A series of excellent weekly essays on Thailand and Burma have recently come to my attention. Written by Awzar Thi – “the pen name of a member of the Asian Human Rights Commission with over 15 years of experience as an advocate of human rights and the rule of law in Thailand and Burma” – these well-informed, critical and insightful commentaries are consolidated at the website Rule of Lords.

Awzar Thi’s contribution this week is titled “The inanity of dictatorship“. To give you a taste of the critical style, the essay concludes by noting that:

The tragedy of Burma is that it is a country full of brilliant and creative people, none of whom are welcome to contribute anything to the state. As in all dictatorships, it is the dull and mediocre who get ahead. Cardboard-cutout army officers parade nightly around the television news, followed by their untalented children performing bad MTV covers and selling toothpaste…

…Dictatorship is bad not just because it permits abuses and perverts institutions, but because it willfully denies talent and saps enthusiasm. It obliges people to be champions of their own debasement. While a few openly resist, most unwillingly go along until it looks safe to do something else. Whatever else happens, the struggle for change in Burma will have to overcome the accumulated suspicions of these millions who have repeatedly had things put in front of them only to have them cruelly snatched away again.

Readers with interests in Thailand or Burma will find much provocative and important material in the first few months of Awzar Thi’s commentaries. The essay titled “Dictators use referendums too” is, I should point out, particularly relevant to some of the recent discussions here on New Mandala.