Betrayal Of The Workers
May Day is a day dedicated to the workpeople throughout the world. Thus there is no better occasion than this, to examine the reasons that has led to the downfall of communism, which created the workers’ dream of the so called dictatorship of the proletariat or a workers’ and peasants’ state which never saw the light of day.
Emergence of Communism
The exploitation of the people by the rulers gave room for the birth of communist rule. Communist inspired revolutions were made possible in Czarist Russia, Kuomingtang China and later in Batistas’ Cuba where suppression and oppression of the people existed. Communism spread and was able to cover ground due to the failure on the part of the politicians who. ruled to cope with the economic, social and political problems confronting them. The failure of the political elite to live upto the peoples’ expectations provided a good breeding ground for communism. The denial of workers’ rights, the misery and hardships heaped on the people, suppression of human rights and liberties helped communism, so much so, that at one stage, the “spectre” of Communism came to haunt the whole world.
Today communism is facing extinction. It has been already swept away from a large number of countries whilst in others it is being deserted by its followers. Where the communist parties exist, the party membership has dwindled.
The debacle, communism is facing is due to the imposition of tyrannical rule over the peoples that crushed human dignity. Communism in action worked against everything it professed to safeguard including working class rights. The Communist led down every social group which expected a better deal under their rule. The Communists in fact by theifown actions engineered the downfall of communism.
The workers were made to believe that it will be the working class that will be the real ruler in a communist state. The opposite happened. The Communists once in power proceeded to deny the rights that the workers even enjoyed.
Trade Unions were turned into state organs for the purpose of attaining economic strength and defence of communism and the communist state. The trade unions were not there to detetmine labour policy, working conditions and wages but to implement decisions made by the communist party and the higher authorities – bureaucrats. Genuine collective bargaining ceased to exist.
Grievance handling or redress of grievances were through hierachial channels of the administration which process was laborious, subject to long delay and was seldom satisfactory or fair.
A strike in a plant or industry was considered as a strike against the Government and was illegal.
The salary structure was not as fair and just as proclaimed in communist dogma. Top government officials, members of the armed services, film stars and such cadres fell into the grade of the social elite and received much higher salaries and pensions than the other workers. The so-called equalitarianism in the wage system became conspicuous by its absence.
Worker participation or workers having a say in running the workplace was something that communists advocated but was never implemented, once in power. What they did was to make the workers to be tools in the hands of the `political’ managers who were in turn tools in the hands of the communist party.
Free election to trade union office did not exist. Trade Union officials were nominated by the communist party and held office under the control of the communist party. Trade union officials were not free to look after the interests of the workers.
This betrayal of the workers made them to lose confidence in the communists and communism. Workers resented being mere tools in the midst of a tyrannical system of Government. They wanted to be freed from party control. They wanted their freedom and dignity restored.
Peasants let down
Revolutions were successful in Russia and China, both agricultural based countries, with a large peasantry. Later the communists took power in countries lying close to Russia and China with the support of unsuspecting socialists and trade unionists who were later dumped or exiled.
To come to power the communists promised land to the peasants. In power they took over the lands to form collective farms, abolishing private ownership of agricultural plots or livestock. Towards that end, to get over the opposition from the peasantry, those who offered any resistance were either sent away to far away places or turned over to forced labour camps or were forced to accept the change. The peasant in collective or state farms was transformed to be as any other industrial worker.
Thus the peasants saw their rights and liberties being snatched away. They found themselves in a far worse position than they were in before. The peasants had their dream of a better life shattered under communist rule.
They rose against collective farms with Poland giving the lead. The message reached the peasantry in other communist states.
The communists suppressed all democratic freedoms.
The one party system of Government introduced removed the pe ples’ right to elect a Government of their choice. The people had no choice but to cast their votes unwillin for communist party candidates.
The rule of law was eliminated and totalitarian and authoritarian rule was imposed.
Press freedom was maimed. Freedom of speech and publication was removed. There was no room for the people to choose what they should read or write – limitations were placed on those. The free expression of views was not allowed. Interlectual freedom was suppressed.
All forms of opposition were put down. Anyone critical of communist rule ran the risk of being sent to a forced labour camp or a lunatic asylum, if not eliminated totally.
