There They Go Again: Back to ‘77 & All the Julys – 1980, 1983, 1987…
Posted on September 19th, 2023

e-Con e-News September 2023 Part 3

Before you study the economics, study the economists!

e-Con e-News September 2023 Part 3

‘Political thuggery is the main deterrent to economic reforms’ – A former Swedish Industry Ministry Director, Dag Detter last week warned an Asian Development Bank (ADB) Colombo Forum aiming to sell off national assets. (They wasted a lot of precious dollars and carbon to fly this Viking all the way to Colombo to warn us about their camouflage: ‘Social democracy on their lips, capitalism in their holster.’)

     ‘Extremists who do not subscribe to a free enterprise system, even if it has a human face,’ snuggle within ‘the group supporting the President’ warned former English Ceylon Tobacco Co chairman Suresh Shah. Shah now chairs that same President’s SoE Restructuring Unit (SRU), formed to impose the IMF plan to sell off national assets. The main problem for these flaming democrats is: ‘How to get past the election jitters.’ Both Detter and Shah are big fans of using mass-media strategies to trick the working class. CTC is one of the best. A besieged state health service pays the bills for the cancers they fester, while they pack their profits off to parent BAT in London (see ee Random Notes). 


Hong Kong reporter starts to ask Venezuela leader

Nicholas Maduro visiting China, a question in English:

Maduro: ‘Speak Mandarin, there’s no English interpreter – It’s a new world!


• So many English media outlets in Sri Lanka. All saying the very very same same thing, over & over. A simple scan of our weekly news index provides ample evidence. They don’t even bother to rephrase or use a thesaurus. Any real news is but decoration for the press releases from the US, English, EU, Japanese & Indian embassies, IMF, World Bank & UN – all making pronouncements clearly beyond their welcome. All looking in a mirror of their own making, and saying, ‘Aint we good lookin!?’ All this color-coded talk of corruption and not one word about how this capitalist media, epitome of such art, operates in a merchant world.

     Dollared Civil Society is all agog about corruption. Yet the present Exchange Control Act which allows the parking of $billions outside the country will never be changed because the IMF has prevented the government from doing so, and the government has agreed (see ee Random Notes, Vichara).

     And then the spit of the Anglican King’s BBC Channel 4 splutters out some drivel. Watch all this media scurry about like pissu kumbi scratching their heads, as if the heavens have opened all their reedy orifices at once. And, lo! Pixeled spit turns into electronic rivers of ink. & ink into gospel. Let not one drop of mud go to the ocean without a media editor using it to fill any holes left in a page midst Anglo Unilever’s glossy promises to turn us all fair&lovely & stoopid.


Pump out enough smoke & you might create fire

– The Economist (London)


Is the IMF setting Sri Lanka up for a 2nd car crash?

– Financial Times (London)

‘Long delays caused by official sector squabbling

are creating new strategic options for private creditors’

– Financial Times (London)


More than half of Sri Lanka’s revenue to be gobbled up with interest payments

– Financial Times (London)


‘More than half’ is an understatement. Funny how the Financial Times, so full of number-crunching graphs etc, deploys imprecision & innumeracy when needed. This debt can never be paid unless we industrialize. Yet they will not allow that, either. And so, the debt farce opens to yet another season. It is autumn in New York, London & Geneva. Rare birds head south, honking. The school year begins. & here come the monitors. & there are the foreign experts & local merchants blaming ‘extremists’ & ‘thuggery’ for delaying IMF tinkering. (see ee Random Notes)

     Last month the US government demanded that a New York court (whose salaries it pays) delay a decision on lawsuit by an offshore tax-hideout holder of Sri Lanka’s bonds. This week, France & England petitioned the same Manhattan judge, arguing in favor of Sri Lanka’s request for a 6-month freeze on any litigation. France hosts the so-called Paris Club, where government-to-government debts are restructured. England ‘historically oversaw the London Club, the less formal group for private creditors to negotiate with sovereign borrowers’, observes the Financial Times (London). Why are they so concerned? The media rarely tell us about this London Club. (see ee Random Notes)


• Yet another IMF delegation landed here this week. A new Central Bank Act declared its independence from the country. Now we can only finance industrialization via Humpty Dumpty on Wall Street. Also, a supposedly independent workers’ pension fund (EPF) & Monetary Board, with no representation from workers, has taken on the entire burden of paying off ‘domestic debts’ incurred by capitalists.

