This article examines the development of Myanmar’s national ideology and political socialization, and the role of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) in this process. The central argument is that Myanmar has had four dominant stages in the development of its national ideology, while the fifth is ongoing. The first stage, “Freedom at All Costs,” occurred during colonialism. After independence, the second phase was characterized by the belief in a politico-economic system based on principles of justice, liberty, and equality, whose essence is captured in the term “Democratic Socialism.” The third stage, “the Burmese Way to Socialism” was declared in 1962. The fourth, “Our Three National Causes,” developed during the State Law and Order Restoration Council. The Council, promulgated in the 2008 constitution, guaranteed the Tatmadaw’s leading role in national politics in order to establish a disciplined democracy. The fifth stage is an ongoing process of national reconciliation or peace led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, an effort that started in 2011 under President Thein Sein’s government. In this process, the fourth stage of national ideology, “Our Three National Causes,” is still vital to upholding the principles for a future democratic federal union. In each of these developmental contexts, the Tatmadaw has been central in the prescription, implementation, and socialization process of these ideologies.


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pp. 147-195
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