"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

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 years ago:

"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.

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