The Brief History Of Sri Lanka Left Wing
The ill-founded Fukuyama declaration at the beginning of 1990, championing the argument that capitalism is the last phase of the history of human society, has been discarded by the worsening global crisis of capitalism since 2008. Capitalism is undoubtedly shaking from its very foundations and since has plunged into crisis on a global scale. The system is not only inflicting massive disparity in our economic, social, cultural and political domain; it’s clear the system is having a catastrophic impact on the very existence of human civilisation. The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to Oxfam, warning of an ever increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth. It’s a system that is getting irrelevant and needs replacing now.
The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) believes the only solution to this crisis of capitalism and inequity is a future communist society underpinned by the fundamentals of scientific socialism and the political freedom that comes through Marxist Leninist philosophy. FSP’s driving force is to facilitate leadership for Lanka’s people, to contribute and educate their fellow citizens to the lessons learnt from previous Lankan and global revolutions. In doing so, they are energised to build a brighter future for its people, ensuring a future society where everyone is equal in the eyes of the law with equal access of opportunity to participate in the economy. The role of the FSP is to encourage to embrace a Marxist Leninist program within Lankan proletariat with a socialist agenda which will enable to address the inequities and injustices of an inherited ailing capitalist system, and which at no time, has served the needs of the people of Lanka.
THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF LANKA
Lanka is an island situated in the Indian Ocean off the south of India. It has a population of 21.2 million (based on 2016 population statistics) consisting of people who identify as coming from a range of ethnic and religious backgrounds including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslims and several other minority groups who, combined, make up the rich culture Lanka is today. While small in size, Lanka has a long and rich history of human settlement descending from the beginning of the human civilisation as is evidenced by approximately 2500 years of written history.
Before employing a capitalist agenda, Lanka’s social system stemmed from an Asiatic model of production. Its society was monarchical, ruled by an all-powerful King who controlled the entire production system. This system was predominantly divided into agricultural production for both domestic uses but was systemically in servitude of the Royal Family. Economic and political theorists note that this system existed as a result of its traditional Indian influences.
Lanka’s history details the many changes in power, where it has succumbed to invasions by European nations, who were competing to dominate global trade in spices. The Lankan coastal region was occupied by Portuguese in 1505, the Dutch in 1656 and, in response to these periods of European colonialism, over time the entire country developed systemic capitalist characteristics.
In 1796 the British invaded Lanka, and entire island henceforth came under British rule.
By the mid-nineteenth century, the seed of capitalism was firmly sown. The British imposed their system on Lankan society by introducing their own economic and parliamentary systems, crushing two rebellions and armed oppositions.
The Frontline Socialist Party is the true voice of the people of Lanka. We are here to stand up for what is fair and just and in doing so represent the will of the people. We will work tirelessly with the people of Lanka, through partnerships with organisations and strategic activities to hand back power to them that has been unjustly taken from them for centuries. It is time to right the wrongs of history.
Over time, as capitalism imposed itself upon Lankan society, an independent capitalist class was created. The Lankan upper class was subservient to imperialists and was, in effect, an unevolved capitalist class. Furthermore, due to the little development of a large-scale manufacturing sector in the country, the growth of a “working class” was also small. Culturally, Lanka, with its proximity to Asia experienced an Asian pre-capitalist economy. After the British left, handing over power to the local upper class, the country was ruled in turn by the two parties; the United National Party and Sri Lanka Freedom Party or their coalition governments. The political system moved from a Keynesian type of model with the government dominated by a capitalist structure to a more neoliberal capitalist strategy when the UNP came to power in 1977. Since then Lanka has been mired in financial debt with institutions including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank. This cycle of generative debt helplessly demonstrates Lanka’s ever-increasing colonial dependency and the recent 40 years of the neo-liberalism has embedded this entrapment to debt even further.
RISE OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT IN LANKA
Initially, there was no clear leadership on the left or right of the political spectrum. Leadership emerged one strike at a time. The first workers’ strike action took place in 1893 by private sector printing press workers. The second strike, Laundry Workers in 1896. The third, 1906. Leadership through the multiple strikes and ranks began to build over time, and slowly but surely, the movement for workers rights became more organised. In 1919 Lanka’s Labour Social Service Congress was formed, and after the further industrial action in 1923, the British ruling government was forced to accept the country’s Union Movement. Further strikes in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1929, the latter of which erupted in violence finally led to a shift towards there being a healthier, robust and strategic labour movement in the country.
