"Today Will be the End of the Elite in Thailand"

Article from the New York Times about the red shirt movement in Thailand. We do not necessarily agree with this article but reproduce it for reference.

By SETH MYDANS and THOMAS FULLER
Published: April 7, 2010

BANGKOK — Anti-government demonstrators who have kept Bangkok on edge for nearly three weeks remained out in force on Wednesday, and news agencies reported that a band of protesters broke through a line of security forces and stormed into Parliament.

The move forced Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and several lawmakers to flee in a Black Hawk helicopter, the agencies reported. The intruders stayed about 40 minutes before peacefully retreating.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was not in the building at the time of the incident, according to The Nation, a daily newspaper. He had held a morning cabinet meeting in Parliament but left around 9:40 a.m.

The red-shirted demonstrators — many of them supporting Thaksin Shinawatra, the fugitive former prime minister — had staged a show of impunity Tuesday, parading through parts of the city that the government had explicitly placed off limits to them.

In huge, festive throngs, the protesters flooded through some of the city’s major thoroughfares in a traffic jam that outdid the worst of Bangkok’s famously gridlocked traffic.

On motorbikes, pickup trucks and farm vehicles, cheering, chanting and honking their horns, the mostly poor and rural protesters, identified by the color of their shirts, brought the countryside into the high-rise core of the city.

As Mr. Abhisit has wavered on whether to arrest protest leaders or to declare a state of emergency, some public sentiment seemed to be turning against the government as well as the protesters.

Sopon Ongkara, a columnist in The Nation, condemned the protests as a “campaign of terror bordering on anarchy.” But he placed the onus on the country’s leaders for allowing the protests to continue, saying, “If the government fails to fulfill its duty, it does not deserve another day in office.”

The protests in their broadest terms pit the rural and urban poor against the more affluent middle-class establishment of the capital as Thailand struggles to redefine its political balance of power.

Tens of thousands of protesters have left their farms and villages in an attempt to pressure the government to step down and hold new elections.

Though the government issued warnings Tuesday, security forces repeatedly withdrew as protesters challenged them, their military vehicles backing away as the people with flags and bullhorns moved forward.

The tension of the past three weeks remained just beneath the surface, masked by the smiles and jollity this country is known for.

For now, both sides seem to be working hard to avoid the kind of violence that could quickly escalate into chaos and bloodshed.

However, in a running counterpoint to the street demonstrations, two dozen bombs have exploded since the protests began, including one on Tuesday that the police said caused no damage outside Chulalongkorn University, a campus known for its opposition to the red-shirted protesters.

An M-79 grenade exploded at the headquarters of the governing Democrat Party, which was celebrating its 64th anniversary Tuesday, the police said. They said two police officers were wounded.

Whether the bombs are the work of third parties or part of a coordinated offensive with the peaceful demonstrations, they have contributed to the pressure that has been building against the government.

Many residents and businesses in Bangkok have grown weary of the demonstrations, particularly in the central shopping district, where shopping malls, hotels and at least 43 bank branches have been forced to close their doors.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated economic losses at up to $10 million a day since the main commercial district was forced to shut down last Saturday, according to local reports.

Tourist arrivals have dropped about 10 percent during the protests, according to the tourism and sports minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa. Some visitors who arrived at Bangkok’s international airport on Tuesday were reportedly diverting their trips away from the capital.

“This is too much, too much chaos,” said an advertising copywriter, Ploi Khancharoensuk, who opposes the protests. “It makes our country look uncivilized and weird. There must be a better way to express their dissatisfaction.”

It was the protest leaders who were talking tough on Tuesday, declaring that they would defy government restrictions and march where they wanted to. Throughout the afternoon they appeared to be on a mission to parade through all 11 areas the government had declared to be off limits.

“Today is the time that people stand up for our rights and power,” said Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader, addressing a red-shirted crowd. “Today will be the end of the elite in Thailand.”

Nattawut Saikua, another protest leader, declared: “This morning the police and soldiers pushed us around. Now it’s time to push back.”

But troops on the streets appeared to be under orders to show a friendly face. One soldier with a bullhorn told the demonstrators, “There’s no need to be afraid.” He then handed the bullhorn to a protester who shouted to the soldiers, “Join us!”

It was a scene of some camaraderie among the green-uniformed troops and the red-shirted protesters that has given rise to a new phrase in Bangkok: “watermelon soldiers” — green on the outside but red on the inside.

Posted By

red jack
Apr 7 2010 10:55

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FlynnZ
Apr 8 2010 17:30

Red or Yellow, either way Thailand is Fucked:

From ISJ.org (http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=475):

"The two sides are mirror images of each other. Both are firmly in the camp of the Thai capitalist elite. They both are nationalistic and are prepared to abuse human rights. While the Thaksin government and Samak’s Peoples Power Government support extrajudicial killings and a hard-line murderous position on the South, the opposing side cares little about such killings and counts Panlop Binmanee, the Butcher of Krue Sae, among its leadership. Both factions are associated with people who have a record of corruption. It is common knowledge that all Thai politicians are engaged in corrupt practices, whether legal or illegal.

red jack
Apr 8 2010 19:25

This seems strange. Earlier this year Giles Ji Ungpakorn seemed to be saying something very different: http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/2010/03/29/thai-ngos-side-with-military-royalist-government-against-the-pro-democracy-movement-of-the-poor-8272442/

Does anyone have good credible information on what is happening there?

