Saturday, June 7, 2008

Searching For The Min Laung: Cycles of Conquest in the Land of Anawrahta.

Searching for the Min Laung
Cycles of Conquest in the Land of Anawrahta.

Buddhism, Socialism, Militant Totalitarianism and the endless attempt to unify Burma.

Since the feudal states of the third century BC, the diverse people of Myanma pyi enjoyed an existence of local government and small villages. It was not until the 11th century AD that the ambition to politically unify Burma began to develop. Yet, even with the emergence of the Pagan Empire under Anawrahta,[1] and the empires to follow, the Burman kings only loosely organized the minority populations into a cohesive political whole. Minorities such as the Karens, Kachin, Shan, Mons and Arakanese might have paid tribute to the Burmese majority, and while it’s true that these minority populations often benefitted from the advance of civilization that ensued, the existence of empire levied very little impact on the day to day operations of local government, culture or religion as assimilation, not annihilation, was the dominant practice. This is primarily due to the priority that was placed on people versus land or territory. The area was sparsely populated, and conquest was more often than not, simply a shifting of leadership.

Beginning with British colonization, however, and continuing through to modern-day, attempts at superimposing an artificial construct of national unity with a centralized government have been forced, frustrated, and destined for failure. Charismatic figures such as Aung San, U Nu and Ne Win have each risen from the ruins, each with their own unique approach toward national unity, and each failing to achieve it.

The respective failure of imperialism, socialism and militant totalitarianism to create a truly cohesive polity, conducive to economic development and stability in Burma, smacks of communism’s great shortcomings in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Today’s complex global economy demands greater efficiency and much more open trade relations than Burma’s 20th century system of government can possible offer. The very “glue” that now imprisons the diverse people of Burma together as a nation is also an oppressive political catalyst fomenting fragmentation and cultural independence.

This study addresses Michael Aung-Thwin’s “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,”[2] and while it both respects and supports Aung-Thwin’s position on the British pacification and how it differed in its ultimate goal from indigenous pacification, it is strongly opposed to his blatant attempt to use a scholarly project as propaganda for Ne Win’s decades of oppression. In this article, Aung-Thwin rightly claims that indigenous pacification was tied into a complex socioeconomic and religious system that the people understood and accepted, while the British pacification was centered on “two primary criteria: the absence of significant military resistance” and “the existence of a successfully administered territory, defined largely in terms of revenue collection.”[3] Clearly the British approach to pacification in Burma was crude, inferior and oversimplified in comparison to the indigenous approach, because the British largely did not understand, nor did they particularly care to understand, local socioeconomic and religious mores that governed pre-colonial Burma. The British were there primarily for spices and teak, they cared little about the rest. The British had no intention of engaging the Burmese people on an equal plane of respect and mutual equity, this was an exploitative relationship. The British were there to exploit the natural and human resources, nothing more.

While Aung-Thwin’s depiction of the British pacification is correct, his description of Ne Win as “the ‘minlaung,’ who out of chaos and near disunity stepped in to create relative order and unity”[4] is absolutely criminal, not to mention absurd, when taken within the context of his analysis of the British method of pacification in Burma. Aung-Thwin is quick to point out that the use of western criteria to interpret and define what “constitutes a pacified Burma”[5] has skewed a proper understanding of Burmese history, by “writing it with a ‘democratic bias.”[6] And in this regard he is right. Furthermore Aung-Thwin’s argument that this approach paints the British in a favorable light, is also right on the mark. The problem lies in that Aung-Thwin has conveniently omitted the plain fact that Ne Win is also culpable of these very charges. Clearly, Ne Win’s approach at pacification is as oppressive and meaningless as the British, if not more. And who, if not Ne Win, is guilty of rewriting the history of Burma in order to paint himself in a favorable light? A perfect example of this is the Burmese newspaper called The New Light of Myanmar, which regularly goes beyond insulting the intelligence of its readers with its blatant spin on reality. Another wonderfully entertaining piece of fiction, Facts About Burma,[7] released by the Burma Socialist Programme Party, gives us a sugar-coated history of Burma, such as “all national races of Burma invariably joined hands and resolved all crises that were encountered throughout Burmese history. They fought dangers together for better or for worse; they lived and died in unity. Foreign foes were unitedly confronted and repulsed.” [8] Neither The New Light of Myanmar nor Facts about Burma mention any of the heinous crimes committed by Ne Win against his own people. The fact that he built an “eight-sided pagoda” late in life, to make merit for years of cruelty, is laughably akin to the fictitious corrupt sub-divisional magistrate, U Po Kyin, in George Orwell’s “Burmese Days,” who plans to make-merit for a lifetime of corruption and selfishness by building pagodas.[9]

Aung-Thwin lists Ne Win in the company of legendary kings such as Anawrahta of the Pagan Dynasty, Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynasty and Alaungpaya of the Kongbaung Dynasty. All three of these kings were creators of empires in Burma, and as such, they are credited as being the first three Min Laungs. But Ne Win fails to measure up to these three kings in any respect. Where is Ne Win’s empire? Ne Win usurped control of Burma in a time of great chaos, this much is true. But Ne Win ruled his country as a tyrant and not as a great , much less legendary, king. Ne Win took a troubled but functioning economy and bankrupted it, turning Burma into one of the poorest counties in the world. Far from returning to the rice production of its heyday, under Ne Win and his oppressive “four-year plans,” Burma soon became unable to feed its own people.[10] Rather than meriting the prestigious and honorable title of “Min Laung,” Ne Win deserves, and indeed has earned, his place among the despicable rulers of Burma, namely Narathihapte, Thohanbwa, Nandabayin. As we will soon discover, there are striking similarities between Ne Win and these three scoundrels of Burmese history. Narathihapte imprisoned his princes, Ne Win imprisoned his people. Thohanbwa slaughtered his monks, Ne Win slaughtered his monks and thousands of his own people. Nandabayin rose to power in a great kingdom, but rather than rule with honor and greatness, he enslaved his people, infiltrated the sangha with spies and ran the kingdom into complete disintegration. Ne Win usurped control of Burma while it was still a prosperous nation. But rather than run the country with honor and greatness, he enslaved his people, infiltrated the sangha with spies and ran the kingdom into complete financial ruin.[11]

So why would Aung-Thwin compare Ne Win to Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya? Aung-Thwin’s primary goal with this comparison appears to be a propaganda release favoring Ne Win, disguised as an attack on the British. But who can fail to see that, no matter how much “meaning” Aung-Thwin attempts to apply to Ne Win’s leadership, it was in no way a “resurrection” of the indigenous pacification of old.[12] It was instead, plain and simply put, a more brutal and oppressive version of the British pacification. Aung-Thwin’s attempt to justify Ne Win’s crimes against humanity by dressing him up as the “military/administrator king”[13] is not only a corruption of the myth of the Min Laung itself, it is insulting to the culture and the people who embrace it.

