Reply to Vickramabahu
By Nalin de Silva
Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne in a recent article has tried to distort facts and attribute to me certain things that I have never said. For Vickramabahu Marxism is the social analysis and anything else cannot be considered as such. Once you attribute to your opponent what you want and not what the opponent has said it becomes easy to reply as you are then replying only to a thesis that you yourself has constructed. It is a case of fighting a straw man that one has created. In the present article, I speak for myself only and not for any other person Vickramabahu has mentioned in his article.
I met him at the University of Moratuwa at a seminar organised by the Sinhala Cultural Association, a student society of that university. It was on peace and I presented my case and said that the MOU and the present so-called peace process had to be defeated. I present my analysis, which is not a social analysis according to Vickramabahu who still clings on to outdated Marxism that cannot be considered as a theory but an imagination of Marx,referring to quotations from him.
Vickramabahu has said: "However , both agree that there are no other community in Sri Lanka with national rights except the Sinhala community. All other communities should accept the supremacy of the Sinhala Nationality and adjust their community activities accordingly. They say there is no real , organic Tamil National uprising in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil campaign is a planted uprising maintained by vested interest. Even after these two consecutive debates with them, still I am at a lost as to who these vested interests are. They referred to three different elements: firstly the Tamil international conspiracy , secondly, the Christian conspiracy and finally the Western conspiracy dating back to 1505 AD. Neither of them present a social analysis and both are equally opposed to Marxism and refer to it to as a part of the Western cultural conspiracy , spread through out the world."
Now I have never said or written anywhere, let alone at the University of Moratuwa that all the other communities living in Sri Lanka should accept the supremacy of the Sinhala community. It is true that I do not consider any community other than the Sinhalas to form a nation. I do not refer to them as nations but as ethnic communities.
Even with the standard definition of a nation within the Marxist literature that was accepted by none other than Lenin, Vickramabahu would not be able to show that the Tamils in Sri Lanka constitute a nation. I challenge him to quote the definition of nation accepted by Lenin and establish that the Tamils are a nation, based on that definition. According to Vickramabahu and his comrades nations can appear only after capitalism is established and he has said on many occasions that the Sinhalas are not a nation as capitalism is not established in Sri Lanka.
It is the self same Vickramabahu who advocates self determination to the Tamil nation! He must be thinking that capitalism is firmly established in Jaffna and Batticaloa. I have never stated that these are conspiracies.
I present a coherent picture of the evolution of Tamil racism and I base my arguments on a the theory of political, economical and cultural colonialism of the western world. Vickramabahu refers to them as conspiracies, so that he could say that there is no social analysis.
My basic views on Tamil racism are given in "Prabhakaran, Ohuge Seeyala, Baappala Ha Massinala" that has been translated into English as "An Introduction to Tamil Racism in Sri Lanka". I have added a few details to what is found in this book, in the recent years in my articles to the "Midweek Review" of "The Island" and the "Irida Divaina".
It is also true that there is no Tamil national uprising as such. The Tamil racist are fighting to deprive Sinhalathva, its rightful place in the country. I have not referred to vested interests but in their attempt to deprive the Sinhalathva its rightful place the Tamil racists are being supported by the western colonial powers who baptised Tamil racism in this country and the other non national forces such as the Christian and Catholic churches, the NGOs financed by the western countries, most of the Marxists who are nothing but the agents of western cultural colonialism.
The master piece of Vickramabahu the Marxist and the Trotskyite who talks of social analysis comes in defense of the Christian involvement in the Tamil racist movement. Here it is: "Obviously Christian priests are interested in influencing the struggling Tamil youth with their Christian ideology. I believe, that is what they are for.
At the same time there are Christian leaders and priests who are totally with either Nalin or Champika. At least having the same hate towards the Tamil liberation struggle.
Mr. S L Gunasekara and Fr Oska Aberatne are two classic examples."
This is the weakest defense of Christian involvement I have come across in the ongoing debate on Tamil racism in the newspapers, magazines, so-called research journals, electronic media. If anybody thinks all these Bishops and other Christian and Catholic priests in Jaffna, Mannar, Colombo and other places are only interested in spreading Christian ideology then he or she must be living in a different world altogether. The Christianity in our parts of the world plays two roles. One is the role of a religion, with which I have nothing against, and the other is the role of an ideology of colonialism. It is the second aspect that has become a problem in Asia, Africa and South America and I have no hesitation to say that I am against it.
The cultural colonialism of the western powers in countries such as Sri Lanka still revolves around the Catholic and Christian churches. Here I am not talking of individual Christians or Catholics but church as a social force.
