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LESSON 3361 Mon 22 Jun 2020 Free Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online Analytical Insight Net for Discovery of Metteyya Awakened One with Awareness Universe (FOAINDMAOAU) For The Welfare, Happiness, Peace of All Sentient and Non-Sentient Beings and for them to Attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal. From KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA in 116 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org At WHITE HOME 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL III Stage, Prabuddha Bharat Puniya Bhumi Bengaluru Magadhi Karnataka State PRABUDDHA BHARAT DO GOOD PURIFY MIND AND ENVIRONMENT Words of the Metteyya Awakened One with Awareness from Free Online step by step creation of Virtual tour in 3D Circle-Vision 360° for Kushinara Nibbana Bhumi Pagoda https://youtube.com/watch?v=5WCtgqtehOo&list=RD5WCtgqtehOo&start_radio=1&t=6 Seven English songs on Buddhism Indian Buddhist 3.77K subscribers #buddhism #Englishsongs #tathagat #IndianBuddhist. Our fb page link https://facebook.com/WeAreIndianB… Seven English songs on Buddhism #buddhism #Englishsongs #tathagat #IndianBuddhist. Our fb page link https://www.facebook.com/WeAreIndianBuddhists youtube.com https://srv1.worldometers.info/ 7,792,958,373 Current World Population - COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Recovered: 4,796,901 Last updated: June 21, 2020, 00:10 GMT May all be Happy, Well and Secure! May all live Long! May all have calm, quiet, alert, attentive and equanimity Mind with a clear understanding that Everything is Changing!
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Current World Population - COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Recovered:

Last updated: June 21, 2020, 00:10 GMT
May all be Happy, Well and Secure!

May all live Long!

May all have calm, quiet, alert, attentive and equanimity Mind with a clear understanding that Everything is Changing!

Coronavirus Cases:




Current World Population-38,569,994 Net population growth this year-48,070 Net population growth today 7,792,958,373 Births this year-48,070 Births today-Recovered:4,732,888 from COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic 

World Population

66,479,811 Births this year
82,854 Births today
27,909,817 Deaths this year

34,784 Deaths today

38,569,994 Net population growth this year

48,070Net population growth today

Government & Economics

$ 3,258,127,568 Public Healthcare expenditure today
$ 2,227,987,558 Public Education expenditure today
$ 1,012,837,855 Public Military expenditure today
37,385,673 Cars produced this year
71,544,221 Bicycles produced this year
118,718,094 Computers produced this year

Society & Media

1,271,909 New book titles published this year
102,776,286 Newspapers circulated today
144,146 TV sets sold worldwide today
1,405,176 Cellular phones sold today
$ 62,927,628 Money spent on videogames today
4,595,737,087 Internet users in the world today
56,667,094,021 Emails sent today
1,495,491 Blog posts written today
168,240,031 Tweets sent today
1,560,881,768 Google searches today


2,467,869 Forest loss this year (hectares)
3,322,419 Land lost to soil erosion this year (ha)
17,159,064,027 CO2 emissions this year (tons)
5,694,507 Desertification this year (hectares)
4,646,897 Toxic chemicals released in the environment this year (tons)


843,915,666 Undernourished people in the world
1,694,992,081 Overweight people in the world
759,366,378 Obese people in the world
6,614 People who died of hunger today
$ 125,091,899 Money spent for obesity related diseases in the USA today
$ 40,885,050Money spent on weight loss programs in the USA today


2,069,698,264 Water used this year (million L)
399,588 Deaths caused by water related diseases this year
800,148,456 People with no access to a safe drinking water source


100,944,294 Energy used today (MWh), of which:
85,929,483- from non-renewable sources (MWh)
15,201,330- from renewable sources (MWh)
632,521,962,748 Solar energy striking Earth today (MWh)
20,703,652 Oil pumped today (barrels)
1,505,198,228,842 Oil left (barrels)
15,697 Days to the end of oil (~43 years)
1,095,213,563,482 Natural Gas left (boe)

57,643 Days to the end of natural gas

4,315,526,169,682 Coal left (boe)

148,811 Days to the end of coal


6,159,945 Communicable disease deaths this year

231,245 Seasonal flu deaths this year
3,606,770 Deaths of children under 5 this year
20,179,566 Abortions this year
146,665 Deaths of mothers during birth this year
41,885,253 HIV/AIDS infected people
797,680 Deaths caused by HIV/AIDS this year
3,897,108 Deaths caused by cancer this year
465,438 Deaths caused by malaria this year
3,273,676,422 Cigarettes smoked today
2,372,088 Deaths caused by smoking this year
1,186,792 Deaths caused by alcohol this year
508,839 Suicides this year
$ 189,826,865,994 Money spent on illegal drugs this year
640,538 Road traffic accident fatalities this year

27,909,817 Deaths this year

34,784 Deaths today
COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic - Coronavirus Cases:

9,037,142 - Deaths: 469,595

Last updated: June 21, 2020, 23:50 GMT


May all be Happy, Well and Secure!

May all have Calm, Quiet, Alert, Attentive and Equanimity Mind with a Clear Understanding that Everything is Changing!

May all those who died attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal and Rest in Peace
as they followed the following original words of the Buddha the Mettiyya Awakened One with awraeness :

Countries and territories without any cases of COVID-19

1. Comoros,2. North Korea,3. Yemen,4.
The Federated States of Micronesia,5. Kiribati,6. Solomon Islands,7.
The Cook Islands,8. Micronesia,9. Tong,10. The Marshall Islands
Palau,11. American Samoa,12. South Georgia,13. South Sandwich
15. Aland Islands,16.Svalbard,17. Jan
Mayen Islands,18. Latin America,19.Africa,20.British Indian Ocean
Territory,21.French Southern
Island,25. Cocos
(Keeling) Islands,26. Heard Island,27. McDonald Islands,28. Niue,29.
Norfolk Island,30. Pitcairn,31. Solomon Islands,32. Tokelau,33. United
States Minor Outlying Islands,34. Wallis and Futuna Islands,
36. Turkmenistan,37. Tuvalu,38. Vanuatu

as they are following the original words of the Buddha Metteyya Awakened One with Awareness:

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

1. Dasa raja dhamma, 2. kusala 3. Kuutadanta Sutta dana, 4.
priyavacana,5. artha cariya ,6. samanatmata, 7. Samyutta
Nikayaaryaor,ariyasammutidev 8. Agganna Sutta,9. Majjima Nikaya,10.
arya” or “ariy, 11.sammutideva,12. Digha Nikaya,13. Maha
Sudassana,14.Dittadhammikatthasamvattanika-dhamma ,15. Canon Sutta ,16. Pali Canon and Suttapitaka ,17. Iddhipada ,18. Lokiyadhamma and Lokuttaradhamma,19. Brahmavihàra,20. Sangahavatthu ,21. Nathakaranadhamma ,22. Saraniyadhamma ,23. Adhipateyya Dithadhammikattha,24. dukkha,25. anicca,26. anatta,27. Samsara,28. Cakkamatti Sihananda Sutta,29.Chandagati,30.Dosagati, 31. Mohagati,32.Bhayagati,33.Yoniso manasikara,34. BrahmavihàraSangaha vatthu,35. Nathakaranadhamma,
36.SaraniyadhammaAdhipateyya,37. Dithadhammikatth38.Mara,39.Law of Kamma,

40.Vasettha Sutta in Majjhima Nikaya

Ambattha Sutta in Digha Nikaya












Sigalovada Sutta

Brahmajala Sutta

Digha Nikaya (Mahaparinibbana-sutta

many greedy leaders of the countries are harrasing their downtrodden,
underprevilaged subjects by permenant curfew/ lockdown making them
unemployed followed by hunger.




LiorPoliti compass compass real estate lior compassny GIF

Buddhism, kingship and the
quest for legitimacy


Buddha Buddhism GIF - Buddha Buddhism Statue GIFs

Peter Gyallay-Pap

Cambodians have since World War II endured an array of short-lived
regimes unmatched by any Asian country in number and intensity.
1 The
most recent attempt to start anew, with the second post-war Kingdom of
Cambodia, was carried out with massive United Nations intervention in the
early 1990s as Cambodia became the only Asian party-state to shed its
communist mantle following similar reversals in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union. Comparable political reconstruction challenges were
faced following the overthrow of the millenarian Khmer Rouge regime by
the Vietnamese army in early 1979 (People
s Republic of Kampuchea); the
fall of the pro-American republican regime in 1975 (Democratic Kampuchea);
coup d’état followed by the deposition of the monarchy in 1970 (Khmer
Republic); an authoritarian monarchy (
first post-war Kingdom of Cambodia
revised version) two years after gaining independence from indirect French
rule in 1953; and an interregnum of French-sponsored parliamentarism after
1945 (
first post-war Kingdom of Cambodia). One could go further and
mention the tumultuous changes during World War II that a
ffected all of
Southeast Asia; the strains of Cambodia
s accommodation with colonial
France, preceded in turn by the interregnum of King Ang Duang
s rule in
60, when Cambodia regained its sovereignty after centuries of unstable
rule marked by internecine struggles linked to territorial encroachments by
neighbouring Siam and Vietnam. Political stability has not been a hallmark
of Cambodian history, modern or pre-modern, but the post-World War II
attempts to establish a modern, or post-traditional, polity, as its victims
especially in the 1970s bear witness, have been especially tragic.

My main task in this essay is to explore why Cambodia has not evolved
into the modern, democratic nation-state that its new elites, including the
young King Sihanouk, aspired to after the war. What is it about Cambodia
s political culture that has impeded development towards a goal to which
post-war leaders, whether of the left or right, have given and continue to give
so much lip-service? For all these new regimes foundered, most on the chrys-
alis of political legitimacy. Delving into this seemingly elusive task, however,
begs the question of how political science can gain a grasp of Cambodian
political culture and its vicissitudes with the vocabulary and tools available to
it. How can political science begin to make sense of the heavy cultural and
historical baggage that shapes questions of politics in post-traditional
Cambodia? For all post-war regimes sought, willy-nilly, to justify their exist-
ence and authority to rule through appeals, or reactions, to the cultural and
political cloth of both Theravada Buddhism, here understood as a localized
articulation of a wider Indian-derived religion and civilizational culture, and
the people-centred kingship that has been tied to it.

An entry point we can readily identify are three constants that have run
through the
flux of post-Angkorian Cambodian political history, namely, the
Buddhist monarchy, the Theravada
Sangha (community of monks), and the
village-based society of ethnic lowland Khmer, who to this day comprise
between 80 and 85 per cent of Cambodia
s population. These three elements
are again embedded, after the turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s, as the o
– ‘Nation, Religion, King’ – of the modern Cambodian polity
that emerged after World War II. In this essay, I use a deconstructed read-
ing of this triune symbolism,
first articulated in the mainland Theravada
countries by the Sandhurst-educated Thai King Wachirawut (1910
where the modern western concept of nationalism was conjoined with the
older indigenous symbols of kingship and
Sangha to create a civic religion of
loyalty to the nation. This nationalist discourse only entered the Cambodian
vocabulary in the 1930s through a small coterie of western-educated and
fluenced individuals who, in claiming to speak for the Khmer people,
assumed the reigns of political power after World War II (cf.
infra, n. 32). The
point I wish to make here is that, for political scientists in particular, any
discussion of political legitimacy in Cambodia that neglects to factor in these
constituent elements, of which the village community/societal structure is
fundamental in terms of its dependence on the existence of the other two
(Kalab 1976: 155), risks being irrelevant.


Siem Reap Cambodia GIF - SiemReap Cambodia CambodiaTour GIFs

Political science, legitimacy, and Cambodia


Cambodia Politics
Journeyman Pictures
Earlier this year it appeared Cambodia was sliding into an all out
dictatorship. But weeks before an important donor meeting the leader has
pardoned his rivals.
A few weeks ago, opposition leader Sam Rainsy was in exi
Cambodia Politics
2006 Earlier this year it appeared Cambodia was sliding into an all out
dictatorship. But weeks before an important donor meeting the leader
has pardon…

The problem of the extreme volatility of post-war Cambodian politics has as
a phenomenon received scant attention among political scientists. The
remarkable paucity of political science studies on Cambodia (the sub-
field of
international relations being a minor exception), given the social and polit-
ical catastrophes that have beset the country, is due only in small part to
Cambodia having been sealed for decades from independent scholarly
2 A more cogent reason is intractability. Political scientists have as a scholarly community simply lagged behind cultural anthropologists, social
and cultural historians, students of religion, and other social science scholars
in developing approaches conducive to understanding non-western societies
and conceptual systems on their own terms.
3 Various neo-positivist method-
ologies, while subject to recent challenges in several areas of social science
discourse, still largely prevail in a political science as yet incapable of
acknowledging them as products of the collective self-understanding and
language of a western industrial bourgeoisie.

