Action Program for Socialist Revolution in Sri Lanka
United Lanka Workers Party (ULWP), RCIT-Section in Sri Lanka, August 2012
The United Lanka Workers Party (ULWP)is a combat organisation for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. The ULWP is the Sri Lankan section of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT). The following Program of Action is based on our common international program – the RCIT program “No future without socialism! No socialism without a revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!”
The working class is the class of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labour power as wage earners to the capitalists.
The ULWP stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers' movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. It builds on the tradition of the Samasamajist movement of the LSSP and the BLPI/BSP till it ceased to exist as a revolutionary force in the early 1950s.
Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, exploitation, the misery of the peasants, the national oppression of migrants and nations, the oppression of women, young people and homosexuals – all this are part of everyday life under capitalism. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism.
The ULWP supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of workers, the peasants and the oppressed. But real improvement of our living is possible only in a socialist, classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally.
Therefore, the ULWP is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world.
Real socialism and communism has nothing to do with the so-called "real existing socialism" in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba or Eastern Europe. In these countries, a bureaucracy dominated and oppressed the proletariat.
The socialist revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for she is the only class that has nothing to lose but their chains. Under the leadership of the working class the poor peasants and the urban poor can play an important role in the liberation struggle.
The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because never before has a ruling class voluntarily surrendered their power. The road to liberation includes necessarily the armed insurrection and civil war against the capitalists.
The ULWP is fighting for the establishment of workers' and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in rank and file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods and schools – in councils. These councils elect and control the government and all other authorities and can always replace them.
Working class internationalism is the basis of our work. The history of our country was and is determined by international development – beginning from the terrible history of British colonialism, the slave-like import of Tamil plantation workers, the dependency of our economy from the world economy, the close links the Tamils have with their brothers and sisters in Tamil Nadu and the world-wide Diaspora, the often over-exploited work 350-400.000 Sir Lankans are forced to do as migrants abroad etc. This is why we are dedicated to building an international trade union movement, women's movement and above all a world party for socialist revolution.
Our liberation cannot be achieved spontaneously but only if the working class organises itself. This means first and foremost if it can build a revolutionary party in Sri Lanka and internationally as its leadership. We in the ULWP fight with our comrades RCIT shoulder on shoulder as equals to build the revolutionary party in Sri Lanka and the Fifth Workers International.
If you share our goals – join us!
Exploitation and Oppression in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a divided country. Like in all capitalist countries in the world it is split between the ruling class – the capitalists, the military tops and the foreign imperialists – on one side and the working class, the peasantry and the urban poor on the other side.
Workers and poor peasants are suffering in capitalist Sri Lanka. Prices are rising much faster than wages, unemployment and poverty are increasing. 2/5 of all toilers are working under precarious conditions. Even by official standards 1/3 of the 500.000 plantation workers in the estate sector (tea, rubber and coconut) are living in poverty. 8% of the children are forced to work. At the same time the capitalists are enriching themselves. As long as the small minority control the economy, there can be no improvement of our living conditions.
The regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a semi-dictatorial capitalist regime behind the cover of a parliamentary democracy. Rajapaksa’s government and his ULFP serve the interests of the capitalists and foreign imperialists.
Like most countries in the world Sri Lanka is a semi-colonial country. It is formally independent but in fact exploited and oppressed by imperialist power like the USA, EU or nowadays also the new imperialist power China. The ruling class and capitalist parties like the ULFP sometimes make speeches against imperialism. But in fact they collaborate with the great powers.
Rajapaksa’s government and the preceding governments, the capitalists and foreign imperialist were and are plundering the country’s wealth. The government has indebted the country enormously – at the moment it is equivalent to more 86% of the Gross Domestic Product (the annual output of the economy). An important part of these debts – more than 17 billion US-Dollars (2010) – are owned by the US-American, European, Chinese and other imperialists. Only by this they could finance a huge oppressor’s army. As a result the country pays millions of US-Dollars every year as interest to the domestic and foreign financial capitalists – in 2010 this was 37% of all government payments.
The Rajapaksa’s government did achieve a huge victory in 2009 when it successfully slaughtered our Tamil brother and sisters in the North. The enormous build-up of the army with all the privileges for the generals and officer caste has been legitimated behind the cover of the so-called threat of the “danger of terrorism”. But today – years after the terrible defeat of the Tamil freedom fighters – the government still employs a mega-army of 400.000 soldiers. This is a higher proportion in relation to the country’s population than the USA has!
The government needs such a huge army on one hand to occupy the Tamil home land. The Tamil territories in the North are effectively occupied with one soldier per 10 inhabitants! On the other hand it fears unrest from the Sinhala working class and youth. This is hardly surprising since the regime is far from secure given the social misery and the political instability.
