The devil was once an angel! BEWARE those stiftungs...
Recent reports of the excuses given by some UNP politicians to the
revelations that they participated in a workshop organised by the
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung (FNF), a German group, on how to defeat the
Sri Lankan government reminds of the sarcasm Mark Twain expressed when
he quipped, “To succeed in life, you need two things - ignorance and
The "rubbishing" by one UNP MP of the allegations that he received
money from the FNF to topple the government, and by another that
labelling them as traitors for attending the workshop as “absurd” had an
air of confidence about them.
The assertion that “FNF is a foundation funded by the German
government, only seeking to share its liberal political views” however,
shows that these young UNP MPs, apparently willingly falling prey to
neocon designs in varied forms, have no idea whatsoever about the “true
colours” of their NGO masters, or the vile nature of the beast they are
playing with. Mark Twain was right!
Disturbingly for the country however, exotic sounding organisational
name tags and the lure of dollar notes, being sprinkled around Colombo
like confetti, seem to be working quite nicely for the FNF.
Revelations that this seedy group has operated in Sri Lanka for
decades without ever seeing the need for extending the courtesy of
registering as an NGO, and that its local agent circulated an order from
her masters that the UNP MPs should abandon “liberalism” in favour of
“socialist democracy”, go to show the total contempt with which these
characters seem to treat the local administration and the intelligence
of local agents prepared to lick their boots for dollars and euros.
Contrary to the assertion by the UNP MPs, and for their information,
the FNF is not an official arm of the German government - it is an
instrument of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the junior partner to the
Union coalition that forms the German federal government led by the most
arrogant German leader since Hitler, Angela Merkel.
The story of FNF however, is intimately linked to the broader story
of how the political movement that was known in Europe as “liberalism”
was hijacked by the European conservatives (Tories), and later
re-branded the resultant “neo-conservatism” as “neo-liberalism”.
FNF in South Asia
First to the activities of the FNF in our part of the world - they
have begun operations in India more than 40 years ago and have spread to
other countries since then. In Sri Lanka, they claim to be having a
“sophisticated partner structure” spanning from a political party that
promotes liberal principles to “recognised” think tanks, a liberal
academy and a liberal youth network.
They name the all-powerful Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) that
purportedly works “on constitutional concepts for strengthening the
democratic process in Sri Lanka” as their lead “agent” in Sri Lanka.
The FNF claims to have been working in Sri Lanka for “more than 40
years”, giving the lie to the UNP MP’s claim that they began “rooting”
Sri Lanka in 1988. They have taken upon themselves, as their main task,
to “continually underline the relevance of freedom for developing an
open and tolerant society” and also to promote rule of law,
constitutional reforms and economic freedom. They also admit to
“training” candidates, young politicians and future leaders.
It is natural for an inquiring mind to ask the question as to how a
bunch of Germans loaded with money, and little else, could expect to
remedy the grave weakness of “intolerance” in the Sri Lankan society, if
nearly 3,000 years of civilising influence of Buddhism and a few hundred
years of Christianity could not achieve the same result. They clearly do
not appear to be facing such questions from the boot-lickers at the CPA!
Of course Sri Lankans are tolerant, that's the whole point!
Their patronising attitude to Sri Lanka however, pales into
insignificance when compared to their diagnosis of the ills of India -
stunningly, they declare the rationale for interfering in India as - to
“correct” the socialist mindset, corrupt and sluggish bureaucracies,
archaic social structures and other grievances hampering progress. And
they vow to increase transparency and accountability of politics, by
supporting “liberal” youth in becoming politically active, and by
communicating the advantages of liberal concepts of market economy.
It is only the intriguing adjunct at the end of the FNF agenda to
“help” India, the aim to “promote the democratic capacity of the
Tibetans in exile” helps gain a glimpse of their true subversive intents
from within the Indian borders.
FNF plotted and financed Tibetan riots in 2008
Research by the Canadian journalist Doug Saunders, published in The
Globe and Mail, revealed that the FNF plotted for seven years, in
coordination with the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in the
self-proclaimed Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India, to
usurp the torch relay that preceded the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Plans for the disruption of the torch relay was finalised at the FNF
organised "Fifth International Tibet Support Groups Conference" in
Brussels in May 2007, with more than 300 members of the Tibetan diaspora
participating. The then undersecretary of state in the US state
department and special coordinator for Tibet, Paula Dobriansky, a
hard-liner in the neocon inner circle in the Reagan and Bush
Administration was in attendance.
The long-standing links between the Dalai Lama and the CIA, since its
instigation, financing, and arming of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against
Chinese rule, were utilised to smuggle large quantities of small arms
and explosives in to Tibet through India.