FlynnZ
Apr 8 2010 23:30

Military Royalist or Media Oligarch (Thaksin), take your pick.

red jack
Apr 9 2010 06:06

Right....I've just seen the useful discussion at http://libcom.org/forums/news/red-shirts-try-overthrow-government-13032010

FlynnZ
Apr 10 2010 01:52

Thanks, that was a bit helpful. Very grey situation indeed.

rooieravotr
Apr 12 2010 21:53

The contradiction, noticed above, between earlier and later statements of Giles Ungpakorn is more apparent than real, I think. Both sides are led by bourgeois forces. In that sense, "Both sides are mirror images", indeed. But one side - the government, the Yellow Shirts supporting them - is supported mostly by the urban middle and capitalist class, by the court and the army leaderships (although the army seems to be divided on this); while the other side, the Red Shirts, have mostly poor, mostly rural supporters. Also, the Red Shirts base their legitimacy on elections and bourgeois democracy; the other side mainly relies on the army and the court. As far as social base and ambitions are concerned, then, they are not mirror images. Similar bourgeois leadership, somewhat different class forces in play. I tried to explain things as I see it in an article, based on bourgoeis news sources and on a recent Ungpakorn article, on my blog: Confrontation in Thaiand has potentially revolutionary dimension

jaocheu
Apr 13 2010 11:27

I think statements like the one quoted in the OP really show the problem of pidgeonholing politics in this kind of orthodox socialist analysis. By the time you've chopped it, changed it, made stuff up and awkwardly squeezed it in you're only ever going to get one result, sit on your fat arse till the revolution comes along, totally lost in some kind of nihilistic ideological world total oblivious to anything that's really happening.

The issue comes much more down to history than politics in many ways. Thailand is very much in its Victorian era as the rural country industrialises. Just like with Victorian Britain, wealthy industrialists are still only 'trade class' not aristocrats in the mentality of the rulers. And the peasants should know their place, their job is obey their betters, not disgree with them.

I often go drinking with someone high up in the yellow shirts, he sums it up nicely when drunk. He has degree and says these are uneducated peasants from the country how can their vote count equal to mine?

I believe a similar back drop faced workers in Victorian Britain that are lauded as heros by the Socialist Movement. The Dockers that striked weren't doing it for revolutionary reasons, it's still down in socialist history as a great moment in the cause. How they seem to have double standards on any politics since.

The red shirts are the rural poor and factory workers. Factory workers work a 10 hour shift a day, 6 days a week and if they are lucky get minium wage. On farms it's closer to 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week and they are lucky if they get half minimum wage. I interviewed two girls in the tourist industry a while back, they worked 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When I asked why, they said it's still better than working on the farm.

There is no wealthfare in Thailand and few people have pensions. Prior to Taksin there was no free healthcare and if you couldn't pay for it, you died. But in reality before this you broke every member of your family, who if they had managed to save a small amount of their meagre income, they lost it on your medical treatment before you died.

Most of the farms are very small, a few acres, and most are up to their eyes in debt in loans as they are not economically viable, the north east is poorly irrigated and neglecting to do it has been a deliberate government policy as the corruption money would go to northern companies and politicians, continuing to develop Bangkok, means the government gets all the back handers. The farms are either rented or mortgaged to the hill. They have also been victim of greedy banks throwing loans at them at bad interest rates, much like the subprime boom in the west and stand to lose what little they have.

Then along came a political party and gave them a free healthcare system, sent money out of Bangkok into local development funds and debt relief on their farms. How much this means to people living in that kind of poverty is hard for people sitting in a western country to envisage.

It's also difficult for us to envisage how the middle classes and wealthy have reacted to this as the reaction would make even the most callous Thatcherite wince. Part of the Buddhist mentality is everyone born into their lot in life, should accept it, and not complain. If you are rich, you deserve it, and should feel nothing for the poor. Thailand has an unimaginable wealth gap as a middle class kid in Bangkok will often have a larger allowance per month than a poor family has to survive on in a month. If the goverment gives to the poor it takes from the rich. The number of times I've tried to explain to wealthy middle class Thais complaining they have less money about the lives of the poor and been met with the a cold blooded response, I don't care, I only care about me and my family, which is completely socially acceptable thing to say.

The red shirts are most definately not a left wing group. But they are fighting Victorian style prejudice and for the majority of people to have the right to a better existence. Also as any sane person will tell you, radicalisation happens in stages. If they win this struggle they can then come back and ask for more. This is the way things built up in Victorian Britain. A perfect completed left wing party won't simply pop into existence out of nothing when a middle class socialist in the UK starts whining while rubbing a magic lamp.

lowellmac
Apr 13 2010 19:04

Thank you jaocheu. Your comments are absolutely spot on and provide a penetrating grasp of the recent fascist drift among middle class Thais desperate to hold on to their privileges and fearful of the masses and their electoral strength. Middle class urban Thais hold their chao baan brothers and sisters in utter contempt. The difference with Victorian Britain is that there is no countervailing development of bourgeois patrician philanthropy or attempts to create a common culture along the lines of Matthew Arnold. In the absence of that expansive and confident humanistic bourgeois culture the class struggles appear in an unvarnished form and the sentiments expressed on the part of the privileged would make anyone with a shred of humanity wince. You are right, radicalisation happens in stages. Commentators that equate the red shirts with Thaksin loyalty misrepresent an unprecedented mass movement opposing an elite that refuse them any social, political or cultural recognition.

