At the time the stentorian voices of the Sama Samaja solons vibrated in the State Council, the revolutionary movement that originated in December 1 was taking on a well-organized shape. The first annual conference was held on December 19, 1936 at the Workers’ Resort in Colombo. The participants were encouraged to speak Sinhalese and Tamil as well as English. According to the report published in The Young Socialist “worker comrades preponderated at the Conference”—of course, whenever the term “worker” is used by a Marxist publication, one should be ready to accept its most extended meaning. At any rate, there must have been a number of real proletarians present, otherwise the presidential address of Dr. Colvin de Silva and the report of joint secretaries Vernon Gunasekera and B.J. Fernando would not have been delivered in both English and Sinhalese; in those prewar days, anyone in Ceylon with a highschool education had a good command of English. According to the secretaries’ Report, the membership grew within a year to eighty from the original number of twenty founding members. Following is a convincing Leninist-type explanation of such a slow but organic growth of party cadres:
The membership is low because the Executive has made no drive for members on the principle that only ideologically advanced and convinced Socialists should be admitted into the Party. The danger of having hundreds of undependable members lies in paving the way for political opportunism. Undoubtedly the small membership has seriously limited the Party’s activities and the consolidation of its victories; but its very reliability and compactness have made it a fighting force which today commands the respect and allegiance of many thousands and has enabled it to take the lead in the whole National movement.
In a sober evaluation of its accomplishments, the party leadership admitted that although new trade-unions had been formed in the Trincomalee (presumably among the workers of that main British naval base in the Indian Ocean) and among the motor workers (presumably of the flourishing bus companies),
The absence of sufficiently trained cadres has made trade union organization lag behind the general political advances made. In fact trade union victories could not be consolidated. Nevertheless, the ideological preparation done by our propaganda will shortly bring a great period of strikes and trade union activity along with the movement of rising prices already detectable.
The secretaries also reported that the movement had encountered, from the very moment of its birth, tremendous opposition and had “to face a storm of invective, scurrilous abuse and misrepresentation daily from the labor press and from the Sinhalese reactionary press,” which were controlled by the national leaders. The principal points of attack were “our suspected attitude towards religion and the avowed hostility of the national leaders to the struggle for National Independence.” The report boasted, however, that the party’s
clear line on the National struggle has ... dissipated these attacks; and the grappling with concrete economic issues has made the working class indifferent to these petit-bourgeois misrepresentations. Our programme has gained general acceptance throughout the country. Opposition to this programme has never been voiced in any organization of the people. Indeed the taking up of some of those demands by opportunist leaders, either in a watered down or vulgarised form, is sufficient testimony of the powerful support these demands are evoking from the toiling masses of our people.
Proud of the remarkable achievements of their representatives in the State Council, the secretaries of the party listed the parliamentary victories, particularly, stressing the fact that three of the progressive motions introduced by the LSSP faction were passed in the very first year of their performance. These were the free feeding of school children, the restoration of the death duty, and the motor ordinance amendment. The reaction to other radical proposals such as the rejection of Ceylon Defense Forces or abolition of imperial preference—though they were defeated—proved that N.M. Perera and D. p.R. Gunawardena were not isolated but had managed to mobilize substantial support for their reformist demands. That first annual report ended with the following note of self-satisfaction and optimism: “It is correct to say that the nation now looks upon our party as the uncompromising leader of the movement for National Independence. 
Similar jubilance was evident in Dr. Colvin de Silva’s self-congratulatory address, destined for a wider audience through publication in the multilingual party press. After a detailed analysis of the grim state of domestic politics, he contrasted it with the spectacular growth of the LSSP:
From this woeful picture of decadence, disintegration and indiscipline, I gladly turn to ourselves. Our organization is only one year old, but it has already become a power in the land. We have grown rapidly in numbers and even more rapidly in influence. In the matter of discipline we have set an example to this country which is without precedent. That growth in numbers, that vast extension in influence, that iron discipline are all the result of the unity of ideas and objectives, that is to say, of policy which prevails in our Party and in our Party alone ... In short we have supplied Ceylon with its first organized Party in the real sense of the word. 
The proud president of the young party, in praising his comrades in the State Council, rightly indicated that their successes must also be “attributed to the mass pressure we have organized from outside.” In particular, he referred to the “ubiquitous” propaganda effort in the very first year of the movement’s existence: “We have covered the country with such a network of meetings that the Press of this coun- try, which is unanimous in its hostility to us, has ceased to report them.” Though he did not mention the first four issues (September through December of 1936) of the Lanka Students’ Socialist League’s monthly The Young Socialist (obviously published under LSSP supervision), he was warmly applauded when he praised the party’s weekly organ in the Sinhalese language, Sainasantajaya, ably edited by one of the joint secretaries, B.J. Fernando: “Its rapid progress has afforded the measure of the success of our propaganda. It has become the established vehicle for the expression of mass dissatisfaction; it is steadily becoming a factor in mass education.” 
Dr. de Silva implied, however, that interest in the well-being of the masses expressed in that official paper did not necessarily correspond with organizational success. Commenting on the circulation achievement and the fine response on the part of the general public, he appealed that “we must see to it that it also becomes a means of mass organization.” Party speakers were becoming increasingly popular in the country: “our policy and our aims have become the subject of popular discussion, and the demand for speakers from all parts of the Island has gone beyond our immediate capacity to supply.” Boasting about the repeal of the iniquitous amendments to the motor ordinance, he reported amid applause that in this matter the LSSP “have created history, for our Party led in this connection the first all-island strike in the annals of Ceylon. 
A long discussion about the planned progress for the ensuing year followed the presidential address and the report of the secretaries, with emphasis on such organizational activities as the party paper, the Marxist study classes, workers resorts, propaganda matters, past and future meetings, pamphlets and other literature, trade unions and branch organizations, the finance campaign, and plans for a substantial increase in membership. The following nine resolutions were passed to shape the party’s radical policy with regard to important domestic and some international issues, such as the Civil War in Spain:
(1) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party draws the attention of the people to the repeated betrayals of the people’s interests into the hands of the imperialists by our so-called National Leaders in the extension of Imperial Preference, in acquiescing to the quota on cheap Japanese textiles, in misleading participation in Imperial conferences and Imperial celebrations, in supporting with the country’s money the apparatus of Imperialist exploitation and oppression, and in the gratuitous wastage of the country’s wealth in the furtherance of Imperial military and naval designs while the mass of the people are plunged deeper and deeper into unrelieved poverty, unemployment, disease and misery consequent upon Imperialist exploitation and therefore points out real honest National Leadership which should carry the People’s struggle for life into a struggle for National Independence.
(2) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party calls upon the country to mark its sympathy with the victims of Imperialist brutality and terrorism in 1915 on the day of the departure from this country of Sir I.T.L. Dowbiggin, the I.G.P. under whose authority those outrages were committed; and at the same time to demonstrate the signal contempt of the people toward Sir Baron Jayatilaka who, forgetting the outrageous injustices suffered by his people in ig’ and still daily endured by the toiling masses at the hands of the Police, has made common cause with the oppressors of the people and openly humiliated the nation by lending his position in public life to the Imperialists to their attempt to record a “public appreciation” of Sir Dowbiggin’s services to Imperialism.
(3) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party directs the attention of the people to the part played by motor transport industry in commercial activity in conveying food and transporting men and women in the daily business of wage-earning and points out that monopolists in the petrol trade, by virtue of their profits from the sale of petrol, are exacting a levy from the industrial and domestic life of the entire community; and therefore calls upon every organization interested in the well-being of the people and in the expansion of industry, to demand the removal of this vitally necessary commodity from the hands of private monopolists and the nationalization of the petrol trade.
(4) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party points out that in several matters such relief to the poor as is possible to obtain through the State Council is rendered ineffective by reason of the fact that local government bodies are not responsive to the needs of the people in their areas; and therefore declares that the immediate introduction of universal adult franchise in the election of local bodies is a practical and necessary measure to ensure the mitiga don of hardship in matters coming under the purview of such local bodies.
(5) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party greets with admiration the prolonged and heroic struggle of the workers and peasants of Spain against hired troops, superior military equipment and open assistance from Fascist assassins of Italy and Germany, in defence of the democratic republic of Spain, and joins the working class of the whole world in pledging its solidarity with the Spanish people in their struggle to crush the Fascist Reaction of disintegrating Capitalism.
(6) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party categorically states that it opposes Communal and Caste discrimination and exploitation; and declares to the people that Communal and Caste divisions are maintained today and carried into political fields by communal leaders of both majority and minority Communities for the purposes of their own cliques and interests, and that the real interests of the masses of all communities lie in National Independence and emancipation from social oppression the struggle for which cuts across all artificial divisions created by the needs of indigenous capitalism; and therefore calls upon all minority communities and depressed classes to join the mass-struggle for Socialism which alone can end all forms of oppression and ensure the free development of all cultural groups in our Society.
(7) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns the Headman system as an apparatus of oppression characteristic of feudal society and specially declares that in the hands of feudal families it is in fact an engine of caste oppression and terrorism which turns equality before the law and freedom of thought into a mockery for large masses of our peasantry. Therefore the LSSP demands that all democratic elements in the country should combine to effect the immediate abolition of the pernicious Headman system.
(8) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party declares that the inhuman exploitation of workers, in compelling them to work 10 to 15 hours a day, could be prevented only by legislation limiting the working day to 8 hours for all workers. The Party therefore, calls upon workers to organise themselves to struggle for this demand and further calls upon every kind of working-class organization to fight for such legislation.
(9) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party declares that every individual in society has the right to work and live and calls upon the whole working class to agitate for State Relief to the unemployed whose situation today drains the earnings of the employed workers and also constitutes the means whereby wage standards are attacked. 
That first annual conference ended late at night and gave the movement new impetus for a most successful year of well-planned party growth. As a follow-up to the second resolution, a public demonstration was organized on January 10, 1937 by the LSSP to celebrate Sir Herbert Dowbiggin’s retirement from his long-held position of Inspector General of Police and his subsequent departure from the island. The meeting was held at the splendid Galle Face Green overlooking the ocean and the port of Colombo. Despite the rain, there were reportedly ten thousand people present to support the united front platform. The popular national figure George E. de Silva presided and A.E. Goonesinghe, leader of the Labour Party, was one of the guest speakers. Referring to the allegedly sinister role Sir Herbert had played in suppressing the riots in 1915, the contemptuous resolution was passed by acclamation:
The people of Ceylon in public meeting assembled condemns the bloodstained record of Sir Herbert Dowbiggin as I.G.P. of Ceylon and marks its sympathy with the victims of police brutality and terrorism of 1915; and condemns in unmistakable terms the betrayal of the Ceylonese nation by Sir Baron Jayatilaka and other lackeys of British Imperialism in attempting to identify the nation with an appreciation of Sir Dowbiggin’s [sic] services. 
Evidently the Samasamajists were at that time still interested in spite of growing hostility, in maintaining an anti-imperialist united front with Goonesinghe’s Labour Party. Goonesinghe gave his LSSP partners the use of the Labour Union Hall in Colombo on Match 19, 1937, for a meeting to protest the war in Spain. The war in the distant Iberian peninsula had become the focus of international attention and the rallying cause for democratic liberals and leftists of all denominations in their struggle against the international fascist conspiracy. Leslie Goonewardena, who had just returned from a trip to Europe, was the principal speaker, the other being Lakshman Senaviratne, a party sympathizer who was, according to his own description, “a parliamentary and evolutionary Socialist.” Dr. Colvin de Silva presented from the chair the following resolution of proletarian solidarity, which was passed by some 350 people present and condemned
the attitude of British Imperialism which by the device of nonintervention in Spain, has deprived the people of Spain of the opportunities of using arms against the armed troops of the Fascist assassins of Hitler and Mussolini; and pledges its solidarity with the workers and peasants of Spain in their valiant defence of democracy and wishes most earnestly that their struggle will root out Fascism in Spain. 
By taking such a strong stand on the Spanish conflict, the Samasamajists put themselves in the progressive camp of world politics. One thousand copies of a special pamphlet were published by the party under the title Spain:—No Pasareis, by one Janaki (evidently a pseudonym). It ended with the revolutionary conclusion, written in typical Marxist jargon:
To us in Ceylon the bloody and bitter struggle now raging in Spain throws into clear relief some very fundamental trends in world forces and world politics of today ... workers and peasants in any country, if organised and determined, can deal effectively with their own capitalist class.
Foreign help however began to come to the rebels. Mussolini and Hitler, aided by English and French industrial magnates, poured in troops and arms and fought for “Spanish National Freedom” against the entire and united Spanish Nationi The violence that this proposition does to our good sense is nothing compared to the violence it worked on the life and limb of the good people of Spain ...
To the capitalist class “Nationalism” is a convenient cloak for their profit-seeking activities. That it is not real “Nationalism,” but solid Profit, that dominates the outlook and actions of the capitalist class, is clear from the fact that they are today fighting the entire Spanish people with the exclusive help of their foreign capitalist friends.
What has enabled the heroic Spanish people to withstand the onslaught of the international capitalist class which is the product of the international ramifications of finance-capital in the modern world? It has been the assistance given to the Spanish working-class ... the struggle for food, freedom and life of the oppressed masses of the world is a struggle not only against the directly oppressing capitalists of a particular country, but, today, a struggle against the international capitalist class.
This international capitalist class appears before us in Ceylon as imperialism, hungry for colonies and grinding down hundreds of millions in misery and oppression to wring out the last cent and the last anna of colonial profit.
Thus the struggle against Fascism in Spain is a struggle against those same powers which hold the majority of the human race in thrall. The victory of the “rabble” in Spain is a blow that must weaken the Imperialists of every hue and dye. Thus the struggle of our brave Spanish comrades is of the same character as the struggles against Imperialist aggression in China, India and Palestine. The issues in Spain are clearer and are being fought out as the open and final struggle against oppression and misery.
But everywhere in the world the struggle of the oppressed masses for food, freedom and life is a connected struggle. Today every resistance to injustice, and oppression, every anguished cry for freedom, finds its echo in the hearts of the working classes of the world; it rallies and steels to action that vast army of the “rabble,” of the “wild and godless” millions who are preparing, the world over, to give battle to the enemies of Truth, Justice and Freedom.
A collection campaign was launched in March 1937 to purchase a bigger press for the party’s paper Samasamajaya, whose circulation was now 14,000 copies. On March 8, editor B.J. Fernando resigned his other office as joint secretary because of his growing duties with the weekly paper. He was replaced in the party secretariat by a staunch Stalinist, M.G. Mendis.  Six groups of Marxist study classes were conducted during 1937.
Almost parallel to the formation of the LSSP, a group of young socialists in neighboring India launched in 1934 a leftist political movement within the general framework of the Indian National Congress, then dominated by Mahatma Ghandi and Jawaharlal Nehru. The most prominent five leaders of the Congress Socialist Party of India were Rammanohar Lohia, M.R. Masani, Kamaladevi Chattopadaya, Ashok Mehta and above all, Jayaprakash Narayan who, with Philip Gunawardena learned his Marxism in the United States, following in a way the earlier example of the Japanese revolutionaries, Abe Isoo and Katayama Sen.
