Monday, April 19, 2010

Thai Tea, Anyone?

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....


mud_rake said...

I may have heard of such a movement...I'm trying to think...

I recall one of the most amusing scenarios of the M*A*S*H series when Col. Potter's horse was constipated and they decided to give it an enema.


microdot said...

I suppose, I could have said more here. The real message is that democracy is ailing all over the world. It is being subverted and coopted. It's weaknesses and faults are being exploited by the onwardly creeping slime of corporate corruption.
We are fast sliding into a Mediacracy...a mediocre mediacracy where elected government systems fail because the media is controlled by corrupt corporate interests who use the playbook of facist population manipulation to achieve their goals. Their goals?
Total Control, Maximum Profit and Screw Everything Else.

steve said...

Didn't this corner of the world already go through this script with the Khmer Rouge? (Which is another history lesson on how US foreign policy drives the rest of the world to do insane things - like flip out an kill one another - or join a radical mosque)

microdot said...

Well, obviously, Cambodia and Thailand are totally different even though they are neighbors.
Thailand has been outwardly western for well over a century. There was a repressive military dictatorship, but they have always had the curbing influence of the influential royal family. They were never a European colony and they are a remarkable culture that has been able to absorb foreign influences and still synthesize them into something distinctly Thai.
Cambodia was a French colony, as was Vietnam and their revolutionary struggle for independance was fertile ground for the communist movements. In the case of Cambodia, it was a brutally insane warped Revolutionary Maoist attempt to create a new society free from the past. This coupled with the French then American war in Southeast Asia created the nightmare you refer to.

Thailand does not share this history. My interpretation of modern Thai society is a corrupt democracy that is quickly becoming very affluent. There is a lot of money, big corporations and this is causing real class friction.

I see a real relationship with the rest of the world and the influence of media to subvert democracy. Not to create communism, but to create a monolithic fascist media run state...Like Berlusconi's Italy.
Thaksin would like to create the same kind of thing in Thailand.

In America, the media was really subverted during the Bush years. The FCC allowed interstate broadcasting monopolies like Clearstream. Rupert Murdoch was allowed to buy up American Newspapers then in violation of FCC standards, was allowed to control a Television network...he is the perfect example...
That is why we have to oppose the current Comcast attempt to buy NBC.
Comcast controls a cable network company. They control internet access. They are creating a Rightwing Cable network that will start up this summer.
This is against the guidelines of the FCC, but these guidelines, time and time again can be bent and altered if influence and money is applied....We have seen it happen before.
The Teaparty is a creation of the media to create the illusion of discontent and to inspire a the idea that this is a "peoples" movement, when in fact, it is the manipulation of the people to accomplish corporate goals, like the abolition of financial regulations.
This is what I mean when I use the term Mediacracy....

steve said...

I visited Thailand a couple of times when I was in the Marines. Needless to say, I don't remember very much - it's all an alcohol clouded haze.

microdot said...

I have 2 nephews living in Bangkok, one is a "golden boy" he is a renowned author on Asian Art and Society, living in a luxury high rise.
The other, his cousin is an architect who works for the SouthEast Asian Housing Coalition. He is a prime mover in the attempt to help poor communities all over Asia redesign and take control of their lives.
Re cently,he brought a group of Indonesian Tsunami survivors to New Orleans to be involved in workshops to help the poor of New orleans rebuild.
They just got a huge grant from Gates.
He lives in a traditional Thai wooden House. My wife recently visited them and I want to go to Thailand just for the food!

If you'd like to learn more about Thai Society and history from a very unique perspective, I would recommend Alex's latest book:
Bangkok Found, Reflections on the City, which was just published by River Books.

His book, Lost Japan which was published in the 1990's was originally written in Japanese and he is the only Westerner to have won the japaneses equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for it.

It is translated into English, still in print and used as a text book on Japanese culture.