Marxism tells us that under the power of capital, man can achieve only an ‘estranged’ realisation of species - being.
However the ideology of Marxism could create in a capitalist society an enclave of conscious beings, through revolutionary praxis. Thus, one who understands and gets involved in conscious revolutionary practice, can come out of alienation to see the world as it is. It was Buddha who understood first, the human ability to go beyond common sense and see the world through the rule of Uthpatha, Thithi, Banga or the rule of negation. That was long before Hegel or Marx. Any human who could go against the current, and comprehensively look at the world within the process of arising and decay, will see the world as it is and what is more, will be a being with universal consciousness. I am not going to argue whether all that is true or not.
But I am sure that Prof Sucharitha Gamalath behaved very much like a being with species consciousness. We all know that he used Marxist analytical tools, in the domain of language and literature. He went beyond, to investigate the issue of appreciation of artistic creations. What is art? How can one learn to appreciate such creations? What is freedom of art? Is art bound by class interest? Thousands of art lovers and artistes came and listened to him, to find answers and to improve their ability to enter the deep world of sensitivity and complex feelings.
For many, Sucharitha was an academic, scholar and a professor with radical views. But to those who were close to him, he was an unrepentant socialist and a teacher for the proletariat. The socialist or the proletarian consciousness is considered to be the final ideological achievement of humans. Because with capitalism we have come to the last stage of human social development and the worker is the final form of social existence. Proletarian power will deliver the socialist society with humans reaching universal or species consciousness.
Sucharitha was aware of that and his life was thus guided by species consciousness. On that basis he was an irreconcilable enemy of any kind of communalism or racism. He participated in all kinds of debates in which he used his knowledge of language, philosophy and literature to defeat the arguments of chauvinist and religious sectarians.
At the beginning he was a member of the far left organisation named the Revolutionary Communist League. But later he came out of sectarian politics to participate in broad socialist activities. He never showed opportunistic tendencies though he was suppressed many times for his views on politics. He did not yield or retreat from the principled positions taken. In the last provincial council elections he volunteered to help me in my campaign though he generally did not care for electoral politics. He presided at the public meeting held in Colombo and showed his clear commitment to the stand that we took in our campaign. In particular he stood for the rights of the Tamil nationality.
He was moved by the suffering of the oppressed Tamil people just as much as he was affected by the class struggle in the south. In that sense he made real what Marx said about universality. In the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts Marx clearly sees a genuine human association as realising concrete universality:
“Man, however much he may therefore be a particular individual – and it is just this particularity which makes him an individual and a communal being - is just as much the ideal totality, the subjective existence of society which has been thought and experienced for itself.”
On the other hand he did his best to transform the Sinhala to be a modern nation. No nation can be built without a language that could participate to explain all modern happenings. Sucharitha was able to investigate every corner of the Sinhala language and to expose philosophical, ethical and general cultural concepts accumulated within it for centuries. Also, he was able to go beyond the language limitation to examine languages of the neighbourhood to clarify the historical development of Sinhala language and culture. This task made him a true hero of the Sinhala people. National heroes are not made by acts of villainy on smaller nations and communities living with the majority nation. Sucharitha proved this by becoming not only a great teacher of the proletariat but also the most respected Sinhala hero.