A delegation of the LSSP was invited in 1936 to attend the Faizpur sessions of the Indian Congress in order to strengthen fraternal relations between the socialist counterparts. The Ceylonese reciprocated by arranging a two-week lecture tour for that exuberant orator, Mrs. Kamaladevi. She was a personal guest of Mrs. Wilmot A. Perera, who put her private residence and an elegant automobile at the disposal of the Indian visitor and her chaperon, C.K. Naryansamy of the Bombay Congress Socialist Party Committee.
The first function was held on March 28, 1937 at the town hall in Colombo “as a bourgeois meeting with admission by ticket, so as to finance the Lecture Tour.” Seven hundred rupees were collected “by the sale of tickets Rs. 3/25 cts. Literature was sold by women Comrades and lady sympathisers and showed the first success in the new policy of selling Party Literature.” The biggest rally addressed by Mrs. Kamaladevi was organized for April 1 at Colombo Galle Face Green, where the Indian guest and the LSSP speakers attracted some 35,000 people with the general topic “How Can We Smash Imperialist Might.” Loud-speakers were used by the Samasamajists for the first time at this meeting, which, under the chairmanship of Dr. de Silva, went on well into the night. The brotherhood resolution was passed unanimously, pledging “the solidarity of the masses of our country with the workers and peasants of India in their struggle against British Imperialism which has been launched today with the All-India Hartal.” The date of the demonstration was deliberately chosen to coincide with the All-India Strike, to indicate the close affinity of Ceylon’s anti-imperialist movement with that of India. The crowd at the Galle Face manifestation was apparently so large and unruly that the arrangements for literature sales broke down completely.
Thirteen meetings were subsequently held over all the island. In Kandy and Hatton “the Chair was given to Messrs. George de Silva and K. Natesa Jyer respectively, who had in the past worked successfully in cooperation with the Party. So also Mr. T.C. Rajaratnam was given the Chair for one Jaffna meeting.” In spite of counterpropaganda on the part of influential local politicians such as G.G. Ponnambalam, who tried to stop that “agitator” Kamaladevi from inciting Tamil crowds,
three of the four meetings in Jaffna Peninsula arranged by T. Kangadaran and A.M. Brodie were only smaller in size than the Galle Face meeting. Comrade Kamaladevi and the Party received rousing receptions everywhere in Jaffna. Two attempts by the opposition to break up our meetings were repulsed by the Jaffna masses who shouted down their own Communal leaders.
Evidently it became an important task for party leadership to win the sentiments of the Tamil population and Kamaladevi’s trip was mapped out for the purpose of breaking communal resistance. Trouble developed also in Trincomalee where the Tamil lawyers
refused to co-operate in organizing the meeting ... unless one of them were given Chair at the meeting. Comrades Reggie Senanayake and I.M. Ebralum were therefore sent up with notices printed in Colombo to organize this meeting. Their direct approach to the workers brought a good response—as many as 5,000 attending the meeting.
However, follow-up conferences held in Jaffna revealed to the disappointed Samasamajists that in this ancient cultural center of Tamilnad
even the petit-bourgeois intelligentsia which once led political agitation in Jaffna had been demoralised by communalism and, unable to accept class issues and mass demands, was powerless to resist the communalists and assume mass leadership. It will be a correct estimate to say that politics in Jaffna will remain in the bag into which the communalists have dragged it until equipped and intrepid Marxists arise among the people of Jaffna. 
But the party’s efforts apparently appealed more to the Tamils in Colombo than to the sober-minded residents of the Jaffna and Trincomalee regions. The joint secretaries complained in their 1937 report that in spite of “the successful Kamaladevi Tour meetings and a subsequent conference in Jaffna, Party Propaganda has not succeeded in creating an effective Party in the North.” By late 1939, the party representatives in the State Council claimed, however, that the LSSP branch was established in Jaffna. Prominent Tamil leaders were rather scarce in the party, which during its first two decades was definitely dominated, despite its fair anticommunalist policy, by the westernized low-country Sinhalese intellectuals.
Neither were the Samasamajists very successful in the collaboration with their Indian comrades-in-arms although Dr. Wickramasinghe sponsored in June 1937, together with that Indian leftist V.K. Krishna Menon, a two-days “socialism in India and Ceylon conference,” held in London. The honeymoon between the two socialist parties ended in 1939 when the gradualist Fabian approach of the Indian socialists proved to be much too mild for Ceylonese Marxists.
For several reasons 1937 was a remarkable year in the growth of the LSSP. Soon after the successful tour of the Indian lady speaker, during which she addressed some 100,000 people, the famous “Bracegirdle episode” of April 1937 stirred the nation, providing the young party with firstclass publicity and with its first major success in the anti-imperialist struggle. The British were defeated on their own ground rule of constitutional law.
The culprit, Mark Antony Lester Bracegirdle, was a maverick young Englishman on his way from Australia, who became a handy tool of the Marxists. He came to Ceylon as a tea planter apprentice and was employed on Relugas’ Estate in the Madulkelle district near Matale but was soon dismissed for fraternizing with the Tamil coolies and for taking their side in the 1936 labor disputes. According to the party’s Short History, Bracegirdle, “after completing his ‘creeping’ on a British tea plantation, joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and began to participate energetically in its activities.” 
In March 1937, he was co-opted to serve in the executive committee, possibly being planted in the LSSP as a Comintern agent.  He was given a monthly salary of Rs. 100 by Natesa Iyer, State Councillor for the Hatton constituency, to “organise an Estate Labour Federation in Nawalapitya or Hatton, with an idea that he may be a proper candidate to be the future Secretary of the Labour Federation.” According to Mr. Iyer’s impartial account, the Bracegirdle incident started when Mrs. Kamaladevi came to address the workers at Nawalapitiya:
Had I known that he was to speak, I would have asked him not to make certain statements that he made. He said that he was coming to Nawalapitya within a fortnight to settle down there and that labourers could improve their conditions if they would stand united and were prepared to strike. That was on the last day when Mrs. Kamaladevi was in Nawalapitiya, and it is only after that the Police have ... followed him closely. It was after that he came to my house to learn Tamil. 
The British planters of Ceylon were greatly annoyed that their prestige was challenged by one of their own and thus decided to get quickly rid of him. Possibly at one of their periodic meetings in the Nuwara Eliya resort, held during the early April season, they prevailed upon the incumbent Governor Sir Reginald Stubbs to serve the following order of deportation:
In pursuance of the powers in me vested by Clause of Article III of the Order made by Her Late Majesty Victoria in Council on the 26th day of October 1896, I, the Governor of Ceylon, do hereby order you Mark Anthony Lester Bracegirdle, of Colombo to quit the Island of Ceylon, on or before 6 p.m. on the 24th April, 1937. 
The fast timing proved to be of importance in view of the fact that the legality of such an order could never he tested in the courts. As pointed out by the joint secretaries in their report:
The legal position was that Bracegirdle could not go to Court upon a mere “threat” by the Governor, but must wait until some right of his as a citizen were infringed. As the Governor’s threat was to be implemented irrevocably in the space of one hour ... it was clear that the Governor’s orders were unchallengable in the normal way. 
With Bracegirdle’s full concurrence, the party decided that the order should be defied; the opportunity thus arose for a mass anti-British agitation throughout Ceylon, directed primarily against the forty-year-old Order-in-Council, which was branded “The Slave Proclamation.” In the meantime, Bracegirdle had gone into hiding and when the steamer was about to leave “a large crowd and the police and press at the jetty were disappointed.” There followed a man-hunt throughout the island, but thanks to efficient party organization Bracegirdle eluded arrest, to the manifest sympathy of the entire population of Ceylon. As reported in the Sainasamajist of December 1937:
The Party carried out through leaflets and public meetings an intensive agitation for the repeal of this Order-in-Council which was shown to be applicable against any person in Ceylon and which could exile a person without trial, charge, or cause and without possibility of appeal to any authority.
The dictatorial attitude of the Times of Ceylon in demanding the deportation of all Sama Samajist leaders went far towards making people realise the full scope of this Order-in-Council—and helped us to rally them in defence of the most fundamental Civil liberty and cure many thousands of a mistaken notion of loyalty to Imperialism.
At the mass May Day meeting held at Price Park, after a gala joint procession with the Ceylon Labour Party, ten thousand followers of the LSSP, passed the following strongly worded resolution:
Workers of Ceylon on May Day assembled condemn the arbitrary action of Governor Stubbs in ordering Comrade Bracegirdle to quit Ceylon, demand the immediate recall of Governor Stubbs and the withdrawal of the Order on Comrade Bracegirdle, and call upon the people to make a united struggle for the repeal of the despotic Slave Proclamation under which the real leaders of the masses can be removed from the country. 
The fight was conceived on the broadest possible base and the party managed to mobilize widespread support, capitalizing on the storm of resentment that swept the country against the highhanded colonial rulers and their Sinhalese accomplices. These feelings of protest and anxiety found eloquent expression in the State Council’s protracted debate, which began with a motion of censure against the innocent Acting Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. C. Batuwantudawe. The indignant member for Matale B.H. Aluwihare moved on May 4, 1937 that:
In the opinion of this House, the advice tendered by the Honourable the Acting Minister for Home Affairs to His Excellency the Governor, regarding the deportation of a British citizen Mr. Bracegirdle, under the alleged authority of the Order-in-Council 1896, and the instructions issued by the Minister to the Police for the execution of the order of deportation directly contravene the rights of British citizenship in this country and constitute a breach of the Constitution; this House has therefore lost its confidence in the Acting Minister.
This protest motion was seconded by Bracegirdle’s sponsor, Natesa Iyer, but it was soon found that the Acting Minister of Home Affairs was not actually responsible for the expulsion decision; according to his denial,
I was never consulted by His Excellency the Governor in regard to this matter, nor did I instruct the Police to execute any Order issued by His Excellency the Governor in this matter ... no such subject was ever put before the Executive Committee or discussed in the Committee, so that I can presume that it was not out to the Minister as such ... during these few days, there has been no question, relative to this deportation ever placed before me, till after this motion, when I became aware that such a dung had happened.
The Speaker completely disassociated himself from that infamous order and remarked that “this far-reaching step ... really seeks to violate the rights of citizens, and in exercising this power ... greater care might have been taken and more advice might have been sought.”  At this point the Chief Secretary Mr. Wedderburn decided to assume full responsibility for what he termed the repatriation order of an “undesirable person.” Serious cleavage occurred between the Sinhalese members of the Board of Ministers and the three British Officers of State when the politically powerful and astute Minister of Land and Agriculture, D.S. Senanayake, publicly condemned the action taken by the Chief Secretary. Strong resentment was voiced by Siripala Samarakkody, who supported the original motion of Aluwihare in directly censoring the Governor for violation of the Constitution:
His Excellency the Governor, by ordering the deportation of Mr. Bracegirdle without the advice of the Acting Minister of Home Affairs or, in the alternative without declaring a state of emergency and taking control of the affairs of the Police Department, and other Departments concerned, under section 49, subsection (i), of the Order in Council, dated March 20, 1931, has violated the Constitution and the express condition of his appointment; wherefore, this House requests the Board of Ministers to advise His Excellency the Governor to rescind the order dated April 20, 1937, and further to take steps for the repeal of the Orders in Council under which His Excellency has acted.
He also moved the adjournment of the Council to consider the whole Bracegirdle episode as “a matter of urgent public importance.” Most members rose in approval of the motion. In continuation of his argument Samarakkody reproached the Chief Secretary for holding that the subject of expulsion from Ceylon came under “External Affairs”:
We must protest very vehemently when the Chief Secretary considers that the residuary powers are vested in him. We can easily judge ourselves, without the aid of legal luminaries, by referring to the subjects assigned to the Minister of Home Affairs. Schedule II shows the subjects assigned to the Minister of Home Affairs and among those subjects you find “Police, Crime and Vagrancy etc..,.”
Assuming, even, that the Governor acted rightly under his residuary emergency powers, the State Council should at least have been informed “what the emergency is ... Merely because a member of the Sama Samaja Party found an associate in Mr. Bracegirdle, the fact cannot in itself create an emergency.” Commenting on the editorial statement in the Times of Ceylon, Samarakkody pointed out that
the official organ of the planting community and the white community of this island ... went to the extent of saying that there is a “Red” menace in this country, that the Ministers are Communist agents, and that their inaction only showed their secret sympathy with the Communists.
This insinuation could only be branded as “vicious propaganda.” Coming to the crucial legal question of emergency, Siripala Samarakkody argued that while such Orders in the Council “were necessary during the war and at the time when there was no Donoughmore Constitution functioning,” there was no need for using the emergency powers in normal times. Moreover, the emergency must first be proclaimed and before the Governor could act under such vast powers he “must take over the control of the departments concerned from the responsible Ministers”—which steps obviously had not been taken in the Bracegirdle case. The spokesman for the Sinhala Maha Sabha complained that the deportation order was issued in violation of the new spirit of better relations between Whitehall and Ceylon:
His Majesty’s Government has been very graciously pleased to give the responsibility for the management of the internal affairs of the country to the people and that is recited in no mistakable terms in the instruction sent to His Excellency the Governor. It may be argued that there is always residuary power vested in His Excellency to act for the peace, order and good government of the country ... But these powers constitutionally are nowhere resorted to when there is a Cabinet or a Board of Ministers ... it is his bounden duty to consult the elected Board of Ministers of this House. As such I submit that His Excellency has ... acted in direct defiance of the provisions of the Constitution.
In conclusion ... in spite of the delphic oracle, the Times of Ceylon, saying that this country is a hot-bed of Communists, I move this resolution not as a Communist, nor as one who is in sympathy with the Communists ... it is not as a result of some secret sympathy toward the Communist invasion of the most cherished right of the subject namely the liberty of the subject that I vehemently protest against this order ... I take it Sir, that not only the honourable Communist members but also the Ceylon National Congress, the Sinhala Maha Sabha, the Labour party and various other political associations support this motion. 
Indeed the whole spectrum of Ceylonese political representation voiced its protest in that very significant constitutional crisis under the Donoughmore Constitution. Mr. Samarakkody even suggested the extreme step by patriotic members, “resignation from this Council and going back to the country.” His unequivocal motion was seconded by George de Silva of Randy. The Minister of Health, W.A. de Silva, insisted on the rescinding of the 1896 Order-in-Council, a “hidden bomb which only exploded occasionally, perhaps once in twenty years,” whenever it might be convenient for the police authorities:
Mr. Bracegirdle has done a service to the country and a great service to the Sama Samaj Party because it is by taking such drastic action, taking notice of such trifles, that we can really create greater unrest in the country than one would want to create, but I find that unrest will be useful, because there are certain regulations which we should demand be repealed in the interest of the country.
Speaking as the incumbent president of the Ceylon National Congress, and feeling that the episode was somewhat reminiscent of the 1915 crisis, he wished to build up the Bracegirdle episode into a national issue:
We cannot possibly gain our object by blaming the Chief Secretary, the Governor or anybody else ... We have been sleepy. We have been shutting our eyes ... it has been a good fortune that Mr. Bracegirdle has at least awakened the people to think of their rights and to know that the effect of that Order is very far reaching. It goes beyond parties ... it goes beyond the various names by which we call ourselves, but this is one of those fortunate circumstances under which the people of the country can rally together again and go forward. 
