Prasse-Freeman, Elliott, "Around, not within..."

Title: “Around, not within, Burma’s 2010 Elections”
Author: Elliott Prasse-Freeman
Publication Date: 7/2/2010
Abstract: Anticipated elections later this year in authoritarian Burma have observers furiously debating their meaning and potential. However, the conversation has remained narrowly focused on the elections per se, especially what the ‘international community’ “should do” about them, and the country in general. These energies are misplaced. After all, democratic events like elections – in Burma and around the world – can often foreclose on political innovations such as class mobilizations, social movements, or regional separatism more threatening to those in power than highly divisive voting activities. For this reason democracy-as-event (elections) can be understood as a kind of ritualistic anti-politics, a strategy of dividing and conquering otherwise organized citizens. As such, Burma’s elections will likely change little in the short-term. They may change nothing in the long-term either, provided the ruling junta is allowed to morph its military state into an authoritarian crony-capitalist regime. Democratic partisans are right to oppose this march toward militarized neoliberalism. The question is how.
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