Sri Lanka & the fruits of affirmative acton

Picking up the civil war theme from the open thread. Sowell did a worldwide study of affirmative action.

The most destructive result of preference policies is the polarization of whole societies, as in Sir Lanka, Nigeria (with the attempted Ibo breakaway movement to form Biafra) and some Indian states. The Sri Lankan experience is especially instructive because at the time of independence the Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority lived side by side in harmony despite their different religions and languages and despite the greater educational and commercial advancement of a section of the Tamils. The elites of both groups tended to be English speaking, mixed freely with each other and were committed to non-sectarian policies. All this changed with one demagogue, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. English-speaking, Christian and Oxford-educated, he became a champion of the Sinhalese language, Budhism and preferential treatment for Sinhalese. This resulted in an upset electoral victory for his party in 1956, followed by legislation to make Sinhalese the official language, restriction of the leading teacher-training college to Sinhalese only, and the first of many bloody race riots directed against the Tamils. The downward spiral continued as radical Sinhalese elements demanded stronger forms of preference and groups of Tamils launched a violent secession movement.

Prior to Sowell’s research, it appears that hardly anyone paid systematic attention to the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of preference policies. Nor had anybody noticed the depressing similarity in the pattern of events which Sowell records all around the world. Generally the demand for preferential policies comes from well educated, ‘new class’ members of supposedly disadvantaged groups. The same people also become the main beneficiaries of preference policies. These are the people who took Andrew Bolt to court.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sri Lanka & the fruits of affirmative acton

  1. Poor Old Rafe

    Yes I wrote “This is not to deride the institutions of Parliamentary democracy”, well you have to remember that I was young and naïve in 1990 when that appeared, probably in Quadrant.

  2. johanna

    Bumiputra in Malaysia is another example.

    Lots of ambitious and entrepreneurial Malaysian Chinese coming to Australia as a result.

    Our gain, their loss.

  3. JohnA

    English-speaking, Christian and Oxford-educated, he became a champion of the Sinhalese language, Budhism and preferential treatment for Sinhalese

    Clearly a CINO then, and an embarrassment to real Christians everywhere.

  4. The rate of collapse of non-anglo nations as they are thrown out of the colonial nest is extraordinary. Those that hold together seem to require something more stable and less caustic than democracy.

    The notions that a majority makes right, and that popularity and capacity are correlated, that people are equal in some non-identarian way seem to bring out the worst in a society.

    It’s just happening slower here.

  5. cohenite

    AGW is their global vehicle.

  6. Des Deskperson

    ‘Generally the demand for preferential policies comes from well educated, ‘new class’ members of supposedly disadvantaged groups’

    I myself have never encountered a posher, sleeker, better fed, better dressed and groomed and better credentialed bunch of gels than members of the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

  7. Joe Goodacre

    Thanks Rafe – on the forum yesterday there was a surprising amount of ignorance about it not being as simple as the Tamils being the bad guys.

    Sri Lanka’s descent into civil war is a remarkably example of how quickly civil society can unwind when people start seeing that too much liberty is being traded for too little protection.

  8. Jessie

    AGW is their global vehicle ………….. supported by the legislatively and culturally embedded lack of freedom to speak and newer forms of monetary exchange and property.
    Shari’a in all intents and purposes, utilising Gaia and adherents across the deserts, forests and seas of the globe. For the people living under this movement, the results and realities are stark.

  9. Vicki

    It always amazes me that no one appears to see the non sequitur in the position of liberal democracies which insist that special places be reserved for minorities in the fledgling governments in the developing world.

    This is affirmative action on a grand scale.

  10. blogstrop

    The Bolt case was a joint effort. There were the complainants, the prosecuting barrister, the Labor-leaning judge, and then, cheering from the sidelines, the left-leaning media.

    Now to further rub salt in the wound we have the government elected to correct this sort of rubbish backing down.

    Taking an interest in politics is at times quite unrewarding.

  11. Spider

    I visited Sri Lanka last year for a month and I was amazed how civil and respectful people were to each other given that only a few years before folk were viciously blowing each other up.

    There are still soldiers to be seen on street corners of course. The government doesnt completely relax but it felt safe and well normal.

    Our driver and others though were definitely on the look out for opportunities to leave and travel to Australia or Europe.

  12. sabrina

    Most Tamils have no hope in Sri Lanka – a predicament partly of their own making and largely nationalist buddist and elite Sinhalese community determined to make the others second class citizens. Most educated Tamils left the country to the West when they could, those left are the ones nowhere to go. Same fate fell on the Hindu’s (not all) in Bangladesh.

  13. 1234

    Bullshit. The preference policies in this nation priveledge white, Anglo males with private schooling. Those who took Dolt to court still have little to no power. Their representation in the parliaments, courts and businesses of this nation is derisory

  14. larrikin

    The preference policies in this nation priveledge white, Anglo males with private schooling.

    name one such policy

  15. Bill

    The “people who took Dolt to court” were university educated, urban elites – with a very slight tan

  16. nerblnob

    Bumiputra in Malaysia is another example.

    Lots of ambitious and entrepreneurial Malaysian Chinese coming to Australia

    You beat me to it Johanna. More than one such, when asked by me why they left Malaysia, said “racism”. They have polite, bemused contempt for the idiots proclaiming Australia to be The Most Racist Country In The World.

    Also we gained small but enterprising numbers of Malaysian Indians, Malaccan Christians, etc. All citing Australia’s tolerance and equal opportunity.

  17. old bloke

    All this changed with one demagogue, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. English-speaking, Christian and Oxford-educated, he became a champion of the Sinhalese language, Budhism and preferential treatment for Sinhalese.

    The strange thing is the Bandaranaike family were originally Hindu Tamils. They served the British administration of Ceylon (now Sri-Lanka) with whom they ingratiated themselves, and they also adopted Sinhalese leanings to meld into the majority Sinhalese-Buddhist population.

  18. old bloke

    Also we gained small but enterprising numbers of Malaysian Indians

    The Malaysian Indians are also predominantly Tamils who were settled in Malaya by the British to work in the rubber and coffee plantations. The British also recruited a lot of Tamil labourers from India to work in the Ceylonese tea plantations. Wherever the British went, they encouraged the Tamils to follow as they are very entrepreneurial and hard workers. Hence you will find Tamil Indians all over the world, from Africa to Fiji.

  19. James Hargrave

    Of course, Solomon Bandy Knickers came to a sticky end – he opened the tiger’s cage, tried to ride it and was eaten. Which served him right but retarded the country – one where a prospective military coup in the early 1960s really might have been beneficial at staunching problems before they got completely out of hand.

    I believe that the ‘better class’ of inhabitants of Ceylon used to speak Sinhalese to the servants. But many such person, even Sinhalese, got out once Mrs Bandy Knickers and the usual loonies were ‘trashing the joint’ in the 1970s.

Comments are closed.