Speaker after speaker rose to express indignation and to document their solidarity with the anti-imperialist front on the Bracegirdle score; some did it con amore, others perhaps for more opportunistic reasons—not to be out of step with public opinion. The eloquent member from Randy, George de Silva argued from the classic liberal position:
Thanks to the activities of the Sama Samaja Party, an unfortunate person called Mr. Bracegirdle ... born and bred in a land of liberties—comes to this country and feels that an injustice is being done to the people of this country and tries to bring to the minds of the English people who are in this country their responsibility towards the people. For stating that he wants fairplay and justice done to the people in this country lie is to be bundled out. Is that British justice? ... In England perhaps there is a large number of Communists. It is a land of liberty and freedom. Any man there can have freedom of expression. They have done nothing to deport those people. That is why some of us admire and love the British Constitution. But when we see people coming to this country to destroy the very foundations of liberty, we stand always opposed to such men.
As the Honourable Minister of Health said, we must remove this blot ... from our Statute Books. We must repeal the whole of that and allow ... the seven Ministers who have been elected by the people to advise His Excellency the Governor ...
Liberty, Sir, is one of the most treasured things that we have in this country and no man, not even the Governor or His Majesty the King, should try to take away that sacred possession of ours and send people to jail without trial or deport people. 
S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Minister of Local Administration, started his speech with appropriate quotations from Edmund Burke and from the general theory underlying the Habeas Corpus Act, but ended with a rather fancy argument about his LSSP opponents. Referring to Bracegirdle’s troubles he said:
His masters discontinued his service ... I presume it was for the monstrous behaviour of imagining such a diabolical thing as the coolies under him were probably human beings like himself and that there was nothing very sinful or terrible in his treating them as fellow-beings in a certain footing of equality and even at that time ... steps were apparently taken to get him out of this country.
He apparently held certain socialist views and joined what appears to him to be a socialistic party. He went about making some speeches ... with regard to the present system in Russia, how far it approximates to Communism actually is a matter of doubt ... I do not really know whether my honourable friends on the opposite side call themselves Communists. They are supposed to be Red agents; they are supposed to be Communists of all sorts. I do not see anything red about them. I do not know whether there are any parts in their anatomy, which they claim to be red. Even the ties they sport are of a sort of dead maroon colour. 
Regardless of the fact that Bracegirdle was indeed a troublemaker and that some of the Samasainajists were aping those London parlor-leftists who adored to absolve their fat banking accounts with red ties over blue shirts, the unintelligent handling of the expulsion case provided excellent ammunition against the colonial police system. Bandaranaike would not have been as shrewd a politician as he proved to be later in 1956 had he not tried to steal some of the nationalistic show from his competitors.
The leader of the Ceylon Labour Party, A.F. Goonesinghe, included in his speech the following incident:
Yesterday he granted an interview to a reporter of a morning paper. What a Police? A warrant has been issued! ... Mr. Bracegirdle is a white man and not a black man, and if he hides in a village he could easily be traced. But this very efficient Police has not yet been able to discover his whereabouts, and Mr. Bracegirdle plays the fool of the Government and the Police Force. .
Did Mr. Bracegirdle and the Sama Samaja Party declare war against Great Britain, the Dominions, and the Colonies? Or was Mr. Bracegirdle on behalf of that party going to declare war against the British Empire? ... Was any single man killed? Was one single man attacked or assaulted because of the activities of Mr. Bracegirdle? 
These may have been good questions to ask in view of Bracegirdle’s becoming almost a symbol of British blunder. The LSSP representatives wisely reserved their comments until the end of the Debate. To fully capitalize on the country’s anti-imperialist mood, Dr. Perera claimed that:
the planters are more influential that we are to admit ... He became an undesirable only when he was going to tell the whole country, the masses, the workers, the Indian workers, the truth about the planters.
What guarantee is there that other British subjects in Ceylon will not be deported in that way? 
The first of the debates on the Bracegirdle case was concluded with the speech of Philip Gunawardena, in which he voiced his disregard for the “anachronistic” nominated members who were usually no more than Council spokesmen for the Governor’s policy. He expressed his jubilation over the fact that all but one of the elected members rallied themselves in blunt opposition to the deportation order, showing rare solidarity with the stand taken by the LSSP: “I am glad that all races, all politically conscious forces have united on this vital national issue.”
According to Gunawardena’s account, as soon as the order was served on Bracegirdle, he and other leaders of his party met the defendant and decided to get in touch with the Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Governor himself, but all three dignitaries were then vacationing in Nuwara Elia “for reasons of health.” Gunawardena accused the Governor of trying to recreate the tense atmosphere of the 1915 civil disorders, at which time he served in Ceylon as Colonial Secretary.  The censure motion that the deportation order be rescinded and that the 1896 law be repealed was carried with only seven votes of dissent, six of them being those of the nominated members and the remaining one that of independent-minded G.G. Ponnambalam.
The Bracegirdle episode became in the hands of the reformists a major constitutional issue concerning the ultra vires repudiation of the elected ministers’ powers by the high-handed British officialdom. Bracegirdle himself became, in the meantime, a sort of martyr-hero of Ceylon. During the two days of flowery oratory in the Council, “crowded galleries cheered both Samasamajists and Ministerial attacks upon the Governor and Chief Secretary.” Simultaneously with the closing stage of the debate on the evening of May 5, a mass demonstration took place on the Galle Face Green. In addition to the LSSP leaders, several friendly State Councillors addressed the “monster mass meeting.” Among them were S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, D.M. Rajapakse, George E. de Silva, A.E. Goonesinghe, Siripala Samarakkody, Natesa Iyer, and even the Deputy Speaker D.S. de Fonseka. After nightfall, in a dramatic and obviously prearranged manner “Comrade Bracegirdle came out of hiding and made a sensational public appearance at which the vast crowd of about 50,000 went delirious with enthusiasm.” As a persecuted British friend of the Ceylonese toiling masses, he exposed imperialist rule in Ceylon. “At the close of his speech the ‘Internationale’ was sung in Sinhalese amidst scenes of unprecedented emthusiasm.” The Party raised three slogans at this meeting:
Bracegirdle must stay!
Down with the Slave Proclamation!
Long live a free people in Ceylon! 
On a warrant issued by the Governor, in disregard of the expressed wish of the State Council, the police arrested Bracegirdle at the party headquarters on May 7. On behalf of the LSSP an appeal was brought for a writ of habeas corpus before the Chief Justice of Ceylon, Sir Sidney Abrahams, on the Inspector General of Police. The writ was accordingly issued, with the result that “the deportation was stayed, and another boat sailed for Australia without Comrade Bracegirdle.” The great legal battle to establish civil liberty in Ceylon began subsequently on May 10, 1937. As recorded by Vernon Gunasekera and M.G. Mendis, the most prominent civil lawyer in the island, F.T.V. Perera, K.C. volunteered
to argue the case for Bracegirdle and for public rights without a fee. With him appeared Messrs. Francis de Zoysa, K.C., M.T.D.S. Ameresekere, Bernard Aluwihare, N.M. de Silva and J.R. Jaywardene, as counsel. Comrade Norbert Jayewardene of the Party Legal Defence Committee was the Proctor, and Comrade Vernon Gunasekera, the petitioner. After three days argument the Chief justice and two other Supreme Court judges held that the Governor’s Order was illegal and that the Order in Council operated only in times of emergency ... 
In view of that crucial decision of the Supreme Court vindicating the rule of law in the colonial country, the censure motion of Dr. Perera was withdrawn with the permission of the newly knighted Speaker, Sir Waltialingham Duraiswamy on May 18, 1937.
Defeated in the State Council and quashed by the Supreme Court verdict, the Governor’s hasty order of deportation turned into a smashing political victory for the LSSP, and Bracegirdle was released on May 18. As an aftermath, a special commission was appointed, under the chairmanship of the Chief justice, to investigate the events that led to the issuance of the order without the required concurrence of the responsible minister. The frame of reference assigned to the commissioners was:
The key issue, however, with which the commissioners were grappling was the existence or nonexistence of the alleged letter that the unpopular Inspector Banks was supposed to have written to obtain Sir Baron Jayatilaka’s support for the expulsion order. The latter denied receiving any telephone message on the critical morning of April 8, nor could he remember obtaining any letter sent by an orderly with a report on the Bracegirdle case. The Samasamajists for once extended their full support to the Leader of the House, in the vote taken on November 8, 1938, and pushed hard for the resignation of the Inspector General of Police. Furthermore, Gunawardena moved on November 22, 1938, to reject and condemn the Bracegirdle Commission Report as being [a] mischievious political document, whitewashing the permanent officials, and embodying decisions against the weight of evidence that are designed to undermine the rightful power, position and prestige of popularly elected representatives and to reinforce the efforts of a white bureaucracy, hostile to the people, to entrench itself in power. 
Taking advantage of an earlier statement of the Deputy Leader of the House, Philip Gunawardena claimed that “the only possible theory ... conspiracy ... can explain this mysterious forgery, those conspiracies and those fabrications,” and especially “an attempt on the part of the Police Department and the Chief Secretary to take the matter out of the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs.” The member for Avissavella pointed out three alleged conspiracies in handling the Bracegirdle affair, namely:
The first conspiracy was between the Chief Secretary’s Department and the Police Department to get rid of Bracegirdle by deporting him, without consulting the Flonourable Minister of Home Affairs whose function was the question of deportation.
The second conspiracy was, after a statement was made in this House that a document was available, that some people got together and forged a document to prove that there was a document.
The third and most colossal ... was the conspiracy of the three Commissioners who, disregarding all rules of law and evidence, go out of their way to believe the permanent white bureaucrats as against the people’s representatives in this country ...
Although the speaker was on safe ground in demanding that the “same footing of credibility” be applied to Sir Baron Jayatilake, C. Batuwantudawe, and B.F. Perera as to Police Officers Banks, Fergusson, et consortes, he went much too far in questioning the integrity of the commissioners, who were headed by the incorruptible King’s Counsel Sir Sidney Abrahams, Chief justice, whose Jewish origin became the subject of an incoherent anti-Semitic attack:
This great Hebrew prophet who interpreted the real law descends to dirty earth when he sits on Commission. He says that the presence of Mr. Bracegirdle in this country would be a disturbing element, that there would be strikes, that there would be racial hatred and riots, and Mr. Bracegirdle, or any other non-Ceylonese alien, I suppose, including the sons of Israel, should be deported from this Island.
I say ... that Commissioners were prejudiced from the very beginning. They were really interested in bolstering up the Imperialist bureaucracy and they wanted to discredit the elected representatives of the people. Sir Baron Jayatilaka is the symbol of the democratic forms of this country, and they have disbelieved him; by discrediting him, they want to strengthen the position of permanent bureaucrats.
The Report has been designed to entrench a lying, forging, and hostile bureaucracy by discrediting ... the elected representatives of the people. Under cover of adjudicating in the issues, ridiculous arguments have been advanced. The Chairman of the Commission believes that the deportation law that prevails in Tanganyika should be introduced in this country.
... he would have a much better time in Palestine in these days. The Report attempts to create a racial hatred between the Ceylonese people and the white bureaucrats ... it is dishonest, prejudiced and perverse ...
Gunawardena also attacked S. Obeyesekera, a commission member who was labeled as a representative of the “discredited and disgruntled feudal elements,” whose family had been “at the head of every reactionary movement in this Country during the last twenty years.” Gunawardena argued that the Obeyesekera brothers, Stanley and Donald, who actually “want a ‘House of Lords,’ finding that they cannot get into an ordinary plebeian Assembly,” had joined the imperialist and financial interests in order “to discredit a mass-elected Council, a democratic Assembly.” 
Dr. Perera seconded his party colleague’s motion to reject the Bracegirdle Commission Report, though he seemed to realize that direct abuse of the commission members could boomerang against the movers. He maintained that the report was fabricated “to substantiate a particular line of action,” and that it is the good democratic right of the legislative branch of government to discuss the findings of the appointed Commissions “and sift the evidence placed before it.” Limiting his attack to the person of the Inspector General of Police and referring to the forthcoming discussion of the constitutional reforms, he complained:
I cannot understand the meaning of having reforms if this House is asked to give way to the bureaucracy ... Sir, I can understand reforms only if reforms mean more and more power to the legislature, if the representatives of the people are to have full control of the country ... we ask for the removal of Mr. Banks on a definite ground. A categorical pronouncement has been made by the Leader of the House that he has no further confidence in Mr. Banks and therefore he must be removed. I say that it is the very essence of democracy that when a responsible Minister says, ‘I cannot get that official to do as I say; I have no confidence in him’ the officer in question must be removed.
Does the Honourable the Legal Secretary seriously argue that a responsible Minister has not the power to demand that a subordinate who has not carried out his policy should be removed?
Commenting on the threat by the Legal Secretary, that the Police Department could be taken over from the Ministry of Home Affairs by the Governor, Dr. Perera voiced the counterwarning ‘that this House is not going to tolerate any bullying, or any threat, from any official however high he might be.” Returning to the substance of the Bracegirdle case, Dr. Perera maintained that “the central theme of this case is the question of the letter and whether Mr. Banks did discuss the matter of deportation with Sir Baron.” The totally contradictory statements by the venerable Leader of the House and the British police officer could have been best resolved by an understanding of the motive for the deportation action, which seemed only too obvious to the Samasamajist opposition:
It is a common knowledge I think ... that the European Community is prepared to tolerate any amount of criticism even vilification from those whom they call ‘natives.’ Such criticism can be put down to prejudices on the part of a subject race ... but, Sir, they draw the line at a person of their own community who starts criticizing them ... It is characteristic and peculiar to every Imperial race; the ruling caste must maintain its prestige and a member of the ruling caste must not ‘demean’ himself or herself by joining the subject race in criticizing the ruling caste.
Perera also complained that the Commission made no attempt to call for evidence from any of the leaders of the Sama Samaja party, even though from November 1936 Bracegirdle, as a member of the party, addressed a number of meetings. Moreover, there were occasions when Bracegirdle’s speeches were concluded in even stronger language than that used at the critical Nawalapitiya meeting. As chairman of the affair, Perera gave a vivid account of what actually happened:
The so-called Mudaliyar who took down the Nawalapitiya speech would never have taken down those words verbatim ... I presided at the Nawalapitiya meeting—when Mr. Bracegirdle started speaking it was 10 p.m., and the meeting was held with the only lamp on the table, and no one present could possibly have written down anything unless he wrote in pitch darkness ... there was a slight drizzle ... We know the Mudaliyar; he listened and certain impressions were formed in his mind, and so in order to make position easy for certain people, the report is made up. It was on the basis of that report that the deportation order was obtained.
We always had the pleasure of the company of C.I.D. officers at our meetings wherever we go ... We are protected. The whole section of the police force is earmarked for our benefit. Knowing that when we start a meeting we inform the people that Police Officers are present ... We know the officers by sight, and say: These are the officers who have come down to take notes of our speeches and the moment we say that it becomes impossible for the officers to take down any notes, because they are hounded out by the people present!
The Police Officers could never have taken down any of our speeches verbatim at any of our meetings. The report by the Mudaliyar of the Nawalapitiya speech is an utterly exaggerated report. The substance of the report is true ... but the actual words in his report are not the words used by Bracegirdle or any of us. 
