LTTE & Fanaticism
18 January 1997
(from the Tamil Circle)
The HK Standard/Asia Pacific report of January 16, 1997 has Sri
Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar saying at a press briefing on Wednesday night:
"Mr V Prabhakaran (rebel leader) has a goal, that is a separate state ..You cannot
settle with people who are absolutely fanatical''.
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar appears unaware of something
that, Sri Aurobindo, wrote, in the Bande Mataram , some 90
"The mistake which despots..., have been making ever since organised states came
into existence and which, it seems, they will go on making... is that they will over
estimate their coercive power, which is physical and material and therefore palpable, and
under estimate the power and vitality of ideas and sentiments.
A feeling or a thought, democracy, nationalism..., the aspiration towards liberty,
cannot be estimated in terms of concrete power, in so many fighting men, so many armed
police, so many guns... ...the physical power and organisation behind the insurgent idea
are ridiculously small, the repressive force so overwhelmingly, impossibly strong that all
reasonable prudent moderate minds see the utter folly of resistance and stigmatise the
attempt of the idea to rise as an act of almost criminal insanity. But the man with the
idea is not reasonable, not prudent, not moderate. He is an extremist, a fanatic.
He knows that in the fight with brute force the spirit is bound to conquer...
He knows too that his own life and the lives of others are of no value, that they are
mere dust in the balance compared with the life of his idea. The idea or sentiment is at
first confined to a few men whom their neighbours and fellow countrymen ridicule as
lunatics or hare brained enthusiasts. But it spreads and gathers adherents who catch the
fire of the first missionaries and creates its own preachers and then its workers who try
to carry out its teachings in circumstances of almost paralysing difficulty. The attempt
to work brings them into conflict with the established power which the idea threatens and
there is persecution. The idea creates its martyrs.
And in martyrdom there is an incalculable spiritual magnetism which works miracles. A
whole nation, a whole world catches the fire which burned in a few hearts; the soil which
has drunk the blood of the martyr imbibes with it a sort of divine madness which it
breathes into the heart of all its children, until there is but one overmastering idea,
one imperishable resolution in the minds of all besides which all other hopes and
interests fade into significance and until it is fulfilled, there can be no peace or rest
for the land or its rulers. It is at this moment that the idea creates its heroes and
fighters, whose numbers and courage defeat only multiplies and confirms until the idea
militant has become the idea triumphant. Such is the history of the idea, so invariable in
its broad outlines that it is evidently the working of a natural law.
But the despot will not recognise this superiority, the teachings of history have no
meaning for him... He is deceived also by the temporary triumph of his repressive
measures... and then stands alone erect amongst the ruin he has made and thinks, 'The
trouble is over, there is nothing more to fear. My rule will endure forever; God will not
remember what I have done or take account of the blood that I have spilled.' "
If democracy means rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the right of
self determination proclaims that every people
shall be entitled to freely choose their political status and that no one people may rule
another. Democracy and the right of self determination go hand in hand - neither can truly
exist without the other.
And, if the Liberation Tigers' unswerving commitment to the Tamils' right to self
determination is perceived to be fanaticism, then so be it. But, an unswerving commitment
to the right to self determination does not have the result that two peoples, sitting as
equals, cannot agree on political structures within which they may associate with each
other on equal terms. The modern day European Union affords an example of that equal and
free association of states.