Sri Lanka: Historic crimes of the chauvinistic left – Defending a Marxist position (parts 3 & 4)

Tamil Tiger women fighters, 2002 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Part 3 The struggle for far sighted Marxist position

I was one of the boys in the car that made its way to the Palali airport in the middle of the night. The other is my brother. It’s unimaginable now what must have been going through my aunt’s mind as she sat in the car with us, making our way to Palali airport in the dead of night. My brother and I, just fourteen at the time, couldn’t comprehend the gravity of the situation. We never had the chance to discuss it further with her, as our time together was cut short. Soon after we left the country, despite her illness, Akila threw herself fully into the local administrative work under the control of the LTTE. At times, she worked with Thamilselvan, the leader of LTTE’s political wing, who was killed by the Sri Lankan army in 2007 in a targeted airstrike. Akila also succumbed to her illness, which deteriorated mainly due to the demands of her work, requiring extensive travel across the North.

I have no recollection of what happened at the military controlled Palali airport. Did Akila come all the way or did she leave us in the car for the army to come and take over? We certainly didn’t say goodbye. By that time, the military had grown accustomed to encountering boys with fearful eyes and emaciated bodies. All I can recall is the sight of fully uniformed military personnel directing us to a small room, their amusement evident through giggles and mocking gestures. We were unable to look around or prepare for the journey, and the military, perhaps foreseeing a potential threat, maintained strict surveillance, forbidding any ‘tourism’ around the airport.

With limited resources and unable to speak any language other than Tamil, Colombo wasn’t exactly a welcoming place for us. Key LTTE leaders and negotiators were accommodated in well-known hotels and looked after by the government at the time. But for those fleeing the impending war, our journey was just beginning. As expected, the conflict erupted soon after the withdrawal of the IPKF following the defeat of Rajeev Gandhi in the 1989 election. Having achieved what they wanted, the administration under V P Singh could not justify the continuation of the military presence in Sri Lanka. They faced high costs to maintain their presence not just in terms of resources but also the continuous loss of military personnel as the LTTE began to intensify its guerilla attacks with the help of the Sri Lankan government. The IPKF’s full withdrawal was completed by March 1990. All the paramilitary forces that operated under their protection also vacated along with them. But just before leaving for India, Varadaraja Perumal, then chief minister who was elected with no votes, unilaterally declared Tamil Eelam. This act of desperation won no sympathy for him or the EPRL that he led, as the atrocities that they committed were still very fresh memories for many. This was widely reported at that time and since and has also been the subject of ridicule. Decades later, after the defeat of LTTE in 2009, he surfaced and gave an interview to Indian media that he never declared Eelam or raised the Eelam flag. Instead, he claimed he “hoisted only the Sri Lankan National Flag and the Provincial Flag”!

President Premadasa, whose strategic collaboration was solely aimed at ousting the IPKF, reneged on his agreements with the LTTE. This betrayal ultimately cost him his life, as an LTTE suicide bomber killed him at a May Day rally in 1993.

By the 1990s, as the battle between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military intensified, the majority of us who had fled to the south had returned to the North, hoping to resume our education. However, a new wave of war swept us back into turmoil, leading us to seek refuge on deserted Delft Island before eventually fleeing to India as refugees. Indian authorities were unable to stem the influx at the time, and while Tamil Nadu offered sympathy and assistance, the conditions in which we were housed were dire. This harsh reality persists to this day, with almost every youngster under constant surveillance or interrogation.

Among those who managed to evade detection were one young man and a woman who meticulously planned a suicide attack on Rajeev Gandhi, the prime minister during the Indian military intervention. Of course they did not do this independently. However the Indian government arrested hundreds who were not linked to this attack, condemning some to life imprisonment. This incident led to heightened discrimination and intimidation against Sri Lankan Tamils by the Indian authorities, driving many to despair and even suicide.

For many of us, the motivation to sacrifice our lives for a cause didn’t stem from political ideology or a clear understanding of social justice. It arose from our lived experiences and the objective conditions we found ourselves in. When faced with a situation where we had nothing left to lose, the drive to make any sacrifice necessary emerged. For many Tamils, joining the LTTE became the only viable option, recruited en masse and further strengthening its military wing. Torture, loss of family members, and persecution drove countless individuals into the LTTE’s fold, a reality that eludes the comprehension of many Colombo and Jaffna liberals and left activists alike.