N.M. Perera maintained that the deportation was ordered to avoid an open court confrontation “because the planters would be exposed for their exploitation of labour. He challenged the veracity of the top police officers involved, namely, P.N. Banks and Inspector Fergusson, demanding their removal. He blamed the commissioners for not exposing what he too branded as a conspiracy against the popularly elected representatives of the people and appealed for support of the censure motion:
It is not merely that the Police Officers and members of the planting community conspired for a certain purpose but that the Commissioners were not able to see through it ... That is when we part company with the rest of the Members who spoke in this debate ... Surely, Sir, the Commissioners of the eminence of the Chief Justice, Mr. Obeyesekera, Sir Stewart Schneider could not possibly have been duped in this simple way? ... 09and if they did see through it and did not expose it, I say they are themselves conspiring at that stage to suppress the facts of the case ... Therefore they are all parties to another conspiracy ... That is why I say that this document is the mischievous political document ... because the Report has attempted to bolster up a conspiracy on the part of bureaucrats for the maintanance of their prestige ... irrespective of the facts of the case. The Report ... actually utilizes this occasion to make some definite statements against all progressive forces in this country ... It goes out of its way to make pointed reference to certain political activities that are being carried on.
We say that this Report should be condemned, not only rejected ... because it has been one-sided and grossly unfair to the Leader of the House and through him to the representatives of the people ... This is not a personal matter. It has gone much beyond that. This is now a political struggle, a constitutional struggle between the permanent bureaucrats and the elected representatives of the people ... In England the same struggle was carried on for centuries between the House of Commons and the Crown. That is the struggle that we have to carry on between the Governor’s Government and the elected representatives ... I hope this will be considered a national struggle. We shall be only too glad to join the other forces and fight this issue ... I plead with Honourable Members, to support this motion and begin the struggle from to-day onward. 
But the State Council, having already voted once to censure the government on the Bracegirdle issue was not willing to make another demonstration on behalf of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party in the same overdrawn issue. Only the same faithful three supporters of LSSP causes D.P. Jayasuriya, P.R. Natesa Iyer, and D.M. Rajapakse voted with Perera and Gunawardena.
Meanwhile, the hero of the incident was in faraway London, where he had been since November 1937. There he joined Dr. Wickremasinghe, becoming a part of the pro-Stalinist, Comintern-led wing of the international Left movement.
Following the Bracegirdle campaign, the executive committee of the LSSP embarked upon a well-conceived membership drive, making full mileage off the popularity that they gained by humiliating the British rulers. In July 1937 a subcommittee was appointed and the dedicated young Marxist Edmund Samarakkody, a close relative of the wealthy Senanayake clan, was selected as a responsible organizer and co-ordinator. It was decided to concentrate first on the crucial area of Colombo and the suburbs. The city was divided into eight territorial units with a leader appointed for each of the district groups. “These group leaders met regularly and submitted names for election.” The joint secretaries claimed in their annual report that in such a way the membership had increased almost tenfold: “Beginning the year with enrollment membership of 80, the party membership stands now at little over 600 and together with enrolled members of branch parties reached a figure of 800 Samasamajists.”
That phenomenal growth of the rank and file of the party posed some discipline problems, always of paramount importance in the vanguard of a revolutionary movement. Thus the executive committee, holding regular monthly meetings with the average attendance eighteen members, “had to drop four members for inactivity and one resigned for want of time.” Twenty-one affiliated and branch organizations were formed under the name of Samasamaja, but that mushroom growth had to he checked by the Marxist-trained leadership because “the existence of these loose units throughout the country and the likelihood of their multiplying will prove more a source of embarrassment than of use to the Party in that political opportunists could use them for their own purposes and thereby discredit the Movement.” Public meetings were held all over the island, with special concentration in the two constituencies held by the party and in the distant Uva Province. According to the official report of the secretaries:
An average of three to four meetings a week has been addressed during the year. The chief Party Propaganda speakers have been Comrades Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, D.P.R. Gunawardena, N.M. Perera, Rev. Udakandovala Saranankara, Edmund Samarakkody, K.C. Amarasinghe, I.M. Ibrahiin, and Vernon Gunasekera. The principal issue raised in the rural areas has been the abolition of the Headman system. 
As a Socialist movement, the LSSP was interested above all in promoting labor unions, though from its inception it had to face the competition of the existing trade unions controlled by A.E. Goonesinghe’s Ceylon Labour Party. The united front, which was brought about early in 1937 by a sort of tacit agreement, had already broken in July of that year when the LSSP led a strike at the Kallannauwa oil installation. According to the Samasamajist version,
Mr. Goonesinha [sic] came forward openly as a strike-breaker and we had no option but to fight and repulse him. From this point Mr. Goonesinha has reopened the offensive against the Party. The advances the Party has made politically have however compelled him to restrict his attacks to the Trade Union sphere.
The July strike ... resulted in a victory for the workers despite the attempts of Mr. Goonesinha to sabotage the strike. The men obtained a 50% wage increase and an agreement against victimisation. 
After that final break with Goonesinghe’s labor movement and in an atmosphere of increased worker unrest caused by rising prices, the Samasamajists decided to organize their unions through a series of well-planned direct actions against employers. Although not all strikes were as successful as the one at Kallannauwa “every one of them,” as claimed by the joint secretaries, “has been an expression of the growing success of the Party.” When the Government Railway Workshop was moved to Ratmalana—in the southern outskirts of the city of Colombo—it became a major target for the Samasamajists as “the biggest single aggregation of workers outside the plantations.” From the time of the big Tramway Strike in 1929 the transportation workers “used to be the most militant section of the working class.” Leslie Goonewardene and Edmund Samarakkody succeeded in building up an effective trade union after a great deal of work, and had it registered under the 1935 ordinance. Similarly, a Colombo Chauffeur’s Union was formed in June 1937 with the taxi drivers of Arnold’s Garage as its nucleus. The manager of that workshop dismissed the secretary of the newly formed union “but a lightening strike when the negotiations failed brought a ‘bloodless’ victory to the men in the lightening reinstatement of the dismissed secretary.”
The party’s prestige grew rapidly in 1937, and its headquarters at 38 Panchikawatte Road, Maradana became the place to address grievances in order to seek remedy against them. For instance, when the Moratuwa dhobies (washermen) went on strike in early September, they came to the LSSP “workers’ resort” for assistance in negotiations. Another successful venture was the spontaneous strike of the semiskilled workers in Vavasseurs’ Coconut Mill at Toluwagoda, held at the beginning of September to protest the victimization of those workers who organized the LSSP propaganda meeting. According to the colorful account of Vernon Gunasekera:
The Party through Comrades Robert Gunawardena, Edmund Samarakkody, and Vernon Gunasekera, led the strike of these So men and gave them relief until some settlement could be arrived at. Finally the men refused to go back on any terms other than complete victory ... During this strike the Company had the active support of all the big coconut landowners of the district.
On Sunday, September 5th the Company tried to form a Blackleg Union and generally gain support for the Blacklegs from the peasantry by holding a meeting presided over by the Hon. D.S. Senanayake and supported by other big landowners. But the Council Member for this area and the Union jack which floated over his Ministerial head, could only rally a miserable 150 persons-counting the children with the adults. At the same hour, at Mirigama, in the heart of the Hon. Mr. B.S. Senanayake’s electorate, the LSSP held a meeting in support of the strikers. Here about 5,000 workers and peasants rallied under the Red Flag. It was a slap in the face, administered to the Hon. Mr. B.S. Senanayake by his own down-trodden worker and peasant voters. This meeting was the largest held in Hapitigam Korale in twenty-five years.
The political support obtained by the management in this strike made the fight a political one. For the first time the peasantry of this district made direct contact with the Party and heard of its program direct from its leaders. Our being in the area for 2 or 3 weeks and our uncompromising leadership in the strike won their admiration. The response has been remarkable in the demand for meetings and literature. Little children in these villages play at Samasamajaya. 
Realizing that the Samasamajists meant business in their endeavour to organize the industrial workers in Colombo and vicinity, the colonial authorities decided to hit back. The clash occurred at Humupitiya, where N.M. Perera, Leslie Goonewardene, and Edmund Samarakkody managed to register a trade union composed of all workers employed in the Fertilizer Works of the Colombo Commercial Company:
The Management seeking to break the Union began unostentatiously training batches of new men to displace the leading strata of workers. Thus 135 new men had been taken on while the 400 regular workers were already working “short time.” The Union decided to fight before it was too late and presented 26 demands for settlement. One of these was the demand for a “Closed Shop.” The Company refused to negotiate with the Union delegates one of whom was Comrade Leslie Goonewardene, an Executive-Committee member of the Union. The Union called a strike and except for two workers the strike was complete.
The Company recruited blacklegs for a phenomenal wage 3 and had them brought by train to the doors of their buildings. It was impossible for the strikers to get at the blacklegs who had the additional protection of heavy Police protection. Despite the provision of strike relief the morale of the strikers broke down after one week of the strike. Meanwhile Comrade Leslie Goonewardene stood down from the Union delegation so as to facilitate negotiation as the strike clearly could not be fought out to a finish in the circumstances obtaining. But the Company then refused to negotiate with the men and would apparently treat with none other than the ‘Labour Leader’ Mr. Goonesinha who had all this time been attacking the Party and the strike through his paper. He had made no bones about openly backing the Company in this struggle and even provided some of the black-legs.
At this stage on orderly retreat was all that could save the Union in view of the rapidly falling morale of the strikers. Through the intervention of Mr. S.W.R. Bandaranaike an agreement was reached whereby the men were to be taken without victimization and their 25 demands inquired into.
An attack at the Railway Station by some of the city workers on a contractor recruiting blacklegs for Hinupitiya found its sequal [sic] in a Police Court case, Another feature of this strike was the arrest of Comrades Leslie Goonewardene and Edmund Samarakkody on the second day of the strike for “failing to move on.” The Party contested the case in the Police Court and obtained an acquittal. The question of the right to peaceful picketing, though denied by the Police could not be made an issue in this case and the legal interpreting of the existing law therefore still remained uncertain. 
Another struggle for wage increases was sponsored by the Trade Union (controlled by the Samasamajists) at the Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mill, the same place where a victorious strike was organized by the young leftists in 1933. Most loyal to the LSSP were the motor workers, who were responsible for the spreading of the party paper all over the country; they comprised the largest section of the party’s worker membership. The creation of a party-controlled leftist trade union had to be postponed because most of the workers were employed by small-enterprise owners. And since there were no Tamil-speaking party activists, the bulk of the Ceylonese proletarians, namely the plantation workers remained until 1939 outside the party’s grasp. The publication in Tamil of 30,000 copies of the party’s Manifesto and the Sama Samaja Dialogues was a step in the direction of organizing the stateless Tamil coolies (the epicentre of the hoped-for Ceylonese revolution, according to the still-unfulfilled dream of Edmund Samarakkody). Next came the Tamil mass weekly Samatharmam under the editorship of a pro-Stalin Communist, K. Ramanathan. Trade union work proved, however, to be an uphill task in face of the opposition of A.E. Goonesinghe, who now made a desperate communalist  effort to retain his hold on Sinhalese labor with an anti-Indian campaign among the Sinhalese workers.
Additional confusion arose among the leftist intellectuals and workers as to the roles the political party and trade union should play respectively in the struggle for social justice. An explanatory leaflet in Sinhalese was issued in December 1937 by the LSSP under the tide Trade Unions and Political Parties, but in spite of these efforts and the initial 1937 successes the party failed to organize the bulk of the unskilled workers. Leslie Goonewardene admitted in his Short History that in
1938, however, unionization suffered a severe setback as a result of a marked growth of anti-Indian sentiment among the Sinhalese workers. Mr. Goonesinghe ... was greatly assisted by Mr. J.L. Kotelawala ... Minister of Communication and Works, who announced with a fanfare of trumpets that lie was getting rid of all Indian workers working under the Government. The campaign to arouse racial hatred was a success. Many workplaces in Colombo employed also workers of Indian origin. With division in the ranks of the workers, union organizations collapsed, and it was a simple matter for the employers to impose their own terms on the workers in the workplaces. Even the strong Wellawatte Mill Workers Union was a casualty in this period when union organization reached a very low level. This was the first example of the successful use of communalism as an organized manoeuvre to disrupt the mass movement. 
These setbacks in the labor field were somewhat countered by the progressive indoctrination of the party membership and its growing impact on the Ceylonese intelligentsia, particularly on the college students. The increased theoretical sophistication of the rank and file permitted a step-up in the Marxist tone of the sixteen resolutions moved at the second annual conference of the LSSP on December 18, 1937. In consonance with the fundamental class-warfare principle and the Leninist doctrine of imperialism, the revised program of the party took a more revolutionary posture than was possible before:
(1) The LSSP warns the people of Ceylon that the most influential of our national leaders, in keeping with their traditional betrayal of the people’s interest into the hands of British Imperialism, entered into a secret pact with British Imperialism, to deprive the masses of the universal adult franchise in order to break the rising mass movement for national and social liberation and therefore calls upon the people of Ceylon to rally to the defence of their only existing weapon of political control by which they can compel the amelioration of their conditions through the legislature until such time as the triumphant mass movement for National Independence shall have established their own Government.
(2) The Lanka Sarna Samaja Party declares that colonial peoples of the world have no interest in Imperialist wars which invariably are fought for domination over colonial peoples and, in view of the imminence of war due to the frantic preparations for another holocaust by Imperialist countries led by Great Britian, calls upon the people of Ceylon not to participate in any way in the coming Imperialist war.
(3) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns the action of British Imperialists in the savage repression of the Arab National Movement in the proposed partition of Palestine and the deportation of the leaders of the Arab movement for unity and liberation and pledges the solidarity of the masses of Ceylon with the Arab people in their heroic struggle against British Imperialism.
(4) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party reiterates the solidarity of the masses of Ceylon with the long and heroic struggle of the workers and peasants of Spain against Fascist aggression.
(5) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party pledges the solidarity of the masses of Ceylon with the Chinese people in their united resistance against the aggression and invasion of China by the Imperialist bandits of the Mikado accompanied by daily bombing of unarmed men, women and children and the desolation of vast areas; and condemns British Imperialism for its “role” as secret ally of Japanese Imperialism in China displayed in preventing prompt American assistance to the Chinese and in delaying international action on behalf of China by such futile and abortive devices as the recent Brussels Conference.
(6) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party reiterates its demand for the immediate introduction of the eight hour day for all workers and insists that it should be accompanied by a universal minimum wage ordinance in order to prevent the employers from utilising the shortening of the working day as a weapon for the reduction of wages.
(7) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party reiterates its demand for the repeal of those sections of the Trade Union Ordinance relating to compulsory registration which hampered the growth of working class organisations and warns the working class of Ceylon that a reactionary Minister of Labour in collaboration with the employers has prepared legislation the passage of which would effectively deprive the working class of the right to strike for better conditions: and therefore calls upon all workers to rally to the defence of their rights and prevent the passage of the proposed anti-working class legislation.
(8) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns class discrimi- nation in the present colonisation policy and demands:
(a) the immediate discontinuance of the so-called “middle class” colonisation schemes which confer special privileges to the propertied classes at the expense of the starving peasantry.
(b) the granting free of rent to peasants of as much land as they undertake themselves to cultivate instead of the present uneconomic fragments.
(9) In view of the extreme hardship under which the peasantry of our land is struggling for existence the Lanka Sama Samaja Party demands as immediate ameliorative measures:
(a) allotment of free pasture land in every rural district. (b) grant seed Paddy free of interest to peasant cultivators.
(c) the abolition of all irrigation rates.
(d) the amendment of the cattle trespass ordinance so as to prevent the arbitrary seizure and the wanton shooting of village cattle.
