Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 16. September 8th 1971

Youth Radicalisation:

Youth Radicalisation:

The youth in Ceylon, the generation since the last War (1939-45), came into political consciousness and began to move in an anti-capitalist direction largely due to the influence of the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party, the revolutionary oriented party of the working-class. The developing class-struggle under the leadership of the LSSP, and culminating in the great Hartal (one day's uprising) of 1953, was a further stage in the radicalisation of this youth.

However, since the mass-uprising of 1953, far from preparing for the next stage of revolutionary struggle, the LSSP leaned more heavily on parliamentarism. This meant that the youth that followed the LSSP developed parliamentary illusions.

On the parliamentary plane the LSSP found a serious rival in the Slfp, the alternative bourgeois party, which gave itself the image of the poor-man's party. With the Slfp's rallying slogans of "Sinhala only" as the State Language, and "rightful place for Buddhism" combined with the "progressive" colouration given to this party by ex LSS Per Philip Gunawardena, the youth of school-leaving age in 1955-56 went directly into the camp of Bandaranaike.

The two Bandaranaike governments, 1956-59 and 1960-64, brought only disappointment to the youth in regard to their problems of unemployment and lack of educational and other opportunities. They soon found that the adoption of Sinhalese as the State-language and State recognition of Buddhism did not bring them jobs or any advancement.

By 1964, the present generation of the youth found that there was no solution to their problems through parliament. When this youth looked for an extra-parliamentary way out, the LSSP, the revolutionary oriented party of the working class had abandoned its revolutionary programme; it had betrayed the workers and toilers for office in a bourgeois cabinet (SLFP-LSSP Coalition Government).

The UNP victory of 1965 was further proof to the youth that parliamentary politics was a game played by bourgeois parties with their agents in the reformist parties. In the meantime, all the problems of the people were becoming more acute than before. In regard to their own burning problem of unemployment, the reality was that while general unemployment stood at nearly one million, the proportion of persons unemployed in the age group 19-5 was as high as 64.8 percent (Central Bank Bulletin April 1971). This means that a very large percentage of the unemployed consisted of young persons and that the bulk of the educated youth had no place in this socio-economic set up. It was clear to the youth of this generation that they were social rejects or out-casts, without any real hope of changing their condition within the existing society.

It was in this context, that since about 1965 the youth orientation was to reject the totality of society in which they had no place. In their state of growing alienation from society, the youth had no need for anything of the existing social order. As the traditional parties of the workers and toilers had betrayed and were tied to the establishment, they rejected these political parties as well and what appeared to be their ideologies. The youth took to armed struggle to destroy their destroyers, the society and its State power.

Outside their own sector, the youth found no hope or point of support In this situation the youth turned inwards. They formed their own organisation fro revolutionary struggle the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna.

This radicalisation of the youth in Ceylon took place in conditions of international revolutionary upsurge commencing with the great Chinese revolution, followed by the Algerian and Cuban revolutions, and the Vietnam liberation struggle. It was during this perios that the crisis of Stalinism also burst into the open with the twentieth Congress of the Communist party of the Soviet Union in 1956, and outcome of which was the Sino-Soviet conflict, and the Chinese cultural revolution. There is no doubt that the more recent US anti-war movement, the French revolutionary struggles of May 1968 the Pakistan struggles and also the Czechoslavakian mass mobilisation, con tributed to the further radicalisation of the youth in Ceylon. It is now a fact that a new world radicalisation of youth has taken place during the last decade, affecting not only the youth of both advanced and backward capitalist countries, but also the youth in workers States.