The suppression of democratic freedoms and human dignity was the turning point for communist dogma. That emerged as the rope which supported the hanging of communism, similar to the rope which supports the condemned person who is hanged.
One lesson to be drawn form the communist debacle is that economic and military power built up for the mere survival of the ruling clique will not last.
Such power will be temporary.
The oppression of the people will not be long lasting. The masses will one day rise against the oppressors. It has been so in the communist world Islamic authoritarian countries and capitalist dictatorships and that will catch up in other countries as well, where one party system of the Government operate or democratic freedoms are curtailed.
However, unless the reasons that led to the emergence of communism are successfully tackled and eliminated, there is no guarantee that a much worse form of facism, taking cover under peoples frustration and dissatisfaction, will not surface.
Communism has declined. Capitalism is losing its rigidity, and has accepted social welfare policies and workers’ rights. Socialism embraces civil liberties, human rights and democratic freedoms of thought and association.
A start should therefore be made to use the present favourable situation to move towards social democracy that will lead the peoples on the path towards Social Justice, which in turn will help to usher in an era of peace and prosperity for all alike.
The German Socialist, Edward Bernstein wrote: “ I cannot believe in a final goal of socialism, but I strongly believe in the socialist movement, in the forward march of the working class, which must work out its own salvation, step by step by changing society from the domain of a commercial, land owning oligarchi into a real democracy guided by the interests of all those who work and create”.
This should serve as a guide to the workpeople.
By Upali S. Jayasekera.
Buddhist Temples And Wesak Celebrations
The Honourable Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne while speaking to a delegation on the subject of religious conversions had emphasized to enhance religious programmes to face the unethical conversion practice. It is pertinent that on the subject of religious practices the Ministry of Buddhist Affairs investigates the poya day money making practices adopted by a few temples and fleecing the moderate income earner. For the forthcoming Wesak Poya, a temple situated in the south of Colombo has requested the people of the area to contribute over rupees sevenn lacks among them to conduct a puppet show costing Rs.200,000/; Bakthi Gee Rs. 150,000/; Lanterns 150,000/ and for many other expenses.
It is such un-Buddhistic ussawaya conduct of a few temples ant not having pinkama atmosphere and conduct that pave the way for conversion and create an image of ceremonial functions in a few temples. On the Wesak Poys day the temples should organize dana, sila and bavana campaigns and considering the New Year expenses requests for such puppet shows funds should not have been collected and people with reluctance contribute. A news item reveled that a temple in remote are had constructed a house in a temple property for the parents of a girl who had displayed athletic or educational success.
The Ministry of Buddhist Affairs should intervene to stop the collection and the puppet show.
An Open Letter To The Saudi Ambassador In Sri Lanka
On the 3rd of this month there were some handwritten posters pasted on the walls of Penideniya, near Kandy where people have lived in friendship and harmony for decades, but surprisingly the posters read
“Muslim anthawadhaya hela dhakimu, Muslim anthawadiyin thawath kanthawak marala”
“Down with Muslim extremism, Muslim extremist have murdered another innocent woman”
Reason for the appearance of the poster was the death of a Sri Lankan housemaid named Minoli Dharmasena aged 24 years, from Kosgama. She was the mother of a 2 ½ year old child, and was dropped from the 4th floor of a building in Saudi Arabia according to Sri Lankan media. The entire world mourns and condemns such tragic incidents as these are innocent poor folk who sacrifice everything and go in search of mostly menial employment in order to improve their living conditions at home. Several such incidents are reported in the media very often.
When tragic incidents like these happen in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia, it brings shame and disrespect in particular to the followers of this great religion Islam that is mainly based on love, brotherhood and equality. The public mostly question as to why there are no responses from the host countries regarding the reported tragedies and incidences. There are over 700,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Middle East. Most of them have improved their conditions at home and remember the generous qualities of their employers. Naturally the few tragic incidents get the highlight.
What are the true facts of this incident? Is it not the duty of the Saudi Ambassador in Sri Lanka, as a follower of Islam to ensure that the truth is revealed to the Sri Lankan public? Furthermore in adhering to Islamic law and upholding Islamic values, justice must be done to the victim’s family. In the case of Rizana Nafeek the Sri Lankan Housemaid in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Law has been strictly applied. Similarly in this case too should not the perpetrators be investigated and dealt with under the same law? Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran “if a person has taken the life of another person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the whole of humanity”. Furthermore The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said “pay your worker before his sweat dries, and feed your servant of the same food that you consume and provide them with equal clothing”.