In this essay, I draw as a corrective on work done in contemporary
political theory, understood here as an activity of experientially grounded
inquiry, or as Sheldon Wolin once felicitously put it, of critical
grounded in experience
. Political theory as a vocation in political science,
whose most radical exemplar may be Eric Voegelin (1901
1985), is not empty
conjecturing or opining about how human beings organize themselves in
society but is, rather, a hermeneutical or noetic
attempt at formulating the
meaning of (a society
s) existence by explicating the content of a definite
class of experiences (and whose) argument is not arbitrary but derives its
validity from the aggregate of experiences to which it must permanently refer
for empirical control
(Voegelin 1952: 64). One attribute of such inquiry is
that it does not subordinate theoretical relevance to method, where discip-
lines are organized around certain
a priori principles rather than the content-
area being investigated. While this doesn
t mean rejecting the systematic
results that studies based on
a priori epistemologies produce, one must be
aware of their limitations. For political science, it means going beyond the
phenomenalist interpretation of politics in terms of calculative
reason, rational action, contract, and consent
(Cooper 1999: 166). A more
inclusive theory of politics requires
an examination and analysis of the full
breath of the realms of being in which human beings participate
(ibid.: 7).
For example, in place of a positivist theory of the state based on an aprioris-
tic concept stipulating juridical content, invariably in the form of western
constitutionalism, a more adequate theory of the state is one whose
atic center is located . . . in the fundamental human experiences that give rise
to the phenomenon of the state
(Voegelin 2001: 5).

As a counterpoint to phenomenalist rationality, critical political theory
entails exploring and analysing the natural conditions of the human being,
including experiences of non-rational modes of being and thought that are
responsible for human culture. It allows for a process of critically clarifying
modes of being as expressed symbolically in myth, ritual, stories, cultic
actions, sacred texts, language, and the like (Cooper 1999: 167). As an onto-
logical philosophical anthropology in the Schelerian sense (i.e. showing the
human person
s position in and towards the whole of being), it includes in its
ambit the religious or spiritual dimensions that had been separated out from
positivist social science. In this respect, concepts such a
motivating centre,
ordering spirit, or form or foundation are more critical to understanding political society than any isolated examination of doctrines such as sover-
eignty, contract theory, or, for that matter, legitimacy.
4 Moreover, such a
philosophical anthropology integrates various modes of human experience
rather than splitting them into such familiar dichotomies as culture and
nature, mind and matter, heredity and environment, spiritual and secular,
religious and political, subjective and objective (Cooper 1999: 170).
5 Central
for the validity of this approach is expanding the range of evidence beyond
the self-understanding of western society. Voegelin built on Weber in insist-
ing on the importance of mastering non-western sources and acquiring a
wider-ranging comparative knowledge. For how else can we appreciate
s projection of enlightened reason in the eighteenth-century context
into a legitimizing source for her
mission civilisatrice in Indo-China as
amounting to the imposition of
reasonon other people whether they were
convinced of its reasonableness or not (
ibid.: 347)?

A starting point for most discussions on legitimacy in western political
discourse has been Weber
s classification of three alternative claims
rational-legal authority, traditional authority, and charismatic authority
where the former ineluctably trumps the other claims on grounds that the
conventionalization of social life, itself a product of the disenchantment of
the world, requires the impersonal and rational procedures of a bureaucratic,
territorial state (cf. Connelly 1984: 8f.). Political scientists and others have
accordingly charted the progress of charismatic authority becoming routin-
ized into traditional authority which, in turn, under the impact of western
science and secularism, gives way to rational-legal authority, implicitly
accepted as the most di
fferentiated, advanced form of legitimacy (Schaar
1984: 104
105).6 In his New Science of Politics, a volume of lectures devoted
to the question of representation, Voegelin (1952) posits alternative classes
of di
fferentiation where the question of representation may be linked to that
of legitimacy. He begins by distinguishing between elemental and existential
representation. The former refers to the internal organization or formal
structures of a political society, such as a written constitution, which corres-
ponds to Weber
s notion of rational-legal authority. The problem with elem-
ental representation is its con
finement to an external description of the
representation of political society, avoiding if not ignoring the manifestation
of human being in political institutions. Existential representation addresses
this problem by dealing with the relation of the power-state to the com-
munity substance, or society. A human society here is not merely an external
observable fact to be studied and treated like natural phenomena but, rather,
cosmion of meaningthat is illuminated from within by its own self-
interpretation through which it is able to articulate itself for action in history.
Such social articulations are the existentially overriding problem from which
an understanding can emerge of the conditions under which representative
institutions develop. We can arrive at an understanding of a society by
critically clarifying the symbols, which are independent of social or political
science, through which a given society interprets the meaning of its existence.
A key criterion for legitimate political order is one where this social articula-
tion is embodied in the form of a state through its institutions, irrespective of
where a society may be on Weber
s developmental time-line.

Voegelin does not stop here but distinguishes another level of representa-
tion. His third level of di
fferentiation raises the notion of political society as
also being a representative of something beyond itself, namely of a trans-
cendent or cosmological truth. Until the advent of the modern secular
nation-state, political societies, including those in Asia, were organized as
empires that understood themselves as representatives of such truths. Cos-
mological representation is the self-understanding of society as the represen-
tative of a cosmic order through the mediation of a ruler king. For Southeast
Asia, cultural anthropologists (e.g. Heine-Geldern, Tambiah) and historians
(e.g. Coed
s, Mus) were independently confirming Voegelins more general
finding that one uniformly finds the order of the empire interpreted as
representative of cosmic order in the medium of human society. The empire
is a cosmic analogue, a little world re
flecting the order of (the cosmos)
(ibid: 54).

This imperial symbolism is not confined to political societies representing
the truth of a transcendent or cosmic order. Voegelin points out that Marxist
states had a similar structure, merely replacing the truth of cosmic or trans-
cendent order with the truth of a self-willed, historically immanent order in
the form of an ideological second-reality construction where nature, society,
and politics are entirely de-divinized. Liberal-national symbolisms with their
inherent imperial ambitions (the primacy of the impersonal market and the
ethnic principle) are another if more attenuated example of an historically
imagined, immanent order (cf. Anderson 1983). I raise but leave open the
question of whether all immanentist political constructions lack legitimacy.
Marxist-Leninist regimes, whose power emanated from the people in name
only while rejecting
a priori any authority beyond itself, certainly suffered in
this regard from a legitimacy problem. More importantly, my argument in
this essay is that the notion of a political society in the existential (including
in the di
fferentiated cosmological truth) sense has in the case of Cambodia
not been superseded except in outward form by the elemental representation
of the modern western state model adopted after 1945. To help make this
case requires a digression for a political culture, the Cambodian, where the
past is a more of a foundation for the present than we may choose to think.

Allotropismas a condition of post-traditional
Cambodian politics


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After some one hundred and fifty years of exposure to and, since World
War II, direct elite engagement with modernity, Cambodia, along with other
non-western societies in greater or lesser degrees, exists as a political society
in what may be described as allotropicform, that is, having a variety of new
features or physical properties though essentially unchanged in form or sub-
7 Etymologically, allotropiccomes from the Greek allotropos, or
form in another manner, and allotropy, a term used in chemistry, denotes a
variation of physical properties without change of substance. I use the term
to describe a non-western political system whose leaders have knowingly,
unwittingly, or ineluctably appropriated western cultural materials as a
means of legitimizing its external existence as a modern nation-state while its
body politic remains more or less unchanged.

I choose the descriptor allotropic as an alternative to syncretistic, a term
often used to describe Southeast Asia
s belief system and social order. Syn-
cretism refers to mixing and blending various conceptual systems on a basis
of tenets that are considered common to all, an attempt at sinking di
to e
ffect union between such systems. But the term has not been helpful in
understanding Southeast Asian societies from a Southeast Asian point of
view and reveals little about the social realities of a particular culture or life-
world (
Lebenswelt). A better tool for clarifying how indigenous, or local,
cultures in Southeast Asia responded to foreign cultural materials has been
(1982) localization concept.8 In adopting this conceptual tool for his
anthropological work in Southeast Asia, Mulder (1996: 18) describes how, in
the localization process,
foreign elements have to find a local root, a native
stem onto which they can be grafted. It is then through the infusion of native
sap that they can blossom and fruit. If they do not interact in this way, the
foreign ideas and in
fluences may remain peripheral to the culture.While
s political system has in fits and starts, since World War II in
particular, assumed the trappings of an imported secular liberal democracy,
not to mention the immanentizations of communism (also western-derived)
in the 1970s and 1980s, these foreign elements, unlike the earlier Indic or even
Chinese materials, have arguably yet to
find a local root for a successful graft.

How, then, can political science gain at least a tentative grasp on Cambodian
political culture in terms of a Cambodian self-understanding of its social
and political existence?

Specialists are familiar with formulations of Indic statecraft in the classical
states of Southeast Asia in general and the Angkorian empire in particular,
as well as the Theravada Buddhist polities that followed on the mainland.
The classical political system was organized in a mandala form of concentric
circles around an
axis mundi represented by Mount Meru, the cosmic moun-
tain around which sun, moon, and stars evolve, and which served as the
magic centre of the empire.
10 As a rule, the royal palace occupying the centre
of the realm is identi
fied with Mount Meru, where the king, court, and
government enact cosmic roles governing the four parts of the kingdom
corresponding to the four cardinal points.
11 The Angkorian cosmic state was
intimately bound up with the idea of divine or (more precisely) semi-divine
kingship and in its dominant Brahmanic form, the so-called god-king
(devara ̄ja) was considered an incarnation of a god, usually S ́iva, or a des-
cendant from a god or both.
12 In the Mahayana Buddhist conception, it was
the Bodhisattva
Lokes ́vara, or the Lord of the Universe, that inhabited
the central mountain from which the empire extended to the horizons of its
experience. The theory of divine incarnation or, more accurately, sanction
served to justify the legitimacy of the ruler king.

Compared to the work of more than three generations of (mainly French)
Indologists, less work has been done on the subsequent Theravada Buddhist
conceptions of power, authority, and political rule in mainland Southeast
Asia, which is of more direct interest to us. We know that much of Brahmanic
cosmology was carried over and absorbed into the new faith and that
Buddhist concepts were interpolated from Hindu concepts of kingship. But in
a formal sense, as Theravada Buddhism supplanted the Hindu-Mahayana
Buddhist belief system between the thirteenth and
fifteenth centuries, it
rejected the Angkorian and pre-Angkorian theory of divine sanction as
fication for rule and replaced it with the doctrine of kamma and religious
merit. As a human being who through exemplary behaviour merited the right
to rule, the Theravada ruler king was seen as the best person to uphold the
Buddhist teachings and law through the practice of the ten royal virtues,
dasara ̄jadhamma, enumerated in the Pali canon. What is less sufficiently
recognized or explored in the literature is the soteriological aspect of the new
faith in terms of its social and political impact. If the Hindu-Mahayana
Buddhist symbolisms were court-centred and did not penetrate in palpable
ways to the village level, Theravada Buddhism as a religion of the people
extended the goals of the
stateby providing for the redemption of human-
ity. It sought to transcend the inequality of an attenuated caste-based system
by evoking the concept of a quasi-egalitarian
communityin the symbol of
Sangha. It was in this sense revolutionary, arguably setting loose a social
transformation in mainland Southeast Asia that added a grassroots vigour
to the political structures it inherited, a vigour that, as Thion (1988: 3)
claims, has extended into our time (cf. Benda 1969; Bechert 1967: 223
re 1974 [1914]: ch. 9).13 In the Theravada Buddhist king, birth was
replaced by the virtue of the
dhamma, the law of nature to which the ruler
was also subject. The post-Angkorian king was no longer a
devara ̄ja, but
righteous ruler, or
dhammara ̄ja, a moral human being who, ruling in a
personal way, was considered a father to his people, assuring their happiness
by respecting the Buddhist laws (Gour 1965: 23). In the eyes of the common
people to whom this new faith appeared to have a particular appeal, a king
who did not adhere to the
dasara ̄jadhamma was considered unworthy to rule
and would lead his kingdom to ruin.