Django
Apr 13 2010 20:35
jaocheu wrote:
The issue comes much more down to history than politics in many ways. Thailand is very much in its Victorian era as the rural country industrialises. Just like with Victorian Britain, wealthy industrialists are still only 'trade class' not aristocrats in the mentality of the rulers. And the peasants should know their place, their job is obey their betters, not disgree with them.

Don't really have time to write anything in depth now, but surely if the case is as you're describing it, and the situation is the same as that of 19th century Britain - which I don't think it actually is - its important not to repeat the mistakes made in that period such the association of the working class with social democracy?

I mean, there were plenty of people around in 19th century Europe able to make communist critiques of these kinds of movements - that there are dangers involved in siding with capitalist factions against each other - so why is it unreasonable now?

Also, pretty much all of your post above is arguing for modernising, inclusive reform of Thailand, to make it a more 'Westernised' democracy. While this movement has mass support, and class concerns feed into it, its primary aims are pretty clear. When its demanding the reinstatement of a nepotistic capitalist like Thaksin and proclaims its loyalty to the king, a more critical approach is useful. Plenty of unsavoury regimes have been able to mobilise mass support through populism, I wouldn't confuse their ability to do that with anything that should get anarchists/communists/whatever excited.

jaocheu
Apr 13 2010 22:58
Quote:
When its demanding the reinstatement of a nepotistic capitalist like Thaksin and proclaims its loyalty to the king

The way the Thai government gets the army to shoot at its citizens is to tell the troops the protestors insulted the king is a timetested tactic. The reds have a number of people in jail or on charges of Lese Majeste, they have challenged royalty more than any other group, however when staring down a Thai army M16 it is very good strategy not to do it at that precise moment. Pragmatism learnt from a history of army massacres of civilian protestors. Also in Thailand the sentence for Lese Majeste is 25 years and criticising the army and goverment can count as criticisms of the king, so saying you support the king as you oppose the army is a good way of not having the whole leadership jailed for 25 years.

As for what you say about Taksin, this is exactly what the disinformation coming off the government properganda services say, as the previous poster notes too.

Quote:
pretty much all of your post above is arguing for modernising, inclusive reform of Thailand, to make it a more 'Westernised' democracy.

I don't remember advocating any solutions, just describing the position of the reds. I don't think Thailand can ever be a westernised democracy and it's the people who are now opposing the reds that wanted it, brought it to Thailand and then discovered they didn't like it and now advocate a return to the past. I have no solution, neither does any group in Thailand, the rest of the world or even this forum. But if one group has a slim chance to come up with one in future it's the rest. Most of your analysis seems to be Troskyite, you seem to be saying these need you as a vanguard to lead them along the right path rather than crediting them with the ability to lead themselves.

Quote:
I mean, there were plenty of people around in 19th century Europe able to make communist critiques of these kinds of movements - that there are dangers involved in siding with capitalist factions against each other - so why is it unreasonable now?

The fight is not about capitalism it's about a disenfranchised group gaining the ability to have a political say. That there is a danger the red shirts are bunch of sheep who are just going to follow a 'capitalist' leader is the exact thing the goverment and Yellows are using as an argument as to why the Reds should go back to the country and obey their betters.

Yes and communists make critiques, that's just the problem, if only we could stop them and persuade them to actually do something. There's a famous quote by Johnny Rotten about setting light to hippies. Personally I couldn't give an FF what ideologues say about anything. In this a case a group of oppressed people are fighting their oppressors so they and their families can have a better life so I'll support them. If there better life doesn't fit what a manifesto of 40 member party sipping beer on continent prescribes it should be for them, so what.

radicalgraffiti
Apr 14 2010 00:25
jaocheu wrote:
The way the Thai government gets the army to shoot at its citizens is to tell the troops the protestors insulted the king is a timetested tactic. The reds have a number of people in jail or on charges of Lese Majeste, they have challenged royalty more than any other group, however when staring down a Thai army M16 it is very good strategy not to do it at that precise moment. Pragmatism learnt from a history of army massacres of civilian protestors. Also in Thailand the sentence for Lese Majeste is 25 years and criticising the army and goverment can count as criticisms of the king, so saying you support the king as you oppose the army is a good way of not having the whole leadership jailed for 25 years.

but isn't the army shooting protesters anyway?
and the fact that they have leaders seams like a weakness to me

Ed
Apr 14 2010 01:46
jaocheu wrote:
Most of your analysis seems to be Troskyite, you seem to be saying these need you as a vanguard to lead them along the right path rather than crediting them with the ability to lead themselves.

That's not really fair, he's just not saying we should unconditional champion the activity of any movement that comes about, regardless of how popular it is.

jaocheu wrote:
The fight is not about capitalism it's about a disenfranchised group gaining the ability to have a political say. That there is a danger the red shirts are bunch of sheep who are just going to follow a 'capitalist' leader is the exact thing the goverment and Yellows are using as an argument as to why the Reds should go back to the country and obey their betters.

We're all in favour of disenfranchised groups fighting for more power and if I had to pick which colour shirt I have more sympathy with, there's no doubt it'd be the red one. But I'm not just going to ignore that one of the central demands is for Thaksin to come back and he is a nasty piece of shit (i.e. approx. 2,500 extra-judicial murders in the war on drugs).

