Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Bertrand Russell's Animal Models

And the cacophonous alternative Tamil leadership

by Sachi Sri Kantha, September 22, 2008

‘[D]emocracy’ (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.

Nearly 77 years ago, to be specific on Oct.14, 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 dealt with in your books are unrivalled not only in our generation…”

Bertrand Russell lecturing at the Univ. of California Los Angeles in 1939.

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 Muslim marmalade). Propped up by 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 the crying need for the Eelam Tamils.

I provide below what Bertrand Russell prophesied 70 years ago in his book, Power – A New Social Analysis:

“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 with the labels from Bertrand Russell’s model: (1) The squealing pig hoisted by force refers to Thondaman Jr. and his clan. (2) The braying donkey following carrots can be equated to Douglas Devananda, the Karuna-Pillaiyan clique and D. Siddarthan. (3) Anandasangaree and the Muslim marmalade 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 have set up their promotional album of websites. In earlier days, each used to have a newspaper, but a website is cheaper. A scan of these websites provide a collection of their homilies (as interviews to journalists), and their gibberish on the welfare of 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 collaborationist deeds. While Devananda promotes himself as “an ex-militant” (the only record of his militancy was the botched abduction of the Stanley Allen-Mary couple in Jaffna and the 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 by the GOSL) whose moon has waned, predicts the demise of LTTE for his 30 shekels.

(4) Let’s ignore the ‘Bad mouthing the 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 delivered 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 follows:

“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. For those who wish to understand the cross-currents on 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 follies.

*****

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