Author’s Note: As a Scientific Socialist, I do not unquestionably support the bourgeoisie system – but until we achieve a Socialist Revolution in the West, we are stuck with it, and must find some use for it. Although I am scholar specialising in Chinese philosophy and religion – and a practising Chinese Buddhist – I must state that I am irreligious and profess a support for science premised upon the study of a material universe (which includes Quantum Mechanics). Although I do not possess any notion of ‘faith’ in religion, and believe that religions should not hold political power, I am not opposed to religions per se. As long as it follows the law and does not cause harm to others, people are free to do as they will with their minds and bodies. However, as both a Socialist and a Buddhist, I consider myself a friend of Islam, and am perfectly aware of the Islamophobic lies and disinformation that currently emanates from the West. On a Muslim organised ‘peace march’ through London recently, my family and I were the only non-Muslims present. However, the polarised fashion the Western press is treating the situation in Myanmar (i.e. ‘Burma’ – I use the names interchangeably), both the wisdom systems of Buddhist and Islamic scholarship are being compromised and side-lined for the establishment of a purely Eurocentric (and racist) paradigm which has its foundations within the Western, imperialist presence in Asia. Obviously, I reject ALL Buddhist and Islamic derived violence, and would call upon the Burmese Government Authorities, the Buddhist Burmese Authorities, and the Islamic Authorities (both within and outside the Rohingya community) to defuse the situation and take a step-back from psychological and physical violence, and let traditional Asian wisdom and knowledge take the place of Western-inspired race-hate. ACW (9.9.2017)
The West – that is Europe and the US – has been dominated for hundreds of years by the the capitalist economic system, and its supportive (middle class dominated) liberal, democratic system. Freedom is defined as any and all socio-economic, political or cultural expressions that directly benefit the middle class, and which legally facilitate the unbridled ability to exploit the working class. Invariably, the middle class is numerically small, but retains most of the political power, and controls the majority of the finance. It guarantees this power from generation to generation by its iron grip on the military and the police, and a bourgeois legal system that only theoretically extends rights to all citizens. In reality, the bourgeois legal system only extends those rights that an individual can financially prove should be applied to themselves and their situation. This amounts to the situation (for the numerically superior working class) of no money equals no rights. As capitalism requires an ever expanding market of exploitation to furnish its insatiable thirst for profit, the Western bourgeoisie eventually exported their capitalist system all over the world. Although challenged here and there in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was not until the 19th century (and the rise of Marxism) that its progress was seriously (although temporarily) checked (as seen in the 1848 Europe-wide uprisings, and the 1871 Paris Commune). It was not until the Russian Revolution of 1917 (led by VI Lenin), that saw a large swathe of humanity reject predatory capitalism for Scientific Socialism – soon to be join by Mao Zedong’s China in 1949. Obviously, the Western bourgeois world, in an attempt to retain its economic, political and military hegemony over the world (particularly after WWII), began a disinformation campaign that involved the media (in all its aspects) as well as the professional and amateur academic establishment, to fabricate an ‘alternative’ history and interpretation of world history and current affairs, that was designed to denigrate Socialism amongst the exploited workers of the West (with racism toward non-Whites being a major component), so that these Western workers voluntarily ‘distanced’ themselves from those elements of the International Working Class that already lived ‘freely’ in Socialist countries (falsely and inaccurately termed ‘Communist’ by a Western media that remained entirely ignorant of the philosophy of Scientific Socialism). This disinformation campaign inverted reality, and presented working class freedom as working class enslavement – with the implicit threat that should the Western workers over-throw the oppressive capitalist regime they currently suffer under, life would be worse for them, rather than better. An extra layer of bourgeois security was generated through the tolerance and selective support of fringe far-right political groups in the West that blamed all the inequalities within the capitalist system upon immigrants, and which encouraged race-hate and racially inspired violence and murder. These fascists groups were designed to operate within working class communities and use race-hate to stop those communities being infiltrated by Socialist propaganda and organised working class movements that aimed to over-throw the British capitalist system either by force of arms, or through the ballet box. These rightwing groups have been very successful in convincing working class people to vote for parties that advocate policies which are against their own class interests, or to boycott the voting system altogether, and refuse to vote for parties that represent working class interests. Whilst inappropriately voting or not voting, the working class is stripped of all its militancy and conscious awareness, and sits passively on the political sidelines suffering terribly from oppressive government policies – whilst doing nothing constructive about it.
