Friday, April 4, 2008

The Choice of Burmese IV: Fundamentalism to Global Citizenship

One side of the Ocean is so far from the other side, so is the sky and soil, so is the good Dhamma of Saints and the wicked Dhamma of devils.

As for Myanmar, the international organizations such as World Bank, IMF, ADB (Asia Development Bank) had suspended assistance since 1988 and Official Development Assistance (ODA) is almost none. Nevertheless, Myanmar has been endeavoring to achieve the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) through our national plan frame using her own resources, and the MDG indicators have been looking good.

--A big mouthpiece of Burma junta

We hold the truth that the strength of our land relies exclusively on our domestic resources. We will not accept any imposition from the external world on our national cultural and identity values that we Burmese have established for thousands of years.

-- From cliques and dins of Burmese Government


Fundamentalism ordinarily requires a text -- a scripture -- as the exclusive source and norm of its authority. In this, fundamentalism differs from religions that focus on a person or a cultic practice. Although not all Theravada Buddhists are fundamentalists, the role of the Pali Canon in that tradition makes the sect more prone to fundamentalism than, for example, Mahayana or Zen Buddhism.

...Islam is more given to fundamentalism than other religions with Semitic roots. The Islamic doctrine of scripture -- that the very words of the Koran are ‘‘Un-created," literal dictations of the eternal thoughts of God and not subject to modification by translation or interpretation -- presses this tradition toward literalism. One might also mention that Mao Tse-tung’s "Little Red Book" played a similar role in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Many in these traditions hold that the scriptures do not point to the ultimate truth, but are themselves the ultimate truth.

….Theravada Buddhism today tends to support a leftist government in Burma, a militant conservatism in Sri Lanka, and a traditionalist regime in Thailand. In fact, the categories of "left" and "right" simply may not help much in identifying the probable directions of fundamentalism. Rather, fundamentalism tends to oppose pluralism, preferring authoritarian social structures, whether of the right or the left.

Max L. Stack House in Fundamentalism around the world, The Christian Century, August 28-September 4, 1985, pp. 769-771


Humanity has reached the point of no return. Acceptance of the community of interest has become a human survival on this planet. It can no longer be dismissed as an idealistic concept, unrelated to realities. The traditional sovereign state is no longer a viable unit of a nation’s security or economic prosperity, nor a guarantee of national survival. More and more men of science and scholarship, as well as business leaders and public administrators, have come to grasp this underlying fact of interdependence today.

A new quality of planetary imagination is demanded from all of us as the price of human survival. I am not descrying that form of nationalism that prompts the individual citizen to appreciate and praise the achievements and values that his native land has contributed to the well-being and happiness of the whole human race. Nor am I calling for international homogenization, for I rejoice in cultural and national uniqueness. But I am making a plea- a plea based on these ten years of looking at the human condition from my unique vantage point-for a dual allegiance. This implies an open acceptance of belonging- as in fact we all do- to the human race as well as to our local community or nation. I even believe that the mark of a truly educated and imaginative person facing the twenty-first century is that he feels himself to be a planetary citizen.

Perhaps my own Buddhist upbringing has helped me more than anything else to realize and to express my speeches and writings of this concept of world citizenship.

--U Thant, Third Secretary General of United Nations in View from UN


Young men said...

Very nice words, Ko Burmakin!
We are wondering whether you could provide us the source of this citation if you don't mind.

Yearly said...

East Asia countries such as China and Singapore are also societies with authoritarian structures.But they are not Theravadi Buddhists.

Discoverer said...

*Let's find another IF

Dear Ko Burmakin and Yearly,

This is a very interesting post.I agree with Mr.Stack House that Theravada Buddhism rooted in Burma gets the people their passivity and obsequiousness to this devil military authority.As for my experience,East Asia people are probably more submissive to the authority and the elders.They are influenced by Confucianism who promotes the elite worship and the piety of the seniors (passed away souls).Their ideology is utter contrast to the democratic system of Western philosophers who believe in individualism and freedom as the critical factor for having a correct direction and affluence of society.

As you probably notice,these Confucian countries, China, Singapore, S.Korea and Japan adopt authoritarian structures and also are culturally predominated by Confucianism.Maybe Confucianism can even be a steering wheel for the political direction of these governments and most probably,this elite worship system is rendering relationship structures of people in their modern society.

At first I wrongly thought,these authoritarian structures work very well for economic prosperity of these countries because they have a good governance of no corruption.But when I saw your comment in Ko Moe Thee's blog and I began to realize that the governments of these Asia tigers are also highly corrupted.

I am also interested in Logic as my profession leads.I saw that the "IF conditions of Burma and East Asia look the same in this respect either they are Confucianism or doctrinal Buddhism.The equation on the IF side represents "
submissiveness,authoritarian structures,community values of the general public, and high corruption of the government" but the equation on THEN side entails that China,Korea,Singapore and Japan are the super economic powers in Asia today, whereas, Burma becomes the underdog of prevailing poverty.My question is there should be another conditional criterion of IF and should we rather try to descry this "another IF" than blaming Burmese as Theravada fundamentalists?

Jeg said...

Thanks Burmakin...