How Capitalism Has Collapsed In My Sri Lanka

And how it’s coming for you


Vistas of prosperity, always in the distance. Photo by Abdul Halik Azeez

Capitalism has entirely collapsed in Sri Lanka, and the country is out of petrodollars and ergo out of petroleum. Cars snake round the city in giant petrol queues, like dinosaurs lining up at a vaporized watering hole after the asteroid. They don’t know it yet, but they’re extinct. I ride by on a bicycle, a formerly pathetic mammal now moving faster than these fossils.

I borrow an electric car to take the kids somewhere and we drive through Slave Island. It’s called that because the white people used to encircle slaves with crocodiles here. Now it feels like the state of the whole country, surrounded by international bankers and their leg-breakers, the IMF.

Slave Island used to be the home to a beautiful community, but they kicked them out to build luxury condos for no one and elevated highways to nowhere. Now the condos are uncompleted and the highways are just dumped in the street. Huge pillars stand there, like Ozymandias’s feet. Their size cries “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” But, “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay, Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Since this photo was taken in 2015, even more temples to capitalism have come up, and the god worshiped there has completely come down. day dreamer you are 02 by Abdul Halik Azeez

I say this is a collapse of capitalism because, I mean, look around. Investment properties are the temples of capitalism, houses kept as empty and well-appointed as shrines, to house not humans but the absent gods of greed. Cars are the avatars of capitalism, lethal pieces of capital that travel at superhuman speeds through human bodies and streets.

For decades we have built this pyramid scheme ever higher, for the promise of a ride in a car, a 30-year mortgage on a home. But now it’s all coming down, leaving blocks of dead stone in the road, just getting in the way. I drive around them now, in a borrowed car on borrowed time. It’s over now. Capitalism has run out of gas at the edges of empire, and it’s running on fumes everywhere else. It’s a…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at