What does this have to do with Burma (Myanmar)? The question that has to be asked is this; If the domestic working class in Britain can be manipulated to perceive the world in a manner that is against its own class interests, how easy is it for the Western media (and mainstream academia) to use racism, prejudice and discrimination to misrepresent what is happening in Burma? The answer, of course, is highly likely. The British East India Company – operating out of India – used the British Army in a number of invading wars against the indigenous Burmese people between 1824 and 1885 (during the three so-called Anglo-Burmese Wars), effectively (and actually) annexing the country in 1886, making Burma an extension of the British imperialist rule of India. This administration continued until 1948 – when the British Labour Party granted Burma full independence from British colonial rule. However, under British rule, the Burmese people were used as a virtual slave-labour force, with Christian missionaries being imported by the British to convert the predominantly Buddhist population (a standard model of destroying indigenous cultures to make the ethnic people easier to control). Any ethnic Burmese who resisted was harshly punished with imprisonment, torture or even execution. Just as the British had imported en mass Tamil (Hindu) workers into the predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka, they also imported (en mass) Bengali Muslim workers into Burma. The point of this enforced migration and settlement was the deliberate propagation of ethnic tensions between the subjugated peoples of the British empire, so that they could not ‘unite’ against British rule – being too busy fighting one another’s presence. Of course, the Bengali Muslims are not ethically Burmese (or ‘Buddhist’), and today refer to themselves as ‘Rohingya’ – a term not recognised by the Myanmar government since 1982. During WWII, the imperial Japanese invaded Burma, and the British Authorities armed and trained the Bengali Muslims – making them a distinct fighting unit of the British Army in the resistance to the Japanese presence. However, the ethnic Burmese people, by and large, welcomed the invading Japanese as ‘liberators’ from British colonial rule. This led to a conflict between the ethnic (Buddhist) Burmese fighting for the Japanese, who opposed the British-supported Bengali Muslims who were attempting to annex the Arakan area of Burma, and integrate it with the Bengal part of India (or today’s Bangladesh). It is this British arming and encouraging of Bengali nationalism that is seen as the historical origin of the ‘violent’ and ‘murderous’ ethnic tensions that exist today between ethnic (Buddhist) Burmese and ethnic (Muslim) Rohingya in the Rakhine State of Western Myanmar. The Burmese Authorities take the position today that it is Rohingya nationalism that is driving the inter communal violence, and that the Rohingya resistance to ethnic Burmese rule is now funded (in-part) by Saudi Arabia, and other Islamic States that finance and train the various elements of Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorist groups that exist in the world. Perhaps one of the biggest (and saddest) ironies regarding this matter is the video clip of Hilary Clinton admitting during an interview that the US ‘manufactured’ Islamo-fascism (i.e. ‘Al Qaeda’) as a means to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (the same ‘Al Qaeda’ that would carry-out the 911 attacks in New York).
