"A … theme arises from the pervasiveness of patronage and hierarchies in Cambodian thinking, politics, and social relations. For most of Cambodian history, it seems, people in power were thought (by themselves and nearly everyone else) to be more meritorious than others. Older people were also ideologically privileged. Despite some alterations these arrangements remained unchanged between Cambodia’s so-called Indianized phase in the early years if the present era [sic] and the onset of Theravada Buddhism in the fourteenth century, when some egalitarianism, but not much, seeped into Cambodia social relations. The widespread acceptance of an often demeaning status quo meant that in Marxist terms Cambodians went through centuries of mystification. If this is so, and one’s identity was so frequently related to subordination, what did political independence mean?"
David Chandler, A History of Cambodia. 4th Ed. 2008.
I do believe I understand the question about what political independence means, though I cannot answer it. In terms of where I come from—The United States—the laboring classes have been only too happy to permit the wealthy and privileged citizens, the most powerful members of our communities, unearned ambition, generation after generation.
A dialectic is necessary to examine such problems. I like Marx here: [in opposition to Hegel,] the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought. It’s all about a process of demystification through class struggle. (Well, not all about, but close.)
That any voter could identify with a Mitt Romney or Ron Paul (even Obama,) for example, is a sign of just how significant a role mystification plays back home. In Cambodia, the evidence is everywhere even in/with philanthro-tourism/-tourists.