We have come here today as delegates of the nation to join in this momentous assembly. It is meet that we have gathered like this, for this is the one infallible way that mankind in its pristine wisdom has taken to itself for the solution of any question before it ever since the days of ancient tribal assemblies. It is also appropriate and indeed auspicious that we have assembled ourselves at a place hallowed in our history. Here, on this height, under whose shadow we are meeting, stands the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda which is the standing monument of our nation's labour of love, the shrine and refuge of our nation's deathless hopes and boundless inspirations, the gigantic feat of human creation chiselled out of hoary legion, reflecting, in its golden beauty, mortal man's tireless striving after the infinite and the absolute. Here, before us, lies the rolling health; over its expanse, several years ago, great events rumbled loud and long, and scarred its face not too gently at times and made it what it has been to this day - a consecrated land revered by our nation. Here, great men of our history came in days of yore and offered to dedicate themselves to the service of the nation. Here, in short, our history might be said to have germinated as it had in the other noted region of our country, Tagaung, and had, phoenix-like, resurrections several times again!
Imperishable memories rise in our mind today as we stand on this sacred ground covered by the mantle of twenty-five centuries spread out from the holy brow of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Imperishable memories of the countless thousands who have participated in the endless march of history, of untold sacrifices and matchless deeds of heroism and valour wrought by giants of old and new rising ever to the call of historic destiny, and of the unquenchable and invincible spirit they have bequeathed to us as their richest legacy. We must, for a moment, bare our heads and bow to those dead and mighty, and we shall vow to them that we too in our time will lift ourselves to their heights and make ourselves worthy of their shades and the heritage they have handed down to us. Our nation shall live again!
In such historical consciousness we have now gathered together, and we have gathered not for the first time. Before us there have been several congregations of the kind, particularly round about the Twenties. Why have they met? And why are we meeting now?
For years, and for the first time in our history, our nation has lain prostrate under the heels of foreign imperialism. For years, our creative potentialities have been held in leash and gradually atrophied by the scheme of things of imperialism, so that we cannot order to ourselves a life we hold most dear, a life far better, richer and more complete, a life in which the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all. And for one generation after another, our nation rose and rallied again and again so that we might live and develop freely as a nation and individuals. Bit by bit, our movement has grown and advanced amidst shoals of reactions, passions and prejudices. Bit by bit, the generations before us have laid the foundation for us to build upon. Today we, standing on top of their creation, may feel like belittling their efforts. But such is the nature of a freedom struggle and historical progress. The development of history is not a sudden and accidental flash in the pan, but a continuous dynamic process involving several layers of men and women reacting to such given historical conditions extant in life and society; and it is not always a smooth placid one in its course. This then is how we must conceive of our freedom struggle - that it is a developing process which the entire nation must help to work in the light of its objective possibilities, that it may run several gauntlets before it comes to its destined goal and that it cannot be treated as a question of days, months or even years in a number of instances. When we come to see our freedom struggle in such perspective, we also come to know that we cannot, when victory comes, carry away the laurels all to ourselves which must likewise be shared by all peoples and generations concerned together, for they have also contributed their parts in their way and time.
But then victory is not yet. We have still an arduous way to traverse before we reach our goal. And you want me to pilot you safely to that journey's end! I cannot thank you easily for this gesture of trust and confidence you have reposed in me. I must tell you quite frankly from the outset that I cannot dangle any promise of speedy results or sudden windfall of millennium before you. No man, however great, can alone set the wheels of history in motion, unless he has the active support and co-operation of a whole people. No doubt individuals have played brilliant roles in history, but then it is evident that history is not made by a few individuals only. I have already mentioned to you above how history develops as the cumulative creation of generations of men responding to the demands of ever growing logical events. I am well aware that there is such a great craving in man for heroism and the heroic, and that hero worship forms not a small motif in his complex. I am also aware that, unless man believes in his own heroism and the heroism of others, he cannot achieve much or great things. We must, however, take proper care that we do not make a fetish of this cult of hero-worship, for then we will turn ourselves into votaries of false gods and prophets. And we have had more than enough of such false gods and prophets for this trouble-ridden world.
So then we must labour together in the common cause which concerns all and affects everybody. This is the best way in which we can show our highest sense of homage to our heroes; this is the only way in which we can accomplish the mission before us and find our salvation. We must strive and work, all of us, until we become heroes all, so that we can ultimately dispense with any leader or leadership. For only then we can have freedom in a real and absolute sense. But I have gone far ahead. We have yet to win our national freedom before we can hope to help ourselves progressively to that absolute conception of freedom.
We have then a big historic task which we have received from those who have gone ahead and passed, as an inviolable trust. How shall we fulfill it? Before we seek the answer to this question, it is essential in my opinion that we look round and find the threads that could lead us to the final solution. For the problems that confront humanity today are closely interwoven and form one indivisible fabric. Such is the order of the world today which is in a vast melting pot. Internationalism and nationalism, economics and politics, politics and sociology, sociology and culture, religion, ethics, etc., are but different parts of the one complex whole, each related to the other, ever changing in form and content. We cannot think, live and move in watertight compartments only. We cannot keep on holding fixed, rigid dogmas which can no longer be in tune with the spirit of the times. Today in our country several of us have not yet been able to comprehend the phenomena of life and society in truer light. Some of us have been going still, consciously or unconsciously, about the same old way of "dirty" politics. But is politics really "dirty"? Certainly not. It is not politics which is dirty, but rather the persons who choose to dirty it are dirty. And what is politics? Is it something too high above us to which we can just look up in respectful awe and from which we refrain, because we are just mortal clay in His hands and cannot do it? Is it, as some charlatans, roaming occasionally about in distant nooks of our country, used to prey upon the credulous imagination of some of our people, the kind of thing capable of being set aright only by fanciful tales and legends? Is it a dangerous ground which we must be wary to tread and might as well avoid, if we possibly could? Is it just a question of "race, religion and language" forever, as we were once wont to say? What is it, then, really? The fact is that politics is neither high nor low, neither magic nor astrology nor alchemy. Nor is it simply a dangerous ground to tread upon. It is not also a question of bigoted or parochial nationalism either. It must always approximate to the truth of marching events. In short, after all is said and done, politics mean your everyday life. It is you in fact; for you are a political animal as Aristotle long ago declared. It is how you eat, sleep, work and live, with which politics is concerned. You may not think about politics. But politics thinks about you. You may shun politics. But politics clings to you always in your home, in your office, in your factories. There, everyday you are doing politics, grappling with it, struggling with it. The worker works for his wages, the peasant tills for his living, the clerk and the official toil for salaries, the trader and the broker struggle for decent incomes. It is, all, the question of livelihood. The worker wants to have higher wages and live in better conditions. The peasant desires to improve his land and his lot. The clerk and the official want something more than the drudgery of office, something more secure, more complete, more independent. The trader and broker want fair opportunities for trading and business. Thus you have to live and get certain things that are yours for your living, and this is your politics. This is your everyday life; and as your everyday life changes, so changes your politics. It is for you to have such opportunities for your livelihood and better life that we say there must be freedom, freedom to live, freedom to create and develop nationally, and individually, freedom which can raise your and our standards without affecting others. And this is politics. Politics, then is quite human! It is not dirty. It is not dangerous. It is not parochial. It is neither magic nor superstition. It is not above understanding. Alas! This is not to be, for so some wiseacres have ordained. They say politics is dirty. They say politics is religion. They say these all in contradiction with each other in one and the same breath. Politics is religion! Is it? Of course not. But this is the trump card of dirty politicians. In this way, they hope to confuse and befog the public mind, and they hope to slur over and cloud real issues. Their's is the way of opportunism, not politics. Religion is a matter of individual conscience while politics is a social science. Of course, as a social science, politics must see that the individual also has his rights, including the right to freedom of religious worship. But here we must stop and draw the line definitely between politics and religion, because the two are not one and the same thing. If we mix religion with politics, this is against the spirit of religion itself, for religion takes care of our hereafter and usually has not to do with mundane affairs which are the sphere of politics. And politics is frankly a secular science. That is it.
