Category Archives: Left politics

The Ethics of History: Discussion to be built upon Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington’s Lecture

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington to speak on THE ETHICS of HISTORY and thus promote a Live Discussion, 14 April 2021, courtesy of Merton College, Oxford

Since the pandemic began, we have adapted our events programme to move online, and we are pleased to announce that our next 40 Years Series online lecture, a part of our Merton Women: 40 Years celebrations, will be airing live at a time more suitable for our alumni in Asia, Australasia and the Pacific.

Hughes-Warrington & Irene Tracey

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The Western Bloc vs China in Clash of Giants: A Veteran Lankan Leftist Speaks

Lakshman Gunasekara**

“I am NOT interested in Western anti-Chinese conspiracies, having been familiar with them all my Left activist life since 1974. My interest is (as a good Communist) in the internal problems faced within China and grappled with by the Communist regime there – including the Han ethnocentrism, the anti-Uighur AND anti-Tibetan racism, the huge social problems faced by the intricately managed, partial transition to the capitalist market and, by the new class relations that the CCP must manage with the rise of private capital. So, I repeat my request that if you do come across such studies, please do point me to them. Not this stuff which is as old as the Cold War.

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Addressing Diversity. Six Sri Lankan Scholars in ICES Webinair Lecture Series

A WEBINAR SERIES,  18 November to 9 December 2020
These six webinars explored the challenges that we face in learning about and engagingwith the past in multi-religious, multi-ethnic contexts. This webinar series was presented in collaboration with the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung…….
…. Herstory-History-Ourstory  ….. Click here to watch all the webinars, or on each topic to watch the individual webinars.

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Fidel Castro’s Visit to Harlem New York: The Political Ramfications Deciphered

Thomas Meaney, in London Review of Books, Vol. 43 No. 3 · 4 February 2021: reviewing book by Simon Hall entitled Ten Days in Harlem: Fidel Castro and the Making of the 1960s, September 2020, 
Faber, 276 pp., £17.99, 978 0 571 35306 4

It would hardly​ be possible, Eric Hobsbawm once said, to imagine rebels better designed to appeal to the New Left than Castro and his comrades. Despite occasional sneers from Third World elders (Nasser dismissed them as ‘a bunch of Errol Flynns’), Western liberals were just as infatuated as radicals. The New York Times published an admiring three-part profile of Castro from his hideout in the Sierra Maestra in 1957, when he was still a revolutionary newt. Two years later, after his forces swept through the lowland cities, triggering a series of popularly assisted uprisings that shattered the sclerotic regime of Fulgencio Batista, adulation came from all quarters: letters of congratulation from US congressmen, rights requests from Hollywood, invitations to ‘Dr Castro’ to address Ivy League undergraduates. ‘My staff and I were all Fidelistas,’ the Cuba desk officer of the CIA recalled.

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The Murder of Lional Silva by the JVP in 1984

Sanjeewa Karunaratne, whose favoured title is  “Stories from Sri Lanka’s Civil War – Lional Silva

During 1984-89, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (“JVP”) or People’s Liberation Front launched a clandestine attack against the Government of Sri Lanka. Since its fighters were mingling among the public, the military and its militia groups were struggling to cope with this invisible enemy. As a result, spies were everywhere—one wrong word, move or contact may bestow a gruesome death on top of a burning tire. It may be an “in-kind” response to the JVP, whose piece of paper was enough to close down an entire city; and who did not hesitate to execute a school principal, government servant, singer, politician, or an ordinary person who disobeyed their orders, in front of their loved ones. It was a crisis of epic proportions and a very uncertain time in the country.

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Tamara’s Biography from Her Pen in Answer to Wikileak Twists

Tamara Kunanayakam, with black highlights being her para headlines and the others my imposition as Editor, Thuppahi

Dear All,

This is in response to Hiran Cooray and extracts he posted about me from Wiki[eaks]. I would like to make the following corrections and clarifications.

On my family: I was born in Nuwara Eliya (not Colombo), where my father, as a government servant, had been posted. As an active member of the GCSU, he spent his working life as a government servant being transferred from one ‘punishment station’ to another for his trade union activities. In 1947, as Colombo leader of the GCSU (with TB Illangaratne as its President then), he led the Colombo walk-out that led to Sri Lanka’s first General Strike, (Sri Lanka was(then “Ceylon” and still under British colonial rule). Because of his eternal transfers (Polonnaruwa, Matale, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya …), until he took early retirement and began working full time training trade unionists, we all lived literally out of our suitcases with my brother and I in boarding school in Colombo. Continue reading

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In Appreciation of Malathi de Alwis: Such An Untimely Death

   ONE — A Letter in Sadness from Professor Veena Das to Pradeep Jeganathan, January 2021

First of all, I want to convey my sadness and my gratefulness and to some extent my rage that this has happened and that I will never see that radiant smile and that integrity and brilliance anymore. Any such death at my stage of life makes me angry and sorrowful as to why the young are being taken. The war undid so many of us in so many ways and why would it not do that? So what kind of miracle is it that Malathi let herself be deeply affected by the war but not be undone by it? You must know that I loved her work and her personality just as I love your work and know what struggles you have been through.

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For Lanka’s Future and Serenity: Skanda’s Appeal from the Heights of Haputale

Somasundaram Skandakumar …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

A path to prosperity for Sri Lanka will ONLY evolve when the majority community that so passionately talks about Buddhism have it in them to abide by Lord Buddha’s profound teaching, in their hearts, minds and in Public.

It was the Lord who wished for ALL beings to be happy. It was the same Lord who said that when ALL beings are happy, nature will smile on the Country and prosperity will be assured from the ensuing blessings.

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Dissecting the Federal Option for SL Tamils in 2005 — An Important Appraisal

  Gerald Peiris, whose original refereed essay in 2005 in Faultlines, Volume 17, Journal of the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi …. is entitled “Federalism and the ‘Federal Option’ for Sri Lanka” ….. Its Table of Contents is reproduced at the end of this presentation.

On Federalism as a Modality of Conflict Resolution

“The successful operation of federal systems requires a particular kind of political environment, one that is conducive to popular government and has the requisite traditions of political cooperation and self-restraint.  Beyond this, federal systems operate best in societies with sufficient homogeneity of fundamental interests to allow a great deal of latitude to local government and permit reliance upon voluntary collaboration.  The use of force to maintain domestic order is even more inimical to the successful maintenance of federal patterns of government than to other forms of popular government.  Federal systems are most successful in societies that have the human resources to fill many public offices competently and the material resources to afford a measure of economic waste as part of the price of liberty”.

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Bonapartist Autocracy in Sri Lanka from 1977 Onwards

Uditha Devapriya who notes that the article that followw here was published in two parts by “The Island” in its “Midweek Review” of December 2 and December 9, 2020. It has since  been edited to incorporate information which at the time of writing the author was not able to add.

 Napoleone di Buonaparte

I: Viewed in retrospect, the yahapalanaya regime seems almost a bad memory now, best forgotten. This is not to underrate its achievements, for the UNP-SLFP Unity Government did achieve certain things, like the Right to Information Act. It soon found out, however, that it couldn’t shield itself from its own reforms; that’s how 2015 led to 2019. Despite its laudable commitment to democratic rule, the yahapalanists reckoned without the popularity of the man they ousted at the ballot box. November 2019, in that sense, was a classic example of a populist resurrection unparalleled in South Asia, though not in Asia: a government touting a neoliberal line giving way to a centre-right populist-personalist.

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