The Disorder in Order: the Army-State in Burma since 1962 by Donald M. Seekins (Bangkok: White Lotus, 2002). 403 pp. US$25.00.*


            The Disorder in Order examines Burma’s history of “regime entropy” following the March 1962 coup d’etat that ended the country’s brief experiment with parliamentary government. Implementing socialist economic policies in central Burma and a hard line against ethnic minority and communist insurgents in the Border Areas, Ne Win’s Army-State presided over the country’s fall from prosperity to Least Developed Nation status by 1987. The following year, a new martial law regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), brutally suppressed a nationwide movement for democracy that drew on the country’s colonial-era traditions of revolutionary nationalism. Although SLORC promoted an open economy, including foreign private investment, the second Army-State operates on the same assumptions as its predecessor: that government is synonymous with pacification, unquestioned central control and cultural homogenization.

The author argues that while the post-1988 junta, renamed the State Peace and Development Council in 1997, claims a unique mission in defending national unity and social order, its policies generate political disunity and socio-economic disorder. Tragically, genuine order, the key to Burma’s development, remains out of reach as the 21st century dawns.




            Introduction: the Buddha from Arakan

            Chapter One: the Historical Roots of Military Rule

            Chapter Two: Regime Entropy – the First Army-State, 1962-74

            Chapter Three: Regime Entropy – the Socialist Republic of the

                 Union of Burma, 1974-88

            Chapter Four: the State and Nation at War, 1988

            Chapter Five: SLORC in Power - the 1990 Election

            Chapter Six: SLORC in Power - Building a New Army-State

            Chapter Seven: the Disorder in Order



            * Order from: White Lotus Press, <>

            e-mail: <>



Dr. Seekins is Professor of Southeast Asia Studies at Meio University in Okinawa, Japan. Having followed developments in Burma closely since 1988, he has visited the country numerous times and has written extensively on Burma and Burma-Japan relations.