This plea is for the Saudi Ambassador as the representative head of his country, and the personnel of the Saudi Embassy to comment and act on the above incident which will help to quell the widely prevailing negative impressions. As Muslims, in order to uphold the truth, integrity and equality that Islam stands for, we request that justice be done and relief be given to the victim’s family for all the trauma and suffering they are undergoing. If not there is no doubt that you will confer on yourselves the wrath of Almighty Allah and surely be answerable in the hereafter on the Day of Judgement for all your actions regarding this matter.
S. I. M. Khaleel
Retired Health Education Officer,
Retired quazi. 33/A, Hendeniya, Peradeniya.
Vehicle In Loading At Hambantota-not Justified
The real reason behind Govt’s decision to use Hambantota port to unload vehicles is pretty obvious, whatever other reasons it has given, and may give. It is obviously an attempt to make that port less of a`white elephant’ than it is now. I say this despite still being a backer of the UPFA Govt, although disillusioned somewhat by some aspects of its record to date.Has the Govt considered the extra costs the vehicle trade, as well as buyers will incur as a result? The need for several trips up and down, to H’tota from Colombo and other cities that mayshould be obvious. The extra and unnecessary toll of the roads to and fro, of wear and tear of thevehicles used therefore, time wasted in travelling that far and back, the extra expenditure onfuel, thereby involving additional incurring of foreign exchange, possible need for demurragepayment by the trade/buyers etc,etc that may be entailed clearly reveals the idiocy of thismove.
It may also be ` a penny-wise,pound-foolish’ move in the mid/long term, considering that the visible and invisible costs that would be incurred , as mentioned above, may exceed the income that H’tota will get. And what about more Tsunamis or Tsunami alerts in the future, which cannot be ruled out, resulting in hold ups in unloading. Colombo is much safer in that respect.
The reason for the move ostensibly is the possibility of quicker unloading when ships are held up outside Colombo harbour for one reason or other.How often does this happen? Possibilities of unloading in Colombo being manouevred for that purpose? So the SLPA Chairman’s grounds for the H’tota move are untenable, perhaps bogus in fact.
Govt must reconsider and cancel this H’tota arrangement for its economic unjustifiability.
Archdiocesan Social Communication & Cultural Centre
It is not a secret that since the 1970’s Governments, political parties, terror groups that took to arms, etc., dealt with persons who were of a different thinking and view point by abducting and making them disappear. And at times, the dead bodies of such persons were openly exhibited in public places too. In the 80’s and 90’s this took a more serious turn. Even persons of differing political orientations or leaders of the underworld were made to disappear or eliminated in the process.
To these crimes could also be added those victims of the Sinhala or Tamil terrorist groups. It has to be accepted that there have been in general no proper inquiries conducted into some of these political assassinations. Among those that were eliminated in this manner one could count different Tamil and Sinhala politicians. No proper investigation had been conducted into these crimes and those responsible adequately brought to justice. Of late too we have been learning of abductions and disappearances of persons of the underworld who are no doubt a problem to the custodians of the law. Yet, no one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. At times it is known that the threat of abduction seems to be directed also at people of differing political views. Such abductions and disappearances are caused also because of competition and hatred among rival underworld gangs. Making a person disappear simply because he holds a different political view or is a gangster cannot be condoned in a democracy. Every such enforced disappearance of a person is an abuse of human dignity. No religious system would accept it. If a person has gone against the law of the land, he/she must be dealt with through the police or courts and any alternative course of action in such cases is unjust. Yet, today thereseems to be people who think that such an alternative course of action is justifiable. This is a very serious situation.
These abductions and disappearances are not at all in keeping with our country’s religious ethos. The environment of mayhem that began in the 1970’s has aggravated so much to date, that some tend to think that such a practice is necessary in order to overcome it. Yet, it is clear that law and order in human society have to be maintained through principles of justice and fair play only. It is not in keeping with human dignity to act contrary to the above. We cannot accept such thinking at all.
Therefore we call upon all those. responsible and the general citizenry to ensure that such abductions and disappearances are stopped forthwith.
S Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith