Handful of Elitist NGOs in Sri Lanka comprising of a ‘civil society’ hinders democracy

The dominant western theories constantly support the existence of civil society as the most crucial aspect of a democratic society. It is accepted that the contribution of civil society organisations in general to democratic well-being is significant. Civil society organisations are further assigned with a mission of counter-hegemonic action for a better democratic consolidation (Gramsci, 1971).


In fact, in the context of Sri Lanka a small fraction of elitist society engaged in non-government organisations is understood as the ‘civil society’. Consolidation of power in a handful of elitist people actually damages the democracy in this way. This is a reality in the absence of the civic consciousness of the people in the state.


Michels (Michels, 1971) points out the elitist critique is still a significant concern about civil society because the oligarchic tendencies are latent within almost all of the organizations and the renowned jeopardy still exists because certain organizations may find the chance to consolidate power, increase their popularity and start to damage the ongoing democracy, when tend to be a latent but potent characteristic of civil society. In that sense, it is interesting to know that both of the controversies that civil society in Sri Lanka undergoes at the moment are rather institutional issues than the ideological ones where the so called demise of ideology lacks the ability to overcome them.

I would personally see these as controversies of civic consciousness, which could be identified as the understanding to live with other(s), where the other is assumed to represent a subject position defined in terms of culture (Bilgin, 2004). I assume that the lack of civic consciousness accelerate the apathetic culture in Sri Lanka, and decline the modernist belief in the self. We might live without a civil society of this nature, than having for the name sake and threaten the democratic structure of the state.

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