In the pages that follow, I intend to systematically debunk Aung-Thwin’s theory, largely with his own argument, that British pacification differed sharply with indigenous pacification. To do this, I will first investigate the myth of the Min Laung and pinpoint exactly what it is that qualifies one to be credited with this status. Second, I will consult the history of this great people, compare and contrast the ancient cycles of conquest with those of the British and Ne Win in their perpetual attempt to centrally control Burma’s minority populations in post-colonial Burma. And finally, it is my intention throughout this paper to demonstrate that Ne Win’s style of pacification, far from being a “resurrection” of indigenous pacification, is in fact a violation of its very principals.


The great kings of Burmese legendary history are no different that heroes of our own legendary past. But what is that differentiates a great king from a Min Laung?[14] If we were to look at Abhiraja, Duttapaung, Pyusawti and Pyinbya, all very prominent rulers in Burmese legendary history, we would find that all were considered great Kings. But none of them are credited with the status of Min Laung. Why not? Abhiraja is credited with founding Pagan, Duttapaung with founding Prome, Pyusawti as a warrior king of Pagan, and Pyinbya as fortifier of the city of Pagan. But none of these created an empire such as Anawrahta of the Pagan Dynasty, Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynasty and Alaungpaya of the Kongbaung Dynasty. Burma’s celebrated rulers of antiquity may very well have harbored dreams of unifying the entire land under their realms, but they didn’t. And I would argue that it is this factor of unification, combined with the other characteristics of great kings such as honor, merit-making and the love and support of at least a majority of the people, that qualifies Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya as Min Laung, while disqualifying the others. While Aung-Thwin attempts to credit Ne Win with the “genuine and complete pacification,” and hence the unification of Burma, I’m afraid his argument is far from seamless. In fact, Aung-Thwin’s summation of the British approach to pacification is equally applicable to Ne Win: “To Be sure, there was order...but only in terms of military control and administrative function; order in the full sense of the term-social, economic, psychological-was never realized...”[15] I’m obviously assuming a loose connotation between the words “order,” “pacification,” and “unification.” But even if one argues their differences, the fact remains that Ne Win never achieved any of them “in the full sense of the term.” Even if one were to concede that Ne Win did succeed in unifying Burma (which I do not), there still remains the lesser qualifications of Min Laung status to contend with, namely honor, merit-making and the love and support of the people, which Ne Win clearly never achieved (even if he did build an eight-sided pagoda). In short, according to the criteria mentioned above, Ne Win does not measure up to the status of a Min Laung.

As we shift our focus from an analysis of the Min Laung to the history of the Burmese people, we will compare and contrast the ancient cycles of conquest with those of both the British and Ne Win. Our endeavor will reveal that one critical difference exists between the patriarchs of old and the more modern-day megalomaniacs of empire: the delicate balance of power, trade and culture that once existed has, since the occupation of the British and later under Ne Win, been obliterated. [16]


With 135 distinct ethnic groups in its population today, Burma’s history is both fascinating and complicated.[17] However certain trends do tend to surface over and over in the history of this troubled region. In our quest for identifiable patterns, it makes sense to start at the beginning. As we take this journey into Burma’s war-torn past, we will begin to notice the contradictory yet compelling cycles of conquest and defeat that continue to repeat themselves in this ancient land embracing Theravada Buddhism, peace and the quest for harmony, both among the multi cultural people within its borders and toward the nations without.

The challenge in writing a historiography on this subject lies in the fact that no other sources can be found that directly address the issue. Outside of a very brief (and non-rhetorical) reference to Aung-Thwin’s argument that “Ne Win’s coup of 1962 brought the country closer to its traditions,”[18] I have found precious little research outside of Aung-Thwin’s own work. For this reason, I have instead turned to the pages of history from which to draw my argument. There are a number of sources from which one can find a sketching of the basics of Burmese history. I have relied predominantly on Burma by D.G.E Hall,[19] History of Burma by G.E. Harvey, [20] History of Burma by Arthur P. Phayre, [21] A Pageant of Burmese History by W.S. Desai,[22] and Burma by F.S.V. Donnison.[23] I have also consulted Totalitarianism in Burma by Mya Maung for its social commentary on Ne Win's rule,[24] “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade” by Laurence D. Stifel for its discussion of the economic conditions under Ne Win, [25] and “The Burmese Ways to Socialism” by Maureen Aung-Thwin and Thant Myint-U for its discussion of the history of Burma under Ne Win.[26]

It is difficult to speculate exactly when it was that people began to settle in this region. Harvey suggests that the earliest inhabitants may have come from Indonesia, but left very little evidence of their existence. These early inhabitants were displaced by the Mon and the Tibeto-Burman tribes, Mongolian people from eastern Tibet and Western China who, for centuries, migrated south into the region. Exact dates and routes are, of course, impossible to pinpoint. But Harvey paints us a vivid mental picture of “tribe after tribe of hungry yellow men with the dust of the world’s end upon their feet, seeking food and warmth in tiny homesteads along the fertile river banks, seeking that place in the sun which has been the dream of the northern races in so many ages....These races came, owing to causes such as drought and ethnic pressure, in successive infiltrations, each driving its predecessor farther south.” [27]

This depiction of early Burma as a land of freedom and opportunity is elaborated on by Desai:
“The country was indeed very rich in mineral and other resources...oil, rubies, silver, lead, tin, woolfram...elephants, tigers, and...lions...” Desai also tells us that there “was a complete absence of organized government; also the rule of one man over a large area was neither present nor practicable.” There were, of course, centers of local government such as the Mon settlements of Thaton, Pegu, Rangoon and Twante; the Arkanese settlements of Vesali and Sandoway; the Shan settlement of Tagaung; and the Pyu settlements of Prome, Powndaung, Halin, Peikthano and Nyaunglun. These early political centers, while completely independent of one another, became interconnected through trade, war and migration. They gradually developed commonalities, such as the tradition of the eldest daughter not marrying, so that in the event of defeat in war, she could be offered as tribute to the conquering king (again, supporting a policy of assimilation rather than one of annihilation). [28]