He managed to look a little progressive in comparison to a 900+ year old monarchy by going to farmer's houses and sitting on the floor with them for dinner but it doesn't really mean much more than Bill Clinton playing saxophone or David Cameron taking the tube.. pointing out that this billionaire telecoms tycoon doesn't give a shit about the people literally risking their lives for him isn't the same as saying they should go back to the country. It's just an acceptance of a sad reality, a lot of our class will put their faith in something other than their own collective power to improve their lives.. I don't think its Trotskyist to point that out..

Django
Apr 14 2010 07:03
Quote:
As for what you say about Taksin, this is exactly what the disinformation coming off the government properganda services say, as the previous poster notes too

So its disinformation to say that he's a capitalist? Its a fact - he owned the football club down the road from me a few years ago. He was a businessman, and a policeman, before he was a politician. He's also got a pretty nasty history of his own as Ed says - leading aside the 'war on drugs' murders Ed pointed out, you have also have the counter-insurgency operation in South Thailand - before the red shirts were being shot Thaksin's government was massacring Muslim protestors.

Quote:
I don't remember advocating any solutions, just describing the position of the reds. I don't think Thailand can ever be a westernised democracy and it's the people who are now opposing the reds that wanted it, brought it to Thailand and then discovered they didn't like it and now advocate a return to the past. I have no solution, neither does any group in Thailand, the rest of the world or even this forum. But if one group has a slim chance to come up with one in future it's the rest. Most of your analysis seems to be Troskyite, you seem to be saying these need you as a vanguard to lead them along the right path rather than crediting them with the ability to lead themselves.

Well the post above was completely uncritical of Thaksin and the movement, and in other posts you've compared people criticising its aims to Trotsky massacring revolutionary sailors at Kronstadt.

There's nothing Trotskyite about looking at a movement demanding the re-instatement of a billionaire like Thaksin and being critical of it, if anything Trotskites have a much worse record of cheerleading any movement that comes along. All I'm saying is that mass participation doesn't make the aims of a movement beyond criticism, however important the concerns feeding into it might be, and the major aim is clearly the reinstatement of one ruling class faction, and its keynesian economic reforms. Criticism =/= vanguardism, or Trotskyism. Whats tragic about these kinds of movements is that you have the concerns of people being bound up with people like Thaksin whose ultimate aims are completely contrary to theirs.

Quote:
The fight is not about capitalism it's about a disenfranchised group gaining the ability to have a political say. That there is a danger the red shirts are bunch of sheep who are just going to follow a 'capitalist' leader is the exact thing the goverment and Yellows are using as an argument as to why the Reds should go back to the country and obey their betters.

Yes and communists make critiques, that's just the problem, if only we could stop them and persuade them to actually do something. There's a famous quote by Johnny Rotten about setting light to hippies. Personally I couldn't give an FF what ideologues say about anything. In this a case a group of oppressed people are fighting their oppressors so they and their families can have a better life so I'll support them. If there better life doesn't fit what a manifesto of 40 member party sipping beer on continent prescribes it should be for them, so what.

There's been plenty of mass movements where entirely sympathetic concerns feed into calls for the instatement of particular governments with their own interests, with part of the tragedy being that people side with ruling class factions who shaft them in power - the movements that brought down the Eastern bloc regimes, for example. The problem is that if they're advocating the reistatement of someone like Thaksin, they're choosing their oppressors rather than fighting them. Thats tragic.

Given how common the 'do nothing' criticism is, its barely worth responding to, but obviously you have absolutely no idea what sort of activities I get up to beyond libcom, just as I have no idea about yours.

jaocheu
Apr 14 2010 13:07
Quote:
So its disinformation to say that he's a capitalist?

You presume no movement existed prior to Taksin, that the movement is a shalllow personality cult, that it's even possible for him to come back.

Political movements amongst the poor have been around for decades. Many of the red shirts organisors themselves were members of a village based anti-communist/anti-capitalist group that had millions of members in villages in the 60's/70's/80's and broke up into more localised factions which have had their own agendas and didn't give their support to the reds straight away. Taksin's party alone was a fusion of a number of parties itself and a coalition government including several parties that had strong grass roots based records. The Thai socialist movement vehemently opposed to Taksin when in power seem to be supporting the reds. Former communist guerillas who fought in the jungle in the 60-80's are supporting them. The ideas it's a bunch of personalty worshipping dupes is exactly the properganda the opponents want you to believe, that poor people can't have sophisticated political views.

Quote:
Well the post above was completely uncritical of Thaksin and the movement

True but as you noted you read other posts, where you would have noticed I did. Politics in Thailand is complex, it's unlikely Taksin can return to Thailand even if the reds shirts win in any other capacity than a retiree. What will happen to the movement politically if wins is the rainbow alliance will break up, already Taksin's former no2 lead the Blue shirts away from them a while back. With the ruling democratic party officially dissolved and PM Abhisit to be banned from office in a few weeks, in many ways there's far too many twists and turns to bother with the politics. However the gist of the post above was not about politics it was showing concern for the plight of the people at the bottom of society suffering and seeing it from their point of view, not one of ideology. And to be quite frank, if there was a choice between two capitalist systems one helping the oppressed and the other not, I'd support the one which did and regard anyone who said my ideology says I don't support capitalism as so I don't prefer either as pretty aloof to the plight of the less fortunate.

