Tuesday, August 11

Suu Kyi, Orwell, and O’Brien

In the Orwellian country that is Myanmar, the former Burma, a woman who has committed no crime can be tried and judged guilty. And that is what happened last month.

This month, in fact this week, the sentence was declared. It was originally to have been three years, but was commuted to only one and a half years.

Let’s take a minute and consider what she actually did.

When an American named John Yettaw swam across the Inya Lake to her house, she did not immediately throw him out. This assumes, of course, that she knew about his presence in the first place.

Why was he not allowed to swim to her house? Well, it turns out she was under “house arrest” for fourteen of the last twenty years. What crime had she committed that she would be under arrest for that length of time? She won an election in 1990.

No, those are not unconnected thoughts. Her crime was that she won an election in 1990. So what do the madmen who run Myanmar want? In the words of O’Brien:

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”


Anonymous said...

Is that the same jim o'brien that has posted under Kolorama and then signing own name?


Dr. Bacon said...


No, this O'Brien is a main character in George Orwell's novel, 1984.