The limits of democracy and individualism

The limits of democracy and individualism



Posted by Raja Petra   

I begin with two familiar quotes:

“A life unexamined is not worth living,” said Socrates.

“Work hard as if you are to live forever, devote your beingness to the Creator as if you are to die tomorrow,” goes a saying attributed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

In this third part of our discussion, we will talk about the world within and this relates to the limits of democracy and individualism. I use the word “personacracy” or “deeply personal democracy” to describe what is it that we need to know about ourselves in order to navigate through the politics of representation of the modern world and signs and symbols of the postmodern environment we inhabit. We need, as an American social critic Frederic Jameson called a “cartography of the self” or a GPS system of our inner and outer world to function in this environment.

But first, what does being and “individual” mean? Let me offer a perspective that you can build upon. I need you to listen carefully to the concepts. They might make sense.


How limiting can the term “individualist” mean if it hovers merely within the realm of one’s beingness in relation to this world wherein information is mistaken for knowledge and propaganda for truth within the assumption that what we know can merely be grasped by the senses five?

If one’s entire beingness and becomingness is shackled by it being shaped by the apparatuses of the modern state, as the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci once said, and if one’s understanding of the world is merely a mimic of what politics, culture and scientism has dictated, then the word “individualism” is but a term coined so that the personhood in each and every one of us becomes an object to be studied through the process of Othering. Within this delimiting and shackling context then, I must name myself less as an individual and more as a “personacrat.”

My personacratic self primarily aims at understanding first and foremost my inner world with its attendant beauty and self-government, evolving personhood, destroying of paradigms and perpetual awareness of the supraconsciousness of what lies within. I am a personacrat derived from a conceptual meadow I coin as “personacracy”; a government (kratos) of the self, by the self, for the self.

I reject all forms of democracy; the illusionary system of government which has lost its meaning since it was first conceptualised. Personacracy allows me to be in this world of illusion, of Maya, but not be and become part of it. I am thus in this world but not of this world.


The government I have created in my wakefulness entails me to mediate between the I and the Thou-ness of the scheme of things. I conjure Existence as the highest ideal, going beyond merely thinking therefore I exist, rather believing that I exist within a universe of Existence. I persist to exist within this encapsulated notion called mind and body and persist to believe that when this body rots, death becomes the beginning of perpetual existence. I am eternal within this form and shape of beingness, until eternity calls upon me to be me with Nature and to be a witness to the Truth I have longed to meet.

I am truth within a Truth of greater magnitude. I am one and indivisible within a greater design of Oneness and Indivisibility. I utilize my senses five with guidance from my Inner Self in turn guided by a counter-balancing self within. And within these faculties and the political organs within, my entire personhood is a government in itself to be ethnically mastered and maneuvered through the oceans of mercy I call the world outside.

I am thus as such, closer to my Self than my jugular vein! In what ways then, am I not individualistic? Here are a few: I once wept when I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet; I once believed that man can rise to become Superman, until I sank deeper within myself to become a vicegerent of the Supreme Spirit; I once believed that life is to be lived until I heard one say the life unexamined is not worth living; I once believed that we live once and then die, until I discovered that death to me comes by every nightfall and I live a new life by every break of day; I once heard of a distant heaven and hell, until I name them so as I can be in them; I once let time pass, until I became it and gave what it asked for; I once thought loneliness is bliss until I began to desire of its unspeakable beauty; I once asked who should govern and why must I be governed until I found the ways to govern those within me who longed to be governed; I once marveled at creation, destruction and sustenance until I found that I am all in one Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer.

I am this world within and the world without but not with it. Because if I am part of it, I will be apart from the Thou I longed to be part of! I am a traveler passing through time. In my journey I have met mice and men, savages and savants, politicians and philosophers, economists and eco-feminists.

In my journey I have met Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, Foucault, Al Ghazalli and Al Arabi, and philosophers beyond the type of individualism I have been told to mimic. I am taking to the road not taken, for it should make a difference and as I pass through, I kept looking at open windows lest I be oblivious of what this world may teach.

Life and death

And as I pass through I become more subdued in my anger of what has wrought this world and made men wretched of the earth as I know that this journey is an arduous one; one which begins with a web of guess but will end at a point of certainty.

And at the moment of death, the end of the road, I am meeting a self of whom I am familiar with, who I once met before this journey begins. I create the rock I choose to roll so that one should imagine me happy. I can soar among eagles and dwell among sparrows.

Life, to me is not an end game but a journey towards Light, which has neither a beginning nor an end. And hence, why am I not an individual and democrat?

Because the world is too much for me. If all the world’s a stage, I insist not being a mere player but to create one for myself so that I can, in the end hold it like a crystal ball – the world and the stage and its players in all. Is there not beauty in personacracy, than in democracy?

I believe, therefore I am a personacrat!

I hope you have questions on this part of the lecture and I hope you will be able to understand a perspective of the self better.

In the last part I shall talk about your role as students, by way of learning from your environment, by naming it, and transforming it when the time for change requires you to do so.



Modified and edited the original comment written By Yee Chut Ngeow and blogged by By labisman.

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article Yee Chut Ngeow and blogged by By labisman . I hope that the Yee Chut Ngeow and labisman. could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens

 This is how to story goes. . . . . .

There were 3 mentally ill patients who harbored the delusion that that they were Jesus Christ in the Yipsilanti State Hospital of Michigan.