This political conception was not stripped of its older cosmological moor-
ings, but derived from the mythological Buddhist and possibly pre-Aryan
Indian cosmological theory of the
cakkavattin, or the wheel-turning, world-
pacifying universal monarch. The
dhamma, or law of nature, was a universal doctrine symbolized by the sacred wheel, or cakka. In Buddhist cosmology,
cakkavattin, the legendary temporal ruler counterpart of the Buddha,
was a wheel-turning cosmocrator who created the just society based on and
by embodying the ten royal virtues. Pali canonical texts refer to the relation-
ship between the Buddha and
cakkavattin as the two wheels of the Dhamma
(cf. Reynolds 1972). The Theravada tradition thus constructed kingship in
the image of the Buddha and Buddhahood in the image of the king with
power as the key denominator
(Swearer 1995: 92).

This source of political authority in Theravada societies derived not only
from the
cakkvatti ideal, but also very likely from the Maha ̄sammata,
Great Electprinciple prescribing election of a ruler king through a
consensus of people calling for order in an otherwise theft-ridden (lawless)
society. This principle, as put forward in the
Aggañña Sutta, appears to
postulate a Buddhist social contract theory of the origins of kingship and
political society that is deserving further attention by social and political
researchers (Tambiah 1976: 483; cf. Collins S. 1998: 448
451). It is plausible
that the Theravada monks who came to inhabit the village-based cultures of
the Southeast Asian mainland between the eleventh and
fifteenth centuries
adopted this contract theory in view of the importance Theravada Buddhism
places on assemblies and traditions of monks electing their own abbots.
These ecclesial structures may in turn have shaped political and social struc-
tures of pre-colonial Cambodia, which we know were highly decentralized
and where village headmen in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and other possibly
Theravada lands were elected consensually by the people. Such elections were
as a rule e
ffected through the medium of socially prominent villagers and
elders associated with the monastery (
wat), mimicking, as it were, the elec-
tion from below (and/or horizontally) of abbots in Theravada
wats.15 Until
the French reforms, the royal capital in pre-colonial Cambodia had little
more than a strong symbolic hold on the people, exercising administrative
control only over an area a few days
walk from the royal palace. Although
the king as judge meted out punishment, including for capital o
ffences, his
judicial and legislative powers were henceforth [i.e post-Angkor] far from
being absolute
(Gour 1965: 25). The quasi-autonomous royal princes govern-
ing the provinces exercised more direct control over village life, responsible in
most cases for collecting the ten per cent tithe of their harvests to the king and
exacting corv
e labour, a practice exercised with more frequency the closer one
lived to the centre. While these mandarins, no more or less than the Theravada
kings themselves, at times abused their authority, villagers nonetheless
enjoyed relative autonomy in regulating their lives after ful
filling their obliga-
tions to their king, who, prior to France
s introduction of private property in
first decades of the twentieth century, ownedthe land they tilled.

After the fourteenth century, the new Theravada Buddhist kings modelled
themselves after the
cakkavattin as well as its first historical exemplar,
Emperor Asoka, the third-century
 Mauryan ruler in India who converted to Buddhism (Gombrich 1994: 9; Tambiah 1976: 482). Asoka, repulsed by
the military carnage in which he took part that led to his conversion, not
only approximated the ideal of the
cakkavattin in his just policies and
benevolent rule, but also established the social and political validity of the
Theravada tradition at the Third Buddhist Council held in his capital,
Pataliputta, around 247
. He thus became the first historical ruler to found
a state on Buddhist principles. In Suvannaphumi, or
golden peninsula
as Southeast Asia was then known, some sixteen centuries later, the Buddhist
Sangha served as the titular if not de jure legitimizer of political authority; in
return, the king, many of whom bore Asoka,
dhammara ̄ja, or paramara ̄ja
(highest/perfected ruler) in their royal title or name,16 was the duty-bound
protector (
varman), patron, and when necessary, purifier or reformer of the
Sangha. A symbiotic relationship of separated but conjoined powers was
thereby created between these two institutions, with which villagers
were intertwined. This religio-political dimension bonded the society into a
single Buddhist political community
in the sense that the consciousness of
being a political collectivity (was) tied up with the possession and guardian-
ship of the religion under the aegis of a dharma-practicing Buddhist king

(Tambiah 1982: 132).

Misuse of these Buddhist principles of rule and humane behaviour were
not few or far between, due in part to weak succession laws (royal succession
in Cambodia was not heredity but determined through election by a crown
council) that were invitations to both royal rivals and usurpers. Equally, if not
more important, the exercise of royal power in an imperfect world frequently
obliged the ruler, as a warrior and judge, to commit acts of violence
incompatible with the model of virtuous and ascetic life imposed on mem-
bers of the
sangha.17 Given the tension between these two realms, monks not
infrequently served as moral checks, direct or discrete, on abusive royal
power. The symbiosis between the political power of the monarchy and
spiritual power of the
Sangha was attenuated by a not unhealthy tension
between the two (Collins, S. 1998: 35, 415, 496).

We have thus far looked at the question of religious powerand political
authority from the perspective of the higher, scripture-based religious tradi-
tions imported from India into the life-world of pre-modern Cambodia. We
can thus far agree in this context with Steven Collins (1998: 31) of the use-
fulness in seeing
both politicsand religion. . . as complementary and
overlapping varieties of civilizational articulation, spread in the (largely)
unchanging prestige language of Pali, structuring the time-space continuum
in which human life was both lived materially and construed in authoritative
traditions of representation.
Both the conception of the cosmic role of king-
ship in Southeast Asia and Voegelin
s more general view of cosmological
empires are also con
fined to historical civilizational structures tied to the
bookreligions. To this must be included the something elsealluded
to by Wolters (cf.
supra, n.8), namely the dimension of the indigenous folk base that not only represents a pre-existing example of cosmological struc-
tures of consciousness, but also the local stem, as it were, onto which foreign
cum civilizational structures are grafted. This realm, of both local
(indigenous) and localized (indigenized) supernaturalism, is the world of
magic forces and spirits which, while not connected with statecraft in the
imperial sense, are nonetheless expressions of sacred power that to a large
degree remain embedded in the consciousness of Khmer and neighboring
peoples to form an important part of what we call a society
s political cul-
ture. Mulder (1996: 21
24) describes the most fundamental religious practice
in Southeast Asia as a relationship with power that
is located in the
nature/supernature in which human life is embedded
(p. 21). In its indigen-
ous form, it is concerned primarily with individual potency, protective bless-
ing, and protection from danger and misfortune. At the same time, localized
supernaturalism has been grafted to this indigenous tradition through
appropriation of ancient Brahmanic (Vedic) and Tantric cosmological
18 Whether these cosmological structures of consciouness, local or
localized, are concentrated or manifested in (Brahamanic) deities, saints,
guardian spirits, the recently deceased, or potent objects, they remain a part
of the human situation and everyday life that constitutes
Cambodia and the neighbouring Theravada lands. How this manifests itself
politically has been expressed in what Mulder, focusing on Thailand (Siam),
ascribes to the
Thai-ificationof religion and the Thai-ificationof Indic
thinking about statecraft. He states that the tension between Theravada
Buddhism and the so-called animistic practices in Thailand

was resolved by appropriating those elements of the Buddhist doc-
trine that are compatible with animistic thinking and basic human
experience. As a result, the institutional and ritual expression of
Thai religion appear to be very Buddhistic indeed, but its character-
istic mentality is not so much interest in their Theravada message of
moral self-reliance as in auspiciousness, worldly continuity, and the
manipulation of
saksit (supernatural sacred) power.

(ibid.: 5)

As a consequence, Buddha images become seats of such power and the
practice of merit-making becomes what Charles Taylor (2004: 56) calls acts
human flourishing, the invoking or placating of divinities and powers for
prosperity, health, long life, and fertility, or, inversely, protection from dis-
ease, dearth, sterility, and premature death
not to mention the invoking of
propitiatory spirits to help de
flect anger, hostility, or jealousy. May Ebihara
(1966: 190), the
first American to conduct anthropological fieldwork in
Cambodia (in 1959
60), drew a similar distinction in stating that while
Buddhism (could) explain the more transcendental questions such as one
general existence in this life and the next, the folk religion (gave) reasons for
and means of coping with or warding off the more immediate and inci-
dental, yet nonetheless pressing, problems and fortunes of one
s present
If the highly demanding life of the ascetic virtuosu as the para-
digmatic Buddhist life was a calling for the few, respect for and/or fear of
spirit world entities was
virtually universal among the villagers . . .(ibid.).

The political significance of what modern political scientists and commen-
tators (not to mention Buddhist literalists) have described and often dismissed
or ignored as local
superstitionsis a field that remains open for further
study and interpretation. Mulder (1996: 20), for one, claims that the powerful
saksit represents the core element, or cosmic energy, that fuses
and articulates
the great traditions of Theravada Buddhism and Indic the-
ory of state with the ordinary practice of life and the mentality that animates
. He points to this powerful yet morally exemplary core as physically repre-
sented in the royal palace
cum temple complex in Bangkok. In a similar vein,
Tambiah (1976: 484
85) argues that Buddhist concepts such as merit and
kamma and magical concepts of power do not exist as separate, discrete
entities, but, rather,
comprise a set or domain related according to mutuality,
hierarchy, and tension. . . . . Thus instruments such as amulets and verbal
formulas . . . are not necessarily seen as working in de
fiance of the laws of
merit-demerit and of karma but within their limits and
with the grainof
merit . . .
This integration of collective cosmic rituals produced a theatre
state where the king was a focal point in the building of conspicuous public
works whose utility lay at least partially in their being architectural embodi-
ments of the collective aspirations and fantasies of heavenly grandeur . . .
(thereby) providing the masses with an awe-inspiring vision of cosmic mani-
festation on earth as well as providing the rulers with an ideal paradigm to
follow in their actions
(ibid.: 487).

What we may draw from the above is that moral-cosmological ordering
principles, made transparent through an array of beliefs, myths, and symbols
through which the people ritually participated, were the in-forming signa-
tures, or
spiritual form, of pre-modern Cambodian political society. This
home-grown conception not only did not abruptly end in 1945 but, if chal-
lenged and transformed, is still with us as a major factor in the equation of
what constitutes Cambodian political culture. As things go, recent scholar-
ship has only begun the task of an empathetic clari
fication of the practice of
Theravada Buddhism as a complex moral-cosmological conceptual system,
where a close
fit exists between political rule, the (cosmological) structure of
being, and the ethical norms that shape and govern behaviour (Hobart and
Taylor 1986: Introduction, cf. Becker and Yenogoyan 1979: Foreword).

Representation and legitimacy in modern Cambodia


Cambodiasky Khmer GIF - Cambodiasky Khmer Cambodia GIFs

Brief History of Modern Cambodia (1970-1993)

Masaya Shida
172 subscribers
A very brief video to explain about Cambodia history from 1970-1993.
Apologies for any mistakes.
*edit* Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh on April 1975, not May.

Brief History of Modern Cambodia (1970-1993)
very brief video to explain about Cambodia history from 1970-1993.
Apologies for any mistakes. *edit* Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh on
April 1975, not May.

This integrated, socially embedded political universe began to fray under the
weight of the ninety-year French protectorate, during which time the cultural
seeds for a modern nation-state were planted by a handful of Khmers
equipped with western secular educations (N
pote 1979; cf. Edwards 1999,
2004a). But France
s colonial presence in Cambodia as well as Laos caused,
in the end, only light structural damage on the traditional culture compared
to Vietnam, Cochin-China in particular, where modernizing measures were
introduced with more vigor.
20 For the first forty years of the protectorate,
until the end of King Norodom
s reign in 1904, French reforms remained
largely on paper, passively resisted by the monarchy,
Sangha, and villagers.
The separateness of existence between ruler and ruled, a feature common to
traditional Southeast Asia, nonetheless belied the totality, or
single, unified
(Osborne 1997: 52) inhabited alike by kings, courtiers, monks, mer-
chants, peasants,
fishermen, and petty traders. The relative calm in Cambodia
was interrupted only by a two-year open rebellion against centralization
measures in the mid-1880s led by the provincial governor-princes. The clash
of ontological versus deontological (viz., immanentist) political cultures, as
described in a recent Southeast Asian social history text (Steinberg 1987:
217), which may well apply to King Norodom
s reign, appeared unbridgeable
inasmuch as: the main function of the [Theravada] ruler was to
be, symbolizing in
his person an agreed-on social order, a cultural ideal, and a state of
harmony with the cosmos. The new colonial . . . governments existed
primarily to
do, providing themselves with a permanently crowded
agenda of speci
fic tasks to accomplish. They felt, by older Southeast
Asian standards, a peculiar need [moral obligation] to tidy up casual
and irregular old customs, to bring uniformity to the numerous
small, local societies in their jurisdictions, to clear paths for economic
progress,to organize, reform, and control.

The French accomplished more with Norodoms successors, kings Sisowath
1927) and Monivong (192741), but not merely because they were
more pliant. After World War I, having recognized the deceptive strength and
relative unmalleability of the political culture, France opted to de-emphasize
her assimilationist policies in favor of working more with and through the
indigenous institutions representing the traditional culture. She sought in
fact to strengthen these institutions as a means through which to e
reform, thus opening a
fissure to allotropism. Major French reforms included
the privatization of land and the establishment of a new administrative unit
in the
khum (sub-district) that expanded the colonial states taxing authority
and administrative reach to the grassroots level.
22 Among more culturally
sensitive reforms was the upgrading, rather than the supplanting, of Cam-
s wat-based primary education system.23 During the period, political
society as represented by the two wheels of the
dhamma, while subjected
to bureaucratic-rationalization pressures, remained largely intact as most
Khmer elites evinced little interest in entering this new world. The French
were obliged through World War II to depend mainly on Vietnamese to
ff the middle and lower echelons ostate administration. Nonetheless,
under the separate in
fluences of the cole franaise dExtrme Orient and
the Thommayut reform sect of Theravada Buddhism from Siam initiated by
King Mongkut IV, the
Sangha hierarchy bifurcated into modernist (samay)
and traditionalist (
boran) wings. The former, small though influential, grad-
ually assumed authority with French support in urban centers (principally
Phnom Penh) and became committed to purging Buddhism of its mytho-
accretionsin the name of a purer, more rational and scripturally
based Buddhism while also centralizing monastic administration (cf. Harris
2005: ch. 5).

The making of an allotropic political system also began to emerge with the
appearance of a small liberal-nationalist movement in which some monks
educated in the Higher School of Pali Studies, founded in 1922, played a
not insigni
ficant role. The main leader of this movement, Son Ngoc Thanh,
was a French-trained lawyer who in the mid-1930s began to appropriate
Buddhism for a budding nationalist agenda through the agency of the Bud-
dhist Institute. The Institute was established on French initiative in 1930 as
an instrument designed in part to advance a more rational, print-based form
of Buddhism and in part to seal o
ff Thai cultural-political influence in order
to strengthen loyalty to French Indo-China. When Thanh was implicated in
a monk-led nationalist demonstration against French rule in July 1942, his
main organ, the
Nagaravatta newspaper, was suppressed and the Institutes
program curtailed. Pro-Japanese during the war, Thanh
fled to Tokyo from
where he helped form, with King Sihanouk, a Tokyo-backed royal govern-
ment in March 1945 that sought to end French colonial rule. By August,
while serving as foreign, then prime minister of this short-lived regime, he
had become a republican and was again implicated, this time in an abortive
insurrection against King Sihanouk. Captured and imprisoned in Saigon
by the British as the French were returning to re-impose their rule in
Indo-China, Thanh was to bob up and down in right-wing Cambodian polit-
ics through 1975.

If Siams modernizing elites, more copious and prudent, were able to
usher in western reforms over a period stretching several generations, Cam-
s shift from a traditional to allotropic polity was relatively abrupt and,
given the turmoil that has accompanied the process, remains unsettled. Since
the political upheavals of the World War II years, Cambodia remains in
search of an existentially representative political system capable of mediat-
ing, if not reconciling, a problematic power structure with a conservative
political society. The remainder of this essay focuses on contrasting two
post-war regimes that provided at least a semblance of extended stability and
peace: the
Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Peoples Socialist Community) between
1955 and 1970, and the post-communist regime functioning under a restored
constitutional monarchy from 1993 to the present. My main interest here
lies in: a) how these allotropic polities sought (or are seeking) to strike a
compromise between old and new conceptions(Heine-Geldern 1956: 16),
while b) addressing the underlying tension between existential representation
and political authority.

Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Peoples Socialist Community)

community GIF

While Thanh languished in a Saigon prison (until 1951), his followers were
among the
first of a new bourgeois elite of intellectuals who, following the
restoration of French rule in 1945, embarked under French tutelage to estab-
lish a multiparty democracy in Cambodia. In a political culture that had not
previously known political parties, they joined forces with the newly formed
Democrat Party established by other Cambodian returnees from France led
initially by Prince Sisowath Yuthevong, a returnee from more than ten years
of study in France. The party
s base of support consisted of younger Khmer
intelligentsia assuming control of the state apparatus, the reform (
wing of the main Mohanikay Buddhist sect, and supporters of the militant
nationalist Issarak movement. Its emblem was an elephant
s head with three
flowers representing the monarchy, Buddhism, and the people, the
latter now re-imagined as embodying the values of a modern nation-state.
With French assistance and the endorsement of the young, equally reform-
minded King Sihanouk, this new elite initiated a reform process that quickly
tipped the Cambodian political balance in favor of a French-modeled par-
liamentary regime governed by a majority party or coalition. Following the
1946 election for a constituent Assembly, the victorious Democrat Party-led
government drafted a constitution the following year that, if closely modeled
on the 1946 constitution of the Fourth French Republic, attempted to blend
the new and the old by preserving elements of customary law and the mon-
archy. The constitution was anchored in the individual rights doctrine of
s Declaration of 1789, with law itself now defined as an expression of
the national will (Article 17). At the same time, Buddhism was proclaimed
the religion of the State (Article 8) and Article 21 declared that
all powers
emanated from the King
, a departure even from the popular sovereignty
principle of the new constitutions of Laos (1947), Thailand (1949) and other
Southeast Asian states. The same article stipulated, however, that the king
powers were to be
exercised in the manner established by the present con-
, creating an ambiguous separation between essential power as
embodied in the king and the exercise of those powers. The constitution,
which was e
ffectively a pact negotiated between the twenty-three-year-old
king and cautiously republican-minded representatives of the Democrat
Party, had the legislature become the de
fining power organ of the new regime
(Gour 1955: 49).

The equivocal nature of the new constitutional monarchy led, ineluctably, to a political standoff between a government run by an artificial political
grouping endowed with formal power but little or no legitimacy and a legit-
imate king vested with powers that were highly circumscribed. Parliamentary
government ran into an impasse when a workable association between the
republican-minded dominant party and a monarch who remained the pre-
ponderant personality in the political life of the country could not be
achieved (Preschez 1961: 129). The peasant electorate came to perceive the
urban-based parties as factions breaking up the unity of a political culture
and system where even the concept of a legitimate opposition, central to
the functioning of a parliamentary system, was absent. A former colonial
fficial cum political scientist who witnessed the unfolding tragicomedy
described the new political climate as
a proliferation of parties, factionalism,
usury among the elites, the paralysis of power (that) led everywhere, or
nearly so, to political disorder; social, ethnic, or linguistic con
flicts; and
economic impotence or stagnation
(Philippe Devilliers in his preface to
Preschez 1961: vii). The necessarily messy nature of democracy notwith-
standing, there was, to state the obvious, little
in Cambodias previous
experience to prepare it for the sudden introduction of an alien political
(Osborne 1973: 45).

By 1955, the king, who was reaching his political maturity and seeking to
distance himself from French tutelage after having successfully negotiated
s formal independence, applied a systemic corrective. Spurred in
part by delegations of villagers petitioning him to assume direct rule and in
part by his undisputed popularity for having single-handedly ended colonial
rule, he exercised the royal mandate by supplanting the parliamentary sys-
tem. He created a form of semi-direct rule through a
community of national
, a supra-party royalist movement to which he appended the modern
word symbols
Peoples Socialist Community(Sangkum Reastr Niyum).
Arguing the time had come for him to turn his attention from the independ-
ence struggle to the development of the country, and in view of the elections
mandated by the 1954 Geneva Accords, Sihanouk abruptly abdicated in
favour of his father in order to be able to carry out this mission. In entering the
political fray, he declared the time had come
to put an end to a situation in
which the powers of government were concentrated in the hands of a small
group of privileged, who one could in no way say represented the true inter-
ests of the people who they in fact exploited
(quoted in Preschez 1961: 58).
Inured by the prevailing rhetoric of democracy, his goal was to transfer
power such that the people themselves could exercise it more directly. Candi-
dates to the national assembly would henceforth only be individuals from the
countryside with at least three years of unbroken residence in a sub-district
khum), a requirement that proved difficult to realize. In practice, Sihanouks
rule was authoritarian (I use this term in a traditional, not pejorative sense)
and highly personalized, using his new-found freedom of action to establish,
unlike former monarchs, direct contacts with the people, whether in the
provinces inaugurating schools and development projects or in the bi-annual
direct democracy national congresses held on the sacred Men Ground
adjacent to the royal palace.

The organization and goals of the Community as spelled out in its
statutes reveal how Sihanouk sought to re-create a traditional polity now
re-mythologized by con
flating it with the language of national unity, pro-
gress, the fatherland, democratic socialism, and popular sovereignty. He was
able to adapt these new language symbols into restatements of the older
symbiotic relationship between the people, the
Sangha, and the personal rule
of the monarch as the pinnacle of power:

Article 3:
[The Sangkums] organization is devoted to the formation of a
cadre of volunteers constituted for common action, disinter-
ested and with solidarity, in order to realize the Union of the
children of the Khmer Fatherland (
Patrie), a union comprom-
ised by the proliferation of Political Parties, as well as of the
birth in Cambodia of a true egalitarian and Socialist Democracy,
finally, of the return of the Fatherland to its past grandeur.
The Community will seek to assure this return by giving a true
sense to the Trinity: Nation-Religion-King, this Trinity (being)
unable to survive and render service to the Fatherland without
its state institutions returning to search for its inspiration next
to the mass of the Little People and functioning under the real
control, direct and permanent, of the latter, and for the purpose
of their real and permanent interests. . . .

Article 4:

Our Community is the symbol of the aspirations of the Little
People, who are the Real People of Cambodia, our much-loved
Fatherland. . . .

Our Community defends the National Unity through the return
to the good traditions that shaped the grandeur of the Country
in its glorious past. These traditions are the Communion of the
People with their two natural Protectors: Religion and the

Our Community means to promote the Reastr Niyum Regime
that must give to the True People
to the large mass of the
Little People that symbolizes the Khmer Nation
the Sover-
eignty, the National Powers to enable the direct, and simul-
taneous, exercise at the
Khum, Kht (provincial) and Prats
(national) levels in conformity with the spirit of the Constitution
and the arrangements foreseen by the Project of Reforms
bestowed and conceived for the People by Preah Bat Samdech

(Sihanouk 1955: 23; my translation from the French)

In a metaphor used on more than one occasion, Prince Sihanouk, who
acquired the unique royal title of
Preah Upayuvareach (lord prince as former
king), evoked the twin pillars of the Buddhist monarchy and
Sangha to sustain
and accord legitimacy to a new progressive regime that was simultaneously
an a
ffirmation of a traditional polity:

Cambodia may be compared to a cart supported by two wheels, one
of which is the state and the other Buddhism. The former symbolizes
power and the latter religious morality. The two wheels must turn at
the same speed in order for the cart, i.e., Cambodia, to advance
smoothly on the path of peace and progress. . . .

