this is a photo i took on a Matara beach after the tsunami
Sri Lanka has a bright future and an ugly past. The past is racial division, war, and economic stagnation. The past is the impoverishment of the people by a parasitic state. These policies have been abandoned by India, China and other nominally socialist-leaning states, but they still hold intellectual sway in Sri Lanka. We have lost the universities, intellectuals, media, and the web. We have also lost this election. Ranil lost not because his policies are bad or unsuccessful, but because they simply weren’t communicated. He lacked the language and frames to structure his ideas, so his accomplishments just hung in the air. We now have six years to build the intellectual infrastructure (papers, seminars, and, most importantly, people) that can shape public opinion and lead to conservative resurgence in this country. We have to reclaim our economy, media, faith, and nation. Now we have six years in the wilderness to do it.
During this campaign the UNP had no talking points, no message discipline, no coherent branding, and no comprehensible theme. Part of this is because the media unit is rephrehensibly bad and Ranil isn’t the most brandable of candidates. Moreso, it’s because there is no intellectual infrastructure to support his policies. A policy of reaching out internationally to contain the LTTE gets framed as ‘neo-colonialism’ or ‘selling-out’. A policy of including minorities gets framed as ‘dividing the country’. Policies of growing the economy and encouraging investment are framed as ‘capitalism’, and that alone is a dirty word.
Sri Lankans blame everything on politicians, but the Sri Lanka people chose this backwards path. Before the government and country can change, we have to shape public opinions. Today the media, web and public policy are biased and empty. They wrap destructive policies in frames of ‘jobs’ and ‘pro-poor’, while inflation keeps rising and peace disintegrating, causing average Sri Lankans loss of wealth and security. These frames have to change, and we need a conservative movement to change it.
There are a few basic elements:
Technical (Web): Suppose the thing would be primarily web-based because its simpler to organize people that way. Web-end, as a base, would comprise blogging, news filter (to call the state media’s bias and lies), document management, and mailing lists. Also, online donations for fundraising. Would also need to enlist multi-media content in the form of graphics, audio, videos, etc. In addition to original content, there has to be a concerted effort to monitor and document the bias in the mainstream media.
Technical (Meatspace): Over time, ideas have to leak into the mainstream media and also develop other channels. With some donations you can fund postering campaigns relentlessly attacking bullshit on a street level. It is also necessary to have meetings of like-minded conservatives in order to strengthen connections, and also organize symposiums and conferences to share and refine ideas. These thing all require funding, so there also must be significant fund-raising, both online and off. This also requires transparency and accountablity.
Research: Economic and social research has to be funded, published and supported in all three languages. Translations have to be funded. Papers need to be criticized, commented on, and interlinked. Over time, talking points have to be developed and relentlessly hammered upon. Everything must be written in or translated into Sinhala or Tamil. Detailed and nerdy research needs to be supported because it forms the base of more media friendly soundbites and talking points.
People: This is the most vital of all, and the aim of all three above. Young scholars and researchers have to be supported and groomed to overthrow the stale talking heads on TV. To quote an old story,
King Kavanatissa knew that the task of getting rid of the invaders would not be possible in his lifetime. He was getting old and weak. However he started building an army for the future war with invaders with a band of warriors who proved themselves to be brave. Ten giant warriors (Dasa Maha Yodayas) were recruited and they spent their time practicing martial arts. They were joined by the two brothers Princes Gemunu and Tissa. They had their training in archery, swordsmanship and in riding horses and elephants. King Kavantissa’s call to arms began with the recruitment of 10 young men. They were summoned before him and asked to find ten warriors. Within a short time there were a 100 able soldiers. In this manner 1000 were taken in. They raised a formidable army of 11 110, men within a short time.
In this time of rest we have to assemble Maha Yodayas that can take on Wimal Weerawansa and the assorted pack of lies on TV and in the media. We have to cultivate and encourage young media personalities that can fight for the future of this country rather than expecting the truth alone to set them free. The truth is not a bulletproof vest. We need people who will actually train and fight for it.
Finally, there are some issues the right needs to take back,
Faith: We need to take back our faith, specifically Buddhism. It is a wonderful religion of humility, tolerance and personal strength backed by the active practice of meditation. The left is naturally hostile to religion, and they only use it as a nationalist and racist club. We need to revive the fundamental Buddhism of humility, charity and self-confidence. Faith needs to be discussed, debated, practiced and publicly acknowledged without shame. Buddhism is philosophically sound, and it is the surest way to reach ordinary Sri Lankans. Practiced properly, it is also a sure way to tolerance and acceptance of all other religions.
National Pride: The left thinks national pride is closing the economy and hiding from the world. That is only national cowardice and shame. Sri Lanka is ready to take its place on the national stage and we need to have the courage and identity to stand up. Sri Lankans need to associate strength and identity with an open economy, where we begin to assert ourselves as a self-confident nation.
Anyways, I know a lot of people are leaving and I fully understand. The stock market has plummeted and the North and East are now effectively another nation. I, however, still believe in Sri Lanka and I’m going to stay. This think-tank type idea has been bouncing around various people in different forms, but there’s never been the time or urgent need to do anything about it. Now there is both time and a need, so I’m going to talk to some people and see what can be done.