Practically, and as far as I can see, sociology has and should have no quarrel with religion in the absolute. If we but take its absolute doctrines of love, truth and righteous living, even though these conceptions may be considered abstract, they can also be taken as social values all right and no harm can be done to society at any time. But when, in the name and respectable cloak of religion, superstition, unreason and exploitation of man by man, and any form of injustice is upheld, then society cannot possibly remain indifferent to what a particular thing is about. However may be the ominous prophecy of its priests, we must, as faithful students of social history, cry halt and see that it does not become a law unto itself and injure humanity. This is not after all a new sociological doctrine of mine. It had been rigorously applied by one of the greatest men of our history, Anawratha and we have owed so much progress in our history to this one act of historical surgery. The truth is, history has shown us that there is such a thing as priestcraft aside from religion. And that is what has caused so much muddling of our affairs and not religion as religion in the ultimate analysis of it. It may be here pointed out that this has nothing to do with religion and that such priestcraft is never sanctioned by religion. True, but as students of history we have seen that priestcraft usually came along with every religion. The quarrels between Popes and Emperors, between Aris and Anawratha in our history or that too well-known saying that Trade and the Flag follow the Bible - these serve to remind us, too painfully, of the existence of priestcraft, the bane and excrescence of every religion, and also of every society at any time. But we must here distinguish between priestcraft and priesthood. Whatever we say of priestcraft does not hold true in the case of priesthood. In our instance, priesthood has imprinted to this day, indelible marks upon the face of our history and for good reasons too. It was in fact priesthood which had taken upon itself the entire social obligation of educating our whole nation in olden days; it is priesthood which is now still mainly responsible for whatever education our country folks are receiving and for the still fairly high standard of literacy in this country. It was priesthood which helped to enrich our culture and civilisation greatly. We thank our priesthood from the bottom of our hearts for all these they did and have done which has helped the progress of our history so much.
Speaking of Buddhism particularly, which is the religion professed by the greatest bulk of our people, I can say without prejudice to other religions that it is more than a religion itself and has several indications of its becoming possibly the greatest philosophy in the world, if we can help to remove the trash and travesties which antiquity must have doubtless imposed on this great religion. I wish therefore to address a special appeal to the Buddhist priesthood and say to them: Reverend Sanghas! You are the inheritors of a great religion in the world. Purify it and broadcast it to all the world so that all mankind might be able to listen to its timeless message of Love and Brotherhood till eternity. Reverend Sanghas! We will worship you forever as Promoters of Love and Brotherhood. We are prepared to listen to your exhortation for Love and Brotherhood not only amongst our own people, but also amongst the peoples of this wide world. And we will support you in this respect as best we could for this is what the world and our country need very badly at this moment. Reverend Sanghas! You have a tremendous role to play the world history, and if you succeed, you will be reserved by the entire mankind for ages to come. This is one of your high functions ordained by your religion; and this is the highest politics which you can do for your country and people. Go amongst our people, preach the doctrine of unity and love; carry the message of higher freedom to every nook and corner of the country, freedom to religious worship, freedom to preach and spread the Dharma anywhere and anytime, freedom from fear, ignorance, superstition, etc., teach our people to rely upon themselves and re-construct themselves materially, spiritually and otherwise. You have these and many more noble tasks before you. Will you or will you not rise equal to your tasks? The answer lies doubtless with you.
But I must come back to politics. And I have not finished talking about it! As a matter of fact, politics knows no end. It is Samsara in operation before our eyes, the Samsara of cause and effect, of past and present, of present and future which goes round and round and never ends. What cause and what effect, what past and what present, what present and what future holds for us now in politics? We have wars and wars. What cause? What effect? Let us survey these.
