ee archive: eesrilanka.wordpress.com
This week’s illustration includes a Sri Lankan finger ring and headdress, ca. 16th-17C, of
gold, rubies, and sapphires, stolen by Portugal, now held in that London Museum
“Before you study the economics, study the economists!”
US Threats & the Great Temple Robbery
e-Con e-News 20-26 December 2020
“The king’s death was most probably a planned assassination orchestrated by the new Portuguese viceroy Afonso de Noronha (1550-54), who subsequently forced Bhuvanekabāhu VII’s grandson and successor Dharmapāla (r 1551-97) to relinquish not only the contents of the royal treasury but also the treasury of the Buddhist private royal temple, with its gold tableware, jewels, and rare gems. The plundering of princely and temple treasures was an important source for local Portuguese authorities in Asia to finance war and a secure way to obtain luxury gifts for diplomatic exchange.” – Gems in the Early Modern World, Bycroft & Dupré
Someone should remind the UN Secretary General (who is from Portugal) about matters yet unresolved since 1505. Meanwhile, the USA – latest avatara of what Lisbon once wrought – is going to wreak revenge on Sri Lankans for rejecting their MCC ‘free money’:
What else is new? But so thunders a ‘renowned’ economist, who delivered their purple bull this week; the Sunday Times adding “serious repercussions” to their headline.
They did not say if the SOFA and ACSA agreements, which allow US troops to enter the country, are not revenge enough. Or that the continuing import-export plantation economy, adored by the US and such economists, is already retribution.
The first US shot across the bows, post-MCC, is to grease protests against the government on the frosty road to alpine Geneva. The US embassy also tête-à-têted with the separatist TNA leader.
From Reuters to BBC to AP to Nikkei Asia to Al Jazeera, a simple internet news search on Sri Lanka reveals the latest flavors of the hour that the ‘Concert of Empire’ prioritizes for popular consumption. ‘Muslim’ burial is now the latest gaga, perhaps to reduce West Asian solidarity. Class issues catalyzing such ‘ethnic’ bristling will not be investigated, only exploited.
So…so…so…. what does all this have to do with the privatization of public lands?
The colonial plunder of treasure was immense, but it’s the English robbery of temple lands that truly haunts the body politic to this day. This great fraud of over 180 years loomed large during the recent MCC tempest. It also links to the thwarting of rural revival, which included reducing monks from national leaders into disengaged recluses.
Buddhist temples were once the largest guardians of land in the country. “One of the greatest scandals of the 19thC”, is how forensic economist SBD de Silva characterized the loss of these lands. The national archives, especially the diaries of government agents, he recalled, provide ample evidence of what took place. Students don’t need to go rent expensive London garrets to dust out English libraries, and get a PhD.
These vast tracts offered a basis for a comprehensive and uniform agricultural policy, but were stolen for plantations, with the rest of the country fragmented into uneconomical plots.
This scandal popped out this week, with regard to continuing attacks on the head of the National Archives. A newspaper columnist alleges the attacks are to prevent legal records of the viharagam and devalagam being produced in court. He doesn’t mention the US MCC ‘free money’ to hurry the ‘digitization’ of land ownership.
• The US State Department ‘Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL)’ announced $2 million to enforce freedom of association and assembly in Sri Lanka on December 18. This was 2 days after the US broadcast withdrawal of their offer of an MCC grant, ‘due to lack of partner country engagement’.
Applicants for these ‘freedom’ funds have to privately demonstrate to the funder their ability to publicly demonstrate against a popular government. The SL government responded by insisting that economic rights be included in ‘agendas of foreign grants for rights promotion’.
These ‘funds’ may be one of the US ‘repercussions’ threatened by FT’s favorite weekly “renowned economist” and former Deputy Director of the Central Bank WA Wijewardene. He pronounced, the government had spurned “free money” by turning down the MCC grant, and there would be “repercussions’.
What is this “free money”? This threat comes from economists who belch bile about there being no ‘free lunch’ (except when they’re invited to embassy banquets or stipends). In the USA, such messengers have to register as agents of foreign powers when they behave this way.
This is why, it’s not just politicians, but economists too, who should declare their assets – the foreign banks and powers they bat and bowl for!
Wijewardene also declared, “investors have no faith in the government”. He must mean white investors. He then added that this MCC “free money” was also for the digitization of land titles – “a long overdue measure of immense benefit to Sri Lanka.” Why is the US in such rush to digitize land titles here. Is it to institutionalize colonial and subsequent fraud?
The English imposition of ‘compound interest’ and various taxes also led to the loss of vast lands, especially in the east, even profiting those merchants religiously against usury and interest!
The cultivator is continually impoverished by moneylenders and merchants, who stunt the economy, and skim immense profits (actually, ‘rents’). These ‘rentiers’ invest in foreign machineries and land, driving up land and other input prices, preventing investment in our own modern production.
• The appointment of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and “legal luminary” K Sripavan as a director of the private Commercial Bank, partly owned by the World Bank, should teach us how the mythical ‘separation of powers’ really works. This ComBank is heavily involved in the import of foreign agricultural equipment.
‘Separation of powers’ usually refers to executive, legislature and judiciary. The choirboys (and girls) of laissez-faire and free trade wail for the separation between the economy and the state. What about separating judiciary and private profit? Public and private blurs further when officials hand over public ‘goods’ for private profit. Look at the number of Labour Ministry officials who end up working as corporate ‘human resources’ advisors. The same goes for ‘free money’ economists.
• Another article this week attributed the sorry state of rail transport to the power of the ‘bus and lorry lobbies’. Who comprises this lobby? How does this lobby work? It’s easy. Look at the ‘brands’ on and off the roads: Tata Ashok Leyland, Maruti, Bajaj, Caltex, IOC, etc. Who finances this game?
The media then treated readers to the farce of “300 professionals” demanding the removal of import restrictions on vehicles. They include “doctors, engineers, lecturers, accountants and other government executives”! Here then are the props of this ‘rentier’ economy – profiting off imports and land speculation. This is the real ‘free’ money, which makes it so expensive for the country to industrialize.
• What real Lankan media would look like: ee welcomes the government decision to manufacture the antibiotic Flucloxacillin – they spend over Rs500 million to import annually. But the media does not report how this antibiotic will be made. Where do the ingredients come from? What about the machinery to make it? What about IPR payments? Is England’s Standard Chartered Bank involved? A truly ‘independent’ media would ask these simple questions about supply chains.
The same goes for the ministerial report that every vehicle imported has 600 rubber parts, none made here. That 50% of rubber products used here are imported. We need a media dedicated to producer culture. For the issue is not what, but how, things are made.
Likewise, when Japan ‘gives’ a million rupees to perform ‘demining’ in a war zone like the north, why doesn’t the media fully detail how much of this money is for their machinery, expertise, and how much to bribe local informants and agents? This goes for Australians tending donkeys in Mannar, and, Japanese ‘educational’ aid to Buttala. All areas linked to strategic industrial potentials.
• Switzerland is supposed to have recently apologized for stealing babies from SL. What are these babies doing now? Milking cows on Swiss farms for Nestles? Nestles then sells us contaminated milk powder.
Sri Lanka should send a delegation of these babies’ parents to Geneva’s UN meeting in 2021 to ask about their fate? (Send another delegation to London to count out our share in the Bank of England)
The frigid road to Geneva will nowsaturate media distractions. How global warmongers still give lectures to us and why the media repeats this, and government has to respond, is laughable tho no mystery. The economy is still in thrall to the white man. Their ratings agencies, linked to the very banks that have bonded us to debt, also judge us. So many judges and monitors. Perhaps all this diversion provides good excuses not to transform the economy. The MP Sarath Fonseka, when a General, promised in Kundasale they will finish the war to prevent politicians from using this ‘national question’ as an excuse not to develop the economy.
Gender-based Violence on the Rise, weeps one headline – Certainly, funding of gender-based media proclamations is also on the rise on the road to Geneva. Yet, there’s little about the conditions of the mass of women at work. How many women advanced their skills in the ‘apparel industry’, beyond what they were sewing at home? We won’t even ask about the plantations.
Women also bear the brunt of a capitalism driving everyone off the economic grid – this violence is an equal opportunity employer. Capitalism is about the war of all against all – Bellum omnium contra omnes!
Capitalism pushed HumptyDumpty off the wall, to scramble the eggs of revolution. Who will put Humpty together again and talk of all society? It won’t be any king’s horses, men or media – it will be the people.
• The spreading of disease and the withholding of vaccines is an old white settler trick. That’s “how the West was won!” Covid 2020 has provided a convenient excuse for the latest of capitalism’s more and more frequent breakdowns. Multinationals had already targeted 2020 as the year to step up confusion midst any rational alternatives from capitalism emerging.
Interestingly, ‘free money’ economists this week, all took aim against ‘printing money’ and MMT – Modern Monetary Theory. In their fulminations, they refuse to mention the crying need to modernize production beyond assembly. They can never admit that what needs to be changed are the relationships between those who produce and those who impoverish them. Money represents the relations between people in production.
This week’s media claim that the Planters’ Association is offering “radical” new measures to “drastically” improve workers’ lives, is sheer whitewash. They are not introducing technology, or offering to invest their ill-gotten billions in making machines. They have in their grip a somewhat weak workforce manipulable by foreign powers. The Planters’ Association, itself a foreign imposition, will not invest in them.
• ee repeats: A war economy has long been on the cards on the table and under the stars that shine above us. Those who talk of us being the oldest, and India the biggest (capitalist) democracy in the planet’s East, ignore the great costs in human lives such luxuries and conceits have entailed: Of course, we know who these vanities are aimed at. This ee therefore focuses on how China invested capital in industry and linked agriculture.
The kind of war economy will be depend on the unity of the working class, and the tools, including weapons, brought to bear. All the white noise about ‘despotism’, especially in the business press, and the threats from rogue UN officials in Geneva etc., are to limit the choices of a popular government to truly industrialize the economy while outmanoeuvring Covid. The merchants want to ensure the coming war economy will enhance the import-export plantation fraud.
A1. Reader Comments –
• Uber Robbing Drivers & SL• Informal Loans • Why is Big Tech Opposing EU Regulation? • Burials in Geneva • ee’s Black Ass
A2. Quotes of the Week
• Bus & Lorry Lobby • Races in Ceylon • Derivatives Ready to Blow up Wall St Again • Capitalism was about to Crash before Covid • US Decline Grossly Exaggerated • Rockefeller Corrupted Chinese Medicine • How US Artists get Police Files • Mao: They’ll Make Trouble Again & Again…
A3. Random Notes –
• Capital Media Myths on Abolition of Slavery • Schizoid English Media • Euphemisms of Whiteness • On Diasporas • US Lobbies
B. ee Focus
B1 Hidden Successes of the Cultural Revolution & the People’s Communes – Stephen Endicott
B2. How China Procured Capital & Technology – Wei Pan
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
• ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any article sent, or your comments, and place the e-link at the end. It’s better to email.
• “ee’s lead item about 3wheelers reminds me of the percentage that Uber charges from 3wheel guys, for linking with customers. I was told by one driver that it (20%?) is the highest percentage they collect in the world. All this money is siphoned out of Sri Lanka.”
• “My driver has to borrow at 20% interest from informal sources.”
• ‘Why’s Amazon, Apple, etc., spending huge money on lobbyists to stop EU regulation of big Tech. Is it a show?
• “The orchestrated drama about cremation, through paid agents among Muslim and Sinhala groups – who then take part to rouse the wider community, is for the purpose of these kinds of international headlines. Coincidentally, drummed up on the run-up to Geneva.”
• “ee should watch its Black ass.”
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• ‘The Bus lobby and the Lorry lobby may try to obstruct the development of the railway network since it will be financially negative to them but, if done it will save space, environment and precious time of the people.” (see ee Industry, Fast Track)
• “The 1881 colonial census listed 71 ‘races’ in Ceylon, including Chaldeans, Circasssians, Kelts etc!…’ – (ee Media, Gara)
• “The derivatives that blew up Wall St during the financial crisis of 2007-10 have reached massive heights once again” (ee Economy, Bloomberg)
• ‘“Before the lockdowns, there were anything between 10-20% of firms in the US and Europe that were barely making enough profit to cover running costs and debt servicing. These so-called ‘zombie’ firms may find the COVID winter is the last nail in their coffins.” I think 2021 will show that to be the case.’ – (ee Economists, Top Posts)
• “Reports announcing the death of global US hegemony were – and continue to be – grossly exaggerated.” (see ee Economists, Panitch)
• ‘In the 1920s, the Rockefeller Foundation made moves into China… “Rockefeller had always had a particular interest in China, where Standard Oil was almost the sole supplier of kerosene and oil ‘for the lamps of China’. So he put money to establish the China Medical Board and to build the Peking Union Medical College, playing the role of the Great White Father who has come to dispense knowledge on his lowly children. The Rockefeller Foundation invested up to $45mn into “westernizing” (actually corrupting) Chinese medicine.” (see ee Industry, Vaccine as Public Good)
• In Aug 1940, Billie Holliday agreed to do another song by Lewis Allan (Abel Meeropol, pseudonym of son of the Rosenbergs, the US later murdered as Soviet agents), who wrote “Strange Fruit”. Titled “Over Here: the Yanks Aren’t Coming,” the song was a parody of Irving Berlin’s popular hit “Over There: the Yanks Are Coming,” written for US troops during WWI….In the fall of 1940, the FBI approached Ralph Watkins, owner of Kelly’s Stables, where Holiday was performing at the time. The agents told Watkins to stop Holiday from singing the song… But the matter did not end there; because of Holiday’s perceived left-wing tendencies, the FBI started a file: “#4855389-Billie Holiday: Singer.”
• ‘Make trouble, fail, make trouble again, fail again… till their doom; that is the logic of the imperialists and all reactionaries the world over in dealing with the people’s cause, and they will never go against this logic. This is a Marxist law. When we say “imperialism is ferocious”, we mean that its nature will never change, that the imperialists will never lay down their butcher knives, that they will never become Buddhas, till their doom.
Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again… till their victory; that is the logic of the people, and they too will never go against this logic. This is another Marxist law. The Russian people’s revolution followed this law, and so has the Chinese people’s revolution” – Chairman Mao Zedong, “Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle”, 1949
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
EconomyNext in the midst of a rant on why we cannot be Singapore, quoting the usual sermons from Lee Kwan Yew, slipped in this line: “Slavery was not abolished by the slaves, but by the mainly white liberals.”
First of all, slavery was never fully abolished (see US 13th amendment for example, where slavery is allowed in prisons, and guess who predominates there?). Second, chattel slavery was rejigged into indentured slavery and waged slavery. Third, it was not white liberals who quickened the downfall of that ‘peculiar institution’ but the massive and increasingly frequent rebellions by Africans themselves. As WEB Dubois declared, Africans started simply downing their tools, one of the largest rarely mentioned general strikes in history, and picked up arms. Lincoln merely was forced to follow on. EconomyNext is linked to the US Hearst media monopoly, so we can understand its studied servility.
• There’s a type of deep schizophrenia involved in reading English newspapers. not meant for the English-reading Lankan reader as such, but for someone else looking over our shoulder, so to speak. It’s written for the embassies, and particularly not the majority of world’s embassies, but for those ‘5-eyes’ of white embassies and yes, very specifically, the white man.
Who is this white man? – for example, ee is told, that many editors of state newspapers have been removed and installed at the demand of the US and English envoys. So much for ‘free’ media.
When ee first started compiling and commenting on the economy, it was told not to refer to the ‘whites’, but to use euphemisms, not to use imperialist, but ‘Western’, etc. This was by people who used to and maybe still send ee to their contacts in the embassies, which was never encouraged but not preventable. They wish to be invited to their ‘parties’, trade information, or gain visas. For a ‘free lunch’. Fine. ee’s not interested in educating the white man (which is also a gender-neutral term by the way, including people with many different reproductive parts; plus, white has many shades, including pink, black, grey – ee uses ‘white’ in the best tradition, as not mere pigment or gene, but as a symbol of maintaining the colonial status quo).
‘West’ – when it only refers to the whites, or Europe, or the Americas – erases all of Africa which is immediately to the west of us, not to mention parts of India, and West Asia (referred to by that absurd colonial construct, ‘The Middle East’). We should also refuse to use ‘American’ when it only refers to the USA. Or, to use ‘British’ when it’s the power and the language that’s robbed us is ‘English’. Yes, many of this ‘English’ were of various parts, Scottish, Irish, etc, but they did not speak Gaelic or Celtic or Welsh to us. And they were happily part of the armies that devastated our country.
The other matter is this business of ‘diaspora’, which it’s claimed, form imperialist policy against Sri Lanka. This is simply not true. They are mere, or perhaps, willing pawns in a massive military-industrial machinery. The first major ‘foreign’ lobbies that concern us, for example, relate to what were called the ‘West Indian’ and ‘East Indian’ interests, and more precisely, the West India Company and the East India Company. The former very specifically related to the chattel slavery sugar and cotton interests in the ‘Americas’, and the latter to the much more varied ‘indentured’ slavery and other commodities (especially opium). Many of the East India Company directors controlled the abolition movement. Not because they loved Africans, but because they wished to break the monopoly the West Indians had on the English import-export trade, and start robbing India and China, as well.
