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Tamil Rebels Surrender, Debate Rages On

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As the Sri Lankan government closed in on the last Tamil Tiger stronghold, the rebels surrendered with a statement saying they have decided to “silence our guns.”

"This battle has reached its bitter end," said rebel official Selvarasa Pathmanathan. "It is our people who are dying now from bombs, shells, illness and hunger. We cannot permit any more harm to befall them. We remain with one last choice — to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns."

The Sri Lankan government now claims control of the entire region, but criticisms of President Mahinda Rajapaska continue to pour in from the international aid community and the United Nations. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the Sri Lankan government for a "campaign of unprecedented violence" in the conflict. 

News continued to emerge, with reports of the death of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. His son, Charles Anthony, was also said to be among the dead.

In Canada, the reaction to the conflict has been significant. The Tamil Canadian community in Toronto has been standing outside of the U.S. Consulate for days in attempts to get international attention and effort for their cause. As news of the rebel defeat reached the protestors, there was a call on the international community to keep an eye on the situation.

Sinhalese Canadians take an opposite position, of course, and say that it is the rebels who are to blame. They claim that they are being threatened by Tamils in Canada due to speaking out.

Discussions on various websites are filled to the brim with debate and discussion from the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, with each piece of news from the region drawing fresh fire in the comments sections.

Demands that the Sri Lankan government allow media and humanitarian aid into the conflict zone were foremost among the protestors.

Death toll claims vary depending on the source, with the Tigers claiming 25,000 civilians dead or dying in the area. Confirmation of these numbers can be complicated without media access to the region.

One of the few certainties in the conflict is that of a need for humanitarian assistance. James Elder of UNICEF told CTV Newsnet of 50,000 civilians that have fled the conflict zone over the last 72 hours. They are in dire need of food, water, and medicine. Most of the civilians are in congested and feebly equipped camps for displaced persons.

"What we will see this week is the number of people in the camps will essentially quadruple from what it was just a few short weeks ago and we will have around a quarter of a million people. This latest influx of people will have endured extreme conditions, which will put an even greater stress on the systems of health, sanitation and water in what are already grossly overcrowded camps," said Elder.

Whether or not this surrender from the Tigers is permanent remains to be seen. It is doubtful that the conflict will find its conclusion so promptly, as both the Tamils and Sinhalese continue to rally for their particular causes. Others rightly emphasize the call for "distant voices to be heard."

This is a catastrophic, multifaceted situation that receives very little mainstream press. Regardless, the need for humanitarian assistance is clear and the requirement of a global rejoinder to all acts of terror, injustice, war, and atrocity knows no borders.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nice job getting the story out, Jordan.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    With all due respect, Jordan, humanitarian assistance cannot continue to be the lasting answer to all the trouble spots all over the world. The international community has to be able to come together once and for all and devise some workable plan to prevent all such from happening. And until that happens, all these efforts and cries for help – as I indicated in the other thread – are impotent at best, acting but only after the fact.

    We’ve got to be able to do better than that, and perhaps you should address this question as well.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    Roger,

    Two things:

    I never claim to have the answers in writing these articles. I am, primarily, a music critic. That is where I tend to park myself, that is where I feel most comfortable. However, when I see a lack of stories of this nature in the BC Politics section and one of the biggest pieces of news in the world right now receiving NO coverage, I figured somebody should write something up and that it might as well be me. You’ll notice I don’t write articles in the politics section often, but when something of this magnitude goes by without so much as a peep, I guess I decided to say something. It’s not complete, it’s not an attempt to answer all of the questions or solve all of the world’s problems. No article could ever do that. It is, instead, an attempt to explore and expose the issues.

    Second, aid IS a lasting answer. It is not the only answer, but until people stop needing assistance with food, shelter, and water, humanitarian organizations are always going to be a part of the solution. We need to lift those organizations up, support the hard work they do, and call attention to their efforts. I do a bit of work in downtown Vancouver with the less fortunate and something as simple as a bowl of soup or a coat makes all the difference in the world. Nothing will EVER prevent the homeless from being homeless, at least in the near future, but that doesn’t mean that the hard work those people do to help them in their many hours of need should simply be brushed aside while we work on greater solutions. The politicians and policy-makers of the world might prattle on and debate these larger issues and how to “prevent all such from happening,” Roger, but right now I couldn’t give two shits about that.