However opposition parties like UNP are no alternative – in fact the UNP is just another party of the capitalists. When it was in power it waged a war against the Tamils too and gave the country’s wealth to the domestic and foreign super-rich.
The ULWP fights for:
* For higher wages! To protect workers’ wages against inflation we demand a sliding scale of wages linked to a workers and poor people’s cost of living index! For an obligatory minimum wage for all workers set by the trade unions and worker representatives!
* Jobs for all! For a public employment program financed by higher taxes for the rich!
* Raise the plantation workers wages to the national average wages! For a public programme to modernise the housing and services on all plantations (electricity, water, sanitation)!
* Build price control committees to stop the inflation!
* Full support for Sri Lankan migrant workers abroad! For international trade union solidarity to fight against the discrimination of migrants!
* Open the books of the enterprises so that people can control the accounts of the capitalists and land owners and see their huge wealth!
* Stop all privatisation of public enterprises! Re-nationalisation of the enterprises privatised in the past 30 years!
* Workers control in the enterprises so that workers can veto the management!
* No payment of any interests to the banks! Cancellation of all debts – both to domestic and foreign financial institutions
* Nationalisation of all banks and fusion to one central state bank under workers control!
* Expropriation of the capitalists and plantation big business and nationalisation of their property under control of the producers, i.e. the workers and peasants!
The working class can only liberate itself if it fights against all forms of oppression and together with all oppressed. Most important among them are the nationally oppressed Tamils and the poor peasants.
Oppression of the Tamils and the perspectives for the National Liberation Struggle
To keep power the ruling class must divide the oppressed masses. One important line where they divide us is between the Sinhala majority and minority of the Tamils. They hope to win the support of sectors of the Sinhala middle class and workers by depriving the Tamils of all rights.
The Tamils constitute – if one adds the Eelam Tamils in the North and East, the up-hill Tamils in Central Sri Lanka and the Moors – at least one quarter of the country’s population and thus a high proportion amongst the Sri Lanka working class. And this despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Tamils have been driven out of the country in the past decades!
The Eelam Tamils are – as the Sinhala people – an old indigenous people living since thousands of years on the island. The Tamils in the North and East have unambiguously declared in the past decades that they want to live in a separate state, an “independent, socialist Tamil Eelam” (Vattukottai Resolution, 1976)
The up-hills Tamils have been brought – like slaves – by the British colonial rulers from India to Sri Lanka to work there on the big plantations. Many of them have been long denied the most basic citizenship rights. Given their central role in the agricultural production for export the Tamil plantation workers play a particular important role.
From the beginning of independence the Tamils have been oppressed by the Sinhala state. From the early 1980s to 2009 they fought for their liberation with arms. Albeit the Tamil people unfortunately suffered a historic defeat in 2009, their struggle for national liberation continues and must be supported now more than ever.
* Release all political prisoners!
* No to population transfers! Dissolution of all refugee camps! For the Tamil refugees’ – from wherever they are today in- or outside of Sri Lanka – right to immediately return to their land and villages! No to the “re-registration” of land in the Tamil areas!
* For the complete withdrawal of the army from all Tamil territories! For full compensation of the Tamils for the war-related destructions of their homes and lands by the Sri Lankan state – financed by tax rises of the rich!
* For tribunals against the war-crimes committed by the Sri Lanka army against the Tamil people! The jury must be elected by the Tamils and progressive Sinhalas!
* For a registration process of the missed people organised by the Tamils and progressive Sinhalas!
The ULWP fights for the national liberation of the Tamils. This includes the struggle for full equality.
* Abolish state languages! For the equal status and free and unlimited access of Tamil language in whole Sri Lanka – in education, media and at all administrative institutions! For massive recruitment of Tamils into the public administration and as teachers at schools and universities! For common, bi-national schools of Tamils and Sinhalese where both languages are taught!
* Full citizenship and employment rights for Tamils in the whole country!
The Tamils have fought in their history against their oppression. It is a shame of the Sri Lanka left and workers movement – including so-called Trotskyism – that it never fully supported the Tamils struggle for equality and later for an independent state. The ULWP says: a party can only be a revolutionary, workers party serving the cause of liberation if it supports consistently the struggle of all oppressed. In Sri Lanka a party can only be a revolutionary, workers party if it unconditionally supports the struggle of the Tamil for full equality and for an independent state.
We fully support the national liberation struggle of the Tamil people. The petty-bourgeois strategy which focuses on the guerrilla war as the main form of struggle has failed as a road to liberation. We reject the petty-bourgeois nationalism of the Tamil Tigers. It led them to reactionary acts like expelling the Muslims from their homes in the North or bomb attacks against Sinhala civilians. The truth is that the closest ally of the Tamil workers and poor peasants is not the Tamil capitalists and middle class but the Sinhala workers and poor peasants.