Until a few months ago, we had been living in a world of storms and strives which did not escape our very soil. What cause? Of course Fascism! Why Fascism? And what is it any way really? Draped in Italian dress, manufactured in Germany mostly, copied by Japan and imported to a large part of the world (including our own country) until recently, Fascism is the worst product of Capitalism the world has ever seen. It is the most reactionary jingoism, imperialism and, indeed, rule of Finance Capital. How is it that the growth of such a monstrosity of humanity and history has been made possible? The answer lies in the very laws of capitalist society. Capitalism, being based on anarchic production for profit and resultant inequalities in distribution of wealth, is no longer able to solve the problems that is itself sets. Instead it has called forth irreconcilable antagonism between man and man, race and race, nation and nation, which is greatly intensified and extended in depth and range, by the very culture that it breeds (the culture of profit, motive, greed and hate) and by the very technique it has forged - Science! As the contradictions and crisis of Capitalism deepen further and further, it grows more and more desperate, and thus it resorts to all sorts of strategems, subterfuges and stupidities. Unable to solve the crisis of "overproduction" which it creates, it destroys goods and machinery, exploits workers and the home market more intensively while it also hunts furiously for foreign markets and colonies. Desiring to get more profit and yet more profit, it gets less and less, and therefore it sets in motion unbridled competition amongst the capitalists of the same country and between one state and another, leading progressively to the elimination of one by the other and formation of trusts, cartels and such forms of monopoly nationally and internationally which again intensify competitions, seek more fields and pastures new and attempt to exploit or rob existing ones harder and harder until it calls in sharp divisions and struggle between capital and labour, between state and state, between imperialist countries and colonial countries, and finally leads to a series of local wars extending at last to a large part of the world and affecting it to its very foundation. This is how, roughly, the laws of capitalist development operate. These laws, by their very nature and logic, lead to and end in repeated crisis and wars; and they will continue that way, as long as capitalism exists on the face of this earth, and until it faces the logical music of history and transforms itself into socialism. But this is what capitalist society does not want to do. Instead it seeks to prop itself up by various artificial devices and means. Thus we came to have Imperialism and Fascism, the two expressions of the same phenomenon in different forms - Finance Capital. How is it then, that Fascism and Imperialism, even though facets of the same thing, have ranged themselves in opposite camps in the world war just ended? Again we find the answer in the inexorable logic of capitalist development. History is fashioned not by the good intentions or wishful fancies of any individual or group of individuals, but ordered according to the iron laws of historical necessity. We have a classic example in the events of this decade wherein we have observed these laws in relentless operation. We have seen how at the beginning imperialist circles in Britain, France and elsewhere tried to foster and sponsor their bastard half brother, Fascism. The Munich Gang in Britain, for instance, was responsible, in a large way, for the rape of Abyssinia and Manchuria, and for the triumph of Fascism in Spain, Germany, Europe and the world. In our East too, it was these self same ruling classes of imperialism who had egged on Japanese militarism in many ways. They had thus counted on these forces of reaction coming finally out against the rising forces of history in their homes and the world abroad. But they failed dismally. Their Frankenstein monster turned against themselves and threatened to seize them and the whole world by the very throat. Then they were forced by the iron laws of historical necessity to fight against Fascism in the opposite camp. But even then we have seen how they tried at first to fight Fascism half-heartedly, in their mortal fear of having to ally with the rising forces of history such as the Soviet Union, China and other democratic movements, and thus had to pay very dearly for that original sin of theirs. The lightning advance of Fascism throughout the greater part of Europe and Asia at the beginning was, in no small measure, due to their criminal folly and stupid action then. In Burma, British imperialism declared our country to be a belligerent without consulting the opinion of our people at all and in that way invited aggression to our country while it took no sufficient care to defend her or let her enable our people to defend. At the same time, British imperialism did not do anything to give our people a cause to fight for, for it made itself clear at the very outset that the war or peace aims enunciated in the Atlantic Charter and any other Charters and statements did not apply to British possessions like India and Burma. That was how they had at first fought the war against Fascism and nearly lost. But then the forces of history proved to be much stronger then the will and wishes of our imperialists. They were forced to ally with the Soviet Union, they were forced to come to help of China which had to fight alone against Jap militarism for years, they were compelled to go to their own people more and more, they had to rally all peoples of the world and especially those suffering under the heel of Fascist dictatorship. They had to appeal to world democratic opinion and thus became allies, though unwilling, of progressive forces in their own countries and the world. Thus they had to fight with the help and support of the peoples of the world, doling out bits of power and concessions to the latter in return for their help and support. But what matters here was not these concessions of power on the part of imperialism but the iron logic of the situation which made them go to the peoples and fight and win the war against Fascism and in that way defeated Fascism and weakened their own position still further while the progressive movements of the peoples all the world over have been made much stronger then ever, and in many cases, have been won the peace for themselves. This is the perspective that World War II has opened before us. Of course it is true that Fascism has suffered only military defeat, and its roots remain and are yet alive. We find them visible in a full-grown stage in one country at least - Spain. We can find them lying in ambush, one-way or the other in some countries still. We find them even in the home of democracy, Britain, where Fascism led by Sir Oswald Mosley is still respectable among some members of the British ruling class. We find them in international trusts and cartels, we find them in the enslavement of many millions of brown and black peoples of the world including our own. Unless these roots were taken out completely, unless the whole world becomes a world of free peoples living and co-operating for multi-lateral development in all respects, the world cannot yet claim that it has discovered enduring peace out of the ashes of the recent worldwide conflagration. Of course there is the United Nations Organisation. Of course its objects and purposes are laudable. Of course it has set up more powerful machinery than the old League of Nations did for the construction of peace. Of course it has greater sanction behind it with the powerful participation of the Soviet Union and U.S.A. apart from the possession of an international force. Of course China is one of the Big Five. Of course the way for international economic co-operation and for battering down economic and financial walls has been prepared in such organisation as the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development by the Bretton-Woods Conference of the United Nations. Perhaps it is a good beginning that the United Nations has made. But even its most enthusiastic supporter cannot yet say that it is what mankind today can do most. The question of colonial peoples, especially of those old ones subjected to victorious powers, remains conveniently shelved. Their political and economic future is still as hazy as ever.
I have no desire to be cynical. But I cannot help quoting a British historian's comment on the peace-making efforts after World War I. He wrote thus: "The statement had not been equal to the grandeur of events. They had made a peace which was no peace. American idealists who were well content that the doctrine of self-determination should be violated in respect to their Red Indians and Africans, joined with English idealists, who were not proposing to march out of India or Egypt in denouncing the lapses from the high doctrine of self-determination which were noted in their treaties. Human nature, it was widely felt, had failed. Europe has not been made safe for democracy. The bright exhilaration of victory was soon blotted out by the fog of disillusion, resentment and despair."
A tremendous responsibility rests upon the Soviet Union, United States and China to follow up this beginning of the United Nations Organisation to a far better end, and we look to these three great countries for a more positive and bolder lead in the making of peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming sections of the peoples of the world. We have been greatly inspired by the undaunted courage and the heroic spirit of socialist emulation with which the peoples of the Soviet Union have striven to win Socialism in their own country and build planned economy and with which they rallied to the tasks of defeating the brigand hordes of Fascist barbarism in World War II, even when they had to fight alone and single-handed for a protracted period. We greatly admire the might and prowess of this Socialist Fatherland and we recognise its great role in defeating Fascism in Europe especially. We have been also impressed very much by the way this great land of Socialism has sponsored the cause of dependent and colonial peoples both in domestic affairs and at San Francisco. Similarly we have been awed by the production might of U.S.A. which came into the effective waging of war against Fascism, and we have been genuinely pleased that it sent its forces in large numbers to Europe and the Pacific theatre to give her utmost in the war against Fascism. We have been encouraged by the intention of this greatest democracy of the world to champion the liberty and freedom of all nations in the world as testified to by the late President Roosevelt's interpretation of the Atlantic Charter and by President Truman's twelve-point foreign policy. We have been very much elevated by the great contributions made by this world's Number One Democracy to the cause of world freedom and by those of her greatest men of history such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the late President Roosevelt. In our country we have learnt to repeat often the immortalised phrase of President Lincoln - "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people." Finally we are proud that our great neighbour, the titanic dragon of China has proved its greatness and prowess in the historic events of this decade. We salute their epic courage and marvellous tenacity in standing alone against a powerful enemy for long years. We are justly proud of their victory. We hail it in fact as the victory of Asia and we appreciate the fight they put up so gloriously for Asia's and the world's liberation. We congratulate them and we welcome the unifying process of China which we trust, will be running smoothly now. Having said all these, we look to these three great countries on earth, great not only in size and population but in other respects as well, to band together instead of one manoeuvring against another and so forth as in the old League and to stifle all attempts to re-establish the old world of inequalities and maladjustments, and they should vie together to bring in immediately a new world of freedom and light, with no patched of darkness in it. We look to these three great nations to make this U.N.O. a real organisation of all united nations as opposed to the old League style organisation of governments and their satellites. It is essential for U.N.O. to be a real one at that by asking particular member nations to elect and send accredited representatives of nations respectively and not merely obscure personnel picked and chosen by ruling governments. We take great exception to the way India was represented in International conferences and organisations and to the way Burma was represented in such as the Far Eastern Commission, by the nominees of British Government.
