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Party : Peoples Liberation Front
Symbol : Trophy
Name of the Current Leader : Sarath Fonseka
Country : Srilanka
Home Page : http://www.jvpsrilanka.com/en/
Party Programme of the JVP :
Programme of the proletarian socialist revolution :
The proletariat in this neo-colony, where the capitalist production system dominates and a bourgeoisie subservient to imperialists is in power, faces the challenge to prepare for socialist revolutionary tasks and achieve them. In order to achieve them the Sri Lankan proletariat presents this programme.
Colonial period :
1. Indo-Europeans migrated to the island called Lanka (Ceylon) at the end of the Fifth Century B.C. and introduced the iron plough and thus imposed the Asiatic mode of production. Therefore the most significant socio-economic transformation which occurred during the twenty-five centuries of known history of the island was the emergence of the capitalist socio-economic formation based on a capitalist production system.
2. In Sri Lanka the capitalist system did not emerge as in Europe. It was superimposed on the old Asiatic production system by European imperialists who grabbed political power.
3. No decisive change affected the Lankan Asiatic production system or socio-economic structure when the Portuguese discovered the sea route to the East and occupied the pre-capitalist kingdoms there with the force of their armada which became a revolutionary factor in the Indian Ocean: the Portuguese looted the resources of the Maritime Provinces for one and a half centuries.
4. During the middle of the 17th century the Dutch commercialists – the winners of the first capitalist revolution in Europe – grabbed the Maritime Provinces from the Portuguese colonialists and ruled them for one and a half centuries. Even though they planted a few seeds of capitalism such as trade and salaries etc., and resorted to exploiting the island by imposing taxes and collecting commercial crops, there was no decisive change in the local Asiatic mode of production or the Sri Lankan socio-economic structure.
5. As a step in the great counter-revolutionary process taken against the French capitalist-democratic revolution, the British imperialists acquired this strategically important colony for themselves by way of the Amiens Agreement of 1802. Later they manipulated the political crisis, created by dissension among the aristocrats who controlled the Kandyan kingdom, to successfully invade and occupy it in 1815. It was during their period of colonial exploitation, extending for more than a century and a half, that a capitalist mode of production emerged artificially under their pioneership and guidance.
6. Sri Lanka, which had broken into several small states, was for the first time since the 13th century united by the Crown of the British capitalist class. It was part of “the Empire upon which the sun never sets”, the most powerful empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which acquired four-fifths of the whole world under its yoke.
7. The British imperialists, who turned the whole island into a single colony, had to resort to various repressive measures to protect its strategically important colony. In the process they were compelled by historical conditions to destroy the political, economic and social power of the social class which had ruled the old Asiatic society.
After destroying by force of arms the great rebellion of 1818, ushered in by the social strata which had lost their privileges and power as a result of the 1815 Kandyan Convention, the Colonial Government of the British imperialists took several decisive steps. These were, namely, the execution of a group of aristocrats (including Keppetipola), exile of another group of aristocrats headed by Ehelepola, exercising distrust by the imperialist bureaucracy towards the remaining lords, seizure of the power and privileges still retained by the aristocrats under the 1815 Convention through the gazette notification dated 21st November 1818, bringing the Kandyan administration directly under the British bureaucracy, and finally the confiscation of the property of certain aristocratic lords.
These measures, together with other steps taken against the strata of society which held privileges under the old social order after the incidents of 1820, 1837, and 1849, caused the downfall of the old Asiatic social structure. Governors North and Maitland had taken severe steps against low-country aristocrats after the pitiless suppression of the low-country rebellion of 1797. Thereafter, some aristocrats in up-country as well as low-country collaborated with the imperialists in order to protect their property. The local capitalist class emerged out of this group.