    Now the major intention of this article is to highlight a few things (in no particular order):

    1. The presence of debate among those in some Canadian communities and how this issue is reaching far beyond the Sri Lankan country and into our local areas.

    2. The obvious need for humanitarian aid.

    3. The updates in the story, that the Tamils surrendered for now and some of the aftermath.

    Now you say there should be some “workable plan” to prevent things like this from happening. Like what, Roger? There’s nothing you can do to prevent things like this from happening, so you have to attempt to shed light on these events and learn from them.

    Nowhere in my article or in the other article do I suggest that humanitarian aid is the ONLY solution here, either. I address the need for media access, for starters, and exposure of these regions. Only by KNOWING about what’s going on in these locations can we begin to work towards better understanding them. But we can’t put the cart before the horse, Roger, and as much as you or anyone else might love for someone to articulate some global solution as to “do better than that,” I’m not the least bit concerned with aiming for the sky when we can’t even fucking see it yet.

    These trouble spots emerge because people don’t pay attention. Period. If you want some workable plan, start paying attention, start supporting human rights and aid groups, start pressing for media access, and start learning about the world beyond your borders.

    There may be a time when I feel confident enough to articulate some sort of theory for a magical plan to stop conflict, murder, genocide, and atrocity. But for the time being, I’m going to keep attempting to shed light on some news and events that don’t get much coverage around here because it interests me far more than the nuances of your abortion debate or whether or not two dudes should be able to marry.

    These efforts are far from impotent, too, Roger. Ask someone who’s been helped by an aid group, given water when they had none or shelter when they had none, and I’m sure they won’t say anything about impotence. You’re basically asking “why do bad things happen?” and the answer to that is a little too big for these pages.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    Ruvy, thanks for seeing the basics of what I’m trying to do here. Appreciate it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I perfectly understand, Jordan; and you know I wasn’t criticizing you or in any way minimizing your motives. It was just an expression of frustration on my part that in the 21st century, with all the technology and progress we’ve made, such disasters keep on recurring while the world and the international community just watch.

    It really is pathetic IMO that there’s no mechanism in place, and that nothing is being done to think of of preventative solutions. That’s what I meant by impotence, not to refer to humanitarian relief organizations but to the leaders of the world.

    It is a sorry state indeed.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    It’s an uphill climb against human nature, Roger, and progress is slow. I don’t know that I agree with the notion that nothing is being done to think of preventative notions, as there are several groups that go to work right in the midst of the calamity.

    I do think that the bulk of the reason behind not seeing a global solution has to do with old patterns and, again, human nature.

    There’s a reason the Holocaust, for all of its absolute evil and horror, is given much, much more attention than the Rwandan genocide.

    In the case of Rwanda, that horror was able to occur because the world essentially turned its back on the region. In fact, the U.S. lobbied the U.N. for total withdrawal of UNAMIR forces in Rwanda and refused to use the term “genocide” in public media until the worst was over.

    Obviously one of the best things we can do, therefore, is talk about the issues and get the information out there while ensuring that aid and responsible media (if they exist) are able to get where they need to go as well. We also need to reaffirm global efforts and unite as one global family, ensuring that global human rights are given precedent. The end of the maverick go-it-alone nation needs to come, too, as we push for more awareness and more continuity in how we prosecute war crimes and so forth.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, Jordan. What’s inconceivable though, the civilized world is held captive by little shitty dictators that could and should be squashed the moment they arise.

    It’s the same with the piracy off Somalia; as though we couldn’t really do anything about it. That’ll be all for now. I’ll stop my bitching.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    One final thought.

