By Niel Wijethilaka
It is no secret that the left movement has played a long and very strong role in the politics of our country for at least five decades since the 1930s. The leftist movement played a pioneering role in the struggle to liberate Ceylon from British imperialism.
THE ORIGINAL MOVEMENT OF THE SAMA SAMAJA
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, which was formed after the Suriya Mal movement which started in 1930, was a movement with a clear political agenda. Its founding policies were to liberate Sri Lanka from British imperialism, to achieve full national independence and to nationalize production & and distribution to build a socialist society that was fair to all. Based on that, they also came up with a transitional program that would provide relief to the suffering people and they organized the people to fight to win them. In fact, the LSSP, which led the oppressed masses in the urban working class, including the plantation sector, with the aim of launching a revolutionary war against the imperialist war, inevitably became the leader of the anti-imperialist struggle. Because of this, many sections of the national revival movement that had emerged against imperialism, English domination and missionary education also rallied around the LSSP. It was because of this crucial role played by the LSSP that the British imperialists had to ban the party, and its powerful leaders, such as NM Perera, Colvin R. De Silva, Philip Gunawardena and Edman Samarakkody were imprisoned. There was a strong left movement then that the comrades would break out of the Bogambara prison and come out and flee to India.
The great achievements of the Left Movement in Sri Lanka were later made to improve the living standards of the working people in Sri Lanka, including the plantation workers, to abolish the slave laws imposed on them, to abolish the Kachcheri system, and to win free education and free health care. The left movement was weakened by various divisions and theoretical derailments, but it was not until the 1960s that the left movement became a major factor in determining the country’s political trajectory.
CHANGING THE AGENDA
The post – 1960s period was a period in which the left movement became increasingly weak. With the weakening of the class bases of the left movement, the bourgeoisie became a crutch of the bourgeoisie to gain power for one party or another. But even when the LSSP formed a coalition with the SLFP in 1964, it had reformist political agenda. They joined the government on 14 points program me and dreamed of building a socialist society by gradually dissolving the SLFP or bending to their side. To this end, they not only established people’s committees’ workers councils but also made some positive changes in the economy.
THE MODERN LEFT, WHICH BEGAN WITH THE JVP
The JVP, which formed an armed organization with the aim of building a proletarian state against the betrayals of the traditional left, also had some sort of political agenda. J.V.P.’s The original policies were simply anti-imperialist and proposed simple economic reforms, and their agenda was to build a Marxist-style state.
Attempts by the JVP to seize power from two armed insurrections were defeated due to their narrow-mindedness and opportunism, and later as well as the party itself, became a movement to overthrow bourgeois rule. The result was that the role of the JVP in politics today fell to a very low bid. Now everyone is in the same boat. There is no clear appreciation of them in the working class or in the working people. Then, after 63, we saw more left-wing factions entering the political arena through various organizations against the opportunism of the traditional left parties.
In 1963, the Communist Party of Ceylon splitted and the Communist Peking Party was formed under the leadership of Shanmugadasan. When the LSSP joined the coalition in 1964, a significant section of the party withdrew and formed the LSSP (R), which later split into factions such as the NSSP, USP and the Ceylon Socialist Party. In the same way, we can see the Frontline Party, which broke away from the JVP engaging in various political discourses claiming to be left-wing under various names. All of these are often those who believe that the bourgeois rule in Sri Lanka must be overthrown, that the country must be liberated from imperialism, and that the national question between the nations of Sri Lanka must be resolved on the basis of power. Sharing almost all of them are organizations that run their own newspaper and small office but do not have the same number of fingers and not enough membership. All of these people also have international connections to some type of internationals. Those internationals are often as weak as their organizations. Some organizations are similar to the agencies that are maintained in those countries. Due to the weaknesses in the electoral law of Sri Lanka, some of these organizations have become recognized political parties. They do not all have members but nominate candidates for the election. It gives them air time and TV time. In fact, the modern left has become the last opportunist, electoral and political organization created for the survival of itself and a few of its allies. This is extremely unfortunate.
The task of all these is to formulate their own agendas, either individually or separately, according to the agenda of each bourgeois government from time to time. For example, when the government introduced the 20th Amendment, they unanimously opposed it. They are tempted to stand in line with any reactionary who opposes the 20th Amendment and shout for democracy. This reflects the failure of working people to put forward an alternative policy and program that is necessary to change the existing social system or build an alternative social system with a socialist outlook. That is why the people have no result from their campaigns. It is the ultimate right-wing forces that will benefit from the agenda of each faction. Unless the Left presents itself with an independent program to build an alternative force, the masses will inevitably fall prey to the bourgeoisie again and again. This is the tragedy of the modern left today.