These shared traditions and mores can be traced back to the early influence of Theravada Buddhism. The preponderance of the earliest written records have been destroyed, however, according to the Talaing chronicles Buddhist monks came in the 2nd century BC. After being “violently opposed” by the local inhabitants, their teachings gradually took root. Subsequently, the diverse people living in this area developed a common civilization strongly influenced by Indian culture and, of course, Theravada Buddhism.[29] This shared civilization, while offering the “meaning” of which Aung-Thwin argues was missing in the British pacification, also celebrated the unique and diverse people it united. This cannot be said of the British pacification, nor can it be said of Ne Win’s leadership. An integral element of this meaning was the reverence and sanctity of the sangha, which of course, was not shared by the British. Aung-Thwin argumes that the British pursued an “inappropriate” policy of “separating church from state.” [30] But can he reasonably argue that Ne Win’s infiltration of the sangha with government spies is any less inappropriate? Is there any difference between the separation of church and state under the British and the “colonization of the sangha by the junta” under Ne Win? [31] Was not Ne Win’s approach even more heinous? Rather than open disregard for the sangha as seen with the British, Ne Win demonstrated utter contempt for the sangha. Ne Win violated the sanctity of the sangha under the pretense of reverence. Hence, we can safely conclude that the “meaning” which Aung-Thwin claims was missing under the British was also missing under Ne Win. Far from resurrecting the ancient system, Ne Win exploited it. In it’s place, Ne Win offered an empty facade.

The shared civilization enjoyed by the inhabitants of ancient Burma developed over centuries of migration. By the 1st century BC, the Pyu were arriving and setting up city kingdoms. Much of what we know about the Pyu comes from Chinese sources as this region was situated on a trade route between China and India.. The sources indicate that the Pyu were peace-loving Theravada Buddhists that controlled 18 kingdoms including Halingyi, Binnaka, Sri Ksetra, Mongamo and Peikthanomyo. The largest and strongest was Sri Ksetra (in fact, archeologists suggest it is perhaps the largest city ever built in Burma). And while there is no evidence that the cities ever combined their strengths to create a consolidated kingdom, the smaller cities are believed to have paid tribute to the larger, with Sri Ksetra serving loosely as a capital until somewhere around 656 AD. The Pyu fell to the kingdom of Nanzhao in 832, opening the way for the Burman, who migrated into the area from the north and constructed the famous Pagan Kingdom.[32]

Pagan grew very powerful, and in 1057, King Anawrahta conquered the Mon city of Thaton and unified the entire region, creating the First Burmese Empire and attaining the status of Min Laung. Anawrahta’s successful unification of Burma, while being the decisive factor in attaining Min Laung status, is by no means the only factor. Anawrahta was deeply spiritual and brought the Mon form of Buddhism, along with its holy books, to Pagan. He also imported many of the Mon (including the entire royal court), assimilating their creative abilities, their culture, architecture, and in short, their culture into that of Pagan; making him truly a beloved monarch, rather than just an oppressive dictator. Anawrahta also performed countless acts of merit- making, including the building of many of the most beautiful pagodas in Burma.[33]

For Aung-Thwin to dare compare Ne Win’s militant repression of his people to the open-handed reign of King Anawrahta, is a stretch of magnanimous proportions. On the one hand we have a great king, who not only successfully creates an empire, but does it in such a fashion that, subjugation of the Mons aside, respects his people and allows them not only to celebrate their diversity, but incorporates it into the dominant culture. Under Anawrahta, the people created and enjoyed a shared civilization with the very “meaning” that Aung-Thwin mourns in the colonial period. On the other hand, we have a militant dictator who imprisons his people, both physically and intellectually, with a life sentence of forced labor, forced subordination and forced obedience to the regime. Far from incorporating, much less celebrating the diversity of his people, Ne Win crushed every slightest opposition to his reign- not just the ethnic minorities, but any Burmese citizen that dared to openly protest the acts of the government, be they the unarmed students protestors at the Rangoon University Student Union that were slaughtered on July 7, 1962, the thousands more students, nurses and monks who were massacred in the “Four Eights Uprising” in 1988, or the hundreds of monks who were shot down in the street in 1990 by the regime for observing a peaceful memorial of the 1988 massacre- any slightest resistance was retaliated with violence. [34] The true portrait of Ne Win resembles the British much more than it does the reign of Anawrahta. [35]
The Pagan Kingdom continued for more than two centuries until its demise in 1287 at the hands of the Mongols during the reign of Pagan’s last king. King Narathihapte (1254-87) probably most closely resembles Ne Win of all the kings of ancient Burma. Narathihapte “was the typical eastern despot of fiction, without any of the redeeming features of his predecessors. He showed no zeal for religion, and his arbitrary and brutal behavior caused his vassals to revolt. The pompous hyperbole of the inscription with which he dedicated the Mingalazedi Pagoda, stands out in sharp contrast to the genuine devotion and literary refinement which characterize those of his predecessors. In it he is styled ‘the supreme commander of a vast army of thirty-six million soldiers, the swallower of three hundred dishes of curry daily.” [36]

Narathihapte was not the true heir to the throne (his mother was a concubine). His half brother, Thingathu, was the son of a queen and true heir to the throne (Burmese laws of succession dictated that the king must be the son of a queen). But the chief minister, Yazathinkyan, was opposed to making Thingathu king because years earlier, Thingathu had spit betel juice on him for not offering the proper respect (Yazathinkyan had not seen him). At a large meeting of ministers and chief headmen, it was reasoned that if this was how Thingathu acted as a prince, what would he be like as king? So they made the sixteen-year-old Narathihapte king in his stead (no doubt, thinking that they would have greater control over him). Narathahapte proved, instead, to be out of control. He burnt one of his queens alive for attempting to poison him. He also locked his sons inside the palace to prevent them from rebelling. In this, Narathahapte is not unlike Ne Win who held the entire population of Burma in captivity lest they should escape his iron grasp.[37] Narathihapte’s vast army is also very much like both Ne Win and the British in that it was superior military might that enforced their will over the people, and nothing more.

