by Toby Green
Wednesday, 13
July 2022
Explainer
10:41

The unspoken cause of the Sri Lanka crisis: lockdowns

Two years of lockdowns are being felt around the world
by Toby Green
Protesters on top statues at Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. Credit: Getty

The world’s media has its eyes focused on Sri Lanka, with the announcement that President, Gotapaya Rajapaska, has fled the country. Yet what is being reported as a political crisis is in reality a hunger crisis. It speaks of the enormous human costs of the management of the Covid-19 pandemic by ‘global health’, the effects of which are still being felt.

Already by September 2021, the BBC reported a food emergency on the island nation. There were many causes, including an abrupt shift to organic farming which had reduced production; but the Sri Lankan government had equally been unable to protect food imports following soaring foreign debt burdens, inflation, and a collapse in tourism — all of which were directly connected to the global Covid restrictions. By January 2022, one report described how food prices had doubled in the previous 12 months alone.

This, combined with the knock-on impacts of the war in Ukraine, led to the unravelling of Rajapaska’s presidency. And worryingly, this chain of global lockdowns to hunger to riots to political upheaval may soon become very familiar.

That’s because reports are growing of similar patterns on every continent. Outside Sri Lanka, in Asia there were the worst food riots seen in Iran for more than a decade earlier this year. In the UK, Martin Lewis warned of riots caused by the cost-of-living crisis in May, and similar fears have been raised for Europe. In Latin America, Ecuador endured weeks of protests at the end of June, with protesters demanding price controls for agricultural products. Then last Thursday, reports came from Panama of a call for a general strike owing to the cost of living.

Meanwhile in Africa, a series of reports have recently underlined the gravity of the crisis. This week, business leaders in South Africa were quoted as saying that the country was sitting on a time bomb. As one put it:

Don’t watch TV and think people are bombing each other here, the bombing is in the fridge. The bomb is on the stove. And when it explodes, no one will be able to stop it.
- Kgosientso Ramokgopa

As if to underline the point, riots hit Jinja in Uganda earlier this week, provoked by food and fuel prices.

The connection between food security and political security is well known. Food scarcity played a significant role in the Arab Spring of 2011, and all the signs are that the same patterns are in play again in 2022 — especially considering that world governments have already played their full hand by printing trillions of dollars to ‘deal with Covid’. But instead all that we have been left with is inflation.

Whatever lessons in leadership the world’s politicians are getting, it seems like they need what World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab likes to call a ‘great reset’.

Toby Green and Thomas Fazi’s book on the pandemic, The Covid Consensus: The Global assault on Democracy and the Poor – A Critique from the Left, will be published by Hurst in December.

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Ian Wray
Ian Wray
30 days ago

The food crisis in Sri Lanka has not just been caused by the response to Covid, but also by its government’s banning of chemical fertilizers, to comply with the green ideology pushed by the Davos elite. See Michael Shellenberger on this, or Brendan O’Neill on Spiked.

Jill Corel
Jill Corel
30 days ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Yes Ian that was an excellent article by Michael Shellenberger – these elites pushing their insane agendas, and the support they get beggars belief.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
30 days ago
Reply to  Jill Corel

I suspect that “support” is bought and paid for.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
29 days ago
Reply to  Jill Corel

Requested a link… but then found it. Thanks.

Last edited 29 days ago by Jonathan Smith
Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
29 days ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Also Shellenberger’s former colleague Ted Nordhaus and Saloni Shah in Foreign Policy.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
29 days ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

The Guardian had this comment – it looks relevant:

“A decision to make agriculture in Sri Lanka fully organic – largely an effort to greenwash an inability to afford fertiliser”

Alan Lucraft
Alan Lucraft
30 days ago

On a page on their website, the WEF proudly boasted of their member, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe, and extolled the virtues of his “green” plans to transform the economy to “make my country rich by 2025”, that particular page was taken down two days ago. Great Reset???… riiiiight……
As for “make my country rich by 2025”, the exact opposite has happened due to the ludicrous globalist policies inflicted upon this nation. Thankfully, the people of Sri Lanka have effectively ejected the WEF from their country and halted this Global(ist) Assault on Democracy and the Poor………… a good title for a book right there……..

