Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam
Chapter 15: Myanmar (Burma)
Tin Maung Maung Than A short political history Myanmar (Burma until 18 June 1989 when the junta changed the name) became a distinctive political entity with the establishment of a dynastic rule in Bagan (Pagan) in central Myanmar in the ﬁrst millennium (AD). The monarchic rule continued for many centuries under several dynasties until 1885 when Britain colonized the country by force of arms and administered it as part of British India. Most members of the Myanmar elite remained unexposed to the philosophical and conceptual foundations of Western political thought (democratic or otherwise) until well into the twentieth century, when many anti-colonialists became inﬂuenced by socialist ideas. When World War II engulfed Asia, a group of young Myanmar nationalists (mainly ethnic Bamar or Burman), led by General Aung San, sought the help of the Japanese to undergo military training and subsequently raised an army that joined the invading Japanese in driving the British out into India. This brought Japanese militarism and fascist practices into Myanmar. However, in 1945, the Myanmar army under General Aung San revolted against the Japanese occupiers and facilitated the Allied campaign to retake Myanmar from the Japanese. Back under British rule, the new politico-military elite led by Aung San launched a successful political campaign and mass mobilization to demand independence from Britain. However, in July 1947, Myanmar’s independence movement suﬀered a huge traumatic blow when political assassins gunned down Aung San together with members of his legislative assembly. The harsh experience under the fascist...
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