Thursday, May 22, 2008

Understanding Myanmar

"In Burma [Myanmar] there is a joke that Orwell wrote not just one novel about the country, but three: a trilogy comprised of Burmese Days,Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four...It is a particularly uncanny twist of fate that these three novels effectively tell the story of Burma's recent history."

Emma Larkin,Finding George Orwell in Burma.

Do the actions of Myanmar's leaders to block aid, much less warn residents of impending disaster, baffle your moral imagination? Unfortunately, too many similar examples of genocidal leadership flourished in the last century and continue today, including North Korea and the Cambodia of Pol Pot, to name two, but, of course, there are and were many other deadly variations.

George Orwell certainly had his flaws, but he was one of few, in the 1930s-40s, who simultaneously denounced colonialism, totalitarianism, and class-based societies -- and glimpsed the consequences of their fatal intertwining. Take a look at Christopher Hitchen's Why Orwell Matters.

In an earlier posting, Talking About Mistakes, I talked about Sergio Vieira De Mello of the United Nations and his advice and practice for engaging genocidal tyrants.

1 comment:

Josh said...

"Do the actions of Myanmar's leaders to block aid, much less warn residents of impending disaster, baffle your moral imagination?"

Yes. Sadly, this reminds me of Hurricane Katrina, since the Bush administration did exactly the same thing.