Is the End Near..?

-By Virgil

(Lanka-e-News -16.March.2024, 9.00 PM) “If ever tears and pleadings have served the weak to fight the strong, let them do so now!” ~Thomas Hardy, Mayor of Casterbridge

It is real. The status quo and its protectors are trembling. They are anticipating a terrible finale. They see a very plausible end to their decade-long dominance on Sri Lankan society. They see an end to their luxurious lifestyles; a fake upper-class existence is being threatened and if their habitual way of doing things comes to a sudden halt, all dreams and hopes of continuation of an already decadent way of living would be in vain. Their very existence as an integral stakeholder, as firsts among equals is being questioned and the masses are surely on road to an instant questioning of its very validity. It is not because the masses have attained enlightenment, but because they are being repeatedly told by another stakeholder, the National People's Power (NPP) and its leaders on their political platform. A relentless campaign of speechifying and revealing of the 'real' are beginning to have their drastic effects.

President Ranil Wickremasinghe has fallen back on to the age-old tradition of distributing 'goodies' just before the voter goes to the polling booth. A proud Royalist, who is persistently present in the famous Royal Thomian Big Match and a misguided old boy of 'the' Colombo elitist school has gone to see the Ananda-Nalanda Big Match. Another first in his enigmatic political career. The panic button has been pressed; Ranil is responding in the most traditional and anticipated fashion. These are signs of a depressed man. Things of much more suspicious and irregular character would undoubtedly be committed by this man. Because he's terrified.

Ranil is not alone in this depressing corner; the usual suspects like his fellow old boys, not only of Royal College, but of all the so-called elite schools such as St. Thomas' and Trinity will join him in this unadventurous venture. They see the proverbial writing on the wall. What else can they do in this eleventh hour? Having plundered the nation's coffers, after indulging in a mass-scale political hoodwinking, still being in position of enormous power of the Executive Presidency, they have no alternative but to engage every bit of energy and whatever that is left of it in order to reverse a process that has been in stream for the last decade or so. Some salient factors, such as Aragalaya-22, have accelerated the pace of this sequence of societal movement.

What are they afraid of? What are they running away from? What do they embrace and what do they discard? These questions will be answered in the forthcoming elections, whether it's Presidential or Parliamentary. The looming defeat seems real with each passing day, week and month. Ranil is boasting about forty + parliamentary Bills, stabilization of the economy and reconciliation with the country's North and East. But he offers no choice for the people who are clamoring for a total change; he does not seem to have any answer to the question of how the system failed; he has no clue about the day-day-day existence or sub-existence of the poor man. For Ranil and his henchmen have had no such brutal existence. They have had no day that passed by without a meager meal. Rice and pol sambol with a watery dahl curry (parippu) was what they offered their pet dogs and cats.

Ranil and the Pohottuwa gang have not given any answer to the most burning issues in the country: corruption and nepotism. It is corruption and nepotism, for which they have no answer either. Convicted criminals are still in Parliament. And they are holding some very senior positions in the government machinery. And nepotism as now being practiced by those in parliament is obscene. Such an ugly representation of the country could not have been more blatant and bizarre.

The fundamental difference between those who rule and those are ruled has never been exposed in sharper and more profound measures. The privileged class who has access to the commanding heights of the economy and those who are far remote from access to the same amenities are fast approaching a clashing encounter. The National People's Power has made these differences much more acute and the malignancies that such differences entail are emerging each passing day. The appearance of the country's President with other Opposition bigwigs in drunken mood and condescending demeanor shows that they have not understood the country's cultural clash that is brewing. They are not attuned to the rural realities of frugality and simplicity; on the other hand, their being so oblivious to those realities also exposes their uncanny disrespect and callous lack of empathy for those who do not enjoy a single day's entertainment as much as local 'gudu' game. Surely the strategists of the UNP, SJB and Pohottuwa Party can't be so blind to the simple realities of political strategy? The very optics is nauseating.

Of course, the country can and should enjoy the yearly carnivals like 'Big Matches' and other paraphernalia that have continued to enthrall the masses. But giving those events such free publicity , especially in the company of the country's leaders who claim to be the saviors of the common man should be avoided at all costs at times like these. Our leaders are not only so embroiled in their own egoistic pursuits, they are also so blind not to see the terrible impressions that their extracurricular activities create in the simple minds of the people. Utterly selfish and self-absorbed men and women only engage in such absurd and anti-social enterprises. When one is offered a choice between a crafty bad man and a fool, one may choose the crafty man; but when the offer represents the two sides of the same coin, crafty bad man and fool, no wonder it seems that they seem to be attracted towards an option that is totally outside the box, so to speak.

This absolute absence of commonsense is the fatal flaw of those who are vigorously engaged in protecting and defending the status quo. However, history has shown us that in such a specific sociopolitical circumstance, the only answer has been violence and armed insurrection or armed revolution. Whatever the term one gives to this mass-scale reaction, revolution or insurrection, it's never been a non-violent, democratic election. Only Chile is the exception. Salvador Allende was a socialist politician who served as the 28th President of Chile from 1970 until his death in 1973. As a democratic socialist committed to democracy, he has been described as the first Marxist to be elected President in a liberal democracy in Latin America.

The people of Sri Lanka, if they choose to elect Anura Kumara Dissanayake as President or give majority in Parliament to those representing the NPP, they truly opt for a total system change. In fact, system change has been a cliché much used by journalists and NPP activists at present. If they do so, it is certainly with their eyes and ears open. For the last two and half years they have been repeatedly told by the NPP that the only way out is by electing them to power. Election of the NPP to power would be an outside-the-box decision in that, firstly, they were never tested earlier and secondly they offer a seemingly authentic solution; they pledge to bring those who played out our national treasures before the law; they also promulgate to institute a government and a decision-making Cabinet of Ministers on a consensus-centered collectivism. They also seem to be finally settled on the validity and importance of the Private sector as an essential stakeholder of our governance machinery. Those Colombo-based punditry may be moved or neutralized by the NPP's economic and political stance which is being adopted by them.                   

Arguments for a system change, as I have written earlier in my past columns, can never be foreclosed. The collapse of the current system, social, economic, cultural and political, is beyond question. Corruption has seeped into the very fabric of the rural hamlets; the rural men and women have time and time again been equal partners in the bribery enterprise. As much as the politicians have been accepting bribes for rendering a service to the voting men and women, these voting men and women also have willingly participated in this social-evil by obliging each time such bribes are solicited. They continued to do so until it became a necessary evil. Naturalizing such an atrocious social practice has eaten into our collective tapestry and the horrendous design it reveals is what we are beholding today.

The NPP's answer, whether the people at large would believe or not, looks to be the only answer. Not because they have already shown it to us, but because they are the only ones left untested! That is the enigmatic context we need to deal with, in the current cascade of political events. The NPP is certainly not perfect, in fact, far from it. But the rest is not anywhere near one percent (1%). The end of the rest is nearer than one imagines.

-By Virgil

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]

Virgil's Collection

by     (2024-03-16 15:56:11)

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