Published: Red Flag, [Organ of the Communist Party of Ceylon] No. 2, 1970.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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As announced by the Prime Minister, Parliament will be dissolved on March 25th and five years of UNP mis-rule will come to an end. The country will go to the polls to elect a new government.
This is a convenient stage from which to assess the five years of rule by the UNP and to chart out the future course for the revolutionary movement.
It is useful to remind oneself that the forces of reaction were able to triumph in 1965 because of the failure of the SLFP and its allies – after holding the reins of power for nearly nine years –to carry out radical anti-imperialist and anti-feudal measures which would have cut at the economic base of the UNP. Exclusive reliance on the parliamentary path, under-estimation of the strength of the enemy, failure of even the “golden brains” of the LSSP to successfully pilot the Press Bill through Parliament, wrong united front tactics – all these helped reaction.
From the time it returned to power, the UNP-led coalition proved true to its class character. Although the government proclaimed itself to be a National Government, it was, in fact, nothing of that kind. The unity achieved between the UNP and the other reactionary Sinhala grouping on the one hand and the Federal Party and the Tamil Congress on the other represented the unity of the reactionary forces from among both the Sinhalese and Tamil people to mortgage Ceylon still further to foreign imperialism. It was a unity forged to protect the class interests of the respective reactionary sections and push the clock of history back. It was not the unity of the masses of the Sinhalese and Tamil people.
The so-called National Government was the product of a mis-gotten alliance, conceived in the dark, between the UNP and the Federal Party. The “marriage” had to end in divorce because of the failure of the Premier to honour his secret promises to his partner. Re-marriage is not ruled out after the next elections. Such was the opportunistic basis of the national unity achieved by the UNP.
As soon as it came to power, the first actions of the UNP were to take revenge from the working class and other progressive sections. All those employees of the government and state corporations that had not supported the UNP at the elections were harassed by transfer or other forms of victimisation. Innumerable teachers, government servants, CTB employees, etc. were suddenly transferred – even breaking homes in the process.
Then came the mis-guided January 8th strike of 1966 sponsored by the ultra-communal sections of the Coalition. The government used that opportunity to carry out massive repression against the working class. That repression had no precedent. Thousands of CTB employees, government employees and a host of other leading trade unionists were dismissed, transferred or otherwise punished.
The UNP-led government, that had accused the previous government of having ruled under a State of Emergency for a great part of its stay in office, now sit out to beat the record of its predecessor for the number of days it ruled Ceylon under a State of Emergency. That was UNP democracy! Another taste of this kind of democracy was seen when the government used its powers under the Slate of Emergency to seal an opposition daily, “Janadina”, which had dared to criticise the Premier. The SLFP talked about taking over Lake House but failed to do so. The UNP sealed up “Janadina” but without talking a word about it. It is a good lesson for the future!
This was not the limit of the reactionary policies followed by the UNP-led government. From its first budget, while transferring the burdens of the steadily deteriorating economic crisis on to the shoulders of the misses, it gave all sorts of concessions to the imperialist, feudal and big bourgeois classes. The Company Tax was reduced from 57% to 50%. The foreign imperialists were allowed to repatriate a portion of the blocked profits. The Visa Tax on Temporary Residence Permit holders was abolished. Foreign Banks which had been debarred from accepting accounts from Ceylonese nationals were allowed to resume their activities. More recently, foreign imperialists were allowed to take away nearly £150 millions of their profits without even payment of FEECs.
In the sphere of agriculture, the land policy followed by all previous governments, including that of D. S. Senanayake, from 1935, i.e., not to alienate Crown lands to private capitalists or capitalist companies, was reversed. Thousands of Crown land in fertile areas were presented to the new type of peasants, like Moosajee and Glenville, Brown & Co., etc. while thousands of peasants were and are starving without lands. Many of these special permit leases are being cancelled because no agricultural development has been undertaken in these lands. But, in the meantime, most of the lessees have made good with the valuable timber.
The success of the much-boosted food drive of the government is to be seen only in the Premier’s speeches and in newspaper stories and Radio propaganda. The imports of rice and other food stuffs have not visibly dropped. Even hospital patients have not had their rice meals restored.
