Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said that if her father hadn't been assassinated, Burma might well have flourished as a democracy. In other words, if some disgruntled British Imperialists and their Burmese client hadn't bumped off her father, he would have been kept too busy killing off or being killed off by his fellow Communist fuckwits to run the country- run it into the ground, that is- which would certainly have been a good thing for Democracy or Plutocracy or Kakocracy or whatever.
This is shown by the career of, her daddy's old colleague, the Buddhist nut-job and hypocrite (praised by Schumacher) U Nu who won elections and was popular- probably because he single-handedly raised up the consciousness of Burma's highly literate population to a point where they acquiesced in the utter destruction of their Economy.
First, of course, there had to be Land Reform- land was redistributed with a 10 acre ceiling, a recipe for involution and miserabilism especially as the State purchased rice at well below world prices. Teak was nationalized and badly run Public Sector enterprises supported out of the profits. High tariffs increased cronyism and rent-seeking. Burmese entrepreneurs were doing well but the Army was being increasingly radicalized simply because the collapse of traditional sources of authority in the countryside meant that there was no conservative counterweight to the increasingly frothy political and business climate.
Though a Leftie, U Nu hoped perhaps to reverse this trend by indulging his soft spot for Buddhism. He declared it the State Religion and banned beef and took to talking shite about 'Buddhist Economics' and so on till finally these measures, which infuriated the Christian and other minorities, were reversed by General Ne Win, an old Communist pal of Aung San with bizarre mystic beliefs, who grabbed power and pushed through a hard-Left agenda under military rule.
Under a new Agricultural Tenancy Act, in 1963, Agrarian Committees were given the power to transfer land to the poorest irrespective of their resources or farming ability. This directly tackled the concerns of raw recruits from the countryside. The departure of Indian and other foreign businessmen and professionals further solidified support for General Ne Win among the soldiers. He had taken highly visible steps to defeat the propaganda claims of the Reds. Why speak of 'Capitalists' when the Commander keeps demonetizing high denomination bank-notes? By periodically wiping out people's savings and shooting students- no soldier likes a student- the General showed he was clearly a good bloke. At the same time, by continually worsening the condition of the peasants- now forced to grow whatever the Govt. demanded and sell at whatever price the Govt. set- General Ne Win gave soldiers an incentive to stick with the army rather than run away.
Meanwhile, the Communists- who celebrated their own stupid 'Cultural Revolution' under Aung San's brother-in-law- just kept getting madder and madder, rabid dogs pointlessly biting each other, till finally even the Chinese lost patience with them.
To sum up, Burma, though a prosperous former British colony, experienced a 'perfect storm' of
1) Fuckwitted Communists obsessed with finding and killing class enemies and claiming that their forgotten corner of the globe was actually still secretly being ruled by the Imperialists.
2) Buddhist chauvinism and stupidity. Back in the late Fifties and Sixties some Buddhist monks decided that since their Religion is atheistic and because Monks (supposedly) don't own property- so Buddhism is actually a type of Communism. On top of that, they believe in 'karma'- so all non-Buddhists are evil scum who did horrible things in their previous lives and thus ought to be pitilessly slaughtered. True some monks, visiting the West, did point out, from time to time, that Lord Buddha wasn't actually an evil little turd and that he upheld rights to property and free enterprise and so on but somehow that message tended to get drowned out.
3) Intense and paranoid ethnic chauvinism like the Khmer or Sinhala Buddhists and so on.
4) A too well educated and polite elite- including people like U Thant and Prof. Myint, who was Emeritus Prof. at the LSE while I was there- who couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge that old fashioned things, like Land Lords and property rights, or un-cool Institutions like the Buddhist Association, or old fashioned and un-cool things like God and Morality, as opposed to Incendiary Communism or Humanistic 'Buddhist Socialism'- are an essential counterweight to a frothy Economy, a febrile Officer corps, and wide-eyed Westerners who want to write some tosh about the superior spirituality of them cute Oriental people with their Pagodas and sarongs. I don't recall Prof. Myint denouncing Schumacher ('Small is Beautiful) as a lying little toe-rag for heaping praises on the nutters who wrecked the Burmese economy. His big shtick was export led growth is good and International Aid is bad- rather than 'Buddhist shite is the party drug which gets you hooked on Hard Left shite!' Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi (unlike her brother) is all like- Gandhi and Peace and Non Violence and Human Rights and shit- rather than 'lift sanctions now! Get your asses in here with fistfuls of money! It's the economy stupid! Fuck Buddhism. Let's have some old time Religion about how you go to Hell if you shoot people. That's Hell dude. You don't get to be reborn as whatever. No. You go to Hell for all eternity. Suck on that.'
