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The Implosion of America

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By Rajitha Ratwatte

Fromoutsidethepearl@gmail.com

We have all wondered what happened to the Egyptian civilization, the Mighty Incas and even the Romans’. Some of us denizens of the Pearl have wondered about our own great irrigation-based civilization and the wonderful agricultural output that produced around 2000 years ago. We have read the history books and many scholars have studied it in depth. Reasons ranging from overconfidence, decadent behaviour, pestilence, social debilitation, foreign invasion and even climate change have been presented, very convincingly, may I add, with many pages of prose and even empirical evidence.

All those interested, well, we have it happening right in front of our eyes! All you have to do is look at what is happening in America. A great civilization, that dominated and indeed directed the course of the world as we know it, is on the brink of collapse. This collapse is not going to happen with a big bang or a pyrotechnic display, this has been building up for a while and some of the aforementioned reasons, Arrogance, overconfidence, decadence have been joined by pestilence and disease. A disease that has been mishandled due to arrogance and overconfidence.

We await the final nail in the coffin of America; the election result. I really doubt that a verdict is going to be reached in one day. The incumbent president has even gone to the extent of ‘stacking the deck’ of supreme court judges, just in case he needs to challenge the verdict of the people. Remind you of something that happened in the pearl by any chance? Maybe, they are consulting the playbook of one Junius Richard Jayewardene!

This part of this article is being written before the results are out. Whoever wins, America loses! If Trump wins we can expect more arrogance and isolation leading to the once united states probably being side-lined and ignored by the rest of the world. It looks like the country is divided roughly in half. Therefore, half the population will not be happy, whatever the result. If Biden wins, this process of implosion will only happen slower and be more long drawn out as it will be camouflaged and drowned in the Washington swamp and all the rubbish and rhetoric that entails. Either way, the demise is written in stone and stand by, the rest of the world, including Aotearoa, for a huge influx of rich Americans who will immigrate in your direction.

Watching the preparations for the post-election violence that is going on in the USA reminds me of a so-called “third world” country and one very close to my heart. We in the Pearl actually breathed a sigh of relief after our recently concluded election that we had not had much post-election violence. We told ourselves that the level of education and political knowledge in our society had improved and that is why our people didn’t resort to attacking the homes and businesses of the party that had lost, as was the norm. This expectation of post-election violence from the single “superpower” left in the world we live in, is in my view a clear sign that America no longer belongs to the “First World”. The projected path of that country, in a worst-case scenario, could make it as dangerous as the Iranians or the North Koreans with nuclear weapons! Couldn’t it? Think about it beloved and respected readers…think about it.

Meanwhile, the long wait for a final verdict as to who will occupy the White House for the next 4 years will benefit the media Moghuls no end. They who used all their muscle to mostly attack the incumbent President are now making millions by repeating the same results for days on end interspersed with very expensive advertisements fuelled by the marketing geniuses who call the shots of companies with money to waste on such exercises in futility. Even Aotearoa has sent three correspondents from one channel to America and God knows how many from the other Channel to cover this election. While those people enjoy an extended stay in America and file the same report hour after hour and day after day we fear for their safety and wish them a happy holiday!

So, the American establishment read as Democrats, has managed to win. The claim is that he has got more votes than any other President in American history. Now, we can expect a more stereotype America. They will make the right noises about global warming and do nothing, pay their dues to the United Nations who, we all know pay people huge salaries to do absolutely nothing, they will turn a blind eye to illegal immigration because they well know that the American economy needs this cheap, hardworking labour that they can exploit. We will go back to the layers and layers of cow manure that covers everything coming out of Washington. However, do not forget that there will be close to 50% of American who have realised that the system that Joe Biden stands for is flawed. Unfortunately, the proponent of the “change”, Donald Trump, proved to be unstable, erratic and rather naive. What else can you expect when someone is trying to rock a system that is so well-entrenched? He has to “rock” hard! The Trump side of America will be looking for a new leader and until they find one, there will be unrest and discontent. I don’t think there is much doubt about that.

