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An Argument for Communism
Isolation Makes Us Selfish

In conversation with social activist Pradeep Pushpakumara on people’s attitudes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

09.05.2020  |  

The impact of Covid-19 has rocked the entire world.

This virus, first detected in China’s Wuhan Province showed its cruel face within a short period of time and has now claimed more than 250,000 lives and nearly 3 million people are infected to date. It wreaks havoc on all nations from fearless nuclear superpowers to developing ones.

Capitalist systems have not been able to defeat Covid-19. Is it possible, then, to succeed through leftist systems? In this context, Sri Lanka is contemplating many things.

Communities that saw people of the same country as enemies are now together. Fighting Covid-19 which has become their common enemy. In every situation there is a change in people’s opinions. Even religious leaders who claim that God created the world are covering their faces with masks today. Even those who engage in begging are covering their faces.” says Pradeep Pushpakumara, a social activist. This is his exclusive interview with The Catamaran.

THE CATAMARAN: How do you understand the mindset of the Sri Lankans at this moment when the world is rallying against a common enemy?

Prior to 2009, people in the North were seen as the enemy of the South and vice versa. It was an ethnic riot. Thereafter, Muslims became the enemy of the Southern people. It was a religious riot. After the Easter attacks, Islam was viewed as the common enemy of both the Tamil and Sinhala people. Now, after all of that, the impact of ‘Covid-19’, the entire Sri Lankan public attention has changed.

Looking at these events we can see that the enemy has changed from time to time. Depending on the events people have been able to construct their ideas. It is this same characteristic that creates a hindrance to the reconciliation of our country. Communities that were once considered enemies have now come together and made Corona their common enemy. Such an ideological shift based on events cannot bring about reconciliation.

THE CATAMARAN: How does it prevents reconciliation?

These are the same people who made an immediate decision on who their enemy was and paid little attention to how they could bring about reconciliation.

The virus shows no discrimination among the people. It strikes everyone from aristocrats to laymen alike. Corona is completely democratic. There should be no discrimination among the people now to face this challenge. They give isolation a selfish meaning. How can this bring about reconciliation with others?

THE CATAMARAN: Isolation means ‘self seclusion’. What else do you expect?

Isolation should not become a sign of selfishness. Today we live in a capitalist economy. Curfew has been imposed because of the virus. People buy the things they need. Their thinking is self centered. They don’t think of how other people in the village, especially the poor, will eat. People don’t think as one village and as one social group. They think only about themselves and how they could cope with the current situation.

If I buy 10 face masks, I don’t care if the person will have one. This is selfishness. People who come from overseas avoid going into isolation centers and go to their houses for comfort. No matter if it spreads to others, they selfishly feel that only they should live well. This is why I say we are forced to act selfishly under capitalism.

THE CATAMARAN: What do you think can be done to make it a success?

The father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, has clearly stated the psychology of man. He said that the conflicts and tensions in life will be eliminated at some point. Accordingly, the mentality in the aftermath of the war was different; the mentality after the Easter attack was not the same. The current tension has taken man to a different state of mindset. It will definitely change one day. A man who is different in thoughts is fighting together today to save lives. That struggle must come in the form of collective thinking that can still be strengthened. Everyone needs to act on the impact of the outcome. It’s not for them but for the benefit of the community. In such a period, there is a tendency for people to act selfishly in capitalism. This is a bad situation. Therefore a journey towards communism is necessary.

Now the ideology of the people must be reconciled. That would help defeat Covid-19. Communism is that ideological change. In the communist ideology people avoid acting selfishly, harmony develops and they tend to act socially and collectively. Communism embodies the idea that every activity is community-based. There is not even the least religious difference in communism. So this ideological change must occur. That is reconciliation. Thereby Corona can be defeated.