One day a researcher psychologist by the name of Milton Rokeach had a bright idea. He decided to place the 3 self-proclaimed Messiah in the same therapy group. He thought that by exposing the three to similar delusions of the other he could bring them back to reality.

To cut the story short – no – Rokeach did not managed to provoke any lessening of the patients’ delusions.

The amazing thing is that the three ended up accommodating each other, and set up the very first ‘Society of Christs’, in order to persist in their delusions.

The result of his experiment was a hugely insightful study into the basis of delusional belief systems.

Since the advent in communications that brought the whole world together we have seen this absurdity being played out time and again with disastrous consequences amongst the religious, national, racial, tribal etc groups.

And now this absurdity is being played out by our beloved Saviors – various Burmese opposition groups in exile. The way they have been behaving these few days – each asserting its ‘absoluteness’, each asserting its ‘rights’, even using underhand tactics to get an upper hand on each other, was completely stupid.

I always hated politics. I despised it. I detested the hypocrisy and the one sided chauvinism being played out on both sides. Yes, I am talking about Myanmar Military Generals as much as various Burmese opposition groups in exile. I don’t want to elaborate any further here.

In contrast we could see the high moral standards and selfless service demonstrated by remarkable individuals like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 88 Generation Student leaders, Ethnic Minority leaders and NLD leaders.

I am not writing to condemn any particular groups or individuals, but to point out that race, or religion or ideology based politics has no relevance anymore. It is not even that the parties have to get together to come to some amicable power sharing agreements. No – that would only result in an absurd “Society of Christs”. The whole damm thing about racial, religious and ideological differences simply has to be dropped. And it can happen.

The last Monk led peaceful protest was nothing short of being a spectacular demonstration of it. The whole event was simply magical. I can only use Divine Intervention to describe the unfolding of events.

Winning the election was the easy part, as we are fighting a big, bad, stinking, rotten something that everybody wants to get rid of. But moving forward from here is going to be much more difficult.

We have to face up to our own evils – personal ambitions, the petty differences, not to mention the soaring crude oil and commodities prices, the looming recession and sabotage from the Tatmadaw stooges. People’s revolution has to continue. It is going to require active participation from all, and it has to continue in a much more organized and efficient manner. The collective voices of everybody has to continue to demand rightness.

  • It has to heal the mistrust brought about by decades of misgovernance.  
  • It has to bring back to balance the distributions of wealth and opportunities.
  • It has to wash clean of all differences and prevent any willful efforts to create separation.
  • I have absolutely no idea how to proceed from here, except that to pledge my 100% support and participation. The rest I will have to take it one day at a time.


Reform Is Not Revolution

Modified and edited the original comment written By TAY TIAN YAN/ Sin Chew Daily and blogged by By labisman    .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article in the Sin Chew Daily  newspaper by TAY TIAN YAN. I hope that the Sin Chew Daily  newspaper and Ms.  TAY TIAN YAN could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens

Change is not revolution. The new civilian governments of future Myanmar must understand the difference.

Revolution is to overturn the existing regime, to break its original system, as well as to negate its original policy. In short, everything has to be restart.

In the 1799 French Revolution, the people overthrew the monarchy of Louis XVI to establish the Republic. The new regime negated the old order. One of the leaders, Robespierre said: “Louis must die for the sake of the Republic”. As a result, Louis was executed.

However, the Republic had also entered into a major catastrophe. The latest event was in the 1980s. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev, wanted to reform the Soviet Union.

His “Glasnot” (open up) and “Perestoika” (reform) are like two scalpels and cut on the patient- Soviet Union. The Soviet Union finally died within the next few years.

The history tells the world that changing the politics is different from changing the hairstyle. It cannot be changed immediately. Any changes must be gradual and step by step. It is especially for the deep-rooted old thinking, where patience and persuasion are needed for slow inspiration.

New thinking also need to be nurtured and instilled for a long period before they can become the mainstream values.

The thinking of racism and privileges will not disappear overnight. Of course, these thinkings may not dominate the country as what they were in the past. Nevertheless, they will still exist in some people’s mind and mixed into the ideology of some political parties.

The new governments must be patient. They must also avoid making drastic changes. The government can review the deviations of the Old Economic Policy silently. However, it does not need any publicity. Otherwise, the rebound will be very intense. The people with bad intention might strike back and it may create social differences.

After all, reform is not revolution. (By TAY TIAN YAN/ Sin Chew Daily)

Added as Comment ( Somewhere from Raja Petra’s web) 

Maybe we should do what Bakri Musa has suggested, hit the donkey on the head with a piece of wood. Than Shwe may realize his unwelcome then. 

The Sr General Than Shwe has not appeared in public. It is likely (or rather it should be) that Burmese will boo him wherever and whenever he is seen in public. This is a prospect the Sr General Than Shwe will have to face for every extra day he remains in power. May I suggest that all right thinking Burmese start a booing campaign from today. Whenever the Sr General Than Shwe appears in public people must boo. Other things that we can do are to turn our backs when they are present or just ignore them. Let’s make them feel the unwelcome they are denying again.

Its time for you to leave now, Sr General Than Shwe.

Either go in peace or you will be kicked out bouncing on your head.

The people will soon start booing you everywhere you go.

Worse your wife will also get booed.

Soon you must lock yourself up inside your house and office and cannot venture out at all.Leave now.

Get out.

Be gone.