Last edited 30 days ago by Alan Lucraft
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
30 days ago
Reply to  Alan Lucraft

Most enlightening. I wonder if anyone has an archive copy of that WEF page?

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
30 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Search for way back machine.
It’s been archiving most of the Web for years now.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
29 days ago
Reply to  Alan Lucraft
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
30 days ago

Covid lockdowns have wrecked the world economy. I knew what would happen, but then I’m not an expert.

Last edited 24 days ago by Martin Smith
Tom Watson
Tom Watson
30 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

There really are some ideas so stupid only an expert could believe them. Sri Lanka banning chemical fertiliser to turn the contry fully organic in 10 years, when agricultural exports and tourism are its 2 key sources of foreign currency and the latter of those has already been kneecapped by lockdowns, is eerily reminiscent of the (ex-Obama natsec adviser I think) who famously said “Russia is incredibly unimportant in the world economy apart from oil and gas.” Whoops!

Bruce Crichton
Bruce Crichton
30 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

These experts only have expertise in presenting absurd apocalyptic fantasy as science.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
30 days ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

When covid first broke out I had a massive argument with my PHd prof brother ,who teaches epidemiology, around all this – and i realized that not many folk have good big perspective knowledge – he has not apologized yet for being mostly wrong…..

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
30 days ago

IF the COVID virus had killed, say, 20% (or 1.5 billion) more people, then the lockdowns were necessary. Since COVID killed not 20% but 2% – and those with most comorbidities and the most elderly – then the Great Barrington Declaration got it right: Protect the most vulnerable. No need to cause starvation to the world’s poorest by forcing everyone to cease economic activity. But this policy was deliberate. Cause panic. Lock everyone down and scapegoat the dissidents. One-world globalism only works when we are all treated as pawns who do what we are told. Sri Lanka’s plight was a ‘necessary cost’ of this policy.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
30 days ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

Odds are the Barrington declaration would not have worked. Of course the only way to prove that would have been to follow it and se how many tens of millions woudl have dies.

Andrew D
Andrew D
30 days ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

2%?

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
29 days ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

2% is off by a factor of 10. And consider that a great deal of excess mortality in 2021 probably came from the vaccine, not the less dangerous but more transmissible virus.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
29 days ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

So the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus, is it? Proof, please!

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
29 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This question depends deeply on the age group you are considering. And I know you know that.

Candace Bowen
Candace Bowen
30 days ago

Here in the U.S., you have only to look at the real estate section of any newspaper to see the extent to which those for whom money is no object are disconnected from the lives of average working people. It’s shameful.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
30 days ago
Reply to  Candace Bowen

It is that way all over the capitalist world – the gap between haves and not is growing – i cant see any way that it will end well – even in NZ there are daily shootings and multiple robberies as we inch towards more of a police state keeping the wretched at bay cos they have nothing to lose and prison seems really quite attractive compared to living in one’s car and eating rubbish…

John Aronsson
John Aronsson
29 days ago

Aren’t the same people doing the same thing to the Dutch boeren and all the other farmers in the EU?

Ghana and South Africa are having the same problem with same kind of people at the World Bank.

The Green Revolution of the mid-20th has always been thought to be a huge success; yields doubled an tripled using fertilizers and populations increased as food more abundant and cheaper. Do they really think populations won’t quickly start collapsing along with the crop yields?

Maybe that’s what they want; fewer polluting humans.

Something called ESG is said to be at root of this.

Last edited 29 days ago by John Aronsson
J Bryant
J Bryant
30 days ago

This is such a sad situation but there’s still an element of humor. How can anyone believe that lockdowns and other restrictions would not profoundly affect the economy of a poor country?

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
29 days ago

At some point we’ll ask how all of the “experts” (read as elite oligarchs who don’t actually understand where anything comes from) still have any credibility. Probably after the entire house of cards collapses. Hopefully the collapse will allow us to rebuild after sweeping the gutters clean of the rubble of dried up expert personalities who remain convinced that energy and food are things that just happen with zero investment and malign incentives.