Among the Southern Sama Samajists, there existed a profound misunderstanding of Tamil militants, their motivations, demands, and the nature of the conflicts they were embroiled in. Even the leader of the NSSP at the time, Vikramabahu Karunaratne, was not exempt from this misconception. While many turned to Sri Lankan nationalism to oppose Indian involvement, Bahu took a starkly different path. Unable to formulate a class-based position to counteract nationalism, he instead chose to support India, arguing that it was a more ‘advanced’ secular regime than the chauvinist, religious based JR regime.

The roots of this stance can be traced back to the early 1980s when Tamil militancy surged. Bahu held a deeply confused perspective on nationality, identity, and the Marxist position. In a statement dated 25 November 1983, entitled ‘Letters to a Tamil Sama Samajist,’ Bahu argued that both Tamil and Sinhalese identities were inherently limited, advocating instead for the promotion of an Indian identity. He labelled Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE, as a terrorist, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the complexities of the armed clashes involving Tamil militants. Bahu supported his argument by saying that “‘even Uma Maheshwaran has been pushed to the position of rejecting Prabhakaran’s mad terror tactics” (Uma was a leader of another militant group – PLOT – which carried out notorious internal killings), showcasing his misunderstanding of the internal dynamics of Tamil militant groups.

In another letter addressed to the international leadership of the CWI, Bahu advocated for the secession of Tamils from Sri Lanka to join Tamil Nadu, India, under the guise of defending Tamil rights. Tamils should “fight for the unification of the entire Tamil nation within a greater Indian republic”. Such a “united greater India”, he argued, will be a “progressive step”. One conclusion he drew from this is cooperation with Indian forces. He argued: “We cannot hesitate but co-operate with Indian forces on a tactical plane.” “If we are to select between Indira and JR naturally, we will be with Indira who still represents the national industrial bourgeoisie in the sub-continent, whereas JR is simply a comprador Don Juan (not the lecher, the prince).” At the same time, Bahu dismissed the concept of Eelam as an “utterly petit bourgeois” notion, believing it was the role of Sama Samajists to combat such trends.

Bahu’s proposition to join India was an entirely novel demand, which existed only in his brain. It had never existed in Eelam Tamil history, except maybe for a few individuals with ties to Indian intelligence agencies. The distinction between Tamil Nadu Tamils and Eelam Tamils remained a myth to Southern Sama Samajists and liberals alike. However, the most concerning aspect of Bahu’s argument was its complete disregard for the struggles of workers, farmers, and youth in India against their own state, including those of the various national minorities.

In response to Bahu’s position, the International Secretariat issued a lengthy statement, explaining the Marxist stance on the national question and highlighting the Indian bourgeoisie’s historic failure to address this. They pointed out: “The incapacity of Indian bourgeois to solve the national question is demonstrated by the manoeuvres and schemes of Indira Gandhi in Kashmir which had produced a revolt by the Kashmiris. Her incapacity to solve the problems of the population is demonstrated also in Assam which has resulted unfortunately in the Assamese turning on the Bangladeshis and Bengalis who have settled in this area. In the Punjab, there is the problem of the Sikhs which the Indian bourgeois and the Congress have shown themselves utterly incapable of solving. In Maharashtra, the communal violence in Mumbai and the areas surrounding it is an attempt to cause a diversion, at the expense of Muslims, to the movement of the masses in Mumbai, which has witnessed one strike after another by the working class during the last period.”

This statement also pointed out that subordinating all national identities under general ‘human identity’ may be possible following the global socialist revolution, but for now, nationalities will not be prepared to submerge their identity in such an Indian identity. Even in India, Tamils are not willing to do it. The international leadership of the CWI took a clear position of no support to either the Indian or Sri Lankan bourgeois and their political representatives. No pandering to Sinhala chauvinist nationalist propaganda or methods of terrorism. They argued for an independent combat socialist organisation to be built to mobilise the workers, farmers, youth and all oppressed across Sri Lanka, while also standing in support of the Tamil demand for the right to self-determination. The document points out: ‘To be affiliated by the prejudices of the past, not to base oneself upon a Marxist analysis of the present epoch and Marxist understanding of the problem of the national-democratic revolution in colonial countries, and to give a fatal support to so-called ‘progressive’ bourgeois of one country or another would be disastrous course to adopt’.