You also envisage perfect left wing revolutionary movements in line with western views, pop into existence out of nothing, in far eastern countries and countries that are repressive regimes where thought has been suppressed for centuries. It doesn't happen. And hold the idea that this perfect left wing movement should be the one that has utterly failed in the west and been reduced to a marginalised group of people, who these days are the political equivelant of Trekkies, trainspotters and Hari Krishna, as a superior ideal to a movement that has acheived a level of popular support that could only have been dreamt of by left wing groups here at their peak in the 70's.

In responce I would much rather they forget adopting anything remotely western left wing, which won't work in the far east and try and develop something culturally of their own which will take time, trial and error.

Quote:
but isn't the army shooting protesters anyway?
and the fact that they have leaders seams like a weakness to me

True but usually it's hundreds of dead, 1000's nationally in the following months and total army suppression, such as Tak Bai, Thammasat and 1991, not a few shots and a retreat.

I went to a leaderless protest once, it was a shambles. All the participants were anarchists. Not that I'm pro-leaders, just you at least need someone with a map who knows the route to um sort of lead the way.

Django
Apr 14 2010 19:56
Quote:
You presume no movement existed prior to Taksin, that the movement is a shalllow personality cult, that it's even possible for him to come back.

Where? I said that critical faculties are useful when you have a movement demanding the reinstatement of a billionaire telecoms tycoon.

Nothing under my quote asking whether its disinformation to call him a capitalist answers the question - presumably because it obviously isn't, and I can't see what relevance your post has to the argument I made above to be honest. Plenty of parties have had good 'grassroots records', the UK labour party being an example. It doesn't change anything fundamental about them.

Quote:
he ideas it's a bunch of personalty worshipping dupes is exactly the properganda the opponents want you to believe, that poor people can't have sophisticated political views.

Again, who has made this argument? I wouldn't call, say, the association between the working class and the labour party, or the following for Chavez in Venezuela being down to people being 'dupes' who 'can't have sophisticated political views', but I'd criticise those organisations, governments and movements regardless, and understand that investing your aspirations in them puts limits of your ability to struggle in your own interests against capital. Thats been one of the problems of the association of the working class with social democracy in the west, and the point I was initially making about learning from the past.

Quote:
You also envisage perfect left wing revolutionary movements in line with western views, pop into existence out of nothing, in far eastern countries and countries that are repressive regimes where thought has been suppressed for centuries. It doesn't happen. And hold the idea that this perfect left wing movement should be the one that has utterly failed in the west and been reduced to a marginalised group of people, who these days are the political equivelant of Trekkies, trainspotters and Hari Krishna, as a superior ideal to a movement that has acheived a level of popular support that could only have been dreamt of by left wing groups here at their peak in the 70's.

Again, you are claiming I have advocated something - 'perfect left wing revolutionary movements' - and then responded to it. You are arguing with yourself here, not me. Much like where you see 'Trotskyism' in anyone who disagrees with you; its strawmanocide.

I'd argue for workers to struggle in their own interests against capital, and this means not siding with capitalist factions like that reperesented by Thaksin, or cheerleading the kind of mild keynesianism his government involved itself in. There have been plenty of examples through history of people doing this, 'from nothing', the library is full of them so poke around. Things are complicated in every country in the world, the point is to support what is positive in a movement while criticising what is negative about it, and assess how far its antagonism with capital goes.

Quote:
In responce I would much rather they forget adopting anything remotely western left wing, which won't work in the far east and try and develop something culturally of their own which will take time, trial and error.

Not that i see much to emulate in the "western left wing", but this statement is patently false (there are plenty of 'left' parties and governments in the far east, some of them in power) and also patronising - if the far east is capable of importing all the aspects of capitalist society it can import its left wing.

mikethepenguin1991
Apr 14 2010 21:43

I'm curious as to see how this entire mess will play out. Chances are that once the end comes, there will only be one standing group... but my question is, will there differing results based upon which side is standing or will the final result ultimately be the same? My question pertains to the fact that their society is broken into two separate groups, so if the Reds win, what is to say that the opposing group won't be thrown to the bottom?

I think it is fair to say that whatever happens, it's going to be ugly...

jaocheu
Apr 16 2010 13:58
Quote:
I said that critical faculties are useful when you have a movement demanding the reinstatement of a billionaire telecoms tycoon.

Since you deny the idea this isn't a movement demanding the reinstatement of a billionaire capitalist tycoon, perhaps you can explain why it is? Perhaps at the same time you'de like to enlighten me to how many of the current leadership of the red shirts are rich capitalist businessmen.

Quote:
I'd argue for workers to struggle in their own interests against capital

To the exclusion of any other kind of struggle? and you still haven't answered how you expect this kind of struggle to appear from nothing in a repressive regime.

Quote:
or cheerleading the kind of mild keynesianism his government involved itself in

Now they're cheer leading a Keynsian government, where on earth has that come from. I can read Thai and have read their publicity. And you've managed to find something they've written themselves translated into English saying this. Wow? Can I read it too?

Quote:
Not that i see much to emulate in the "western left wing", but this statement is patently false (there are plenty of 'left' parties and governments in the far east, some of them in power) and also patronising - if the far east is capable of importing all the aspects of capitalist society it can import its left wing.

What's patronising is you think the far east imported all aspects of capitalist society.

