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Facilitating global capitalism

by Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne

(August 29, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
A daily paper of 16 August reported in its front page “Sri Lanka has stepped into an industrial economy from the long existing agricultural economy with the construction of the Hambantota harbour which paves the way to an industrial revolution in the country,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. He made these comments at the water filling ceremony of the new Hambantota International Harbour. President Rajapaksa said the new era of economic progress under the emergence of an industrial economy would double the per capita income of Sri Lanka to US$ 4,000 from the current US$ 2,000.” We heard similar utterances three decades ago, when JR Jayewardena started the present open economic policy.

Open economy

We were told that the introduction of the open economy; the implementation of the mega multi -purpose projects - the Mahaveli and Victoria Dams; the investment promotion zones (or the Free Trade zones), the urban development schemes and other projects to come, will surge the country into a developed state. But to the best of my knowledge Mahinda did not believe all that. In fact even when Ranil was the prime minister under President Chandrika, Mahinda was with us on the streets campaigning to protect national resources and human rights from this devilish neo liberal economic scheme. In fact I posed the question “why Mahinda who is a powerful figure close to Chandrika does not raise this matter at the power centre?” I was told that tactically he was waiting for an opportunity to take power; then he will rise up against the enslavement to neo liberal policies of global capitalism. Many communists, Sama Samasamajists and socialists really believed that Mahinda would take a radical path once in power. Many of them today must be embarrassed to admit that the speech made by Mahinda marks a radical turn towards the worst end of neo liberalism. The fact that the loan has come from China and also that the construction was given to a Chinese firm does not put the project outside the domain of neo-liberal capitalism. Of course the government says “It is a total myth to say this is going to be a Chinese port, for the simple reason the Chinese firms, China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. and Sino Hydro Corporation, have only been contracted to build it on a US$ 307 million loan provided by the China ExIm Bank. Beyond that, everything is in our hands, including much of the planning and supervision of the project. Once the project is completed, it will be entirely under the SLPA. There will be no Chinese say in the harbour, once it is completed.” It will not be a Chinese port; but certainly it will be an important harbour of global capitalism and the grip of MNCs on our economy will increase many fold. International debt will grow to increase our enslavement. I explained earlier, in this column, how the system of western imperialism has been superseded by the matrix of global capitalism; and China today is very much a part of it. In fact, China as a member of G-20 and played a significant role in the programme of the multilateral agencies to counter the global economic crisis.

Mahinda has enrolled himself to the group who believes that a programme to facilitate activities of global capitalism; a system that is struggling to get out of a serious crisis; creator of massive environmental disasters, is the only path to salvation! These people argue that the only path to acquire modern technology and to get the benefits of electronic and information revolution is to integrate with the MNCs system. Is this correct? Is technology unidirectional and guided by an unalterable imperative? History does not show that.

Greco-Roman states

Humans turned to iron implements around 2000 BC. Power of iron changed the neolithic existence of humans, as the production increased sharply with new implements.Within a very short time in Europe the society changed from matriarchal commune to Greco-Roman states based on slavery. The new civilization was based on inhuman use of human labour; the beginning of exploitation. However the same thing did not happen in Asia though iron was used in India and China at the same time. Aryan ideology base on division and discrimination among humans penetrated the western civilization, but it was defeated in the east by Buddhism and Jainism. Buddhism in particular was able to revive the matriarchic tradition of Indus valley civilization and stress strongly the equality of man.

This led to the continuation Asiatic social system in spite of introduction of iron/steel technology. "In Buddhism we have a religion which draws most of its inspiration from the Indus Valley religion, the ideas of renunciation, meditation, karma and rebirth, ultimate liberation - ideas which were important to the Indus Valley Civilization. The Buddha Himself indicated the Indus Valley origins of His tradition when He said that the path which He taught was an ancient path and the goal to which He pointed to was an ancient goal. We also have a Buddhist belief in six Buddhas prior to the Buddha Shakyamuni within this aeon. All these point to continuity between the tradition of the Indus Valley Civilization and the teachings of the Buddha. If we look at Buddhism and Hinduism we will find a greater or lesser proportion of elements taken from either of the two traditions of the Indus Valley Civilization and Aryan Civilization. For instance, if we look at Buddhism, the greater proportion was taken from the Indus Valley Civilization religion, a lesser proportion from the Aryan tradition. That is why we find mention of the Aryan gods in Buddhist scripture, though their role is peripheral, an example of an Aryan element in the Buddhism tradition. On the other hand, if we look at some schools of Hinduism, we find a greater proportion of elements taken from the Aryan tradition and a lesser proportion from the Indus Valley Civilization. We find caste emphasized, the authority of the revealed scripture of the Aryans - the Vedas - emphasized and sacrifices emphasized. Alongside, we find a place made for renunciation, meditation, karma and rebirth." In fact Marx in Das Capital shows his surprise, how the organic village commune survived in India and the east, though various armies and rulers changed hands, the power at the top of the political set up remained.

So we see that while Europe trod the path of class struggle, the whole of Asia continued in a different tradition; yet we are in the same integrated system now. Time has come to challenge again the sick system that presses us to follow the path of self annihilation. Clearly Global capitalism and neo liberalism is not the path forward.

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