I have wanted to write about the political situation in Thailand for a little while. Last year I wrote about the Yellow Shirts and their demonstrations to oust the corrupt Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Now, Bangkok has been virtually shut down for weeks by the Red Shirts, the supporters of Thaksin. They want the present elected Prime Minister to step down, go into exile and Thaksin to be reinstated.
The Yellow shirts are urban and educated and from the upwardly mobile middle class. The Red Shirts are predominantly poor and rural. The Red Shirts see Thaksin as their hero and his power base is in the poor, anti intellectual rural North.
Thaksin was ousted by the Thai legal system because of massive corruption. Why you might ask, would the Thais want to bring back a corrupt criminal government after recently electing a reformist administration?
The situation in Thailand is easily understood and actually is a microcosm of what is happening all over SouthEast Asia and in a more complicated sense in the United States.
Why would Americans want to get rid of a recently elected adminsitration that is dealing with the massive problems caused by the last 8 years of massisve mismanagement and fraud of the Bush Administration?
The Red Shirt movement is fueled by an oppositionist media. The movement is abnormally violent for an outwardly seemingly peaceful nation like Thailand. The violence is ignited by Thaksins thugs. Most of the deaths in the Red Shirt demonstrtions were shown to have come from violence inside the crowd. There are armed demonstrators firing at the Army and into the crowds. One of the recent victims was a Japanese Reuters Photographer, who was shot by bullets coming from inside the demonstration. Indeed, the violence of last weeks demonstrations caused the Army to retreat and stop trying to break up the crowds.
The Red Shirt movement has degenerated into an all purpose manifestation of class struggle. Maoists, Islamic Rebels and The Urban Poor, who were Yellow Shirts last year have now been caught up in the fervor of the "revolution".
It is now seen by many in the Red Shirt movement as the poor against the rich. The uneducated against the intellectual city population. This is inspite of the fact that the leader they are trying to bring back is the wealthiest individual in Thailand, a man who made his wealth through corruption and is responsible for preserving the corrupt system that keeps the rural Northerners in their "place". The success of Thaksin in creating this chaos that he can profit from is due to his use of media and propaganda.
Does this sound familiar?
A movement that is anti intellectual, anti government, not above using force to effect some kind of non specific change...just stay tuned to FOX and they'll let you know....