Of course, there were many other ‘Companies’ that formulated English state policy, whether it was for the Balkans or the Levant, that dressed their business interests in concerns about despotism and ‘freedom’.
Which brings us to the composition of so-called K-street in the USA, where all the ‘influencers’ are supposed to be located. We’re told of a ‘Jewish Lobby’ which arms Israel, a ‘Cuban Lobby’ which destabilizes Cuba, and of course there are several others, like the ‘Armenian Lobby’ etc. We’re told they formulate policy for the US government. This is just not true. What they do is provide camouflage and backup for US policy. US policy is not created by voting citizens but by the leading capitalist organizations, banks, corporations, etc. At one time the Armenian and Jewish lobby worked together, but after oil was uncovered in Azerbaijan, Israel became a major ally, and the Jewish Lobby and Armenian lobby stopped working together.
What the media does is camouflage this ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’ further, by claiming all manner of fanciful costumes for the white man: democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, etc, none of which was meant for their colonies.
• In the absence of thorough Sri Lankan academic and media investigation into the growth of New China, especially its industrial and related agricultural policies, ee presents important records of China’s sacrifices and successes: The Cultural Revolution, much maligned by the English media, as well as how China procured capital & technology to invest in modern production.
China & the USSR offer the most powerful models of countries striving for independence and equality through industrialization. The apoplectic and manic reaction in the white media to any discussion on the recipes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc., is meant to preclude sober appraisal of their industrial programs.
Rising attacks on China as ‘imperialist’ also emanate from the whites, both Left and Right. For instance, ee sometimes reproduce articles from Canada’s ‘socialist alternative’, or Manhattan’s Jacobin magazine, which turns out to have the same NATO view of Syria, Thailand, Hong Kong, China etc. But equating China with the US is false equivalence at its highest! The US remains sole superpower!
No taboo is greater than discussing China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (CR), which sought to prevent bureaucratization, as well as unleash rural collective power. The criterion for Chinese novelists to be invited to so-called International Literary Festivals as in Galle, would be ardent opposition to the GPCR.
ee reproduces a 30-year-old report on the important changes in China back in the 1960s. Those who create divisions between the leadership of Mao and then Deng Xiaoping, are either unaware or prefer to ignore the reasons why China was forced to ‘dig in’. During those CR years, China moved defense production into its interior, while also attempting to break out of the imperialist siege by supporting resistance, for example, in Vietnam, SE Asia, Africa. The GPCR also helped create the massive infrastructure China’s present phenomenal rise is based on:
“No estimates or published statistics exist for the billions of labor days invested in basic farmland capital construction from one end of the country to the other during the CR. If such calculations are ever made it is safe to say that they will dwarf the pyramids, the Great Wall or any other previous human construction in scale & social purpose many times over…”(see ee Focus)
B. Special Focus_
B1 The Hidden Successes of Cultural Revolution & the People’s Communes
Excerpts from Socialist Development in Rural China: Reflections on the Experience of the People’s Commune – Stephen Endicott, 1989
…When Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China came to power in 1949, China was a nation of 500 million agricultural paupers.
The challenge that faced the Party was how to organize and direct the energies of this vast mass of people, so as to feed the population and create a wealthy and powerful nation in the context of something thought of as a New China that would lead into a socialist future.
After a few years of experimentation and preparation, the vehicle they chose was the rural people’s commune combining industry, agriculture, trade, education and military affairs to become the basic units of state power.
The People’s Communes existed in the Chinese countryside from 1958 (or perhaps more properly from 1962 when they achieved a stable form) until 1982. In the end there were 54,000 of them, with an average population of 15,000, of which about half the members were able-bodied, the rest being too old, too young or disabled in some fashion.
During most of these 2 and a half decades the Chinese, as well as many foreign observers, considered the communes to be a socialist formation. That’s to say they mainly had non-capitalist forms of ownership and organization, namely: (1) public rather than private ownership of the means of production; (2) production for social use rather than for individual profit; (3) regulation of production by social plan rather than the mechanism of the free-market. In addition there were 2 other aspects, less clearly defined, but essential to any socialist project for remaking history: (4) distribution according to work combined with social policies to promote a reduction of disparities between rich and poor, between town and country and between those who do mental and manual work; and (5) the search for political forms leading to a progressive distribution of power that allows people to check bureaucracy, to support women’s liberation and the liberation of other oppressed groups. To one degree or another, the people’s communes combined all of these features.
…How well did Mao’s socialism work? – A minority of the people’s communes (estimated at 30%6) never functioned very well, but overall, on the basis of grain output and other, non-farm activity of a collectivized agriculture (which included new physical arrangements for farming – field reconstruction, improved irrigation systems, mechanization etc – as well as new social relations among the 750 million peasants – brigades, production teams, small private plots for household use, commune rural enterprises etc.), China was, without doubt, able to make an impressive start on her industrial revolution. Creating a steel industry and a machine-building capability that was the envy of the Third World, China also won the recognition of major first world economists. Economist Arthur G Ashbrook Jr, in a summary of the achievements of the first 3 decades, prepared for the US Congress, writes:
The PRC has posted an impressive overall growth record. It has provisioned a huge and rapidly growing population, channeled a large fraction of output to the swift expansion of industrial capacity, and mastered ever-increasing amounts of post-WWII technology. In contrast to most other developing countries, China has steered clear of massive foreign debt, prevented uncontrolled migration into urban areas, devised a practical rural development and employment strategy, and established domestic production capacity for a variety of modern armaments.7
Simultaneously with the development of industry there came a dramatic improvement in the well-being of the people: life expectancy rose in China from 38 years in 1949 to 68 years by 1979. Considering the size of the population, almost a quarter of the human race, this is an advance in human health and welfare unprecedented in world history.
In spite of these successes, a number of unresolved problems remained in the operations of the rural economy under the people’s communes: `5 people doing the work of 3‘ owing to population pressures, disagreements over work incentives, and a style of leadership that tended to degenerate into bureaucratic commandism. These difficulties were addressed in various ways.8 But one vital flaw overshadowed all the achievements of the people’s communes. The people might be healthy and they might be educated but they were poor. The disposable income for commune members remained low.
After 20 strenuous years of building socialism in the countryside, the average annual per capita income in 1978 was just under US$35 (134 yuan).9
…About the low income of commune members – The best proof for the thesis that responsibility for low disposable income for commune members rests with certain government policies rather than with the advanced social formation of the people’s commune, lies in the experience of the final 4 years of the communes after 1978. In these years the disposable income of commune members began to rise significantly. By 1982 the average net income per capita of the commune members was $68 (270Y).12 Thus in the last 4 years disposable incomes doubled, something that had taken 20 years to do under Mao’s leadership of the commune social formation.
How did it happen? The answer is quite simple. With the communes still intact, Deng Xiaoping took a policy decision in late 1978 to make a massive investment in agriculture, reducing rural tax quotas, raising the effective price paid to farmers for grain by 40% (the first increase since 1966) and providing 6 times as much chemical fertilizer.13 Naturally the peasants’ enthusiasm rose and so did farm production! China’s reformers like to point to figures for 1984, after the demise of the communes, when incomes reached $88 (355Y), to suggest that it was the structural reform of the system, the return to small-scale peasant `household responsibility system’ and contract (capitalist?) farming that made the difference. But the experience of the last years of the people’s communes challenges this claim.
A question remains as to why Mao failed to raise the price for grain (and peasant incomes) for 12 years at a time when he was urging peasants to `take grain as the key link’ and their costs for producing grain were rising. The paradox was that the more grain the peasants produced, the poorer they became in terms of disposable income. (Their food grain was guaranteed by the `basic grain ration,’ also known as the `iron rice bowl’.) No explanation has ever been given for this policy lapse.
One hypothesis is that it related to the high cost of fighting the `paper tigers’ of imperialism. During those years when both the superpowers were China’s enemies, China gave the Vietnamese $20billion to fight the US invasion and supported liberation movements elsewhere, especially in Africa (Tanzam railway etc) to the tune of several billion. In addition, the relocation of industry to the interior of China for defence purposes took up half the national capital construction funds for the decade after 1964.14 Any attempt to understand the experience of China’s socialist construction and the low incomes available to her people that fails to take into account the externally imposed costs on China’s budget must be considered either uninformed or deliberately misleading.15
Another reason for the low disposable income of the commune members was that the communes were urged and directed to put the public interest ahead of private interest. Mao’s strategy was to `strike while the iron is hot’ by mobilizing the revolutionary energies of the masses in a self-reliant way to `transform the rivers and mountains’ of China. His successors claim that China’s economy would have made even greater strides had it not been for these mass movements. These claims can neither be proved nor disproved. However, the figures gathered over the years by the State Statistical Bureau do not take into account much of the work done by commune members. No estimates or published statistics exist for the billions of labor days invested in basic farmland capital construction from one end of the country to the other during the Cultural Revolution. If such calculations are ever made, it is safe to say that they will dwarf the pyramids, the Great Wall or any other previous human construction in scale and social purpose many times over. The policy decisions of Mao and his central committee put a heavy burden on the peasants, did not raise their immediate disposable income, but they did create the debt-free infrastructure (irrigation works, roads, railways, mines, oil wells, hydropower etc) that have become the basis for China’s later advances and for her ability to turn to consumer production. In addition it should not be forgotten that the people’s communes supported social income policies that provided health care, educational and other services at a level never before reached in the Chinese countryside.
Theorizing about socialism as `a community of poverty’ should take its point of departure from an honest and objective reading of history. Once the `iron rice bowl’ was secured, the socialist collectives did not fail to raise private income; they never tried, at least not until the last few years of their existence. Government policy on investment, not the advanced social formation represented by the people’s commune, was responsible for the low disposable income of the peasants. It is true that egalitarian incentives created some difficult problems and capitalism with its appeal to greed might well have done better on that score, but then China would long ago have come to resemble Brazil or some other member of the world capitalist hinterland, shackled by foreign debt, victim of runaway inflation and witnessing an immense and growing gap between rich and poor. Wisely or not, the path taken by the low-income people’s communes resulted from choices adopted by the government of the day. It was the communes’ socialist spirit that allowed China to travel so far.
About Historical Experience and the Theory of Socialism – …The head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who believes that capitalism is not practical for China, has projected a more Maoist proposition into the debate. “Socialism,” wrote Hu Sheng in 1987, “will not grow spontaneously.“17 This conclusion is surely grounded in the experience of the Chinese revolution. Like any other social formation, socialism requires committed supporters. It needs people who are ideologically awakened and sensitive to the regime of a collective where certain individual rights are given up in favor of social obligations and where private privilege gives way to social justice. It can grow only if it has a material base of collective organization and if every collective understands how each unit is related to its neighbor and to the layer upon layer of human organization and activity that is China. These things take a lot of commitment, require clear theoretical guidelines and strong practical leadership.
Future Prospects for Co-operative Agriculture in China – The prediction of political trends in China is a difficult and precarious matter. A Japanese specialist in Chinese agricultural development, who is well aware of formidable problems in the existing `individual farm’ system and who suggests that China’s rural areas are now “far more capitalistic than even those of Japan,” predicts, nevertheless, “the old system of socialist co-operative associations will never be restored in China.” The main rationale he gives for this conclusion is the familiar one that the commune structure left many farmers as poor as they had been before collectivization.18
A different conclusion is also possible. Through continued public ownership of the farm land, of the irrigation systems and of an impressive number of rural industrial enterprises that employ about half of the non-farm workforce,19 the material base for socialist relations of production remains largely intact in the countryside. Successful examples of villages that resisted de-collectivization or that have re-collectivized can be found here and there scattered across the country, but especially in the north around Beijing.20 The prospect of socialism remains in contention.
But for agriculture to move again in the direction of socialist co-operativization on a large scale it is obvious that there will have to be another sea change in attitudes. Without a positive signal from the highest level there will be no major movement to strengthen the co-operative sector. As William Hinton has argued, a suitable climate is needed for co-ops to grow:
Credit policy, price policy, investment policy, mechanization policy, technical policy, inheritance policy, healthcare policy and many others must all favor cooperation. The thrust of culture must encourage `public first, self second’ as the ethical norm. Slogans such as, “Some must get rich first”…and “Enrich yourself” must be countered… some sort of proletarian counteroffensive that would at least challenge the current monopoly of the whole field by bourgeois standards and ideology.21….
…There are other models as well – Doudian Village in the suburbs of Beijing is a village that decided not to divide up the land under the `household responsibility system.’ Instead it `contracted’ the land to itself and under other names maintains the co-operative forms of work and income distribution that worked under the people’s commune. As the village prospers in output and per capita income there is no wide gap between rich and poor. Last year 40,000 people came to have a look. Many liked what they saw and Doudian’s socialist example is spreading.25 …. the Doudian example shows that despite the lure of capitalism the caravan of collective living continues to move forward and that Mao’s theme of social solidarity keeps a strong beat in parts of China. In the spring of 1989 it is too early to pronounce eulogies on the demise of socialism. Things can change; they usually do in China.
6. See William Hinton, in Deane & Hinton. ‘Mao’s rural policies: a debate,’ Monthly Review, v40, (March 1989), p10.
7. Arthur G Ashbrook Jr, ‘China: economic modernization and long-term performance,’ in Joint Economic Committee, US Congress, China under the 4 Modernizations, Pt1, (Washington, DC, 1982), p105.
8. Louis Putterman, ‘Group farming and work incentives in collective-era China,’ Modern China, v14, No4, Oct 1988), pp419-50; John H Hamer, ‘Can the collectivization of agriculture be made palatable through organization and incentives?’ Peasant Studies, v15, No4, 1988, pp233-51; Stephen Endicott, Red Earth: revolution in a Sichuan village, (Toronto, 1989) pp87ff, 123-27, 215-17.
9. State Statistical Bureau, Statistical Yearbook of China 1983, (English ed, HK, 1983), p499.
13. Endicott (1989), op.cit, p134.
14. Shigeru Ishikawa, ‘China’s economic growth since 1949 – an assessment,” China Quarterly, No94 (June 1983), p257; also Barry Naughton, “The Third Front: defence industrialization in the Chinese interior, CQ, No115, (Sept 1988), pp351-86.
15. Endicott (1989), op.cit, 47-48, 250-51.
17. Beijing Review, No.22, 1987, p24.
18. Reitsu Kojima, ‘Agricultural organization: new forms, new contradicitons,’ China Quarterly, No116, (Dec 1988), pp733, 714.
19. Lee Travers, ‘Peasant non-agricultural production in the PRC,’ (1986) op.cit, p385; Christine Wong, ‘Interpreting rural industrial growth in the post-Mao period,’ Modern China, v14, No1, (Jan 1988), pp21ff; Ch’en Te-sheng, ‘The development of town and township enterprises in mainland China since 1979,’ Issues & Studies, 1986, 22(10), pp67-88.
20. Liu Chenlie, ‘Consolidating farmland for greater efficiency: Shunyi county pioneers a new ‘appropriate-scale’ farm system,’ China Reconstructs, (May 1989), pp25-27; S Endicott, ‘On and off the beaten track,’ Canadian Far Eastern Newsletter, v40, No390, (Oct 1988), Supplement.
21. Deane & Hinton (1989), opcit, p35.
25. Stephen Endicott, ‘On and off the beaten track,’ (1988) op.cit.
B2. How China Procured Capital & Technology – Wei Pan
I. Procuring Capital
Due to their cultural heritage and lack of a legalist tradition, family enterprises have prevailed among the Chinese “tigers” (Taiwan, HK, Singapore) in East Asia. Business cooperation among individual Chinese firms has been notoriously problematic, and understandably more difficult in the less-developed socioeconomic setting of rural China. Yet, Chinese peasants have desperately needed cooperation to acquire industrial capital. Data shows that community funds (local government budgets), collective enterprise accumulation & bank loans through community authorities accounted for more than 90% of TVE (Township & Village Enterprise) assets in the mid-1990s. Tracking the process of TVE capital formation is beyond the objective of this research. Those stark figures also do not show how complicated and difficult it was for rural collectives to raise funds.
1. Bank loans were generally not available to rural industries that developed before the initial stage of reform. Township enterprises’ seed capital was mainly squeezed from the tight fiscal budgets of commune governments and from local credit cooperatives. Allotments from the peasantry and the slim collective assets accumulated from agriculture constituted the major part of seed capital for village enterprises (VEs). The small quantities of seed capital raised during that time proved more valuable than the larger amounts available later through formal financial institutions. A rural entrepreneur from Zhejiang Province recalled the difficulties in obtaining seed capital, perhaps with slight exaggeration: “In the early 1980s, the most difficult thing was to obtain the first 100,000 yuan to produce something, and it merely became a money game of numbers when the factory stood there.”
2. For TEs built after the initial stage of the reform, bank loans were the major means of acquiring seed capital. It also required collective effort. In Sichuan, where I did my most intensive field study, banks were very reluctant to share risks with new and small TVEs which arose and disappeared quickly. Banks preferred to deal with TE offices; a bank loan for a particular enterprise was rarely negotiated directly between an enterprise and a bank, but mostly between the bank and a group of TE entrepreneurs led by the head of the Township Enterprises Office, so the loan was guaranteed by the township government with the assets of a number of TEs. When the borrower enterprise was in danger, the township government had to organize a collective rescue. That put pressure on the township government to select the right TVE managers. If the loan was a significantly large sum, the township Party Secretary led the negotiations with the bank, and the security mortgage often involved the land “purchased” by the township government from villages. The township authority also had to find a third party to pledge to pay for their land, in case the investment was lost. Bank loans accounted for more than a third of the seed capital of most TVEs.
3. In some more-developed areas, township governments exerted great influence over the local credit co-op or even the local Agricultural Bank branches. In one township in Jiangsu Province’s Wujin County, the town Party Secretary told me of his envy of a neighboring township in Wuxi County which was the “premier county of China”:
Its secretary is a county Party Committee member – a prevailing practice in Wuxi – so he has key influence in the promotion of local bank managers. They do exactly what he asks them to do. Bank officials don’t know about local financial needs, but the town Party Secretary is the one person who knows this best. Since his hands are not tied by the bank, no wonder he can achieve much faster development than I could, though our 2 townships are similar in terms of size of population and per-capita farmland, development starting points, and transportation conditions.
4. Another major way to raise seed capital for TVEs was by direct investment of community authorities, reinvesting the profits accumulated from other enterprises under their jurisdiction. In addition, local TVEs could purchase the right to use land at cheap prices or even for free. The low-cost rent was the collectives’ indirect contribution to the seed capital of local TVEs, and also part of the basis on which local authorities claimed a collective share in those enterprises that later became entities independent of the community.
5. Starting in the early 1980s, the land around city suburbs became a hot item in the market and a new source of TVE capital accumulation. Land transactions mostly went through the township government, although by law the village collective was the owner. Village authorities were not authorized to exempt farmers from grain-purchase quotas and agricultural taxes, and rearranging land allocations among several 100 households could be extremely exhausting. To land buyers, land deals made with a village authority were vulnerable and not always respected by higher authorities. Dealing with township governments was easier, better protected by laws, while saving the trouble of bargaining with 100s of individual farming households. The land having been sold by local collectives, the livelihood of landless peasants became the responsibility of the local authorities.
6. A new way to raise capital in less-developed regions was the formation of township-owned “rural co-operative funds”, organized by township authorities. They formulated this highly disputed financial institution because the state controlled the traditional “credit co-op” and the Agricultural Bank was strictly regulated, often beyond the reach of small TVEs. The funds yielded an interest rate 1-2% higher than the nationally unified bank rates, and loans were issued at rates also slightly higher than the banks. Although such mini financial institutions were not allowed to accept the savings of individuals, township governments often demanded all the enterprises inside the township deposit all their capital in such funds. The funds issued only short-term (3-6 month) loans to guarantee the security of deposits, and loans were available only to the enterprises within the township.
7. China’s reforms generated many types of lucrative urban businesses whose financial needs were hardly met by the official banking system, which had to be politically responsive to state-owned enterprises. So “underground money markets” emerged. The loan providers were diversified, including corporations owned by military units, government branches, local bank branches and overseas Chinese capital in Hong Kong, and the end users were 100,000 of TVEs. Because of the high risks involved, the borrowers were not individual TVEs but township governments. Village committees, except for those with unusually strong VEs, could rarely access that market; even township governments were not always trusted by money dealers, who often required additional guarantees from the county-prefecture authority or from local state bank branches. A single deal may involve a very large amount of money, often tens of millions of yuan. The arrangement was extremely complicated, involving many remotely located parties to make the transaction appear legal and the high interests seem lower.
In the mid-1990s, China’s financial market and financial institutions were outdated compared to those in the West, but a developing financial market was taking shape due to heated TVE competition. Like the pricing system, the “dual track” financial market in China dealt with both the needs of the urban losers and the ever greater numbers of players in the rudimentary market. Corruption existed, sometimes very seriously because of the “dual track,” but it was less costly than creating too many urban and rural losers. Banking system reform started in Jan 1994, proceeding smoothly and welcomed by all parties, related to competition fostered in earlier development.
II. Acquiring Technology – China’s longstanding rural-urban division of labor isolated peasants from accessing industrial knowhow and turned all college-educated rural youth into urban dwellers. Working for rural industries used to be a shameful move for the urban educated such as engineers.
1. In the early stage of rural reforms, some commune/brigade enterprises (CBEs) already had the capacity to hire retired urban workers and even some retired engineers. State regulations at that time stipulated that state pensioners could work to earn cash only to make up the difference between their pension and their standard wage prior to retirement. Under such a regulation, money was not the only factor attracting urban pensioners to the countryside; connections with relatives and friends, as well as warm invitations from rural grassroots authorities, could satisfy their desire for prestige. After the mid-1980s, salaries became the single-most important factor in hiring needed technicians from cities. Not just the retired, but urban “weekend engineers” became available for TVEs. These collectives often used government cars to transport technicians between their homes and the countryside, and even rural “vacation homes” could be involved in the deal.
2. Stealing technology from state industry was a common practice of rural collectives, which have at times performed even better than the state sector in applying new technologies. I visited a village in southern Jiangsu and learned its development story. The village in 1984 had planned to build an electric cable factory. Its cadres brought a reference letter from their township government to a state cable factory in Nanjing City, to ask for help with training “peasant brothers” to become “skilled workers.” The then-expanding factory was short of workers, and the cheap laborers introduced by rural collectives were more reliable than middle-school graduates from off the street. A deal was struck. In the following months, the peasant-workers became “skilled” in making friends with factory engineers by “giving lots of gifts.” Later, 2 of the engineers became “weekend engineers,” and one also became a permanent resident in the village, enjoying with his whole family the village-provided luxury house. The village authorities even found a way to import advanced machinery for cable production from the US. This cost nearly $1million – an astonishing sum in the 1980s. China’s foreign-currency controls used to be very strict until the mid-1990s. It was really amazing that a village could obtain such a huge sum of foreign currency. According to the village Party Secretary, it took quite some doing for them to obtain the money, with the exchange for foreign currency alone involving many “illegal activities under the closed eyes of the local government.” The village factory prospered, producing lower-cost and better-quality cables. Meanwhile, the state-owned electric cable factory in Nanjing disappeared from the market, ousted partially by the village factory.
3. Transfer of engineers among state factories used to be notoriously difficult because of the fixed salary system and “work-unit ownership.” The state, out of consideration for political costs, was reluctant to take any initiative in this area. Without state initiative, the outdated system was brought down quickly by the powerful competition from rural collectives. According to an official report, TVEs in 1992 employed 1.3 million part-time and full-time urban technicians. Another such report claimed, TVEs in 1993 employed 3 million urban dwellers, including skilled workers. Clearly aware of their own weaknesses and pushed by heated competition, TVEs attracted the required technicians from the cities through very competitive salaries. A textile printing and dyeing mill in Shandong Province’s Yantai Prefecture placed a newspaper ad for a technician in June 1992. The township enterprise, which was built in 1985 and generated 128mn yuan in revenue in 1991, offered such excellent salaries and benefits that in 10 days it received 8,000 application letters and 200 daily phone inquiries. Wu Xiedong, Huaxi Village Party Committee Secretary, told reporters in May 1992, “Without urban technicians, our village of 320 peasant households had no way to deal with our 20 enterprises and achieve 300mn yuan [~$50mn] in revenue in one year.” Ten years later, in 2002, the village achieved a sales revenue of 6bn yuan and paid 0.6bn yuan in state taxes.
4. As TVEs became ever stronger, collectives started training their own permanent technicians by building local technical schools, which became common in townships in southern Jiangsu. Collectives also sent their own villagers to universities. Most TVE workers could not pass the national entrance exams to enjoy China’s free higher education, but their collectives paid universities to arrange special training classes. This became a lucrative source of ‘creating income’ for China’s underfunded universities. It was reported in 1992, “In just a few years 11 million TVE employees have received training in formal universities.” Chinese peasants, nearly 20% still semi-illiterate, had produced goods sophisticated enough to win a considerable market share both domestically and abroad.
(from: Behind China’s Economic Miracle – the Coalition of Rural Collective Industries & Grassroots Authorities, Wei Pan, Beijing, FLP, 2015)
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to track the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’ mainly to expose the backwardness of a multinationally controlled ‘local media’:
(ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• Lanka wants economic rights in agendas of foreign grants for rights promotion
‘He was commenting on the proposed US grant of US$ 1.75 million to US$ 2 million for promoting freedom of association and freedom of assembly in Sri Lanka, announced by the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) on December 18.’
• US envoy powwow with TNA Sumanthiran as US moves to bring new UN resolution against SL
• UNHRC and the Tamil Parties’ desperation
• US Embassy concerned over extension of Marine Drive
• LTTE weapons haul surfaces during rain
• Do Sinhalese and Buddhists have a future in Sri Lanka
• Can we afford Elections and Provincial Councils?
• Govt. says no finality on ECT; awaits committee recommendations
• Port workers sink political differences against selling East Container Terminal to India
• ECT under scanner on way forward
‘Indian High Commission officials have been engaging with the authorities in the past few days and weeks on the matter.’
• India – “Do as we say, not as we do” – Sunday Times
‘It’s the irony of ironies that while on the one hand, the Indian Government is at least ostensibly calling upon their counterparts in Colombo to re-energise Provincial Councils, they have themselves adopted Sri Lanka’s doomed pre-1987 District Development Councils (DDCs) at home.
• JVP too smells a rat in selecting India’s Adani Group to run Colombo Port East Terminal
‘“The local agent to secure the deal between the Adani group and Sri Lanka Ports Authority is Sajad Mawzoon, a director and local shareholder of Colombo Shangri-La. We exposed his deals with the government, during a parliament debate. Mawazoon helped the SLPP and its Viyath Maga to hold their meetings in the run-up to the elections. Mawzoon’s Pyramid Wilmar is the company that profited from the government’s decision to change import levies on sugar.”’
• SJB rakes up dubious track record of Indian conglomerate selected by govt. to run ECT
‘”Adani Group, which allegedly responsible for the death of 21 Indian farmers that is attempting to run the operations of the Colombo Port East Terminal.”
• Local investors are most welcome to invest in East Container Terminal: SLPA chair
• Politics of Colombo Port’s Eastern Container Terminal
‘foreign involvement in the ECT (which has been around for years to the embarrassment of successive governments) will only add grist to the opposition’s mill’
• Expert Committee concerned over PC polls before reaching consensus on new Constitution
• “Will the East be Sri Lanka’s Bosnia?” – Jayatilleka
• Murder in the Cathedral: Christmas killing of Joseph Pararajasingham – Jeyaraj
• Maldives backtracks on Govt.’s request to bury Muslims dying of COVID-19
• Sharjah Ruler Directs Not To Bury Any Corona Victims In Al Saja’a
• Is Ali Sabry a Trojan Horse?
• Civil Society intervenes on behalf of Muslim Covid-19 victims
• How can Sri Lanka deal with Islamic Extremism?
• Muslims Will Not Start War and Suffer Over 100,000 Muslim Deaths and 198,000 Muslim War Widows Over Cremation Issue
• Ranil tells govt not to dilly-dally with burial decision
‘It is important to look into…the manner in which countries such as Korea, India and Germany have acted in this regard,” he said.’
• Decisions on disposal of bodies of COVID-19 victims must be based on scientific evidence – JVP
• Sri Lanka facing the new Cold War in the Indo-Pacific theatre
• The ‘Indo-Pacific’: The concept, history and the struggle for dominance
• Nepal must learn from Lanka, be vigilant about China: India’s Gen. Bipin Rawat
• Serious repercussions for Sri Lanka from MCC grant withdrawal
‘“There would be repercussions. Unfortunately this was free money and not a loan,” said renowned economist W.A. Wijewardene…”’
• Baseless US reasoning for the denial of US$ 480 mn MCC grant to Lanka
• MCC grant had linkages to two US military cooperation agreements
‘The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and, Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) permit the USA to use Sri Lankan facilities for its logistical purposes, including refueling and entry into and exit from Sri Lanka for American military personnel without having to obtain visas’
• MCC snub: Sri Lanka is self-alienating from the West
• Sri Lanka and India sign four MoUs on Grama Shakti and Model Village Housing Projects
• Pakistan calls for trade relations to be put on par with political rapport
• Sri Lanka-Russia Friendship Society contributed towards strengthening bilateral relations
‘….1942… it was established under the name Ceylon Friends of Soviet Union.’
• I want to talk about China
‘They lifted 850 million people out of absolute poverty in 40 years (100 million just since 2013), built free homes, provided jobs and healthcare and education.’
• The night Arafat, facing death threats, slept in UN chief’s office
• Turkey gets an ally in Ukraine
‘Does it aim to counterbalance Russian supremacy in the Black Sea? Some analysts estimate that this is Ankara’s way of pressuring Moscow in its own backyard as retaliation for Russian efforts undermining Turkey’s agenda in Libya and Syria.’
• Belgium to return slain DR Congo leader’s tooth by June
• Venezuela: Oil Production Stagnant as Iran Deepens Cooperation
• Tensions continue to rise in Kanehsatake
‘“I don’t care how many bylaws they pass, this is Kanien’kehá:ka territory, Haudenosaunee territory.’
• US Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning Nazis, Labels it “Russian Disinformation”
• A No Deal Brexit Is Now All But Certain To Happen
‘France closed all transport links with the island. England depends on food from abroad and there were immediately fears about supply shortages’
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of legitimate violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• Formidable New Year Challenges
• PHI union wants travel restrictions
• Archbishop calls to investigate source of Covid-19
‘“We hear about fraudulent ways of those who produce pharmaceuticals. They also produce germs artificially and then produce medicine to cure the diseases caused by germs’
• Govt. of Israel donates two ventilators to Sri Lanka
Police bust ’’Baby Farm’’ racket; one arrested
• Police warns against fake currencies
• Counterfeit Currency Ring Leader Arrested
‘The suspect had brought down a printing machine and special bundles of paper used to print fake currency notes from Malaysia’
ª Private buses and trucks ignore signal lights and cause mayhem
• JVP says at this rate there will be no Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations
• SL academics scaremongering say new English Covid virus strain not detected by PCR tests
• EU regulator approves Pfizer-BionTech vaccine; first shipment arrives in Singapore; what are Sri Lanka’s plans?
• Medical specialists urge govt to sound WHO on anti-Covid-19 vaccine
‘Health Minister directed 16 Economic Centres (EC) to follow guidelines to avoid catastrophe.’
• Japan grants Rs 115mn for demining activities in North
• Japan continues its support to build safer futures for poorest communities in Sri Lanka
‘enabling the resettlement of displaced people and enhancing directly or indirectly more than 8,000 people’s livelihoods in the Mannar and Vavuniya Districts.’
• Team of foreign experts to assess stability of Victoria Dam
• Security for protecting records and productions in court houses most inadequate
• Industrial Security Foundation formed to ensure security in the commercial sector.
‘There are 450 security organizations under the wing of the ISF’
• Autopsies prove Minister, Prisons and Police wrong
• President appoints new Chairperson, Members to Human Rights Commission
• Human Rights Commission SL can no longer be considered legally independent
• Police investigation into crime: Not like buying homeware from the market
• Backdoor selection of police personnel for UN duty alleged
• Australia provides police with medical supplies to help fight coronavirus within its ranks
• English monk committed suicide 55 years ago, suffered from Satyriasis
• Lankans who volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force during World War 2’15,000 applied to join the RAF. Out of this lot, 15 were initially selected’
• Shocking rise of Indian interference into Pakistan
• India’s military diplomacy is delusional
‘India is an avid practitioner of ‘military diplomacy.’ It has defence attaches posted or accredited to something like 85 countries.’
• Pakistan Navy chief discusses regional security with Sri Lankan HC
• ‘Indian Ocean Region will feel ripple effects of power rivalry in western Pacific’
• China to strengthen military coordination with Russia
• To Blame Russia For Cyber-Intrusions Is Delusional – Treaty Only Way To Prevent Damage
‘The New York Times continues to provide anti-Russian propaganda and to incite against it’
• Coronavirus Corruption at the Heart of Government
‘The names of capitalist contractors profiting from the spread of Corona virus in England”
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• Rating agencies and doomsayers: Exaggerating the obvious and wishing for a downfall?
‘these US-based rating agencies have also been quite generous in their treatment of the USA’
• New economic development model deviates from notorious structural adjustment: CB Governor
• Central Bank steps to stem the undue depreciation of rupee
‘the recent increase in volatility of the exchange rate is ‘unwarranted’ and ‘unacceptable’.’
• G20 leaders must address the sovereign debt crisis
‘The International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka with the Daily FT organised a webinar to discuss ‘Investment Climate and Strategies to attract FDI into Sri Lanka’ on 17 December…opening remarks were delivered by ICC Global CEO John Denton’
• The Illusion of Development
‘Sri Lanka is one of the last remaining places left on earth where humans still live with animals. Where organic food has been a thing for 2,500 years. Where recycling is part of village culture. Where giant reservoirs were built by noble kings as a hobby. Where sacred peaks were once worshipped…’
• JVP to conduct countrywide seminars to highlight govt.’s failure and threats to economy
• Money printing to repay debt worshipping MMT likely to magnify economic instability – Colombage
‘Structural adjustments crucial in this process though they seem to be neglected in current policy discussions.’
• IMF, the EU and the ECB, helped Greece to breathe and recover – Reductio Ad Abeyratnum
• Resolving external financial vulnerability dominant economic concern – Sanderatne
‘how the country would be able to meet its foreign debt obligations in 2021 and then annually till 2024, when the country’s foreign reserves are depleting and the balance of payments is deteriorating’
• A Child’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory: Keynesianism in an old bottle? – Wijewardena
‘Modern Monetary Theory, also called MMT, is not a new concept though it is called modern.’
• Why Sri Lanka cannot be a Singapore, a Chief Festus budget: Bellwether
• Beginning of the end for the ratings agencies’ dubious influence
• 2020: The Year the Middle Class Was Crushed
‘2020 was the worst year in the history of independent India. Our GDP is set to decline for the first time in 41 years. The year was particularly bad for the middle class with job losses, salary cuts & a decline in savings. And what is concerning is the situation has taken a turn for the worse in November.’
• Bull or bear in 2021?
‘Much will depend on how far regulators are prepared to go to address the leading Big Tech firms’ apparent monopoly positions.’
• Vietnam PM explains State Bank policy after false US charges of ‘currency manipulation’
• Top Ten Posts in 2020 on a Marxist Economist’s Blog
‘At the start of pandemic slump, I forecast that: “when this disaster is over, mainstream economics and the authorities will claim that it was an exogenous crisis nothing to do with any inherent flaws in the capitalist mode of production and the social structure of society. It was the virus that did it.”
• Books on Economics To Save Capitalism in the year of the COVID
• Leo Panitch’s Many Lessons on Living Under the US Empire
‘Leo saw socialist strategy in the long duration – as a process full of setbacks, sudden accelerations, unexpected triumphs, and all the doldrums in between.’
• Deficit Hawk Joe Biden Sabotaged Pandemic Relief Efforts
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, etc.
• Sri Lanka bans banks from buying international sovereign bonds
• Sri Lanka to act ‘aggressively’ on forex market, take dollar peg to Rs185: Central Bank
• Inflation drops to 5.2% in November 2020
• JVP takes govt. to task over high prices of essentials
“For the first time in history a gazette was issued on Sept 25, this year to control the prices of coconut. Nowhere one can find coconuts for that price now. The government has proven that it has lost control of prices in the market. It has failed miserably and people suffer as a consequence.”
• Sri Lanka rupee quoted weaker, gilt yields flat
• Selling rate of US dollar exceeds Rs.193 mark
• Sri Lanka’s economic growth suffers, contracts by 16% in 2ndQ
• Implementation unit to track Budget 2021: Treasury Secy.
• Foreign financing of budget turns negative as govt. cuts foreign debt
• Sri Lanka central bank forex purchases decline as credit picks up
‘Sri Lanka’s central bank bought 7.4 million dollars from forex markets in November and sold 5.0 million dollars to maintain a soft-pegged exchange rate, official data showed, indicating a steady decline as credit picked up amid money printing.’
• Bank of Ceylon says sovereign rating downgrade has no impact on its int’l operations
• Fitch Ratings recalibrates its Sri Lankan National Rating Scale
• Agency of France Development ready to increase non-sovereign euro debt to SL
‘The AFD is involved in construction of four substation projects, green power development, water sanitation, waste water disposal, and urban development projects, all approved under the previous Government, while a Euro 172 million Mundeni Aru river basin development project and Euro 123 million Jaffna sanitation project have been already approved by the AFD’
• Sri Lanka seeks Rs 10 billion World Bank loan to buy COVID-19 vaccine
• Brexit is due to Civil War within Capitalism
• Changes to UK’s VAT rules for overseas goods from Jan 1, 2021
• ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’: EU and UK clinch narrow Brexit accord
‘JPMorgan said the EU had secured a deal that allowed it retain nearly all of its advantages from trade with the UK but with the ability to use regulations to “cherry-pick” among sectors where the UK had advantages, such as services.’
• Bloomberg News Attempts Capture “Speculative Frenzy” of Markets; Here’s Key Stuff Missed
‘The head of the federal regulator of national banks (those operating across state lines such as JPMorgan Chase’s 5,000-plus branches) is the Comptroller of the Currency. During Trump’s term as President, that position has been filled with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s former pals from One West, the foreclosure king that Mnuchin ran before raising money for Trump’s campaign and becoming Treasury Secretary.’
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• Several protests in Colombo to lift isolation status
• Life is tough in locked-down Covid infected inner-city Colombo
‘14,022 Grama Niladaris in the across the island who are working tirelessly to provide care for the families living in their jurisdictions.’
• 33% of pregnant and lactating Sri Lankan women are anaemic
‘About 40% of children aged 6-12 are underweight’
• Sri Lanka to start parallel exchange rate for worker remittances
• Labour Minister holds discussion on proposed private sector retirement age
‘Asserts EPF/ETF funds can be withdrawn by employees who choose to retire at 55 years’
• Confusion over retirement age
‘The National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), a tripartite body, is meeting next week’
• FTZ manufacturers want Termination of Employment of Workmen Act unchanged
‘Protest plans to remove Rs. 1.25 m ceiling for terminated employees’
• New alliance launched to pressure health sector to put its house in order
‘Twenty active health sector trade unions formed an alliance on Thursday at Abhayaramaya temple’
• Is Sri Lanka Medical Council fit for purpose?
• Treasury approves bonuses for staff of corporations, State-owned companies
• Bid to suspend Uni admissions: SC rejects students’ petition
• Covid severely challenging the credibility of the Education Ministry.
• Equal partners campaign: Engaging men and boys for gender equality
‘Women and Child Development State Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva, Men Enagage Alliance Sri Lanka National Coordinator Samitha Sugathimala and UNDP Resident Representative Robert Juhkam; – sundaytimes.lk/201220/sunday-times-2/equal-partners-campaign-engaging-men-and-boys-for-gender-equality-426002.html
• A banker with a heart of gold
‘With the assistance of the senior officers in the north, Rasanayagam did his best to organize the Bank of Ceylon Pensioners’ Association- Jaffna District in the year 2007. ‘
• CMO Asia announces Sri Lanka’s top 22 Women Leaders across 11 industries
• Singapore’s Transient Workers Count Too:
‘Government stats show 47% of 320,000 migrant workers [mainly Indian & Bangladeshi] have had Covid, and counting as more tests done (93% of Singapore’s cases). But still, they need approval before allowed 3hr/week to leave dorm for designated shops/rec centre, and from Jan only 1 day/month to finally be allowed out in ‘community’ – “still treated like prisoners… shockingly restrictive…” tho now tested 2times weekly, while rest of S’pore opening up.
• COVID-19 exposes the Singapore migrant worker experience
‘95% of Singapore’s 58,000 cases of COVID-19 have been contracted by low-wage migrants. Primarily from India and Bangladesh, migrant men in Singapore work in construction, manufacturing and shipping, all of which are key to maintaining city infrastructure.’
• COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged job markets in Asia Pacific region
• Climate change could create 63m migrants in South Asia by 2050
• Ontario shutdown won’t stop COVID-19 spread in workplaces, health experts say
‘Many labour and health advocates want benefits such as paid sick leave for all workers and isolation accommodation for those deemed essential.’
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• Archives attacked to prevent legal records of viharagam and dewalagam produced in courts
• Massive fertiliser fraud exposed; files missing, fake lab reports
• Corn farmers demand compensation for Sena caterpillar damages
• How to save our cultivations from “Sena Dalambuwa”
‘My father had inherited many Ola leave (Puskola) books on many subjects.’
• Govt. allocates Rs. 517 m to develop 5 botanical gardens
• Govt. to conduct feasibility study for urea fertilizer production
‘Annual Fertilizer Requirement in Sri Lanka ls about 340,000. The entire quantity is currently being imported. ln 2019, Rs.26 billion spent on urea fertilizer imports’
• Land Tax: Only Way to Kick-start Economy, Level Economic Playing Field and Payoff Debt
• Kantale sugar factory revival linked to Booker & Israel….
‘The final leases for the Factory are to be signed and handed over to MG Sugar…owned by the Government and investors Mousy Salem and Mendel…Booker Tate, Grupo TS, Netafim, Fieldstone, law firm Hogan Lovell and Matrix Global Services, using European equipment and Israeli technology’
• Sri Lanka dried coconut slice imports made state monopoly
‘Sri Lanka’s private firms, including multi-nationals, have started exporting virgin coconut oil (first extract) and coconut milk over the last few years. Whenever droughts hits and Sri Lanka’s coconut output drop, desiccated coconut producers and oil mills run out of raw coconut.’
• Dairy farmers and Wildlife Department Restrictions
• Time to resolve issues of northern fishermen
‘Northern fishermen, as their counterparts in many parts of the island, are dependent on selling large amounts of fish at the Peliyagoda fish market’
• ‘Smart Plantations’
• Sri Lanka fruits and vegetable body joins World Bank export modernization drive
‘The Lanka Fruit and Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association…’
• RPCs submit new proposal aimed at resolving wage standoff
‘Our workers will have a say in when and how they work, and drastically improve their earnings in the process,” Planters’ Association of Ceylon Chairman, Bhathiya Bulumulla asserted.’