(quoted in Zago 1975: 111)

The legitimizing principle, or glue, for the new national regime was a thinly
Buddhist socialism. The term, socialism, was, clearly, conceived
not in Marxist, social democratic, or even Maoist terms, but according to the
egalitarian and democratic principles of Theravada Buddhism (Yang Sam
1987: 13f.; Bechert 1966: 183
84 and 1967: 25058). Although both Premier
U Nu in Burma and President Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka were also propa-
gating ideas of Buddhist socialism from the mid-1950s, Sihanouk appeared
to be less in
fluenced by these latter-day dhammara ̄jas than by pragmatic pol-
itics. The legitimizing role of the
Sangha, which remained an autonomous, if
weakened, institution during the
Sangkum (Bektimirova 2003),26 was
indispensable to achieving his goals. Conjoining political and religious
motives was both traditional and useful. He drew his principal rationale
for Buddhist socialism from the social welfare concerns of the heralded
Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII (1181
1220) and of Asoka, models
both of good conduct and national development. Through much of the
1960s, Buddhist socialism served both internal and external ends, the former
as a model for bringing about a just, prosperous, and peaceful society, the
later as a justi
fication for his policy of neutrality, peaceful coexistence, and
the independence and territorial integrity of the country (Zago 1975: 111
Harris 2005: 144f.).

It would be remiss to interpret Sihanouks appeals to tradition as a purely
ficial device, . . . since the very frequency with which the appeals (were)
made suggests a view of history in which the realty of the past is perhaps
more apparent that is the case in contemporary western society
1966: 6). That Sihanouk
s appeals to tradition were not purely instrumental-
ist in the machiavellian sense is suggested by his acts of piety and patronage
of Buddhism. Unlike his three predecessors, he ordained as a monk for short
periods in 1947 and 1963. Although no King Ang Duang in terms of closely
working with and relying on the advice of the
Sangha or an U Nu in terms of
conviction, he, among other acts of patronage, founded the
first Buddhist
high school (
lyce) for monks, named after his father King Suramarit, as well
as the Preah Sihanouk Raj Buddhist University, which was established in
1954 before the formal opening of any secular universities. He also revived
non-Buddhist rituals such as the ancient royal practice, enacted on the Men
Ground, of the
ploughing of the sacred furrow, a fertility rite symbolizing
the de
floration of virgin soil prior to the rainy season.

Prince Sihanouk succeeded through much of the Sangkum period in
absorbing and outmaneuvering the political parties, including through elec-
28 His efforts at building a traditional consensus while simultaneously
embracing modernity, including and especially economic development,
brought about more than a decade of peace, relative political stability, and
economic growth. But these successes in fashioning one of the most original
allotropic polities in perhaps all of Asia began, after the mid-1960s, to be
overtaken by events in the region as well as events of Sihanouk
s own undo-
ing. Harem politics and dealing with political opponents in unseemly ways,
while contradicting Buddhist teachings, were, however, no exceptions to the
concubines and uses of violence that historically accompanied the rule of
warrior-class Southeast Asian Buddhist monarchs.
29 The escalating Indo-
China war emboldened both the left- and right-wing Khmer nationalists who,
with their foreign backers, compromised Cambodia
s neutrality and drew the
country into the maelstrom of war and social upheaval.

Second Royal Government of Cambodia (1993 present)


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Prince Of Cambodia | Sihanouk | The Greatest Leader | History Of Cambodia.

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Within a week of his overthrow in March 1970, Prince Sihanouk appealed
through broadcasts from Beijing for the Khmer people to rise up against
the American-backed putchists by joining forces under a royal resistance
movement with the Khmer Rouge, who at the time numbered approximately
2,000 cadres and
fighters.30 The coup and ensuing civil war, marked by a
North Vietnamese invasion countered by South Vietnamese and, for a spell,
American troops as the
fledging republican regime itself began massive
31 led to enormous confusion, anger, and unrest in the largely
apolitical and a-nationalistic peasant society.
32 For the peasants, the absence
of a sovereign ruler meant
lack of effective communication between the
celestial powers and the world of men; without him you have complete
(Ponchaud 1989: 176) and many of them, in the eastern half of the
country in particular, actively heeded their sovereign
s call. The Khmer
Rouge leaders, disguised mandarins manipulating royal symbolisms while
playing into the peasants
pre-existing distrust of central government, were
to ride the wave of this powerful rural opposition
and mould the peasantry
into a
fighting force that led to the most savage onslaught ever launched against a peasantry, in this case by the republican Lon Nol forces and its
sponsors (Thion 1993: 43).
33 The scenario a) of a navepeasantry loyal to
a sovereign who was protector of their faith and the legitimate upholder of a
social order in tune with cosmic order, b) manipulated by a band of French
educated millenarian ideologues, c) pitted against a mechanized army of
putative city dwellers (many them wearing amulets and talismans) who were
d) armed, trained, and manipulated by a na
vely ignorant western power
could not be a more graphic metaphor of a political system that had lost its
existential bearings. In severing all ties with kingship, the republican regime
lost its chance, not only to unify the country, but to gain legitimacy,
even among the mass of urban dwellers
(ibid.: 125).

The Khmer Rouge period epitomized, homologically, what Camus
expressed in his
LHomme revolt: that for totalitarian regimes, in their moral
nihilism, mass murder became the only sign or manifestation of the sacred
possible in a de-divined nature, society, and polity. In seeking to create a new
world that signi
fied a moral inversion of Buddhism, Khmer Rouge cadres
claimed in their puritanism to have even surpassed the discipline of monks,
who, as members of a
parasiticalclass and the greatest single obstacle to
building their utopian society, were eliminated through forced disrobing
and/or death by execution, starvation, and disease.

Following Vietnams overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime in January
wat, not state much less party, structures spontaneously re-emerged
to spearhead the recovery process.
Wat committees led by surviving elders
worked informally to assume primary responsibility for the country
s rehabi-
litation and reconstruction e
fforts well through the 1980s (Lschmann 1991;
Yang Sam 1987: 86
87; personal communication from Yi Thon, who travelled
with PRK authorities to many provinces in 1979
80). As the Vietnamese-
installed People
s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) in Phnom Penh gained
control of the countryside, its representatives joined and began to direct the
work, and resources, of the
wat committees. The practice of Buddhism
remained tightly controlled by the party-state until the late 1980s, when the
PRK, obliged to address the legitimacy problem, began to court Buddhism.
Initially, the regime created holocaust monuments and sponsored Buddhist
rites at killing
fields to evoke a cult of the dead associated with the restor-
ation of Buddhism. It also allowed and at times assisted local communities
with materials to rebuild their razed or damaged
vihears (sacred sanctuaries)
(Keyes 1994: 66, cf. Yang Sam 1987: 79
82; Harris 2005: 190200).

When the Vietnamese troops withdrew in 1989, triggering a peace process
sponsored by the international community, the legitimacy issue became a
more paramount concern. The PRK, renamed the interim State of Cambodia
(SOC), was faced with the need to placate the peasantry. In de-collectivization
measures short of giving up ownership of the land, the regime granted usu-
fruct rights to people cultivating land and transformed the collective labor
production solidarity groups (
krom samaki) into more traditional mutual aid solidarity groups (Frings 1994: 5152). Buddhism was restored as the state
religion; restrictions were lifted on both monk ordinations under the age of
fifty and the previously set limit of four monks per wat; and a detested wat
tax was rescinded. Accompanying these legal changes, the ruling party,
renamed the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP) in anticipation of internation-
ally supervised elections, engaged in increasingly numerous ceremonial pub-
lic displays of courting Buddhism. Setting the pace in January 1989, Premier
Hun Sen, in an unprecedented gesture, prostrated himself before the head
monk at his native
wat in Kampot province and used the occasion to apologize
for his government
s past mistakes towards religion(Hiebert 1989: 36).35
A month after the signing of the Paris peace accords in October 1991, the
CPP skilfully orchestrated Prince Sihanouk
s (viz., the Kings) triumphal
return to Cambodia, symbolizing the end of a second civil war between a
Sihanouk-led resistance coalition government backed by the West (and which
held Cambodia
s United Nations seat) and the Soviet and Vietnamese
backed PRK/SOC regime.

In spite of a sustained campaign of pre-election intimidation and violence
by supporters and agents of the SOC regime, the UN-sponsored 1993 elections
resulted in a surprisingly clear-cut CPP loss to the royalist party. Some
24,000 UN troops, police, and personnel (whose presence had its own set of
positive and negative social consequences) and an adroit UN radio campaign
assuring voters of a secret ballot helped guarantee the freest and fairest
election that Cambodia has known before or since. The UN Transitional
Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC),
which committed itself to taking com-
plete control of a foreign state in order to create,
ex nihilo, what amounted to
a new social contract for its citizens
(Lize 2000: 10), contented itself with
the illusion of a successful exercise in multi-party liberal democracy as called
for in the Paris agreements. What is perhaps closer to the truth, all but
a small fraction of the voters cast ballots not for any of the two dozen
contending parties than with their feet for a) peace and, not unrelated to this,
b) the return to power of their savior-king. The royalist FUNCINPEC
party won the election not by dint being a political party preferred over
others based on rational voter calculations than by virtue of a poster and
ballot containing an image of the King
s son, party leader Prince Norodom
Ranariddh, which bore a striking resemblance to Sihanouk in his younger
Sangkum days.

During the peace negotiations and subsequent UNTAC election period,
neither the international community, represented by the
five permanent
members of the UN Security Council, nor the four Cambodian political
factions (PRK/SOC regime on the one side and an uneasy resistance coali-
tion of royalists, Khmer Rouge, and the Khmer People
s National Liberation
Front led by former a prime minister, Son Sann, on the other)
38 who signed
the Paris agreements envisaged a restored monarchy much less one that
would return Sihanouk to the throne. Sihanouk himself thought in terms of
becoming a non-royal head of state unaffiliated with a party. In the election
aftermath, as if needing a reminder, a rare consensus materialized between
the Cambodian players, with Son Sann as president of the constituent
assembly playing a pivotal role, that
the constitution should provide for a
(Brown and Zasloff 1999: 199). The ensuing Constitution of thirteen
chapters and 139 articles again prescribed a liberal democratic and pluralist
system with a sharper separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers
(Preamble, Article 1, Article 51) and, in a departure from earlier constitu-
tions, a strong emphasis on human rights (Chapter VI) drafted in western
legalese. It bore a resemblance to both the 1947 constitution and the views of
the Cambodian drafters
American (and one French) advisors (cf. Brown
and Zaslo
ff 1999: ch. 6). The powers and authority of the monarch were
diminished from the 1947 constitution, with power no longer emanating
from the king but the western popular sovereignty principle (Article 51); the
s principal role as head of state was to serve as a symbol of unity
and the continuity of the nation (Article 8) .

The constitution notwithstanding, a pseudo-Sangkum authoritarian regime
has emerged since 1993 whose center of power lies with a self-perpetuating
PRK/SOC/CPP elite that at best tolerates political parties at the margins.
If the former East European and even Soviet communist parties were able
to relinquish control and become one among several contending political
parties, in the case of the Cambodia, the former communist party never
considered relinquishing control of the state apparatus as an option. When
the CPP balked at the 1993 elections results, Sihanouk brokered a face-saving
coalition government run by two prime ministers, Prince Ranariddh and
Hun Sen, which co-existed uneasily until 1997, when the latter ousted the
former in a violent coup. The CPP has used subsequent elections to gradually
seal (legitimize) its monopoly of power under the eyes of a Cambodia-
fatigued international community acquiescing to strongman rule as the price
of stability. This form of allotropism as an outcome should come as no
surprise for a political society that abhors the insecurity of a vacuum provoked
by factional politics, which is how partisanship continues to be perceived in
Cambodia. The problem, however, is that in spite of external recognition/
legitimacy accorded by a weary international community, the CPP-led gov-
ernment is beset with a lack of internal legitimacy that renders its authority
to rule synthetic at best. It commands a thin veneer of elemental and, more
importantly, only such existential representation as it is able to mine in
instrumentalist ways from the monarchy,
Sangha, and people.

