A successful strategy for the Opposition will have to contain three components: a lucid grasp of present oppositional realities and past errors, the ‘best practices’ of Oppositions – and comebacks in pertinent/related fields of endeavour—in the island’s contemporary history, as well as the best practices of Oppositions in contemporary world politics.
‘Facts as They Are’ was the translation of the title of a booklet (‘Athi Thathu’) authored by R. Premadasa, aged 31, and published by MD Gunasena in 1955. Taking a cue from him, facts should be grasped not as one thinks or wishes they are, but as they really are.
The Opposition has to grasp that what has taken place in 2019-2020 is not a ‘wave’ as in 2015, which will inevitably flow back. It is not a mood, though it partly is. It is an existential decision, though not all of it is. It is a tectonic shift in Sinhala-Buddhist and probably pan-Sinhala consciousness, which will never return to 2015, even in the direst economic circumstances, just as Russia will never go back to the Gorbachev-Yeltsin 1990s.
The shift is not basically a matter of ethno-religious chauvinism—that is the dark, toxic froth; the excrescence. Beneath the chauvinist excrescence, it is basically a matter of political nationalism, reacting (as Russians did) to a perceived weakening of the state through neoliberal reform. Nationalism is defensive and legitimate, while chauvinism is aggressive, offensive.
In 2018-9, the Alt-Right axis, namely Viyath Maga-Eliya-Yuthukama and the local FOX News, distorted and diverted the populist-nationalism of the 2015-2017 MR/JO surge, pumping in toxicity (from ‘infertility pills’ to ‘Dr. Shafi and The Tying of the Fallopian Tubes of 4000 Sinhala Women’). ‘Radio Bemba’-type propaganda was spiked with ‘instinctual fascistic’ messaging and personality cult-building (as US critics say of FOX and the ‘Trump cult’).
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