imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
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

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).

https://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

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

add your comments


Local News

Activists Mark 150 Years Since Chimney Rock Massacre F21 7:00PM

Indivisible local events F16 4:07PM

Help Wanted: How You Can Act Locally To Stymie Trump’s Agenda F16 11:24AM

RACE RELAY - race relations dialogue F16 7:01AM

LA County Greens Oppose S F09 8:52PM

Our Revolution L.A Organizing Meeting F08 12:23AM

First We Marched. Now We Huddle F06 10:54PM

Indigenous, Sacred Lands Disrespected at L.A. Women's March J24 1:52PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 8:22PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 8:00PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 7:42PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 6:04PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 5:48PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 5:30PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 5:02PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 4:23PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 4:03PM

Massive Women's March Los Angeles Tells President Donald Where To Go J23 3:39PM

University of California Riverside Students Walkout J22 10:41PM

San Gabriel Valley Anti-Repression Committee Action J22 10:07PM

Staggering Turnout for Women's March L.A. J22 1:09PM

Los Angeles Braves Extended Downpour to Tell Trump Hell No J21 3:32AM

Los Angeles Braves Extended Downpour to Tell Trump Hell No J21 3:04AM

#J20 CalArts in SoCal Plan Walkout; NY Galleries & Nonprofits Plan Art Strike J18 5:25PM

Camp 120 Will Hold Space in Front of City Hall Until Inauguration Day to Protest the Inac J18 5:03PM

Teamsters Local 2010 Initiates Mass Walkout and Strikes at University of California J18 4:12PM

Nurses Storm The Boulevard To Pressure Trump on the ACA J17 4:49PM

Nurses Storm The Boulevard To Pressure Trump On the ACA J17 3:12PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Palestine Advocacy Day 2017 F23 6:52PM

The Shortwave Report 02/24/17 Listen Globally! F23 5:31PM

Metal Fist Urban Domination Cheats Gold F23 3:37PM

Treasury Extends Anti-Money Laundering Luxury Real Estate Regulations F23 11:00AM

Metal Fist Urban Domination Hack F23 9:01AM

Fbi COINTEL Operations Expand F23 1:33AM

Le travail est une prostitution F22 10:29PM

Art of War : Executive Order F22 10:16PM

Damage Assessment F22 9:42PM

La société future, la société sans relation F21 6:24AM

The Long History of Human Incapacitation by Politics and the Press F21 6:09AM

Kucinich Warns of Deep State's Plans for War Post-Trump Impeachment F20 4:54AM

KLM refuses seven passengers following Trump's muslim ban/KLM accomplice to discrimination F19 3:50AM

Radio Libertaire ou Persona grata F18 3:47AM

Resistance Recess F17 2:21PM

Congress Moves Slowly on Bipartisan Puerto Rico Recommendations F17 9:30AM

The Shortwave Report 02/17/17 Listen Globally! F16 5:01PM

Paraphysique de l'emprise F15 10:34PM

107 More Groups Oppose Neil Gorsuch F15 4:38PM

Cloudflare’s Transparency Report for Second Half 2016 - FBI National Security Letter F15 10:26AM

Attempt the Impossible! Theses for a New Left Majority F15 4:57AM

Breaking: Miller On Bakersfield Incident F15 1:56AM

Trump Voids Dodd-Frank 1504 Transparency Rule F14 1:49PM

Les mafias du capital F13 11:38PM

The Sleazy Corporate Nazi Tactics of Public Storage F13 3:11PM

Geral Sosbee Presents F12 4:58PM

Théodore dit Théo, violé par la police F11 6:44AM

Igor Sadikov urges students to "Punch a Zionist" F11 6:06AM

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