In one sense America has “regressed” into not accepting the existing electoral system and actually trying to do something about it. But implying the possible use of violence and causing fellow American businesses to board up their windows is a step too far! An incumbent President falsely claiming victory and casting doubts on the existing system is nothing but ridiculous. The analysis of democracy and reaching a conclusion if it works and can be accepted in its current form, in today’s world, is for experts with much more knowledge than I have. I would like to put it to you dear reader that MAYBE there is room for a rather strong argument to the contrary.

They are dancing in the streets something we are familiar with in the pearl. Maybe, we should send them a papare band and the recipe for kiribath! The world is in for more “interesting times” and contrary to popular belief and the needs and wants of the Media Moghuls’, my call is that it will not take as long as predicted for the Republican President to concede to the Democrats.



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BRICS emerging as strong rival to G7

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It was in the fitness of things for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold a special telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently for the purpose of enlightening the latter on the need for a peaceful, diplomatic end to the Russian-initiated blood-letting in Ukraine. Hopefully, wise counsel and humanity would prevail and the world would soon witness the initial steps at least to a complete withdrawal of invading Russian troops from Ukraine.

The urgency for an early end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine which revoltingly testifies afresh to the barbaric cruelty man could inflict on his fellows, is underscored, among other things, by the declaration which came at the end of the 14th BRICS Summit, which was held virtually in Beijing recently. Among other things, the declaration said: ‘BRICS reaffirms commitment to ensuring the promotion and protection of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all with the aim to build a brighter shared future for the international community based on mutually beneficial cooperation.’

It is anybody’s guess as to what meanings President Putin read into pledges of the above kind, but it does not require exceptional brilliance to perceive that the barbaric actions being carried out by his regime against Ukrainian civilians make a shocking mockery of these enlightened pronouncements. It is plain to see that the Russian President is being brazenly cynical by affixing his signature to the declaration. The credibility of BRICS is at risk on account of such perplexing contradictory conduct on the part of its members. BRICS is obliged to rectify these glaring irregularities sooner rather than later.

At this juncture the important clarification must be made that it is the conduct of the Putin regime, and the Putin regime only, that is being subjected to censure here. Such strictures are in no way intended to project in a negative light, the Russian people, who are heirs to a rich, humanistic civilization that produced the likes of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, among a host of other eminent spirits, who have done humanity proud and over the decades guided humans in the direction of purposeful living. May their priceless heritage live long, is this columnist’s wish.

However, the invaluable civilization which the Russian people have inherited makes it obligatory on their part to bring constant pressure on the Putin regime to end its barbarism against the Ukrainian civilians who are not at all party to the big power politics of Eastern Europe. They need to point out to their rulers that in this day and age there are civilized, diplomatic and cost-effective means of resolving a state’s perceived differences with its neighbours. The spilling of civilian blood, on the scale witnessed in Ukraine, is a phenomenon of the hoary past.

The BRICS grouping, which encompasses some of the world’s predominant economic and political powers, if not for the irregular conduct of the Putin regime, could be said to have struck on a policy framework that is farsighted and proactive on the issue of global equity.

There is the following extract from a report on its recent summit declaration that needs to be focused on. It reads: BRICS notes the need to ensure “Meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries, especially in Africa, in global decision-making processes and structures and make it better attuned to contemporary realities.”

The above are worthy goals that need to be pursued vigorously by global actors that have taken upon themselves the challenge of easing the lot of the world’s powerless countries. The urgency of resuming the North-South Dialogue, among other questions of importance to the South, has time and again been mentioned in this column. This is on account of the fact that the most underdeveloped regions of the South have been today orphaned in the world system.