    I see the situation as analogous to a few gang members who terrorize a peaceful community, while that community is indolent and apathetic enough to put an end to it, and so they just take it and take it and take it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    They should be squashed, but as long as bigger governments continue to find the backwater set-up flattering and convenient (read: $$$$) and as long as they keep propping up these jackoffs, dictators won’t be going anywhere soon.

    The public is too poor, too scared, too uneducated to do anything about it and international governments keep wanting to serve themselves and their own interests (how many times do you hear, right or wrong, “America’s interests?”) to the detriment of everyone else. Many think nothing of running a small country into Third World status for resources or capitalistic entry points, so this cripples the ability of the people to do things for themselves and the dictators become more popular and reliable.

    Think of what’s going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan right now. Obama’s helping prop up sharia law with his passive approach to the Pakistani government and the Taliban there, so the poor are actually turning to the oppressive terrorist group because, fuck it all, at least the Taliban in Afghanistan builds roads and wells.

    It is deeply frustrating to consider just how costly greed for money and lust for power can be and I don’t blame you in the least for bitching. Lord knows that’s pretty much all I do around here.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    I see the situation as analogous to a few gang members who terrorize a peaceful community, while that community is indolent and apathetic enough to put an end to it, and so they just take it and take it and take it.

    Yeah, in a way.

    More accurately, it would be like the gang members providing the community with desired resources, like protection from crooked cops or drugs or whatever. The community is failed by the justice system, failed by the local governments, and failed by the federal governments on every level. The community then turns to the gangs for help because nobody else is going to help, so they take a little oppression because they at least manage to get a meal and maybe a few dollars in their pockets.

    The governments are more than happy to keep this ball rolling and that’s why nothing ever really gets done about the gangs. It’s better to break the people up, possibly even by introducing strains of addictive drugs into the streets, and keep them separate than it is to risk the public having too much say and rising up to crush the fountains of power and burn the White House to the ground.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Jordan is being polite to you. The reason for the Rwandan holocaust occurring is that the victims were black and white newspaper owners don’t give a rats’ ass about blacks – or about the dark skinned victims in the long, painful civil war that has torn Sri Lanka – a place that has been described a paradise – and turned it into a charnel house.

    Too many idiots are gabbling on and on about the “poor Palestinians” to give a tinkers’ dam about starvation, genocide, holocausts and the like. Or they are mewling about how anarchy, or the Infantile Left, or some other pack of bullshit will save the world.

    The big trouble spot on the planet is not the Middle East or Iran; it is the South Asian sub-continent where thousands die yearly in communal violence of one variety or another; it is Africa, a collection of failed states created by failed imperialists; and finally, it is the United States of America – which is for all intents and purposes – bankrupt.

    The UN, an institution that should have dealt with the Sri Lankan conflict, has proven itself an utter failure. That Mr. Richardson has to write articles about South India and Sri Lanka and the ongoing violence there at all tells us the blistering truth and painful truth about the institutions of the “Western World” – they are chock full of racism, corruption and ignorance.

    I’m broke, Roger. And I mean that in the literal sense of the word. All I can do is express my appreciation to Jordan for covering an area of the world I’m too ignorant to talk about, and to bring it to the attention of North Americans who need badly to re-adjust their priorities.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You might be interested in this news item, Jordan

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m aware, Ruvy, that racism and whatever is deemed as being in the US interest is what drives the American foreign policy. If there was oil in Darfur or any other place where genocide is a daily occurrence, we’d be the first there in the name of “democracy.” But since that’s not the case, we just turn our blind eye.

    I am hoping for a better world, Ruvy, when the fucking world grows up and starts acting responsibly.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And I’m too, Ruvy, in the literal sense. But even if I had Bill Gates’ money, I’d feel impotent to fix the world’s problems.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    This article at Desicritics, Sri Lanka: An Opportunity for Love provides a view of events by someone who knows lots more than the average North American (Jordan excepted, of course) about South Asia. Go, read. You’ll learn something.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    That is a tremendous link. Everyone must visit it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I see, Ruvy, that you referred Somik to Jordan’s article(s). I did likewise, plus invited him to comment here as well – not only because of his thorough knowledge of the state of affairs in that part of the world but his spiritually as well.