I am not talking of a Christian conspiracy here but the role of the churches as a social force and as an instrument in cultural colonialism, that is linked with political colonialism.
It is interesting to see the social analyst Vickramabahu quoting individual cases in a feeble attempt to defend the church as an instrument of colonialism. It is not the individuals that count here but the role of the church as a whole.
The Marxist Vickramabahu, I am sure still believes in the concept of a working class, though it has no validity at all even in the context of the "developed capitalist" countries.
In Sri Lanka if one were to tell comrade Vickramabahu that there are workers and even leaders of workers (say for example in the trade unions) who not only vote for the UNP, but work for that party, would the comrade come to the conclusion that since some of the workers are with the UNP, the proletariat has given up the class struggle and the revolution that, I might add, has been round the corner for the last so many years.
The corner has now been straightened and the comrades have been cornered. The comrades in Sri Lanka continue to enjoy a political existence thanks to the television networks and print media owned by the capitalists.
They do not have a mass base but only a mass communication base. Vickramabahu refers to Fr. Oscar Abeyratne and Mr. S. L. Gunasekera. I have not seen any recent statement by the good Farther against the so called peace process "mediated" by the Norwegians and I do not have much to say about him.
However, I have a great respect for Mr.S. L.Gunasekera and also for some other Christians and Catholics who oppose and fight Tamil racism. But these individuals and the many innocent Sinhala Christians and Catholics who are opposed to Tamil racism do not represent the church as a social force.
As a social force the Christian and Catholic churches support Tamil racism and are against Sinhalathva. Let us turn to the so-called analysis of Vickramabahu on Global capitalism.
He says: "Finally, the Western conspiracy theory is a monstrous caricature of the Marxist analysis of Global Capitalism. Global capitalism has to go along with nationalist movements in order to subvert them to their capitalist "Open" economic policies.
There is a vast deference between the colonial policies of West European countries in the past centuries and the present polices of Global Capitalism. It is hilarious to claim on the onehand that a Western conspiracy is behind the Tamil liberation struggle, and then on the other hand to expect American, British and French forces to help Sri Lanka regime to suppress Tamil terrorism."
I have not mentioned any conspiracy as I said earlier. According to the Marxist comrade the Global Capitalism has to go along with the nationalist movements. After Lenin no Marxist, including Vickramabahu has analysed the global trends at least in some consistent manner. Marxism died long time ago and the Marxists are unable to come to grips with the present global situation. Even the postmodern Marxists such as Jameson, are only uttering incoherent nonsense in the name of an analysis. Marxism that does not take into consideration the cultural component of colonialism is at a loss of a theory.
Marxism was used by capitalism some time ago to weaken the nationalist forces in Asia and Africa with their so-called working class theories. They were used to undermine the nationalistic feelings of the people that helped the western colonial powers. In Sri Lanka it is the vulgar Marxism of the LSSP, CP, SLMP formed by Vijaya Kumaratunga that took the SLFP away from nationalistic politics. Today the SLFP is led by the wife of Vijaya who is implementing the SLMP policies through the SLFP.
Global capitalism or globalisation is only the latest phase of colonialism that commenced in the fifteenth century. Colonialism has three components, Political, Economical and Cultural. When the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka ostensibly for trade (economics) they came with the sword (politics) and the Bible (culture).
Imperialism was the next phase of colonialism and now we have globalism. From the fifteenth century the western powers had only one ambition or shall I say aspiration. That is to get the whole world integrated into their economical(trade) network and control the economies of the other counties.
That is economical hegemony. Secondly they want to control the whole world politically. The British and the other empires did this in their hay day. Today it is the President of the USA who plays the role of the political emperor of the world. No king or emperor in the history has had the powers that the present President of the USA has. Under cultural colonialism the west has imposed on the others their knowledge, their cultural values, their human rights, their education, etc.
Our cultures are increasingly becoming mere symbols. We are being forced to live in their culture occasionally going to the temple or lighting the so-called traditional oil lamp at the commencement of a beauty queen contest organised in a five star hotel. The five star hotel and the contest represent the western culture and our culture has been kicked upstairs to the lighting of the oil lamp at the beginning of the function.
If under imperialism the west had different centres that exercised influence over different regions of the globe under globalism the world has one centre that exercises its influence over the whole globe.
The centres have shifted from London, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid and coalesced into Washington.Colombo has become a mere point (remember the definition of a point. no length, no breadth, no with and in case of Colombo no character as well due to the characterless leaders whom the British selected for us. We never selected our leaders.