The most recent statistics prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food themselves give the lie to the “Green Revolution” achieved by the UMP. According to these statistics, the target for paddy production for the 1968/69 Maha season was set at 475 million bushels. This was to be a 9% increase on the previous year’s production for Maha. But actual production has fallen short of the target.
The crop loss was as high an 8.8%. The actual extent harvested in Miha 1968/69, at 1,078,548 acres, was virtually the same as in Maha 1967/68, i.e., 1,077,853 acres. The actual extent sown has been about 20% less than the target extent!
Purchases of paddy under the Guaranteed Purchase up to 30.9.69 was 12.9 million bushels against a target of 14.4 millions! These are UNP statistics! What does Dudley have to say about this?
On the other hand, the economic crisis which had overtaken the country during the previous regime gradually began to deteriorate. Signs of these were seen in the continual decline of the prices fetched by our export crops, the non-availability of foreign exchange even for the purchase of essential commodities and the consequent rise in the cost of living to fantastic and never-before-reached heights, the growth of unemployment, including graduate unemployment to unmanageable proportions, etc.
As a result, the mass of the people could not make ends meet and, for the first time in recent history, sections of the people have been driven to destitution while malnutrition has become quite common. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. For the first time, the Health Department was forced to admit last year that nearly 2000 deaths had taken place due to malnutrition. How many more had died without the knowledge of the Health Department is anybody’s guess.
More recently, a daily newspaper published a report from the School Medical Service of the Ministry of Education. According to this report, over 500,000 children of school-going age are subject to malnutrition. As a result, the report states that 50% of death occur under the 15 years age group. The report further points out that the number of children being admitted to hospitals suffering from diseases due to malnutrition has doubled, and it continues to increase. It is contended by the report that death due to malnutrition in Ceylon is greater than any other country.
Yet, the irresistible Mr. lriyagolle wants us to believe that the people of Ceylon have never had it so good.
The reasons for this state of affairs and for the deteriorating economic crisis that have overtaken our economy are not hard to find. It is due to the fact that, despite so-called independence for 22 years, our economy continues to be dominated by foreign imperialist vested interests; and that the commanding heights of our economy – the majority of our tea and rubber plantations which provide us the major share of our national wealth, the majority of our banks, the major share of our export-import trade, shipping, etc. – continue to be in the hands of foreign imperialist vested interests.
The vested interests have systematically depressed the prices of our export crops in the imperialist-controlled international market; while, at the same time, they have equally systematically pushed up the prices of our imports, like machinery, fertilisers, etc. Thus, we are being exploited from both ends. A tiny part of this loss is returned to us as “aid” on interest and we are asked to be duly grateful to be exploited over again for the third time!
Against this naked exploitation of our economy which, basically, continues to remain a semi-colonial plantation economy with its total dependence on one or two export crops, the UNP has done nothing. On the contrary, it has further mortgaged the country for generations to come by heavily borrowing from US-dominated credit institutions, like the World Bank – thus tying us hand and foot to the chariot wheels of foreign imperialism. Unborn generations will live to curse these anti-national and treacherous acts of the UNP reactionaries.
It has been estimated that during the present UNP tenure of office, Ceylon has borrowed to the tune of Rs. 600,000 millions. The servicing of this loan alone requires a sum in the region of Rs. 200 millions per year. It is the people that will have to pay the price while a few UNP flunkeys will reap fortunes through commissions and other forms of corruption.
It is essential for us to understand that world imperialism, headed by US imperialism, has evolved new methods to subjugate peoples of other countries. No longer do they find it possible to rule by direct military occupation. Instead, the invisible threads of economic enslavement, as has been practised by US imperialism in South America for decades, are used today. This is what has come to be known as neo-colonialism. This operated through such US imperialist-dominated agencies as the World Bank and its subsidiary agencies. The puppets who dance on our political stage are made in Ceylon but the strings are pulled from Washington and White House.
