In 2015, Burma’s democratic reform process culminated in an election victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. However, just two years later, global perceptions of Burma’s progress shifted radically when inter-ethnic violence resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, exposing deep fault lines around race and religion. Burma is now a fragile stage for global problems—from political populism to rising inequality and hate speech on social media to environmental degradation and climate change. Burma’s story invokes critical questions about the efficacy of democracy and free market ideologies in a post-colonial country feeling the rising power of neighboring China firsthand. Is Burma still on track for a brighter democratic future, or is the country on the brink of collapse? What lessons can the world take from Burma’s experience?
Copies of Thant Myint-U latest book, The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century, will be available for purchase and signing from the Book Cellar.