The international leadership also faced huge challenges in the very same period. Not all members of the leadership had clarity on the national question and fell behind in analysing objectively the developing situation worldwide. In the period of 1987-89, the international leadership was united in opposing the deteriorating abstract position that Bahu was developing. But even then, differences in understanding emerged. Ted Grant, a leading member and seen as the theoretical founder of what was known as the Militant Tendency at that time, argued the impossibility of “setting up of new small nations under modern conditions”. Alan Woods, another leader at that time, blindly followed Ted Grant’s position on the National Question. His intervention in Spain to build the forces of CWI was disastrous in relation to the national questions owing to his lack of understanding on this subject. He argued this position even decades after in a meeting in London during the period of horrific war in 2009. For them, the demand for separate Eelam was abstract as it was “too small”. This came from the view they then had in relation to Scotland and Wales. They argued in the ’80s that “the separation of Scotland and Wales from England, for example, would be a catastrophe for the economies of these countries, as well as the struggle for the proletariat for socialism”. 

Of course, this position, an echo of the Stalinist position in reality, was not shared by the majority of the leadership. Peter Taaffe, Tony Saunois, Bob Labi, and Clare Doyle, for example, sharply argued against this position. Peter, who had played an absolutely key role in building Militant (now the Socialist Party) into a substantial force in Britain that won a number of victories, including being a catalyst in ousting Margaret Thatcher, disagreed with the wrong position being advanced. These differences came to a sharp collision by late 1989 and early 1990s, when both Ted Grant and Alan Woods took a position denying that the collapse of Stalinism in the Soviet Union led to capitalist restoration. It was only in 2002 that they felt that they could write in a Prospects for World Revolution document that in Russia, “We have to admit that things have not turned out as we expected a few years ago… The movement towards capitalism has lasted for ten years… Ten years is sufficient time to judge. We have to say that the Rubicon has now been passed. The movement towards capitalism has been contradictory, with many crosscurrents, but after every crisis the process has continued with renewed force.”

Peter Taaffe later reflected on the events surrounding the CWI’s World Congress of 1988. He wrote: “We therefore posed tentatively, too tentatively as it turned out, at the CWI’s World Congress of 1988, the possibility of capitalist restoration in Poland and the rest of the Stalinist world. This was before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, but it was quite evident that there was growing opposition to the Stalinist regimes then. Such a possibility was vehemently denied by Grant. In a lead-off on Stalinism in 1988, I ‘set a hare running’ by posing the issue of bourgeois restoration. This caused a certain amount of controversy at the Congress but Grant, as the so-called ‘leading theoretician’, refused to speak. He confided privately that it was because he disagreed with my lead-off but was not prepared to take the floor to answer it.”

Following these events, Ted Grant and Alan Woods’s faction split from the CWI and formed the International Marxist Tendency, which has since evolved into the Revolutionary Communist International. In the case of this organisation, the name better reflects their positions, which are characterized by opportunist and Stalinist tendencies on various issues. 

After intense debate on Sri Lanka at a CWI School in July 1985, Bob Labi was tasked with writing a reply to Bahu and his supporters. Recognizing the urgency of the debate, Labi departed the venue early to return to London and prepare the document. However, Ted Grant intervened, preventing Labi from completing the task after he began drafting it. Although the document was eventually edited and supplemented by others, it ultimately lacked clarity on several key issues.

Part 4 Defending a Marxist position

Developing a class position in relation to nationalities has remained a crucial aspect of the political programme of the left, one fraught with complications since the inception of the first international. The ability of competing nation-states and the bourgeois class to mobilize on the basis of nationalism has continually posed challenges to establishing class solidarity and breaking the grip of capitalist ideology on the working class. VI Lenin played a significant role in clarifying a Marxist position on this matter during his time with the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). At the 1903 congress of the RSDLP, point 9 of the party’s programme addressed the national question, sparking a heated debate that resulted in numerous clarifications. Since then, various debates and discussions have ensued among the left on this issue, with the Leninist position enduring various historical challenges.

Recognizing the right to self-determination of oppressed nationalities is essential for building a voluntary union of the working class worldwide. It stems from the understanding that united class struggle is the only force capable of achieving maximum unity and opposing all forms of oppression. Mobilizing the working class of all ethnicities, nationalities, and other groups must be based on uniting them against all oppression, rather than selectively choosing which oppressions to address. While certain issues may take precedence and become rallying points, this does not render other issues secondary or ignorable.

Maintaining a Marxist position in opposition to all forms of oppression allows for fighting for the advancement of Sinhala working-class interests while also taking a firm stance on the right to self-determination of Tamils. This demonstrates to Tamil workers, farmers, and youth that Marxist organizations stand in solidarity with them against collective oppression and are committed to advancing their interests alongside all those in struggle. The LSSP initially upheld such a position during its early formation, eventually growing into a mass party that garnered support from workers across all ethnicities. However, the leadership eventually abandoned its internationalist principles and aligned itself with the national bourgeois class. This shift led to the LSSP’s transformation into a parliamentary party and its current role as a cheerleader for chauvinist elements in the country.