We only elected a few from a lot given to us by the British.) Global capitalism or globalism do not go with the nationalist movements as Vickramabahu says. Globalism go against the nationalist movements and in order to defeat the nationalist movements they select so-called nationalist leaders who are in essence non nationalists and make use of them. They also have the support of non nationalist Marxist movement in this connection.
The globalists do not have to go with the non nationalist leaders. The latter have no choice but to go with the globalists. What is Ranil Wickramasinghe doing today?. He is only following the line given by the western globalists.
He has to dance to their tune. Vickramabahu has no imagination to create new theories and he just echoes a few phrases from Marx and Lenin who wrote before the advent of globalism.
It is Vickramabahu who does not understand the difference between the last few centuries and the present century for want of a good theory. Today the Marxists cannot come up with theories good or bad, and it has been left to the nationalists, not the nationalists Vickramabahu imagines, to formulate new theories.
We in the Jathika Chinthanaya (JC) movement are just doing that and fighting globalism on many levels. It is wrong to say that we in JC have sought the support of globalists to suppress Tamil racism.
We know that it cannot be done and we have no illusions in this matter. Vickramabahu says: "Both Nalin and Chamipka showed relief and approval that the Bush administration has moved against terrorism after Sept. 11th incident.
In this context , I found it extremely difficult to understand what they mean by the "Western conspiracy behind the Tamil uprising". They could not give any valid reason as to why Western powers should undermine the Sri Lankan regime and plant a Tamil separatist movement in this country.
Also it is absurd to believe that the same Western powers will use their armed power to crush this separatist movement." As far as I am concerned I have never expected the Bush administration to move against the terrorism in Sri Lanka.
I have explained at length that the USA proscribed the LTTE because it is a threat to them and not because of us. The USA is in a dilemma as far as the LTTE is concerned. In Sri Lanka the LTTE is simply carrying out a policy that is to the liking of the USA.
The LTTE is the main force that is trying to deprive the Sinhalathva,(Sinhala nation, Sinhala language, Sinhala culture, Sinhala history) its rightful place in the country. The colonialists, imperialists and now the globalists who want to undermine the culture and the history of a country support some ethnic group hostile to the nation or the main group that lives in that country.
The globalists are using the Tamils against the Sinhalas. They used then and use now the Muslims against the Hindus in India. In African countries one could quote enough examples to establish this point.
The globalists have no special love for the Tamils except perhaps for the fact that the Tamil movement in India and Sri Lanka has an ideology based in Christianity. It was the Christian Bishops and priests that were instrumental in creating a Tamil movement in India.
It was this Tamil Christian movement that wanted to divide India even before the Muslims agitated for a separate state.The Justice Party was formed in the then Madras Presidency by the Tamils to establish a separate state. However, in India the large Hindu component of the Tamils with its Brahamin leadership was able to defeat the Christian ideology of the Tamil movement.
In Sri Lanka that did not happen. The Christian influence in the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka is much stronger than that in India.
The Tamil Christians are powerful in Sri Lanka and the percentage of Christians among the Tamils in Sri Lanka is higher than that among the Tamils in India or among the Sinhalas.
After Chelvanayakam, a Christian, became the leader of the Tamil racist movement things started moving fast. He formed his Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (Lanka Tamil state Party) better known as the Federal Party.
In my articles I have referred to his biography by his son in law A. J. Wilson to show the hatred that Chelvanayakam had for the Sinhalas and his policy of little now and more later. The Hindus among the Tamils in Sri Lanka lost in the process and today there is no effective Hindu leadership in the Tamil movement.
I have no illusions whatsoever in reactions against the September 11 incident. I challenge Vickramabahu to quote a sentence from the large number of articles I have written to establish his claim.
The USA on one hand approves the activities of the LTTE in Sri Lanka. However at the same time on a global scale they do not like the LTTE for its connections with the Arab terrorist organisations.
The LTTE is banned in USA and the English speaking white countries in the world because of the second reason. However, what is more important here is the Indian factor. India that trained the LTTE terrorists some time ago and that enforced the merger of the northern and eastern provinces and the concept of so-called historical habitats does not like the LTTE now.
They want to defeat Prabhakaran. As the relationship between India and USA is not cold now there is a possibility, as I have explained in the article on the 5th of June to the "Midweek Review" that the USA might support India to defeat the LTTE or at least to replace Prabhakaran. However, neither country is against Tamil racism and we cannot expect much from this "alliance".
Vickramabahu's point on homeland is very primitive to say the least. Also he misinforms the readers.
He tried to do the same at the University of Moratuwa but when I challenged him he had to keep quiet. He says:"If a community has been living continuously in a region , by and large , in the recent period , then in general that land is considered to be their homeland. India is a collection of such homelands. In fact each state is named after the community related to it.
