A postscript to ‘Jokers’ paradise’ | Page 2 | Daily News

A postscript to ‘Jokers’ paradise’

Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe
Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

Recent so called uprising organised by Mahinda clan finally ended as a joker’s paradise or Moda carnival. They claimed the uprising will be against the division of the country with the connivance of imperialism.

The new constitution is with expanded devolution, giving police and land powers to Provincial Councils. This is the heinous crime of Yahapalanaya. Weerawansa wanted to imitate late Wijeweera by claiming to save the Lanka motherland from treacherous leaders of Yahapalanaya. It is history, that Rohana with all his revolutionary credentials created only a farce with so many deaths. Now for the second time we were given a jokers paradise! Learn from this experience and go for the new constitution; that is the message given by the people.

When elections are near governments try to portray tiny advances in economy as colossal victories. That is useful for popular campaign. Hence it is part of democracy to indulge in populist campaigns. But there is a companion-error on democratic supporters too. They, of course good heartedly focus too much on defeats and what is not done, losing sight of the small but fruitful victories.

Fascistic authoritarianism

In a secure democracy, that would be an affordable error. But in a country faced with the grim prospect of a fascistic authoritarianism, it is a high-risk game for which the ‘best’ outcome is consistent expose of the villainy of the opposition. On the other hand, if welfare and market control is immense it will give false signals to neighbourhood. Latter outcome would mean large negative spillovers to other countries in the area. If we follow Donald Trump of America it would pressure other countries to ‘protect’ markets and also further empower protectionists globally. Asia cannot afford to see beggar-thy-neighbour policies and the contagion of protectionism take hold. A worst-case outcome is an all-out global trade war that would undoubtedly lead to global recession. That did not seem a plausible scenario two years ago, but it is now an unaffordable luxury, an unpardonable indulges.

Many writers say that there are presidential hopefuls pushed by various political centres, but they do not put forward manifestos. There is no Presidential Election 2020 programme yet. JVP's proposal for removing executive presidency is also taken up in the island- wide campaigns conducted by a group of parliamentarians led by Dr. Jayampathi. Of course there’s been a lot of hot air, such as Viyath Maga; but little substance when it comes to programmes.

There are shouts that we need to move beyond rhetoric and the easy default option of cannibalizing old texts and slogans. Some politicians promise to elaborate on issues that they think important. Some other spells out and preach what they think that candidates, parties and especially voters should consider seriously. Problem arises when sectarian take up the issue of state and patriotism together and create antagonism. They have various lists of issues on Lanka included in ‘the state’.

It was explained earlier that at the end of neo liberalism what emerged is fascistic politics where primary emphasis is patriotism. Bold example is America where President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda is a dramatic departure from US leadership of a multilateral order that has been the guiding norm for over 70 years. State means now our state; the ‘state of the majority’ that dominate and over determinate direction of growth.

Constitutional reform

Then there is certainly talk, on the nature of state, that is inevitable when domination of minorities a primary goal. It typically happens when constitutional reform is the subject at hand. The ‘nature of the state’ naturally leads to two things. First, whether it should remain unitary or whether it should be reconstituted as a federal formation.

Secondly, there’s debate about the position of religion. Today domination majority is the American rule and that leads to fascistic politics. Those who support the unitary formation promote a fear that an alternative (federal) would be precursor to division. In Lanka the fear lies in the misreading of Maha Wanse and gross historical postulations by crazy political pundits with absolute ignorance of history and geography. They completely reject a map of historical homelands based on the recent history covering last 500 years. They condemn the sincere attempt made by one of Tamils founder ideologues, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam. Also they claim (‘a little now, more later’), naturally gave and gives rise to suspicion!

The federalists draw from history the instances of multiple regimes functioning independently of one another in the island. When history is long, it makes for selective picking. The federalists and the Unitarians are both aces at this. It is not a subject that should be dismissed out of hand but we have to work with modern concepts equality, autonomy and the right of self determination. The same goes for the issue of religion. Recently, M.A. Sumanthiran contended that there was a separate Tamil kingdom on this island in order to buttress a devolution argument.

“He never mentioned boundaries and desisted from obtaining from the long history (as opposed to history-segments of convenience). If we go back to obtain formulation, then we can’t pick and choose. However, if we decide to go back, then we can go to the Kandyan Convention and the status of Buddhism that was agreed upon. Then we shall see the current formulation pertaining to religion as a historical injustice.” Scream unrepentant Unitarians!

However the separation of religion from the state is an issue that needs to be discussed openly and at length, bringing in all relevant histories, numbers and current realities. Is ‘the state’ a matter that is composed solely by the above two issues? Well, there’s a third matter where ‘the state’ is mentioned. The term that is common is ‘welfareist state’. Welfare is a word that is associated typically with the underprivileged, the peripheral and poor. The role of the state, accordingly, is in part to provide a safety net to catch those who could otherwise fall by the wayside.

 

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