We see articles almost every day criticizing the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and blaming her for not stopping the terrible genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya people.
It is true that she is now the President of Myanmar, but the power of the state continues to be held by the military, which she has referred to as “my father’s army.”
In fact, Myanmar is not exceptional. The state devotes its resources and is more or less controlled, overtly or covertly, by the military throughout the world. This is not new but has been true throughout history.
Let us begin with the Great Powers. The United States, which we may more appropriately refer to as the “American empire” devotes more than half of its national budget to the military and now maintains hundreds of military bases throughout the world. Countries without an American military base are exceptional. Now we learn that almost every African country has one. Another Nobel laureate, Barak Obama, aided in this expansion.
Where is the ultimate power in China if it is not with the Red Army?
Not one of the world’s nuclear powers, the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea, took part in the negotiations at the United Nations for nuclear disarmament.
Should we have been surprised when the Arab Spring was cut short by a military coup in Egypt?
The question of state power is where I part company with those who would follow the advice of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. They believed that peace could be obtained by converting the state from capitalism to socialism. And indeed, in the 20th Century, we saw many examples where capitalist states were indeed overthrown by socialist revolutions. But what ensued was not peace. What ensured was a socialist culture of war instead of a capitalist culture of war.
And we can see why socialism has failed. A socialist culture of war will alway lose in competition with a capitalist culture of war. Socialists tend to share wealth with their client states, while capitalists exploit their client states. In the long run, it is the capitalist states that win the economic competition. The socialist states must either submit (as was the case of the USSR) or become capitalist (as in the case of China).
If socialism is to succeed it cannot be based on the state.
If peace is to be obtained, it cannot be based on the state.
Can the state be replaced? Yes. The next time the state system collapses (this time with the collapse of the American empire), we need to have an alternative systm of governance to replace it! To prepare for this we need both a strong consciousness of the people of the world that a culture of peace is necessary and possible, and we need to start developing an institutional framework to replace the state. Consciousness continues to grow as we see in our review of 2017 in the CPNN bulletin. But a new institutional framework is lacking.