By Sarath de Alwis –
The former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned buyers of our national assets that he would review those deals when returned to power.
He has asserted most forcefully, that the current government had no mandate to sell national assets. He has vehemently condemned the “authoritarian manner” adopted by the government in leasing out the sea port in Hambantota and the airport in Mattala – the outstanding national assets that he built for us after ending a debilitating war.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is outstandingly non-moral. He does not utter false hoods. He does not speak the truth either. He manufactures facts. He is a strange creature, who lives in the world where knowledge exists on sufferance.
On reading the former president’s brave declarations in the print media the next day, this writer was reminded of that eloquent opening passage in Friedrich Nietzsche’s tract on “Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense.”
Nietzsche opens his unravelling of truth and lies with a beautiful fable.
‘Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing.
That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die.’
Nietzsche devised the allegory to explain the conduct of humans such as our former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Nietzsche then proceeds to explain how aimless and arbitrary human nature could turn out to be.
Nietzsche’s allegory also explains how the theatre of truth unfolds in the human mind. The truth is only a part of the process of thinking and knowing.
Hannah Arendt in recent memory helped us resolve the conundrum of truth even better. In her incisive work ‘Life of the Mind she identifies the vital difference between thinking and knowing. “The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning,”
Undoubtedly the deep-sea port at Hambanthota is a national asset. By stretching our imagination to maximum permissible lengths, we may even label the Mattala airport as a national asset. They are however, assets acquired by heavy borrowing with the lenders breathing down our necks.
This incoherent government has singularly failed to explain in simple common-sense language why we had to lease these two ‘national assets’ to ease our debt servicing burden.
That allows our former President to excel in what he does best- manufacture of truth and fact.
What is truth? Nietzsche, the German philosopher dismantles truth in to identifiable components. Truth is “the sum of human relations rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding”
We have underestimated Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is the true discoverer of ‘non-moral truth ‘in our midst.
Can we call him a liar? Not that easy. Not that simple. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, to make something unreal to appear as real. Our man does the reverse. He makes the real in to the unreal.
A man can say ‘I am a patriot ‘when his real intent is to acquire that designation to alleviate some other immediate concern far removed from the wellbeing of the nation or the motherland.
The liar by means of arbitrary substitutions and reversal of events manufactures his own versions of truth.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is the President who ended the war. Believability is an asset he claims just as he claims the sea port and the airport he built on money borrowed on exorbitantly high interest rates as invaluable national assets.
He takes care to warn possible buyers of the two so-called assets and not the real lessees of the two ports. After all, as the China Harbor Engineering episode demonstrates, he who pays the piper must call the tune. His use of the third person plural in his folksy Sinhala idiom is both deliberate and deceptive.
Knowing and sensing lies is not possible if we are blinded by the charisma of the liberator and redeemer Mahinda Rajapaksa. Patriotic pride is the fog over the eyes of a gullible people. Deception then becomes the natural consequence of that false national pride.
Confronting this profoundly false, make believe world of fake patriots is not easy. The Mahinda ‘Mafiocracy’ is only a new local incarnation of a process that has numerous precedents in human history.
Deception, lying, deluding, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention are not new phenomena.
With the thought that Mahinda won the war that nobody could win before him, a good 40% of our electorate willingly permit themselves to be deceived in their dreams every night and awakening yawn every morning.