Django
Apr 17 2010 10:14
Quote:
Since you deny the idea this isn't a movement demanding the reinstatement of a billionaire capitalist tycoon, perhaps you can explain why it is? Perhaps at the same time you'de like to enlighten me to how many of the current leadership of the red shirts are rich capitalist businessmen.

So there's no demand to re-instate Thaksin? I'm going off everymainstream report which has interviews with participants, where you can find plenty of comments along those lines - anyone who is interested can look for themselves. Now they are likely distorting complex events, but I don't think its plausible to say that they've fabricated all the interviews with participants, or that there are no demands to reinstate Thaksin. And if demands to reinstate Thaksin play no part in the movement, why did you write a massive post about the advances his administration brought to the people of Thailand, to explain where the demands of the red shirts are coming from?

I haven't claimed the movement is led by 'rich capitalist businessesmen', and I don't think it would make a difference to my argument either way.

Quote:
To the exclusion of any other kind of struggle? and you still haven't answered how you expect this kind of struggle to appear from nothing in a repressive regime.

Well I have said that there are plenty of examples in the library for you to look at. Two major examples of workers struggling in their interests against capital, in Asia, 'from nothing' and against even more repressive regimes would be workers in Bangladesh and China. These struggles have received a lot of coverage on here.

Quote:
Now they're cheer leading a Keynsian government, where on earth has that come from. I can read Thai and have read their publicity. And you've managed to find something they've written themselves translated into English saying this. Wow? Can I read it too?

Thaksin's government? Re-read you own post, #7.

Quote:
What's patronising is you think the far east imported all aspects of capitalist society.

Well it has - capital accumulation, commodity exchange and wage-labour define capitalist society, and Asia has imported them along with the economic science of managing capitalist social relations. In many cases imported at gun-point, but it doesn't change the fact it happened.

jaocheu
Apr 18 2010 08:11
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So there's no demand to re-instate Thaksin? I'm going off everymainstream report which has interviews with participants, where you can find plenty of comments along those lines - anyone who is interested can look for themselves.

I haven't even seen even mainstream reports suggesting they want a reinstatment of Taksin. He has even made it clear he doesn't want reinstatement himself. He officiallly resigned and then recognised the PPP as the legitimate government.

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Well it has - capital accumulation, commodity exchange and wage-labour define capitalist society, and Asia has imported them along with the economic science of managing capitalist social relations. In many cases imported at gun-point, but it doesn't change the fact it happened.

Asia played it's part indeveloping capitalism as well as importing. However with Thailand how capitalist is it? Economist argue is it capitalism system, sakdina system or an even mixture of both. jury's still out on this one.

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Well I have said that there are plenty of examples in the library for you to look at. Two major examples of workers struggling in their interests against capital, in Asia, 'from nothing' and against even more repressive regimes would be workers in Bangladesh and China. These struggles have received a lot of coverage on here.

They don't seem to be doing anything special, only striking. They are like striking for better pay and conditions within the current governmental system. This is even less revolutionary than what the Reds are doing, who want to take over the government to give themselves the same benefits.

Yorkie Bar
Apr 18 2010 10:49

If I could just stick my oar in.

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They don't seem to be doing anything special, only striking. They are like striking for better pay and conditions

Which is revolutionary, since any movement demanding a real improvement in the living conditions of working people is anti-capitalist in a fundamental sense.

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what the Reds are doing, who want to take over the government to give themselves the same benefits.

Which is not revolutionary, since state power is anti-communist in an equally fundamental way, no matter who is in charge.

It's a bit rich to call people trots, when you yourself are uncritically cheer-leading a movement whose goal is to capture state power, while shitting on workers self-organisation.

~J.

jaocheu
Apr 18 2010 11:49
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Which is revolutionary, since any movement demanding a real improvement in the living conditions of working people is anti-capitalist in a fundamental sense.

The workplace is where people go to collaborate with the wealthy and help keep them in power. Never understood why all lefties are so brainwashed by the protestant work ethic and continue to have faith in 'revolution' prophesy.

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since state power is anti-communist in an equally fundamental way, no matter who is in charge.

State power anti-communist!!!!! The Cold War gone and forgotten. RIP.

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movement whose goal is to capture state power, while shitting on workers self-organisation.

Apart from the the fact Trots are completely opposed to self organisation which rather takes the thunder out of the attack.

Django
Apr 18 2010 12:59
jaocheu wrote:
I haven't even seen even mainstream reports suggesting they want a reinstatment of Taksin. He has even made it clear he doesn't want reinstatement himself. He officiallly resigned and then recognised the PPP as the legitimate government.

Ok, one quick example, which has quotes, such as:

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"My husband is sick but he's still going to the rally," Thongsi said, her voice cracking with emotion. "We want to play our part, to try to bring back Thaksin."

If anyone's interested they can have a look on Google themselves, or do a google image search if they want to see pictures of red shirts carrying portraits of Thaksin.

Now the press will distort complex events, and cut down people's views into convenient soundbytes, but at the end of the day I don't think its plausible to say that demands for reinstatement and support for Thaksin play no part in the protests, especially given how he has addressed red shirt rallies via telephone and endorsed them, and red-shirt leaders have in turn organised a petition for a royal pardon on his behalf.

jaocheu wrote:
Asia played it's part indeveloping capitalism as well as importing. However with Thailand how capitalist is it? Economist argue is it capitalism system, sakdina system or an even mixture of both. jury's still out on this one.

