Short-term objectives — such as mass demonstrations, the formation of political parties and elections — are worthless if human rights are not consistently observed.
Upon finishing this book, I completed my set goal for the Year of Reading Woman of Color 2016 challenge sponsored by the 500 Great Books By Women group. While I will not do what I did a number of times in the past year and extend the finish line by another ten books or so, I will continue the balanced diet of reading I've apportioned for my four books at once reading policy, thus ensuring that I will extend my YoRWoC2016 count by 2-3 books, if not more. In terms of this being a learning experience, my drop in the top reviewer rankings more than attests to that. I've also become aware of what it really means when I find it easier to confine my reading to 20% of the world's population than to 40%, give or take a few percentage points. Part of it is availability, part of it is marketing, and a huge chunk is the brainwashing the concept of "universal" has done to anyone who's come close to standardized education. I was able to access a great number of the severely underread works in my goal count through UCLA libraries, but the difference between those and what I'll be studying for my upcoming GRE and English subject tests is vast indeed.
There is nothing new in Third World governments seeking to justify and perpetuate authoritarian rule by denouncing liberal democratic principles as alien. By implication they claim for themselves the official and sole right to decide what does or does not conform to indigenous cultural norms.
Aung San Suu Kyi was confined to house arrest before I was born and was released during my second year of college. I first got a notion of her existence when I watched 'Beyond Rangoon' in freshman year of high school, a movie whose quality of being out of touch with the actual issues at hand only increases with every passing year, the change in the city name only being one of the more ironic death knells. The times being what they are, I don't see the point in reading books at the moment that aren't in some way politically motivated, whether they are records of nonviolent resistance, memoirs of genocides, and seemingly innocuous works that, for all their incorporation into the mainstream, would not survive on the premise of white patriarchal supremacy. Even I will need a break from that from time to time, but seeing as how for years I've preferred to devote my reading to realms beyond my comfort zone and save the indulgences for movies and video games, I don't see any reason to change that now.
[Nehru] denounces as a 'kind of art for art's sake' the study of the past which is not linked to the present and which does not derive from it the urge to action. For him the ideal was action which was not divorced from thought but which flowed from it in a continuous sequence.
It's interesting how my haphazard autodidacicism prepared me rather well for tackling this work, as the title 'Freedom from Fear and Other Writings' is both technically true and wildly misleading. Contrary to what the summary states, around half to three quarters of the writing is by Aung San Suu Kyi, if that. Of what she herself authored, 'Freedom From Fear' is one of perhaps two or three essays that touch directly upon events initiated by Aung San Suu Kyi returning to Myanmar (Burma) to nurse her sick mother. To get more of a glimpse of the place in history the author is most famous for, one must turn to the pieces in the last portion of the book written by others ranging from professors to scholars to a retired UN employee whom Aung San Suu Kyi referred to as her 'emergency aunt'. The situation here is that, during the time of this book's creation, Aung San Suu Kyi was far out of reach, and the efforts to combine her scholarship with contemporary concerns means including a sizable portion of writing requires drawing on what pieces she has done on her father as national hero, her country, and highly academic articles such as 'Intellectual Life in Burma and India under Colonialism' and 'Literature and Nationalism in Burma'. If you've read anything along the lines The Discovery of India
and are already inclined towards thinking concretely about the relationship between literature and life, you won't have that much trouble connecting the dots. If you're thinking of picking up this book as your first introduction to Myanmar in the late 1980's, I highly suggest you look at Letters from Burma
instead. Saying that you'll be lost and likely frustrated by the mounds of new and highly contextualized information that manages through many viewpoints to border on repetitive is putting it lightly.
A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration.
The last essay had some reservations on Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership based on a prioritizing of a Bamar (Burmese) construction of parliament over incorporation of all minorities prior to making any decisions of the larger government. In light of the situation nearly two decades later with the Rohingya people and other Muslim populations living in Myanmar, the author was right to be concerned over something as deceptively simple as the semantics of a proposed constitution. My situation is removed from this one, but when considering the US has had some kind of hand in every military dictatorship even before Neo-Nazis started calling themselves in the alt-right in 2016, what escalating Islamophobia there is over here will most definitely carry over there. For all that, I can't say what the future holds. However, if someone was willing to spend two decades under house arrest for said future, I can only try to match that in my own way.