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Book reviews

Thoughts of the X-Group

To Whom It May Concern
X-Group Publication
(57 Pages)
Sumith Chaminda
(c) Nirmal Ranjith
Devasiri - X Group

The activities of a clan following or a cult called 'X' Group was visible on posters in the city walls for some time. Therefore, when a friend gave a booklet written by a guru of this group titled 'To Whom It May Concern,' a cursory glance made clear that it needs a review.

Class society has produced brotherhoods ranging from Freemasons to Christian cults and our own Soma Thera phenomenon.

One could take a liberal view that people in a democratic society are free to form their own associations. However, such fraternities will play a decisive role in time of social crisis. The recently held American presidential election was won on the basis of strengthening Puritanical values held by such groupings. Christian fundamentalists in the USA have shot and killed abortion doctors and people with such beliefs blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City killing 167 people.

The unanswered question in a democratic society is to what extent can society tolerate such extreme views? What lies behind the thoughts of the X Group?

Sumith Chaminda of the 'X GROUP' has written the 41-page booklet with an Appendix and a dedication to the late Dr. Newton Gunasingha.

The booklet has chapters on subjects ranging from negation, alienation to economic role of population. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri who is identified as the secretary of the X GROUP has written the preface. The booklet is an attempt to put down in paper the thoughts of this group.

The preface addresses the Westerners, including the diplomatic community resident here and declares the concerns of the X Group which are not 'poverty, environ disaster, exponential growth of crime, corruption' but deeper aspects of 'Sri Lankan reality' which have hitherto remained unknown to many.

Reality

'To Whom It May Concern' starts with a preoccupation with 'reality' and one would think that the booklet is on the way to a metaphysical examination of reality. In the introductory chapter this is done in a polemic with Nalin de Silva who has written a booklet in Sinhala titled 'Poverty of Marxism'.

The metaphysical examination departs from cosmic relevance and ends up in Nalin De Silva's Jathika Chinthanaya, which has explained that foreign models of thoughts are incompatible with national interests.

Two chapters later the metaphysical examination of 'reality' turns out to be nothing more than the political reality of the island. 'Since there is no philosophical tradition in Sri Lanka, other than religion, we are compelled to write on the Lankan religious ideology.

In this context, we can discover the true Sri Lankan home truth, presently standing upside down, through the very same mystified religious stories in which it is depicted. We can depict the perpetually wandering nature of the practical life through the reflection of the perpetual echoing in preaching' (P. 04-05)'.

There is a grain of truth in this passage but the group is scratching the surface of history without absorbing it in material terms.

The chapters on negation and alienation are an attempt at best to stand on one leg on Hegel's head and the main thrust of X Group arguments are in the exposition of production which they think can be used to break the 'circularly existence' of humans.

Ideology

The arguments again contain heavy borrowings from Gramsci Goethe, Hegel Marx etc. To quote one: 'But according to Gramsci, in America the ideology of production was the production itself. The development of American production forces was such that there was no need for philosophical intervention to justify the production itself.' (P30) On the contrary American pragmatism is the philosophy of American production and philosophers in the category of John Dewy were prominent in developing it.

Thoughts of the X Group are minus history and disarray in thought because 'peripheral postmodernism' they adhere to, treat history as Meta narratives.

The thoughts of the X Group are hardly original and they are unconsciously following a hotchpotch philosophical tradition of Martin Wickramasinghe who followed an inductive method of reasoning. The Koggala philosopher is the ideologue of the Sinhala national bourgeoisie and an enthusiast admirer of the 1956 'revolution'. His essay 'The collapse of the Brahmin caste' is an example.

Nalin de Silva and the X Group are prisoners of this eclectic tradition. Production cannot exist without exchange in human society.

The thoughts of X Group are a kind of Menshevik protest of the State in crisis. The group is polemically in battle with Nalin de Silva's Jathika Chinthanaya but expresses the same views in a different phraseology. Martin Wickramasinghe is the God of Sinhala Buddhist national chauvinists and Nalin de Silva is the son of God. The X Group is the alter ego of Nalin de Silva.

All are prisoners of the Karmic Law and in search of a political Nirvana.

- Somachandre Wijesuriya

(Author of the novel 'First Rising' on the background to 1971 insurrection)

**********

Sri Lankeya Cinema Vanshaya

Nuvan Nayanajith Kumara's well-researched Sri Lankeya Cinema Vanshaya will be launched at the Elphinstone Theatre, Maradana at 5 p.m. on February 28.

The book covers the entire history of the Sinhala film industry from 1898-2005. In addition it carries all the information about Sinhala films, award ceremonies, cinema halls, magazines and newspapers published to promote films and pictures of actors and actresses.

The keynote address will be delivered by Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne. Rohana Weerasinghe will direct the music for the songs to be sung by a host of artistes.

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