Category Archives: 1971 Insurgency

Some Comments on the Social Backgrounds of the April 1971 Insurgency – Gananath Obeyesekere

“This high level of political consciousness accounts for the fact that of the parliamentary democracies in Asia, Sri Lanka was the only country that consistently threw out governments through a popular vote so that no government has had more than two consecutive returns to power, and most governments have had only one term of office. However, while the peasants were politically articulate, they had no access to political power.’the classic paradox of the Marxist civil society was operative here in extremis. The only occasions where peasants could exercise their power was at an election; but then often, irrespective of the party in control, effective political power remained (as it still remains) in the same ruling elite. In other words, political consciousness is widely diffused but political participation and decision-making remains in a ruling elite. None of this would really matter if the opportunity structure were flexible; but jobs and other forms of privilege were dependent on access to the centers of political power from which these persons were debarred.”

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