8. The necessary structural basis for the capitalist development of Sri Lanka was laid down by the implementation in 1832-33 of the reforms of the Colebrook-Cameron Commission. This Commission was comprised of representatives of the British liberal bourgeoisie, appointed in 1829 by the Imperial Government with a view to exploring ways and means of exploiting this strategically very important colony to the maximum. Accordingly the recommendations of this Commission opened the door for labour and social mobility without any discrimination. For the first time since the 13th century the whole country was united under an administration united in Colombo. This process occurred here even before European nations such as Italy and Germany had achieved these targets.
The British capitalist class established a capitalist hegemony and created the bourgeois national state, then managed to impose the capitalist superstructure over the colony. In this manner the whole population, without any discrimination of caste or ethnicity, was brought under bourgeois law, while the whole island was covered by a single judiciary system and legal procedure, to be managed by a new bourgeois Supreme Court. The British capitalist class made this colony their investing ground and established a Legislative Council to ensure an opportunity for them to satisfy their class needs. English was made the official language, and the number of English schools increased.
By this time the British bourgeoisie had, by carrying through the Industrial Revolution, become the first industrial capitalist class in the world. According to the Colebrook-Cameron proposals a Royal decree was proclaimed on 12th April 1832 by which the Rajakari system of obligatory labour to the state was abolished. By this decree labour which had been tied down to the land and which obstructed the development of capitalism, was released, enabling the setting up of a labour market.
At that time hereditary servitude had not been done away with even in European countries like Russia. Furthermore, the state monopoly that was in old Asiatic system in trade and agriculture was abolished in order to make way for the development of a free market economy. Capitalist development was promoted by converting lands into a commodity. The Colebrook-Cameron reforms opened the door for competitive free capitalist enterprise, and effected essential structural reforms conducive to capitalist development in Sri Lanka. This is how the road for the development of capitalism was built in Sri Lanka.
9. The infrastructure essential for the development of a capitalist mode of production was provided by the British colonial government. After the suppression of the 1818 uprising, the government started building roads in the up-country for military reasons. Governor Edward Barnes utilised the existing Rajakari system to build roads as early as 1820. With the expansion of the colonial estate plantations such road-building continued extensively, while railways, post and telegraph were also speedily developed with capital borne by the government. This extensive infrastructural development undertaken by the colonial government became a boon to capitalist progress in Sri Lanka.
10. The real capitalist development phase in Sri Lanka started with the introduction of coffee plantations in the first quarter of the 19th century. The essential pre-condition for this, i.e. the accumulation of primary capital, was achieved by the British imperialists during their colonial state-power. The basis for coffee plantation was prepared through various bills like the Waste Lands Ordinance and the Temple Lands Ordinance, by imposing extensive taxes and grabbing land belonging to up-country villagers. It was started as a large-scale plantation on capitalist production relations. Since coffee cultivation did not need extensive capital investment, colonial government officials could engage themselves in such ventures.
From the third decade of the 19th century, cheap labour was imported regularly from South India to work on coffee plantations. The growth of capitalist plantations in Sri Lanka was accompanied by the brutal exploitation of these labour-slaves, who were forced to live a life of sorrow and pain amidst disease and death, while thousands perished prematurely. When the slave trade collapsed in the West Indies and Guiana around 1833, Sri Lanka benefited with the coffee plantations achieving instant success. Coffee prices rose by 300 per cent, and the resultant coffee boom attracted British capital exceeding one hundred thousand pounds per year. According to Ferguson’s estimates, the entire capital invested until the fall of the coffee plantations was around eight million pounds. Although the profit made by Imperial capitalists from this estate sector has not been properly calculated, Ferguson surmises that, within the first half century alone, they made a profit of at least seventeen million, six hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds. The coffee cultivation which spread across several decades, creating a network of imperialist capitalist production, was unexpectedly affected by a virus epidemic called Hemilia vastratrics until it was completely wiped out towards the latter part of the 19th century. As a result the estate economy had to be replaced with tea plantations.
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Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
(BOC Nugegoda, Sri Lanka)
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