    It’s so foreign to the Western mind, I thought it would be refreshing to be so exposed.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    America is not a bottomless well of money and manpower. We literally cannot intervene everywhere. That being the case, it only makes sense for our self-interest to be the primary consideration. It would be irresponsible to behave in any other way. Our government was not elected by nor does it work for the people of any nation but the US.

    That said, there are far better places we could use our men and resources than Afghanistan and Pakistan. That mess is too large and too unresolvable and too costly compared to the good we could do with the same amount of resources elsewhere in the world.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    That is a great article indeed. I’ve been learning about Vipassana quite a bit lately and it’s interesting to see how the author tied it all together.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You should also look up his personal blog – especially the section dealing with non-coercive societies.

    Cindy will have a field day when I’ll alert her to that – it will be a dream come true.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave,

    I was talking of NATO if at all. Remember the high hopes that Gen. Wesley Clark had for it – the most powerful player in modern diplomacy (and an enforcer in need be); and that would be a join effort.

    And that was only ten years ago.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    Forget it, Roger. When Dave helps old ladies across the street, he makes sure that he checks their wallets first.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    NATO = North American Terror Organization

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    (Ah, North Atlantic, that would be…above)

    Afghanistan is not a ‘just’ war.

    “A week after the Rudd government announced Australian troops would join the US and NATO-led troop surge in Afghanistan, a May 4 US air strike on two villages in the country’s south-west killed up to 150 civilians, including many women and children.

    It appears that the US army used white phosphorous in its attack.

    This attack on civilians follows a grotesque pattern. Human Rights Watch estimated that US-NATO air strikes killed at least 1633 civilians in 2007. Occupation forces killed a further 828 civilians last year.

    Recently reports came to light of a defence department cover-up of the murder and maiming of Afghan civilians in Oruzgan province in July 2006 by Australian special forces troops. A man was left dead, a woman blinded, and a girl needed her leg amputated — as well as other children being injured — after Australian special forces soldiers opened fire on their car.

    This, and many other horrific stories, confirms that Afghanistan is not a “good”, or “just”, war.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I see you don’t have much faith in Dave’s charity impulse, Jordan.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wonder what STM would think of this link.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    #20

    Thanks for the recommendation. I went there. His idea of non-coercive is a bit different than mine. Mine doesn’t support national interests and lying. I tend to shy away from guru-y ‘everyone is good but suffering’ wisdom-y eastern philosophies. They didn’t work real well for me.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I went to an ashram and got hit with peacock feathers by a guru? (James Brolin was there..he got a special front row seat…you know because we are all equal– only those who are movie stars are little more so…even with ‘wise’ gurus.)

    When I asked how will we know if this guru touch thing worked, I was told–if good things happened it was proof. I asked, what if good things don’t happen? I was told–then it would be my doubt that was at fault.

    Pretty nice scam.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s hilarious – a peacock feather? But the first video in the cited article is worth watching.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    haha! It was a whole bunch of them. Looked like a feather duster.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Just looked up that Brolin guy. A good looking dude. Reminds of the English actor who did James Bond later.

  • Clavos

    Roger #13:

    If there was oil in Darfur or any other place where genocide is a daily occurrence, we’d be the first there in the name of “democracy.” But since that’s not the case, we just turn our blind eye.

    Uum, Roger,

    Not only is there oil in Darfur, its existence drives the genocide.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Then we’ve made a wrong choice. I guess the Chinese beat us to it. Goes to show how little I know of that part of the world. Thanks for the link, Clavos.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I was talking of NATO if at all.

    Someone needs to be reminded what NATO stands for. The first two words are NORTH ATLANTIC. If Sri Lanka is in the North Atlantic area I’ll eat my hat. Afghanistan and Pakistan are at least a couple of borders away from countries which have interests in the North Atlantic, but Sri Lanka isn’t anywhere near it.

    This, and many other horrific stories, confirms that Afghanistan is not a “good”, or “just”, war.”