However while Tamil nationalism is an obstacle in the liberation struggle Sinhala chauvinism is thoroughly reactionary. It binds the Sinhala workers to their bosses. They must free themselves from these ideological chains to successfully win their liberation.
What is necessary is a strategy of mass struggle of Tamils and Sinhala workers and peasants which included all forms of resistance. The goal must be the socialist revolution and the formation of working class and peasant republics!
Our goal is revolutionary integration through struggle: this means to build the unity of the workers and peasants from all different nations to fight together against the ruling class and for the socialist liberation.
* For an independent, socialist Tamil Eelam in the North and East! For local self-government and autonomy for all areas where Tamils and other discriminated national and ethnic groups live. For the right of self-determination of the Tamils in Central Sri Lanka including the right to separation!
A long-term solution can only be achieved if the people collaborate as closely as possible. The ULWP therefore fights with its comrades in the RWO (Pakistan) for a socialist federation of the people of South Asia and beyond!
The Sri Lankan working class is multinational and only as a united multinational class it can win!
Liberate the poor peasants!
In a country where more than 4/5 of the people live in rural areas and 1/3 of the labour force works in the agriculture, the poor peasants constitute an important ally of the working class. Most peasants can’t make a living from their agrarian production. It is not surprisingly that the rural poor account for 95 percent of the country’s poor. So many of them are semi-proletarians where the family or part of it earns money from outside the agriculture. Usually they are highly indebted.
In the coming period they will be particularly under attack given the government determination and the World Banks/IMF’s pressure “to create a free land market”, i.e. the complete commodification of the land. Behind the so-called “re-registration system” the state bureaucrats are trying to expropriate many peasants or at least reduce their land. Under the slogan of “full private property rights” the imperialists and the government hide their secret agenda to transform the land into a full commodity to buy and sell at the land market. This will force peasants to sell their small piece of land to land owners and multinational agrarian corporations.
The government has a cynical plan: It wants to drive the Sinhala poor peasants from their land to give it to the agro-corporations. To limit the protest, the government wants to bring some of these poor peasants as colonial settlers to the North where the army is driving out the Tamils from their land. This shows that the Sinhala poor must support and ally with the Tamils because they have a common enemy: the foreign corporations, the Sinhala capitalists and their government in Colombo.
The ULWP fights for the liberation of the peasants from being hostages of the banks, state bureaucrats and agrarian big business. The closest ally of the poor peasants is the working class and the rural workers – constituting 1/3 of agricultural labour force – in particular.
The peasants must be supported by cheap credits. At the same we advocate that only a voluntary close cooperation in agrarian cooperatives is a way out of the trap of small, unproductive agrarian units.
* No to the creation of a “free land market” which means expropriation of the small peasants by the agro-business and land owners! No to “re-registration system”! No to any reduction of subsides for the peasants!
* Cancel all debts of the peasants! Nationalization of the banks under workers control! For interest-free loans for small peasants!
* The land must be in the hands of the state under the control of workers and poor peasants! The land to those who cultivate it! The local democratic actions council representatives of the poor and landless peasants have to decide the question of the allocation and use of the land! Promotion of voluntary agricultural cooperatives and the formation of larger state production units!
* For a program of agricultural development elaborated under the control of the workers and the poor peasants! For a radical change of direction in the agricultural economy! Away from the monoculture! For sustainable cultivation methods in agriculture! As much international transport of agricultural product as necessary to supply the world's population as necessary and as much supplies of locally produced agricultural goods as possible!
* Stop the destruction of the environment! No to the reckless de-forestation – for a public program of re-forestation as part of a national plan for a sustainable agricultural policy!
Fight oppression of women and youth!
Another line to divide the toilers is the systematic oppression of the women and the youth. The oppression of the women serves primarily the capitalists since they are the main profiteer of the women's’ lower wages and child labour. While full liberation of women and youth is only possible under socialism we start the fight for equal rights now!
* Equal pay for equal work!
* For the massive construction of free, well-equipped 24-hour child-care facilities! For a wide range supply of affordable and high-quality public restaurants and laundry facilities! Our goal is the socialization of housework!
* For a public employment program to create the conditions for the socialization of housework and simultaneously eliminate unemployment among women!
* Free access to free contraception and for the right of abortion!
* Fight against violence against women! For the expansion of public women safe houses, controlled by women's organizations! For the formation of self-defence units by the workers' and women's movement against sexist violence!
* Abolish child labour!
* Public education for all youth financed by taxes on the rich! For a massive public investment program to build schools close to the villages and plantation where the people live! For massive recruitment of more teachers to reduce the number of school students in each class!
* Those who can work must have the right to vote too – for the right to vote at the age of 15.
* For self governed youth centres free of charge where young people can spend their time beside the patriarchal family control.
