A mixed media project on Frederick Douglass, by Good Feets
Sri Lanka is a country of about 20 million people which has barely been under central control, ever. Post-independence, first the south broke off, then the north. Both were bloodily pasted back on. The 13th amendment has devolution in it, which was never implemented. Will the government implement it now? Nope. They have neither the ability nor the inclination to create local institutions. But the provinces can.
Devolution isn’t dictated, it evolves. Once there’s a power and economic base in the provinces they can take power back, kinda without asking. It’s important to remember, power concedes nothing. Full quote, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” That’s Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist. His other quotes are worth reading:
I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future. (via Brainy Quote)
What are the lessons here? First, this is a national struggle for equality. It’s not racial. Even if the North and East and merged and split, there are still tons of Tamils in the south, and Muslims in the north, etc. We have to work the solution out nationally. Frederick Douglass never asked for a separate homeland for African-Americans, he demanded only equal rights as Americans.
Second, you have to do before you receive. If people want significant devolution they have to go and develop the provinces to the point that those regions can demand power. People have to pray with their legs. Once Jaffna develops to the great city status it should have had years ago they don’t even have to ask. They can file suit based on the Constitution, they can withhold taxes, they can march in the streets. Power concedes nothing, but real recognize real, to quote everyone from Jay-Z to Lupe Fiasco.
Broken men just want to stick it to this central government for vengeance sake, but if we build strong children they can actually create something better in its place. They can take what they deserve, if we just keep the lights on and send them to school.
Should people be demanding devolution or whatever? Yeah, I guess. If they’re really serious, they should just do it. Go develop the provinces to the point that they have power, the paperwork will follow. If you build it they will succumb.