To be fair, however, Narathihapte cannot be totally blamed for the demise of Pagan. Attacks by both the Tartars and the Shan proved to be too much for even the once great Pagan kingdom to sustain. Ne Win also had his own external forces to contend with, although his were primarily economic. [38]

After the Mongol invasion, the Tartars eventually withdrew to China, leaving the land to the Shan. Chaos was the law of the land. But by 1364, Pagan culture resurfaced in the Ava Dynasty to the north as the Shan borrowed largely from the Burmese culture. Ava became the political center of the north and controlled the vitally important rice harvests in the Kyaukse region. The Shan’s bitter enemies, the Mon, reigned in Pegu to the south, which was growing into an established commercial and religious center. Thus was the polarization of Burma for most of its pre-colonial history. The two were locked in a state of perpetual warfare until the fall of Ava to the Mon in 1752. [39]

Meanwhile King Minkyinyo (1486-1531) [40] had established the First Toungoo Dynasty in 1486. Minkyiniyo captured Kyaukse and greatly paved the way for his son, Tabishweti (1531-50) to enter into a campaign of expansion. With control of the rice economy, Toungoo quickly became a strong central polity and Tabinshwehti successfully brought unification to a substantial portion of the region. Due to increased European trade in the region, Burma’s prestige as a center of trade returned. Tabinshwehti, taking advantage of Pegu’s commercial prominence, took Pegu and made it his new capital city. Toward the end of his reign, however, Tabishweti’s power began to wane substantially after two failed attacks on Siam. The Mons reclaimed Pegu, and the Shan recovered much of the territory they had lost to Toungoo. The city of Toungoo lay to the south of Ava, and a large population of Burmans relocated to Toungoo after the Shan re-invaded their homes. Tabinshwehti’s brother-in-law, Bayinnaung (1550-1581), took the throne in 1550. Under Bayinnaung, Toungoo once again dominated the region. Bayinnaung recaptured Pegu, all the land that Tabinshweti had lost to the Shan, conquered Ava and led Toungoo warriors in several victories campaigns against Siam. [41] Bayinnaung successfully established the Second Burmese Empire. Hall tells us that “Bayinnaung treated the Mons with great respect.”[42]

In sharp contrast to Ne Win, it can truly be said that Bayinnaung was a true Min Laung. The people viewed him as a great king, not only for his leadership, but also for his merit-making. He is known to have used the jewels from his own crown to “adorn the spire of a pagoda.” [43] Both an able warrior and statesmen, and a spiritual leader, Bayinnaung had large numbers of Burmans flocking to him in an effort to escape the very type of persecution Ne Win is infamous for. As a warrior king, he protected his borders from enemy invasion. He never had to close off his borders to keep his own people from fleeing to other lands. Bayinnaung has been called “the most remarkable leader produced by Burma.” [44] There is very little comparison between the two men. Nor can one successfully argue any reasonable comparison between the social conditions under his empire to the social conditions under either the British or Ne Win.

Ne Win can instead be compared to Thohanbwa (1527-43) who reigned in Ava after his father, Sawlon of Mohnyin took Ava in 1527. [45] “Thohanbwa was a full-blooded savage.” [46] He hated the Burmese race and many of the nobles and men of position fled to Bayinnaung in Tangoo, “which had become a place of refuge for those who were determined not to submit to Shan domination.” [47] Thohanbwa is noted for having said “Burmese pagodas have nothing to do with religion. They are simply treasure chambers.” He was known for helping himself to their treasure. Naturally, the monks resisted. Thohanbwa reasoned that the monks were a problem. He’s recorded as having said: “Monks surround themselves with followers and could rebel if they like. They should be killed.” Consequently, in 1540, Thohanbwa prepared a great feast for the monks. When the monks arrived, he surrounded them with his men and slaughtered them. He then burnt all the manuscripts from the monasteries. Of some 1,300 monks in his region, he killed 360. The rest took refuge with Bayinnaung. Thohanbwa was betrayed and killed by his chief officer, Minkyiyanaung, a Burman. [48]
Ne Win’s attack on the monks who joined the people’s uprising of 1988 is a fitting parallel to Thohanbwa. Even though one could argue that technically Ne Win had already recently retired, he threatened this very action in his farewell speech only a month earlier. Not to mention, it is widely suspected that Ne Win continued to be the dominant power behind the scenes. When in 1990, more monks were shot down by the regime for observing a peaceful memorial of the 1988 massacre, it was no doubt Ne Win’s influence (if not Ne Win himself) that was behind it. This can also be said of the “cleansing” of the sangha that took place immediately afterward. The monks responded to the massacre in 1990 by boycotting the military families. The regime promptly raided more than 100 monasteries and arrested some 3,000 monks. The military now controls the sangha and defiles its order with spies masquerading as monks. [49]

Thwin has called the sangha “a balance to the political extremism of the state,” and has clearly stated that “it was the duty of the king” to preserve the purity of the sangha through “sasana reform.”[50] Put simply, sasana reform entailed the cleansing of the sangha via the removing, or taking back, of lands and wealth that were given to the sangha through merit-making. This usually also included the reduction and re-qualifying of the monk-hood. Aung-Thwin argues that this cyclical process of reform safeguarded the economic prosperity of the kingdom by preventing the tax-exempt status and wealth of the sangha from overly draining the throne. Since merit-making itself was also seen as necessary for the prosperity of the kingdom, it was not long before the sangha once again grew very rich through this practice. Hence, the periodic cleansing of the sangha helped to continually restore the economic balance and was seen as a powerful way to return the sangha to a state of simplicity and non-worldliness. [51]

Thwin refers to Ne Win as the “protector of the sangha” and goes so far as to claim that the 1962 coup in which Ne Win usurped control was an attempt “to recreate order with meaning.” Thwin further insists that Ne Win’s “coup re-established certain important relationships between leadership and the populace, between state and church, between society and the conceptual system; in a word, between natural and moral order, thereby resurrecting some of the more important elements that gave meaning to Burmese society.” [52] First of all, Thwin’s description of the sangha as a counterbalance for extremism doesn’t appear to have much application to modern-day Burma. The sangha today, under military control, may still offer a “haven for ordinary folk,” though it is highly unlikely. It certainly does not create conditions that allow “potential opponents of the leadership to seize control” as it “is widely known throughout Burma that the monastery and the pagoda are no longer safe havens for those who wish to escape the politicization of Burmese life.” [53] Second, there is a undeniable contrast between purifying the sangha via sasana reform and murdering its members. Again, in this comparison, Ne Win comes out looking a lot more like Thohanbwa than he does like Bayinnaung. And Third, there is no parallel whatsoever between a Min Laung such as Bayinnaung, who clearly upheld the duty and honor of his role as “protector of the sangha,”[54] and a scoundrel like Ne Win, who not only failed in that role, but preyed on his own people, exploiting them, and murdering them.[55]

