King Ranil the Wannabe Commoner
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
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
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.