It seems like history is ending faster than expected. Here’s a FT report from Burma:
“I almost left the country thinking they’re moving a little too fast. I never thought I would say that about Myanmar.”
Those are the words of Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s deputy foreign minister, after a trip this week to Burma, which the Norwegians call by its official name of Myanmar. Mr Barth Eide said that political reformers in the country “have the upper hand” and were moving quickly to try to consolidate their position before there was a counter-offensive from hardliners. “The danger is not that it’s not sincere,” he said of the push to open up the political process, “but that the counter forces will set in.”
The deputy minister, who met senior officials in the new military-backed civilian government, cited among the changes:
– A promise to release political prisoners, the first tranche of which could come imminently
– Easy access to previously banned websites, including those critical of the Burmese government
– A statement by the government’s chief censor that the country should consider ending all forms of censorship
– Lively debates in parliament, which were being filmed and shown on television. This must be “mindboggling” for the people, he said.
– A change of tone in the official newspapers, which had dropped slogans bashing western news organisations and “foreign propaganda”
– The words of Aung San Suu Kyi, who told him she thought Thein Sein, the newly “elected” president, was sincere in his push for a political opening.
And here’s a NYT report from North Korea.
RASON, North Korea — A seaside casino resort developed by a Hong Kong company chauffeurs Chinese officials and businesspeople from the nearby border in a red Humvee.
A Chinese construction company is expanding a bazaar where North Korean entrepreneurs sell Chinese-made goods to their compatriots at market prices, a sign of nascent capitalism. Trucks bring coal from mines in northeast China to a pier leased by the Chinese where the coal is shipped to Shanghai. A Russian company is leasing another pier.
Those are some of the seeds of foreign enterprise in this remote northern port town that North Korean officials are seeking to nurture. Grappling with an economy that has stagnated from decades of communist central planning, North Korean leaders are slowly opening their isolated nation to foreign investment.
And of course the larger-than-life dictators (Saddam, Gaddafi) are gradually being replaced by bland technocrats. It looks like history will end at some point during the 21st century. So what comes next? Didn’t Fukuyama say something about using technology to change human nature? Will that be the next phase of humanity’s reckless journey into the unknown? I await your answers in the comment section.
HT: Tyler Cowen