Bayinnaung died in 1581. He was sixty-six years old and had ninety-seven children. Harvey tells us that “his life was the greatest explosion of human energy ever seen in Burma.” [56] In addition to the great kingdom that he amassed, he had also rebuilt Pegu after the Mons burnt it to the ground in 1564 when he was on a military campaign against Siam. This city was the jewel of his kingdom. It was a walled city containing his magnificent palace and four white elephants. [57]
According to Aung-Thwin, implicit in the role of sasana reform was the belief that the wealth and prosperity of a kingdom was a direct correlation of the spiritual greatness of its king. Accordingly, Burma’s prosperity under Bayinnaung was yet another symbol of his greatness. When one compares Burma’s prosperity (or lack of) under Ne Win, it becomes yet another symbol, according to the Burmese perspective, of his spiritual emptiness. And isn’t Aung-Thwin’s entire argument grounded in the fact that we must view Burmese history from a Burmese, rather than a western, perspective? So once again, Aung-Thwin’s own argument tends to discount his claim that Ne Win was a “minlaung.”[58]

Bayinnaung was succeeded by his son Nandabayin (1581-99). Nandabayin was a tyrant. He lacked the charisma of his father as well as the support of the people. Here again is another remarkable resemblance of Ne Win. Rather than serve the people, he chose to enslave, oppress and slaughter them. He enslaved the Talaings (Mon) to work in his rice fields, branded them and then forced them to buy rice only from him. Those that were too old or weak, he traded for horses. Since thousands joined the sangha just to avoid service to him, Nandabayin turned his fury upon the Talaing monks, exiling them and replacing them with his own appointees, many of whom were spies. Nandabayin “instituted a reign of terror among the Talaings, executing them wholesale.”[59]

Multiple rebellions by ethic minorities combined with his campaigns in Siam were whittling away at Nandabayin’s military might and manpower for agriculture. There simply weren’t enough resources to go around. So, just like Ne Win, Nandabayin rose to power in a kingdom that was prosperous, and through misrule, oppression and cruelty, ran it into the ground.[60] By 1599, Bayinnaung’s kingdom was all but the remainder of its parts. A joint Toungoo-Arakanese seige, led by Nandabayin’s cousin, proved to be the end. Nandabayin surrendered to his cousin and was murdered. Bayinnaung’s palace was burned to the ground. [61] His reign by force and his kingdom, along with its tragic (or fortunate) end is easily paralleled in the British rule by force, their overthrow, and Ne Win’s subsequent reign of terror over Burma. We can only hope that the regime he has left as a legacy will also one day burn in effigy, never to return.
By 1613, Anaukpetlun (Bayinnaung’s grandson), had been successful in reuniting Burma and in thwarting Portuguese designs on the country. He had moved his capital to Pegu. In 1628 he was murdered in his sleep by his son Minredeippa, who had committed treason by sleeping with one of his father’s concubines. Fearing execution, he attempted to escape judgment by slaying his father. He was executed anyway by the council of ministers. Anaukpetliun’s successor, Thalun (1629-48), ruled in the flavor of Pagan. During his coronation the Mons in Pegu rebelled. They were put down and many fled to Siam. Since Pegu was mainly used as a based from which to attack Siam, Thalun moved his capital to Ava and pursued a policy of peace and stability over war and dissension. Like Pagan of old, the kingdom fell into a slow decline through overspending on the sangha. It was during Thalun’s reign that the Dutch and the English East India Companies were allowed to open their first factories. The remaining years of the dynasty were wrought with decline. Ming invaders raised havoc as they sporadically raided Burmese territory after being driven out in 1644 by the Manchus following the Chinese civil war. Finally, in April 1752, a Mon invasion captured the city of Ava, burnt it to the ground, and deported the royal family to Pegu. [62]

By 1753, a new and improved Burman dynasty appeared, the Konbaung Dynasty. Ruled by Alaungpaya, the Kongbaung Dynasty reclaimed the northern regions from the Mon and in 1759 took back Pegu. Many of the Mon were wiped out or forced to flee to Siam. (The Mon remain a persecuted people in Burma to this day). Alaungpaya set up his capital in Rangoon. I have to admit that Alaungpaya is my least favorite of the accepted Min Laung. Because of the severe persecution of the Mon, and no open repentance for his actions, I would have definitely denied him the status. But he did, at least, “ride triumphantly into Rangoon and thus ‘unify’ the riverland plains and delta towns for the first time.”[63] Alaungpaya created the Third Burmese Empire, and for that he is credited with the status of a Min Laung.

The following decade witnessed Konbaung victories over Ayutthaya, and even Chinese military advances were quashed. But the British in India grew weary of the ever-increasing Burmese expansion. In 1824, the British and Siamese coordinated their efforts against Myanmar. The First Anglo-Burmese War, ending in 1826 with the Treaty of Yandaboo, spelled a decisive victory for the British, who soon became hungry for more. In 1852, under the pretense of (some very minor) treaty violations, the British initiated the Second Anglo-Burmese War. The British took control of Pegu for its commercial interests and renamed the region Lower Burma. Revolution broke out in Myanmar, and King Pagan Min was succeeded by Mindon Min, his half-brother. Attempts to stunt the increased British occupation of the country proved insufficient. The British again provoked hostilities, this time under the pretense that King Mindon’s son, Thibaw Min, planned to side with the French. The Third Anglo-Burmese War resulted in all of Burma becoming a British colony in 1886. [64]

Pockets of resistance held on until around 1896 when the British finally stamped out rebellion with a stratagem that often involved the razing of entire villages. Standard colonial fare followed the British occupation: fall of the monarchy, separation of church and state, rape and plunder of the land and resources and the introduction of a monetary economy. With the opening of the Suez canal came an increased demand for rice from Burma. Huge areas of land were earmarked for cultivation, but in order to cultivate it, the poor Burmese farmers had to borrow money at excessive interest. Many eventually lost their land when they couldn’t pay their debts. Thus, while rice production soared, the wealth was restricted to a small elite group of foreign investors. Even most of the labor was imported from India, so entire villages of Burmese found themselves unemployed. [65]

