A few might think it funny to hail a king in a land that is a supposed democracy, but I am not one of those few. On the way to Galle last Friday, as I cycled with Jerry, we passed a victory rally of sorts somewhere along the stretch of road between Balapitiya and Ambalangoda. There was loud classic Sri Lankan violin and tabla esque music; a woman was singing, hailing a great king.
Who this great king is, is anyone’s guess. But given the circumstances of Mahinda’s recent victory i’m guessing a lot of guesses would get it right.
Meg is of the opinion that a country like Sri Lanka would be better under autocratic rule, so long as the ruler is fair and just. I am inclined to agree, but good autocratic rulers these days are rarer than square wheels. Sri Lanka in essence is often accused to be a banana republic these days.
I am reading The Hamilton Case by Michelle De Krester and found this interesting passage of a Kalusudda lamenting the implementation of universal suffrage.
The British made a fatal error when they brought in Universal Suffrage. It might be plausible in Europe, but here, with our ignorant masses, what can it lead to but the disasters we’ve seen since the beginning of independence? Would you ask a child to operate on your appendix or a lunatic to advise you on your investments? Yet we entrust our choice of government to villagers with no discernment or finesse, no training in sustained analytical thought. Inevitably, their crude emotions carry the day. We all suffer the consequences.
But the premise of ignorant masses ruining a country is undemocratic amiright? If democracy is the rule of the majority then you can’t let a priviledged minority decide what is good for the whole country. But when democracy gets messed up, you get something all too familiar; the election of a small number of people into power by the majority, who promptly proceed to abuse their station. So we anyway end up getting a privileged minority deciding what is good for the rest of us, through a process of majoritarian democracy. Catch 22.
Maybe this can be avoided with strong institutions staffed by incorruptible officials, but I’m wondering if we are too far down the road of immoral governance to be able to switch back and start over now. The months ahead will reveal the character of our new king. Let us hope he is benevolent and kind to all. Otherwise its either put up or shut up, and get out only.