Burmese Buddhists living in the Rakhine State view themselves as ‘ethnic’ inhabitants of Myanmar, and state that Islamic militants regularly attack their villages and Buddhist temples, carrying-out acts of rape, torture and murder. The point of this activity is to ‘cleanse’ the area of the ethnic Burmese and their Buddhist culture. In response, the Burmese Authorities have deployed the military to carry-out punitive expeditions into the Rohingya areas. Before examining whether any of this is true or not, Burma’s modern history has to be understood. After gaining its independence from the British in 1948, Burma refused to join the British Commonwealth (viewing it as a means for Britain to retain political influence and power throughout its former empire), and declared itself a ‘Socialist State’, with close political and economic ties to the Soviet Union – and later Communist China. As the Cold War developed, and the US anti-Communist disinformation spread throughout the world, Burma was presented not as a former British colony that had suffered terribly under British imperialist rule and was now attempting to independently re-build its economy (and culture) from the base-up, but rather as a despotic and ‘failed’ State that ‘oppressed’ its people, and applied ‘racist’ policies toward the Rohingya. In fact, the propagation of Rohingya nationalism by the British, ensured that the Bengali Muslims in Arakan remained firmly opposed to Socialism, acting as a pro-Western, pro-capitalist destabilising force in Burma. Unlike the pro-capitalist 14th Dalai Lama and his unrepresentative pro-Tibetan Movement, the Burmese Socialist Authorities (many of whom were Buddhist), as well as the Buddhist monastic community, remained (quite naturally) opposed to capitalist greed and oppression. As a philosophy, Buddhism at its base remain anti-capitalist a priori – but has become associated with immense wealth in the West due to movie stars, rock stars and the middle class embracing various aspects of distorted Japanese Zen and corrupted sects of Tibetan Buddhism, etc. Asian Buddhist temples that teach non-greed, non-hated, and non-delusion, are generally ‘ignored’ by many Westerners who have no interest in the associated Asian culture through which this genuine Buddhism has been transmitted. As a consequence, Burma has been misrepresented to the Western mind very much in a racist and mythological manner, following the bourgeois blue-print used to misrepresent Tibet as a means to destabilise Communist China. As a result, up until 2011, Burma was a ‘brutal’ military regime that oppressed its people – an interpretation encouraged by the US and its mouth-piece the United Nations (UN). The problem the West now has is one of transition for its previously anti-Burma rhetoric, with regards to its former media darling in the form of Burma’s now de facto leader – Aung San Suu Kyi (the 1991 recipient of the Noble Peace Prize) – who (rather embarrassingly for her Western bourgeois supporters) remains resolutely ‘anti-Rohingya’ in the face of the capitalist world’s criticism of her leadership and her government’s punitive actions against the Rohingya people. The Chinese language press has reported that Aung San Suu Kyi personally requested that the US not use the term ‘Rohingya’ in its diplomatic communications, and that as reported in today’s Morning Star (9.9.2017) and the Chinese language press (see links below), Aung San Suu Kyi has also stated that videos and reports purportedly recording and showing the torture and abuse of Rohingya’s, are in fact the product of ‘fake’ news. Although Aung San Suu Kyi is a supporter of Western-style capitalism (which has only impoverished the Burmese people), and the liberal, democratic process, (as opposed to the centralised democracy of the Socialist System), her attitudes and behaviour appear to mimic those of the previous ‘Socialist’ Burmese leaders who continuously referred to the Rohingya as ‘invaders’ from India. In fact, Aung San Suu Kyi (agreeing with other Burmese officials), has routinely stated that Myanmar is currently under a sustained Islamo-fascist attack from a Rohingya-led Al Qaeda insurgency (funded by Saudi Arabia – an ally of the US and Israel), which aims to annex the Rakhine State – purging it of its Buddhist culture and ethnic Burmese people – and replacing it with an Islamic culture. In this regard, Aung San Suu Kyi cannot understand why the West refuses to support Myanmar in its fight against Islamic extremism, when it supports Israel without question, and any other movement in the world that opposes Islamo-fascism. Just because Aung San Suu Kyi might be an expressed ‘anti-Socialist’, does not mean that she automatically supports the Western Cold War rhetoric that privileged the Rohingya people when Burma was a Socialist State. The fact that she will not ‘bow’ to international pressure to alter her stance on this issue, demonstrates the strength of the anti-Rohingya feeling throughout the country she now leads.
