigns supreme in certain quarters of the political establishment.

Constitutional proceedings

The same anarchy is also demonstrated in the proliferation of protests which sometimes are made on the flimsiest grounds.

These include individual theatrical performances by maverick politicians as well as protests against the constitutional proceedings of the judiciary and law enforcement officials. For example, arrest and detention of politicians suspected of fraud and corruption by the latter have resulted in street demonstrations of protest by supporters of those alleged to have committed such offences. To call such protests democratic is a mockery of democracy. We could also recall the wild-cat strike of private omnibus operators and three-wheeler owners against the imposition of traffic offences demanding the abrogation of the law.

Abundant use is also made of historical myths to pursue present day vested interested as evidenced by the proliferation of such organisations as the Ravana Balaya, Sinha Le etc. Imposition of age-old myths on the present day reality which is much more different and advanced than the days of yore when such myths may have had some relevance is anachronistic and regressive.

Young generation

While pontificating about knowledge economy, digital revolution, global village etc. politicians in the same breadth make liberal use of obscurantism and superstitions as well as outdated customs to perpetuate the ignorance of backward sections of the masses and the status quo in society. Thus, for example, much faith is placed on the effect of planetary motions of the political development of the country.

Not to be outdone the media have also has joined the cacophony of voices disseminating archaic and obscurantic ideology.

Even new media channels and publications have appeared that pursue this objective. It was some time ago that an event was organised to celebrate the birth day of a deity. Such a practice was unknown even during pre-capitalist or ancient times.

Mention must be made of mass campaigns to invoke blessings of the deities on student candidates on the eve of public examinations as an insurance cover for success.

However, such campaigns would not be able to conceal the deficiencies and weaknesses in the present education system. Inculcation of blind faith instead of an inquiring mind set would be harmful to the growth of an innovative and resourceful young generation.


There is 1 Comment

Life not static. It moves takes away politics not permanent. Life politicians not socially skillful like power lead to many evil thoughts if character social discipline and culture fails. Expect social disharmony with faulty election promises. Society must change with gradual evolution with changing social contest not at whims and fancies of elected politicians. Myth can be reality if back ground of social climate fit a pattern fo change with trust and cooperation with all citizens but not one with a fragmented society

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