But no one has exclusive rights. All are Hindustanis but Hindus have no exclusive rights either. Entire land of Sri Lanka could be considered to be the homeland of Sinhala , but not exclusively. In addition within Sri Lanka there could be a Tamil homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils. Already Veddha homeland is recognized in this since.
So why not a Tamil homeland? If such recognition is not possible then Tamils have no option except the struggle for separation with terror and violence."
According to Vickramabahu's definition any cast in Sri Lanka could have its own homeland. No homeland is defined this way. There is no Vedda homeland in Sri Lanka.
But certain areas have been identified as land where they have lived, under the pretext that they are aborigines. But that does not mean that the Veddas could ask for self determination in these areas.
Even here I have a feeling that the NGO's worked to get this recognition for Veddas claiming that they are aborigines in order to support the homeland claim of the Tamils. In any event the analogy is wrong, unless Vickramabahu succeed in formulating an aboriginal theory for the Tamils. With respect to India, it is not such a collection of homelands. This is the irony. India that forced us to recognise the so-called historical habitats of the Tamils have no homelands in that country. They have states demarcated on a linguistic basis. However, that has nothing to do with the homeland concept. In India, say for example in Tamil Nadu, more than 90% of the population speak Tamil.
And of the Tamils in India more than 90% live in Tamil Nadu. In Sri Lanka the same cannot be said. More than 50% of the Tamils in Sri Lanka live outside the northern and eastern provinces.
In those two provinces if not for the Muslims the Tamil speaking population becomes less than 60%. Muslims would not like to be grouped as Tamil speaking people as it undermines their identity as a religious group.
Vickramabahu has the following to say on Tamil grievances. "One repeated question coming from this camp is: what is the discrimination faced by Sri Lankan Tamils?
To me it is such a foolish question that should not be answered." It is not a foolish question that should not be answered but a question that has no answer. That is why he is not answering it. Having said that it is a foolish question he tries to answer it by quoting the language Act and the "Banda - Chelva" (B-C) Pact.
I explained to him at the seminar that Sinhala had been the official language of Sri Lanka even in the so-called Jaffna kingdom and by making Sinhala the only official language Tamils are not made second class citizens.
If that is the case then the Tamils should be second class citizens in India where it is not an official language.
In Sri Lanka the Tamils can communicate with the government in their language and all the forms, government advertisements etc., are available in Tamil as well.
The Tamils have their education from year one to the university level in Tamil, a facility not available even in Tamil Nadu.
There in some government schools Tamil is not the medium of instruction. In fact, Tamils in Sri Lanka enjoy more privileges and rights than the Tamils in any other country including India.
The Sinhala people objected to B-C Pact as there was provision in that for Rata Sabhas to merge.
If that was allowed Northern and Eastern provinces would have become one rata sabha in 1958 itself. With Chelvanayakam's policy of little now more later, this rata sabha would have ended up as a separate "rata" altogether.
Finally the apologist for the LTTE says: "Fascism is thus a political expression of the ruling class in a highly developed industrial society in crisis. What has the LTTE got to do with that? LTTE is an expression of desperate and oppressed Tamil people.
Their barbarism and cruelty are products of oppression and discrimination". Vickramabahu tries to defend the LTTE by saying that fascism can become a political expression only in an industrialised country.
But in this age of globalism the definitions that were formulated in the imperialist stage have to be changed. The LTTE that is being supported by countries such as Norway is part of the global political situation. It is being used by the western powers, unlike in the case of Vietcong or the other movements Vickramabahu has mentioned. It has not only terrorised the Tamil people who are being oppressed by the LTTE, but has proscribed Tamil political organisations such as TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.
I do not want to add too much emphasis to the Nazi salute by the "people" at the Pongu Tamil 'celebrations". However, one cannot simply ignore that as a mistake.
The sole objective of Tamil racism and the LTTE in particular is to deprive Sinhalathva its rightful place.
They oppose Sinhala being made the official language because they do not want to give the Sinhala language its rightful place. They try to erase the history of Sinhalas and replace it with a bogus history of the Tamils to deprive Sinhala history its rightful place.
The peace that the LTTE and the Tamil racists want is a peace with Sinhalathva weakened and denied its rightful place.
The Sinhalathva has been gradually weakened since 1505. The fight against the LTTE is only a continuation of the fight against colonialism. It is not the supremacy of the Sinhala nation that the nationalists want to establish.
They want Sinhalathva to be given all that it has lost during the last five hundred years. LTTE and Tamil racism supported by the western powers want to deny that. No peace can be achieved until the historical injustices to the Sinhalas are rectified.
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