imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Tell the NSA: StopWatching.US

Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles
link:

Class War: Thailand’s Military Coup

by Walden Bello Friday, Jun. 13, 2014 at 1:45 AM

Outnumbered by the country’s rural voters, Thailand’s once vibrantly democratic urban middle class has embraced an elitist, antidemocratic agenda

Class War: Thailand...
2014-thai-anti-coup.jpg, image/jpeg, 507x338

After declaring martial law on May 20, the Thai military announced a full-fledged coup two days later. The putsch followed nearly eight months of massive street protests against the ruling Pheu Thai government identified with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The power grab by army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha came two weeks after Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck, was ousted as caretaker prime minister by the country’s Constitutional Court for “abuse of power” on May 7.

The Thai military portrayed its seizure of power as an effort to impose order after two rounds of talks between the country’s rival factions failed to produce a compromise that would provide Thailand with a functioning government.

Deftly Managed Script

The military’s narrative produced few takers. Indeed, many analysts saw the military’s move as a coup de grace to Thailand’s elected government, following what they saw as the judicial coup of May 7.

It is indeed difficult not to see the putsch as the final step in a script deftly managed by the conservative “royalist” establishment to thwart the right to govern of a populist political bloc that has won every election since 2001. Utilizing anti-corruption discourse to inflame the middle class into civil protest, the key forces in the anti-government coalition have, from the start, aimed to create the kind of instability that would provoke the military to step in and provide the muscle for a new political order.

Using what analyst Marc Saxer calls “middle class rage” as the battering ram, these elite elements forced the resignation of the Yingluck government in December; disrupted elections in February, thus providing the justification for the conservative Constitutional Court to nullify them; and instigated that same court’s decision to oust Yingluck as caretaker prime minister May 7 on flimsy charges of “abuse of power.” Civil protest was orchestrated with judicial initiatives to pave the way for a military takeover.

The military says that it will set up a “reform council” and a “national assembly” that will lay the institutional basis of a new government. This plan sounds very much like the plan announced in late November by the protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, which would place the country for a year under an unelected, unaccountable reform panel.

The military’s move has largely elicited the approval of Suthep’s base of middle-class supporters. Indeed, it has been middle-class support that has provided cover for the calculated moves of the political elites. Many of those that provided the backbone of the street protests now anticipate the drafting of an elitist new order that will institutionalize political inequality in favor of Bangkok and the country’s urban middle class.

The Thai Middle Class: From Paragons to Enemies of Democracy

The sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset once celebrated the middle class as paragons of democracy. But in recent years, middle-class Thais have transmogrified into supporters of an elitist, frankly antidemocratic agenda. Today’s middle class is no longer the pro-democracy middle class that overthrew the dictatorship of Gen. Suchinda Krapayoon in 1992. What happened?

Worth quoting in full is an insightful analysis of this transformation provided by Marc Saxer:

“The Bangkok middle class called for democratization and specifically the liberalization of the state with the political rights to protect themselves from the abuse of power by the elites. However, once democracy was institutionalized, they found themselves to be the structural minority. Mobilized by clever political entrepreneurs, it was now the periphery who handily won every election. Ignorant of the rise of a rural middle class demanding full participation in social and political life, the middle class in the center interpreted demands for equal rights and public goods as ‘the poor getting greedy’… [M]ajority rule was equated with unsustainable welfare expenses, which would eventually lead to bankruptcy.”

From the perspective of the middle class, Saxer continues, majority rule

“overlooks the political basis of the social contract: a social compromise between all stakeholders. Never has any social contract been signed which obligates the middle class to foot the tax bill, in exchange for quality public services, political stability and social peace. This is why middle classes feel like they are ‘being robbed’ by corrupt politicians, who use their tax revenues to ‘buy votes’ from the ‘greedy poor.’ Or, in a more subtle language, the ‘uneducated rural masses are easy prey for politicians who promise them everything in an effort to get a hold of power.’”

Thus, Saxer concludes, from the viewpoint of the urban middle class,

“policies delivering to local constituencies are nothing but ‘populism,’ or another form of ‘vote buying’ by power hungry politicians. The Thai Constitutional Court, in a seminal ruling, thus equated the very principle of elections with corruption. Consequently, time and again, the ‘yellow’ alliance of feudal elites along with the Bangkok middle class called for the disenfranchisement of the ‘uneducated poor,’ or even more bluntly the suspension of electoral democracy.”

Impossible Dream

However, the elite middle-class alliance is deceiving itself if it thinks the adoption of a constitution institutionalizing minority rule will be possible. For Thailand is no longer the Thailand of 20 years ago, where political conflicts were still largely conflicts among elites, with the vast lower classes being either onlookers or passive followers of warring elite factions.

What is now the driving force of Thai politics is class conflict with Thai characteristics, to borrow from Mao. The central figure that has transformed the Thai political landscape is the exiled Thaksin Shinawatra, a charismatic, if corrupt, billionaire who managed through a combination of populism, patronage, and the skillful deployment of cash to create a massive electoral majority.

While for Thaksin the aim of this coalition might be the cornering or monopolization of elite power, for the social sectors he has mobilized, the goal is the redistribution of wealth and power from the elites to the masses and—equally important—extracting respect for people that had been scorned as “country bumpkins” or “buffaloes.” However much Thaksin’s “Red Shirt” movement may be derided as a coalition between corrupt politicians and the “greedy poor,” it has become the vehicle for the acquisition of full citizenship rights by Thailand’s marginalized classes.

The elite-middle class alliance is dreaming if it thinks that the red shirts will stand aside and allow them to dictate the terms of surrender, much less institutionalize these in a new constitution. But neither do the red shirts at present possess the necessary coercive power to alter the political balance in the short and medium term. It is now their turn to wage civil resistance.