The aim of the conference was to develop a “Roadmap” for the Tibet
Movement for the Coming Years, with a view to turn the passive
anti-China campaign based on Tibet by celebrities such as actor Richard
Gere and bumper stickers to violent protests along the route of the
six-month long torch relay around the world, and back to China through
Tibet. Rolf Berndt, a member of the FNS executive council declared that
the Olympic Games were "an excellent opportunity" to publicly promote
the cause of the "Tibet Movement".
Other activities designed to add momentum to the protests included
the boycott of the Beijing Olympics by German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and presidents of client states, Poland's Donald Tusk and the Czech
Republic's Vaclav Klaus, and the 2008 Tibetan unrest that started in
Lhasa and spread to a number of monasteries. During March and April
2008, there were violent attacks on 18 overseas diplomatic missions of
China, including Washington by more than 500 Tibetan separatists.
Such activities clearly show that the FNF is a subversive
organisation that is working to tarnish the image of other countries,
China in this particular case, exploiting their domestic problems. It is
reasonable to assume that their recently increased attention on Sri
Lanka is focused on creating mischief in the run up to the upcoming
CHOGM meeting in Colombo.
The FDP is a neocon collective disguised as liberal democrats
The economic policies of the parent of the FNF, the FDP, such as
devotion to the primacy of free markets, deregulation, privatisation,
reduced government, and reform of collective bargaining are all
regressive neocon ideology that have been proven to be antithetical to
Many analysts refer to the FDP as Germany's only real “Thatcherite”
party. The FDP’s support for a politically integrated EU with a common
foreign and security policy is also identical with the neocon agenda.
Any commitment to personal freedoms by people with such policies would
be similar to the commitment of Dracula to a blood bank!
In a broader context, the FDP in Germany is just one example of the
hijacking of liberalism by conservatives. They have proceeded to
transform ‘liberalism’ that focused on personal emancipation, rightly or
wrongly through the attempts to reduce the role of government in
society, to a purely economic theory based on unbridled capitalism,
labelled a “neo-liberal” philosophy. A closer look at liberalism and the
so-called neoliberalism clearly shows that ‘never the twain shall meet’.
Roots of liberalism is in philosophy, not politics
Liberalism is a collection of ideas that arose from the ancient and
natural phenomenon of human resistance to oppression by other
individuals, the state, or other structures that represent collective
In 17th Century Europe, views on personal emancipation emanating from
the “Enlightenment” manifested themselves as a movement against the
theory of divine-right kingship prevalent at the time, and matured in to
a battle against the alliance between the state and the Catholic Church
that represented power at the time.
The emergence of a body of ideas that was collectively known as
Liberalism began with the “Two Treatises of Government”, published
anonymously in 1689 by the philosopher and physician John Locke - Locke
attacked the theory of divine right of kings and asserted the existence
of intrinsic human rights to "life, liberty and estate", values preached
by the Buddha and Jesus Christ several thousand years before Locke.
Parallel to the developments in Britain, similar ideas began to take
root in the 18th Century France too, mainly through the writings of
Montesquieu and Voltaire: Montesquieu, who was suspicious of the state,
advocated the separation of state powers by differentiating them to the
executive, legislative, and judiciary branches, and the imposition of
reciprocal controls in order to restrain them. Adam Smith, in The Wealth
of Nations (1776), introduced the concept of an "invisible hand" that
governed social relations that, according to him, obviated the need for
a state to safeguard the welfare of individuals. The Prussian
educationalist Wilhelm von Humbolt wrote on the limits to state action.
These ideas were further developed in 19th Century France, by thinkers
such as Fréderic Bastiat and Alexis de Tocqueville. The Glorious
Revolution of Britain (1688) that ended the absolute power of the kings
and gave rise to the power of Parliament, and the American Revolution
(1783) and French Revolution (1789) powered by Locke’s philosophy
provided impetus to liberalism by embodying the values of opposition to
state power, and by severing the association between the state and
religion, and the state and business activities.
Napoleon Bonaparte who seized power in France in 1799, becoming First
Consul, took up the cause of liberalism and imposed it on other
monarchies of Europe helping it gain political momentum.
Pure liberalism proved to be useless as a political tool
In keeping with the adage "politics is the cemetery of every
conception and aspiration in search of freedom and emancipation", the
political success of liberalism based on its theoretical appeal proved
The accession of the liberal politician William Gladstone to power in
England in 1868 was the first challenge liberalism faced in terms of
scrutiny of a "philosophical" thought stream as the foundation and
instrument of state administration. Liberalism failed this test
decisively. Realising the untenability of their position, European
liberals who came from the upper strata of society conveniently
abandoned the lofty ideals of limited state power and universal freedom,
and in alliance with conservative politicians, embraced excesses of the
state, in the name of the "Nation". Liberal politicians began to
redefine liberalism in terms the freedom of the white man even if that
meant aggression and suppression of liberty for the inhabitants of other
regions of the earth.
