The Riots In Sri Lanka Are a Sign of Things to Come
War is inevitable when engineered poverty crushes the masses
Sri Lanka is on fire right now.
And not just because the south-of-Indian nation is roasting thanks to global warming.
My closest friend in high school was Sri Lankan, so I’ll admit I’m very fond of the low-lying monsoon-prone island nation.
And what I’m seeing in the news right now is terrifying.
In the same way that most of the West is at the start of a massive engineered affordable shelter crisis, millions of Sri Lankans are facing an engineered affordable food crisis.
The inflation rate in April alone was 29.8%.
Food prices are up 50%.
The nation has run out of fuel.
There are power outages 13 hours per day.
The government doesn’t currently have a finance minister.
Sri Lankan stocks are the worst-performing assets in the world right now.
People are lining up for basic necessities including food.
The supply shortages are so desperate that they’ve run out of fourteen essential drugs.
The question is:
How did things get so crazy?
TLDR: Rich people did it
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is not a good man.
He’s part of a wealthy, land-lording, authoritarian, nationalist-populist family dynasty that stopped a decades-long civil war — though not without committing war crimes — only to install themselves as rulers-for-life once in control.
Like American and British and Canadian corporations do with their own countries, Rajapaksa and his wretched family have been systematically looting his nation for years.
Rather than boosting government revenues in order to help everyday working people, the President decided to push through the biggest corporate tax cuts in Sri Lankan history. The nation’s credit rating plummeted and lenders stopped loaning them money as the nation’s foreign reserves cratered.
But did the good citizens of Sri Lanka take these tax-cuts-for-the-rich-while-the-masses-starve sitting down?
They rose up.
Sic semper tyrannis
Unlike Americans and Canadians and Brits, who just passively sit back while corporations railroad their nations, Sri Lankans took to the streets like the Ukrainians in 2014 and demanded change.
As their situation worsened, Sri Lankans peacefully protested against the ruling regime.
In response, the dictator declared a “state of emergency”, suspended a bunch of laws, detained people illegally, and seized property (and lit a bunch of tents on fire, burning dozens of people in the process.)
So the Sri Lankan bravely marched against the tyrants that looted the economy.
They defied the mandatory curfews.
They survived a brutal attack from pro-government mobs.
They burned down the homes of 38 politicians who support the Rajapaksa cartel.
They tried to rush the President’s compound but were tear-gassed.
They even manage to set fire to the President’s ancestral home.
Sri Lankans understand what elites cannot fathom:
That the contributor class owns Sri Lanka, not the extractor class.
Sri Lanka belongs to the laborers who created 100% of the wealth of that great nation — through their time, talent, and effort, and also through their taxation and spending.
Capital contributed nothing, and the workers of Sri Lanka sought to take back what was rightfully theirs.
And it worked.
Despite the fact that the government issued a shoot-to-kill order, murdered several innocent people, and injured hundreds of others, the people eventually won the first battle and the corrupt Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa finally resigned in disgrace last week because of his supporters’ attacks on the citizenry. The move immediately dissolved the Cabinet, which included three other Rajapaksa members.
Not that this is the end of the story.
It’s just the opening salvo.
The despot’s brother, the nationalist strongman Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is still the president, and they immediately appointed a new prime minister — a friend of the family who’s actually an old prime minister who’s now enjoying his sixth term. Ranil Wickremesinghe is an extremely wealthy man who actually lost his seat in Parliament in 2020 and is so toxic that none of the other parties will join him in forming a government.
The Rajapaksa family’s hope is that a tokenistic shuffling of seats will assuage the masses, but something tells me it won’t work.
Like all sociopathic corporatists, the new prime minister immediately proposed privatizing (read: corporatizing) the national airline to “help” alleviate the crisis.
As if selling off politician-looted public assets to the rich for pennies on the dollar is preferable to actually running the company well and, oh, I don’t know, taxing the rich.
Instead, he’s heading to the world mafia banker, the utterly wicked IMF, to beg for a loan. The IMF, of course, is a loan shark that demands austerity (read: suffering and privation) for the masses, and perpetually debt-traps already-impoverished nations.
The new-old PM’s other brilliant idea?
“Against my own wishes, I am compelled to permit printing money in order to pay state-sector employees and to pay for essential goods and services.”
In other words:
Steal money and give tax breaks to your buddies while you tank the economy
Sell off the nation’s assets
Pile on debt
Devalue the currency even further, skyrocketing inflation and crushing the purchasing power of the poor.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same gameplan that corporate elites are executing in America, Canada, the UK, and elsewhere.
The difference is that Sri Lanka has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for years — it owes over $50 billion in foreign debt, yet has just $25 million in foreign reserves.
In fact, the new/old prime minister says “Today, it is a challenge for the Treasury to find $1 million.” (Though, I bet the Rajapaksa family has a whole lot more hidden away in Swiss bank accounts and The City of London.)
The reality is that what will actually fix the problems in Sri Lanka will be to oust the entire extractor class:
Get rid of the corrupt politicians and replace them with real democracy.
Start taxing the hyper-elites instead of allowing unlimited wealth accumulation.
Ban the axis of economic evil — interest, rent-seeking, and passive corporate profit — and give the contributor class 100% of the wealth they create.
Do this, and the Sri Lankan people will take care of themselves.
Or keep trying to enslave them and see how it turns out.
This is why Christians must stand in the gap— not only in prayer, but also with active engagement in loving our enemies, in advocating for the poor and speaking for the voiceless, and in smashing the powers and breaking the strength of the systems of oppression that are shattering this world.
How long before Sri Lanka goes global?
Nations around the world are due for a reckoning.
Western elites don’t understand that what is happening in Sri Lanka is mathematically inevitable on a global scale.
It’s basic arithmetic.
If you create inflation by increasing prices, and you decrease the contributor class’s purchasing power through wage suppression, taking jobs overseas, and automation, and you evade taxation by offshoring corporate wealth instead of paying taxes, you create poverty and desperation that eventually erupts as violence.
Increasing prices + decreasing purchasing power = inevitable poverty, followed by violence.
It’s not hard to understand.
It’s just hard to see through the mist of dirty money.
And if you can’t see through the mist of money, you’ll have an even harder time living through the fog of war.
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Jared A. Brock is an award-winning biographer, PBS documentarian, and the cell-free founder of the popular futurist blog Surviving Tomorrow, where he provides thoughtful people with contrarian perspectives on the corporatist anti-culture. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Guardian, Smithsonian, USA Today, and TIME Magazine, and he has traveled to more than forty countries including North Korea. Join 20,000+ people who follow him on Medium, Twitter, and Substack.