If the U.N.O is really to become an effective organisation for world peace and security, then attempts must be made to blot out invidious distinctions between Big Nations and Small Nations. After all how do we judge a nation to be a big or small one? Is it size in territory that matters? Certainly not. If it is, a country like India should always be entitled to the position of a big Nation. But we know that it is now. Japan, until recently, was considered big. But we know very well that her size did not entitle her to that. Is it population that counts? Again the reply is in the negative. India is the classic answer to that. Is it then possession of resources and raw materials that make a nation big? But we have seen Japan and Italy could have become big without such plenitude of resources. A nation is considered big because and only because that nation could have marched greatly more in tune with the music of history than others. At one time Russia lay writhing and wriggling under the whip of Tartar rule for two or three centuries. But today she is a great country, unique in her greatness, for she is now not only one of the biggest political and military powers on earth, but also the one great land where a new civilisation of socialism is being developed.
Now what of Great Britain itself, after this war? Great Britain is no longer "great" and the sun over her empire has begun sinking though it has not sunk completely. At one time British imperialism was the biggest empire in the world not only in the political and military spheres but also though less visibly, in the economic and financial spheres pulling many strings in many countries even outside her visible empire. But today, this is no longer true. She is a debtor even to her colonies and dependencies like India and Egypt. By the ineluctable laws of historical Karma, she has been compelled to pay frequent pilgrimages to the Mecca of World Finance, to the United States of America. Though some years ago, there had been a fierce, yet silent warfare between the two, away on the high sea of Finance the once dogged and tenacious John Bull has now turned himself into Mohamed frequenting the Mountain on which the Statue of Liberty stands greeting every one who comes. Even though outwardly she retains her colonial empire her colonies in the very logic of things, have become more liabilities than assets, and she cannot afford to keep them for long to her own detriment. Whether British imperialism will see the writing on the wall in time and shed her imperialism not only in words but also in fact and thus seek the willing and energetic co-operation of the peoples in those countries which are now her colonies, in order to harness productive potentialities at home and abroad to the maximum and thereby regenerate her own country and the countries which are now her colonies; or whether she will choose to go the same old way of other empires and decay and perish ultimately - this is the question which Britain must decide now or never.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * II * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
One thing that has come out of World War II is this. That the days of imperialism are numbered especially in Asia. Asia has been rejuvenated and is progressively coming into world politics. Asia can no longer be ignored in international councils. Its voice grows louder and louder, you can hear it in Indonesia, you can hear it in Indo-China, you can harken to it in Burma and India and elsewhere. And we can see Asia rising unmistakably in China. Asia is marching. The world must reckon now with gathering Asian unity and strength. We cannot be divided and kept down and apart for all time. We shall come together, we will come together and build a new Asian order. But it will not and must not be one like the Co-prosperity Sphere of militarist Japan, nor should it be another Asiatic Monroe doctrine, nor Imperial Preference or Currency Bloc. It should not be one, imposed on us, separately or altogether, in which one race or the other can come to dominate and dictate and wire pull. At any rate we must see that it does not become camouflaged Balkanisation of Asia where some people from outside can come in and play one against the other. It should become the Asiatic branch of the world family organisation formed for the purpose of Asian unity and co-operation to win not only Asia's but also all the world's freedom, security and progress and peace; and it should not permit of any exclusionism in any sphere within the walls of ethnic and geographical limits, though no doubt we must set before us the primary and practical task of putting our own home in order, first, and though no doubt we can and will have such tasks as are peculiar to Asia only, such as reintegration and reorientation of Asian culture, so that we might rediscover our Asian destinity and thus contribute further for the enrichment of world culture and civilisation.
This is how I visualise the coming of the new Asian order. In the meantime we must - with whoever wants to come and can come now, in Asia and, possibly, outside Asia, such as oppressed and exploited peoples of the world and the like and also whoever desire to support such of our cause - we must march together, work together and join hands together and form, if necessary, interim joint arrangements to face common problems of the immediate present, on the initiative taken by us or by any other or others. Personally I think such step may be necessary before we can have that bigger concept in effective co-operation. Anyway, I place these views before our brethren in Asia and, indeed before all the world, for what they are worth.
Before I pass on, I desire on behalf of our entire nation, to pay my heartfelt tribute to the patriotic peoples of Indonesia and Indo-China for the valiant struggles they are waging against dark and evil forces of tyranny, physical might and willful slander. Though mountains and seas divide us, I want these brave and heroic peoples to know that we are with them and that we regard their struggles as our own struggle. And we are determined to be free just as they. Gallant peoples of Indonesia and Indo-China! Though today, for various reasons, we cannot yet come together for our common tasks, still we will come and must come together; and we will try our best to come to you. Carry on your fight. We send you our best wishes and blessings. Nay, we will, if we can, do more than send you best wishes and blessing. Anyway, may you be crowned with success in your high endeavour none too long.
I desire also to appeal to the peoples of China, to Marshal Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Tse-Tung, General Chu Teh and others of light and leading in China to unite firmly and unbrokenly for China's sake as well as for the sake of Asia and world. Might I in all humility remind them all to be ever conscious of the immense obligation they owe to history for China and Asia and indeed for the world, and might I remind them further that they can, if they will, fulfill this obligation to history and can themselves become one of the greatest peoples in the world for a long time to come again. We appeal to them, first, because we are their immediate neighbour who has solicitude for his other neighbour's peace quite genuinely. We appeal to them because we love peace in our country, in the East and in the world.
Similarly, I desire to appeal to India and to her leaders, Mahatama Gandhi, Mr. Jinnah, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, President Azad and others to be united and march together as one to a free happy India.
I want also to address the Indians and Chinese residing in this country. To them I say: we have no bitterness, no ill will for them, or for that matter for any race and nationality in the world. If they choose to join us, we will welcome them as our own brethren. If they desire to help us as good friends, and neighbours only, again we shall be glad to reciprocate their friendship and sympathy. But they must be careful not to be made pawns in the game of our internal politics. For today, interested parties may try to use them in Burma and to make them play against us. These interested parties will come to them with specious pleas and promises and little concession. They must not allow themselves to be taken in by those interested parties. They must choose and choose once and for all whether they will be our friends or foes. And they cannot be both. To Europeans we say we will offer our hand of friendship but that relation cannot definitely be on the present basis of master and servant. It must be only on terms of equality.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * III * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now, I shall come closer home. But before I do that, I must explain why I am treating things and events from outside at considerable length. The fact is that as we all know, events in the world are organically connected with one another, and whether we like it or not we are influenced by them. We have ourselves known it actually during this past three of four years. It is therefore imperative for us to follow and understand things in the world intelligently. Moreover we all know that conceptions of independence and sovereignty are now losing their former absolutism. This is true for all nations big or small, and not for particular instance of a small nations like ours as advanced by our imperialists and their trainbearers as an argument against our national independence. After all, many small nations are still independent in the world today. If somebody points out that such independent small nations are helpless before external aggression, the recent war has proved that big nations are likewise not secure as can be seen in the fall of France in 1940. So such an argument against our independence does not bear even our superficial scrutiny. After all, an independent Burma will not be friendless, and it is because we desire to order our own life in our country by co-operating and forming friendships with other nations freely for mutual or multi-lateral interests of defence or economics, etc., that we want to be free and independent. But, how, some will ask will I reconcile my conception of a universal interdependence of nations with that of national independence for Burma? Will not a greater union or commonwealth or bloc be a better conception, more in harmony with the needs of the time, you might ask? Yes, it is a better one, provided it is a voluntary affair and not imposed from above as I have already dealt with it earlier, provided it is not the kind like the United States of Europe. Mr. Churchill once suggested obviously as a check against any advancing influence of the Soviet Union conceived in the narrow spirit of the classic balance of power. In fact some day it may be proved necessary and possible for us to have, say, something like the United States of Indo-China comprising French Indo-China, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia and our country. This is not an idealist conception. It is one that may be well commended by historical developments of these countries having several points of affinity with one another ethnically, strategically, economically and otherwise. So then we must understand and try to understand internationalism and learn to cultivate the right spirit of internationalism. For, by co-operating with other nations for multi-lateral interests we can have the benefit of world's best in every possible way and thus our life will become infinitely higher and richer, whereas by keeping to ourselves we might be always balancing the ends and meeting finally, more likely than not, our own doom. This sort of scientific internationalism, the internationalism of creative mutuality, is indeed in accord with the highest interests of nationalism. For if only there comes to be such internationalism it will mean not only abiding peace, universal freedom, it will mean incalculable progress, for then we shall avail ourselves of the best that can come out of creative human labour of the entire mankind and then such scientific discovery of atomic energy can be most effectively employed not in mutual destruction but in releasing unimaginable forces of production, and almost all the problems that we face today might be solved very radically in that event. There will be greater health, longer life; there may be no problem of over or under population, there will be plenty in many things. Time and space will be conquered and the world will become a world of immediate and not distant neighbours. We will come back to the idea of world family which mankind was originally in a much higher form. This is a very beautiful conception no doubt. But this is not practical. So some will argue. But we have seen now the increasing universal interdependence of nations which logic will progressively urge the world to unite. It is not unpracticable. It is only that time is not yet ripe for it to mature into reality. Even now we hear so much about regional blocs and things like that. This sort of logic is the very nature of life and things. Such process has been and will be very much accelerated by modern science. Only because physical and natural sciences run very far ahead of social and mental sciences, we see a number of maladjustment and dislocations in the form of wars and crisis. But these sciences are also catching up, and when they catch up with the other sciences, finally, the above conception of internationalism will enter the realm of practical possibility. In the meantime, we must work within existing practical limits toward that ideal. This is scientific internationalism. There is no such thing as pure nationalism. What is nationalism any way? Is it something static, absolute and final? No it is not. It is ever changing in form and content. Every student of social and political science knows very well that such slogans as race, religion, language do not alone constitute nationalism. There are one or more races in almost every country. Nowadays, we have different religions being embraced by members of the same nationality. Americans and British speak the same language but do not form one nation. In the Soviet Union, there are several languages and yet these people are one. What then constitutes nationalism? The main factor is the having to lead together one common life sharing joys and sorrows, developing common interests and one or more common things like racial or linguistic communities, fostering common traditions of having been and being one which give us a consciousness of oneness and necessity of that oneness. Race, religion, and language are thus by themselves not primary factors which go to the making of a nation but the historic necessity of having to lead common life together that is the pivotal principle of nationality and nationalism. Nowadays, with the increasing mutual intercourse of nations, there is such a provision in many of the constitutions of the world for naturalisation of foreigners. As I see it, at one time nationalism took a centrifugal turn, as races streamed off from the main stock and family, and now the process seems to be otherwise; it seems to be taking a centripetal course. So our conception of nationalism must move, change and rise with the times. Otherwise we will stew in the juices of parochial nationalism or even jingoism which we have seen how undesirable for humanity from the rise of Fascism and which finally will spell our nation's doom as in the case of Germany. But it is in history that opportunist political leadership taking advantage of the strong national sentiments of the people may try to exploit the nationalism of the people for their selfish individual or group interests. We must be careful of such exploitation of nationalism. For then racial strives and bitterness will be fomented and fostered among us by interested parties in order to divert our attention from the main objective.
Now we have surveyed the world and Asian perspectives. We have cleared many foggy notions enveloping our heads. We see now more correctly and clearly. How then shall we carry out our national tasks before us? We have seen that the greatest of our national tasks is to win national freedom. How shall we win it?
Today world imperialism in general and British imperialism in particular is very much weakened. We have observed this face in the earlier part of my address. Today Asia is coming into her own. Today we have built a strength of our making. This strength is ever rising and developing. As events move on, British imperialism will get into deeper and deeper waters in her home and in the international field. Though in her foreign policy British imperialism clings to U.S.A. for support, and though U.S.A. somewhat seems to lend it to her up to now, one can notice feverish preparations going on behind the scene for another silent warfare on the high distant sea between the two British imperialism thinks still in terms of economic and financial blocs and preferences, and we have noticed this tendency in the discussions carried on in and out of British Parliament on the subject of the financial loan from U.S.A. and the Bretton-Woods Monetary Agreement. We of course must oppose attempts to form economic blocs and preferences. We stand for free, mutual economic co-operation and transaction with any nation or nations. For this is what the world and our country need at the moment. But British imperialism dose not feel like agreeing to such free and multi-lateral economic co-operation in the international field. Even some so-called Socialists in Britain appear to be opposed to such free economic internationalism. They cannot yet get out of the old outlook of economic nationalism or rather economic imperialism in their case. They cannot yet get over the old scares of deflation which they associate with unemployment and so on. They are still half-inclined to think that exchange controls and some preferences are necessary. The fact is this. It is not an ostrich-like policy in economics or politics that will solve the problems of unemployment and other problems. We can see that unemployment and doles are brought about not because of deflation exactly but because of the inevitable way in which capitalism works. If the people of Britain desire to build a new and prosperous Britain with plenty for all, the only way for them to do is apply Socialist programme to all problems, domestic, colonial and international. At home, the state must take the primary responsibility for economic welfare of the people and should not leave it to the whims and caprices of private capital. Abroad, full economic internationalism should be supported. All colonies must be freed. The productive forces of freed colonial peoples will be then tremendously enhanced and could be brought to play in the life of the peoples in Britain herself which will then become much richer and more complete. That is how we have understood the return of the Labour Government to power by the British electorate - that they desire to build Socialism at home, abroad and everywhere, for they cannot desire otherwise. Socialism by patches and bits will not solve existing problems effectively. The Labour Government of Britain needs to take a bolder step towards Socialism. But to us from the outside, the Socialist Government of Britain is going its way haltingly and hesitatingly. In some respects, they are found to be more conservative than the Conservatives. It is indeed a pathetic sight to see how the Socialist Government go about such things as the Bretton-Woods Agreement and loan from U.S.A. half-apologetically, half-bowing to the Conservatives and the British ruling class. If they go on this way, I am afraid that they will lose the chance of their lifetime to do anything at home and abroad. It will mean the undoing of not only their great party, but of British prestige and interests as well. Housing, coal and labour shortages, social security etc., these problems in their own home will become more and more acute. Britain may have to face internal divisions then. And colonies, of course will free themselves, for they are now in a much stronger position than at any time in history and moreover they have and will have the increasing sympathy and support of the peoples of the world and other forces. The forces of history now seem to be working all in their favour. The colonial question all over the world and especially in Asia has become one which has received the blessing and the will of history in a very large measure. This is the prospect before Britain, her government and people. How will they face it worthily?
But British imperialism seems so far to be following the line of economic opportunism in the international sphere and economic fascism in her colonies. It is digging its own grave thereby. That way does not lie Britain's regeneration. But British imperialism is blindly and desperately trying to retrieve her old position at greater expense of the colonies. We have seen British imperialism trying to do something for herself in the international economic field at the expense of colonial members of her Sterling bloc like India. We have noticed that in the Bretton-Woods Monetary Agreement and the question of the loans from the U.S.A. In Burma British imperialism is surreptitiously bringing in economic fascism in the name of reconstruction by means of many plans and projects hatched long ago at Simla in those days of defeat and disgrace after it had to run for its life out of Burma before the advancing tide of Fascist invasion and in the absence of popular support in Burma because of its unwise war policy. I have not the time to go into everyone of them. I shall just content myself with certain general observations regarding these plans and projects.
There is no denying the fact in all quarters that the greatest things Burma needs now are relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. But how does the British Government propose to do that? Ostensibly for financing those so-called reconstruction projects, the Governor has received already a loan of £ 87 millions without interest, so it is said. Without interest! How is it possible for the British Government which itself is borrowing from U.S.A at 2 per cent interest rate to lend us so generously without interest? As a matter of rude fact this is neither loan to us nor without interest. When we hear getting such and such a loan from Britain, it is in goods and not in cash. Evidently whatever interests our creditors wanted had been counted when the prices of these goods were fixed. So this talk about loan without interest must be received with a grain of salt. When the British Parliament and public discussed the loans to be received from U.S.A so much concern was felt by so many, and their government had to assure and reassure her Parliament and public that there were no strings attached to the loans and so forth. Some blamed the U.S Government for being too business-like and timid and all sorts. Some say if Imperial preferences are to go, then Government lends money to Burma, the conditions of its acceptance, even though not explicitly laid down, are there. What are they? Leaving aside the question of the loans having to be spent in Britain, by examining the reconstruction projects made by the Governor, we can see that the loan was, after all, not for the reconstruction of economic life of the peoples of Burma but for the rehabilitation of British economic strangle-hold on our country. In the name of State control and plausible objectives, British Government will try to set up the old British interests and businesses for a limited period, and after that most of these economic set-ups will be handed back to the old British vested interests as compensations and what not. This is roughly how the British Government intends to do in Burma. But up to now we have not heard of a single thing the British Government has done to compensate so many thousands of our people in this country who have suffered so much damage in lives and properties. The great amount of devastation and damages in our country during this war were mostly done by British scorched-earth policy when they withdrew from Burma in 1942 and by British bombing and destruction. Moreover, this country and our people suffered so much in this war because the British Government could not defend Burma and because they left us in the lurch for reasons of imperial strategy. That they had great responsibility for such debacle in Burma, they themselves had admitted in their Parliament. If I remember correctly, they even had said that the defence of Burma was an Imperial Charge. Therefore if finances are supplied by the British Government for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Burma up to 1941 level, they should be advanced gratis, as the British failed to give security to Burma in 1942 and themselves caused most of these damages in Burma by scorched-earth policy and the like. But they advanced these finances as loans which mean of course deferred taxation of the people of Burma. Even apart from this fact, if the people will benefit from these loans, this is all right to some extent. But now they will be mainly employed to regenerate British vested interests. So these are not loans, after all; as a matter of blunt fact, they are exactions for War Indemnity from the people of Burma! Our people, instead of going to receive compensations, will have now to pay disguised war Indemnity. This is the naked truth. And when we ask Government why it is that nothing has been done for compensation to the people, their graphic answer is that they could not possibly do anything about it during the past three years as they were not in possession of facts and could not come down by parachutes to gather facts or consult public opinion! As against this, the other argument that we must know how to attract capital as apologia for bringing in the old vested British interests is more plausible. We must attract capital no doubt. We need it. But we do not want disguised war indemnities or monopolies or unilateral investments in our country.
Passing on to the projects such as, for example, the Civil Supplies Board, Agricultural Project etc., it is proposed that "Government should come forward and declare itself as a buyer of all produce of certain named crops surplus to local requirements." Only thus. So Government hopes, "by guaranteeing a market at attractive prices, will the necessary stability of projects be forth-coming to encourage maximum production and an early return to normalities". Attractive prices! For the farmers who produce or for so-called would-be agents of Burma? I quite agree that the prices of agricultural produce should be fixed by Government. We asked for such thing from the very beginning even before the war, but to no avail. Now in these era of mounting inflation these prices will be fixed. How will this be done? I quite agree that we must fix the prices of such basic products from the point of view of world market and the consumers. But before we fix such prices, we must tackle the problem of inflation first. Without doing that, the control of the prices of the agricultural produces can mean only one thing-squeezing the throats of our farmers and peasants. And what will be the consequences? We see these in widespread robberies and clandestine dealing in military goods (which is an open secret). How can we combat inflation? We all know that one of the first things which we must do about inflation is to make immediately the free flow of commodities possible inside and from outside, and whatever steps are necessary to do that, production, transport etc., for the moment, must be done; while government, if it is not prepared to take the whole burden, need only to watch that there are no economic excesses, so to speak. Now here comes the question of exports and imports too. These will be now, in effect the monopoly of Government, but it is not the kind of state monopoly that is comparable in any way to the monopoly of foreign trade, held for example, by the U.S.S.R. No, here agents come in because it is said that Government has no experience in such matters. Very well, if Government cannot take upon itself the whole responsibility, why should agencies be confined to the old monopolists? Cannot our people be brought in as agents too? It is argued that we have no experience. Experience! In that name, we have always been deprived of any opportunity to learn ourselves. What is there so obstruse about buying and selling that Burmans cannot be supposed to do? If at all they need some more advice cannot Government arrange for that? Added to this the declaration of Japanese currency null and void as legal tender has worked a great havoc upon the people, especially in the countryside. It is curious that while in Burma the Jap currency was declared invalid, it was given some value in some other occupied territories of South East Asia. What guiding reason led British authorities to do that? Is it because they could be more disinterested in those territories as they were non-British colonies? Now that military operations are over the danger of the enemy issuing unlimited volume of Jap currency is already past. Why can't Government fix some value of these currencies as done in those territories and get them into circulation again after taking necessary precautions, while arrangements are made to enable Burma, represented not by the British Government's nominees but by our people's representative, to make due claims that our people ought to get from Japan on international commissions or bodies concerned?
Well, endless arguments are thus given by British imperialists for introducing economic Fascism in Burma. Inflation in our country is assuming ominous proportions. Many are unemployed. People have no money. These and many others form a string of portentous economic factors operating in Burma now. And British Government instead of throwing the doors wide open for the free flow of trade to and from outside, while she herself cannot yet supply us all in sufficient quality and in good quality and time, she is adopting the dog-in-the-manger policy by shutting out goods from other countries, shutting even UNNRA. But this is not the way British imperialism can retrieve her old position. This way prepared defeat and disaster for her. But she is heedless of these. She is desperate. She must recuperate her old imperialism. And therefore she prepared legal sanction for the introduction of economic Fascism in Burma. And what are they?
As my time is short, I will just mention a few of these legal enactments done by a judge in the name of the Governor.
Section 5 of the Special Judges Act, 1943, requires only that the Special Judge will record a memorandum of substance of the statements of the witnesses, and the accused is not entitled as of right to call witnesses he considers. Only witnesses the Judge considers material can be called.
In other words, even in capital cases, the Special Judge tries the accused as in a summary trial generally considered suitable only for minor offences.
There is no right either of appeal or revision from the conviction or sentence of a Special Judge. Even the high Court is barred by the words of Section 6(1) of the Act from interfering in revision. But where a sentence of death is passed, the sentence is subject to review by one Judge of the High Court under Section 6(2). In other words, on a conviction and any sentence following is short of capital one, the accused is left without any means of questioning his conviction and sentence.
By virtue of Section 14 of the Courts (Emergency provisions) Act, 1943, no accused convicted by a first, second or third class Magistrate can appeal against the conviction and sentence. An accused who is convicted by a Special Powers Magistrate cannot appeal unless he is convicted to a term exceeding 5 years' imprisonment. An accused convicted by a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge cannot appeal unless the death sentence is passed against him.
An appeal by an accused who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 5 years is made not to the High Court but to the Sessions Judge, who in these days is also a Special Judge and is generally too busy to give adequate attention to the appeals.
Confessions made to the Police are rendered admissible in evidence by Section 14 of the Act; and the rule against statements alleged to have been made to the Investigating Police Officer by the accused person being proved against him is withdrawn by the rules made under Section 14 of the Act. Thus prosecution is allowed to prove that (a) the accused made a confession to the Police and (b) the accused made certain statement to the police in course of the investigation. The only restrictions on such evidence being used are (a) that the accused at any time the alleged statement was made should not be in police custody and (b) that no threat, coercion and undue influence is proved against the police. The usual dodge of the police is not to make a formal arrest before they get the statement and is always a difficult thing for the accused to prove threat, coercion or undue influence by the police. In the hands of unscrupulous, investigating police officers who want to have convictions to their credit, these are dangerous powers. It will be only the accused's word against that of the police.
I said last time that the British Judicial system in Burma has become like the Japan Kempetai System. Exactly it is. For these amendments of laws at once place our people constantly exposed to unscrupulous police terror as well as to the tyranny of vindictive judges. And we are not unaware of many instances in the districts of interferences by the executive side in judicial matters. It is argued: these laws are temporary and for emergency period only. But where is the emergency situation in our country? While in other countries increasing liberties follow with the cessation of hostilities, here in Burma in the name of emergency people are deprived of their liberty. Through British Parliament and highly placed people, we are told that the British are coming back to Burma with goodwill and for our liberation. Are these emergency laws and economic projects an earnest of their laudable intensions? It is no use prevaricating these facts by condemning statements about legal intricacies which can be understood only by 17 people in Burma out of her 17 millions and so forth. Another argument is that "We could not come down by parachutes and consult you" when we said from the last mass meeting held in this place asking for publication of their projects and plans and urging their final adoption only after public opinion had been consulted. Expressions of this kind, let me remind those in authority, will not enhance their prestige, but will promote a lot of anti-British feelings in this country.
This is how British Government hopes to bring in economic Fascism in Burma. That is how they mean to push it through "legally". That is why there must be the personal rule of Governor. For legally, the Governor is the Dictator of Burma.
That is what explains the disagreement between the Governor and ourselves. We are not asking for the impossible. We are only asking that the Governor should form an Executive Council which will be representative of all principal political groups as he himself has said in his speeches and as an interim Government in our circumstances must always be. We are only asking that this Executive Council, though legally to be solely responsible to the Governor, should as by democratic practice and convention be able to act with collective responsibility to the people. We came down far from our original stand for the formation of a National Government which must consist of all Burmans and which must have all powers. We agree to the reservation of important subjects like defence, External Affairs and Scheduled Areas in the hands of the Governor and we agree to accept the Governor's nominees both Burman and British. We even do not grudge a very important portfolio like Finance being held by one of his nominees. The only thing we ask of Governor is that, though legally he has the sole responsibility for administering the country, he should as by convention democratise his rule. To that we attach one condition that one of our nominees should be given the Home portfolio. When we attach this condition, we do so neither out of malice or spite nor from evil designs. We do so because we are concerned, as former American Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew once said there, not with professions but with such precedents and records that existed in this country. This is, as you can see it, a very moderate proposition. But the Governor somehow or other finds himself unable to entertain it. Hence the deadlock. We have come down so much not because of any weakness on our part, but because we want to avoid any negative action which we do not feel desirable at this trying time when our country has suffered so much for the past three years and more. We have asked only for such minimum conditions even though we know very well that in the Governor's construction of things he holds vital strings not only in a legal sense but also such important subjects as Defence, Finance, and so on, because and only because as I have said, we desire to show our readiness to work for the reconstruction and freedom of our country peacefully. But this is not to be. The powers that be are giving lip service to sweet sentiments while they are at the same time attempting to establish economic fascism in our country. Thus they are willfully shutting their eyes to factual posture of things, going about, openly flouting popular opinion in this country, denying us opportunities to present our case and slandering us in the eyes of the world, trying to undermine our strength in many imaginable ways, and subjecting us to a number of little provocations. But we shall not be provoked. We know we will win in the end, we know our strength and we need not to hustled into action. We will take our own time and will march to our freedom without unnecessary sacrifices on the part of the people. These are the questions we are considering. Let the Governor if he so wishes, evade reality and resort to his ways of manoeuvre, let him resort to his political guerilla tactics and his grand strategy of economic fascism. But we are not perturbed. We know his political guerilla warfare will fail, as the secret of successful guerilla action lies only in the sanction he does not and cannot have.
Very well, then, what is our programme and how do we intend to go about it? You have already known that our objective is the right of our nation to self-determination, and our proposals to the British Government for realising this objective are immediate elections on universal adult suffrage and then convocation of Constituent Assembly. In the meantime we have suggested that there should be a National Government which will be competent to deal with the British Government for whatever arrangements that must be deemed necessary to be done for the eventual transfer of power to the hands of our people. But the British Government merely gives us a White Paper with vague promises about the so-called Promised Land of theirs - Dominion Status within an indefinite period of time. Now that, the British may not give us what we want what shall we do, you will ask? What if no early elections? It won't be difficult for the British Government to hold elections early if only it is willing to do so. Preparations for them can be made within six months. If the British Government says that it cannot finish those preparations, that only proves to be an argument against them. For what is there to do about general elections? Franchise and electoral rolls only. Communications there are sufficient for the purpose of holding elections. In the past some elections had been held in worse conditions of communications. Franchise? That can easily be decided. We have spoken our views on this matter. And we are putting them up again at this Congress. I need not repeat here. Others have done the same. Electoral Rolls? They can be prepared within six months. It has been proved to be possible elsewhere and before. What else? There must be conditions for fair and free elections. We agree; but we are not in the way. "The country must be at peace." Exactly. I think I can claim that barring some dacoities which existed before and which exist now and in other countries too, including Britain, ours is about the most peaceful country in the east. Very well then, inspire of such arguments, elections may not be held. Then the logic of historical events will take its own course and decide for us. We will reconstruct our country with the help of our people and we will reconstruct our way to freedom? We are placing a rough programme before you at this Congress. I need not dilate upon them. I wish to say only a few things. Though it is a fairly comprehensive programme, we need not be too ambitious at first. We start on a modest scale in a developing form. And we must do first things first and begin with basic things such as relief, supplies, transport, communications, law and order, education, housing and public health on a progress scale. And we must for our success apply principles of co-operation wherever necessary and practicable.
Supposing we get elections all right, but not Constituent Assembly? Our view on this is that Constituent Assembly does not descend to us, it can be and will be forged by the very logic of events. So if the general election comes, we will, with your support, win it and force British imperialism to meet us squarely or else the inevitable music. If there are no such opportunities for determining the destiny of our people and freedom. This does not mean the static theory of parallel Government tactics which some people suggest. This is the dynamic people's strategy and tactics which is far superior to the Atomic bomb, for once our people are organised and fully mobilised conscious of their creative power and historic destiny then no dead material force, however great, can stand this people's general offensive.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * IV * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This leads me to come to the task of organising and mobilising our entire people in the country for our common national objective. Of course the first thing before us is national unity. Now we have the AFPFL as the central organisation symbolising this. We must further consolidate its position, systematise it and develop it. We have placed our suggestions for its constitution and further improvement before you. But here I want to discuss what we mean by national unity and what form it should take. By national unity, we don't mean only unity; we mean the unity of the entire people, irrespective of race, religion, sex and sectarian and party interests, in action and not in words for national takes and objectives. As for the form this country is to take, there are some views that all parties should merge their identities completely with the national organisation. Those holding such views are genuinely concerned that the existence of parties may undermine the strength of the national movement. But we must face this question as a practical one. Parties will exist even after their formal abolition if I understand by "Party," it means an organisation of people holding more or less the same view on questions of the day and representing definite interests whether they are the interests of workers or peasants or others. What is important is not exactly that they exist or do not exist but that they will engage in partisan activities detrimental to national interests. On all national questions, they should and must come together and work together without any sectarianism in the affair. Their role as parties should be confined to such as persuading the greater bulk of such representative body of the national organisation as this conference to their school of thought. In other words their role should be educative and not partisan. If this is so, the existence of parties will not be a source of weakness of our organisation. In this way we can develop dynamically to a higher and higher form of unity till we have the best we can have. This is our primary task.
Next we must tackle the many questions of propaganda, organisation and reconstruction. To be able to do all these, we must have the personnel to carry out these things - personnel prepared to work for the love of work for the nation, and qualified to do it, those who will plan and execute and train people who will execute. In other words, we must have a well-established General Headquarters, planning, directing and executing political and economic tasks. In this respect we need many volunteers from those qualified sections of the people prepared to place their services at the disposal of the nation. I therefore send out this call to those who will, to come out and serve in our organisation and for that purpose to come and register their names and say what and how they can do to help us in our tasks. Their services will no doubt be gratefully received and remembered by the nation.
But this is not enough. This general headquarters must be equipped with up-to-date technique and apparatus and facilities for propaganda, organisation or any other task. This only brings us to the last but most important question - Funds. We must have Funds, and Funds again. Of course we shall devise ways and means of getting it in a self-supporting way, but first and always the public must come forward to finance this organisation which is after all their organisation.
So then, these are the tasks before all of us. I say then to you: come and let us do them and achieve them, for it is in our power to make or mar our destiny. Above all, have no doubt about your creative power which can move mountains and even Heaven. And what Heaven on this earth can stand before the united will and wisdom of our people conscious of their strength and power and harnessing it firmly to the chariot wheels of history? We are out for ordered progress and we will, with your hearty co-operation, win our freedom peacefully and speedily.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
***** Anawratha - One of the greatest Kings of Burma in Burmese History. He reigned over one thousand years ago with his capital in Pagan. He was the first monarch to unify the whole country, was responsible for introducing Buddhism in Upper Burma by defeating the reactionary clericalism of the Aris who were the corrupt priests of the day. Feudalism was introduced in Burma in his time.
***** Aris - Priests in Anawratha's time before the introduction of proper Buddihism. They preached such nefarious doctrines that any sinner could escape from sinning by means of some incantations. They directed every bride to be sent to their monastries on the first day of the marriage, etc.