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King Ranil the Wannabe Commoner

The Leader of the Opposition has come up with a neat and democratic/democratizing observation: 'There is no king in Sri Lanka (i.e. in the singular); the UNP will make all Sri Lankans kings!' Now let it not be said that the UNP leader was betraying a certain jealousy on account of his arch enemy (no, not himself, as one could argue, I suppose) being hailed as Maharajano (i.e. a double-honorific) by an adoring electorate. He is above all that, I am sure.

No, he has clearly drawn from the bottom of a heart that has been baptized with the heady waters of the finest sentiments articulated during the French Revolution (liberty, equality and fraternity).

The man, sorry, King Ranil (as per the new formulation) is clearly inspired by the spirit of democracy: with the kings, of the kings and for the kings (again as per the new formulation). Got me thinking. Imagine a land made entirely of kings (no queens, my fellow Royal Highness?). No subjects. No ladies in waiting. No courtiers. No court jesters. No serfs paying tithes. No doratupalayo. Weird! Just imagine King Ranil playing monarch. His Majesty beckons fellow King Karu and says 'Comrade King, could you replace King Gayantha and articulate and defend our ideology?' King Karu, being his equal could say 'Well, do it yourself punk (!), after all who are you to ask for favours or expect orders to be carried out?'

It is like saying everyone is beautiful. That's boring. When there's equality in loveliness there's no reference for comparison and assessment of relative worth. That would be the end of beauty contests. Count that as a positive. We might as well say, if this were the case, that everyone is ugly.

Perhaps that's what King Ranil was trying to tell us. We are all beautiful therefore we are all ugly; we are all kings, therefore we are all slaves. Is that it? I wonder.

The enlightened Hamu Mahaththaya who has disavowed class distinctions can tell the serf's son that all men are equal and that he (the serf) can and should drop deference and operate on the basis first-name familiarity, that he (the serf) could call the Hamu Mahaththaya 'Sahodaraya'. He is serf though, even if he were to utter the word 'Sahodaraya' then and long afterwards as well.

The Good King Ranil knows all this very well. If he really believed that an all-monarch democracy was possible and desirable, then the United National Party would not have a leader, but a membership totally made of leaders/kings. That would be an idea though. No Deputy Leaders, no Assistant Leaders, no General Secretary. No, just Kings, and therefore no behind-the-scene machinations trying to slit King Ranil's throat.

It occurred to me that King Ranil could actually be saying that he has done a 180-degree turn, ideologically and that so had the party: no more right-wing posturing, no saluting of the 'free market', no capitalism; but a resounding hurrah for socialism! Perhaps King Ranil will elaborate on the operational modalities of Okkoma Rajavaru Sri Lanka, I don't know. What I do know is that Victor Ratnayake had a better formulation to offer: api okkoma rajawaru, okkoma wesiyo. (We are all kings - again no queens(!) - we are all citizens). Would King Ranil embrace King Victor's superior formulation and devote the rest of his political career to making citizenship meaningful and equal across the board? I am not sure.

It is common for kings (and 'wannabe kings) to make grand pronouncements about how common they are.

That's marketing. Now imagine if some poor farmer from Buduruwakanda, Galgamuwa came out and said 'we are all kings!' How silly would that sound?

I just checked the mirror. There's no regality in what I see there. Not yet, anyway. When will I be king? Well, a king at least? I am not going to lose any sleep over that possibility or, that impossibility to be more realistic. 'Citizenship' sounds far more real to me though. There's promise and a certain perceivable 'achievable' element to the whole thing. I think I will go with John Lennon and his perceptive song, 'Working class hero': 'You think you're so clever and classless and free, but you're still ... peasants as far as I can see'. That's what we are, just .... peasants and considering what our self-styled kings say and do, I believe that it is a far more noble and preferable identity.

We all know, after all, that much abused and misquoted line from Knox, about the goviya being fit to be king once he washes off his mud. Now if only the reverse were true! If only kings, shorn of regal powdering, are fit to be peasants. Mahinda Rajapaksa might fit the bill. King Ranil? Let's not go there.

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