     This week’s railway strike, with a Moratuwa student falling off a train, had the Labor minister and media linking both events. The government then resorted to punitive legislation against railway workers. Anybody who loves to ride the rails knows well how the SLGR is undermined. This forced ee to recall the continued dominance of national transport by vehicle importers (banks etc).

      ee also recalls the USA’s International Monetary Fund 1977 policies of privatization, and so-called liberalization & financialization of the economy, that enables the programmed anarchy on the roads & rails to this day. Such ‘human resource’ policies made ee remember the Employers Federation of Ceylon (the country’s 1st organization to register as a trade union in colonial 1935) demanding the government totally ban strikes in 1978:


‘To introduce legislation enforcing a total ban on strikes & lockouts in essential services… and the requirement of a 60% support of the workers through secret ballot for strike action in non-essential services


• July 1980 saw the UNP government freezing the bank accounts of trade unions, and the mass sacking of at least 50,000 workers. Such policies set the stage for further turmoil triggering pogroms & wars north & south. Such anarchy is required to push back against any attempt at true (economic) independence. The forces of super-consumption were unleashed after 1948 to divert investment in modern industrialization policies that even India had adopted. The children of 1977 then rose up in 2022 to demand their birth right of continuing the import-party’s non-stop orgy. So now, another bill…

     This week also saw protests at the CWE after the sacking of almost 300 workers. Recall how the tale of the nationalization of oil companies and the formation of the CWE are linked. Our white-educated intellectuals don’t believe a state can catch & sell dry fish. Only a Harvard MBA can do that?


‘Even as universities are captured by capital

and turned into what is termed as University Inc,

the new knowledge they produce is still publicly funded.’

– Prabir Purkayastha, Intellectual Property, Knowledge Monopoly

& the Rent Economy (see ee Economists)


All good bourgeois desire the impossible,

i.e., the conditions of bourgeois life without

the inevitable consequences of these conditions.

– Karl Marx

• Sri Lanka is further privatizing its ‘education sector’ – to change ‘its state-sector-led universities to private-sector-led investments to ensure professionalism and increase employability’. Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has such a plan, reports US stenographer EconomyNext, ‘to abolish the current University Grant Commission … to establish more private universities.’ This ABC ain’t new.

     ‘The island nation has faced with strong resistance for private universities in the country as Leftist politicians & Marxists have protested in street,’ US EconomyNext provokes the minister, who duly obliges: ‘Rajapakshe was critical of past demands by socialists & Leftists for state-led higher education. ‘What socialism, what Marxism?’ That’s nonsense. In all those (socialist) countries, the private education has been promoted…’

     We wonder where the intelligent minister gets his education, which is very different from ‘schooling’. In this ee Focus, Kasun Kariyawasam examines how underfunding and the failure to industrialize – let alone understand the role industrialization plays in giving education a structure – have undermined claims to ‘free education’. ‘Free education’ has come at a great price: Manufacturing literate idiots who are gloriously innumerate. Indeed, in this 5th anniversary of ee, recall SB’s humorous quip: it would have been better to provide free fertilizer to cultivators than free education to Colombo’s wannabes.

     Indeed, we recall the Cambridge economist Joan Robinson’s last message to her students in the 1960s: ‘Supposedly illiterate peasants across the world from London, who had never ever heard Robinson’s lectures, were accomplishing miracles in China.’

     ee therefore also continues the battle with ChatGPT on the role played by China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s – which the English & its media bots love to malign – in capturing the home market. ee also concludes its look at Russia’s industrial development midst imperialist siege, and their deployment of domestic demand.




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