    I’m constantly bemused by those who try to make the argument that war can be “good” or “just.” Their logic is inevitably remarkably twisted. War is evil. Sometimes it is a necessary evil. Sometimes it is fought in self defense against evil. It is never good, and it is only just to those who use the term as an excuse for wars of vengeance.

    Dave

  • http://www.stanford.edu/~somik/ Somik Raha

    Cindy wrote:
    His idea of non-coercive is a bit different than mine. Mine doesn’t support national interests and lying.

    Mine doesn’t either. I am curious to know which post gave you a different impression.

    I tend to shy away from guru-y ‘everyone is good but suffering’ wisdom-y eastern philosophies. They didn’t work real well for me.

    When I put labels on people and demonize them, that is the best way to make them close their ears. The proof lies in the response to such rhetoric around the world.

    I was reading a book last night called Be the Solution, which is very non-guruyy, so you might be able to access the wisdom in it.

    One of the interesting points there is that study after study on tribal people shows that people gain higher status by sacrificing for the greater good. They also develop a self-righteous anger against those who are seen as free-riders (taking without giving back) AND those who do not take action against free-riders. Our society is quite similar, with those who have a sense of social good developing a higher standing and great anger against those who don’t seem to care so much.

    While tribes of 100-150 people can survive with such anger, in a global connected world, there are often terrible consequences. If I allow this anger to fester, I start going after people who are simply trying to lead their lives and accuse them of all kinds of things (racism, apartheid and what not). And after all this anger has been allowed to drain me, I have no energy to constructively make a difference.

    Gandhi’s solution was simple – be the change you want to see in the world. Instead of lecturing people, put all your energy in love – we will be surprise ourselves with the solutions that emerge.

    We can talk all we want about how crazy people are, how bad governments are, etc. and it won’t make any difference (we can glance at the newspapers over the last fifty years if we are not convinced).

    So, what can we do for the Sri Lankans and the Tamils in this situation?

    Here is a concrete idea: what if some inspired soul registers a website called SinhaleseForTamils.org, and another called TamilsForSinhalese.org. These two sibling websites will give people an opportunity for restitution. For every Sinhalese (or Tamil) life lost in the conflict, Tamils (or Sinhalese) will contribute restitution. Restitution will be decided by the other side. In some cases, it might be a monetary amount to support the surviving family members. In others, if the entire family is wiped out, it would be to start a school or hospital in their name. But every life will count. Imagine if this happened using the internet and allowed peer-to-peer support lie this to develop, how much healing would be possible?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    Somik, marvellous idea with the use of technology to lead towards restitution. Using the internet as a web of support for those victimized is tremendous stuff.

    Thanks for stopping by. Truly enjoyed your piece and it is an honour to hear from you here.

    Kalugu,

    However the recent carnage could have been avoided if only the international community viewed it as a humanitarian crisis rather than a war on terror.

    Precisely. Well put.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    #34

    Somik,

    I was hasty regarding the gov’t authority. It wasn’t reading closely. You seem more of an agorist or anarcho-Capitalist. Something like that? It’s all the same to me–gov’t or private business lying to people to get their land isn’t my sort of thing:

    Let’s say Reliance plans an oil pipeline that needs contiguous areas of land. If any one of the landowners in the path of the pipeline hold out, the project will not take off, leaving Reliance with several non-contiguous pieces of land and a large hole in their pocket. In an alternative scenario, instead of buying any plot of land, Reliance could choose to buy an option from the landowner. The option will give Reliance the right to buy the land at the prevailing market (or agreed upon) price within a period of three years (for instance). This option can be valued easily using simple decision analysis tools and would be an order of magnitude cheaper than acquiring the land itself. Reliance could then plan multiple pipeline routes and try to acquire options on each of the routes. The moment they have all the options on a particular route, they can exercise the options on that route and acquire all the contiguous pieces of land.

    There are several benefits to this approach. First, as Reliance is a private party, they are not required to reveal the purpose of the acquisition. They can send out agents who don’t even need to reveal that Reliance is behind the acquisition.

