There is an offensive known as ‘The Agenda’ – to replace the call for more representative rule (by cultivators, workers) with, at first unelected NGOs, and then more corporate rule.
• False Nationalism, False Internationalism is a famous underground treatise exposing so-called radicalism of the 1960s. To this, ee could pen: ‘False nationalism, False Industrialization’: Alongside the wail against import restrictions, is the headlining of various one-shot inventions, which we never ever hear about again.
Then there are the promises about various products, from pharma to rubber tyres etc, going to be made here. The government expects private businesses to initiate production, when 100 years and more of appeals to them have failed miserably.
Business folk are simply making ‘easy profits’ through various ‘rentier’ means: worker trafficking, drugs, luxury imports, real-estate, etc. Why should they exercise their minds and bodies anew for long-term gain. How much of their profits has Indian-stolen CEAT or Belgian Loadstar invested in making the parts of machines that make their tyres right here, or invested in their workers to learn such skills of making machines?
• Handloom is heavily import-dependent on South Indian yarn, with weaving and dyeing machines and parts – power looms, dyes, healds, reeds, shuttles and pirns all imported. There are also fewer loom makers, with timber too expensive.
In the 1970s handloom was considered an interim measure, with planned conversion to power-looms, especially in co-ops. Handlooms target high-value ‘ethnic’ creations, but all too often the cash ends up in the hands of the middleman.
So what happened to the National Textile Corporation and the spinning and weaving mill in Veyangoda of the 1950s, and to other such mills? Created to supply the bulk of the cloth people wear, at reasonable prices. They are now ruined by foreign-owned MAS, Brandix etc who run the apparel ‘industry’.
• Anyone who promotes ‘handicrafts’ must investigate why artisans’ children refuse to continue the tradition, which remains low-waged, strenuous, socially stigmatized. In most industrial countries, ‘handicraft’ is now a highly machine-crafted product. Why, with greater educational opportunities, do young people try to escape the stigma of manual labor by escaping to clerical jobs in the cities? Some workers pretend to be working in supermarkets or factories, not as cleaners and caregivers. Is the allure of trishaw-driving partly due to this lack of the dignity of labor?
The legacy of English colonialism and the rentier class that dominated the economy, meant the white man here could not be seen to do physical work. They promoted a profligacy, recalled in the Sinhala saying, “To spend like a white man”. What dominates is a consumer culture of “wine, women and song”, with no sense of what a producer culture of machines, science, technology means.
• The Canadian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, David McKinnon is busy “sweeping through Ampara, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa” to meet Tamil and Muslim political leaders. What else is new?
“By US law, Canada is part of the US military-industrial complex,” states Canada’s Deputy PM and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. When Freeland was first named Foreign Affairs Minister, a US State Department memo revealed their opinion that it showed Canada adopting an “America First foreign policy”. Why don’t we adopt a Sri Lanka First policy? (see ee Sovereignty)
• This whole NGO and ‘civil society’ business, along with privatization, deregulation, liberalization, etc, is a corporatist dagger slashing at industrial renaissance in our world, which needs the protection of a strong state. Instead, howls about ‘despotism’, ‘autocracy’, etc – racialized imperialist tropes – abound.
This offensive is known as ‘The Agenda’ – to replace the call for more representative rule (by cultivators, workers) with, at first unelected NGOs, and then more corporate rule. After all, corporations are non-governmental too, ain’t they?
• Wijeya Group Financial Times’ beloved economist, WA Wijewardena, says in the first 7 months of 2020, the government and government corporations have borrowed Rs2,000 billion from the Central Bank and commercial sources, while the private sector has borrowed Rs454 billion. WAW does not state how much of this money borrowed by governments has ended up in the pockets of private banks and companies? How much laundered through tax-hideouts Panama, Cayman, how many in condos and organic restaurants, drugs, etc?
• Many hotels and restaurants are almost empty, yet there’s a proliferation of ‘niche’ luxury restaurants. They hype ‘organic’ foods with unpronounceable ‘exotic’ European names at ginormous price. This ee Business section also notes an increasing number of lawsuits related to real-estate, as the construction market caves in. Yet, condos keep blocking out the skies. Observers claim they are ‘laundries’ for drug profits and other undeclared funds, from privatizing public assets, bribery, tax avoidance etc. Such easy money seeking easy returns rarely bodes well, preventing investment in long-term plant and equipment.
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