It is on directions by the World Bank that the UNP government hit the masses in the stomach by halving the rice ration. It is on directions from the same source that our Rupee has been devalued on more than three occasions. It is on their insistence that our electricity rates have gone up. And, if the Mahaweli Project goes through, it will be on directions from the same source that our peasants will have to pay an acreage tax of Rs. 40/- instead of Rs. 6/-.
Thus, while a few influential sections in and around the UNP have amassed fortunes through commissions on import of tractors and agricultural machinery and on import of cars and other luxury items and through commissions on every contract signed by the government and through multitudious forms of corruption, the mass of the people have been reduced to near-poverty. The few sops thrown to the masses, like the ridiculously inadequate devaluation allowance or the grossly insufficient pay increases to government employees, cannot even be compared to drops of water on desert sand.
At this stage, it is essential to point out that every form of working class action, like strikes, resorted to by the working class to voice their protest against unbearable living conditions were met by massive repression. The general strike in the private sector in December 1967 and that in the public sector in November-December, 1968 as well as the recent Port strikes were put down by use of the military and police, declaration of State of Emergency, promulgation of Essential Services Order, the rolling of tanks down the streets, resort to compulsory arbitration, etc. The handling of the current Fisheries Corporation strike has set a new low in the government’s record of anti-trade union activities.
The standard of education has sunk very low. Student unrest is at its height. In recent times, most of our Universities have remained closed due to student unrest. This unrest is due to inadequate teaching and library facilities, lack of sufficient bursaries to needy students, insufficient residential facilities to students and, above all, to the feeling of insecurity that today pervades all students because of the uncertainty of finding meaningful employment after graduation.
Our transport services are on the verge of almost complete break-down – most of all the bus services. The UNP promised to abolish bus queues. It never did. But it has created another queue. Today buses are queueing up for repairs faster than you can count up to ten–so heavy as the break down of buses.
Corruption and nepotism has flourished unchecked through the UNP regime. The UNP, which had earlier criticised the appointment of defeated candidates to top government or corporation jobs, now indulged in the self-same form of nepotism. Even when serious criticisms of previous criminal records were alleged against persons holding top appointments, the UNP refused to lift a finger. But the worst abuse was the refusal to appoint a commission to inquire into or take other actions against serious encroachments of the law alleged to have been carried out by certain Directors of Lake House and who were known to be kinsmen of the Premier.
The crowning folly of the UNP regime, almost during its last breath, is its action in further mortgaging the country to the World Bank and its subsidiary organisations over the Mahaweli Project and the unseemly haste with which it rushed that Bill through Parliament!
What of the future? In the welter of irrelevant issues that are being raised and will be raised in the course of the coming election campaign by both sides, fundamental issues tend to be ignored or submerged. What is the way out for the people?
The only way out of the worsening economic crisis that has gripped our economy is to liberate our economy from the stranglehold of foreign imperialism and its local stooges. This can only be done by diversifying our economy, ending our dependence on one or two export crops and the prices they fetch in the unstable international market which is controlled by the foreign imperialists and the development of an advanced industry and mechanised agriculture.
Self-sufficiency in food can only be achieved if we solve the problem of irrigation facilities. Today, the plentiful rain water that falls on our land is wasted as floods and not carried to the plains for use by the peasants because our rivers have got silted and too shallow to carry the rain water. This is due to soil erosion which was caused as a result of the barbaiic act of the British imperialists in cutting down the forests on our hill-tops and planting tea bushes instead. Today, the colour of our river waters is brown because they carry the eroded soil in their beds and they keep on accumulating.
The only way out is to re-forest these hill-tops and solve the problem of soil erosion. Thereafter, we should dredge and deepen our rivers, build reservoirs on the upper reaches of our rivers and thus conserve and harness the plentiful rain water for use by the peasants in the plains. Thus, without such grandiose schemes like the Mahaweli Project, the problem of providing sufficient irrigation facilities for our peasants can be solved.
But all these imply firm action against foreign imperialist vested interests. We must take over all foreign-owned plantations, banks, commercial firms, etc. and with that capital as a base and also believing on self-relance and unleashing the initiative of our own people and our own technicians and engineers, develop our industry and agriculture to the point of self-sufficiency. Genuine and selfless help from socialist countries, such as provided by the People’s Republic of China to Albania, Tanzania, Zambia, etc, should be welcome. But, we must rely mainly on ourselves and on our own resources. On no account should we mortgage our country to the imperialists and convert it into a neo-colony.