Conditions worsened until the 1920's when some limited reform occurred and a university was established. In the early 1930's, Saya San led a nation insurrection against the British. This was the beginning of the end for the British in Burma. Although the rebellion was put down within two years, it led to the emergence of other national leaders in Burma. The university was also now producing a generation of educated Burmese students, many of whom rallied under the Thakin Movement (thakin is a Burmese word, roughly translated as “master.” It is the name by which students were required to address their British instructors). The Thakin Movement staged a strike in 1936, drawing the attention of Thakin Nu and Aung San, who joined the movement. The unrest gained momentum, and by 1937, Burma became separate from India with its own fully elected assembly, a prime minister and a new constitution. Independence, however, was not in the immediate forecast. It wasn’t until 1948 (after WWII, after the Japanese occupation of Burma, after the Burmese themselves were greatly responsible for ejecting the Japanese from Burma, and after the British returned in an attempt to “lord it over” the Burmese once again) that the Burmese finally won their independence.[66]

“Independence” is an ironic term, however. April 1947 saw the election of Aung San and his Anti-Fascist Freedom People’s League (AFPFL). But Aung San was assassinated on July 19 of the same year, and the AFPFL quickly broke into its constituent parts. The civil war that followed further demonstrated the lack of any remote unity in Burma, as Socialists (PYA), White Flag Communists, Red Flag Communists, Arakanese Muslims, Karens and a host of other divergent political groups vied for independence and control. Prime minister U Nu was ineffective at best in these early years. In 1948 the army split in two, one half headed by Ne Win, the other half rebelled. By 1949, Ne Win had taken total control of the army and socialized it. Nine years later, Ne Win was asked to fix the nation. U Nu asked Ne Win to step in as interim prime minister when the AFPFL split in October 1958. Ne Win “stabilized” the political climate and in February 1960, elections were held, and U Nu was again back in the office of prime minister. [67]

It didn’t take long for Burma to evolve into its present-day form. Ne Win overthrew U Nu on March 2, 1962 and began a ruthless campaign known as the “Burmese Way to Socialism.” One of his earliest acts to “restore order” was the murder of nearly 100 unarmed students protestors on July 7, 1962 at the Rangoon University Student Union (RUSU). The next day, the RUSU was destroyed with dynamite and Ne Win delivered his now infamous “sword with sword, spear with spear” speech, in which he promised to fight force with force. (He apparently had no problem using force to combat most any obstacle). Student protests continued (1965,1969,1970,1974, 1975, 1987), universities were temporarily closed down and unrest fermented. In June of 1974 a large labor strike was put down with violence. And, of course, there was the tragic “Four Eights Uprising” in 1988 in which thousands were murdered in the streets. Ne Win’s public stranglehold on the people continued until his resignation as chairman of the ruling party on July 23, 1988 (he had stepped down as president in 1981, but continued to run the nation as chairman of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, the only political party allowed to legally operate in Burma). However, it is widely suspected that Ne Win continued to exert his influence from behind the scenes. [68]

Ne Win’s policy of isolation, combined with the nationalizing of the economy, drove Burma to the brink of ruin (in spite of the economic reforms that came in 1987-88, too little, too late).
As Ne Win promised in his farewell address, the army would use force without mercy to crush insurrection. Roughly a month later it did just that. The 8888 uprising between August 8-12 and again on September 18 not only brought Ne Win’s threat to fruition, but ushered in yet another oppressive regime. On September 18, 1988, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) headed by General Saw Maung, which had just brutally slaughtered thousands of its own people, took the country by force. A sort of “New Jack” government that continues to run the country to this day. The constitution was replaced with martial law and the name of the country was changed to Myanmar. [69]
Saw Maung, bowing to outside international pressure, made a show economic and political reform. In 1990, a bogus election was held, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) clearly won. The party’s leaders, U Tin U and Aung San Suu Kyi (daughter of Aung San), remained under house arrest. The military refused to relinquish control of the government. Increased political pressure, along with economic sanctions, led to yet another coup in which General Than Shwe took control and remains in power today. SLORC was officially replaced by SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) in 1997, but remains essentially the same entity.
Human rights violations continue to be a major concern, and sanctions against Myanmar were increased by the U.S. in 1997 and again by the European Union in 2000.[70]


In this paper, I have challenged Michael Aung-Thwin’s assertion that Ne Win was the fourth Min Laung of Burma. I have investigated the myth of the Min Laung and pinpointed the accomplishment of unification as the decisive factor in making or breaking one's qualifications for Min Laung status. I have concluded that Ne Win did not achieve unification, and therefore does not qualify for Min Laung status.

I have also used Aung-Thwin’s own argument that British pacification differed sharply with indigenous pacification to prove that, far from resurrecting the old indigenous form of pacification, Ne Win simply modified the British approach in order to feign reverence for the ancient system. I have asserted that, like the British, Ne Win failed to “obtain legitimacy and therefore genuine and complete pacification.”[71] In so many words, Ne Win’s approach to pacification was insufficient to merit Aung-Thwin's own definition of “order with meaning.”[72] Ne Win’s approach violated all that was sacred to the indigenous form, and essentially exploited it as a means to a tyrannical end: namely, a firmer foothold on the necks of the Burmese people.

Third, I’ve consulted the history of this great people. I’ve compared and contrasted the ancient cycles of conquest with those of the British and Ne Win in their perpetual attempt to centrally control Burma’s minority populations in both colonial and post-colonial Burma. Again, I have concluded that far from comparing to the great Min Laungs of the past, Ne Win and the British both failed to measure up to Aung-Thwin's definition of “order with meaning.” [73]

I have compared Ne Win to Narathihapte, Thohanbwa, Nandabayin, and I have noted the striking similarities they all have with one another. All four were hated by their people, all four oppressed and enslaved their people, all four used excessive force without mercy and justified it in the name of unification. None of them achieved any sense of “order with meaning” as defined by Aung-Thwin.[74] And for this reason, their reigns were largely disastrous, resembling the occupation of the British far more that the socioeconomic harmony of the three Min Laung. Narathihapte imprisoned his princes, Ne Win imprisoned his people. Thohanbwa slaughtered his monks, Ne Win slaughtered his monks and thousands of his own people. Nandabayin rose to power in a great kingdom, but rather than rule with honor and greatness, he enslaved his people, infiltrated the sangha with spies and ran the kingdom into complete disintegration. Ne Win usurped control of Burma while it was still a prosperous nation. But rather than run the country with honor and greatness, he enslaved his people, infiltrated the sangha with spies and ran the kingdom into complete financial ruin.