Wary nonetheless of its legitimacy problem, the regime has since 1998,
following elections whose campaign and immediate aftermath were protested
in the media and streets, resumed a policy of courting, appropriating, and
manipulating Buddhist and royal symbolisms while attempting to cut a
populist image.
40 The official patronage of Buddhism, once a principal royal
prerogative, is a widespread practice of not only the CPP, which has tended
to favor wats claiming cosmo-magical powers, but also other parties and
politicians. For example, Premier Hun Sen and his family have through
donations rebuilt virtually the entire complex of Wat Weang Chas (old
wat), a wat permeated with magical powers that was once part of
the royal palace complex in the ancient capital of Oudong. Located some
35 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh, it has since the 1990s has become a
favoured pilgrimage site for Cambodians and foreign tourists.
By taking
over the old royal palace at Oudong, Hun Sen is de
fining himself as the
legitimate successor of the old Khmer kings of Oudong
(Guthrie 2002: 68).
His patronage of the
wat, which includes an associated Pali school, links him
to the last king to occupy Oudong, the revered Ang Duong, who initiated a
notable Buddhist revival from Oudong in the mid-nineteenth century. The
apparent thriving of the
wat lends visible proof of Hun Sens good karma,
personal power, and merit.
41 The power he and other politicians seek to
access through, in particular,
wats with cosmo-magical histories is boramei
(Pali: pa ̄ram ̄ı), which as a Buddhist technical term means mastery, suprem-
, highest, or perfection, as in the formal royal titles adopted by
many Khmer and other Theravada kings (
paramara ̄ja) (cf. supra, p. 79). The
indigenous meaning of the term, however, as Guthrie (2002: 70) points out,
also means
sacred force, magical power, or energy, identical or akin to
the supernatural
saksit in Siam/Thailand (and Laos) cited above.

The return of symbolic rituals associated with cosmo-magical conscious-
ness is not con
fined to modern politicians seeking to appropriate royal pre-
rogatives. Ritual aspects of the Khmer court, together with their o
the Brahman court priests (
baku), were restored with the monarchy in 1993
(de Bernon 1997). Among these include popular festivals associated with
ploughing of the sacred furrow rite, revived after twenty-four years in May
1994, and the annual pirogue regatta during a water festival held in November,
when current of the Tonl
Sap river reverses its flow, thereby symbolically
liberating the waters of the Tonl
Sap and the nagas (serpents) whose benevo-
lence assures the proper irrigation of the rice
fields(ibid. p. 52).42 The Hun Sen
regime, a majority of whose senior members reached their political maturity
during the 1970s and 1980s, has been obliged to sustain the monarchy in
return for the king
s bestowal of neo-traditional legitimacy to the (ruling)
Cambodian People
s Party(Kershaw 2001: 98). The manner in which the
CPP has successfully courted and co-opted the royalist FUNCINPEC party
since the 1998 election has solidi
fied its image as the sole purveyor of legit-
imate power in a kingdom that does not lightly su
ffer political division. King
Sihanouk, not known among his faults for having forsaken his sense of
independence and unpredictability as a royal personality, nonetheless
remained a thorn for an entrenched ruling
lite preferring a monarch that
would reign at its pleasure. In October 2004, citing health reasons, Sihanouk
cleverly played his cards in forcing the government
s hand by again dramat-
ically abdicating, this time in favour of his son, Sihamoni. This manoeuvre
preserved, at least in principle, the independence and symbolic power of the
monarchy as an (existentially representative) institution that serves, in e
as a people-oriented counterbalance to a discordant political class.

As for the relation of the people to Buddhism, we can note that its
revival, begun cautiously during the PRK regime, was a largely spontaneous
village-based and -driven phenomenon through much of the 1990s. Villagers
accorded priority to repairing or rebuilding their
wats and, after 1988 in
particular, ordaining their sons.
44 Not unlike instances after the early 1990s
of micro-credit recipients donating their loans to their
wats (to the exasper-
ation of international donor agencies), recovery of their sacred integrative
ground, coupled with the practice of merit making, was considered more
important by villagers than material reconstruction and development needs.
In spite of and in response to the upheavals of the previous decades, trad-
itional patterns of social and religious interaction, if manifested in new ways
or forms, have gradually re-emerged in post-con
flict Cambodia (Aschmoneit
1996; Ledgerwood 1996; Collins, W. 1998; Ebihara 2002; Marston and
Guthrie 2004).
45 These patterns have since 1989 included reconstructions of
the cosmo-magical dimension of the Khmer understanding of the structure
of reality. It has, for example, rekindled the debate begun in the
first decades
of the twentieth century between the modern (
samay) challenge to the ancient
cosmological (
boran) tradition within Cambodian Buddhism. This has gen-
erated a tendency especially among the governing elites to seek anointment,
boramei power, from the boran tradition, however opaquely practised and
understood (Marston 2002; Harris 2005: 221

The revival of Buddhism has not come without unexpected costs, of which
the most notable has been the politicization of the
Sangha. The weakness
and subservience of the
Sangha hierarchy to the power structure since 1979
period has been noted. If village-based Buddhism bene
fited from a relatively
free rein between 1989 and 1997, there is evidence since of the regime seeking
to restrain the relative autonomy of Buddhism at the village level. By the
mid-1990s, the traditional practice of head monks elected by the monks in
wats re-emerged,46 and the Sangha had begun to play an increas-
decisive rolein the society (Bektimirova 2003: 3). But the years since
the 1997 coup have seen pressures on the
wats to tow the political line, which
has led to tensions and splits within and among
wats. The UNs uninformed
insistence in 1993 on the right of monks to vote, in spite of muted opposition
voiced within the
Sangha at the time (Harris 2005: 2004), invited a climate of
cum factionalism among monks within a wat or, in the presence
of strong head monks, between
wats aligned with any of the two or three
largest parties. Given the large majority of monks favoring the opposition
parties (which since 1998 has increasingly become a moot point), the CPP,
whose velvet glove control of society through the state apparatus extends to
the village level, has exerted pressure directed not only at reigning in monks
but also, and more importantly, delivering villagers
votes at election time.

Tactics have included informing villagers that a vote for an opposition party
is a vote against the Buddha or, in another thinly veiled threat, that an
omniscient Buddha knows for whom one
s ballot is cast. Another reported form
of intimidation disseminated through the
wats were casual warnings that the
country would again revert to civil war if the CPP lost the election.
47 Since
1998, the CPP has dexterously worked the electoral politics machine to its
advantage, winning all elections by increasingly wide margins. It has lost
only in the country
s one major urban centre, Phnom Penh, representing 8
or 9 per cent of the population, where a secret ballot seemed assured by a
greater sense of voter anonymity, voter sophistication, and the watchful
presence of the international community and media.

Some concluding thoughts

Cambodia - Latest on situation
Cambodia - Latest on situation
10:03:08 There were signs in Cambodia on Thursday (17/7) that the
nomination of Foreign Minister Ung Huot as the new first premier could
ease the crisis…

Analysing the relationship between Cambodian society and its governing
structure through the medium of the country
s political culture raises old
questions in a new, or di
fferent, light. Among them are: Who is to govern?;
What is representative government?; and What constitutes political authority?
In reviewing Cli
fford Geertzs Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth Cen-
tury Bali
, political theorist Quentin Skinner noted that the western inherited
tradition of political analysis may now be serving to inhibit rather than
clarify our understanding not merely of alien cultures but also of our own

(quoted in Wolter 1982: 97). It is outside the scope of this essay to digress on
this issue beyond, brie
fly, picking up a thread in my introduction and making
reference to the phrase
structures of consciousnessused above. In the last
mature decades of his work, Voegelin developed a theory of human con-
sciousness wherein so-called structures of consciousness,
concrete con-
sciousness of concrete persons
, are seen as integral parts of the structure of
reality, including political reality. In his meditative essay on
What is Political
, Voegelin (2002: 341412) maintained that concrete human beings
order their existence in accordance with their consciousness, where that which
is ordered is not merely their consciousness, but their entire existence in the
Consciousness is the experience of participation, namely, of mans
participation in the ground of being
(ibid.: 373). A corollary of this reality
of participatory knowledge for a theory of politics requires addressing the
problem of political organization on the basis of the entire existence of
human beings in society (
ibid: 398f.). The formal systems approach of mod-
ern political analysis denies in its reductionism the reality of what Victor
Turner and other students of ritual have demonstrated, namely, that the
sacrality of social life is what renders that life intelligible. As the mounting
evidence of anthropologists, archeologists, students of comparative religion,
and others enters the public domain, political analysts are invited to become
familiar with aspects of culture that have been invisible to them because of
their theoretical blinkers. Moreover, as things have turned out in the century
since Weber, myth and religion, rendered meaningful or intelligible through
participatory ritual, are not, with the exception of parts of the West (Europe
in particular), dying epiphenomena of a coming secular age where political
legitimacy is tied to an impersonal, rational-bureaucratic state.

Already in the early 1950s, as Cambodia was achieving its independence
and embarking, with other post-colonial states whose elites were trained in
the metropoles, on the path of becoming a modern nation-state, Voegelin
cautioned a West and the international institutions through which it acted
in the world as unintentionally generating disorder
through its sincere but
ve endeavor of curing the evils of the world by spreading representative
institutions in the elemental sense to areas where the existential conditions
for their functioning were not given
(Voegelin 1952: 51).49 He stated that
provincialism, persistent in the face of its consequences, is in itself an
interesting problem for the scientist
in so far as the odd policies of western
democratic powers (are) symptomatic of a massive resistance to face reality,
deeply rooted in the sentiments and opinion of the broad masses of our
contemporary Western societies
(ibid.). In the context of an anthropological
study on the problem of communication across diversity, Becker (1979: 1)
questioned why western science approached other conceptual systems as lack-
some essential ingredient of our own, seldom if ever using non-western
conceptual systems as
models of the way the world really is, as versions of
wisdom. Or as correctives of pathologies in our own system
. Comaroff (1994:
301) con
firms that religion and ritual remain crucial in the life of so-called
modern nation-states in communities in Asia and elsewhere.
They urge us,
she states,
to distrust disenchantment, to rethink the telos of development
that still informs the models of much mainstream social science.

If as I have sought to demonstrate above the western liberal paradigm
continues to elude Cambodian culture and politics, it is not unreasonable to
ask at this juncture whether it is only a question of time, patience, and
persistence before a country like Cambodia can be brought, with the encour-
agement and assistance of an international community that continues to run
on European time, reason, and logic to accept the reasonableness of this
model of political organization.
50 Is there no alternative but for so-called
traditional and post-traditional societies to pass through the
fiery brookof
modernity and embrace its dominant political form, liberal democracy? If
the answer remains no, we are left with the pleonast asking whether
it is
possible to establish the conditions for legitimate and sustainable national
governance through a period of benevolent foreign autocracy
2005: 1), whether by a single power or the international community. Henry
Kamm, who pessimistically concluded that Cambodia
is past helping itself
(1998: 251), is not alone in advocating such an unimaginative western-centric

If there is an alternative, one has to ask if it is possible for Cambodians to
construct a modern, or post-modern, polity that does justice to its political
culture, where the institutions of governance have legitimacy with the people.
Heine-Geldern (1956: 16) rhetorically asked the impossible in the mid-1950s:
whether there was any possibility of indigenous moral-cosmological concep-
becoming the basis of future constructive developments. Practically,
he called for a better
compromise between old and new conceptions (where)
the outward expressions of the old ideas could easily be kept in tact and
filled with new meaning without in the least impairing educational
and material progress
(ibid.). Are there any international precedents?
Among the Eastern European countries since the collapse of communism,
only in Poland can we point to a Catholic
communitas that is to a degree
represented in the governing structure; as such, the country has become a
thorn in a secular-liberal European Union in search of a moral compass
capable of listening to its grassroots. In North America, we
find a stronger
example in the experience since the 1970s of tribes and
first peoples rebuild-
ing institutions of their own design, frequently bypassing the conventional
treaty process established by the US government and Canada. While this
exercise in genuine nation-building and indigenous governance has a com-
mon key in a return to culture and tradition, and is not as a rule accom-
panied by a written constitution (but reliance on the institution of a council
of elders), individual native nations have been creatively dealing with the
process in ways unique to them.
51 In Africa, we have the largely (non-
fundamentalist) Muslim country of Mali, which divested itself of a vaguely
Marxist-Leninist dictator in 1990. She has since developed a
fledgling dem-
ocracy whose most striking feature, apart from discretely bypassing French
is its success in drawing [an unchauvinistic] intellectual and spirit-
ual sustenance from an epic past, and actively incorporating homegrown
elements, such as decentralization
(Pringle 2006: 39).

