Sri Lanka Is Colonized Again

Priyantha Udagedara, The Hunter

In the old days, squabbling feudal elites sold Sri Lanka out to the colonizers. We call the colonizers Dutch, Portuguese, and British, but in truth it was private companies who paid protection money to the crown. One feudal lord would feud with another, and then ask the white men with guns for help. And it worked. They got personal power, for a time. Meanwhile they sold their whole country out, and the common people starved.

Decisions that took food out of children's mouths and stripped resources out of the land were taken in board rooms far away. Wealth was ‘privatized’ and taken out. The feudal elites got their cut, but the colonial elites got the glut. The common people were left with crumbs, and cuffed mercilessly if they spoke out. After the Uva rebellion the foreign capitalists and their paid mercenaries killed all the men and livestock, salted the Earth and left the women and children to starve. The province still hasn’t recovered its fertility. So it was then, and the horror remained for hundreds of years. Now it’s back again, after a brief interregnum where we thought we were independent.

Today the elite families in Parliament directly selected a President, a man expressly rejected by the people and despised. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the nephew of the first dictatorial President—who caused pogroms and civil war—has somehow weaseled his way into power by collaborating with the latest incarnation of White Empire, the Americans. Under the fig leaf of the IMF (always headed by a European, a colonial institution if there ever was one), decisions that take food out of children’s mouths are being taken in board rooms far away. Again. Public resources are being privatized and looted. Again.

Sri Lanka has gotten colonized again. Now we are denied even local election by the unelected President. We are not even allowed to see the IMF agreement that is causing mass malnutrition. They haven’t even given us any money. They’re just starving our children to cuff us, to teach us a lesson, to co-opt the Aragalaya and put student leaders in jail, while good men like my wife’s uncle get assassinated in broad daylight. Look into the eyes of any Sri Lankan in the street. See the suffering. We have lost control. We are rapidly losing what wealth we had. We have been colonized again, this time from the genocidal colony America. The White Empire just keeps changing avatars, and keeps attacking us. I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime, but here we are. Under the boot of sepoy armies and under the thumb of foreign bankers. All over again.

In the colonial era, Sri Lanka was under the thumb of private companies like the VoC. Today we’re under the thumb of International Sovereign Bond holders like BlackRock, which use corrupt western government to ensure that they take no risk. If we don’t pay these capitalists, their governments come in and break our legs. As the late David Graeber said, describing the IMF:

The remarkable thing about the statement “one has to pay one’s debts” is that even according to standard economic theory, it isn’t true. A lender is supposed to accept a certain degree of risk. If all loans, no matter how idiotic, were still retrievable — if there were no bankruptcy laws, for instance — the results would be disastrous. What reason would lenders have not to make a stupid loan?

But, imagine there was some law that said they were guaranteed to get their money back no matter what happens, even if that meant, I don’t know, selling my daughter into slavery or harvesting my organs or something. Well, in that case, why not? Why bother waiting for someone to walk in who has a viable plan to set up a laundromat or some such? Basically, that’s the situation the IMF created on a global level — which is how you could have all those banks willing to fork over billions of dollars to a bunch of obvious crooks in the first place.”

Capital colonization has always worked by finding a bunch of local crooks to sell everybody else out, then come in and take wealth out of the mouths of stunted generations of children. Out of the backs of impoverished fathers and mothers working to barely survive. Out of the sweat and tears of Sri Lankans, of Asians, of Africans, of South Americans, and even of the working classes in the heart of White Empire, who were still beneath the capitalist elites running the place. The run the place still and now they’re running riot over places like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Peru—where governments are cunningly or openly couped, unelected elites are propped up, and the IMF comes into dictate from afar.

It is, as the eternal historical truth goes, same shit, different day. Hence we have to fight for independence all over again. Not just formal—not just flags and titles and the right to fight each other—but actual economic independence. The right to elect our own representatives, to see our own economic policy, to make our own economic policy, and the right to run the country for the benefit of its children, not the greed of foreign ‘bond’ holders. We have to release these bonds. We have to overthrow the corrupt politicians and the foreign powers corrupting them. Our children our hungry, our climate is collapsing, and this cannot go on. It was a crime when Sri Lanka was colonized and it’s a crime that it’s happening now. We have to declare independence again. And this time we’ll have to fight for it.