    Thank you for your book recommendation. But, really, you have the wrong person. I am anti-capitalist. I’m not really going to be looking in a book where I think it starts out with such wrong thinking.

    Gandhi’s solution was simple – be the change you want to see in the world.

    Yes, I love Gandhi. And I agree this is the best advice there is. I often quote Gandhi on this point as it reminds me continue to work toward doing that.

    Instead of lecturing people, put all your energy in love – we will be surprise ourselves with the solutions that emerge. When I put labels on people and demonize them, that is the best way to make them close their ears. The proof lies in the response to such rhetoric around the world.

    Forgive me, but I don’t recall either lecturing or demonizing anyone.

    I agree with you–closing ones ears might result if one were to lecture people and give them unsolicited advice. The presumption made by lecturers is that they have the aswers, you know–for everyone. Whereas they also presume the lecturee doesn’t and is in need of their wisdom. And when the lecturer has never even spoken to the lecturee, one might say, the lecturer must think he is quite an expert in life altogether, enough to guess what others do and think, and know what advice to give them–all without even knowing them or even having a conversation with them. I generally would never take advice from such a person. I think lecturers generally need to learn quite a bit more before they are prepared to advise others.

    You seem like you have a big heart. I appreciate your sentiment. Even if you aren’t prepared following your own advice. Thanks for the lecture. :-)

  • http://www.stanford.edu/~somik/ Somik Raha

    Cindy,

    I am piqued by the use of the “socialist” (or anti-capitalist, but maybe you have another label here) and “capitalist” labels in general, pitting one against the other, very similar to the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” debaters, as though those who are pro-choice don’t care about life and those who are pro-life don’t want to make decisions about their children. Similarly, the term socialist seems to imply to many capitalists that people who subscribe to this label do not respect individual freedom. And the term capitalist seems to imply to many socialists that people who subscribe to this label only care about greed and personal aggrandizement without regard to ethics.

    You find what you believe, so if you start out believing all in the opposite camp are liars, you will get the evidence for it. But if you start out believing they are good, you will get the evidence for it too. So, why take on an experience that makes you bitter, and why not take on an experience that makes you feel better?

    On the label that you settled on for me, you are partially right. I am a socialist and a capitalist (maybe a social capitalist and a capital socialist) at the same time. I reject the coercion in socialism and accept the caring for the community that lies at the heart of socialism. I reject the greed in capitalism and accept the respect for individual freedom on which capitalism is founded.

    The snip of the article that you quoted is out-of-context. It was written in response to a very heavy-handed response by a Communist government in West Bengal, India, where they had attempted to forcibly industrialize farmland (talk about ironies). In the forcible acquisition, many farmers protested and were died. While everyone was criticizing the protestors (and not the communists, surprise again), I wanted to suggest an alternative that did not involve the government, neither did it involve lying, but you seem to have interpreted it otherwise. To get to the heart of the matter, if I want to buy a torch that you make, am I obliged to tell you if I will use it in my home or for gold digging? And would you make the case that if I find gold with it, I ought to share some of it as you made the torch?

    Land can be acquired in a manner where there is no coercion but a meeting of the minds. This is hard to do currently as most land transactions are run by mafias in India that run hand-in-glove with the government. So, I can see why one might be cynical about this.

    Thank you for your book recommendation. But, really, you have the wrong person. I am anti-capitalist. I’m not really going to be looking in a book where I think it starts out with such wrong thinking.

    Mackey actually starts out with socialism, and how he hated big corporations for all the right reasons, and then he started a corporation to do it right. To his surprise, he too got slammed by other socialists even though he was ethical and wanted to do good.

    If you love Gandhi, we stand on common ground, for he is the greatest example I have found of a social entrepreneur, who never vilified the capitalists or the socialists of his time, but inspired them to serve. His seminal political treatise called “Self-Rule” would probably be called libertarian in our times, for it has little use for large central government and planning and focuses instead on village self-reliance (with a depth greater than the political self).

    I agree with all the stuff you said about the evils of lecturing, so thanks for calling it out and please call me out again if you see it slipping through this post.

