The beginning of a radical democratic movement

| by Vickramabahu Karunaratne

(October 03, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In explaining his theory of Permanent Revolution, Trotsky said, “With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.” Lanka is still underdeveloped and is dominated by the global forces led by the International Monetary Fund, IMF. The grip of the latter has tightened recently and the scenario is quite similar to that of the oppressed countries that Trotsky referred to.

In Lanka the national problem has acquired an overdetermination within the bundle of democratic tasks.
Trotsky continued: “Not only have the agrarian, but also the national question assigned to the peasantry - the overwhelming majority of the population in backward countries - an exceptional place in the democratic revolution. Without an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry, the tasks of the democratic revolution cannot be solved, nor even seriously posed. But the alliance of these two classes can be realized in no other way than through an irreconcilable struggle against the influence of the national-liberal bourgeoisie.”

In Lanka the national problem has acquired an overdetermination within the bundle of democratic tasks. The 18th Amendment, in disregarding the 13th Amendment, has created a virtual dictatorship in the country. However the background for such brutality was created by the chauvinist war against the Tamil nationality. In any case, we are pressed down by the democratic tasks and every socialist should concentrate on the struggle to carry out these democratic tasks. We see that none of the bourgeoisie political camps is in a position to carry out such a struggle.

The Mahinda regime has become a perpetuator of the undemocratic setup and clearly we have to overthrow it, to gain democracy. On the other hand, the UNP is unable to even understand the nature and the complexity of the democratic problem and it merely concentrates on corruption and the 18th Amendment. So we are left with the alternative that Trotsky put forward in an orthodox manner: A movement for democracy and freedom under a proletarian hegemony.

It is in this respect that I believe that the unity we have achieved in the local government elections has a political validity. The Democratic People’s Front led by Mano has roots in the Democratic Workers Congress; a workers’ organization with a plantation worker base. According to Wikipedia, “The Western People’s Front (WPF) currently named the Democratic People’s Front is a political party in Sri Lanka active in the Western Province. WPF was originally a trade union, and then converted into a political party. It draws support from the Tamil population of Colombo. Party leader Manoharan Ganesan (Mano Ganesan) is a former member of parliament, elected on a party ticket. The deputy leader and general secretary of the party is Dr. Nalliah Kumaraguruparan, a well known Tamil Politician for more than two decades. Today this party has one provincial council seat and four municipal council seats, and the party has grown a lot, recruiting more members and supporters.” If we consider a block consisting of the Democratic People’s Front, Nava Sama Samaja Party, United Socialist Party, Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Solidarity, then we could see the beginning of a radical democratic movement with a proletarian hegemony. The results from the oncoming local government elections will tell us how strong we are and how fast we can move.