Brian Victoria, in Buddhistdoor.net … where the title reads as “Nationalism: Collective Selves and the Promise of Buddhaland”
In a recent lecture on the war in the Ukraine, John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, noted that nationalism is the strongest ideology in the world today. I was somewhat surprised by his comment because, having lived through the Cold War era, anything having to do with Russia was framed in the ideological context of “the struggle of the Free World or democracies against Communist dictatorship,” and so on. Yet, on reflection, I realized that with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia had reverted to a capitalist state, even if now authoritarian or autocratic. Thus, Mearsheimer’s identification of nationalism as a key factor behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not as surprising as it initially seemed.
Buddhist monks protest against aid for Rakhine’s Rohingya Muslims. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun. From reuters.com
Mearsheimer’s insight led to a new line of enquiry on my part. As a Buddhist, I had long asked myself, without finding a satisfactory answer, what is the relationship, if any, of the Buddhadharma with nationalism?
Rajan Philips, in Sunday Island, 31 October 2021, where the title reads “One Country, One Law. What is it? Why now?”
The gazette announcement that Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera will be heading a new Presidential Task Force to study “the implementation of the concept, One country; One law, and prepare a draft Act for the said purpose,” was more befuddling than it was shocking or infuriating. “It defies comprehension,” said The Island editorial on Thursday. Many also found the announcement somewhat hilarious while mindful of its ominous implications. The hilarity stems from this government’s seemingly unlimited capacity to be ridiculously irrational in political tactics, even as it is utterly incompetent on matters of policy. Comprehending the government’s actions is not the problem. Fathoming how far the consequences of those actions will go and how damaging they will be to the public good is the challenge.
Kanishka Jayasuriya,in East Asia Forum, 27 November 2019, where the title reads “The Sri Lankan election and authoritarian populism” … with highlights initiated by The Editor, Thuppahi
The election on 16 November 2019 of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa — the brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa — ushers in an authoritarian populist regime that upholds a form of ethno-religious nationalism.The foundation of such a regime is in the new bourgeoisie that has emerged over the last two decades.
THESE are Email Exchanges amongst Personnel in the Rajeewa Jayaweera Circle — mostly hostile to the messy politics of the Yahapaalana Era, 2015-19 …. with highlighting emphasis being the imprint of The Editor, Thuppahi
A = Prithi Perera to the Jayaweera Circle, 21 November 2019
Thank you Rajeewa for the most useful tabulation. Much pains taking and time would have gone into it.
The following are my observations;
Nearly 60%-70% of the Sinhala Majority Votes in the South were with GR and 80% -90% of the Tamil/Muslim Minority Votes in the North East of SL were with Sajith. This shows an obvious polarization of society in Sri Lanka, between the south and the north/east, between the Sinhala majority in the South and the Tamil/Muslim minorities in the North/East. The 30 year war where the wounds seem not to have healed as yet and the 21 April 2019 Easter Bombings have also given added strength to the anti Tamil/Islam lobbies. This can be adduced to be the reasons for the further accentuation of the extremist lobbies supporting the Rajapaksa dynastic politics. They seem to be successfully fanning these extremist elements during given periods, particularly when issues in economy and governance appear to go against them if and when they are in power, or when elections are in sight, if they are out of power. Anyone studying these patterns will find them to be more factual than fiction. Unfortunately, we also have some of the clergy making remarks that seem to encourage extremism, like in the case of Gnanasara Thera who has openly said that the BBS movement will be disbanded after the upcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2020 once victory is assured for the Rajapaksa’s.
Iselin Frydenlund** presenting a review article in the Journal of Religion and Violence, Vol. 6, No. 2, 201830 … reviewing Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities: Religious Conflict in Contemporary Sri Lanka. Edited by John Clifford Holt. Oxford University Press, 2016. 254 pp. Hardcover $105.00 /ISBN: 9780190624378. Paperback $35.00 / ISBN: 9780190624385.
Meera Srinivasan, in The Madras Hindu, 28 September 2019, where the title is “When the Saffron Robe has the Final Say”
The recent passing away of a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka and his subsequent cremation in the northern district of Mullaitivu has brought to the fore an old concern — the power wielded by the Buddhist clergy and the impunity shielding them. It wasn’t the monk’s cremation that was the problem, it was the site.
Rajeewa Jayaweera, in Sunday Island, 18 August 2019, where the title reads“The Gotabaya Rajapaksa quandary”
On August 11, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) or Pohottuwa held its inaugural convention at the Sugathadasa Stadium. Former President and current Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), who minutes earlier had been declared leader of the SLPP formally announced its Presidential candidate. As expected, it was MR’s younger brother, a former soldier and onetime Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR). Amidst thunderous applause and fireworks, GR declared, “I love my country, I am proud of my country.” Outlining his vision for the country, he pledged; “I will not allow anyone to interfere with the sovereignty of Sri Lanka” and “I will protect you and your children.”
Hannah Beech, in New York Times,8 July 2019, where the title runs “Buddhists Go to Battle: When Nationalism Overrides Pacifism” …. A call to arms for Sri Lankan monks. Ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar. A Buddhist faith known for pacifism is taking its place in a new age of nationalism
GINTOTA, Sri Lanka — The Buddhist abbot was sitting cross-legged in his monastery, fulminating against the evils of Islam, when the petrol bomb exploded within earshot. But the abbot, the Venerable Ambalangoda Sumedhananda Thero, barely registered the blast. Waving away the mosquitoes swarming the night air in the southern Sri Lankan town of Gintota, he continued his tirade: Muslims were violent, he said, Muslims were rapacious. “The aim of Muslims is to take over all our land and everything we value,” he said. “Think of what used to be Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia. They have all been destroyed by Islam.”
Shamara Wettimuny, in Sunday Observer, 14 July 2019, where the title is “A brief history of anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka”
The recent Easter attacks targeting a number of churches and hotels devastated Sri Lanka. Over 250 people were killed, and many more injured. Within days of the attack, it emerged that the perpetrators of the attack were affiliated to radical Islamist groups in Sri Lanka. However, the identification of the perpetrators as ostensibly adherents of the Islamic faith opened the floodgates of discrimination and violence against the broader Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
Whenever there’s a terrorist attack anywhere, I pray that Muslims weren’t involved. And if they are, I cross my fingers and wish none of them were Pakistanis. In the horror stories emerging from Sri Lanka, I seem to have got my second wish. However, this is scant consolation for the mayhem unleashed by a little-known Islamist group, the National Towheed Jamaath (NTJ), backed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.