Well yes, but it is a fact of history that capitalism as a total economic system was developed in Western Europe, before being spread throughout the world.

I'd argue that every country in the world is a capitalist system, as their societies are dominated by capitalist social relations, and their economies are premised on the exchange of commodities on the market and the accumulation of capital. That there a countries with large numbers of smallholders, peasants etc, doesn't really change that fact, and they have to exist within a capitalist market.

jaocheu wrote:
They don't seem to be doing anything special, only striking. They are like striking for better pay and conditions within the current governmental system. This is even less revolutionary than what the Reds are doing, who want to take over the government to give themselves the same benefits.

I disagree. Activities like strike action and workplace occupations have more potential than movements like the Red Shirts for the reason that they are struggles which pitch wage worker's concrete, material needs against the needs of capital. Its an antagonism that you don't have to be a radical to recognise, and is part and parcel of capitalist society. In the long term, these antagonisms have the potential to pull society apart, as they can't ever be reconciled, there can only ever be temporary concessions. Historically, all socially revolutionary situations have developed from these antagonisms (as opposed to 'political revolutions' where there's a change of government).

Movements like the Red Shirts, who in your words want to "take over the government", look to change the management of the system while leaving the overall economic system unquestioned. If the kind of benefits they are looking for a similar to those under Thaksin, they aren't antagonistic with capitalism per se.

I mean its not a very good criticism of the strikers that they leave the "overall governmental system" intact, as a change in which party runs the Bangladeshi state wouldn't stand to change the circumstances of Bangladeshi garment workers, whose predicament is a product and feature of the global capitalist system.

Its basically the premise of the politics of the site that you're on.

Yorkie Bar
Apr 18 2010 13:07
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The workplace is where people go to collaborate with the wealthy and help keep them in power.

Are you serious? You genuinely think the reason most people go to work is in order to give their bosses a helping hand? Have you ever, you know, had a job?

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Never understood why all lefties are so brainwashed by the protestant work ethic

Since when is wanting better conditions and more money being 'brainwashed by the protestant work ethic'? Surely the protestant work ethic is hard work, abstinence and self-denial: the polar opposite of less hours, better conditions, more pay etc.: the demands around which class struggle is built.

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and continue to have faith in 'revolution' prophesy.

You brought revolution into it, not me. If you prefer we can use a different word, but don't try and make out like I'm the one getting all starry eyed about 'the revolution'.

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State power anti-communist!!!!! The Cold War gone and forgotten. RIP.

Oh sure, if there's anything we've learned from Stalinist Russia it's what a great force the state is for the working class.

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Apart from the the fact Trots are completely opposed to self organisation which rather takes the thunder out of the attack.

Did you even read my post?

~J.

Django
Apr 18 2010 13:14

Edit - cross-post

jaocheu wrote:
The workplace is where people go to collaborate with the wealthy and help keep them in power. Never understood why all lefties are so brainwashed by the protestant work ethic and continue to have faith in 'revolution' prophesy.

I'm not sure what your circumstances are, but if you do work, is it out of any desire to "collaborate" with your bosses? I don't get out of bed in the morning to collaborate with the wealthy and keep them in power - I have to work otherwise I won't be able to pay the rent or afford to eat. Its that, crime, or paltry state benefits.

Bangladeshi garment workers, Thai factory workers or Chinese miners certainly don't work because they want to "collaborate" with their bosses, but because its their only means of survival.

Its basically down to the fact that the majority of the population can only live off their ability to work for a wage - they've nothing else to sell which will support them. Its not a choice, its coercion.

As for revolution, there's nothing inevitable about it. But there are certain ways we might be able to get there.

jaocheu wrote:
State power anti-communist!!!!! The Cold War gone and forgotten. RIP.

BiglittleJ will likely want to respond, but none of the Eastern bloc countries were communist societies, given as the definition of communism is a stateless and classless society.

Plus I don't think any of them claimed to be presiding over communist societies, but 'socialist' ones which stood to become communist eventually. But basically they were state-capitalist societies with a single employer.

jaocheu
Apr 19 2010 17:29
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I'm not sure what your circumstances are, but if you do work, is it out of any desire to "collaborate" with your bosses?

No-one said collaboration has to be voluntary. But by working for someone you are helping them more than yourself. Ultimately it's the shareholder and board who gain the most from your employment. By working (true you don't have much choice) you are helping not hindering the system. Almost everything I do in life aids the system, work, pay tax, shop at the supermarket ect ect.

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Ok, one quick example, which has quotes, such as:

Certainly a lot of people share this sentiment, they didn't actually call for his reinstatement in the article but if prompted I'm sure they would have. Really the article only says a return to the country, that's having charges dropped and his fortune returned. Which is his aim in this.

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Its basically the premise of the politics of the site that you're on.

Yes I remember from my very first political activity, the poll tax, being told by communists that I shouldn't protests it's a "middle class liberal side issue". And the same put down being thrown at many other anarchists campaigns i wasn't involved in, animal rights, anti fascism, green politics and the main one I was involved in global human rights. However years ago belief in this was far from universal and whilst anarchist communists were pretty closed minded, at least many anarcho-syndicalists were willing to say the community is more important than the workplace.

I personally think human rights precede political change. Having worked in Burma I would find a communist who argued that supporting human rights there is a middle class side issue and said there was no difference between Ang Sung Suu Kyi and the Military Junta because it's a change of management as a rather laughable person. But in my life I have met plenty who would.

