A coup for the rich: Thailand's political crisis - Giles Ji Ungpakorn

A coup for the rich: Thailand's political crisis - Giles Ji Ungpakorn

A brief overview of contemporary Thai politics from a Marxist perspective from 2007.

From the books Introduction

Dear Reader, if you are expecting a mainstream analysis of
Thai politics and society in this book, you need read no further. Close
the book and toss it away. But if you want an alternative explanation
of events then read on....
Contrary to some views, Thai politics is not a mystery,
unfathomable to the international mind. It only requires the right
lenses in ones glasses in order to see the various patterns common to
politics all over the world.
If you believe in “elite theory”, you will see all developments
in Thai history and politics as being determined by great leaders and
great minds. Such a view sees a slow linear progression of Thai
society with little fundamental change. You are encouraged to believe
that Thai or Asian societies are uniquely oriental and mysterious.
You will support the idea that Democracy is a Western concept,
unsuited to Thai society. You will believe that Thais worship Kings
and dictators and all political events are due to the manipulation by
Kings, Generals, Bosses or rich Politicians. The poor, the workers
and peasants, rarely receive a mention, but if they do, it is only to
blame them for their “stupidity”, weakness and their backwardness,
which only goes to prove that they should never have any rights.
But you cannot clap without using two hands. A one handed clap
against thin air is nothing. Equally, an analysis that does not consider
the relationship between the rulers and the ruled in a dialectical
fashion is worthless.
When Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto that
the history of humanity is the history of class struggle, they never
implied that such a struggle would be pure and undistorted. It is
impossible to understand Thai society and politics without a class
struggle perspective. The 1997 economic crisis cannot be explained
without looking at the competition to exploit labour, the fight for
increased wages and the over-production in capitalism. The reform
movement that led to the 1997 Constitution was led from below. It
started as a struggle by the oppressed against the military dictatorship
of 1991. It ended up being hijacked by right-wing liberals and money
politicians. The Populism of Thai Rak Thai can only be explained by
the power of the oppressed and their potential to revolt in times of
crisis. But Thai Rak Thai Populism is a terrible distortion of class
struggle because it is a mechanism to buy social peace by a capitalist
party. The coup of 2006 can only be understood as a “Coup for the
Rich” against the interests of the poor. Both Populism and the coup
were only possible because of the weakness in politics of the Thai
Peoples Movement. This weakness has historical roots in the defeat
of a previous cycle of class struggle in the 1970s. Finally, the
violence in the South can only be explained by looking at the
repression of the Thai State against the Malay Muslim population and
how that population is fighting back.
This book attempts a dangerous task. It attempts to analyse and
sharply criticise contemporary Thai politics in a time of serious
crisis. It deals with the Taksin crisis, the coup, the various sections of
the elite, the Peoples Movement and the violence in the South. Many
events are unfolding as I write. The potential to make incorrect
predictions is high. I live in a dictatorship where open discussion is
not encouraged. Yet the climate of censorship and lack of critical
debate about current Thai events is precisely why I am forced to
publish this book now. Hopefully it will stimulate further debate and
discussion which will lead to an even better analysis of events.
You may find that the spelling of many Thai names in this book
differs from news reports and other mainstream documents. This is
intentional. It is design to help the reader pronounce Thai names
Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Faculty of Political Science,
Chulalongkorn University
Bangkok 10330, Thailand.
January 2007

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Dec 3 2013 19:17


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