(update- apparently she's now for ending sanctions and playing nice with the Junta seeing as they are doing such a good job ethnic cleansing)
The upshot of this perfect storm was that Burma did away with every aspect of the Rule of Law, Enlightenment discourse and the Institutional foundations of Civil Society. If Ne Win shoots students for being too Red and they go running to the Reds, the Reds shoot them for not being Red enough and then, thanks to Buddhism, everybody gets reborn as each other so the same shit can go down again.
Similarly, if the Government is harassing the peasants in the name of anti-insurgency, the insurgents too only want to kill 'kulaks' and 'class traitors' and so on. Every side believes Agriculture is a sector from which surpluses are to be extracted. Every side considers any Trade or source of Employment only as a base of recruitment for canon fodder or source of extorted funds.
However, there was nothing in the Burmese 'psyche' or DNA- or even in the nature of Communism, the nature of Buddhism- which made this sort of outcome inevitable. There's an old time Religion, conservative, Buddhism- one in which Monks are kept in their place by their Uncles who are the Land-lords- and there's a nice, polite, type of Communism which respects the rule pas devant les domestiques.
What fucked Burma up is that Communism played a lead role in shaping the consciousness of the National Bourgeoisie at a crucial period in its development. There was a Concurrency problem and, because Aung San neither killed nor was killed by his own people- the wrong ingredient in the mix gained priority and shaped the minds of the stupid soldiers who finally took charge.
By 1988, the year of economic collapse and a popular uprising, the Communists had been sufficiently chastened to start asking for Democracy- which I suppose is why Aung San Suu Kyi gained importance, but U Nu's political skills (he'd once translated Dale Carnegie) were enfeebled- he was a standing reminder of why Democracy can't work in a country determined to crush its minorities- and the Junta were able to reassert control.
I am reminded of the great Communist theoretician- H.N Ghosal- whose historical importance is that he denounced 'Browderism'- viz. the American notion that Communists didn't actually need to kill all and sundry (though, no doubt, it was a healthful recreation) simply so as to snatch power. Instead, they could just stand for elections and lie and steal and cheat their way into Government same as everybody else. The Ghoshal thesis is an irrefutable Scientific document showing why such a notion is totally evil and genocidal but not in a good way.
To be clear, if Commie nutjobs take power without violence then some non-Commie idiots might kill them which is wrong because that is the job of the real Commie nutjobs who will only accept power through violence but are frightened of doing so because the fraudulent Commie nutjobs are getting power without resorting to violence but will use violence against real Communists which is TOTALLY unfair.
Tragically, Ghoshal- despite being an ethnic Bengali- somehow failed to keep up with his studies and so he was executed in 1967 for being the Liu Shoaqi of Burma- i.e. not grasping why killing 'intellectuals' and lots of people in villages is de rigueur because...urm...well it worked for Stalin and Mao and actually come to think of it you look a bit like you might be from a village yourself. Either that, or you're an intellectual.Why take chances? A bullet to your head will make everything better.
Thanks to the Communist penchant for slaughtering each other and dealing in drugs and stealing everything they can lay their hands on, the Burmese Junta, being committed to 'Buddhist Socialism', and thus marginally less evil, was able to prevail by slaughtering everyone, dealing in drugs and stealing everything they could lay their hands on, which, I suppose, was the least bad of the options available.
Since Nobel Prizes can't be awarded posthumously, it was only right that Aung San's daughter should get one (WHY NOT TWO?) because...urm...well, she was ThanTun's niece but passed up on the chance to prance around in the Jungle as the Pol Pot of Myanmar.