THE SHORT HISTORY OF LEFTIST MOVEMENT IN LANKA
Lanka’s leftist political parties came together to form the Lanka Sama Samaja Party on the 18 of December 1935, attracting broad support from workers across the country who united in their opposition to imperialism and inequity. The left movement rallied for the eradication of the Malaria epidemic and other issues which impacted people’s everyday lives. By 1939 the Lanka Sama Samaja Party fragmented due to the debate over participation in the WWII. On the one hand, the party was aligned with the Soviet Communist Party, who had formed alliances to cooperate with progressive capitalist entities to help fight the fascists. So a faction within the party split to form the Lanka Communist Party in June 1943. Several years later, with an escalation of China-Soviet differences, the Lanka Communist Party also divided into two as Soviet and Chinese Factions. After the 1956 general elections, bourgeois nationalism grew, and leftist political parties gradually collaborated with petit-bourgeois parties like the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to form coalition governments. To gain traction with the electorate, the Lankan Left ultimately succumbed to having to collaborate with other parties and henceforth formed political alliances with bourgeoisie parties. In doing so, the leftist movement became more fractionalised and grew into a group with a vast number of individuals whose ideologies and principles were misaligned.
The departure of Comrade Rohana Wijeweera from the Lanka Communist Party – Chinese Faction, to start the JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) – on the 14 May 1965 with some activists was an outcome of the prevalent ideological and differences in principals within the Left movement.
The JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) was formed as an outcome of dialogue due to lack of consensus within the leftist parties. The founding of the new left (JVP) fuelled the necessary leadership that led to two armed uprisings. The first rebellion in 1971, saw the loss of approximately 20,000 lives and imprisonment of its leaders including Comrade Rohana Wijeweera. Once freed from prison, party Cadres, including Comrade Rohana rebuilt the party, and before long the then UNP Government began its suppression by denouncing the party and its activities. By 1987, the broad-based people’s movement started another armed comeback led by the JVP. By the end of 1989, the second armed struggle was also crushed by the State military apparatus which killed more than 60,000 members, activists and supporters including Comrade Rohana Wijeweera and almost its entire leadership.
After the heat of the ruthless suppression subsided, the JVP started to rebuild the party and was able to contest the 1994 General Elections in the disguise of the National Salvation Front. As a result, the JVP won one parliamentary seat. The JVP (Party) decision to engage in politics can observe and interpret as a comeback without making a retrospective Self – Criticism regarding the post-1978 political activities of the Left Movement and armed struggle in 88-89. Also, the global politics that caused the fall of the Socialist Camp and the enormous impact that brought for the World Socialist Movement. The situation of untimely re-entry into Parliamentary politics intensified when the party chose to propose a modern style National Liberation Struggle as a strategic goal for Lankan revolution at the Party Convention in 2002. This new strategy was employed to achieve their goals by working collaboratively with other progressive groups which unfortunately led to more splintering. It was a movement mired in nationalism, politics aimed at winning next election, pragmatism, revisionism and class collaboration.
There are some classic examples of the JVP is succumbed to class collaboration and class cooperation with petit bourgeoisie parties that can identify with certainty by examining the history of past 15 years. They are; In 2001, supporting the President Chandrika Kumaranathunge government by playing a Caretaker role. In 2004 building an alliance government with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. In 2005 and 2009 consecutively supporting Mahinda Rajapaksa and a military leader Sarath Fonseka in presidential elections. In 2015 elevating the now incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena to power. It is evident from these examples that the JVP is distancing the socialist revolutionary program from its principles and gradually abandoning the socialist revolutionary programme embedded in the party’s Policy Declaration. The JVP made a retrospective self-criticism for Party’s entrapment in class collaboration and Nationalism in 2010. Even though this was done by holding a general convention of the Party and proposed by the majority of the membership, the Party leadership became an obstacle to set the Party’s future program; hence this developed into a constitutional and organisational crisis within the party rank and file. The conspiratory strategy of the party’s few bigwigs became the most recent reason for the major split.
THE REASON FOR THE FRONTLINE SOCIALIST PARTY CAME INTO BEING
The Frontline Socialist Party came into being through JVP internal political struggle and as a direct outcome of the special party convention held in September 2011. The Frontline Socialist Party was officially inaugurated at the First Party Convention in April 2012 as the Sri Lankan brigade of world Socialist Revolution.
The Jana Aragala Movement had to fight against massive suppression in the lead up to the creation of the Frontline Socialist Party, and to date, there is no credible news of the involuntary disappearance of two activists, comrade Lalith Kumar Veeraraju and comrade Kugan Muruganandan in December 2011 in Jaffna.
Two political bureau members who were kidnapped by an armed gang before the first party convention were able to escape death narrowly as result of the pressure placed upon for their safe release by national and international leftists, progressive and democratic forces.