Illegitimate Burma

In Politics as a Vacation Weber says, “we must say that the state is a form of human community that (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a particular territory” (Weber).

Now, I agree that a state uses physical violence or force within its territory to achieve its goals. There are times when this use of force is necessary to keep peace and done in the most ideal way, therefore legitimate. However, more often than not the use of force is abused and used under illegitimate circumstances. This can lead to power struggles, internal conflict, and an increasing use of illegitimate violence. I think the conflict in Burma is a great example of how the power of force can be abused.

Monks protest military coup in Burma

Monks protest military coup in Burma

The Burma conflict began when a military coup took power over the government and began to implement its own rules and values. If you didn’t obey them, you were harshly punished. Although protest have been going on for many years, they did not receive international attention until the 2007 Saffron protest. An article about the Saffron Protests said, “the monks began large peaceful demonstrations all over Burma after the junta raised gas and diesel oil prices by 500%”. While the monks were completely non-violent, the government began to imprison any protesters. In the same article it was estimated that “between 3,000 and 4,000 citizens were detained in connection with these protests”. Here is a video that discusses the Saffron protest and the violence these peaceful protest received.

Civil rights protest

Civil rights protest

This incident in Burma reminded me of our civil rights struggles in the 60’s. While the African Americans were strictly non-violent protests, our government and people in charge, used what they thought was “legitimate” physical violence to discriminate and hurt innocent citizens. This is an almost identical situation to that of Burma. The difference being that our government has not been run by a military coup. However, both protest were peaceful and non-violent, and both were put down by imprisonment and harsh, violent responses. This is why I believe giving a state or individual the power to use violence will always lead to corruption. Weber also states that, “whoever is active in politics strives for power” (Weber).  No matter what a government is trying to accomplish using violence, people are still going to be hurt and many times killed.

This has been proven over and over again. If the individuals calling the shots are always striving for power as Weber suggest they will be influenced to abuse that power and make selfish, unnecessary choices, which the military in Burma did and the United States did during the civil rights protests.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Illegitimate Burma

  1. I believe your point on how one who is power driven will use any means to gain the upper hand. Violence, is the most accessible and powerful way to make your voice known when seeking a leadership role. The relation between the Burma situation and Weber’s point in seeking power is a very good connection that holds base for a strong argument. In my opinion, one who conquers with violence will ultimately result in a poor leader who will more than likely use his power to suppress his nation. If you look throughout history, this opinion can be supported in most cases like the Soviet Union, North Korea, Nazi Germany and the list continues. Therefore violence is never the answer or the right way in order to have a successful term in a leadership position.

    Like

  2. I totally agree with your argument. Too often leaders try to use physical force in order to prove their superiority. In my OrgStudy class, we talk about how leaders who use force often are trying to hide the fact that they aren’t a sufficient leader, and how a good leader must be able to follow their followers. Would the Burmese government really be able to step in their follower’s shoes?

    Like

Comments are closed.