And finally, it was my intention throughout this paper to demonstrate that Ne Win’s style of

pacification, far from being a “resurrection” of indigenous pacification, is in fact a violation of

its very principals. Aung-Thwin himself attempts to justify Ne Win’s brutality first with

“political and economic considerations” and second with “religious or ideological

considerations.”[75] But this attempt to justify Ne Win is easily seen for what it truly is: excuse-

making for inexcusable actions. Aung-Thwin lists Ne Win in the ranks of Aniruddha,

Bayinnaung and Alaunhpaya. But far from the “Golden Age” of Anawrahta, Burma under Ne

Win has fallen into the depths of poverty. Even today, many Burmese citizens survive without

basic necessities such as “basic sanitation or running water.” In 2000, Burma was deemed to

have one of the worst healthcare systems in the world. In addition to steep infant mortality and

an already short life expectancy, Burmese people face HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in

epidemic proportions. Due to continued human rights violations, millions of Burmese have fled

to Thailand, China, India, Malaysia and Bangladesh.[76] Ne Win no doubt “yearned to be

considered the nation’s fourth Great Unifier in Burmese history.”[77] But history testifies that Ne Win has left a far less honorable legacy.


Aung-Thwin, Maureen and Thant Myint-U, “The Burmese Way to Socialism.” Third World Quarterly 13, no. 1 (1992): 67-75.

Aung-Thwin, Michael, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order Without Meaning,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 16.2 (1985): 245-61.

Aung-Thwin, “The Role of Sasana Reform in Burmese History: Economic Dimensions of a Religious Purification,” The Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (1979): 670-88.

Desai, W.S. A Pageant of Burmese History (Orient Longmans, Bombay, 1961).

Donnison, F.S.V. Burma (Praeger, New York, 1970).

Burma Socialist Programme Party, Facts About Burma (1983).

Hall, D.G.E. Burma (Hutchinson House, London, 1950).

Harvey, G.E. History of Burma: From the Earliest Beginnings to 10 March 1824; The Beginning of the English Conquest (Octagon, New York, 1925).

Maung, Mya, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development (Paragon House,
New York, 1992)

Orwell, George, Burmese Days (Harcourt, New York, 1934) p. 15.

Phayre, Arthur P., History of Burma: Including Burma Proper, Pegu, Taungu, Tenasserim, and
Arakan, From the Earliest Time to the End of the First War with British India. (Trubner & Co.,
London, 1883).

Skidmore, Monique, Karaoke Fascism (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2004).

Stifel, Lawrence D., “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade.” Pacific
Affairs 45, no. 1 (1972):60-74.

U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
(September 2006).