  • http://playwrighter.blogspot.com daleandersen

    Like the Palestinians, Ceylon’s Tamils have had bad luck in their choice (or in most cases, non-choice) of leaders.

    Prabhakaran was a Hitler. A small Hitler on a smaller stage, but a Hitler to his very bone marrow. Even down to the very end, when everyone else in the known universe knew it was over, his bunker mentality mirrored the last days of Der Fuhrer.

    Hopefully, the next Tamil leader will have a basic understanding of the words “compromise” and “negotiate,” but you never know. The BBC printed the comments of some British Tamils who, from their plush London flats, want the war to continue in a nastier, more suicidal mode. With fools like those free to blather on far from Ground Zero, Prabhakaran need not roll over in his freshly-dug grave just yet…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Somik,

    Thanks for visiting this site. It’s really refreshing to hear a different point of view. I like your passage:

    “I am a socialist and a capitalist (maybe a social capitalist and a capital socialist) at the same time. I reject the coercion in socialism and accept the caring for the community that lies at the heart of socialism. I reject the greed in capitalism and accept the respect for individual freedom on which capitalism is founded.”

    You know of course there is a tradition in Western thinking that reverberates some of your main ideas. For example, we become what we behold.

    Most people don’t appreciate the extent to which their emotions affect and rule their rational thinking. The obvious result is that either they experience an unresolved conflict between the emotional and the rational, or simply end up using reason and logic to justify their unexamined emotions – which is to say, they rationalize.

    The obvious way out, of course – get your emotions in order first, and then the right kind of thinking will follow: Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, all the saints in fact, offer the prime example. The right kind of emotion – empathy, love, compassion – should be the first order of business. Since emotions rule anyway, why not make them the foundation of being?

    Again, thanks for visiting.

  • http://www.stanford.edu/~somik/ Somik Raha

    Roger, Jordan,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You know of course there is a tradition in Western thinking that reverberates some of your main ideas. For example, we become what we behold.

    Western thinking has transformed so much in the last hundred years. I sincerely believe that the West is more open to Eastern philosophy than the East itself. Most of my learning on Eastern philosophy has been from Western people :). Whereas, if the West needs a reminder on the importance of freedom of the individual and free markets, you will find great champions of these ideas now in India.

    The obvious way out, of course – get your emotions in order first, and then the right kind of thinking will follow: Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, all the saints in fact, offer the prime example. The right kind of emotion – empathy, love, compassion – should be the first order of business. Since emotions rule anyway, why not make them the foundation of being?

    Well said! In the language of decision-making, to make these emotions the foundation of our being, they will have to be treated as decisions and not conditions. Freedom of the individual at the deepest level is a recognition that we are truly decision-makers of our mental states, irrespective of what happens to us externally.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Somik,

    That is an interesting combination you put together–a socialist capitalist. Would that mean that you would approve of a system like a social democracy?

    I am an anarchist not a socialist. I support egalitarian relationships, freedom, access to all in decision-making, individual liberty, access to all in advancements (medicine, information, technology, etc.) I reject government, free market, Capitalism, private property, hierarchy, authority, coercion. As these things nurture what I call “crises of empathy” and promote conditions from which all problems basic to human life arise: poverty, war, crime, environmental destruction, objectification of others, many types of mental illness, aggression, hostility, etc.

    To get to the heart of the matter, if I want to buy a torch that you make, am I obliged to tell you if I will use it in my home or for gold digging? And would you make the case that if I find gold with it, I ought to share some of it as you made the torch?

    Here is the heart of the matter for me. The system you support pits people against one another–each trying to gain advantage (take advantage) of each other. Typically the one with the most power gets the advantage.

    … as Reliance is a private party, they are not required to reveal the purpose of the acquisition. They can send out agents who don’t even need to reveal that Reliance is behind the acquisition. The government, on the other hand, is required to reveal the purpose of their acquisition, resulting in landowners realizing that they can make a lot of money if they hold out. The cost of acquisition will now be based on a good deal between the private party and the landowner.