These cursory examples suggest successful adaptations of the concept
of allotropism I have invoked to describe the constancy of indigenous cul-
tural underpinnings, or structures of consciousness, uneasily coexisting in
more or less arti
ficial modern state structures. In the case of Cambodia,
pote (1979: 784f.) held that a harmonious complementaritybetween the
indigenous-traditionaland foreign-moderndeveloped in the first half of
the twentieth century under, ironically, French protection. This ostensibly
healthy allotropism was broken in mid-century, he argues, as political society
bifurcated into modernizing national elites entrusted with power and a
powerless conservative populace bu
ffeted and manipulated by, and ineffect-
ually resisting, change.
52 The process that led to the two forms of post-war
allotropism discussed in the essay
the Sangkum (19551970) and CPP
(1993-present) periods
hints at a pattern. From 1) tumult (World War II/the
anti-colonial struggle and the Khmer Rouge period) to peace in the form of
2) liberal democracy directly or indirectly imposed by an outside power,
which is followed by 3) an authoritarian self-correction. The elemental
representation of 2, bereft of existential representation, was bound to fail
and lead to 3. In both instances, the self-corrections were motivated by the
disintegrative e
ffects of a perceived Cambodian factionalism masquerading
as a multiparty system unequipped to govern based on power-sharing
arrangements, including implied acceptance of the concept of legitimate
opposition, while also cut o
ff or alienated in palpable ways from the basic
symbols of Cambodia
s political culture.

One difference from the immediate post-war period is that while multi-
party democracy had a chance to unfold in the late 1940s and early 1950s
before its replacement by the personal rule of the (abdicated) monarch, the
same process was stopped in its tracks when the CPP balked at the 1993
elections results and refused to cede power, regaining undisputed control
after the 1997 coup. A more critical di
fference is that in place of a perceived
legitimate monarch
filling the political void in 1955, a reorganized post-
communist power elite lacking legitimate authority
filled the same void in
1997. The legerdemain of the monarch in creating a quasi-traditional polity
wrapped in modern language symbols was replaced by the legerdemain of an
ex-communist strongman wrapping himself in legitimizing royal and religious
symbols to create, in this case, a new type of allotropic polity: a
shorn of legitimacy wherein the monarchy, Sangha, and people have been
used less to buttress national ideology or development goals than power and
its perquisites for their own sake.

While criticized by his political opponents on the left and right and by
western observers for having quashed liberal democracy through the person-
alization of power, Prince Sihanouk
s version of Cambodian allotropism
nonetheless passed the test of existential representation more than the
marred parliamentary system it replaced and the regimes that have followed.
As such, the
Sangkum as a model is deserving of further study by a political
science capable of coming to grips with the
severe disadvantages of a political
system that used western forms without the support of any political traditions
that could easily accommodate themselves to the practices and institutions
of the West
(Osborne 1973: 114). Such an avenue of research could map
out, as in Kershaw
s (2001: 6) study of monarchy in Southeast Asia, the
dimensions of
synthetic institutional assetand authentic traditional values
where the latter is seen, as in this essay, both in terms of an authentic
experienced by the people and a doctrinemanipulated by modern
elites for legitimizing purposes. I have tried to demostrate that allotropism as
a conceptual tool in the context of a political theory where symbols in theory
correspond to symbols of reality may be one framework through which the
problem of social and political order in Cambodia can be re-examined. Such
a project is likely to reveal that for an allotropism to be workable, a political
regime and its institutions be authentically invested with that quality of
givennessthat Geertz associated with primordiality (in Keyes et al. 1994: 5).
In this context, the cultural gestalt of a so-called traditional polity may also
be explored, heuristically or otherwise, by a political science concerned with
the problem of western (and westernizing) societies bereft of community in
the ontological sense, that is, of people participating in a system of meaning
informed by principles of order whose source lies outside intramundane
time. For individuals and communities will invariably continue to strive,
Max Weber, to enter that magic garden where the relation between the world
as it is culturally experienced and politically conceived actually coincides.


  1. 1  In revising this essay, I wish to thank Ian Harris, Peter J. Optiz, and Frank E.
    Reynolds for their obliging and helpful comments.

  2. 2  In a volume on political legitimacy in Southeast Asia(Alagappa 1995), there was
    apparently no-one quali
    fied or interested in covering Cambodia.

  3. 3  For an excellent, culturally sensitive compendium of articles on social aspects of
    Buddhism and religion in Cambodia, written by humanities scholars who began
    specializing on Cambodia in the 1990s, see Marston and Guthrie 2004.

  4. 4  In a similar vein, Geertz (2000: xii), as a critical cultural anthropologist, acknow-
    ledged a debt to Wittgenstein
    s notion of ‘ “forms of life” ’ as the complex of
    natural and cultural circumstances which are presupposed in . . . any particular
    understanding of the world . . .

  5. 5  Kapferer (1988) provides related insights on the usefulness of an ontological
    approach in his understanding of the cosmic logic of Sinhalese Buddhist myths,
    legends, and rites as an ontology explicating
    the fundamental principles of a
    being in the world and the orientation of such a being toward the horizons of its
    (p. 79). Ontology here defined is not a property of the psyche
    independent of history
    , but a dynamic process of the constitution of form or
    in time and space, a conception and approach that is neither
    essentialist or psychologistic (p. xix). I thank George Sch
    pflin for bringing this
    source to my attention, and Barry Cooper for having read the
    first two sections of
    this paper.

  6. 6  Schaar (1984: 106) maintains that contemporary social science has even failed to
    appreciate the precariousness of legitimate authority in the modern states because
    it is largely a product of the same phenomena it seeks to describe and therefore
    ffers the blindness of the eye examining itself.

  7. 7  I define modernityin generally sceptical terms, with Taylor (2004: 1), as that
    historically unprecedented amalgam of new practices and institutions (science,
    technology, industrial production, urbanization), of new ways of living (indi-
    vidualism, secularization, instrumental rationality); and new forms of malaise
    (alienation, meaninglessness, a sense of impending social dissolution).

  8. 8  He demonstrated, referring to the Angkorian and pre-Angkorian eras, how the
    flux of Indic culture (Brahmanism, Buddhism, Indian mores and customs)
    retreated into local cultural statements,
    fitting one way or another into new
    contexts by the
    something elsein the local cultures responsible for the localizing
    process. In architecture, the classic example of how Indic foreign materials were
    absorbed and retreated into local cultural statements are, of course, the striking
    temples of Angkor Wat.

  9. 9  Those specialists are invited to skip this section of the paper (to p. 79) or correct
    shortcomings of my condensed interpretation.

  10. 10  Although the cosmic city in its Angkorian architectural manifestation assumed
    the square form, the idea of the circular form of the Hindu and Buddhist
    cosmologies nonetheless holds (Heine-Geldern 1956: 4, n.3).

  1. 11  In classical Cambodia, Heine-Geldern (1956: 10) points out that the temple and
    not royal place formed the centre of the capital, and thus the Mount Meru of city
    and empire. In Theravada Cambodia, the royal palace assumed this function
    pote 1990: 100107).

  2. 12  Both Kulke (1978), an Indologist relying on epigraphic evidence, and Pou (1998), a
    Khmerologist using a socio-linguistic approach to epigraphy, question earlier held
    assumptions by Coed
    s (1968) and others about the divine nature of Angkorian
    kings. They have demonstrated that the god (S
    ́iva) was lord of the universe/
    cosmos, sovereign over the king, who was lord of the earth,
    each one responsible
    for the sphere he managed, in a perfect macro-microcosmic system, thus standing
    as the main pillars of a [Hindic]
    dharma-ruled world(Pou 1998: 2).

  3. 13  Harris (2005: 2628) urges caution in characterizing Theravada Buddhism as a
    grassroots movement
    spread through a previously neglected rural environment.

  4. 14  Collins, S. (1998: 474), while not questioning the symbiosis between the monarchy
    Sangha implied here, questions whether the wheels of the Buddha and cakka-
    are parallel in that it misses much of the tension and competitionbetween
    ideological (sic) powerof the monastic order and the political-military
    of the kings, whose rule was not infrequently accompanied by the use of

  5. 15  For a mid-1950s description of such an informal village headman election in
    Cambodia, see Zadrozny (1955: 310
    311). For the cakkavattin and Maha ̄sammata
    as sources of mimetic empowerment, see Swearer (1995: 7291).

  6. 16  See, passim, the Chroniques Royales du Cambodge, 3 vols, redacted and translaed
    by Mak Phoeun (1981 and 1984) and Khin Sok (1988) published by the
    aise dExtrme-Orient (Paris).

  7. 17  For the moral ambiguity of a Buddhist ruler, enjoined to renounce the world, to
    either embrace an ethic of absolute values or adopt an ethics of reciprocity,
    in which the assessment of violence is context-dependent and negotiable, see
    Collins, S. (1998: 419
    23) and passim, ch.6.

  8. 18  cf. Bizot (1976: Introduction). The sources of healing power, for example, of
    traditional Khmer healers (
    kruu), who inhabit all villages and whose power lies
    outside the Buddhist
    wat, are drawn on the one hand from orthodox Buddhist
    doctrine and cosmology and, on the other, from older Brahmanic, Vedic (includ-
    ing Ayurvedic healing rituals) and Tantric in
    fluences merged into local folk
    customs (Eisenbruch 1992: 290, 309). Unlike western medical practice, traditional
    healers are not concerned solely with the patient or the patient
    s ailment in
    isolation, but with the ritual space of the community and, by extension, the three
    worlds of humans, deities (above), and demons (below) that constitute the cosmo-
    logical structure of being:
    The kruu makes no distinction between what has to do
    with the patient and the what has to do with the society. The ritual work of the
    kruu aims at restoring the relative order and harmony of these two axes(ibid.:
    312, cf. 289

  9. 19  In an earlier work, Tambiah (1970: 263) described the relationship of spirit cults to
    Buddhism as
    not simple but complex, involving opposition, complementarity,
    linkage, and hierarchy.
    For a royal reconstruction of Buddhist, Brahmanic, and
    local supernatural rituals in the Khmer lunar calendar devised by the
    King Ang Duong (184760), see Yang (1990: 7581); cp. Chandler (1983).

  10. 20  Ironically, while republican France chose to retain the institutions of the
    monarchy and
    Sangha in Cambodia and Laos, the British imperial monarchy
    dealt fatal blows to the Buddhist kingships, while simultaneously endeavouring to
    disestablish Buddhism, in Burma and Sri Lanka.

  11. 21  The sense of quiescence suggested here is belied by what Npote (1984: 8991)
    refers to as administrative and other reforms undertaken taken by Khmer rulers
    from the late eighteenth century, with King Ang Eng, through the reign of King
    Monivong, principally in reaction to the Siamese and Vietnamese intrusions and
    the French occupation. These initiatives, which drew on a long pattern of earlier
    cultural exchanges within the region, were tantamount to a localized
    finition of Cambodian societythat served to prepare the country to deal with
    the modern (in the western sense) world. These dynastic reforms, including and
    especially those of King Ang Duang from 1847 to 1860 as well as King Norodom
    in the last twenty years of his reign, were enacted in the context of the old symbol-
    isms. Mention of King Norodom
    s four requirements of traditional learning,
    Buddhist and non-Buddhist, for service in the court, as uttered upon rejecting a
    job applicant in 1895, is cited in Osborne (1969: 242, 345 n.1). Lecl
    res lengthy
    turn-of-the-century account of Buddhism in Cambodia (1899a), based on informal
    field observations and interviews among learned Buddhist informants, is couched
    in Buddhist and non-Buddhist cosmological, including cosmogonic, language.
    Regarding Khmer cosmogony, see Bizot (1980) for an explication of a Buddhist
    origin myth and initiation rite. For the Brahmanic in
    fluence on Khmer administra-
    tive law, see Lecl
    re 1899b. For a lucid commentary of Indic law and its animating
    dharma, as diffused in Southeast Asia, see Geertz (1973: 195207).