Given that the Non-aligned Movement and like organizations, that have espoused the resolution of Southern problems over the decades, are today seemingly ineffective and lacking in political and economic clout, indications that the BRICS grouping is in an effort to fill this breach is heartening news for the powerless of the world. Indeed, the crying need is for the poor and powerless to be brought into international decision-making processes that affect their wellbeing and it is hoped that BRICS’s efforts in this regard would bear fruit.

What could help in increasing the confidence of the underdeveloped countries in BRICS, is the latter’s rising economic and political power. While in terms of economic strength, the US remains foremost in the world with a GDP of $ 20.89 trillion, China is not very far behind with a GDP of $ 14.72 trillion. The relevant readings for some other key BRICS countries are as follows: India – $ 2.66 trillion, Russia – $ 1.48 trillion and Brazil $ 1.44 trillion. Of note is also the fact that except for South Africa, the rest of the BRICS are among the first 15 predominant economies, assessed in GDP terms. In a global situation where economics drives politics, these figures speak volumes for the growing power of the BRICS countries.

In other words, the BRICS are very much abreast of the G7 countries in terms of a number of power indices. The fact that many of the BRICS possess a nuclear capability indicates that in military terms too they are almost on par with the G7.

However, what is crucial is that the BRICS, besides helping in modifying the world economic order to serve the best interests of the powerless as well, contribute towards changing the power balances within the vital organs of the UN system, such as the UN Security Council, to render them more widely representative of changing global power realities.

Thus, India and Brazil, for example, need to be in the UNSC because they are major economic powers in their own right. Since they are of a democratic orientation, besides pushing for a further democratization of the UN’s vital organs, they would be in a position to consistently work towards the wellbeing of the underprivileged in their respective regions, which have tremendous development potential.

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Queen of Hearts

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She has certainly won the hearts of many with the charity work she is engaged in, on a regular basis, helping the poor, and the needy.

Pushpika de Silva was crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka for Mrs. World 2021 and she immediately went into action, with her very own charity project – ‘Lend a Helping Hand.’

When launching this project, she said: “Lend a Helping Hand is dear to me. With the very meaning of the title, I am extending my helping hand to my fellow brothers and sisters in need; in a time where our very existence has become a huge question and people battling for daily survival.”

Since ‘Lend a Helping Hand’ became a reality, last year, Pushpika has embarked on many major charity projects, including building a home for a family, and renovating homes of the poor, as well.

The month of June (2022) saw Pushpika very much in action with ‘Lend a Helping Hand.’

She made International Father’s Day a very special occasion by distributing food items to 100 poor families.

“Many are going without a proper meal, so I was very keen, in my own way, to see that these people had something to keep the hunger pangs away.”

A few days later, the Queen of Hearts made sure that 50 more people enjoyed a delicious and nutritious meal.

“In these trying times, we need to help those who are in dire straits and, I believe, if each one of us could satisfy the hunger, and thirst, of at least one person, per day, that would be a blessing from above.”

Pushpika is also concerned about the mothers, with kids, she sees on the roads, begging.

“How helpless is a mother, carrying a small child, to come to the street and ask for something.

“I see this often and I made a special effort to help some of them out, with food and other necessities.”

What makes Pushpika extra special is her love for animals, as well, and she never forgets the street dogs that are having a tough time, these days, scavenging for food.

“These animals, too, need food, and are voiceless, so we need to think of them, as well. Let’s have mercy on them, too. Let’s love them, as well.”

The former beauty queen served a delicious meal for the poor animals, just recently, and will continue with all her charity projects, on a regular basis, she said.

Through her charity project, ‘Lend a Helping Hand,” she believes she can make a change, though small.

And, she says, she plans to be even more active, with her charity work, during these troubled times.

We wish Pushpika de Silva all the very best, and look forward to seeing more of her great deeds, through her ‘Lend a Helping Hand’ campaign.