When confronted with the rise of the Sinhala nationalist left such as the JVP, the LSSP further leaned towards Sinhala nationalism and supported the bourgeois government’s violent suppression of the JVP. A leading member of the Militant wrote a report for internal circulation under his pen name Stan Roberts in 1977, following his visit to Sri Lanka. He noted: “This (1971 JVP uprising) was put down ruthlessly by the government. The Sri Lankan comrades estimate that something like 6,000 young people were killed. Some were horribly tortured and forced to commit atrocities on one another before being killed by the police and army. The LSSP leaders supported – and remained in the government – which carried out this repression. Indeed, one of the LSSP leaders boasted to me in a discussion I had with him during my visit that in 1971 he had ‘armed the workers’ against the JVP! They criminally deceived their members by picturing the uprising as a ‘CIA Plot’ their favourite charge against anyone who is opposed to them (they now accuse our comrades of being ‘CIA Agents’.”

Today, apart from the USP, none of the parties, including those claiming to be ‘Marxist-Leninist,’ support the Leninist position on the national question. The CWI articulated then and continues to uphold the Leninist position on this issue. What should the JVP, and the entire left have done? Instead of resorting to targeting and killing left activists during the period of 1987-89, efforts should have been made to unite all left parties and unions around a common programme. While complete unity may not have been achievable, collaboration could have been forged on various economic and democratic demands.

Rather than aligning with government forces and sections of the bourgeoisie, an appeal should have been made to build an independent mass force of the working class. Such an appeal should have been extended to workers and workers’ organizations in Tamil Nadu and across India and the region for support and collaboration. This was not a mere abstract notion but a tangible possibility at the time. Mass protests were rapidly gaining momentum in Tamil Nadu, with a significant number of communists, socialists, and left activists participating, including members and some leaders of both communist parties. However, the entire southern left dismissed these protests, not because they viewed it as a ‘Tamil bourgeois nationalist’ movement but also mainly due to their adherence to Sri Lankan nationalism. Unity of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan patriotism became their primary concerns, serving as rallying points.

Marxists should have rejected patriotism and the national bourgeoisie, instead advocating for a campaign with the slogan of no trust in the Sri Lankan or Indian bourgeois class. Supporting Tamil rights to self-determination could have strengthened the call for a united struggle to overthrow the bourgeois elite in Sri Lanka, thereby posing a significant challenge to the Indian capitalist class. However, what transpired was the emergence of two armed groups fighting the same enemy in two different ways: the LTTE, which purported to fight for a socialist Tamil Eelam, and the JVP, which claimed to fight for a socialist Sri Lanka. These groups waged armed resistance against the Indian military but in vastly different ways in a country only ten years earlier renamed the ‘Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’.

Only with clarity among the leadership and a commitment to adopting a Marxist position could a formidable fighting force have been built, not only within Sri Lanka but also incorporating the struggle in Tamil Nadu and beyond. Illusions in the Indian government could not have been exposed by counter-promoting Sri Lankan nationalism and defending the national bourgeoisie.

The LTTE, on the other hand, never appealed to the Sinhala working class. The demand for the right to self-determination of Tamils is not an offensive demand against the interests of Sinhala workers. However, the LTTE lacked a comprehensive programme and strategy to advance the oppressed Tamils’ interests, including their national aspirations. Merely standing firm on the goal of an independent Tamil Eelam was insufficient without a clear strategic political perspective.

Often the question is asked what the LTTE should have done in that complicated juncture where they faced an existential threat. One of the crucial failures of the LTTE was its inability to recognize the role of India. Unlike the new versions of the section of the Tamil elite who happily endorsed the Modi regime in India, the LTTE never gave support to the Indian government. Despite that, they maintained illusions about the Dravidian elite and refused to take a position on the struggles within India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. Though they secretly provided weapon training to a section of Maoists, they maintained that they would not take a position in the ‘internal affairs’ of India or Tamil Nadu. It was at a time when the LTTE and its leadership enjoyed enormous support among all oppressed sections in India. From afar, the LTTE is seen as a beacon of resistance by many. They fail to build on it. They failed to harness this support and channel it into building a strong political alternative.