* For the building of a revolutionary women's movement! For the right to caucus for women in the mass organizations of workers and oppressed!
* For a revolutionary youth movement!
Separation of religion and state! No privileges for religious institutions!
While the hard working people are poor, the Buddhist clergy has become rich by exploiting peoples religious beliefs. Sectors of the Buddhist clergy play an openly political role (see e.g. the JHU) and support the reactionary Rajapaksa government!
* For the separation of state and religion! No privileges for religious institutions (taxes, religious education at schools etc.)! For the transfer of the property of the clergy into the public hands to serve the needs of the people!
For full democratic rights! Down with the all-powerful military!
To secure its rule, the capitalist class has at its hands a powerful state apparatus: a strong presidency, a state apparatus with the power to violate the rights of the people, a bloated army and a manipulated media apparatus. To finance its huge oppressor army the government spends $1.28 billion (2010) or 3.5% of its budget a year. Imagine how much we could improve housing, the food situation, the public infrastructure if we would take this money away from the military brass and spend it for the well-being of the people! We say: this enormous state apparatus doesn’t serve our interests but only those of the rich. It cannot be controlled by the working people and it costs a lot of our money!
* Abolish the presidency!
* Repeal all “Anti-Terror” Acts and all emergency laws introduced in the past 30 years during the Eelam Wars!
* Stop the harassment against critical journalists! Nationalise the media under workers control with access to all sectors of the society!
* For full democratic rights for soldiers, for rank and file committees, for soldiers right to elect their officers! For agitation against Sinhala chauvinism amongst the soldiers!
For a workers' government, based on the poor peasants and the urban poor
The working class and the oppressed will never get anything if they are not fighting for it themselves. This is why they must resort to mass actions like strikes, demonstrations, occupations, general strikes and armed insurrection. For this they must organise themselves in action councils and workers and peoples militias.
The goal of the struggle is the creation of a workers' government, based on the poor peasants and the urban poor. Such a government must make a decisive break with the capitalist class.
* Nationalization of banks and fusion into a single central bank, nationalization of large companies, large wholesale trade and transport, social, health, education and communication sector without compensation and under workers' control! Introduction of a foreign trade monopoly!
* Expropriation of the capitalist class and especially the banks, corporations and speculators!
* For a workers' government, based on the poor peasants and the urban poor, on the basis of councils in the enterprises and neighbourhoods as well as armed militias; Their representatives are under the direct election and recall ability by the workers and receive not more than an average skilled workers salary!
Crisis of leadership
The working class lacks a leadership which is willing and capable to successfully fight for the liberation. We fight for a strong, united trade union movement. We fight against the divisions of the union movement in many small unions. In workplaces where unions don’t exist we are for building new ones. We fight against the numerous bureaucratic restrictions by the state which hinders the legalisation of trade unions. For broad, mass unions which organise the workers in the whole industrial branch. Unfortunately the trade unions like the Ceylon Workers Congress are controlled by a bureaucracy. This bureaucracy is a layer which is connected with the state and capital via jobs and privileges. In their living conditions and mindset it is far away from the interests and living circumstances of the members. The struggle for the liberation of the working class must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their upper strata. We work inside the trade unions and advocate class struggle, socialism and workers' democracy.
The trade union struggle is very important. But the central issues of the working class life are not decided on the enterprise level but on the political level. Most importantly, our liberation – the socialist revolution against capitalism – is a thoroughly political question. This is why the formation of a mass worker’s party in Sri Lanka and of the Fifth Workers’ International with a revolutionary programme is the most important task. Unfortunately such a party and International does not exist anymore since the Samasamajist movement of the LSSP and the BLPI/BSP along with the Fourth International ceased to exist as a revolutionary force in the early 1950s.
The ULWP strives for unity in action with other organizations. However, we are aware that the policy of progressive liberals, nationalists, populists, reformists and the pseudo-revolutionary groups is dangerous and they ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class.
The JVP praises Socialism and even Marxism. But in reality it is a petty-bourgeois force which – despite having many honest workers and youth in its ranks – supported the Rajapaksa’s regime for a long time and acted as the most fanatical supporter of the chauvinist war of oppression and slaughter against the Tamils.
The LSSP and the CPSL are also not parties in the interest of the working class but rather reformist parties, i.e. parties based on workers support but which are in the service of the capitalists.
Only with a revolutionary party and International fighting as its leadership can the working class win. The construction of such a party and the conduct of a successful revolution – as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky in Russia – are a model for the revolutionary parties and revolutions also in the 21 Century.
For a new, revolutionary workers' party! For a 5th Workers International on a revolutionary basis!
This is what we in the ULWP are fighting for together with our comrades in the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency. If you agree with us – join us!
No future without socialism! No socialism without a revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!