  1. 22  Unlike in Vietnam (and post-1993 Cambodia), the introduction of private prop-
    erty into Cambodia did not lead to the creation of a rich landholding class
    (cf. Delvert: 1961: 488f.). Similarly, the introduction of the purely administrative
    khum did not become a frame of reference among the people that the more myth-
    ically-laden terms
    phum (village) and srok (country, district) retain to this day.

  2. 23  By contrast, the French succeeded in eliminating Vietnams Confucian-based edu-
    cation system, especially in the southern provinces of Cochin-China, by the
    decade of the twentieth century.

  3. 24  Gour (1965: 65) states that the political parties . . . did not represent more than a
    surface agitation, having no rapport whatsoever with the public opinion of the
    masses (who were very sensitive to insecurity). They did not re
    flect in anything the
    profound desires of the Khmer people with whom they were not in direct contact.

    The savvy 1946 election strategy employed, in an instrumentalist sense, by the
    Democrat Party in the provinces was to recruit
    achars, influential lay elders presid-
    ing over the practical a
    ffairs of Buddhist wats, whose election represented, on the
    part of the electors, more a traditional social and religious reaction than a real
    political choice consciously favoring the program of the Democrats
    (ibid.: n.2).

  4. 25  The term men is a Khmer vernacular variant of Meru. The peoplescongresses
    held on the Ground, which was also ritually used as the royal cremation site and
    for ploughing the sacred furrow (cf.
    infra, n. 27), were a theatreof democratic
    political participation.

  5. 26  In his pragmatic openness if not zeal to modernize, Sihanouk, perhaps also pres-
    sured by the new governing elite sensitive to international expectations, gradually
    stripped the
    Sangha of its control over primary education.

  6. 27  Through the power of his royal anointing (apisek) of the Ground, where he places
    the earth in relation with the cosmos, the king derives legitimacy in the Khmer
    mentality from his power to give fertility to the soil (written communication by
    ois Ponchaud).

  7. 28  Heder (2002) claims that no election in Cambodia since 1947 had been lost by the
    party or power in control of the state apparatus. He states that the French, who
    still held the reins of administration in 1947 Cambodia, facilitated the Democrat
    s victory (p. 2). That said, there was no need for Sihanouk to rig elections
    held during the
    Sangkum years.

  8. 29  For accounts highlighting nefarious aspects of Sihanouks character and rule,
    cf. Chandler (1991) and Osborne (1994).

  1. 30  Sihanouk maintains the relatively insignificant Khmer Rouge joined his royalist
    liberation movement, not
    vice-versa, before gaining the strength to co-opt it.

  2. 31  The ousted monarchy had left a force of 34,000 marginally combat ready and
    equipped men, about one-half the number of registered monks and novices in
    1969. By mid-1972, there were 200,000 men in arms.

  3. 32  Broad-based appeals to nationalism were ineffective as this new credo did not
    extend beyond the small intellectual urban class.
    Chauvinistic appeals to the
    preservation of Khmer
    raceor blood”’, while launched by Sihanouk and fully
    exploited in the 1970s by coup leader Lon Nol and the Khmer Rouge leadership,
    failed to transcend the educated class. The related manipulation of the image of
    hereditary foe,the Vietnamese, also failed to produce spontaneous action or
    (Thion 1993: 127).

  4. 33  Serge Thion, a secondary school teacher in Cambodia in the late 1960s, was a
    Le Monde correspondent embeddedwith the Khmer Rouge in 1972, the only
    western observer to have visited a Khmer Rouge zone and survived before their
    victory in 1975.

  5. 34  For more on the Khmer Rouge tendency to reconfigure and reemploy Buddhist
    symbolism and modes of thought
    (Harris 2005: 184), cf. ibid.: 18189.

  6. 35  Since 1989, the number of officially registered monks increased from some
    8,000 to more than 60,000 today. There were 65,000 monks and novices
    residing in 3,369 registered
    wats in 1969, when the population of Cambodia was
    approximately seven million. The current number of monks reside in just over
    wats in a country whose population has surpassed 14 million. Although the
    number of monks today represents a decline relative to the population, it
    attests, given the circumstances, to the ongoing vibrancy of Buddhism as a force in
    Cambodian society.

  7. 36  A French acronym for Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Indpendent,
    Neutre, Paci
    fique et Coopratif.

  8. 37  On election day in Battambangs Maung Russey district, I witnessed inside a large,
    floor schoolroom serving as the polling place a portly yay (grandmother)
    squinting her eyes while turning a confusing election ballot paper, utter in a clear,
    disarmingly perplexed voice for all to hear,
    Samdech niw ay nah?(where is the
    Lord Prince, that is,
    KingSihanouk). That, for most Khmers, seemed to capture
    the election moment.

  9. 38  The Khmer Rouge withdrew from the Paris peace process in 1992 to resume its
    struggle until running out of steam, including and especially through defections of
    leaders to the government, by 1998, the year Pol Pot died.

  10. 39  Lao Mong (2002), taking issue with Sihanouks lame responses to pleas over the
    years to be a more active monarch, gives the prerogatives and powers of the king
    in the constitution a more muscular interpretation.

  11. 40  For an account of post-election mass demonstrations, confined for the most
    part to Phnom Penh, led by monks and students that turned violent in August-
    September 1998, see Harris (2005: 216
    19). Hun Sen the populist has been a
    regular feature in the Khmer media criticizing or haranguing the government
    and its corrupt ways (one source has described the regime as an
    ) in language that may not be entirely duplicitous.

  12. 41  In 1971, a youthful Hun Sen joined the Khmer Rouge in response to Americas
    saturation bombing campaign, rising to the level of commander until his defection
    to Vietnam in 1977 and return behind Vietnamese forces in January 1979 (Kiernan
    1996: 370
    71). He has ruled Cambodia since the early 1980s.

  13. 42  On October 4, 2003, while watching the national television channel over steamed
    chicken and rice in a restaurant a few blocks from the royal palace, I witnessed in
    real time the king
    s swearing in after a long political standoff of the new national assembly members. In a ritual known as bhı.k t.ık sampath (drinking the water
    of the oath), traceable to the reign of Su
    ̄ryavarman I (1002 to 1050 AD), all
    leading politicians including the premier, Hun Sen, attired in
    chaang kben ́ , a white
    jacket over a royal red silk kilt passed back between the legs and tied in the small
    of the back, one by one prostrated themselves before the king and then the two
    Buddhist supreme patriarchs before drinking a vial of lustral water sacralized and
    administered by the
    baku priests. Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong administered the
    loyalty oath (to the
    nation), which the responding parliamentarians chanted in
    unison. (Re the water oath, cf. Hansen 2004: 45

  1. 43  For years prior to this surprise move, the CPP had impeded Sihanouks proposal
    for enabling legislation governing the role of the Crown Council, the organ consti-
    tutionally responsible for electing a new king within seven days of the death of
    the king. The CPP, it was commonly known, held a majority of the votes on
    the Council, including the Buddhist Mohanikay order
    s Supreme Patriarch
    sanghareach), Tep Vong.

  2. 44  Bektimirova (2003) reports that while the official number of monks in the mid-
    1980s was set at 6,000, there were nearly twice as many non-registered, or illegal,
    approximately 11,000 most presumably males under the legal age limit
    fifty for ordination.

  3. 45  William Collins, a cultural anthropologist who conducted field work with a team
    of Khmer researchers in Battambang and Siemreap provinces in 1996
    reported on the distinction made by informants, principally those with
    levels of Buddhist learning
    , between aanaacak (or roat amnaac), referring to
    government power, and puttheacak, or Buddha power. The distinction is not
    equivalent to the western dichotomies of church and state or even sacred and
    profane, but expresses, rather, a tension between
    an external force that tries to
    organize action and to enforce obedience to rules on the one hand, and an internal
    force that gives rise to conduct and promotes adherence to principles on the other
    (1998: 1920).

  4. 46  Personal communication from Ven. Yos Hut (2003).

  5. 47  Apart from my limited footnotes there are no documented studies beyond patchy press and oral accounts of these practices; as such, the scope and intensity of
    systematic political intimidation of villagers through the
    wat structure since 1997
    remains plausible conjecture. While working with a dozen
    wat communities in
    two districts of Battambang province during 1992
    93, in the run-up to the UN-
    sponsored elections, I saw no evidence of the government party or any political
    party setting up shop in a
    wat. By contrast, two days before the national commune
    elections in February 2002, I by chance encountered at Kandal province
    s Tbeng
    commune, some forty kilometres southeast of Phnom Penh, a not inconspicuous
    CPP pre-election meeting in a
    wat. Officials had assembled at least twelve local
    authorities (along with four district policemen, one armed) in a building marked
    with a large CPP banner within a
    wat compound festooned with CPP banners,
    bunting, and other festive decorations. Except for a small number of children, no
    villagers or monks were within sight.

  6. 48  If the myth of the modern state, a universal Idea that Hegel reified in end-of-
    history terms as the last word in political organization, has since the mid-twentieth
    century waned in the western consciousness, the corollary myth of a commercially
    grounded liberal pluralism, and its exportability, has not. In the wake of Ameri-
    s recent Cold War victory, history, in the otherwise thoughtful neo-Hegelian
    terms of Fukuyama (1992), appeared to be reaching its
    final synthesis, and the
    Idea was
    post-historicalliberal democracy, the pluralist paradigm for state

  7. 49  Referring to Southeast Asia, Heine-Geldern (1956: 16) stated that a) for the vast mass of the common people, grown up in the old traditions, . . . the modern ideas
    of democracy and [elemental] representative institutions mean little or nothing,

    and b), in what is now a prophetic statement for Cambodia, that a sudden complete
    break of cultural traditions has almost always proved disastrous to national and
    individual ethics and to the whole spirit of the peoples a

  1. 50  Ponchaud (1990), a Catholic missionary in Cambodia since the 1960s equipped
    with a keen understanding of Khmer culture, o
    ffers an example of the below-the-
    radar durability, if recently shaken, of Cambodian culture. In a culture where
    locals ascribe to the axiom that
    to be Khmer is to be Buddhist, he is good
    naturedly non-plussed by the fact that, after 450 years of evangelization, the
    Buddhist Khmers have with very few exceptions not taken to Christianity
    larger or smaller segments among the Vietnamese, Malaysians, and Koreans and,
    much earlier and as a special case, the Tagalogs. (The jury is still out on a massive
    campaign since the mid-1990s by American Protestant evangelicals to Christianize
    the Khmers.)

  2. 51  Sovereignty, or genuine participatory self-rule, has been the starting point.
    According to Cornell and Kalt (1998: 205),
    [t]he trick is to invent governments that
    are capable of operating e
    ffectively in the contemporary world, but that also
    match people
    s ideas traditional or not about what is appropriate and fair.

  3. 52  It deserves to be noted, as Npote (1979: 777) does, that the calamities that
    beset Cambodia since mid-century did not
    emanate from social classes that were
    the most disfavored and/or remained closest to the traditional models (small
    farmers, the religious elders, holders of traditional knowledge, etc . . .), but rather
    those classes that were the most
    evolved. . .

  4. 53  As part of the rapid post-World War II modernization, the modern secular educa-
    tion system introduced in the 1950s and 1960s led to what N
    pote (1979: 784)
    the creation of an increasingly important nucleus of detribalizedyoung
    people who no longer recognized themselves in their cultural context, their hier-
    archy, and their political symbolism.
    These disoriented, disenchanted, and for the
    most part unemployed
    neak cheh-dung (capable-informed ones) became what he
    called the
    social detonatorsof Cambodian society and politics as, together with
    their younger teachers and mentors (many of them French
    gauchists doing alter-
    native military service as teachers), they attached themselves with fervour, in many
    cases successively, to the rebellions that overthrew the monarchy in 1970 and the
    republican regime in 1975 (Osborne 1973: 72, 92; Delvert 1979: 747). Those who
    came of age at that time and survived are today in their political maturity, many as
    leaders of the regime or the thirty-eight other parties that ran in the 2003 election.


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