Friday, September 28, 2007


If you're in Auckland there's a rally tomorrow at 2pm in Aotea Square. Go along even though David Farrer has supported it.

Here's a nifty stencil. While I might take issue with the limited image it paints of the resistance - but I understand the advantages of a simple image.

The condemnation of SLORC is coming from all sides, including Bush and New Labour in the UK (with Helen Clark bleating on behind). These are government's that don't exactly have a history of supporting democracy and democratic movements, unless there's a buck or two to be made. Australia and NZ eventually supported East Timorese independence from Indonesia, but only because they got some natural resources out of it. We cannot see Western governments as the great white horses that will protect people who are being oppressed by their own government.

I recommend Lenin's Tomb:

There has been a popular movement against the ruling State Law and Order Council for years, obviously, and this is part of a real revolt. The monks are an important and esteemed segment of society because they provide education and social services, whereas the dictatorship simply exploits people. So why should it be that the United States government has, for the last few years, been applying sanctions to Burma along with its allies? Why is it championing the main democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi? Only an ostrich would imagine it has anything to do with democracy. Well, it's the same as East Timor in many ways. The West, after having backed a genocidal regime for years, has terrorised the opposition into accepting a neoliberal programme. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has promised that, upon taking power, it will implement structural adjustments opening up huge parts of the economy to international investors. There is more than a parallel there: Suharto was one of the Burmese junta's closest allies before an uprising threw him off, and a polyarchical neoliberal regime in both states will restore the symmetry to some extent. So, it's another phase in the transition from anti-socialist dictatorships used by Washington to slightly less coercive regimes in which the opposition has basically been neutered. The experiment launched in Chile in 1973 was really that successful. Britain, which has been doing fine out of the old regime, now hopes to do even better out of the new one. And at the same time, it has a chance of re-moralizing its disgraced foreign policy. New opportunities for intensified capital accumulation will open up, and in all probability the health and nutrition indices - already so miserably poor that they contribute to genocidal levels of death in some segments of the population - will get worse. Of course, while the NLD are the natural beneficiaries of any successful rebellion, there is no guarantee that people will simply accept the neoliberal programme. It depends how much the overthrow of the SLORC is a result of mass mobilisation, and how much of it comes about as a result of the elite compromise and handovers that were prevalent in Eastern Europe after 1989, and in recent colour-coded revolutions. A recently victorious rebellious mass can be surprisingly disobedient.
I don't think this analysis should change our support for resistance in Myanmar. But I do think it's important that we challenge the idea that Western government's could plan a benign, or even a positive role in Myanmar. It's up to the people of Myanmar to decide how to fight against their government; it's up to the rest of us to fight our governments to keep their greedy hands off Myanmar.


  1. In reality they will probably get shot.
    We will complain a bit our politicians will make a few ugly faces and then it will be back to our regular scheduled programming of despotic rulership.

  2. Yes, the people of Myanmar can hardly choose to resist when they have no means of gaining weapons, and are under totalitarian oppression from a very long lasting socialist based military dictatorship.