[1] Mya Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development (Paragon House, New York, 1992) p. 3. Anawrahta is also called Anoryahtah or Aniruddha.
[2]Michael Aung-Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 16.2 (1985): 245-61.
[3]Ibid., 246.
[4]Ibid., 258.
[5]Ibid., 246.
[6]Ibid., 247.
[7]Burma Socialist Programme Party, Facts About Burma (1983).
[8]Ibid., 11.
[9]George Orwell, Burmese Days (Harcourt, New York, 1934) p. 15.
[10]Laurence D. Stifel, “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade,”Pacific Affairs 45, no. 1 (1972): 60-74.
[11]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (September 2006): 4-5.
[12]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 256.
[13]Ibid., 258.
[14] Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 4. Maung uses the term (minlawn) somewhat differently, as contender for the throne rather than as great and legendary unifier of Burma. Hence Maung sees the students who protested against Ne Win as "minlawns."
[15]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 247, 253.
[16]Maureen Aung-Thwin and Thant Myint-U, “The Burmese Ways to Socialism,” Third World Quarterly 13, no. 1 (1992): 68.
[17] Wikipedia, “Mon People,”, 3.
[18]Aung-Thwin and Myint-U, “The Burmese Ways to Socialism,” 74. In this article, the authors reference Michael Aung-Thwin’s “Burma’s Myth of Independence” in Independent Burma at Forty Years, ed. Josef Silverstein (Cornell University, Ithaca, 1989).
[19]D.G.E. Hall, Burma (Hutchinson House, London, 1950). This relatively short work is amazingly rich with small details. Hall dedicates roughly half of his pages solely to internal Burmese history, with only a brief reference to European trade, before turning his attention to the British “residency” (p.106). Herein lies the primary flaw in Hall’s scholarship: his perspective is clearly western and pro-British. Hall ends his book by mourning Burma’s unwise decision to leave the British Commonwealth and insisting that Britain only wanted Burma’s “friendship” (p.176). Beyond that, the book is an enjoyable read that presents the major issues in a very direct and concise (if not at times somewhat one-sided) manner.
[20]G.E. Harvey, History of Burma: From the Earliest Beginnings to 10 March 1824; The Beginning of the English Conquest (Octagon, New York, 1925). Harvey’s work is by far the most comprehensive in this bibliography, ranging from pre-history to 1824. In this sense, it is also the most “historical” in that it provides the most information. Harvey’s approach is less biased than Donnison’s yet it has the some of the storytelling quality of Desai’s. Harvey’s History of Burma was absolutely indispensable to this study in that it offered the detail that was absent in the others.
Orwell, George, Burmese Days (Harcourt, New York, 1934).
[21]Arthur P. Phayre, History of Burma (Trubner & Co., London, 1883). Phayre’s work, of course, is a must in any bibliography dealing with Burmese history. Phayre’s approach, perhaps not unlike that of the British in Burma, is detached and impersonal. Phayre reads much like so many pages of dry laboratory notes. When reading this book, one is always aware of the distinct sense of otherness, as if observing through a window. There is nothing engaging about this book, nothing that draws you in, nothing intimate. Phayre’s work, more than anything, exists in this bibliography as an example of the “order without meaning” that Michael Aung-Thwin mourns in “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order Without Meaning.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 16.2 (1985): 245-61.
[22]W.S. Desai, A Pageant of Burmese History (Orient Longmans, Bombay, 1961). Desai’s account of the history of Burma ranges from pre-history to 1960 with the election of U NU and the resignation of Ne Win. It ends with, what today could be viewed as, a rather naive sigh of relief that Ne Win didn’t usurp control and establish a dictatorship. But this is exactly why I was drawn to this book, it has a very human element that the other history texts lacked. From its descriptions of the physical geography to its detailed handling of the personalities of its monarchs, one gets the sense that Desai witnessed it first hand. In this, Desai has captured the essence of the Burmese people. In addition to the many who, what, where, when and how explanations he offers in this book, he has answered many of the “why” questions of particular interest to a study of this nature.
[23]F.S.V. Donnison, Burma (Praeger, New York, 1970). Donnison offers a very brief sketch of the history of Burma prior to its annexation by the Brittish, but his primary focus is the period between Burma’s annexation by the British and 1969. Donnison’s explanations of the events in Burmese history tend to incorporate the international political climate as much, if not more than, Burma’s own domestic political climate. For example: on page 162 Donnison’s briefly credits Ne Win’s coup in 1962 as an attempt to thwart U.S plans to use Burmese soil as a vantage ground from which to attack communist China. Donnison’s work is useful to this study in that it places Burma’s political turmoil within the context of the contemporary worldwide political arena.
[24] Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development.
[25]Stifel, “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade.” Stifel addresses the high hopes of the business community of Burma were dashed after the revolutionary socialist government did not turn out to be what they expected. Stifel analyses the economic policies of the decade following the coup of 1962, searching for a ways to quantify Burma’s economic goals. Stifel looks primarily at the rice economy, and lays out 4 objectives: nationalism of the economy, reduced dependence on foreign markets, a more diversified industrial base, and complete centralization of the economy. After a brief overview of the economic roller coaster ride of imprisoned businessmen and “embarrassing failures,” Stifel offers an honest assessment of the overall success of the government in achieving these four goals in the first decade.
[26]Aung-Thwin and Myint-U, “The Burmese Ways to Socialism.” This article addresses the many obstacles that the Burmese government faced under the first the British and then their own brand of Buddhist Socialism. It traces U Nu’s efforts to obtain national unity and economic stability through a planned economy. The article discusses U Nu’s ultimate failure, Ne Win’s rise to power, the introduction of Military Socialism, and the temporary economic strength of the 1970's. It also very briefly touches on the 1988 Rebellion and its impact on the Burmese political economy. Finally, in the conclusion, there is a reference to Michael Aung-Thwin’s argument regarding Ne Win: “Indeed, Some Burma scholars have suggested that Ne Win’s coup of 1962 brought the country closer to its traditions and should be regarded as the real point of independence from foreign exploitation.”
[27] Harvey, History of Burma, 3-4. Harvey refers to these early inhabitants of Burma by their traditional names: Pyu, Kanran and Thet. Harvey also suggests that the Karens may have, in fact, been the earliest settlers in the region. However, due to the absence of written records, historians can only speculate.
[28] Desai, A Pageant of Burmese History, 1, 5-6.
[29]Phayre, History of Burma, 26-27.
[30]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 255.
[31]Monique Skidmore, Karaoke Fascism (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2004) p. 15.
[32] Hall, Burma, 7-8. Phayre, History of Burma, 17-32. Donnison, Burma, 49.
[33]Donnison, Burma, 30.
[34]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” 3. See also Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 5-8, 59-69, 183-192.
[35] Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 3-4. Mya Maung discusses the legendary tale of Anawrahta's repentance for his sins. He allegedly came to power by killing his brother. Like King Herod of the New Testament, he was jealous of his throne, in an effort to prevent a future "minlawn" and contender from stealing the throne, Anawrahta "slaughtered thousands of pregnant women, children and teenagers." He later repented and performed his famous merit-making to atone for his sins. But at least in this legend, Anawrahta repents and begins to respect and serve his people. This cannot be said of Ne Win during his decades of rule.
[36] Hall, Burma, 24.
[37]Harvey, History of Burma, 60-62. See also Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 3-4.
[38]Stifel, “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade.”
[39]Harvey, History of Burma, 16-38, 74. See also Donnison, Burma, 49-53.
[40]Phayre, History of Burma, 92. Phayre refers to Minkyinyo as “ Meng Kyinyo..”
[41]Donnison, Burma, 52-53.
[42] Hall, Burma, 46.
[43]Harvey, History of Burma, 172.
[44]Donnison, Burma, 52.
[45]Harvey, History of Burma, 107. In 1533, Sawlon was murdered by his own men.
[47]Phayre, History of Burma, 88.
[48]Harvey, History of Burma, 107-08.
[49]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” 3. See also Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, p. 173-92.
[50]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 260.
[51]Michael Aung-Thwin, “The Role of Sasana Reform in Burmese History: Economic Dimensions of a Religious Purification,” Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (1979):671-88.
[52]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 260-1. See also Skidmore, Karaoke Fascism, 16.
[53]Ibid., 260.
[54]Ibid., 260-1.
[55]Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 5-7. Regarding the July 6, 1962 massacre, Maung quotes from "The First Bloody Massacre by Power-Intoxicated Fools" written by an eyewitness, Tint Zaw: On July 6, 1962...the students became active...and arrived at the RUSU building...Shortly afterwards, all hell broke loose with sounds of furious G-3 gunfire along the Prome road and across the campus hitting and killing the dazed students. The students' chests, stomachs, and rib cages, ripped open by bullets, were oozing blood as they fell to the ground. Some suffered serious head wounds losing parts of their heads with gruesome sights of brain tissue hanging out of what remained of their heads. Many lost their arms, legs, and other limbs, with blood gushing out and drenching their entire bodies."
[56]Harvey, History of Burma, 174.
[57]Hall, Burma, 45-6
[58]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 258.
[59]Harvey, History of Burma, 180.
[60]Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 215-26.
[61]Harvey, History of Burma, 180-3.
[62]Phayre, History of Burma, 90-148. Donnison, Burma, 54-55. Hall, Burma, 63-74. Harvey, History of Burma, 185-216.
[63]Skidmore, Karaoke Fascism, 1.
[64]Harvey, History of Burma, 219-304. Hall, Burma, 78-146. Donnison, Burma, 55-62.
[65] Desai, A Pageant of Burmese History, 244-9.
[66]Donnison, Burma, 123-39.
[67] Desai, A Pageant of Burmese History, 279-95.
[68]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” 3. See also Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 174-212.
[69]Stifel, “Burmese Socialism: Economic Problems of the First Decade,”60-74.
[70]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” 3. See also Maung, Totalitarianism in Burma: Prospects for Economic Development, 174-212.
[71]Aung- Thwin, “The British ‘Pacification’ of Burma: Order without Meaning,” 253.
[72]Ibid., 256.
[75]Ibid., 248.
[76]U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Burma,” 2.
[77]Aung-Thwin and Myint-U, “The Burmese Ways to Socialism,” 72.