Tuesday, September 25, 2007



The latest news from Burma, renamed in their own version of political correctness as 'Myanmar' by the brutal military ruling class of that country, is that ongoing protest have continued to grow in size and spread to many other cities in the country. The latest round of demonstrations actually began back in August, but it is only recently that it has become headline news. The trigger for the protest was plan by the ruling junta to double fuel prices, and the initiators were the country's Buddhist monks. Both the actors and the issues have grown considerably since the beginning of these events, and what will happen next is anybody's guess. There have been numerous other protests against the junta in the decades that they have held power, some of them even mass movements like the present one. All have been suppressed. Some Burmese dissidents suggest that the death toll from the military's actions over the years may have been in the hundreds of thousands. For those interested in following these developments closer than the mass media does Molly suggests the following sources:

1)Burma News

2)Burma Digest (has good photos of the demonstrations)


4)Burma Underground (mostly about ethnic minorities in Burma)


*When a hollow regime does collapse there is always some "trigger", sometimes great and sometimes small. This may be as large as a defeat in a foreign war. This has happened often enough in history. It may be as small as a minor change in government regulations that finally touches the majority of the population enough to make them rebel. These triggers come more or less at random and attempts by would be revolutionaries to hasten "regime change" in their absence are harmless busywork at best. At their worst, as with individual terrorism, they prolong the life of the regime in question by both increasing its public support and by "waking up the snake" and provoking it to act against much more serious forces of opposition than the terrorists.

*A regime is likely to be most successfully challenged where there is a sphere of civil society outside of the control of the state where opposition can be more or less freely organized. In recent years this has often been religious in nature. Poland, the Philippines and now Burma come to mind. Actions on the part of the state to eliminate this free public sphere are dangerous because they may provoke the sort of "trigger" discussed above. The state is thus forced to tolerate its mortal enemy within its territory. The actions of the Chinese government today to try and eliminate the Falong Gong cult are evidence of a ruling class that recognizes such a danger and hopes to eliminate it before it becomes so powerful that it has to be tolerated. Such independent public spheres don't have to be religious in nature, but in most countries it is the churches/religions that have a base of public support to begin with that makes them difficult to challenge in their early growth. If independent public spheres do not exist there is NO magical shortcut to bring about regime change short of depending upon a "revolution from above" such as what happened in the ex-Soviet Union when it fell apart. No amount of "militance" will substitute for a mass movement, and the larger and more firmly established the movement is before a "final confrontation"the more likely it is that the end result will be an improvement for the majority of the population that carry out such a "revolution without revolutionaries". The overriding goal of any movement for social change should be to build such independent social spheres- not to engage in spectacular actions.

*"Revolution From Above" is always a possibility as a regime becomes more desperate and less popular. Such "revolutions" are most likely to result in merely superficial changes that better the life of the average person hardly at all- except where they open the field for developing an independent civil society. The sort of divisions and hesitations that lead to such events are, however, a necessary condition for "revolution from below". No regime will fall until it becomes rotten enough so that at least a minority of its soldiers, police, guards,etc are willing to desert. This has to be thoroughly understood,and any actions by so-called "militants" which only serve to increase the solidarity of the armed force opposing the people should be thoroughly discouraged by more sensible opponents of the regime. The Burmese military ruling class have been challenged repeatedly, often by mass movements, over the last few decades, but they kept on soldiering. Whether the present movement wins or loses will depend upon whether the regime is rotten enough so that the soldiers become unreliable. Sensible ruling classes-China, the USA, Cuba are examples- try their best to make at least their military into a closed subculture isolated from the general population. They can hardly ever succeed in doing this 100%. The degree to which they succeed is the degree to which their regime is safe from any change short of that imposed by foreign troops.

*The Burmese people have chosen the path of non-violent resistance. This is a sensible and logical choice. Their strength is not in the number of guns that they can bring onto the street-always a minuscule part of 1 percent of what the military can bring to bear. Their strength is political and emotional. They hope to make the ruling class waver and their armed forces hesitate. Nobody knows better than people in Burma that "all ruling classes will fight violently to keep their position". That's a given. Such truisms are used by the decadent remains of the "New" Left in the USA and those under their influence in other western countries to justify whatever stupid and counterproductive wild schemes they may have to try and bypass the long and hard work of organizing "within the people". Burmese people know this truism far better than any leftist militants do, far, far, far better. But they draw sensible conclusions from this fact. To fight on their own terrain with tactics that have at least a chance of success. perhaps this is because they actually want to win rather than to "prove themselves". everybody should fight to win and not to show off.

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