(e) the unrestricted right to tap coconut palmeyrah, and kitul trees for sweet toddy.
(f) repeal of all restrictions on chena cultivation.
(10) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party pledges itself to continue to wage unceasingly the struggle it has launched for the total abolition of the Headman System which in the hands of feudal families is in fact an engine of class and caste oppression and terrorism over our peasantry.
(11) In view of the inhumanly long hours of work of shop assistants the Lanka Sama Samaja Party demands the immediate introduction of a Shop Hours Act which would guarantee to those workers more tolerable working conditions.
(12) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns the policy of penalising motor transport for the purpose of protecting an inefficient and incompetently managed railway from loss and, calls for the abolition of the present discriminating taxation to which motor transport is subject.
(13) In as much as the present policy of Government for coordinating road transport tends to the creation of private monopoly and the ensuing of excessive profits for bus and lorry owners the Lanka Sama Satnaja Party demands immediate legislation to ensure reasonable hours, working conditions and wages to the motor workers.
(14) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns the action of the Board of Ministers in permitting fresh recruitment of labour from abroad at a time unemployment is widespread both among Ceylonese and the immigrant labour population itself, and demands that the Board of Ministers do restore the cuts in the wage rates of plantation workers.
(15) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party declares that every individual in society has the right to work and live and calls upon the whole working class to agitate for State Relief to the unemployed whose situation today drains the earnings of the employed workers and also provides the opportunity and means for repeated attacks upon wage standards.
(16) The Lanka Sama Samaja Party condemns the Board of Ministers for attempting to economise expenditure on education while vast sections of the masses are denied free elementary education; further the LSSP condemns the attempt to make drastic cuts in vernacular teachers’ salaries by methods such as “grading” and refusal of registration to new schools. 
No part of this anti-imperialist and socially radical platform indicates that two years after the official launching of the socialist movement the party theoreticians considered themselves already to be the open followers of the exiled Leon Trotsky. It may have been ominous however, that there is no mention of the Soviet Union and its socialist achievements in the four resolutions dealing with international affairs. On the other hand, Dr. de Silva in his Marxist analysis of the gloomy world situation emphasized the example and importance of Communist Russia (though without mentioning Stalin):
Outside the confines of the U.S.S.R. life has become to most an Odyssey of meaningless suffering ... So long as the U.S.S.R. exists an assault on the Socialist citadel must ever present itself as necessary to her Capitalist neighbours ... The place of the U.S.S.R. in world politics is beyond ordinary importance. It is to her that the international working class movement ultimately looks for the concrete exemplification of the hope that animates it. Every rise in the standard of living in the U.S.S.R., every victory under the successive five year plans, every little growth in her relative strength, infuses into the oppressed of the world fresh courage to continue the desperate struggle in which they are engaged? 
Although it is evident that the president of the LSSP preferred not to sing praises of the ‘infallible great Stalin” it is also indicative that as late as December 1937 he was equally unwilling to indulge in any criticism of the Red Dictator’s despotism, the sycophantic bureaucracy, or the servile party apparatus. The fact, however, that the Samasamajists’ attention in world affairs concentrated at that time on the idealistic aspects of the Spanish conflict and on the evils of power politics in the Far East might have given warning of the ensuing conflict with the increasingly non-Marxist Kremlin line.
It is quite possible that a secret “T” (Trotsky) cell was already in control of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and that the very lack of any expressed approval for Stalin could thus be attributed to the “Totschweigen” tactics on the part of the conscientious Trotskyite leadership. Howard Wriggins in his penetrating Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation rightly stresses the conspiratorial character of those early doctrinal sympathies for Trotsky, though he fails to prove the claim that already during their university days in London, “a few known as the ‘T’ group sometimes met separately to study the writings of Trotsky in more detail.”  Vernon Gunasekera related in private conversation that a secret inner group existed within the wider “T” conspiracy circle, and that he along with five other convinced Trotskyites (Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, the two Gunawardena brothers, Philip and Robert, and Dr. N.M. Perera) actually prepared the political decisions for the “T” mainstream of the party, almost from its beginning. Such a modus operandi was probably necessary to protect their plans not only from possible police informants but also from the ubiquitous penetration of Stalinist-oriented fellow members. Otherwise it would be hard to explain the outward coexistence in relative harmony of the Trotskyites and the pro-Moscow Communists both in the rank and file and in the party leadership for a good five years after the organization was formed. The existence of the highly disciplined Marxist in-group seems certain and it might he safe to assume that the “T” conspiracy played indeed the leading role in shaping the destiny of the LSSP. But it is still not quite clear at which particular moment in the LSSP’s early history the controlling inner group actually committed itself to the revolutionary Trotskyite line in complete opposition to Comintern instructions.
Surely the irrational personal cult of Stalin, combined with the gruesome series of show-trials and followed by liquidation of the old Bolshevik leadership, must have had an adverse effect on well-read and independent-minded revolutionaries in Ceylon, and so did the “zigzagging” foreign policy of Litvinov and Molotov, clumsily propagandized by their Comintern henchmen. This was particularly true in the case of the opportunistic popular-front tactics cynically applied in China, Spain, and France, not to mention Communist blunders in Nazi-ruled Germany.
All these things were vehemently exposed in the numerous writings of Leon Trotsky. Apparently his gloomy revelations in the powerful Revolution Betrayed had the greatest impact on the Ceylonese leftists, already shaken in their admiration for the workers’ paradise in Stalin’s Soviet Union. According to a later account of Mr. Goonewardene, the Samasamajist leaders
could not believe that the confessions in the trials were genuine and felt compelled to come to the conclusion that they were gigantic frame-ups. The line of the Popular Front, especially in Spain, appeared to be dictated, not by the needs of the Spanish Revolution, but by the foreign policy needs of the Soviet government. The line of the National Front, prescribed for colonial countries, seemed to subserve the same aim. In other words, the Third (Communist) International, founded by Lenin in 1919 to give help and guidance to the socialist revolution throughout the world, had apparently degenerated into an abject instrument of Stalin’s changing foreign policies. A careful reading of Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed (first available in English in 1938) also had a profound effect on the leaders of the Lanka Sama Sainaja Party. 
Another reason for their reluctance to establish organizational links with Moscow was the LSSP’s relationship with the Congress Socialist Party in India, whose principal claim was that unlike the country’s Communist Party it was a genuine revolutionary movement free from any external allegiances and completely loyal to the Indian nation. Only the majority of the London Ceylonese group under Dr. Wickremasinghe, including that recently deported hero M.A.L. Bracegirdle and the brilliant Colombo-Burgher Pieter G.B. Keuneman, president of the Cambridge Union, unreservedly embraced the Comintern line. Perhaps crucial in that matter was the problem of the party’s funding: while the London representative and his lieutenants may have been paid by the Russians through the intermediary of the British Communist Party, there is no evidence whatsoever that the leadership of the LSSP ever sought any financial support from Comintern sources. The growing needs of the party press compelled the executive committee to launch a new collection campaign in March 1937 which, according to the joint secretaries’ report, brought an excellent response:
The Press Fund appeal was closed in November at Rs. 1,362’68 of this Rs. 51268 came direct from the masses mostly in 5 cents and 10 cents contributions. A second-hand Double Royal Machine was bought costing Rs. 1,140. More type and further equipment were bought for Rs. 1,000 and the new press will be producing a larger paper from the 24th December, 1937.
Literature— The Party released several publications this year in Sinhalese, Tamil and English. This year the Party ceased giving away literature free and began selling and the emergence of several Party Groups in the countryside have made it possible to do this. The following publications have been on sale:
Sama Samaja Dialogues: in Sinhalese 5 cts. 3,000 copies (half sold).
Sama Samaja Dialogues: in Tamil (just printed).
Sama Samaja Party Manifesto: in Sinhalese 2 cts. 1,000 copies (sold out).
Essays on Sama Samaja: in Sinhalese 5 cts. 5000 copies (sold out).
A Year’s Victories: in Sinhalese 1 ct. 5,000 copies (sold out)
Trade Unions and Political Parties: in Sinhalese 1 ct. 1,000 copies (half sold)
Unemployment: in English 10 cts. 1,000 copies (mostly unsold)
Spain: in English 10 cts. 1,000 copies (mostly unsold)
Despite the extremely low selling price of Party literature and the failure of the English publications, these publications have paid their way. A new up-to-date edition of the Sinhalese Manifesto is being prepared. The distribution and sales of Party publications have been the charge of Comrade J.C.T. Kotalawala, while Comrades Leslie Goonewardene, B.J. Fernando and Vernon Gunasekera have produced these publications, constituting as they do the Propaganda Publication Committee. 
But in spite of these efforts the initial growth of the party was somewhat arrested in 1938 by a counteraction on the part of the apprehensive nationalist forces. These were organized the previous year in the Sinhala Maha Sabha by that dynamic wizard of Ceylonese politics S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and in the Labor field by the increasingly jealous A.E. Goonesinghe. Toying in his earlier years with some kind of mild socialism, Bandaranaike, the shrewd scion of the westernized Christian plantocracy, later embraced the Buddhist faith and came to the pragmatic conclusion that the political future of Ceylon was rather with Sinhalese nationalism than with cosmopolitan Marxism.
Another factor in arresting the party’s growth was its being affected for the first time by sectarian factionalism, with a minority group looking more and more for Comintern inspiration. The English-medium periodicals became irregular, although a number of new theoretical pamphlets were prepared to strengthen the Marxist orientation of the party cadres and to indoctrinate the radical intelligentsia.
In the wake of Hitler’s successes in Central Europe, the program of the LSSP became truly revolutionary, especially in the international field. Disregarding the popular-front tactics in Western Europe, the Ceylonese Marxists were moving to the uncompromising Communist position, no doubt under the influence of Trotsky’s frontal attack on Stalin’s power politics.
Subsequent to (and probably influenced by) the creation of the Trotskyite Fourth International, the third annual conference of the LSSP, held in December 1938, passed a strong anticolonial resolution, hitting hard at imperialism:
The LSSP draws attention to the breakdown of the system of the capitalist democracy in Europe, the decline and disintegration of Capitalism developing into various forms of dictatorship of Finance-capital and suppression of civil liberties consequent upon the failure of the working class to seize power in their own hands and to abolish the disintegrating system of capitalism; and also to the malignant role of British imperialism in assisting Fascist aggression by its manoeuvres under the guise of securing peace and nonintervention ...
... the coming together of the Imperialist and Fascist blood brothers in the recent Munich pact was not and cannot put an end to inter-imperialist rivalries engendered as they are by economic necessities of capitalism, but must find solution in inter-imperialist war, or temporarily in an assault upon the Soviet Union, for either of which colossal war preparations have been begun by the Imperalist powers. The most significant fact revealed by these events is the general crisis in world capitalism. This crisis will fall still more heavily on the backs of the colonial peoples of the world unless they are prepared to resist the increased exploitation and increased lawlessness of Imperialism in the coming months.
The LSSP proclaims to all colonial peoples and to the international working class that in successful colonial struggle against Imperialism lies not only freedom to colonial peoples but also the main attack upon Fascism, for Finance-capital draws its greatest strength from the exploitation of colonial peoples. 
Consequently, at the same party conference it was resolved to reiterate the demand for complete national independence for Ceylon. They also condemned the “back-door deputations” sent to London by the National Congress with proposed constitutional reforms that would replace the existing executive committee system with a cabinet type of government, an unwelcomed change “which removes the only democratic machinery remaining in the Constitution and ... puts the ministers outside the reach and control of the masses.”
In their main campaign against British imperialism, the party leaders decided to attack Whitehall’s policy in Palestine and appeal for revolutionary solidarity of oppressed peoples, regardless of their skin-color or faith. The pro-Arab resolution might have reached Trotsky through the recently established (September 3, 1938) Fourth International’s headquarters in Paris. It reads as follows:
The LSSP warmly greets the valiant Arab fighters for freedom in Palestine, and hails their partial victory in the abandonment of the imperialist partition of Palestine, and condemns the savage lawlessness of British Imperialism and calls upon the oppressed colonial people of India, Africa, West Indies and Ceylon to take heart from the brave Arabs who are now the first line fighters against British Imperialism. 
The resolution follows the “permanent revolution” doctrine of Trotsky in its international dimension as it seems to anticipate the telescoping of the two revolutions, namely the nationalistic-bourgeois character of the first phase and the proletarian character of the final phase.
Contrary to popular notion, it was Trotsky, not Lenin, who first emphasized the primacy of Asia, particularly South Asia, as the surest road for communist victory in Western Europe. He did so on August 5, 1919, after the serious setback the Bolshevik revotion suffered in East Central Europe. In a “secret” communication to the central committee of the Russian communist party, headed by Lenin, Trotsky wrote the following perceptive survey of the world situation:
The collapse of the Hungarian Republic, our reverses in the Ukraine and the possible loss to us of the Black Sea Coast, together with successes on the Eastern Front significantly alter our international orientation, bringing into the foreground, what yesterday still stood in the middle distance ...
We have up to now devoted too little attention to agitation in Asia. However, the international situation is evidently shaping in such a way that the road to Paris and London lies via the towns of Afghanistan, the Punjab and Bengal. (Italics added.)
Our military successes in the Urals and in Siberia should raise the prestige of the Soviet Revolution throughout the whole of oppressed Asia to an exceptionally high level. It is essential to exploit this factor and concentrate a military thrust against India to aid the Indian revolution ... the European revolution appears to have withdrawn into the background we ourselves have withdrawn from the West to the East. We have lost Riga and Vilna, risk losing Odessa, and Petrograd is under attack. We have recovered Perm, Ekatarinburg, Zlatoust and Celjebinsk. From this change of situation arises the necessity for a change of orientation. In the period immediately ahead preparation of the “elements’ of an Asian orientation, and in particular, preparation of a military thrust against India to aid the Indian revolution can only be of a preliminary, preparatory character. Above all, detailed elaboration of a plan, study of how it is to be put into effect, recruitment of the necessary trained personnel and creation of a fully competent organization ... 
Although until late 1939 Trotsky never mentioned the Ceylonese comrades in any written document, and as a matter of fact seemed hardly aware of the revolutionary movement in that prosperous English Crown Colony, it could safely be assumed that he included the island in his general strategy for India. From that point of view, it is interesting to watch Trotsky’s later steps, undertaken from his exile in France, Norway, and Mexico, to instigate revolutionary feelings in the Indians. He used for that purpose The Advocate, published weekly in Bombay. This was actually the only periodical in India favorably disposed to his ideas, although in the early 1930’s Marxist ideas from such diverse circles as the Royists, Social Democrats, and Stalinists were displayed side by side with those of Trotsky. The Advocate was edited by I.K. Yagnik, an admirer of Trotsky, and seemed to depend to a large degree on material published in other journals, which it simply reprinted. It was regarded as an open forum by Indian socialists and communists. In 1933 it published twelve articles either written by Trotsky or supporting his then Left Opposition to Stalin.  Though it may be questionable whether these particular articles ever had any direct impact on the Ceylonese leftists, they do indicate Trotsky’s constant awareness of the revolutionary potential in South Asia.
