“From Dictatorship to Democracy” was written at the request of the late U Tin Maung Win, a prominent exile Burmese democrat who was then editor of Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal).
The preparation of this text was based over forty years of research and writing on nonviolent struggle, dictatorships, totalitarian systems, resistance movements, political theory, sociological analysis, and other fields.
"One of my major concerns for many years has been how people could prevent and destroy dictatorships. This has been nurtured in part because of a belief that human beings should not be dominated and destroyed by such regimes."
"That belief has been strengthened by readings on the importance of human freedom, on the nature of dictatorships (from Aristotle to analysts of totalitarianism), and histories of dictatorships (especially the Nazi and Stalinist systems)."
The “Monkey Master” fable
"A Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji, for example, outlines this neglected understanding of political power quite well:
In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).
Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.
One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys:
“Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?”
The others said: “No, they grew naturally.”
The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?”
The others replied: “Yes, we all can.”
The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”
Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.
On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.
Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddle-headedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”