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Hope and political change:No more Appachis to the rescue

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KUPPI on the current economic and political crisis: intervention 1

by Harshana Rambukwella

In Buddhist literature, there is the Parable of the Burning House where the children of a wealthy man, trapped inside a burning house, refuse to leave it, fearful of leaving its comfort – because the flames are yet to reach them. Ultimately, they do leave because the father promises them wonderful gifts and are saved from the fire. Sri Lankans have long awaited such father figures – in fact, our political culture is built on the belief that such ‘fathers’ will rescue us. But this time around no fathers are coming. As Sri Lankans stare into an uncertain future, and a multitude of daily sufferings, and indignities continue to pile upon us, there is possibly one political and emotional currency that we all need – hope. Hope is a slippery term. One can hope ‘in-vain’ or place one’s faith in some unachievable goal and be lulled into a sense of complacency. But, at the same time, hope can be critically empowering – when insurmountable obstacles threaten to engulf you, it is the one thing that can carry you forward. We have innumerable examples of such ‘hope’ from history – both religious and secular. When Moses led the Israelites to the promised land, ‘hope’ of a new beginning sustained them, as did faith in God. When Queen Viharamahadevi set off on a perilous voyage, she carried hope, within her, along with the hope of an entire people. When Martin Luther King Jr made his iconic ‘I have a dream’ speech, hope of an America where Black people could live in dignity, struck a resonant chord and this historical sense of hope also provided inspiration for the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa.

This particular moment, in Sri Lanka, feels a moment of ‘hopelessness’. In March and April, this year, before the cowardly attack on the Gota Go Gama site, in Galle Face, there was a palpable sense of hope in the aragalaya movement as it spread across the country. While people were struggling with many privations, the aragalaya channeled this collective frustration into a form of political and social action, we have rarely seen in this country. There were moments when the aragalaya managed to transcend many divisions – ethnic, religious and class – that had long defined Sri Lanka. It was also largely a youth led movement which probably added to the ‘hope’ that characterized the aragalaya. However, following the May 09th attack something of this ‘hope’ was lost. People began to resign themselves to the fact that the literally and metaphorically ‘old’ politics, and the corrupt culture it represents had returned. A Prime Minister with no electoral base, and a President in hiding, cobbled together a shaky and illegitimate alliance to stay in power. The fuel lines became longer, the gas queues grew, food prices soared and Sri Lanka began to run out of medicines. But, despite sporadic protests and the untiring commitment of a few committed activists, it appeared that the aragalaya was fizzling out and hope was stagnant and dying, like vehicles virtually abandoned on kilometers-long fuel queues.

However, we now have a moment where ‘hope’ is being rekindled. A national movement is gathering pace. As the prospect of the next shipment of fuel appears to recede into the ever-distant future, people’s anger and frustration are once again being channeled towards political change. This is a do-or-die moment for all Sri Lankans. Regardless of our political beliefs, our ideological orientation, our religion or class, the need for political change has never been clearer. Whether you believe that an IMF bailout will save us, or whether you believe that we need a fundamental change in our economic system, and a socially and economically more just society, neither of these scenarios will come to pass without an immediate political change. The political class that now clings to power, in this country, is like a cancer – poisoning and corrupting the entire body politic, even as it destroys itself. The Prime Minister who was supposed to be the messiah channeling international goodwill and finances to the country has failed miserably and we have a President who seems to be in love with the idea of ‘playing president’. The Sri Lankan people have a single existential choice to make in this moment – to rise as one to expel this rotten political order. In Sri Lanka, we are now in that burning house that the Buddha spoke of and we all seem to be waiting for that father to appear and save us. But now we need to change the plot of this parable. No father will come for us. Our fathers (or appachis) have led us to this sorry state. They have lied, deceived and abandoned us. It is now up to us to rediscover the ‘hope’ that will deliver us from the misery of this economic and political crisis. If we do not act now the house will burn down and we will be consumed in its flames.

Initiated by the Kuppi Collective, a group of academics and activists attached to the university system and other educational institutes and actions.

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