    A good deal for whom? One party is taking advantage of the other. I consider that deception. It is knowingly holding back information to deprive the landowners from their rightful ‘market’ price (because it is worth more–a business wants to buy and use it for making a profit, therefore the land is more valuable)–after all this is land, not an axehandle or a torch–it is used as an investment by people who often have not much else by way of assets. This is in addition, of course, to my objections to private property, etc.

    Would you, in the position of the oil company, tell your children you are buying their land and give them a fair price or would you not tell them and get their land for a lower price?

  • Clavos

    Would you…tell your children you are buying their land and give them a fair price or would you not tell them and get their land for a lower price?

    I would probably not tell them. It would be a valuable (albeit at a cost) lesson for them about the ways of the world and the nature of humanity.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Clav, you bastard! lol

  • Clavos

    But I would leave the profits to them in a tax-proof trust when I croaked…*

    *see, I’m not such a bastard after all, Cindy :>)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Ahhh, redeemed. :-)

  • http://www.stanford.edu/~somik/ Somik Raha

    [2] When I use the term socialist-capitalist, it is more to challenge the rigid positioning of the two labels. My position on legal systems are better described by the maxim “Peaceful, honest people have the right to be left alone.”

    Peaceful is defined as those who have not used physical violence or threatened the use of it. Honest is defined as those who have not defrauded on a contract. People does not include children (with some caveats).

    Cindy wrote:
    That is an interesting combination you put together–a socialist capitalist. Would that mean that you would approve of a system like a social democracy?

    A democracy is clearly incompatible with the maxim as it relies on coercion. It is a good step forward but we have a long way to go to achieve freedom.

    [3] My ideal of freedom: Here’s a poem Tagore wrote a long time back…

    WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

  • http://www.stanford.edu/~somik/ Somik Raha

    This comment should have appeared before the previous one..

    Cindy,

    I think what you are describing is an ethical position. When discussing legal frameworks (democracy, dictatorship, socialist democracy, republican democracy etc.), the frame is, “What portion of my personal ethical code am I willing to impose on others by force.”

    So, you might consider a transaction driven experience to be inconsistent with your values and therefore choose a different path. But would you apply this on others by force, like the socialists have tried so many times unsuccessfully? I doubt it, from the rest of your post, as you are against coercion as well.

    There are deep philosophical issues that we can debate for long, and I can’t do justice to all of it in one response. Here are some random thoughts:

    [1] Have you heard of the gift economy, where people pay-it-forward without expectation of anything in return? Sounds a lot like where you’d want to be. I like it very much. An organization that is spearheading a revolution in this area is CharityFocus, which ships out Smile Cards, that encourage anonymous acts of kindness. Check Smile Cards and Help Others, and Karma Kitchen, a restaurant that runs on the gift economy. The founder of CharityFocus has an inspiring talk online.

    I am very happy to drink from the cup of anarchy, just as I like drinking from the other cups of life.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Somik,

    “When discussing legal frameworks (democracy, dictatorship, socialist democracy, republican democracy etc.), the frame is, “What portion of my personal ethical code am I willing to impose on others by force.”

    Excellent point, Somik. Which points to the obvious fact that individual consciousness is usually always higher than mass consciousness – although it’s our responsibility as moral/ethical individuals to expand everyone’s horizon to the extent possible.

    It points to another obvious fact about human societies – why the laws are but an imperfect expression of the highest consciousness/morality. An allowance has got to made, in other words, for those who haven’t got there yet; which means being able to allow the diversity among the members of differing opinion. Again, you can’t coerce the non-compliant or make them “measure up.”

    Perhaps you can check my BC series, “Quantum of Solace: The Making of Modern Consciousness” (three parts) in the BC Politics section, still on the current page. I’d be most interested in your feedback.

    Roger

  • http://www.tamilnewspaper.net Tamil News

    Srilankan Army brutally killed all the surrendered Rebels, it is international community’s responsibility to put Rajapakshe in front of UN security council for his war crimes and mass killing of Tamil civilians.