Mass Mobilization, Civil
Society, and Orthodoxy
Each regime in Burma/Myanmar has felt it incumbent to attempt to mobilize the population to support its perceived goals—the perpetuation of its authority through expansion of its power base. In this, Burma has not been unique, for this is a standard practice worldwide among both authoritarian and democratic regimes. Burmese governments, however, have done so through different media, in some cases allowing the parallel growth of civil society, and in others eliminating any element of pluralism. Political party and nonparty mechanisms have both been employed at different times, and civil society has been allowed to develop or been eliminated in other periods. The implications of past practices for the future political process in that country are likely to be important.
Mass mobilization organizations have been major elements in the structure of all Burmese regimes for political and economic reasons. From independence, and the rule of the AFPFL, the formation of such controlled, ubiquitous groups has been regarded as an important means of political control and power. Under military rule, the leaders have mandated ideological orthodoxy as well.