Personal Ambitions of Individuals eclipse Political Strategizing
Posted on November 22nd, 2018

R Chandrasoma

Politics in Sri Lanka today is underwritten by the epic struggle of some key individuals to secure positions of dominance in a wildly fluctuating and tumultuous political scene in which ideology and principles take a back seat. Take the classic instance of the Ex-Prime Minister now holed-up in his once- official abode known as ‘Temple Trees’. Except when this bizarre behaviour of a defeated politician is interpreted in terms of personal affront  and afflicted psychology, it makes no sense. It makes sense when we realize that RW is fighting a battle that is not merely political – it is his iconic standing  – which is assailed on all fronts – that troubles. him. There is widespread disenchantment among the ‘Kalusuddhas’ and Urban Elites that he is a proven failure as a political leader of the kind needed to galvanize the ‘Modernists’ and the ‘Westernized Bourgeois Liberals’ (WBL) against the ‘primitivisms’ of those representing the Sinhala Nationalists   He is (or was) the Great Hope of the Tamils of the North – the ‘Acoucheur’ of a New Constitution that would free Sri Lanka from those legislative impediments that side-track the Minorities.  Last – but not least – is the feeling within his own Grand Party that he is a ‘forlorn loser’ and must be replaced by a dynamic young buck  – perhaps Sajith Premadasa.

Lets reiterate the main point – politics is ‘driven’ by the ‘saga of the Individual leader’ as much as by the prevelent socio-historic forces.  One has to only recall the history of SWRDB and his  ‘socialist revolution’ to confirm this basic understanding. It is sad but true that politics is as much driven by the personal  ‘angoisse’ of the leaders as much as by policy issues. In today’s Parliament there are strategic coalitions – not parties in th eold-fashioned sense. In this light the bizzare relationship of Anura Kumara Dissanayaka of the JVP – a miniscule party that is the object of ridicule outside Parliament  – and the UMP makes sense. He is loud-mouth and useful – he is an istrument in the kind of power-play  of individuals that now dominates politics in this country.

Let us reiterate the main point – genuine politics uses the confrontation of ideological forces to advance the truth – what Marxist  Philosophers call the ‘Interaction of Opposites’ that yields the Higher Truth. This lofty thinking is mocked in our Legislature where  battle appears to be between two politcal matadors aided and abetted by their screaming side-kicks. This is politics at its worst because ideological conflicts are pushed back while the big noise of personal battles both bemuse and confuse the public.

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