Instead of succumbing to Indian pressure and demands, including surrendering their weapons, they should have made an effort to join forces with all resistance to the Indian state that was taking place, with the intention of building a strong political alternative. The LTTE and almost all the militant organisations that emerged in the North claim that they are fighting for a socialist Tamil Eelam. However, none had farsighted socialist perspectives. A lack of understanding of the class composition of society, the failure to understand the role of the working class, the inability to see the importance of building international solidarity among workers, and so on, were common features. Hence, they also lacked a clear strategy of how a government of workers and poor could be established. The LTTE failed to see the power in such a political organisation. Instead, they become cannon fodder for the political manoeuvres of the Sri Lankan bourgeois representative whose base relied on the support they harnessed from the most vicious Sinhala chauvinism. It was a political weakness of the LTTE that was exposed when they expected the Premadasa government to uphold the demands or see the LTTE is accepted as the political leadership of the North and East. Instead, the LTTE should have appealed to Sinhala workers and the poor, highlighting the dangers of capitalist governments, and sought to form alliances based on principled politics. Building an independent political force that could challenge all political establishments in Sri Lanka should have been a priority.

While the LTTE had political ideas, they lacked clarity and a broader perspective. Today, some argue that the LTTE collaborated with India, Norway, the West, etc., to justify their current lobbying and collaboration with repressive forces as a continuation of the LTTE’s struggle. However, this is far from the truth.

For example, the LTTE’s position in the UK refuses to have any links with the Conservative Party. Many Tamil youths who campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn’s first electoral win had associations with the LTTE and sought collaboration with figures like Tony Benn. Solidarity protests in Britain began in 1983 with support from Militant (now the Socialist Party, the England & Wales section of the CWI), with figures like Militant MP Dave Nellist leading many of these marches. While their instincts and ideas were aligned with the left, they did not go far enough to draw organizational conclusions or develop effective political methods.

In the period 1987-89, the LTTE should have taken a decisive political turn to expand and enhance its political presence. Instead, a turn towards military methods took place. Both the LTTE and the JVP took paths that did not prioritize political methods of struggle. The LTTE strengthened its military wing throughout the 1990s, sidelining its political wing and becoming intolerant of all political opponents. As the military campaign became dominant, political strategy was further weakened. The past position that the majority of militants held in terms of support for strikes, protests, organised political opposition, etc., was lost.

The JVP, on the other hand, grew closer to state institutions. They went to court to divide the North and East from being treated as one administrative unit. The JVP also started its close collaboration with senior SLFP members, prominent among them the Rajapaksa family. Rajapaksa won the presidential election in 2005 with full endorsement of the JVP. They worked closely with the Mahinda campaign, rallying support for them. The LTTE boycotted that election and successfully prevented a large section of Tamils from voting. It was a narrow victory for Rajapaksa who won with just over 190,000 votes.

Siritunga Jayasuriya also took part in that election as the United Socialist Party candidate. He stood for far-reaching rights for the working class and all oppressed sections including the national rights of Tamils. The significance of this position is still beyond the comprehension of Tamil leadership and the nationalist left alike. However, Siri at that time publicly condemned this political mistake and warned that “the dogs of chauvinism will be unleashed”’ soon after the Rajapaksa victory. Unfortunately, this came true very quickly as Rajapaksa carried out a genocidal slaughter. All through the war crimes and indiscriminate slaughter, the JVP kept its silence. If anything, they only issued nationalist propaganda that LTTE terrorists should be wiped out for the benefit of the country – and that the military was only killing LTTE terrorists. To this day, they refuse to acknowledge the horror of war unleashed on the Tamil population.

Unable to see the political process, the LTTE encountered the full force of its enemies in 2009. India and all the regional powers, together with the US, Israel, and the West, ganged up with the Sri Lankan military to finish off the LTTE. By then, the LTTE had no allies left to defend them. The Tamil masses in the diaspora and Tamil Nadu, and workers’ organisations, such as some unions in Britain and Pakistan, were the forces that protested and demanded an immediate end to the killings. At such a helpless time, one key LTTE leader appealed to the USP for any help they could give. Nothing could be done at that time other than building a mass campaign against the war and massacre. The USP at that time had been organising an international campaign, particularly also focused on the Tamil Nadu masses. Unfortunately, the Dravida Munetra Kalakam (DMK) leader was the chief minister at that time and made sure that such work of mass mobilisation against the war did not succeed.