Since the coup, about 150 people have been reported detained—including Pravit Rojanaphruk, a prominent reporter for Thailand’s Nation newspaper known for his criticism of the anti-government protest movement that precipitated the military’s intervention.

What now seems likely is that, with violent and nonviolent civil protest by the red shirts, Thailand will experience a prolonged and bitter descent into virtual civil war, with the Pheu Thai regional strongholds—the North, Northeast, and parts of the central region of the country—becoming increasingly ungovernable from imperial Bangkok. It is a tragic denouement to which an anti-democratic opposition disdaining all political compromise has plunged this once promising Southeast Asian nation.

Walden Bello, a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, was the principal author of “A Siamese Tragedy: Development and Disintegration in Modern Thailand” (London: Zed Press, 1998).

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walden-Bello/22844637091


Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Thailand: No Coup

by Walden Bello Friday, Jun. 13, 2014 at 1:45 AM

Thailand: No Coup...
2014-thailand-no-coup-thai-junta-out.jpg, image/jpeg, 537x359

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments



Freenet/Sone comments box:

This is a comment system called babcom, which is a decentralized, anonymous, encrypted, troll-resistant, comment system that runs atop Freenet. These comments are not stored on this IMC server - they exist in the Freenet cloud, and you must be running Freenet and Sone to see the comments. Install Freenet and try it out.

Use Node:

⚙ Babcom is trying to load the comments ⚙

This textbox will disappear when the comments have been loaded.

If the box below shows an error-page, you need to install Freenet with the Sone-Plugin or set the node-path to your freenet node and click the Reload Comments button (or return).

If you see something like Invalid key: java.net.MalformedURLException: There is no @ in that URI! (Sone/search.html), you need to setup Sone and the Web of Trust

If you had Javascript enabled, you would see comments for this page instead of the Sone page of the sites author.

Note: To make a comment which isn’t a reply visible to others here, include the red link below somewhere in the comment text.

Add this link to the comment:

Local News

#BlackLivesMatter Massive Lawyer Die-In at Los Angeles Courthouse D16 10:11PM

Liberal Majority Passes Sheriff's Civilian Review Board D09 8:40PM

KPFK in fund drive, yet again , but in deeperin trouble D09 12:01PM

INDY lost lots of concerned poster D09 11:27AM

PROTESTERS SHUT DOWN SAN FRANCISCO—AGAIN D07 10:52PM

FREE Silver Lake Consensus, Collaboration & Conflict Resolution Workshop w/STARHAWK D02 8:06AM

Protesting Hewlett-Packard on Black Friday N30 10:48PM

Wayne Pharr, Elder Freeman, Passed On in 2014 N30 2:33AM

Some LA Ferguson Protest Links N27 12:35AM

Protests at fig and Washington N24 11:09PM

LA Protests Grand Jury Decision N24 9:40PM

Chris Dixon on Indymedia On Air N24 6:49PM

NEW INTERVENTION BY FILIPINO WRITER IN FILIPINO N24 6:29AM

REMEMBERING CARLOS BULOSAN N23 6:27AM

RE-VISITING CARLOS BULOSAN N22 1:08PM

Winter 2014 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! N20 11:12PM

#UCLADivest N19 1:46AM

Ferguson verdict Monday? N16 1:42PM

TV LEGEND BOB BARKER FUNDS ‘LION’S SHARE’ OF SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO SAVE CIRCUS ANIMALS IN N13 11:30AM

Veterans Against Foreclosures Marches in San Fernando Veterans Day Parade N11 2:46PM

Disappeared Documentary in L.A N11 2:23PM

Los Angeles Questions Oversized LAPD Response to Million Mask March N07 1:57AM

Ghosts of Wall Street Occupy Hollywood Blvd Halloween Night N06 12:48PM

The "Cleaning Up" of Venice N02 5:16PM

Activists Hold Prayer Vigil for Lexi Dillon and Jonah Rief in Orange County O31 2:32PM

New ID Verification Feature on this Site O21 1:06AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

America's War Agenda D22 12:45PM

US/Israeli No Palestinian State Solution D22 12:28PM

When Robots Pay Taxes D22 4:52AM

America: Cesspool of Terror D22 4:10AM

America Lost D21 2:02PM

Mark Masselli - Healthcare Reformer D21 11:57AM

Ukraine Headed for Disaster D21 9:57AM

Positions D21 8:17AM

Israel's War on Press Freedom D21 6:21AM

US Attempted Color Revolution in Russia? D21 2:43AM

Subversion de la théorie D21 2:29AM

Organized labor unites in opposition to BDS D20 10:49PM

Free Internet Book: After Neolib eralism: The Kilburn Manifesto D20 12:38PM

America's Deadly Embrace D20 12:10PM

Israel Bombs Gaza D20 7:13AM

Targeting Russia Escalates D20 2:49AM

Fidel's Legacy D19 12:58PM

ADI awards Congressman Jim Moran the 2014 Animal Champion Award for his dedication to end D19 12:07PM

REBELLIONS IN NORTH AMERICA D19 10:05AM

US to Veto Palestinian Statehood Bid D19 8:25AM

Longstanding US Cuba Policy: Regime Change D19 4:01AM

(A-Radio) Art and Anarchism D19 1:56AM

Paraphysique de l'anaphore D19 12:25AM

Hands Across California D18 9:54PM

The Shortwave Report 12/19/14 Listen Globally! D18 5:00PM

Putin's Annual Marathon Press Conference Tour De Force D18 12:30PM

Torture in Israeli Prisons D18 9:05AM

Sarswati Help Us D18 7:06AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy