Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
Bertrand Russell, the Pig, the Donkey, the Sheep, the Performing Animals
& the cacophonous 'Alternative' Tamil Leadership
21 September 2008
understand the reasons that may have impelled Sachi Sri Kantha to write -
"After reading this book (Bertrand Russel on Power),
I became convinced that ‘democracy’ (a much maligned word) as touted by
the politicians, pundits, and the media mandarins is not a panacea to
any country, divided by ethnic and religious rivalries, whose borders
are drawn by the 19th century map makers. Those who preach
the virtues of democracy, are ignorant and blind to its follies."
we ourselves do not entirely agree. We believe that
democracy, though perhaps a much aligned word, remains the way
forward. And democracy and self determination
go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people,
for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one
people may rule another - and herein lies its enduring appeal. The struggle
for an independent Tamil Eeelam is a struggle for democracy - a struggle of
the people of Tamil Eelam to secure their democratic
right to rule themselves.
"..Demands for 'national
selfdetermination' are in one sense, therefore, also a struggle for a
higher form of democracy. It must then be recognised that 'post-colonial
liberation movements', far from being inherently 'undemocratic',
'subversive', 'terrorist' ad infinitum, are often the most effective
medium for democratic assertion by social groups who have been deprived
of equal citizenship rights, who have been subjected to denial and state
Sumantra Bose in Forging Nationhood Through Struggle, Suffering and
Sachi Sri Kantha
. " I
appreciated your annotation/comment. What I comprehended from reading
Russell's Power book is as follows: Right along the history of human
kind, people has been comfortable with monarchy. All the great 20th century
leaders (Lenin, Stalin, Gandhi, Mao, Nehru, Roosevelt, Churchill, Castro)
functioned like monarchs, though some opted (preached) for the bells and
whistles of democracy like parliamentary elections and voting. The labels
(such as despot, dictator) may change according to the fashion, but in
inspiring/motivating people for war, liberation and other achievement,
nothing works like monarchy. Russell provides the logic that in democracy,
no one holds equal power, at any one time - despite all the preaching by the
politicians. He also states that words like 'tyrant' in historical times
were not meant to have its current pejorative meaning. If people are not
comfortable with their 'monarch' or tyrant, they will depose him by
assassination or any other means. "
77 years ago, to be specific on 14 October 1931, Albert Einstein wrote the
following fan letter in German, from Caputh bei Postsdam:
“Dear Bertrand Russell:
For a long time I have had the wish to write to you. All I wanted to do, was
to express my feeling of high admiration of you. The clarity, sureness, and
impartiality which you have brought to bear to the logical, philosophical
and human problems dealth with in your books are unrivalled not only in our
Einstein ended his fan letter with a p.s. note “Einer Beantwortung dieses
Briefes bedarf es nicht” (There is no need to reply to this letter).
What Einstein described as “the clarity, sureness and impartiality which you
have brought to bear to the logical, philosophical and human problems” has been
eloquently presented by Bertrand Russell in the following example, which I
consider as a suitable animal model to describe the cacophonus chorus of the
so-called "Alternate" Tamil Leadership (Douglas Devananda, Anandasangaree,
Karuna-Pillaiyan clique, D. Siddarthan of PLOTE, Thondaman Sr’s gangue. and the
Propped by the Uncle Sam’s messengers in Colombo, and pampered/promoted by the
flag-wavers of the New Delhi’s mandarins on Sri Lankan policy, this "Alternate"
Tamil Leadership has been hyped as manna for the Eelam Tamils.
provide below, what Bertrand Russell had prophesied 70 years ago in his book,
– A New Social Analysis.
Here it is:
“When a pig with a rope round its middle is hoisted squealing into a ship,
it is subject to direct physical power over its body. On the other hand,
when the proverbial donkey follows the proverbial carrot, we induce him to
act as we wish by persuading him that it is to his interest to do so.
Intermediate between these two cases is that of performing animals, in whom
habits have been formed by rewards and punishments; also, in a different
way, that of sheep induced to embark on a ship, when the leader has to be
dragged across the gangway by force, and the rest then follow willingly.