The intervention of the new "liberal" state in the social and
economic life of the people was progressively increasing, under more
appealing yet more deceiving appearances. Liberals who fought against
the cultural influence of the Church started promoting the monopoly of
the state in secular education, prompting Karl Marx to state in 1875
that "Education of the people by the state is altogether objectionable."
As a significant intellectual movement, liberalism came full circle
in the second half of the 19th Century when it was diverted towards a
state interventionist approach by a group of scholars based in Oxford,
led by Bernard Bosanquet who expounded the concept of the "Liberal
State" as the highest manifestation and implementation of freedom in
society. Bosanquet effectively announced the death of liberalism as
initially conceived by Locke, and reverted to the state absolutism of
Hobbes' Leviathan. By the end of the 19th Century, liberalism as an idea
was practically dead.
John Maynard Keynes, the most famous liberal economist of the age is
considered to have put the final nail on the coffin when he provided the
moral justifications as well as the theoretical tools for extensive
state intervention in the economic sphere, in his major work, The
General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936).
Despite a short-lived attempt by two Austrians, Ludwig von Mises and
Friedrich Hayek, in the 1920s and 1930s to revive classic liberalism as
a response to the growing state power in Germany under Hitler, and
another brief attempted revival following the end of the Cold War, pure
liberalism had died for all practical purposes by the early 20th
Century. Extensive state intervention that followed in the form of "war
on terror", and as was needed to douse the fires set by the global
financial crisis of 2008, removed any lingering hopes of revival of
Why did liberalism die?
Liberalism in Europe arose necessarily from within the privileged
aristocratic or wealthy classes like the Barons of Britain who wanted to
safeguard their privileges against what they called the "arbitrary"
power of the King. Any benefit to commoners that flowed from the
"revolutions" in terms of rights and liberties were very much a
by-product of the victories the privileged the aristocracy won for
The failure of pure liberalism as a useful tool in democratic state
craft is due to the internal inconsistency at a practical level of the
'dream' of living happily in a state, or indeed the world, without
personal protection, safeguards and security provided by the state - a
person who accumulates wealth as means to happiness will soon find their
happiness destroyed in situations where theft and robbery are undeterred
by a legitimate Police Force or other forms of authority. The reality of
'national' issues such as war adds to the need for state organisation.
The obvious preparedness of the ordinary person, universally, to
"trade" civic rights and freedoms for physical and economic security,
rising living standards and political stability clearly makes a mockery
of the fundamentals of the philosophy of liberalism that people would be
happy in the absence of services provided by the state. In short,
individual happiness in a "state-less" social environment will be
This conundrum made liberalism in an irrelevant ideology to the
masses, making it the ideology of deception of the global élite, in
their scheming to gain control over other states. They aim to achieve
such aims by portraying the state as the obstacle to a person's pursuit
of happiness, luring the gullible and corrupt sections of citizenry of
such states. The diversion of citizens' attention from the aspiration to
draw personal happiness from the "well" of national happiness also helps
the elite achieve their goals through the weakening of the state.
While performing their tricks, the liberal elites brazenly display,
like America routinely does, that "freedom," in their vocabulary means
the freedom of the elite to engage in their "hobbies" of bombing other
countries, or robbing their national wealth. The global poor have not
seen any "freedom" even after the nominal end to colonialism.
The youth of Sri Lanka need to be informed of the frauds that arrive
with offers of contributing to "happiness" through new ideological aids
they have devised.
The FNF "trainers" will profess to the gullible that the path to
freedom is paved with violent rebellion against the duly elected
government on "whatever grounds you prefer". They will manufacture such
grounds from the 'recipe' they have prepared for universal consumption.
The theory that even the minimal level of state supervision of the
rules of social life invariably leads to abuse of such powers and
restrictions of civil rights and personal liberties, is clearly
unsustainable, due simply to the total irrationality of a government
behaving in that manner, except at times of war or other emergencies.
The question that needs to be put to them is as to why state power in
their countries has grown exponentially over the last several decades,
with the state monitoring electronic communications and intruding in to
personal lives through other forms of surveillance. The FDF brand of
liberalism has no answers to the exigencies of a country like Sri Lanka,
currently nurturing an 'infant' economy while managing cinders of
secessionism smouldering beneath the surface.
A society lacking a common identity and economic independence at
personal as well as national level due to ethnic divisions hardly
provides the context for aspirations of individual freedoms.
Economic development is the essential precursor to individual freedom
and liberty of Sri Lankans. The vast majority of Sri Lankans, as
suggested by the polls, appear to realise this exigency and are prepared
for any trade-offs if necessary.
The Sri Lankan youth need to be advised to "Be careful who you trust,
the devil was once an angel."