The West has used Buddhism in the past as a means to try and destabilise the Tibetan part of China – probably since 1949 – and it would seem that a Western presence in Burma might well be up to its old tricks again. Just as it is well documented in Western sources that the CIA armed and trained Buddhist monks in Tibet that had taken vows of non-violence, it would seem that Buddhist monks that have taken vows of non-violence and non-hatred have been influenced in Myanmar to propagate race-hate amongst Muslims in that country. Why would protesting Buddhist monks hold-up placards in English – a language very few Burmese or Rohingya’s could read? Who are these placards meant to inform? Are Burmese Buddhist monks really leading protests against the Rohingya people? The answer appears to be ‘yes’ with the caveat that not all Buddhist monastic orders in Myanmar support protests or agree that Muslims should be demonised. The Buddhist lay and monastic vows form a psychological and physical barrier to any violent production of thought or action. Of course, the Western press ignores the Myanmar Buddhist establishment that continuously calls upon the Burmese Buddhist population to meditate upon loving kindness, and to act with charity, wisdom and compassion toward all beings – including the Rohingya Muslim community. Just as important (and as equally ignored by the Western press), is the Rohingya representatives that continuously call for ‘peace’ from Burmese Muslims, and not to respond with violence to any provocation (this latter point is even ignored by the Islamic press in the West, which remains wedded to representing the Rohingya people as a disempowered and oppressed ‘ethnic minority’ in Myanmar – that is currently suffering a ‘genocide’). This one-sided and poorly informed viewpoint has even been endorsed by the leftwing British politician George Galloway recently, through his social media. This situation is unfortunate and appears to be representative of a ‘hidden’ agenda preferred by forces operating outside of Myanmar. Consider this; the 14th Dalai Lama lives a life of luxury in the West, selling books and charging large amounts of money for study courses conveying the distorted form of Buddhism he teaches, (whilst calling for the destruction of the Communist government of China, and for young people in China to ‘self-immolate’) all of which breaks the monastic rules he took in his youth, but the Western press maintains a continuous support for his antics and remains ‘silent’ about his excesses and hypocrisy. This is the same Western press that misrepresents an overwhelmingly ‘peaceful’ Buddhist establishment in Myanmar as being a hot-bed of extremist terrorism. This reads very much like the usual Eurocentric ‘divide and conquer’ strategy in effect.
Are the Rohingya Muslims terrorists? Certainly not. Did they exist in Burma before their mass importation into the area? Undoubtedly ‘yes’. What, then, is the problem? The problem is the historical Western, imperialist interference in the internal affairs of Burma (Myanmar) – an interference that is continuing today and causing all kinds of suffering in Rakhine State. It is reasonable to assume that the West wants Burma to rip itself apart using ethnic and religious disputes to fuel the fire of hatred and violence. Have certain Buddhist monks incited violence between ethnic Burmese and ethnic Rohingya? The answer is ‘Yes’. However, as these monks broke their monastic vows of ‘peace’ to do this, they should have been expelled from the Buddhist monastic Order (the ‘Sangha’), and then tried in a civilian court and imprisoned. This is what usually would happen in a Buddhist country, and it is telling that this action was not taken in Burma. Of course, it may be that Aung San Suu Kyi – who received moral support from the Buddhist Sangha whilst under house arrest – is reluctant to move against the Buddhist monastic establishment which has a very powerful influence over the opinions and actions of ordinary Burmese people. If the Buddhist Sangha called for the over-throw of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese people would make short-work of ousting her from office. This explains her reluctance to ‘officially’ moderate the Burmese government’s stance on the Rohingya. Have innocent Rohingya been murdered? Yes – just as innocent Burmese Buddhists ave been murdered. Does the UN correctly reflect the problem in Burma? No. The UN is a mouth-piece for the neo-colonial policies of the US government, and its official announcements are always in line with current US foreign policy directives. Whilst advocating Islamophobia across the world, the US wants the Rohingya in Burma to appear to be a one-sided ‘victim’ in the ethnic violence perpetuated there. This is probably a hang-over from the days that the US wanted to bring-down the Socialist State in Burma – but just like the Al Qaeda the US developed in Afghanistan – the Islamic militants it created in Burma have now assumed a life of their own, and are effectively out of control. Although the Rohingya as an ethnicity are not terrorists, there is a minority that definitely uses violence to pursue political objectives. The problem has been that the Burmese military has attacked and punished large swathes of the Rohingya population – many of whom have had no connection with Islamic extremism or terrorism in Burma. This is an unjust situation involving both sides – but the Burmese people and the Rohingya must realise that they need to throw-off the destructive influence of the West, and in so doing reject the divisive politics of race and religion. Buddhists and Muslims can live together in peace in Burma, but this will take time, self-discipline, and an altruistic approach to social well-being.
Chinese Language Reference Articles: