Year

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of History and Politics - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to demonstrate the legacy and historical significance of the Burma Socialist Party (BSP), and so, to solve major puzzles for scholars of Burmese history, particularly with regard to how the links between civilian and military groups in politics in Burma came about. Thus, this thesis addresses a major gap in the current historical literature, which has tended to underplay or ignore the role of the BSP. In so doing this work draws a wide range of interviews, archives and hitherto unused research sources, as well as the historical analyses in English and Burmese contribute. The thesis begins by examining the historical and cultural antecedents of the BSP. The party was formed as a major element of Burma’s independence movement, which developed from a core group of nationalist leaders. Among these leaders were founders and key members of the future BSP. The Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (PRP), the prewar version of the BSP, emerged in the struggle for independence and played a key role in that struggle as a core group around which the future state was founded. After the War, the BSP came out as separate party to compete with the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). The Tatmadaw played a key role in this process, and thus the process itself was a crucial turning point in Burma’s history. The BSP was the main political party after Burma’s independence in 1948. This situation can be seen through looking at the way the Anti-Fascist Peoples’ Freedom League (AFPFL) operated as the umbrella of the BSP. The BSP shaped domestic and foreign policies in the period 1948-58, and provided the basis of various forms of government, even at times of internal division. It was in these circumstances that the military aspect of Burmese politics became important. Careful examination of the sources dealing with the major political influences of the post-independence period shows that the Burmese military took their ideas from the BSP and launched their bid for power by taking over from the BSP.

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