Yet another coup in Thailand? So what. Business as usual, palm trees still wave, tourists still troop to the Land of Smiles for sun, shopping, sex and King and I nostalgia (sorry about that…the book and movies are banned, best not mention the King at all). It’s the same old cycle, for the 20th time…generals in, promising ‘order and reform,’ new constitution written, sham democratic civilian government cobbled together, plutocrats and aristocrats don’t like even that so they call back the generals. The world is changing all around Thailand, the population is changing inside Thailand, yet the Kingdom continues its same tired old song and dance. The clock is turned back to the 19th century yet again; the age of ignorant peasants, fawning, obedient servants, pith-helmeted Royals and Military Officers costumed for the Indian Raj. The age of the ‘good people’ and the ‘bad people,’ of those born to rule and those born to follow and be happy with what little their ‘betters’ see fit to bestow upon them. But will it be the same this time around?
If it is not, it will be the Demon Thaksin’s fault. He let the cat out of the bag. He showed the Thai people, especially the ‘ignorant peasants,’ how elections can be something other than a stage-managed farces; how government can be made to work for them. It was messy and tainted with corruption, but no more corrupt than what preceded it, and no more corrupt than what Thailand has now. Mr. T is a man of the modern world. There have been many such men in the Thai government, they’re generally referred to as ‘technocrats,’ brainy worldly modern-thinking subordinates of their reactionary masters, Thailand’s equivalent of servants in the Big House. Thaksin was such a servant, become master, which broke the system, he had to be removed, and not only him, but all his lesser associates.
So now he’s gone, but his example lives on. He left a roadmap for future malcontents to follow, and there is much to be ‘malcontent’ about in Thailand these days…more with each passing day. General/PM Happiness is busy installing himself and his cronies for a long run; hard at work suppressing all forms of dissent; hard at work rooting out enemies, real and imagined…a bush league Stalin, not yet bloodthirsty but perhaps inclined in that direction. Meanwhile the Thai economy is going to Hell, and its image in the world has already arrived there; you can’t expect to benefit from the 21st century while living in the 19th. The future needs bold and imaginative minds not boot-licking lackeys. It needs free communications not cyber-police. It needs a people willing and able to speak their own minds and venture their own ventures. It needs leaders chosen by their smarts, energy, and ability-not by their bloodlines or by who they know or by how big a bribe they can pay.
How many more years will it take before Thailand’s backward looking cycle is broken? The longer it takes the greater the mayhem when the time comes. Mr. T recently advised his supporters to ‘go to sleep for a while,’ which is the equivalent of Vladimir Lenin’s ‘the worse the better.’ How much ‘worse’ is bad enough to spur action? Only time will tell…and what can we do about it? Nothing…the Thais will have to do it themselves, they are the only ones who can break the vicious cycle.