Unfortunately without collaborating to build allies on a political basis, the LTTE ended up weak politically and militarily defeated. The massacre and the horrors were unleashed under the political triumphalism of the Rajapaksa-led regime. Out of the ashes of this war, emerged a left-wing campaign, Tamil Solidarity. Though small in number, today Tamil Solidarity is the only organisation that organises militant Tamil youth in the diaspora. It is growing into a significant organisation in the diaspora. Not so surprisingly, the majority of them collaborate with the CWI and treat the USP as their close ally.

Today, the JVP-led ‘National People’s Power’ (NPP) has become a significant electoral platform in Sri Lanka but has shifted towards collaborating with the IMF, continuing the privatization of education and health. And now they are for maintaining friendly relationships with the Indian government. While protecting all geopolitical aspects of the Indo-Lanka accord, one thing they still want to abolish is the 13th Amendment which gave few administrative rights to regions.

The JVP still considers those advocating for Tamil self-determination as separatists and threats to Sri Lanka’s unity. In a recent meeting in the North, Anura Kumara, the leader of the JVP, claimed they are happy to collaborate with “moderate Tamils”. Who are these moderate Tamils with whom they are willing to collaborate? Those who defend the unitary state – those who reject the LTTE as terrorists – and those who are willing to tolerate the collaboration with the Sri Lankan state. It is this section that argues the 1987-89 period was a period of ‘missed opportunity’. Their interpretation of missed opportunity is different to others – one that sees the demise of LTTE at the hands of the IPKF and the triumph of continued collaboration with Indian and Sri Lankan governments on the basis of a few Tamil elite groups controlling the administration in the North and East. Their vision for a ‘political solution’ does not go far beyond this point.

The LTTE is no more. But the threat of the past history of struggle still haunts many. The JVP and its allies still refuse to see the militant section of the Tamils as their friends. They are to bring revolution to the Tamils by collaborating with the Tamil moderates – i.e. the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois section. For a section of the Tamil liberals, it’s a marriage of convenience. For many Colombo-based academics and liberals, and a section of the Jaffna elite, dismissal of the LTTE as ‘fascist’ or ‘terrorist’ becomes the credential to be ‘intellectual’. They can then be tolerated by the so-called ‘progressives’ in the South and trusted by the state institutions. With this, real voices of struggle that are emerging in the North are silenced and sidelined. While leaning on these individuals and using them as ‘token Tamils,’ the Southern left, dominated by Sinhala nationalism, continues to maintain that they are for equal rights for Tamils, as though this somehow will meet the national aspiration of Tamils. Of course, there also remains a small minority who worship the LTTE’s leader and its history and will not tolerate any critique. Most of them have no clue about political perspectives or the strategy needed but aim to seek support among Tamils only on this basis.

But the new generation entering the struggle cannot go forward with empty slogans alone. A huge number of lessons need to be learned from history, not to make ‘adventures’ attachments to it, but to use it to advance our political understanding and develop new strategies for the present struggle, to win all rights and to change the rotten capitalist system once and for all – a course worth fighting for and dedicating our time to. No struggle is conducted without facing complications and ups and downs, due to many factors. As we saw earlier, an organization that holds onto the right ideas can be pushed back and marginalized. A revolutionary organization that aims to base itself on advancing the consciousness of the working class will rise and fall with it. Right-wing capitalist parties will ride the reactionary wave to maintain their grip on power by any means. Those who succumb to that wave, like the JVP, which dropped the red flag and took up the national flag, may survive but will contribute enormously to the defeat of the struggle in general, further adding to the pushback on consciousness.

The JVP still presents itself as ‘Marxist,’ while continuing to deny the national rights of Tamils. They oppose the full implementation of the 13th Amendment or the North-East merger, for example. Former NSSP leaders like Bahu have now shamelessly ended up endorsing the capitalist UNP and its leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has become one of the most hated figures in the country. Another group, a rump of the LSSP, former members of the NSSP and JVP, and a section of the CP, fully welcomes Chinese involvement and still engages in right-wing nationalist propaganda. In the eyes of Tamil youth, this does not create any attraction towards Marxism or the Marxist party but rather resentment.

Hence, it is vital to hold onto a Marxist programme and method to develop a perspective of what is likely to develop and how revolutionaries should respond. Maintaining such a position can, of course, shrink our forces when the reactionary wave is stronger. But it will remain a high point in history, and when the masses enter the scene of history, we will begin to see the regrowth of the forces holding onto the farsighted class position. A new generation of class fighters should seek to reach out to these pointers in history and fight to make new history that will change the future of humankind and all living on the planet.


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May 2024