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but none of the Eastern bloc countries were communist societies, given as the definition of communism is a stateless and classless society.

They certainly weren't communist in many people's eyes. But were in others.

The problem with an argument like this is the, No True Scotsman Fallacy.

jaocheu
Apr 19 2010 17:53
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Since when is wanting better conditions and more money being 'brainwashed by the protestant work ethic'? Surely the protestant work ethic is hard work, abstinence and self-denial: the polar opposite of less hours, better conditions, more pay etc.: the demands around which class struggle is built.

If all you want is better pay and conditions, less hours, more money. Might I suggest you become a mutualist.

Yorkie Bar
Apr 19 2010 22:36
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If all you want is better pay and conditions, less hours, more money. Might I suggest you become a mutualist.

I've worked in a coop before. It was probably the shittest job I've had, I don't see the attraction of a whole economy made of that.

Django
Apr 20 2010 17:26
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No-one said collaboration has to be voluntary. But by working for someone you are helping them more than yourself. Ultimately it's the shareholder and board who gain the most from your employment. By working (true you don't have much choice) you are helping not hindering the system. Almost everything I do in life aids the system, work, pay tax, shop at the supermarket ect ect.

Well yes, this is why labour is fundamentally exploitative, why the interests of workers and capital are opposed and why this opposition has a potentially revolutionary dynamic to it.

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Yes I remember from my very first political activity, the poll tax, being told by communists that I shouldn't protests it's a "middle class liberal side issue". And the same put down being thrown at many other anarchists campaigns i wasn't involved in, animal rights, anti fascism, green politics and the main one I was involved in global human rights. However years ago belief in this was far from universal and whilst anarchist communists were pretty closed minded, at least many anarcho-syndicalists were willing to say the community is more important than the workplace.

I personally think human rights precede political change. Having worked in Burma I would find a communist who argued that supporting human rights there is a middle class side issue and said there was no difference between Ang Sung Suu Kyi and the Military Junta because it's a change of management as a rather laughable person. But in my life I have met plenty who would.

Once again, you are building a strawman and knocking it down.

For instance, who has said that "there is no difference between the Burmese Junta and the opposition"? And the situation in Burma is different to that in Thailand anyway, so I'm not sure what your point is.

Similarly, the Poll Tax struggle was a different kind of struggle, but that aside, who has said that demonstrations per se are a "middle class liberal side issue"? The organisation BiglittleJ and I are in has just published a pamphlet which discusses the anti-poll tax campaign and says pretty much the opposite.

Its difficult to have a conversation in good faith if you're that intent on not responding to anything people actually say, just some people you met once in the early 90s and some imaginary communists in Burma.

jaocheu
Apr 21 2010 16:26
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Well yes, this is why labour is fundamentally exploitative, why the interests of workers and capital are opposed and why this opposition has a potentially revolutionary dynamic to it.

Yes people go to work and add to their bosses capital. Striking isn't about opposing capital, it's about getting a share of it. Name me striker that says I want to bankrupt the company. Actually they would prefer it to become more profitable so they can have an even bigger slice of the pie themselves.

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just some people you met once in the early 90s and some imaginary communists in Burma.

Making things up I said seems rather desperate. Unless you can show the mention of a Burmese communist.

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For instance, who has said that "there is no difference between the Burmese Junta and the opposition"? And the situation in Burma is different to that in Thailand anyway, so I'm not sure what your point is.

You have continually argued against movements that want to form turn Thailand into a western style democracy. So would you support one that wants to turn Burma into one?

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organisation BiglittleJ and I are in has just published a pamphlet which discusses the anti-poll tax campaign and says pretty much the opposite.

Funny how I was there and don't remember it being the opposite. But very convenient you think it was, cos it just happens to fit your ideology if it was,

lowellmac
Apr 26 2010 20:59

Speech "From the Earth to the Sky" - Natthawut, 2008

"We’re denied many things. We’re denied justice; respect in the way governmental
bodies treat us; accurate and direct reporting about us in the media. We’re denied
the chance to openly declare our fight – to openly and directly declare, with our
clarity and sincerity, what it is that we are fighting for.

What’s most important for us all to remember, brothers and sisters, is that we are
the salt of the earth. We are the people with no privileges.

We were born on the land. We grew up on the land. Each step that we take is on this
same land. We stand, with our two feet planted here, so far away from the sky.

Tilting our heads fully upwards, we gaze at the sky, and we realise how far away
that sky is.

Standing on this land, we only have to look down to realise that we are worth no
more than a handful of earth.

But I believe in the power of the redshirts. I believe our number is growing
day-by-day, minute-by-minute. Even though we stand on this land, and we speak out
from our place among the earth, our voice will rise to the sky. Of this I have no
doubt.

The voice we’re making now – our cries and shout – is the voice of people who
are worth only a handful of earth. But it is the voice of the people who were born
and grew up on this land, and it will rise to the level of the sky.

We, the redshirts, want to say to the land and sky that we too have heart and soul.
We, the redshirts, want to remind the land and sky that we too are the Thai people.
We, the redshirts, want to ask the land and sky whether we have been condemned to
seek, by ourselves, a rightful place to plant our feet here."

As you can see this is not about Thaksin. To assume it is based on mainstream news reports is simply wrongheaded.

See http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/