• Sri Lanka tea plantations propose new wages based on smallholder model
• Watawala reaps results in hard-fought battle in Court
• Convergence of agrarian discontent in South Asia
‘In Sri Lanka, with the national budget just passed for 2021, there are only meagre allocations towards revitalising agricultural livelihoods and policies focused on supporting technologies suitable for agribusinesses.’
• Prof. Eugene Wikramanayake
• Customs seize 28 container loads of agro-plant waste sent from Ukraine
‘declared as Coriander seeds worth of Rs.75 million’
• Cardinal sounds govt. about large scale deforestation
• Introducing the Hanuman Plover: An ornithological treasure from Sri Lanka
• No one knew the arts of canal building, dykes, drainage and land reclamation like the Dutch
• Modi calls farmer protests over contested laws politically motivated
• Cocoa Age-Proofs Your Brain
• The Caspian Sea is set to fall by 9 metres or more this century – an ecocide is imminent
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry section notes the ignorance about industrialization, the buying of foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound.
• ‘It’s a shame that Sri Lanka imports even the national flag’’ State Minister Jayasekara
‘Sri Lanka imports 40,000 saffron robes annually’
• Anusha Pelpita, new Secretary to Ministry of Industries
• Mannar Island bird paradise survived Sri Lanka’s civil war. Now Australian mining company wants its sand
• Minister wants to end mineral exploration licence racket
‘The licences for the exploration of expensive mineral had been given for a mere pittance of Rs 5,000 a square kilometre, the Minister said. “We have information that some businessmen who possess exploration licences have conducted negotiations with foreign companies. I have instructed the GSMB to cancel their licences.”’
• Coal imports: Rs 8 billion siphoned off ?
• Aim to end bulk rubber exports by creating value addition industries locally
‘On average, about 600 rubber parts are used in a car…Only an average of 50 per cent of the rubber based products used in our country were produced locally
• A workshop on advanced technology and smart manufacturing for rubber product industry
• Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP) and Plastic and Rubber Institute of Sri Lanka (PRISL)’
• State Pharmaceutical Corporation opens antibiotic manufacturing
‘produce the antibiotic Flucloxacillin. The government previously incurred a cost of Rs. 536 million annually to import this drug.’
• SL should be self-sufficient in all aspects, says PM
‘speaking at the opening of the new Hormone Pills and Capsules factory of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) in Ratmalana… imports should be reduced or stopped’
• President orders immediate halt to Rs. 15bn cross-country oil pipeline
• Vidullanka commissions first rooftop solar power project
‘The PV modules used were manufactured by JA Solar Holdings, while the inverters were sourced from Huawei Technology.’
• PUCSL saved Rs. 571 b by rejecting emergency power purchases: Union
• Electricians decry moves to close PUCSL
• ‘PUCSL will not be dissolved, but will get new Board soon’
• New hope for CEB with removal of PUCSL too
• CAA a poor replacement for PUCSL, says LPVSS
‘The electricity sector, like other utilities, needed a regulator to prevent a few senior officials, businessmen and politicians from making disastrous deals’
• Fate of Rs 25 billion CEB consumer deposit fund in doubt – Activist
• Cabinet discussion on Public Utilities Commission –
• National Chamber of Commerce and the National Research Council sign MOU
• Development work on Kerawalapitiya Industrial Estate road commences under four lanes
• Developing the railway to fast track development
‘The Bus lobby and the Lorry lobby may try to obstruct the development of the railway network since it will be financially negative to them but if done it will save space, environment and precious time of the people.’
• SriLankan plans to buy two freight aircraft
• Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to increase jet fuel imports
• Interactive seminar in Republic of Korea on augmentation of SL power and energy sphere
‘Amb. Cho elaborated and expanded in detail the criticality of technology,’
• Professionals urge Government to allow vehicle imports
‘Over 300 members including doctors, engineers, lecturers, accountants and other government executives ‘
• Bajaj genuine spare parts: David Pieris Motor Co. begins door-step delivery service
• Korean Ambassador meets BOI Chairman
• PM opens Prof. Senaka Bandaranaike Archaeological Field Training School
• Appropriate time to appreciate Abraham Kovoor and his son Aries
• Vaccine as Public Good & Chinese Traditional Medicine
“…. In China, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Peking Union Medical College was conducted entirely by their own staff from New York and a local office in Peking… Acceptance of European and US medical theories and practice implied submission to the authority and superiority of these foreign cultures.”
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, the curious role of ratings agencies, false indices, etc.
• CB approves merger of two finance companies
‘Merger proposal of Arpico Finance Co. with Associated Motor Finance Co.’
• HNB and Sampath Bank not to pursue Moody’s ratings
• Major shareholders of NTB get more time to shed control
‘The Central Bank has given more time for John Keells Holdings Plc and Central Finance Plc to reduce their shareholding in Nations Trust Bank Plc to 15% each.’
• Commercial paper market continues to regain popularity
• “Cash is king!” says Softlogic Chief Ashok Pathirage
‘Our immediate focus is on extending the cash runway as cash is king amidst prolonged uncertainty’
• Asia Capital to re-enter Stock Broking business soon
• Amana Takaful surges to strong post tax profit Rs. 203.48 million for the first 9 months
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, making money from unproductive land sales, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• Pamunuwa traders oppose political hand in clothing business
‘Around 300,000 people earn an income directly or indirectly while being connected with the garment trade business in Pamunuwa…around 2000 traders who sell clothes early in the morning and there are also daytime traders; and the place attracts around 8000 garment traders.’
• JVP: Govt. moving to reward two of its cronies with new liquor manufacturing licences
• Liquor licences for govt. cronies will deprive pregnant mothers, children of Thriposha
‘further worsen the prevailing maize shortage by using those grains for the production of beer and spirit.’
• LOLC to increase investment in new hotels after assessing properties
• Selendiva to find investors
• Ukraine keen to further enhance trade with Sri Lanka
• “In business there should be no difference between women and men”
• Australia ‘will pay foreigners up to $50,000’ to buy a new home as Perth market set to boom
‘Chinese buyers are being lured back to the market by government rebates of up to $50,000 to buy a new home’
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions, and the mercantile (commercial and financial) forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• ‘Public should be concerned about sources of funding for electioneering’ – CMEV
‘during the last parliamentary election campaign, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was known to have spent Rs 1.85 billion, while the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) spent Rs. 889 million, the United National Party (UNP) Rs. 436 million and the National People’s Power (NPP) Rs. 187 million’
• Election monitors keen on PC polls
• Govt. has lost control of country – SJB
• SJB proposal to adopt Constitution made by ‘yahapalana’
‘The constitution that was proposed by the ‘yahapalana’ government dismantles all the links between the centre and the periphery… The proportional system that has been suggested ensures disproportionate representation of minority communities and it also includes multi-member electorates in the North giving it greater representation’
• AJBP NL: Disqualification of Ven. Gnanasara thera explained
• Buddhism: Saved by Constitution?
• ‘Ranil talks sense when his subject is dealing with USA’
• LSSP played a key role in shaping evolution of politics in SL in a progressive direction
• The LSSP – 85 years on
• Ranawaka Abandons Another Vehicle
• The Pohottuwa Government of Sri Lanka Part 2 C9a&b
‘One solution to the problem of a future Indian Ocean war is for Sri Lanka to return to the policy of Non Alignment.’
• Mushy Dayan whistles Dixie slouching towards oblivion
• Sirisena on Japan and Asia’s Shared Values
• Since 1977, looting public property a regular feature of the state administration – Ivan
• A Tribute to Sir Ivor Jennings
• Kerala: 21-year-old Communist Arya Rajendran, youngest mayor of Thiruvananthapuram
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• Govt. mulling registration of foreign digital operators: Keheliya
• JVP defends Facebook and social media against state muscling
• The Goddamn Heathens – Gara X
‘Multinational advertising companies linked to ‘Anglo-Dutch’ Unilever, controlled by non-Sinhala people, are experts on ‘ethnicity’ in Lanka. They insist we are all too ‘dark and unlovely.’
• Anagarika Dharmapala: Tracing the trajectories of his pursuits
‘When he realized that the Theosophists were advocating a universal religion based on Transcendentalist ideals of Hinduism rather than Dharma that he believed in and propagated, that he broke away from them.’
• A sojourn in ‘Ceilon’ and carefree life of Dutch colonial society
• Was Christmas celebrated in the Kandyan Royal Courts?
• Ancient teeth reveal Bronze Age trade between South Asia and Mediterranean
• ‘Asian media appear to be weathering storms better than expected’: