The people of Burma continue their fight for freedom, and other outbreaks of democracy around the world
At least nine people are dead in Burma as the government cracks down and protests continue. Sadly not a lot the west can do about it, as a commenter pointed out yesterday, China is probably the only country with any leverage with the military government in Burma. And no disrespect intended, but spreading democracy does not seem to be particularly high up on China’s agenda. If anything, they may be quietly encouraging the Burmese generals in their crackdown. They don’t want a popular revolution on their borders, it might give people the wrong idea. And Burma poor and underdeveloped is just a plum waiting for China to pick so to speak, and I mean that in an economic sense, as in their resources will be more available for China to exploit if the west isn’t stealing, I mean competing for them.
It is interesting to note that in the greater scheme of things, most of the world’s nations were left or right wing dictatorships around the time the Burmese generals seized power in the early sixties. Yet over the ensuing decades, most of them evolved into far more democratic nations, if not into outright democracies. Why some places like Burma, North Korea, Cuba and a few others didn’t make the transition is anyone’s guess, the reasons vary on a country by country basis I am sure. In Burma’s case the generals avoided foreign adventures and it was in the interests of both the west and China to look the other way. So baring some epic development, I still suspect the generals will eventually put down the current round of unrest.
In fact, in their efforts to still any local democratic urges, the government of China is cracking down on reality TV shows. All those millions of Chinese casting votes on their cell phones was giving people the wrong idea. So in the name of “good taste” the government is cancelling the various offending shows. It’s kind of amusing, the government of China is aware that there is a yearning for democracy in China, so they have been simultaneously making democratic gestures and cracking down on any real activists. The Chinese government of course claims that China is a democracy, the people “voted” in the current party by installing it in power in 1948. Snort.
In the USA, no matter how many Americans want us out of Iraq, and apparently no matter how many Democrats got elected on anti-war promises…we are still going to have to wait for years for our leaders to actually do what they were elected to do. I think Ron Paul is the only candidate who actually promises to end America’s interventionist foreign policy. And his take on abortion and such is pretty hard to swallow, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing him take up residence in the White House any time soon. It is strange living in a “democracy” where our votes seem to count for less every election. Note prior post on “democracy” being the modern PC version of “the divine right of kings.“
In a final bit of democracy news, I am pleased to announce that there is now genuine democracy in Pakistan. How so? Because General Musharraf says so! Phew, glad that’s settled. Who knew it was so easy to transform a military dictatorship into a democracy.
(The above image of King Louis XIV (1638-1715) is public domain under US copyright law. He didn’t have to contend with any of this democracy stuff, and is notable for such democratic utterances as “I am the state” and “It is legal because I wish it.” My favourite though: “Has God forgotten all I have done for him.” Fortunately, our modern democratic leaders never think like this.)