All these forms of power are exemplified among human beings.
The case of the pig illustrates military and police power.
The donkey with the carrot typifies the power of propaganda.
Performing animals show the power of ‘education’.
The sheep following their unwilling leader are illustrative of party
politics, whenever, as is usual, a revered leader is in bondage to be a
clique or to party bosses.”
Let’s tag the "Alternate" Tamil Leadership labels to the Bertrand Russell’s
model: (1) The squeeling pig refers to the Thondaman Jr. and his clan. (2) The
braying donkey can be equated to Douglas Devananda, Karuna-Pillaiyan clique and
D.Siddarthan. (3) Anandasangaree and some sections of the Muslim political
leaders can be tagged as the performing animals whose anti-government vocal
chords have been clipped.
Here are some notable features of the "Alternate"Tamil Leadership.
(1) Depending on their preservation needs, security concerns and constituency,
there is friction between the pigs, donkey and the performing animals.
(2) Each of the pigs, donkeys and performing animals had set up their
promotional album of websites. In the earlier days, they used to have a
newspaper, but a website is economically cheaper. A scan of these websites
provide a collection of their homilies (as interviews to journalists), and their
gibberish on the welfare for Sri Lankan humans.
(3) What is specifically missing in these personal websites is what they have
achieved so far, on behalf of the long suffering Tamils, by their collaborative
deeds. While Devananda promotes himself as “an ex-militant” (the only record of
his militancy was the botched abduction of Stanley Allen-Mary couple in Jaffna
and assassination of an Indian Tamil in Choolaimedu, Chennai), Anandasangaree
brags about his influence of ‘having been known all the Sri Lankan politicians,
excluding the first three prime ministers’, and Karuna (still in hiding and
under protection from the GOSL) whose moon has waned predicts the demise of LTTE
for his 30 shekels.
(4) Let’s ignore the ‘Bad mouthing LTTE’ routine. What specifically is the need
of the day, is for the so called "Alternate" Tamil Leadership to convince the
Tamils about what has been served by their patrons on behalf of their cause to
serve the Tamils, in all the globe-trotting, letter-writing and other
pan-handling trips to New Delhi and elsewhere.
Five years ago, I contributed my short appreciation/review on Bertrand Russell’s
book to the ‘Visitors Recommend’ corner of the Nobel.prize org website. It is as
“Bertrand Russell's book 'Power; A new social
analysis' is my favorite. It is a small book of ~200 pages. It was
published in 1938. In the Introduction, Russell places his hypothesis; that
is, 'power' is for social sciences what 'energy' is for natural sciences. I
found this comparison fascinating. He says, like energy - power also has
various components which are transferable from one form to another. Unless
one understands this concept, limited focus on one form of power will be
incomplete and erroneous. In this book, Russell provides from every possible
angle - historical, religious, anthropological, social, military and
political - the use and abuse of power by humans since the beginning of
civilization. I see this book as a bottle of concentrated honey. Every
chapter has to be tasted sip by sip at frequent intervals - at least that's
what I have been doing since 1988 when I bought that book in the year my
elder daughter was born. Even at the personal level, it is a fulfilling book
on child rearing. How to balance power and love for one's own children? It
was not a 'great' book by reviewer's scale or popularity scale. But unless
one has the ability to at least try to think at the level of Russell (not an
easy task for sure!), mediocre minds of reviewers or readers cannot grasp
the serious message dealt in that book.”
I’m delighted that the Nobel.prize org still
carries my review in its website. For those who wish to understand the
cross-currents on the current world affairs, I’d recommend that please read
Bertrand Russell’s Power book.
Here is a confession: After reading this book, I became convinced
that ‘democracy’ (a much maligned word) as touted by the politicians, pundits,
and the media mandarins is not a panacea to any country, divided by ethnic and
religious rivalries, whose borders are drawn by the 19th century map
makers Those who preach the virtues of democracy, are ignorant and blind to its