In the meantime further radicalization of the young Ceylonese intelligentsia was progressing under the direction of the Samasamajists toward unconstitutional, extraparliamentary struggle. Colvin de Silva’s hardhitting pamphlet Toward a Dictatorship accused the Governor of aiming the reform proposals at undermining the universal franchise. He concluded his evaluation of the merits and demerits of the cabinet system versus the executive-committee system with the following:
The Executive Committee system has produced a genuine tendency to make the council the arena of political struggle. The Cabinet system in the suggested form will definitely reverse that tendency. The masses will speedily discover, on capturing Council that by reason of the Governor’s power it is useless as a political instrument. They will then turn to other and extraparliamentary channels for carrying the struggle ... the burden of anti-imperialist struggle too will fall entirely on the toiling masses ... 
But in fact it was the student population of Colombo rather than “the toiling masses” that took the lead in opposition to the existing social order. The university college magazine of December 1938 reported a significant debate, held in Oxford-Union fashion, between two Tamil intellectuals, Thomist scholar Father Peter A. Pillai and a communist opponent, Balasundram. The question was: Distribution is the only true solution for the economic ills of the world. Following the progressive precepts of the Papal Encylicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno, the popular educator Father Pillai, as reported by the leftist Acting Secretary of the Students’ Economic Society:
’rose to speak amidst applause.’ He began with a violent indictment of the state of society in which we live, ‘eloquently demonstrated the inability of capitalistic governments to remedy the situation, and ‘next went on to prove the madequancy of communism as a solution, forgetting that communism was less a solution than a way of life.” Balasundram the Marxist speaker, termed Distributism a return to the Middle Ages, held that History prevented such a backward march and argued that private property is the root of social troubles. He then ‘shattered the silly argument that in Russia the individual owned nothing’ and eulogized Communism, ‘which lie said gave freedom from economic anxiety.’ Father Pillai’s resolution ‘was put to the House and defeated by a large majority’ who agreed with the Communist speaker. 
Indeed from those days up to the present time the student body in Ceylon’s main academic institution, particularly in the Economics Department, has been predominantly Marxist-oriented. Tension was bound to increase, however, all over the country. Antileftist organizations tried to check to some degree the threatening growth of revolutionary trends. Thugs were used to disrupt the propaganda meetings organized by the “red shirts” of the LSSP. Philip Gunawardena, cocky as he was in those days, had to admit in the State Council that the party was forced to ask for police protection after the fight that occurred early in 1939:
It is true that the hired thugs of the rich landowners living in the Cinnamon Gardens were driven out of Bulathkihupitya. It is true that they were unable to cause the same damage that they caused in Dedagama at the election of 1936 and that the villagers had protection ... It is true that we asked for the protection of the Police from rich thugs. Wealth from plumbago has made thugs of the rich landowners. We will continue to ask for such protection. 
In addition to their increased interest in the European crisis caused by the territorial expansionism of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, the party persistently continued to hammer at what they considered to be the burning issues of domestic social injustice. In the statement called “A Sama Samaja Policy for Ceylon,” consisting of a number of resolutions passed at the third annual conference of the party, they attacked a number of specific problems, some of which became a permanent feature of party’s platform:
The LSSP welcomes the State Council’s decision to progressively abolish the Headman System, and condemns the attempts of Mr. D.S. Senanayake and Sir Baron Jayatilaka, together with certain fundamentalists, to sabotage the decision arrived at by the pressure of the masses on the State Council and reaffirms the necessity for the masses behind the LSSP to press forward for the complete and immediate abolition of the Headman System which for over one hundred years has been in the hands of our feudal families an engine of caste and class oppression and terrorism over our peasantry.
The LSSP condemns the provisions of the Trade Union ordinance which hinders the formation of Trade Unions and opposes the further attempt to prevent outright the organization of Trade Unions among minor Government Employees by special General Orders, banning outside assistance and requiring that rules and names of members of such unions be given to the Chief Secretary.
The LSSP condemns the utilization of the Match ordinance designed originally to safeguard the interests of workers and consumers, to increase the profits of the investors by increasing the price of a box of matches to two cents; and further declares that this increase in price was achieved through the votes of councillors who happen to be shareholders of Match Companies and trade under the guise of Nationalism.
The LSSP calls upon the masses to press upon their representatives to implement the Council decision to abolish irrigation rates, and thereby to counteract the attempts of Mr. D.S. Senanayake to sabotage the said decision; and calls upon the masses to demand of their representatives the passing of the Party’s Motion to prevent the seizure and shooting of villagers’ cattle on estates, unless such estates are fully fenced-a motion once defeated by the combination of Mr. D.S. Senanayake and Sir Baron Jayatilaka with the Imperialists.
The LSSP condemns class discrimination in the present land Colonization Policy and demands:
(a) the immediate discontinuance of the so-called “middle class” colonization schemes which confer special privileges to the propertied classes at the expense of the starving peasantry; and
(b) the granting free of rent to peasants of as much land as they themselves undertake to cultivate instead of the present uneconomic fragments.
In view of the extreme hardship under winch the peasantry of our land is struggling for existence the LSSP demands immediate ameliorative measures:
(a) the allotment of free pasture lands in every rural district.
(b) the grant of seed paddy free of interest to peasant cultivators.
(c) the repeal of all restrictions on chena cultivation.
(d) demands that peasants be permitted to possess unlicensed firearms for the protection of their crops and their homes.
The LSSP welcomes the decision of the State Council to enable the free tapping of Kitul Trees to sweet toddy despite the opposition of Sir Baron Jayatilaka and demands the extension of free tapping for sweet toddy to coconut and palmyrah.
The LSSP declares that the interests entrenched in Municipal power today by the restricted local government franchises are unlikely to extend the franchise any further and therefore demands that State Council enact an Ordinance making it compulsory for all Local Government bodies immediately to adopt universal adult franchise.
The LSSP reiterates the demand for the immediate introduction of the eight-hour day for all workers and insists that it should be accompanied by a Universal Minimum Wage Ordinance in order to prevent the employers from utilising the shortening of the working day as a weapon for the reduction of wages.
The LSSP declares that every individual has the right to work and live and calls upon the whole working class to agitate, for State Relief of the unemployed whose situation to-day drains the earnings of the employed workers and also provides the opportunity and means for repeated attacks upon wage standards.
In view of the long and inhumanly bad hours of work of Shop. assistants the LSSP demands the immediate introduction of Shop-Hours Act which would guarantee to these workers more tolerable working conditions.
The LSSP demands the nationalization of Road Transport.
The L.S.S.P condemns the ... Report and warns the people that in so far as the report seeks to justify new repressive legislation against strikes and against honest and uncompromising leaders of the people it constitutes a menace to the existing civil liberties generally and specifically to the workers and peasants who must prepare to resist the fore-shadowed invasion of their rights in the coming year if the mass struggle for National Independence and Socialism is to continue its victorious march. 
Some of the resolutions, like the one on toddy tapping, were bound to do the Samasamajists much harm with the teetotaling Buddhist majority, who were controlled by the traditionalist Sangha. True, there were some exceptions and among the most radical activists of the party was a Buddhist preacher, U. Saranankara Thero, but on the whole it was hard to sell Marxist dialectical materialism as a philosophical cornerstone to the otherworldly minded Theravada Buddhists of Ceylon. An attempt had to be made to reconcile revolutionary Communism with the all-embracing peace philosophy of the Lord Buddha—a difficult thing to do. As pointed out by the Indian spokesman for the untouchables Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “The means the Communists wish to adopt in order to bring about Communism,” namely the abolition of property through violence and killing, are diametrically opposed to the Buddhist right-way:
There lies the fundamental difference between the Buddha and Karl Marx. The Buddha’s means of persuading people to adopt the principles is by persuasion, by moral teaching, by love. He wants to conquer the opponent by inculcating in him the doctrine that love and not power may conquer anything. That is where the fundamental difference lies—that the Buddha would not allow violence as the Communists do. No doubt the Communists get quick results; because when you adopt the means of annihilating men, they do not remain to oppose you ... The Buddha way ... is a long way ... a tedious way. But I have no doubt about it that it is the surest way.
The greatest thing that the Buddha has bone is to tell the world that the world cannot be reformed except by the reformation of the mind of the men and the mind of the world.
The Buddha has energized your conscience itself that is acting as a sentinel in order to keep you on your path. 
But in spite of what seems to be an unbridgeable gap between the two systems of thought, an interesting and scholarly attempt was made in Ceylon to prove that there were no real contradictions between Buddhism and Marxism. Young leftist S.N.B. Wijeyekoon, writing under the pseudonym “Leuke,” produced on March 1, 1943 a coherent little book under the title Gautama the Buddha and Karl Marx; A Critique and Comparative Study of their Systems of Philosophy. However, before this work could have any real impact, World War TI broke out. But “Leuke’s” painstaking efforts to find whatever seems prima faciae to be identical to Buddhist and Marxist philosophies is of interest as a proof of a genuine intellectual endeavor to reconcile what looks entirely irreconcilable. This politically motivated reasoning developed much later into a hybrid “Buddho-Marxist” doctrine that is still used by the Chinese Communists. After all, some collectivist tendencies in the search for social justice can be traced in most of the world religions, and similar attempts in comparing Russian communism with the early Christian communities, or even with the ideas expressed by the prophet Mohammed in the Koran, are familar to students of Marxism. Doctrinal rapprochement with Buddhism might have even greater prospects, because as pointed out by Leuke, “Buddhism and Dialectical Materialism are two of the very few systems of Philosophy which do not assume the existence of God.” Moreover, in “postulating a non-theistic position both Buddhism and Dialectical Materialism consider man to be the sole architect of His Own Destiny independent of divine assistance.”  Even the Buddhist moral code, the Eightfold Path, is explained by Leuke to be consistent with socialist ethics. He argued convincingly that “Dialectical Materialism is as much at pains to negate a self-centered outlook as Buddhism is ... its modus operandi for achieving this purpose is to merge one’s interests in social good and to contribute to social development.” To attract potential skeptics among devout Buddhists Leuke used the millennial argument:
A Socialist society ... by removing the Prime Necessity for man to struggle against man for his basic economic existence, will create environmental conditions in which not merely the few, who in their ethical life rise above environmental influences, but the vast majority of the human race could eschew a self-centered disposition in life. As such a socialist society will greatly facilitate the practice of non-attachment which is fundamental to the Buddhist mode of life. 
Quoting Engels’ Anti-Duhring, the Marxist-indoctrinated author compares dialectical materialism with the pertinent teachings of Lord Buddha:
ethical values of any influence are according to Dialectical Materialism relative to material environment particularly social environment. Ethical values can therefore change with change or impending changes in the forms of society ... changes in social relationship, i.e. new forms of society, come into existence ... So long as the ethical postulate serves a progressive social purpose it should be scrupulously adhered to, but not because of a belief in its absolute value.
In Kalarna Suttra Buddha says “Do not go merely by hearsay or tradition, not by what has been handed down from olden times, not by rumors, not by more reasoning and logical deductions, not by outward appearances, not by cherished opinions and speculations, not by mere possibilities and do not believe me because I am your master. But when you yourself have seen that a thing is evil and leads to harm and suffering then you should reject it.” ... The highly individualistic method prescribed by the Buddha for determined ethical conduct seems to be incompatible with a blind obedience to an inflexible and stereotyped code of ethics ... According to Buddhism, our relationship with others should be based on Maitriya which is kindness not merely to each and every human being but to all sentient creatures ... the criteria of ethical conduct applied by Dialectical Materialism is Social Good. 
To soft-pedal and philosophically justify the need for revolutionary violence, Leuke tries to accommodate the Buddhist believers by appealing to relativist values of social necessity:
The taking of animal life (snake, rats) is socially necessary, is only a feature of a wider postulate of Dialectical Materialism that force is justified under the strictly limited conditions of social necessity ... and would apply not merely to the animal world, but to human beings as well who behave anti-socially. 
The obvious question arises, would such an explanation of world revolution as social necessity be compatible with the basic tenents of Buddhism? It seems contrary to the Buddha Dharma, which does not condone the use of force in any circumstances. The fundamental criterion of Buddhist ethics is Maitriya, or compassion for each and every sentient being. Leuke finds an expedient expiation for the hesitating Sinhalese by recalling the past glory of victorious Buddhist rules:
Granted that the use of force is a source of disharmony and demerit in any circumstances, which means that Akusala Kamma arises as a result. But the benefiting of society, if also involved in the process, must also be a source of substantial merit ... as social good benefits not merely one particular individual, but the overwhelming majority of the community ..., For instance, Dutugemunu of Lanka was able to found a great Buddhist kingdom and derive the substantial merit which according to Buddhism, must have ensued from the propagation of Buddhism through this patronage, only by the use of force at the beginning of his career: demeritorious conduct from the Buddhist point of view, but which rendered possible acts of inestimable merit subsequently. It may be possible by some such process of reasoning to bridge a seeming incompatibility between the ethical viewpoint of Buddhism with its manifestation of Maitriya to each and every sentient being and that of Dialectical Materialism which bases its whole ethical position on the criterion of social good and social development. 
The problem of relations between what seemed to be mutually exclusive ways of life constantly fascinated the intellectuals of Ceylon. The revivalist Buddhist author D.C. Vijayavardhana tried to synthesize that main contradiction between the two systems in his important book The Revolt in the Temple, published anonymously in 1953. Criticizing the Marxist theory of the state in its transitional dictatorship-of-the-proletariat phase, he claimed that
Buddhism does not accept the Marxist conception of the class struggle, the Marxist theory of revolution and temporary dictatorship based on class divergencies, nor the theory of the domination of one class by another—neither the working class by the bourgeoise nor the bourgeoisie by the working class. But, if there is no doubt that the divergencies between individuals and classes practically do exist, there is again only the Buddhist method which must be used for harmonization between the classes and the progressive disappearance of inequalities. That means the evolutionary method-the method of democracy: discussion, co-operation, agreement. It means also in a certain sense a struggle, but between human beings we must try always to solve these problems by the human, non-violent, non-sanguinary means and methods. That is Buddhism. We underline this point of view, knowing full well that there are periods of human evolution when revolution or war becomes inevitable and justified ... 
He described the collectivist character of the original Sang ha, with obvious allusions to the appealing name of the Trotskyite party:
Marxism is a leaf taken from the book of Buddhism—a leaf torn out and misread ... The early Sangha, as established by the Buddha, comprised real Communists whose precept and practice have virtually disappeared from the earth. They were a classless community every member of which was equal (samasamaja) and equally free. They individually owned property, all possessions being held by the community. This ideal of communal ownership of property is emphasized in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta where it is said: “So long as the Brethren shall divide without partiality and share in common with the upright and the holy, all such things as they receive in accordance with the just provisions of the order, down even to the merest contents of a begging bowl, so long may the Brethren be expected, not to decline but prosper.” Here, as far as it was humanly possible, was realized the true Communist ideal of a classless, equalitarian and non-attached society.
Communism, in its orthodox theoretical form, is thus not at all inconsistent with the Communism of the original Sangha. And ... it still remains true that the ideal Buddhist way of life and a genuine Communism can be thoroughly consistent with each other. There are many Buddhists who are convinced that there is much more in common between Buddhism and Communism than between Buddhism and capitalism. The Buddhists, therefore, should avoid an indiscriminate condemnation of Communism, which would compel many, especially of the younger generation, to feel that they must choose between Buddhism and Communism.
