The decay of the capitalist class and the rise of the wealthy elite in Sri Lanka
(September 27, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity, Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe) Sri Lanka' ruling party MP Rajitha Senarathna, a liberal democrat converted into dictatorial worshipper said to The Sunday Observer newspaper that the capitalist class has lost faith in the United National Party (UNP). "They are also working very closely with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government." he said adding "UNP is having a class crisis."
He also says he does not believe in that a vibrant Opposition is essential for democracy.
It is understandable that the capitalist class is closely working with the Rajapalsa regime since their main focus is business for profit and the situation that prevails in the country at present is one even the smallest business needs the blessings of politicians to survive. Capitalist class has adjusted to any harsh condition, even under socialism to survive.
Capitalist class does not essentially mean the wealthiest class of a country. Capitalists are capital accumulators, investors and entrepreneurs. They are independent of the state but both state and capitalists are inter-dependent. Their class interest is a rule that maintains peace for a level they can run businesses normally and a democracy that pays way for enterprise competition healthy to them. No less, no more.
They further need a cheap labor force that is contented or adequately suppressed not to rebel to the level they challenge the system.
For them, the middle class is not a crucial force. It is an intermediate social strata than a class, perhaps a wealthy elite of bureaucrat, small and medium scale businessmen and pre-capitalist class remnants. However, the middle class was active in the bourgeois cultural space.
UNP, especially under the brilliant leaders like D.S. Senanayaka, Dudley Senanayaka and J.R. Jayawardhana maintained the balance of handling the interests of both crucial classes, the capitalists and the proletariat. Symbolizing this phenomenon, the leaders appeared equally at ease both in the parties of the social elite as well as among the masses in May Day rallies. There was a time UNP challenged the leftists and the trade unionists by holding massive May Days in which real workers enjoyed the shade of the green flag. UNP was well-founded among the peasant class as well. an important social strata in Sri Lanka especially due to their numerical massiveness.
Thus, UNP became the party of the capitalists. Are they the same further?
It is unarguable that the UNP still appears for the interests of the capitalist class unequivocally and boldly. But it has lost the grip of the rein of the peasant and proletarian classes that have given in to Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. UNP lost its roots. If one argues it is a problem of the present leadership, a counter argument also exists that there is and perhaps was no alternate.
We propose that this is a class crisis, that parallels with the leadership crisis of the working class. The result seems an inevitable situation evolved from the right inception of the social system in the post-colonial era.
Rajitha Senarathna says only the capitalist class "working very closely with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government" and he does not point out that the capitalist class has faith in Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. It is understandable. The regime appears more for the interests of a wealthy middle class than the capitalists.
What is this wealthy class? They belong to a social elite that depends on state for the new found prosperity. Namely, the businessmen and the bureaucrat made of the politicians and the public or service sector officials that have made state their primary source of profit through salaries, perks and benefits, commissions, contracts and unscrupulous means. What they usurp is the local and foreign debt obtained by the government, the tax collections and the loss-making business ventures of state.
They are a rich class but not a hardworking people like capitalists. They cannot prosper without the government. Their unethical, abhorrent earnings are also re-invested in state loans such as treasury bills, unless they are not taken away from the local economy for laundering.
This kind of greedy usurping strata existed everyday in the margins of the capitalist and middle classes. The paradigm shift in recent times is this class outwitted the capitalists and came to front as the most powerful class in Sri Lanka. The ideological and leadership crisis of the working class that paved way for the spread of chauvinist political ideologies among the lower classes was a blessing for this class to prosper.
Mahinda Rajapaksa led regime belongs to this class and it appears for their interests. One fact to prove this argument is as follows. The Sunday Times newspaper on 26-09-2010 reported that President's brother Basil Rajapaksa was given a new responsibility of foreign direct investment development. The same government that is in a dire need a rapid increase of foreign direct investment to peddle through a possible debt crisis in near future is also chasing away the major reputable foreign investors from the country. State took over Appolo Hospital even giving a name change, took back the Emirates management of the Sri Lankan airline and now discussing to buy back the shares owned by Shell Gas while incessantly clashing with Prima.
Capitalist economists identify the situation as mismanagement of economic affairs. We propose you are completely wrong. It is the really brilliant management of the wealthy class, not your bourgeoisie. Hell with FDI! State is a hen laying golden eggs for this wealthy class. That is why they are strengthening it both politically and economically. Keep no more hopes under this regime to get the private sector made the engine of the growth. Forget the fact that state enterprises make losses. People will pay for it. Women will continue to go to Middle East.
Tourists will arrive in Sri Lanka. IMF will bail the economy. The task of the Central Bank is to maintain good ratings so that the government can obtain loans perhaps until a day until the government will be declared bankrupt. The rulers will try to postpone the day as far back as they can. That is politics or better say governance.
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