Burma: Ne Win's Revolution Considered
As the military's fourth year in power draws to a close, General Ne Win's revolution is stalled on the road to socialism. What a few journalists 1 and occasonal travelers have said cautiously and in private, the General declared emphatically and in public— the economy is "in a mess." "If Burma were not a country with an abundance of food we would be starving." 2 Such candor, from the author of the 1962 coup and the person most responsible for the decisions which are moving Burma along its present path, is not new. Throughout the past year he found other occasions to express himself in equally forthright terms. Despite the fact that he and his co‐ leaders are without real challenge and have absolute power to make and carry out their decisions, the revolution has not produced dramatic results in any of the areas where it is at work. The events of the past year provide ample evidence of this and cause one to ask, where does the revolution go from here?
The objectives of the revolution neither were thought out fully when it began nor set down systematically since. 3 From what has been written and
undertaken, it appears as though the revolution has four major objectives: reform the economy from semi-private to socialist; eliminate foreign influences from all aspects of economic, political, and social life; change the values and attitudes of the people so that a new leadership can arise and take over the tasks of the revolution; unite the diverse peoples into a cohesive nation. It is against this frame of reference that the major events and decisions of the past year take on special meaning.
The first objective—the development of a socialist economy—in one sense is nearing realization; private industry and trade either have been eliminated or seriously limited in the legal market, or they have been driven underground into black-market operations. The process was accelerated in January when the Burma Corporation and Burma Unilever were taken over by the state, thus eliminating the last major joint ventures with private foreign firms. 4 In April, the government seized approximately 1,000 oil wells which were operated by Twinyos and Twinzas—hereditary Burmese operators with rights dating from the pre-British period. 5 Also, during the same month, 129 of the larger and more respected private schools were nationalized because "the state____________________