The political crisis in Sri Lanka: Its lessons for the international working class
16 November 2018
The political crisis that has raged in Sri Lanka for the past three weeks merits the careful attention of workers around the world.
Events on this island of 22 million people, lying off India’s southern tip, are being propelled by the same processes, rooted in world capitalist breakdown, that are shaping political and socio-economic life around the globe.
Principal among these are:
- A US-led revival of militarism and great-power strategic rivalry that threatens, absent the revolutionary intervention of the working class, to plunge humanity into a third world war;
- A resurgence of class struggle as working people strive to put an end to decades of austerity and rampant social inequality;
- The breakdown of democratic, legal-constitutional forms of rule as all sections of the capitalist elite turn to reaction and authoritarianism.
Three weeks ago today, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena illegally sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe, the head of the United National Party (UNP), as the country’s prime minister and installed in his stead the former president, Mahinda Rajapakse.
This was an abrupt reversal. One, moreover, that immediately set alarms bells ringing in Washington, since it cut across the longstanding US drive to harness Sri Lanka—which bestrides the world’s most important shipping lanes—to its military-strategic offensive against China.
At the end of 2014, US imperialism, aided by its close regional ally India, had concocted an alliance between Sirisena, hitherto a loyal Rajapakse ally, and Wickremesinghe and his UNP. Just weeks before the January 2015 presidential election and only days after quitting Rajapakse’s government, Sirisena was proclaimed the…