But this cannot be carried out through the bankrupt parliamentary path, as trumpetted aloud by the Keuneman revisionist clique and the LSSP leadership. It can only be done by the revolutionary overthrow of foreign imperialism, feudalism and local reaction headed by the UNP. It can only be done by a government headed by the working class which has come to power, with its allies, through revolutionary means.
That is why it is important for our people to realise that bourgeois parliamentary democracy is only an adornment, a veil to cover the naked dictatorship of Capital. It is a weapon invented by the imperialists and their reactionary stooges to divide and confuse the people, to dampen their class consciousness by spreading the illusion of peaceful transition through parliament and to divert the attention of the people from the real seats of power, which are the armed forces. It is an attempt to substitute the struggle by words for the struggle by arms.
We must, therefore, understand that the exploitation of the toiling people is made possible by the protection the exploiting classes receive from the state machinery which they have built at great expense. The main form of this state machinery is the armed forces. Without the protection of the guns in the hands of these watchdogs of the exploiting classes, exploitation cannot continue for one day. That is why we must concentrate our efforts, not on capturing a majority in parliament which is nothing but a talking shop, but on smashing up–as Lenin taught us – the repressive bourgeois state machinery and replacing it by the state machinery of the working class, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what we call revolution.
There is no other way out for the toiling people. All other paths are mere mirages. The most abominable treachery committed by the modern revisionists, the reformists and Trotskyites is their action in administering heavy doses of opium of bourgeois parliamentary democracy to the masses. In doing so, they have acted as agents of the bourgeoisie inside the working class movement. They have acted as a prop to the tottering regime of imperialism, feudalism and the UNP.
If we are to cut down the tottering tree, we must at the same time cut down its prop. That is why the fight against foreign imperialism, feudalism and the UNP is inseparable from the fight against modern revisionism, reformism and Trotskyism.
Those forces who pretend that the UNP can be beaten through parliamentary means are forgetting the lesson of 1956. In that year’s parliamentary elections, the UNP was reduced to 8 seats in Parliament. Political pundits like Dr. Colvin R. de Silva pompously declared that the last nail had been driven into the coffin of the UNP. But today that corpse has escaped from the coffin and is ruling the country. That mistake in-assessment was due both to an under-estimation of the strength of reaction and due to the illusion that parliamentary defeat was synonymous with the overthrow of the UNP.
We warn against resurrecting this illusion. The parliamentary path is a bankrupt one. It cannot and will not lead to the final overthrow of reaction in this country. Success lies only through the revolutionary path.
Equally, we must warn the people against the communal tub-thumping that is being indulged in by chauvinist and communal elements. This is nothing but an attempt to help reaction by diverting the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-UNP movement into disruptive, communal channels. By this, we only make foes of our friends and give comfort to our enemies.
We must, therefore, learn to identify our main enemy as foreign imperialism and local reaction headed by the UNP. To overthrow them, we must unite all the forces that can be united against them, eschew the bankrupt parliamentary path and follow the path of revolution illuminated by the brilliance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
The UNP politically represents the compradore bourgeoisie of our country, i.e, that section of our bourgeoisie which is pro-imperialist, that licks the feet of foreign imperialism and works for the continuation of the imperialist stranglehold of our economy. It is the most reactionary class in our society. It is anti-national and treacherous. Its existence is bound up with the continued existence of foreign imperialism and feudalism. That is why it cannot be overthrown without simultaneously overthrowing imperialism and feudalism, which give it sustenance and were responsible for resurrecting it to power in 1965.
But this task cannot be done through the parliamentary path. Let all those who genuinely and wholeheartedly desire the final overthrow of the UNP – particularly, the workers, peasants, youth, students and all other patriotic sections–unite behind a revolutionary banner. Let us go forward to overthrow the UNP once for all!
The UNP has dragged Ceylon to the brink of national disaster. It cannot be tolerated in power any more.