Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism is not the ideal solution
The grip of the ruler based on Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism is breaking down. It is thanks to this grip which subdued the Sinhala petty bourgeoisie, that Keheliya Rambukwella the government spokesman, could ignore the fact that parliamentarians pay just Rs.2000/- per month for electricity in their free official residences and intimidates the poor.
He has said “People expected to eat without paying for it…. People expected everything free. They ask for subsidies for everything. When the country has to be taken forward we cannot tolerate people who ask for subsidies.”
With the grip breaking down, Mahinda has more cause for concern about the SLFP than about the Opposition. The party which serves as the necessary vehicle for the regime of Mahinda with his dictatorial project was founded not by the Rajapaksas but by the Bandaranaikes. SWRD was a liberal who approached the Sinhala petty bourgeoisie with a nationalist project mixed with social welfare. Then he joined with left socialist elements such as Philip, TB and others to construct the popular front, MEP. Left socialist cover concealed the Sinhala chauvinist militancy within the front; but it revealed its power in the 1957 communal riots.
In 2005, many leading SLFPers may have believed that Mahinda Rajapaksa would create a second era of populism. What Chandrika promised but could not achieve was included in Mahinda Chinthanaya and all agitators of Mahinda including Wimal, electrified the masses with this new vision. However close advisers of Mahinda, new better. The capitalist boom is over and the revival is slow. In that back ground to think of an era of populism with more welfare is a grave mistake. On the other hand a War to crush the Tamil liberation struggle could give a breathing space to consolidate a capitalist state that could control the eventual proletarian agitations. One of the first tasks of Mahinda, post-2010 Presidential Election, was to close the democratic loopholes introduced by the 17th Amendment, with the 18th Amendment. Thus the new journey started.
Mahinda abandoned the so called anti imperialist foreign policy of the SLFP to sign all possible agreements with the West. The best possible recognition was given to Israel. In that way Military arsenal was improved. India approved all that, and Mahinda claimed he was conducting the war of India to crush the LTTE rebellion. War was not only a war against Tamil insurrection but also an ideological war against democracy. In the name of patriotism subjugation was introduced in the South as well. Opposition was labelled as a group of terrorist supporters; that included the leader of the opposition too. Even today the government media repeatedly show the signing of the peace agreement of Ranil with Prabharan, claiming that as a great betrayal of Lanka.
Brave attempts to consider seriously the grievances of the Tamil nationality is depicted as a despicable attempt to destroy Lanka.
However now the people are beginning to see what has happened with this heroic war of Mahinda. No need to read outside material; the government sponsored LLRC commission has come out with the truth, at least to some extent. Opposition very correctly has taken the LLRC recommendations seriously and started the agitation to implement the recommendations. This agitation has gone a long way to unroll the ideological defeat within the working class and arguably the most potent impediment to the success of the Rajapaksa project, nationally. In the last period not only the pro government media but also several powerful private media houses joined to strengthen the ideological war of the Mahinda regime.
Today the division of the opposition is clearly on this issue. Out of all bourgeoisie leaders in the opposition only Ranil has understood the real ideology of the Mahinda group. The latter has adopted Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism as its ideology. The Rajapaksas are depicting themselves to the Sinhala South as the true heirs of 1957 agitations. In 1957 the SLFP agitators group as opposed to others in the MEP front, presented itself not as the champion of the poor but as the champion of the Sinhalese. Its appeal was not class-based but premised on language, nationality and religion.
To this 57 pogrom group the Pancha Maha Balavegaya was a Sinhala Buddhist bloc from which the minorities were viscerally excluded. Poverty was an issue only if it could be depicted as an outcome of the anti-Sinhala exploitative activities of the rich and greedy minorities. The SLFP’s pogrom group was of the backward looking, reactionary variety, part majoritarian-supremacist, part feudal-socialist, anti-modern and anti-pluralist. Because of this powerful tendency the ‘1956 Revolution’ did not succeed in bringing hitherto marginalised segments of society into the democratic mainstream. What it did was to radically transform the character of democratic movement from a pluralistic one to a chauvinist one. This degeneration was strong enough to dominate even the old left.
Under Mahinda regime, Jacobins of 57 have returned wearing the brown shirts of fascism. A real opposition should be able to confront this menace first ideologically, then by mass action