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General Aung San on Internationalis

Subject: General Aung San on Internationalism/nationalism.

/* posted 7 Apr 6:00am 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* -------------" Gen Aung San's view on Interna "-------------- */

[General Aung San, Daw Suu's father who led the struggle for Burma's
independence from Britain, was assassinated in 1947. Despite years has
elapsed, the Burmese people, including the younger generation who born
much later, still revere General Aung San. This may be partly because of
the exposure by media, including the government media, as General Aung San
is the greatest national hero of Burma. When one investigate further on
why Burmese people still revere General Aung San, it may be found that he
is remebered best for his thoughts, views and vision for future Burma. 

Following is an extract from "THE POLITICAL LEGACY OF AUNG SAN" (Ed. Josef
Silverstein, South East Asia Program series, Cornell Univ, N.Y. 1993),
which reflect his thoughts on internationalism and nationalism. According
to this piece of writing, the isolationist policies of BSPP after 1962 coup
were totally against General Aung San's wishes. His vision of new and
interdependent world in which the "Time and Space are conquered" and
"A world of immediate and not distant neighbours" is most interesting.
Such a vision, which in 1946 may probably be charged as a Utopian ideal,
nevertheless, have come into realization, atleast in part, in the form of
communication on the Internet. Also his warning about the "opportunist
political leadership", though was made some fifty years ago, seems to be
still relevant in Burma today. -- U Ne Oo.]

By General Aung San
Now I shall come [to discuss the issues] closer home. Before I do that, I
must explain why I am  treating things and events from outside at
considerable length. The fact is that as we all know, events in the world
are organically connected with one another, and whether we like it or not
we are influenced by them. We have ourselves known it actually during these
past three or four years. It is therefore imperative for us to follow and
understand things in the world intelligently. Moreover we all know that
conceptions of independence and sovereignty are now losing their former
absolutism. This is true for all nations big or small, and not particularly
of a small nation like ours as advanced by our imperialists and their train
bearers as an argument against our national independence. After all, many
small nations are still independent in the world today. If somebody points
out that such independent small nations are helpless before external
aggression, the recent war has proved that big nations are likewise not
secure as can be seen in the fall of France in 1940. So such an argument
against our independence does not bear even our superficial scrutiny. After
all, an independent Burma will not be friendless, and it is because we
desire to order our own life in our country by cooperating and forming
friendships with other nations freely for mutual or multi-lateral interests
of defence or economics, etc., that we want to be free and independent. But
how, some will ask, will I reconcile my conception of a universal
interdependence of nations with that of national independence for Burma ?
Will not a greater union or commonwealth or bloc be a better conception,
more in harmony with the needs of the times, you might ask ? Yes, it is a
better one, provided it is a voluntary affairs and not imposed from above
as I have already dealt with earlier, provided it is not the kind like the
United States of Europe Mr. Churchill once suggested obviously as a check
against any adancing influence of Soviet Union, conceived in the narrow
spirit of the classic balance of power. In fact, some day it may prove
necessary and possible for us to have, say, something like a United States
of Indo-China comprising French Indo-China, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia and
our country. This is not an idealistic conception. It is one that may well
be commended by historical developments of these countries of these
countries having several points of affinity with one another ethnically,
strategically, economically and otherwise. So then we must understand and
try to understand internationalism and learn to cultivate the right spirit
of internationalism. By cooperating with other nations for multi-lateral
interests we can have the benefit of the world's best in every possible way
and thus our life will become infinitely higher and richer. By keeping to
ourselves we might be always balancing the ends and meeting finally more
likely than not, our own doom. This sort of scientific internationalism,
the internationalism of creative mutuality, is indeed in accord with the
highest interests of nationalism. For only if there comes to be such
internationalism it will mean not only abiding peace and universal
freedom, it will mean incalculable progress, for then we shall avail
ourselves of the best that can come out of the creative human labour of all
mankind. Then such a scientific discovery as that of atomic energy can be
most effectively employed, not in mutual destruction but in releasing
unimaginable forces of production. Almost all the problems that we face
today might be solved very radically in that event. There will be greater
health, longer life; there may be no problem of over or under population,
there will be plenty in many things. Time and space will be conquered and
the world will become a world of immediate and not distant neighbours. We
will come back to the idea of a world family of mankind which is a much
higher form. This is a very beautiful conception no doubt, but it is not
practical. So some will argue. We have seen now the increasing universal
interdependence of nations which logic will progressively urge the world to
unite. It is not unpracticable. It is only that time is not yet ripe for it
to mature into reality. Even now we hear so much about regional blocs and
things like that. This sort of logic is in the very nature of life and
things. Such process has been and will be very much accelerated by modern
science. Only because physical and natural sciences run very far ahead of
social and mental sciences, we see a number of maladjustments and
dislocations in the form of wars and crises. These sciences are also
catching up, and when they catch up finally with the other sciences, the
above conception of internationalism will enter the realm of practical
possibility. In the meantime, we must work within existing practical limits
toward that ideal. This is scientific internationalism. there is no such
thing as pure nationalism, What is nationalism anyway ? Is it something
static, absolute and final ? No, it is not. It is ever changing in form and
content. Every student of social and political science knows very well that
such slogans as race, religion and language do not alone constitute
nationalism. There are one or more races in almost every country. Nowadays,
we have different religions being embraced by members of  the same
nationality. Americans and British speak the same language but do not form
one nation. In the Soviet Union, there are several languages and yet these
people are one. What then constitute nationalism ? The main factor is
having to lead one common life -- sharing joys and sorrows, developing
common interests and one or more common things like racial or linguistic
communities, fostering common traditions of having been and being one which
gives us a consciousness of oneness and the necessity of that oneness.
Race, religion, and language are thus by themselves not primary factors
which go into the making of a nation but the historic necessity of having
to lead a common life that is the pivotal principle of nationality and
nationalism. Nowadays, with the increasing mutual intercourse of nations,
there is a provision in many of the constitutions of the world for
naturalisation of foreigners. As I see it, at one time nationalism took a
centrifugal turn, as races stramed off from the main stock and family. Now
the process seems to be otherwise, it seems to be taking a centripetal
course. So our conception of nationalism must move, change and rise with
the times. Otherwise we will stew in the juices of parochial nationalism or
even jingonism. We have seen how undesireble for humanity is the rise of
fascism, which finally will spell our nation's doom, as in the case of
Germany. It is history that opportunist political leadership, taking
advantage of the strong national sentiments of the people, may try to
exploit that nationalism for their selfish individual or group interests.
We must be careful of such exploitation of nationalism for then racial
strifes and bitterness will be fomented and fostered among us by interested
parties in order to divert our attention from the main objective.

Now we have surveyed ........

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