To solve that dilemma, the author suggests a sort of mechanistic Buddho-Marxist synthesis:
Marx taught that a man is what environment makes him and no more; the Buddha taught that a man is what he makes himself. Change of these comments should be obvious. The thesis of traditional Buddhism and the antithesis of Marxian Communism are incomplete. They contain both merits and defects. The Buddhist tends to regard the perfecting of the individual as the essential task of religion, and thus to ignore the need for constructing a better order of society: the Communist lends to assume that a change of system is sufficient and that the conversion of the individual is irrelevant ...
These examples, though roughly stated, may help to indicate that ... a synthesis is necessary. The first step towards such a synthesis must be the frank realization that politics can be divorced from ethics ... 
But of course that is a solution no respectable religion could ever accept, nor could true Trotskyites recommend it either. The 1939 imbroglio in East-Central Europe posed an ideological challenge to the leadership of Marxist parties all around the world, including the LSSP in distant Ceylon. Encouraged by the easy success of Anschluss, by the Munich capitulation of France and England, by the subsequent abandonment of genuinely democratic Czechoslovakia, Hitler was getting ready to liquidate the adamant but isolated Poland. Trotsky anticipated the pending outbreak of the new world war and decided to mobilize his followers in South Asia. He assigned them a major revolutionary role to be undertaken in the near future. His Open Letter to the Workers of India was signed in Coyoacan, Mexico on July 25, 1939 and published in the September issue of the New International soon after the German invasion of Poland.
Worried as always about the safety of his Soviet motherland, Trotsky deplored Stalin’s strange alliances with the anti-Communist countries of Western Europe and advocated an independent anti-imperialist strategy. Although his ardent appeal for revolutionary action was primarily directed to Indian leftists it applied mutatis mutandi to Ceylonese Trotskyites as well, hence its significance for the better grasp of the late 1939 political orientation of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. The document reads as follows:
Titanic and terrible events are approaching with implacable force. Mankind lives in expectation of war which will, of course, also draw into its mainstream the colonial countries and which is of vital significance for their destiny. Agents of the British government depict the matter as though the war will be waged for principles of “democracy” which must be saved from fascism. All classes and peoples must rally around the “peaceful,” “democratic” governments so as to repel the fascist aggressors. Then “Democracy will be saved and peace stabilized forever.” This gospel rests on deliberate lie. If the British government were really concerned with the flowering of democracy then a very simple opportunity to demonstrate this exists: let the government give complete freedom to India. The right of national independence is one of the elementary democratic rights. But actually the London government is ready to hand over all the democracies in the world in return for one tenth of its colonies.
If the Indian people do not wish to remain as slaves for all eternity, then they must expose and reject those false preachers who assert that the sole enemy of the people is fascism. Hitler and Mussolini are beyond doubt the bitterest enemies of the toilers and oppressed ... deserving of the hatred from the toilers and oppressed of the world. But they are, before everything, the enemies of the German and Italian peoples on whose backs they sit. The oppressed classes and peoples—as Marx, Engels, Lenin and Liebknecht have taught us—must seek out their main enemy at home, cast in the role of their own immediate oppressors and exploiters. In India that enemy above all is the British bourgeoisie. The overthrow of British imperialism would deliver a terrible blow at all the oppressors, including the fascist dictators. In the long run the imperialists are distinguished from one another in form—not in essence. German imperialism, deprived of colonies, puts on the fearful mask of fascism with its saber-teeth protruding. British imperialism, gorged because it possesses immense colonies, hides its saber-teeth behind a mask of democracy. But this democracy exists only for the metropolitan center, for the 45,000,000 souls—or more correctly for the ruling bourgeoisie—in the metropolitan center. India is deprived not only of democracy but of the most elementary right of national independence. Imperialist democracy is thus the democracy of the slave owner fed by the life blood of the colonies. But India seeks her own democracy, and not to serve as fertilizer for the slave owners.
Those who desire to end fascism, reaction and all forms of oppression must overthrow imperialism. There is no other road. This task cannot, however, be accomplished by peaceful methods, by negotiations and pledges. Never before in history have slave owners voluntarily freed their slaves. Only a bold, resolute struggle of the Indian people for their economic and national emancipation can free India. The Indian bourgeoisie is incapable of leading a revolutionary struggle. They are closely bound up with and dependent upon British capitalism. They tremble for their own property. They stand in fear of the masses. They seek compromises with British imperialism no matter what the price and lull the Indian masses with hopes of reforms from above. The leader and a prophet of this bourgeoisie is Gandhi. A false leader and a false prophet! Gandhi and his compeers have developed a theory that India’s position will constantly improve, that her liberties will continually be enlarged and that India will gradually become a Dominion on the road to peaceful reforms and later on perhaps can achieve full independence. This entire perspective is false to the core. The imperialist classes were able to make concessions to colonial peoples, as well as to their own workers, only so long as capitalism marched uphill ... Nowadays there cannot even be talk of this. World imperialism is on the decline. The condition of all imperialist nations daily becomes more difficult while the contradictions between them become more aggravated. Monstrous armaments devour an even greater share of national incomes. The imperialists can no longer make serious concessions either to their own toiling masses or to the colonies. On the contrary, they are compelled to resort to an ever more bestial exploitation. It is precisely in this that capitalism’s death agony is expressed: to retain their colonies, markets and concessions from Germany, Italy and Japan, the London government stands ready to mow down millions of people. Is it possible, without losing one’s senses, to pin any hopes that this greedy and savage financial oligarchy will voluntarily free India?
True enough, a government of the so-called Labour Party may replace the Tory government. But this will alter nothing. The Labour Party—as witness its entire past and present program—is in no way distinguished from the Tories on the colonial question. The Labour Party in reality expresses not the interests of the working class, but only the interests of the British labor bureaucracy and labor aristocracy ... The British labor bureaucracy—in the Labour Party as well as in the Trade Unions—is directly interested in the exploitation of colonies. It has not the slightest desire to think of the emancipation of India. All these gentlemen—Major Attlee, Sir Walter Citrine and Company—are ready at any moment to brand the revolutionary movement of the Indian peoples as “betrayal,” as aid to Hitler and Mussolini, and to resort to military measures for its suppression.
In no way superior is the policy of the present day Communist International. To be sure 20 years ago the Third or the Communist International was founded as a genuine revolutionary organization. One of its most important tasks was the liberation of the colonial peoples. Only recollections today remain of this program, however. The leaders of the Communist International have long since become the mere tools of the Moscow bureaucracy which has stifled the Soviet working masses and which has become transformed into a new aristocracy. In the ranks of the Communist Parties of various countries—including India—there are no doubt many honest workers, students, etc.; but they do not fix the politics of [the] Comintern. The deciding word belongs to the Kremlin which is guided not by the interests of the oppressed, but by those of the U.S.S.R.’s new aristocracy.
Stalin and his clique, for the sake of an alliance with the imperialist governments, have completely renounced the revolutionary program for the emancipation of the colonies. This was openly avowed at the last Congress of Stalin’s party in Moscow in March of the current year by Manuilski, one of the leaders of the Comintern, who declared: “the Communists advance to the forefront of the struggle for the realization of the right of self-determination of nationalities enslaved by fascist governments. They demand free self-determination for Austria ... the Sudeten regions ... Korea, Formosa, Abyssinia. And what about India, Indo-China, Algeria and other colonies of England and France? The Comintern representative answers these questions as follows: “The Communists ... demand of the imperialist governments of the so-called bourgeois democratic states the immediate [sic], drastic [I] improvement of the living standards of the toiling masses in the colonies” (Pravda, issue No.70, March 12, 1939). In other words as regards the colonies of England and France the Comintern has completely gone over to Gandhi’s position and the position of the conciliationist colonial bourgeoisie in general. The Comintern has completely renounced the revolutionary struggle for India’s independence ... The improvement of the conditions of the toiling masses in the colonies is possible only on the road to complete overthrow of imperialism.
But the Communist International has traveled even further on this road of betrayal. Communists, according to Manuilski, “subordinate the realization of this right of secession ... in the interests of defeating fascism.” In other words in the event of war between England and France over colonies, the Indian people must support their present slave owners, the British imperialists. That is to say, must shed their blood not for their own emancipation, but for the preservation of the rule of “the City” over India. And those cheaply to be bought scoundrels dare to quote Marx and Lenin!
The Stalinists cover up their policy of servitude to British, French and U.S.A. imperialism with the formula of “People’s Front.” What a mockery of the people! The People’s Front is only a new name of that old policy, the gist of which lies in class collaboration, in a coalition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In every such coalition the leadership invariably turns out to be in the hands of the right-wing, that is, in the hands of the propertied class. The Indian bourgeoisie ... wants a peaceful horse trade and not the struggle, coalition with the bourgeoisie leads to the proletariat’s abnegating the revolutionary struggle against imperialism ... implies marking time on one spot, temporizing, cherishing false hopes, engaging in hollow maneuvers and intrigues. As a result of this policy disillusionment inevitably sets in among the working masses, while the peasants turn their backs on the proletariat, and fall into apathy. The German revolution, the Austrian revolution, the Chinese revolution and the Spanish revolution have all perished as a result of the policy of coalition.
In the event that the Indian bourgeoisie finds itself compelled to take even the tiniest step on the road of struggle against the arbitrary rule of Great Britain, the proletariat will naturally support such a step. But they will support it with their own methods: mass meetings, bold slogans, strikes, demonstrations and more decisive combat actions, depending on the relationship of forces and the circumstances. Precisely to do this must the proletariat have its hands free. Complete independence from the bourgeoisie is indispensable to the proletariat, above all in order to exert influence on the peasantry, the predominant mass of India’s population. Only the proletariat is capable of advancing a bold, revolutionary agrarian program, of rousing and rallying tens of millions of peasants and leading them in the struggle against the native oppressors and British imperialists. The alliance of workers and poor peasants is the only honest, reliable alliance that can assure the final victory of the Indian Revolution.
All peacetime questions will preserve their full force in time of war, except that they will be invested with a far sharper expression. First of all, exploitation of the colonies will become greatly intensified. The metropolitan centers will not only pump from the colonies foodstuffs and raw materials, but they will also mobilize vast numbers of colonial slaves who are to die on the battlefields for their masters. Meanwhile, the colonial bourgeoisie will ... naturally renounce opposition in the name of patriotism and profits. Gandhi is already preparing the ground for such a policy. These gentlemen will keep drumming: “We must wait patiently till the war ends—and then London will reward us for the assistance we have given.” As a matter of fact, the imperialists will redouble and treble their exploitation of the toilers both at home and especially in the colonies so as to rehabilitate the country after the havoc of and devastation of war. In these circumstances there cannot even be a talk of new social reforms in the metropolitan centers or of the grants of liberties to the colonies. Double chain of slavery, that will be the inevitable consequence of the war if the masses of India follow the politics of Gandhi, the Stalinists and their friends.
The war, however, may bring to India as well as to the other colonies not a redoubled slavery but, on the contrary, complete liberty: the proviso for this is a correct revolutionary policy. The Indian people must divorce their fate from the very outset from that of British imperialism. The oppressors and the oppressed stand on opposite sides of the trenches. No aid whatsoever to the slave-owners. On the contrary those immense difficulties which the war will bring in its wake must be utilized so as to deal a martial blow to all the ruling classes. That is how the oppressed classes and peoples in all countries should act, irrespective of whether Messrs Imperialists don democratic or fascist masks.
To realize such a policy a revolutionary party offering itself on the vanguard of the proletariat is necessary. Such a party does not yet exist in India. The Fourth International offers this party its program, its experience, its collaboration. The basic conditions for this party are: complete independence from the Second and Third Internationals and complete independence from the national Indian bourgeoisie.
In a number of colonial and semi-colonial countries sections of the Fourth International already exist and are making successful progress. First place among them is unquestionably held by our section in French Indo-China which is conducting an irreconcilable struggle against French imperialism and “People’s Front” mystifications. “The Stalinist leaders,” it is stated in the newspaper of the Saigon workers (The Struggle—La Lutte) of April 7, 1939, “have taken yet another step on the road of betrayal. Throwing off their masks as revolutionists, they have become champions of imperialism and openly speak out against emancipation of the oppressed colonial peoples.” Owing to their bold revolutionary politics, the Saigon proletarians, members of the Fourth International, scored a brilliant victory over the bloc of the ruling party and the Stalinists at the elections to the colonial council held in April of this year.
The very same policy ought to be pursued by the advanced workers of British India. We must cast away false hopes and repel false friends, we must pin hopes only on ourselves, our own revolutionary forces. The struggle for national independence, for an independent Indian republic, is indissolubly linked up with the agrarian revolution, with the nationalization of banks and trusts, with a number of other economic measures aiming to raise the living standard of the country, and to make the toiling masses the masters of their own destiny. Only the proletariat in an alliance with the peasantry is capable of executing these tasks.
In its initial stage the revolutionary party will no doubt comprise a tiny minority. In contrast to other parties, however, it will render a clear accounting of the situation and fearlessly march toward its great goal. It is indispensable in all the industrial centers and cities to establish workers’ groups standing under the banner of the Fourth International. Only those intellectuals who have completely come over to the side of the proletariat must be allowed into these groups. Alien to sectarian self-immersion, the revolutionary worker-Marxists must actively participate in the work of the Trade Unions, educational societies, the Congress Socialist Party and, in general, all mass organizations. Everywhere they remain as the extreme left-wing, everywhere they set the example of courage in action, everywhere in a patient and comradely manner, they explain their program to the workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals. Impending events will come to the aid of the Indian Bolshevik-Leninists, revealing to the masses the correctness of their path. The party will grow swiftly and become tempered in the fire.
Allow me to express my fond hope that the revolutionary struggle for the emancipation of India will unfold under the banner of the Fourth International.
With warmest comradely greetings,
Leon Trotsky 
This powerful though erratic (i.e., in its pessimistic estimate of the British Labour Party’s intentions toward India) appeal by the actual founder of the newest Communist International was to have much more impact on the Ceylonese revolutionaries than it ever had on the Indian addressees, overshadowed as they were by the dynamic Congress Party. Indeed it seems astonishing that Trotsky never mentioned Ceylon or his LSSP followers in this long document while he praised a numerically small and ideologically split group of Indochinese revolutionaries.  In July 1939 Trotsky was hardly aware of the existence of Ceylon’s Equality Party and of its growing commitment toward his policy and its recently created instrument, the Fourth International.  The first personal contact was established in November 1939 through the New York headquarters of the intellectually vigorous U.S. Trotskyite movement, the Socialist Workers Party. The prominent Samasamajist Mrs. Selina Perera made a futile attempt to visit Trotsky in Coyoacan, Mexico. She carried the following introductory note from the latter’s most trusted American associate, James P. Cannon:
November 10, 1939
Dear Comrade Trotsky,
This will introduce to you Comrade Mrs. Perera from Ceylon. She is returning home from England where she has been for one year. At our suggestion, and with her full agreement, she is going to stop off to visit you on her way to the Pacific coast.
She carries with her a letter from Comrade Van Gelder of our English Section who is well known to us. I am sure you will find her report of the utmost interest.
J. P. Cannon
But Mrs. Perera was turned back at the frontier town of Laredo, Texas, due to new visa restrictions. She cabled the Trotskys of her bitter disappointment on being prevented from entering Mexico.
Trotsky’s secretary Joseph Hansen strongly reproached the New York comrades in his letter of November 21, 1939, addressed to Rose Karsner:
Last Saturday we got a telegram from the Ceylonese comrade from Laredo, reading as follows: “Immigration authorities refuse admittance bitterly disappointed goodbye Ceylon comrade.”
