Monday, September 20, 2010

Is centralization of power going to help ?

By Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne |

I was invited by the Rotary club of Kandy-Metropolitan to deliver a talk on democracy and good governance.

Chandana Pathirana, as the organizer of the event told me in advance that many club members were interested in understanding the present situation; and my critical views will be of interest to them.This is a time for concern for everybody in this country; both the rich and the poor. Is centralization of power going to help or will it make matters worse?

I made comments to answer this main question of the day. Having listen to my talk patiently they started a live discussion and I was surprised about the content.

Business men and professionals digging into leftist political theory is something I never expected. There were two important questions that were raised from several directions.

1. If globalisation and global powers are behind the centralization of the political power in Lanka, is there any purpose of challenging it?

2. Can the opposition find a way out challenging the present powers of globalisation?

The second question was something I have answered again and again in the past. Are not Tigers terrorists? As such was there any other way of solving the Tamil problem except by repression?

There was no hurry; I had enough time to explain.

I said that India and global powers were behind the war against the Tamil struggle. In fact Tamil insurrection of the poor youth is one of the main results of following development strategies, pressed onto us by the multilateral agencies and the international money lenders.

In turn, same powers compelled Mahinda to use ruthless repression against the insurgents. That gave an ample opportunity for them to influence the Lankan regime in many ways. Result is a great devastation in the country with Mahinda becoming a puppet of India and global powers.

The development programme started by Mahinda regime consists of mega projects to facilitate the Multi National Corporations that would come to torch a massive industrial revolution in this country!

In the first place, the MNCs system is sick and has become an environmental burden on earth. Secondly it presses on us an organized structure crushing all existing work organizations, traditional living patterns, and natural resources.

Mass of people are displaced and dispersed without proper habitat. Not only workers and peasants but also national- local businesses will be very badly affected. This is what happened under JR and this is or worse will happen under MR.

The dictatorial powers assumed by Mahinda is firstly to give every help to the so called international developers arriving here. They need not hang around kachcheris, government offices, banks and police stations. All powerful president and his ministers will look into all such problems. In effect they will be above law and regulations.

Secondly in any event of a protest, strike or hartal the power of presidency will be used to crush it. It is true that some people argue that dictatorship helped to develop in many other countries. But there are no countries developed by being subservient to the present matrix of MNCs.

We are in a post modernist world where every moment has to be understood in the present context. Past is of very little importance in the present events tied to high technology. Unless we are prepared to think radically all we have will be sold without leaving any thing for our future generations.

World over people have opposed this capitalist corporate globalisation; but not the integration and coming together of world community.

Noam Chomsky said once,

" The term 'globalization' has been appropriated by the powerful to refer to a specific form of international economic integration, one based on investor rights, with the interests of people incidental. That is why the business press, in its more honest moments, refers to the 'free trade agreements' as 'free investment agreements' (Wall St. Journal). Accordingly, advocates of other forms of globalization are described as 'anti-globalization'; and some, unfortunately, even accept this term, though it is a term of propaganda that should be dismissed with ridicule. No sane person is opposed to globalization, that is, international integration. Surely not the left and the workers movements, which were founded on the principle of international solidarity—that is, globalization in a form that attends to the rights of people, not private power systems."

Surely the development programme in any country should be people oriented. The quality of life of the citizen should be the priority. In Lanka, in addition to workers the life of peasants, small producers and fishers should improve. Simply, the poor communities should get rich.

The Tamil national problem should be solved by political means. Tamil Tigers were part of the Tamil liberation movement. Some wanted to achieve Tamil liberation through the parliamentary politics, left advocated a struggle of masses; the LTTE followed the method of violence, armed insurrection.

Terror is a part of the armed struggle. If a person supports Tamil liberation it doesn't mean necessarily that he is advocating or supporting terror. One can reject the method of terror but agree with the political aim of Tamil autonomy.

It is ridiculous to think that after devastation caused by the war, the problem of Tamil national freedom is over. It is more acute than ever before; alienation of Tamils from the state of Lanka is more evident now. 18th amendment made even the implementation of the 13th amendment more difficult.

There is no way out for Tamil speaking people except a joint struggle with those who accept equality, autonomy and the right of self determination of the Tamil speaking people.

We have to think of a social democratic movement that can combine the struggles of all communities. The JVP and the General will never accept the autonomy of the Tamil speaking people. They are unable to break away from bigoted racism.

On the other hand there are some in the UNP who are prepared to break away from Ranil's neo liberal economic stand. Ranil tends to compromise with Mahinda regime because of common economic policies. Both believe that the decaying system of MNCs will help us to achieve an industrial revolution!

In that scenario the Social democratic group may play an important role in the coming period.


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