Explaining the Burmese Revolt

Lenin:

The West, after having backed a genocidal regime for years, has terrorised the opposition into accepting a neoliberal programme.

Didn\’t know he\’d been reading Naomi Klein.

 

6 comments on “Explaining the Burmese Revolt

  1. I haven’t, and that isn’t my explanation of the revolt: it is my explanation of the West’s willingness to coopt it. Anyone who has spent any length of time looking at US policy in Latin America, South-East Asia and parts of Africa will find this trend: prolonged periods of terror, then cooptation and the promotion of polyarchy. William I Robinson has produced a good, lengthy survey of this trend:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SSjzaNssgAQC&dq=&pg=PP1&ots=mr4NsPboYD&sig=ep_E9QuM506ipPx-vRiE-CYCbG0&prev=http://www.google.co.uk/search%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3Dwilliam%2Bi%2Brobinson%252C%2Bpolyarchy%26meta%3D&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title

    Tim adds: You say this as if polyarchy were a bad thing:

    “In modern political science, the term Polyarchy (Greek: poly many, arkhe rule)[1] was introduced by Robert A. Dahl, now emeritus professor at Yale University, to describe a form of government that was first implemented in the United States and gradually adopted by many other countries. According to Dahl, the fundamental democratic principle is that, when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a political community is entitled to have his interests be given equal consideration. A polyarchy is a nation-state that has certain procedures that are necessary conditions for following the democratic principle.”

  2. Never knew the west backed Burma. Perhaps not as vociferous in condemnation as they could have been, and the embargo probably helps the junta, but the west have not to my knowledge supported the junta.

  3. Naomi Klein is quite famous then? Has a “reputation”? So you don’t need to explain her position – her “good name” is enough. Why, it’s so reliable that it is a recognisable “brand” ! She should protect it against misuse! She should make sure it is covered by a copyright on the “logo” of her name.

  4. I hate Naomi Klein and I hate the Burmese government. Which side to pick?!?

    Tim adds: Easy. The liberals.

    The ones that believe in free speech, free association, freedom and liberty. All else is politics, who gets to rule.

  5. Never knew the west backed Burma. Perhaps not as vociferous in condemnation as they could have been, and the embargo probably helps the junta, but the west have not to my knowledge supported the junta.

    Britain has supplied the regime with weapons and money, the latter in the form of Export Credit Guarantees. For example, see this recent parliamentary answer:

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2007-06-25c.145338.h

    The most recent breach of the EU’s arms embargo to my knowledge was this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,2127261,00.html

    But Britain routinely supplies armaments to Burma and many regimes like it:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20060730/ai_n16649513

    I had thought this was well understood.

    Tim adds: You say this as if polyarchy were a bad thing

    No, I don’t exactly: though I do think polyarchy is a bad thing, because I don’t accept the description you have cited, that isn’t the thrust of my argument. My argument here is that the US, having destroyed its substantive opponents, feels safe to introduce polyarchical forms of government that it would not have done in a previous era. Obviously, the US has always had a certain amount of flexibility about how to handle external states over which it wanted to rule, adapting to local conditions etc – Julian Go calls this the “parochialism of the American Empire”- but the broad trend is discernible.

    “In modern political science, the term Polyarchy (Greek: poly many, arkhe rule)[1] was introduced by Robert A. Dahl, now emeritus professor at Yale University, to describe a form of government that was first implemented in the United States and gradually adopted by many other countries. According to Dahl, the fundamental democratic principle is that, when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a political community is entitled to have his interests be given equal consideration. A polyarchy is a nation-state that has certain procedures that are necessary conditions for following the democratic principle.”

    Yeah, I find wikipedia a tremendous source of insight as well, but there are other ways to approach it. For example, if you want to understand my own argument, you could check my reference and see what he means by ‘Promoting Polyarchy’. It’s a very intriguing and empirically detailed analysis. He does explain, for example, that democracy is a contested concept and that the US promotes a version that is actually profoundly undemocratic, in which a minority actually wields effective power for elite interests (see pp 16-17, or simply scroll down your wikipedia page).

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