We immediately traced the telegram, found it bore two different signatures, and sent a reply telegram with the note to check the bus and train as we were sure that we could arrange her difficulties from here. I feel that the trouble was perhaps a lack of bond to insure her return, required of Asiatics and Negroes in Mexico. Whoever sent this comrade down without first arranging everything with the Mexican consul in New York should be severely censured. It was criminal to send her that far without first checking with the Mexican authorities in New York and arranging a bond there (if that was the trouble). We did not receive any word in response to our telegram so we assumed that she had left. Too bad, too bad. If she had only waited in Laredo and sent us word of her difficulties first! But I suppose she was just a little girl a long way from home and facing some very unfriendly foreign speaking immigration authorities. There was nothing more we could do from this end. The administrative incompetence of some of the New York comrades makes one’s blood boil.
Mrs. Perera wrote on her own to James Cannon on November 24:
San Francisco 11/4/39
Dear Comrade Cannon,
You will be very sorry to hear that I was unable to go to Mexico after all. I need not tell you how deeply disappointed I am about it. The immigration authorities at Laredo refused to admit me on Mexican soil without a special permit from the Tourist Agency in Mexico City. I was told this was a new war-time regulation which applied to British subjects. The officials at the New York Mexican Consulate who gave me my Mexican visa did not tell me about this. I found that it would take me at least three days to obtain the permit and that such a delay would mean that I would miss my boat scheduled to leave San Francisco on the 20th. So I had to give up the trip to Mexico, much as I regretted doing so.
As many other comrades there were interested in this trip to Mexico, I hope you will please make use of this letter to explain to them why I was forced to turn back. I am expecting a refund on my round trip ticket from Laredo to Mexico City, and shall send on the money on receipt. Thanking you all for the pleasant stay in New York,
The Laredo episode was closed by the explanatory letter of Cannon to Trotsky dated November 29, 1939. lie deplored that “unfortunate miscarriage when such a rare opportunity for you to have consultation with a colonial comrade goes awry.” Cannon put the blame for confusion on the obvious lack “of coordination between the different agencies of the Mexican government.” 
It seems safe to assume that Trotsky directly addressed his Ceylonese followers only once, in answer to Mrs. Perera’s apprehensive query about the alleged possibility of the Red Army’s intervention in South Asia. The concluding sentence of the communication, which mainly added some new arguments to those of his earlier Open Letter to Indian Workers, proves that in December 1939 he at last became fully aware of the existence of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party in Ceylon and that he regarded its leaders as his committed comrades. The letter was written soon after Mrs. Perera’s attempt to discuss those matters in person with him, and it ends with his best wishes for her safe trip home:
The question about the possible military intervention of the Red Army in India (not to speak about Ceylon) has been launched absolutely artificially by some of the American comrades. The possibility is not excluded, but it is not this question that is now on the order of the day. From the principled point of view I don’t see here any new question in comparison with the Chinese or Spanish experience. The Red Army is not an independent political factor but a military instrument of the Bonapartist Bureaucracy of the USSR. The military intervention would be only the continuation of the political intervention and the political intervention of Stalin’s Comintern is developing in India as elsewhere every day. But our task is not to speculate about the possibilities of a future military intervention-rather it is to learn how to fight against the present political intervention. Every fight demands a correct appreciation of all the factors involved.
The first thing is not to forget that the direct enemy of the Indian workers and peasants is not the Red Army but British Imperialism. Some Comrades, who in the last period have replaced Marxist policy by anti-Stalinist policy, forget the political realities in India and imitate the Stalinists of yesterday who proclaimed before the Stalin-Hitler pact, of course, that the main enemy in India is Japan.
The Stalinists in India directly support the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois national parties and do all they can to subjugate the workers and peasants through these parties. What we must do is to create an absolutely independent proletarian party with a class program.
The general historical role of the Stalinist bureaucracy and their Comintern is counter-revolutionary. But through their military and other interests they can be forced to support progressive movements. (Even Ludendorff felt himself forced to give Lenin a train-a very progressive action-and Lenin accepted it.)
We must keep our eyes open to discern the progressive acts of the Stalinists, support them independently, foresee in time the danger, the betrayals, warn the masses and gain their confidence. If our policy is firm and intransigent and realistic at the same time, we would succeed in compromising the Stalinists on the basis of revolutionary experience. If the Red Army intervenes we will continue the same policy, adapting it to military conditions. We will teach the Indian workers to fraternize with the rank and file soldiers and denounce the repressive measures of their commanders and so on.
The main task in India is the overthrow of the British domination. This task imposes upon the proletariat the support of every oppositional and revolutionary action directed against imperialism ...
This support must be inspired by a firm distrust of the national bourgeoisie and their petty-bourgeois agencies ...
We must not confound our organisation, our program, our banner, with theirs for a moment ...
We must observe strictly the old rule: march separately, strike together ...
We must keep a suspicious eye on the temporary ally as well as on the foe ...
We must utilise the dissensions of the bourgeois and pettybourgeois tendencies in order to re-inforce the self-confidence of the proletarian vanguard.
If we follow seriously these good old rules, the intervention of the Red Army would not take us unawares.
With warmest greetings to yourself and to the Ceylon comrades, and with best wishes for your trip.
L. Trotsky 
Important as this document is to prove Trotsky’s late awareness of the following he had in Ceylon, it also might have had some effect on the LSSP majority’s historical decision to expel the Stalinists over the crucial issue of adherence to the Comintern. The expulsion occurred primarily as the result of the inner “T” group’s basic disagreement with Moscow’s new policy, exemplified by the Soviet-Nazi complot of August 23, 1939, which unleashed Hitler’s Germany to start the Second World War. Moreover, one should not underestimate the summons of Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed, the book that played such a determining role in Ceylonese left thinking. “Stalinism and fascism,” he declared, “are symmetrical phenomena ... A victorious revolutionary movement in Europe would immediately shake not only fascism, but Soviet Bonapartism ... For this it is necessary that in the West or the East another revolutionary dawn arise.” This revolutionary dawn, not the tactical interests of the Soviet Union, even when incidentally favorable to their struggle, was to determine future LSSP policy. 
 B.J. Fernando and Vernon Gunasekera, Secretaries’ Report, The Young Socialist Monthly of the Lanka Students’ Socialist League, 1 (1937), pp.6-7.
 Colvin R. de Silva, Opposition Smashed; First Year’s Achievement, Samasamajist, I (1937), pp.6-7.
 Vernon Gunasekera and M. G. Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, Samasamajist, 1 (1957), pp.15-25
 Janaki, Spain: No Pasareis (Colombo: Sama Samaja Party, n.d.), pp.12-15.
 Gunasekera and Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, loc. cit., p.15
 Ibid., pp.15-17.
 Goonewardena, A Short History of the LSSP, p.8.
 Such a supposition was made orally to me by Mr. Vernon Gunasekera, who as one of the party’s joint secretaries watched closely Bracegirdie’s behavoir both in Ceylon and subsequently in London.
 Hansard (1957), pp.954-55.
 Ibid., p.979. Cf. Ludowyk, The Modern History of Ceylon, pp.181-82.
 Gunasekera and Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, loc. cit., p.17
 Hansard (1957), pp.905-10, passim.
 Ibid., pp.920-21.
 Ibid., pp.921-25.
 Ibid., 925-25, passim.
 Ibid., pp.949-50.
 Ibid., pp.966-68, passim.
 Ibid., pp.974-75.
 Ibid., p.985
 Gunasekera and Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, loc. cit., p.15.
 Ibid., p.18.
 Hansard (1958), p.5866.
 Ibid., p.5865.
 Ibid., pp.5870-74, passim.
 Ibid., pp.4075-76.
 Ibid., pp.408287, passim
 Gunasekera and Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, loc. cit., pp.15-22, passim.
 Cf. supra, p.15.
 Gunasekera and Mendis, Secretaries’ Report, loc. cit., pp.19-20.
 Ibid., pp.20-21.
 The term is best defined in the important recent study by Robert N. Kearney, Communalism and Language in the Politics of Ceylon (Durham: Duke University Press, 1967), pp.4-5. Professor Kearney clearly explains that: Community is a term frequently employed in south Asia to denote a people who share a common sense of identity and think of themselves as constituting a unique and separate group, usually on the basis of a distinctive language, religion, social organization, or ancestral origin. The related term “communalism” refers to an attitude which emphasizes the primacy and exclusiveness of the committal group and demands the solidarity of members of the community in political and social action ... Community is at times used in Ceylon as a euphemism for caste, but usually the term is employed to designate one of the ethnic groups into which the island’s population is divisible—the Sinhalese, Ceylon Tamils, Indian Tamils, and others.
 Goonewardene, A Short History of the LSSP, pp.10-11.
 Samasamajist, December 1957, pp.25-24.
 Ibid., pp.7-15.
 Wriggins, Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation, pp.125-26.
 Goonewardene, op. cit., p.14. The importance of Revolution Betrayed was also stressed by Senator Doric de Souza, who told me in a private interview how much he was impressed by the condemnation of Stalin’s rule in Russia. Dr. Perera brought the book from London in 1958; de Souza was then active as a student organizer at the University College.
 Gunasekera and Mendis, op. cit., p.14.
 A sama Samaja Policy for Ceylon; Resolutions Passed at the Third Conference of the LSSP, Resurgent Ceylon, I (1959), 8-9.
 The Trotsky Papers: 1917-1922 (1917-1919), Ian H. Meijer, ed. (The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1964), pp.621-27. Trotsky returned to that problem in his elaboration of September 20, 1919, where he recommended a major military base in Turkestan be established to serve as “the political and military Headquarters of the Asian Revolution ... more effectual than the Executive Committee of the Third International.”
 Trotsky Archives, The Houghton Library (Rusk)
 Colvin R. de Silva, Toward a Dictatorship: The Governor’s Reform Proposals Explained, p.18.
 Oliver, op. cit., p.45 [original punctuation retained].
 Hansard (1959), p.527.
 A Sama Samaja Policy ..., loc. cit.
 B.R. Ambedkar, Buddha and Karl Marx, speech delivered at the World Fellowship of Buddhists at their Congress held in Katmandu, Nepal on November 20, 1956.
 Leuke (S.N.B. Wijeyckoon) op. cit., pp.42-44. passim. The unique importance of this now out-of-print book is properly emphasized by Oliver, op. cit., p.49. I am grateful to the author for lending me his own annotated copy, through the kindness of Dr. W. Pachow, senior lecturer on Buddhist civilization at the University of Ceylon.
 Leuke, op. cit., pp.67, 79.
 Ibid., pp.9595
 Ibid., pp.97-100, passim. In handwritten comments for the anticipated second edition of the book the author adds the following conclusion: “the emphasis placed by Dialectical Materialism on environment as an influence on ethical thinking is of immense value in producing a broad ethical consciousness in the community. For such a broad ethical consciousness is stultified by a malefic environment ... The solution seems to be a synthesis between a viewpoint which postulates a basic standard of absolute values, and one that postulates that a realization of such values on a permanent basis and on a mass scale can only be realised when the closest attention is paid to the fundamental problem of man’s environment.”
 D.C. Vijayavardhana, The Revolt in the Temple, p.595.
 Ibid., pp.596-97, 605-4, passim. To make it clear that a “Buddha-Marxist” synthesis may eventually arise from the recent Chinese experience the publishers of the book in their About This Book statement (signed by the Sinha Publications and preceding both the foreword and the prologue) felt it necessary to stress:
“The world is faced today with the rapid advance of a new doctrine” Marxian Communism. Christianity, for nearly four decades, has been fighting a losing battle against it. But now Buddhism also laces the same issue. How will the Buddhist world meet this challenge? China, a Buddhist country, will soon have to decide this problem. Will she, like the Christian countries, submit to this new doctrine? Or will she, keeping to her tradition of absorbing her conquerors, absorb Marxism into her system and give to the world a new way of life?
Trotsky was not far wrong when he said that the English Revolution, brought about by the Puritans, was nourished on Biblical texts; the French Revolution on the abstractions of democracy; and the Russian Revolution on Marxism. Marx, as we all know, was profoundly influenced in the development of his teaching by German philosophy. Will Buddhist philosophy and its broad ethical inspiration impress its stamp upon Chinese Communism and give a new twist to the Marxian philosophy of materialism? There is hardly a trace of any human emotion in Marx’s writings.
Then will there emerge from Buddhist China an ethical or Utopian interpretation of Marxism, and will China bring about a synthesis of Buddhism and Marxism and thereby humanize the latter? If China does so, she cannot fail to influence the future of the religious, social, ethical economic and political lives of a greater part of the peoples of the Eastern world. And it is not impossible that this synthesis of Buddhism and Marxism should succeed in conquering the mind of Russia, and replacing the present materialistic system in that region. Are we then on the eve of a revolution greater than that of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the French and the Russian Revolutions all combined? A ‘revolution,’ in short of world-wide scope?
A century or two ago half of East Asia was paying tribute to the Imperial Court at Peking. It looks as though history may be coming again to a full circle. Peking, under the rule of Mao Tse-tung, promises to become a sort of Oriental Moscow—a magnet of attraction, a centre of thought and a pattern of reform for a new way of life in the East. And Mao Tse-tung, the Buddhist President of the new regime, may well become an Asian Lenin.
It is to beremembered that The Revolt in the Temple was published not in Mainland China, but in free Ceylon.
 Leon Trotsky, An Open Letter to the workers of India, The New International, September, 1959, pp.265-66.
 Cf. Sacks, in Marxism in Southeast Asia, pp.129, 155-54
 Unless the so-called ‘Closed Section” of the Trotsky Archives at Harvard University Library hides under seal some documents proving Trotsky’s contact by correspondence or otherwise with the leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, there is no proof that he was aware prior to the outbreak of world War If of the strong response his ideas evoked in Ceylon. His personal secretary during his last five years, Professor John Van Heijenoort assured me that to the best of his knowledge there was neither personal nor correspondence contact established between the LSSP and the exiled Trotsky until the late fall of 1959, although in the last year of his life, Trotsky became fully aware of and very proud of his following in Ceylon. On the other hand, Mrs. Selina M. Perera assured me in her letter of September 14, 1965 that:
Trotsky knew of the existence of the LSSP and that its general line was anti-Stalinist and pro-Trotskyist. I worked with Trotskyist groups in England from 1958-1959, and with the American Trotskyists for a month in November-December. soo. They already knew the LSSP through its literature and various other contacts. The American Trotskyists had passed on LSSP literature etc. to Trotsky ... I learnt in USA that Trotsky had followed with great interest the development and activities of the LSSP, and that he had hope and confidence in its leaders.
 Copies of the above quoted letter and a cable concerning Mrs. Perera’s futile attempt to see Trotsky in Coyoacan preserved in the private archives of Mr. James P. Cannon, the veteran leader of the Trotskyite movement in the United States, were kindly sent to me by his secretary, Della Rossa, following my interview with him in the summer of 1965 (held in his Los Angeles residence)
 Leon Trotsky to Mrs. Selina Perera, December 1959. The copy of the letter was generously given to me by the addressee. The letter to “Indian Comrade” was published in Calcutta in the July-September 1945 issue of Permanent Revolution, (Vol.1, No.5), organ of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, section of the Fourth International.
 Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1957), pp.278-79, 286.
Last updated on 17.10.2003