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George Jan Lerski

Origins Of Trotskyism In Ceylon

From the Cover of
Origins Of Trotskyism In Ceylon

The Ceylon Trotskyist movement was the only one in the world to become a major political party and to influence in a bold and basic way the national liberation and post-colonial reforms of a developing country. The organization it fostered, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), was founded by Western-trained young Marxists, followers of both Stalinism and Trotskyism. Theirs was a remarkable coexistence-unique among revolutionary movements in Asiacaused partly by their common nationalist struggle against British domination. Mutual friendship among, and respect for, the LSSP’s original leaders helped to unify the movement, and the Trotskyist center, though wary of Stalinist ideas, felt sure enough of its own control to tolerate the Moscow-oriented communist minority until the outbreak of World War II.

When the members finally did split (over the issue of permanent revolution versus the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1g39), the Trotskyist majority prevailed. The LSSP became, unlike any other Trotsky group in the world, a real political party with affiliated loyal trade unions representing the interests of the working classes of the Sinhalese and Tamil nationalities. As such it was bound to confront sooner or later the practical question of participation in the island’s parliament, and perhaps even in the central government. In recent years revolutionary fervor has diminished, and the rule of law prevails as The only way left for Socialist participation in the government of the island.

Dr. Lerski’s study of this indigenous radical movement is based almost entirely on primary sources, with pertinent communications of Leon Trotsky, annual party platforms, or specific


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Last updated on 17.10.2003