Su Mac
Su Mac
30 days ago

Another very interesting insight from a resident into all the mistakes made including a breakneck speed organic farming conversion but also radical lockdowns, currency debasement, debt and the collapse of tourism. Still a lovely place to go for the most part apparently!
https://dailysceptic.org/2022/07/12/the-unrest-in-sri-lanka-has-been-exaggerated/

Jim R
Jim R
29 days ago

Our governments are afflicted by a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. They have inflicted poison on us – created the perfect storm for a food and energy crisis through mismanagement and foolish ideological zealotry. When all hell breaks loose, governments will charge to the rescue, declaring freedom and free markets the cause, taking full control over the economy, as if more government was the solution to too much government.

David Brown
David Brown
24 days ago

The Great Reset is imploding worldwide! In USA Build Back Better didn’t even make it through the senate and is now dead! The push to inact green energy before it was the right time now has The EU in dire straights! Russia cut off the oil and gas and there is not enough renewable energy infrastructure to keep people from freezing in the up coming months! Now much of Europe is going back to dirty coal! Everyone is pumping and drilling like never before! Our government told us we need to go buy a $60,000 electric car! If we all had an extra 60k laying around there wouldn’t be enough EV’s for everyone to buy one. There are not charging stations in every town or in the countryside in most places! The time to push people off fossil fuels is when the green energy grid is in place everywhere! When there are EV shops and mechanics and charging stations every mile in every small town and big city and on every road. The word has alot to do before the transition to renewable can happen! Solar Panels & Wind Mills are not the future of green energy! It just doesn’t work very well everywhere! A technology will come along soon that will power the world cleanly and it will be much less expensive! Nuclear Fusion is close to being perfected and that will run the world with no waste or danger of meltdown or destroying the world. Solar isn’t the answer! Let’s get the charging stations on every road and neighborhood in the world and then the time might be right!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
30 days ago

All caused by

soaring foreign debt burdens, inflation, and a collapse in tourism — all of which were directly connected to the global Covid restrictions

Maybe, it is a reasonable analysis. But before blaming it, yet again, on ‘lockdown’, it would be interesting to hear what Toby Green thinks the world should have done instead. Kept flying to Sti Lanka on tourist trips – in crowded planes, presumably without masks, catching COVID in enormous numbers – in order to protect the Sri Lankan economy? That would be very altruistic. Personally I would selfishly refuse to put my health at risk in order to protect the tourist economy of Sri Lanka.

Last edited 30 days ago by Rasmus Fogh
Bruce Crichton
Bruce Crichton
30 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Easy, the world should have not locked down.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
30 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Crichton

Some details are missing here. Do you think that instead of ordering people to avoid contact we should have done like the Swedes and merely suggested it, so that people would do pretty much the same things, but voluntarily? That would not have helped Sri Lanka much. Or do you think that we were wrong to try to reduce COVID cases, and should have pushed to keep the economy roaring and simply accept whatever damage and death came from the disease? Or do you believe that COVID is a wicked plot by Davos man, and there is actually no such disease?

Last edited 30 days ago by Rasmus Fogh
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
30 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yow. Still clinging to the guardrails of that sinking Covid ship, eh? Enjoy Davy’s lockdown!

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
30 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Indeed Covid was bound to hit Sri Lanka tourism industry to some extent lockdown or no lockdown. What the article fails to emphasise is the lunatic green agenda imposed on top of the inevitable covid effects and the food price disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Something those who support green politics prefer not to mention.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
29 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The Guardian had an interesting comment on that (apologies for the double posting, but it fits here):

“A decision to make agriculture in Sri Lanka fully organic – largely an effort to greenwash an inability to afford fertiliser”

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
29 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, you are brilliant, and your explanation, as succinct as it is persuasive, is worth the repetition: the supposed “decision to make agriculture organic was really an effort to greenwash an inability to afford fertiliser”.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
29 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Peak Guardian – furiously back pedalling on yet another green failure, and gratuitous use of word “greenwashing”.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
30 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It was the foolish compromising of their food supply that was the accelerator of this crisis – you are correct that a swedish/barrington type lockdown would not have averted their present problems. damn those incompetent leaders !

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
29 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I would have flown to Sri Lanka if they had allowed me. Indeed, I travelled in Summer 2020 to many countries and without masks. It was 2021 with the covid passports and weird requirements that made me stay home. However, I was never afraid of the virus but afraid of the restrictions. On the other hand no amount of restrictions will make those afraid of covid travel. This is why putting restrictions to attract tourists was always misguided.