Category Archives: Left politics

French Revolutionary Songs …. Marchons! Marchons!

 Satyajith Andradi, in Island, 12 July 2019, with this titleLa Marseillaise And L’internationale – Revolutionary Songs From France”

 “How many on our flesh eat their fill?
But if the ravens, the vultures, One morning disappeared,
The Sun would shine still.” …..
L’Internationale; trans; Michell Abidor

the Storming of the Bastille

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Buddhism over Time in Colonial and Independent Sri Lanka

Abstract of Article by Ananda Abeysekara entitledBuddhism and ‘Influence’: The Temporality of a Concept” Qui Parle, 2019, Vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1-75.

For almost three decades the concept of “Protestant Buddhism” has been the object of critique by numerous scholars such as John Holt, Charles Hallisey, Anne Blackburn, Erik Braun, Alicia Turner, Steven Kemper, and others. They claim to tell a different story about the relation between religion and modernity (“Protestantism”) in South Asia. By extension, these scholars seek to reconstruct the temporal relation between the past and the present, questioning postcolonial conceptions of history, time, and religious practice. But this story of temporality is staked on the question of “influence,” which has a genealogy that includes not just colonial, missionary, liberal politics but also contemporary legal-political questions about foreign influence on democracy and sovereignty. This article contests the ways in which the critiques of Protestant Buddhism conceptualize colonial and postcolonial forms of time, translated into universal forms of self, agency, responsibility, etc. The article argues that the question of influence, which animates parts of the story of secular ways of inhabiting time, obscures not just how the encounter with the temporality of a tradition is an encounter with power. It obscures how even modern sensibilities of inhabiting time, ironically, require coherence even as they are repeatedly said to be constituted by “heterogeneous” forms of everyday life.

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Remembering SBD de Silva: A Scholar in Every Fibre

Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta, in Sunday Island, 16 June 2019, where the title reads “One Thing Leads to Another – Memories of a Great Guru”

SBD de Silva, at 92, acted like he would live forever. To the very end, he kept drafting in almost imperceptible scribble – with pen or pencil, whatever being handy, glasses falling off his nose, peering over some text or daily/weekly newspaper – filling an A4 until no blank space was left, and then, so as not to break his concentration or the sentence, without looking, reach for another blank…

Like Scheherazade of the 1001 Nights who had to keep narrating to save her life until each dawn, so did SB, by day and by night, keep writing as if fresh insights, expressed in perfect words, would make him immortal. Yet, ambushed he was by impermanence. But such dedication to his craft and to the country was sheer dream to witness, let alone to hope to emulate, yet must be upheld as a beacon of scholarship for future generations.

 SBD de Silva (1926-2018) at a diplomatic reception in the 1950s. His classic, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, tracks our own economic history midst that of the world.

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Tisaranee’s Secularist Thesis is Simplistic

Thank you for forwarding me Tisaranee Gunasekara’s article.

Tisaranee in her analysis cites secularism as a panacea for all the ills that are prevalent in Sri Lanka.….. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/05/16/secular-bulwarks-against-religious-fanaticism-our-urgent-need/#more-35640 I am afraid she is not only misguided, but her anti-Sri Lankan sentiment ignores the fact that many societies in the world that have adopted a secular constitution are in practice the very antithesis of the concept of secularism. You do not need to immerse yourself into Hegelian dialectics to eschew her simplistic approach in the analysis of Sri Lankan society.

I didn’t know secular humanists HAD missionaries!

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Secular Bulwarks against Religious Fanaticism — Our Urgent Need

Tisaranee Gunasekara, whose choice of title has been “Secularism or Faith” — in an article which appeared in Groundviews as well as Sri Lanka Guardian

“And even here

Lies the other shore

Waiting to be reached.”

Tagore (My Reminiscences)

The blue, red, yellow, orange and white lights are on, as are the makeshift stalls selling lanterns. Yet few pause to see, haggle, buy. Vesak, so near chronologically, had never seemed so far away spiritually. After the Easter Sunday Massacre, fears were raised about Vesak too being turned into a bloody spectacle by the IS, working through its local adherents. As it turned out, neither the IS nor its local adherents were necessary to turn Vesak into a season of violence. The Sinhalese managed the task on their own.

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Double Standards among Liberals in the West: No RAGE from Sri Lankan Horrors in Contrast with Reaction to Christchurch

Brendan O’Neill, in Weekend Australian, 27 April 2019, with this title “Hierarchy of Victimhood: The slaughter of Christians elicits grief not outrage “

Where is the anger over the apocalyptic barbarism visited upon Christians in Sri Lanka? Where is the fury? Where are the tweets and blog posts and viral videos offering solidarity to Christians and slamming the bombers as a members of a global fascistic movement? Such wrath has been notable by its absence, or at least its rarity, in the aftermath of the extremist slaughter that killed at least 253 people, the majority of them Christians marking the resurrection of Christ at Easter Sunday ­services.

Yes, there has been sorrow. And there has been some very strong media coverage. People want to know the stories of those who were killed, and feel the pain of the those they left behind. But rage? There has been very little.

A woman is overcome with grief during a funeral for a victim of the Easter Sunday attack on St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Picture: Getty Images Continue reading

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Political Currents and Conflicts in Sri Lanka — Venugopal’s New CUP Book

Benjamin Brown, reviewing Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka by Rajesh Venugopal …. at https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/internationaldevelopment/2018/12/18/book-review-nationalism-development-and-ethnic-conflict-in-sri-lanka-by-rajesh-venugopal/

Dr Rajesh Venugopal’s new book, Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka, offers a fresh look at how colonial legacies, nationalist ideology and discourses of development that have combined to shape the contours of Sri Lanka’s current tumultuous politics.

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