By David Tharckabaw
June 9, 2009
is political ideology?
By definition, an ideology is a set of aims and ideas, especially in politics. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things, as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies, or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society.
The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society, and adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.
What is the ideology of the SPDC?
The root ideology of SPDC leaders goes back to the days of feudalism. Burma (Myanmar) had three empires. (People may laugh at us when we say Burma had been an empire before the British occupation, because they normally think of an empire as those of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the Holy Roman Empire, Austro-Hungarian, Czarist Empire, and the British, etc. Of course, those were empires stretching over large areas of land and countries.)
The First Burman Empire was founded by Anawrata (Anurudha), the Second by Bayin Naung (Burin Naung) and the Third and last was by Aung Zay Ya (Alaungpaya). The founders were all warrior kings, or warlords. The last empire was destroyed or transformed by the British into a colonial state, during the time known as the period of colonialism. (Colonialism may be looked upon as the beginning of globalization, which has been continuing ever since, in different forms.)
The SPDC leaders and a sub-stratum of Burman nationalists see themselves as having superior intellect, culture and power of number to unify the disparate ethnic nationalities, under the banners of unification of the country, into an empire. They ignore or fail to realize the fact that the Burman empires of old covered only the plains in the middle and lower parts the Irrawaddy valley and the Sittang River valley. The empire the SPDC and its cohorts now undertake to build is the former British Burma, including the hill areas with many ethnic nationalities, which have been empowered through modern education and acquired a sense of polity and nationhood. In short, SPDC leaders do not know or ignore the fact that the days of empire building are gone forever. The crux of the problems of Burma lies in this fact.
The current issue is of course to fight against the SPDC constitution. It is based on the ideology of military imperialism and chauvinism. (We may call it a fascist/Nazi constitution.) In our ideological struggle, we have to go deeper than attempt to shoot down the constitution or collaborate with the SPDC for gradual change as advocated by development ideologues.
The Impact of Geopolitics
In the days of the Cold War in which the superpower camps tried to bury each other's systems, the geopolitics of the West (British, French, West German, and the US, etc.) in our part of the globe was containment of communism. The AFPFL split on the grounds of ideology. U Nu, who was making friends with the likes of Zhou Enlai, Sukarno, etc., and an advocate of neutral foreign policy, was viewed with distrust by the West. Though U Nu came back with a landslide victory in 1960, Gen Ne Win was primed to seize power. Ne Win received massive military and financial assistance to fight the communists. He fought also against the ethnic rebels, lumping the rebel groups together with the communists.
By 1975, the rapprochement between the US and China bore fruit in the form of a secret agreement in which China promised not to export communism and the US not to intervene militarily in South-East Asia. China continued to support the BCP until the early eighties and the West continued to give aid to Ne Win in the form of anti-drug assistance. The West, especially the US, had no use for Ne Win after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. However, the chauvinism, militarism and feudalism planted by Ne Win had taken firm roots.
Geopolitics of Today
In our part of the globe, the geopolitics of today, ideologically, is development. The advocates of this ideology are led by Germany, Denmark, UK and France in the West and Japan in the East. The pressure we are under from these countries is "develop and democracy and human rights will come. Appease the SPDC, lay down arms or stop resistance/opposition and collaborate with the dictatorship. Turn your country quickly into a market. The IMF, ADB and WB will take care of everything."
These countries have NGOs loaded with cash to sweeten their propaganda and line of action and to win adherents. The US takes the line of "democracy and human rights first, and development later." Most of us like the line advocated by the US during Bush administration. Obama came up with the idea of engagement and the junta saw it as a success of their strategy and ideology and promptly put Daw Suu on trial.
Fortunately for us, the financial crisis of global proportion has shown that development ideology is not the answer for our problems. We have to continue hammering into the heads of the junta leaders that their imperialism is devastating the country and it will eventually destroy them physically. Strike fear into their hearts. Pressure them by various means as a way to goad them to the negotiation table, for peaceful resolution of the conflict.