[Marxism] Thailand: Fresh right-wing violence as vote fail to resolve crisis
stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Mon Feb 3 19:38:16 MST 2014
"Democracy does not begin and end with the ballot box"
Maybe not, but the right of hte majority to determine, via a free vote, the
government they want is a pretty important one.
On 4 February 2014 13:29, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
> On 2/3/14 8:38 PM, Stuart Munckton wrote:
>> The national elections held on February 2 cannot solve the Thai political
>> crisis because those lined up against the government and democratic
>> elections are fundamentally opposed to democracy.
> No, Thailand's protesters don't want 'less democracy'
> Democracy does not begin and end with the ballot box - it's a myth that
> this is all about an elite rejecting the popular vote
> Dave Sherman
> theguardian.com, Friday 24 January 2014 23.00 EST
> As Thailand's protests intensify and a state of emergency is imposed in
> and around Bangkok, some have begun referring to the demonstrations as
> "antidemocratic", zeroing in on the opposition's boycott of a forthcoming
> election and the protest leaders' calls for an unelected "people's council"
> to replace existing democratic structures. But the truth is more complex,
> with the protesters being arguably - and paradoxically - more
> democratically minded than the elected government they oppose. To
> understand how this is possible, one has to scratch beneath the surface of
> Thai politics and dispel some myths.
> Myth 1: The protesters are mainly 'Bangkok elites'
> The government is led by Yingluck Shinawatra, who is widely acknowledged
> to be the proxy of her self-exiled brother and former PM Thaksin
> Shinawatra. The protests began last November after the parliament passed an
> amnesty bill that wiped Thaskin's slate clean, allowing him to return to
> Thailand without serving his two-year jail sentence.
> Spearheaded by the opposition Democrat party and Bangkok's middle classes,
> the protests grew even after the bill was withdrawn, morphing into a wider
> movement to reform Thailand's politics, cleansing them of Thaksin's
> influence once and for all. These protesters are often called an "elite" by
> pro-Thaksin groups - it's a term used to discredit their opponents, and it
> has caught on among many in the international media. In reality, while the
> protests indeed have their centre in Bangkok, most protesters are fairly
> diverse, and include the city's middle and working classes, as well as
> students and people of all walks of life from Thailand's south. Crucially,
> the majority of the Bangkok-born working class do not support the
> It is true that the protest does not enjoy much support in the country's
> northern and northeastern regions, where the majority of Thailand's
> population resides. This geographic divide highlights the protest's limits
> as a national movement, but it in no way supports the notion that
> protesters are an unrepresentative elite.
> Myth 2: Urban protesters oppose rural Thais' desire for equality
> The protests were never driven by a need of urban Thais to deprive their
> rural compatriots of their rights, but were triggered by specific and
> highly provocative actions by the pro-Thaksin government and parliament.
> The controversial amnesty bill carried one clear message: we are here to
> serve, first and foremost, the needs of Thaksin Shinawatra, not the country
> - and it was, in effect, the last straw.
> But while the protesters want to remove Thaksin from Thailand's body
> politic, they do not specifically seek to punish his rural supporters. When
> Yingluck Shinawatra first assumed power after winning the 2011 election,
> all Thais accepted the result peacefully. Had "Bangkok elites" wanted to
> bring down the government simply because it represented the power of their
> opponents, they would've come out against it much sooner.
> Some protesters have, unfortunately, said disparaging things about rural
> Thais, questioning their ability to make the "right" electoral choices due
> to a lack of education and other perceived faults. What this shows is that
> Thailand has a long way to go in conquering the many stereotypes that exist
> among its people - but it does not point to a protest born of a desire of
> one part of the population to disenfranchise another.
> Myth 3: The protesters want 'less democracy'
> Thai protesters will invariably tell you that democracy does not end with
> elections - that it is not simply a piece of paper placed into a ballot
> box. This shows parallels to Egypt last year, as masses piled into the
> streets, challenging the elected government of Mohamed Morsi in its drive
> to consolidate power and impose a theocratic state on an unwilling
> populace. It's not that Egyptians did not want democracy - a year earlier
> they had died in the streets fighting for it - but they felt democracy was
> usurped by the very government elected under its rules.
> Thai protesters' anger and disillusionment comes from a similar place.
> They are reacting to the government's abuses of power, its vast corruption
> and a majoritarian style of rule that excluded opponents from any
> decision-making on key issues of governance. As the government became more
> and more dedicated to fulfilling Thaksin's need to regain power, it became
> not just distasteful to the protesters, but politically illegitimate.
> To the protesters, Thaksin has always been seen as an autocrat for whom
> democracy is simply a means to holding on to power, not a guiding political
> philosophy. Therefore opposing Thaksin and his proxy government is not seen
> as antidemocratic - as Thaksin himself is antidemocratic in substance, if
> democratic in form.
> Meanwhile, Yingluck's dissolution of parliament and call for new elections
> as the protests intensified was viewed as nothing but a raised middle
> finger to the protesters: "We don't care what you're protesting or
> demanding; we will have an election, and we will win on the strength of our
> supporters alone. You don't matter!" The protesters heard this message loud
> and clear, and it only deepened their resolve to resist an illegitimate
> government, hiding behind the facade of an election.
> Hence, the demand for "reform before election" - with most protesters
> accepting democracy with free elections as a basic form of government, but
> only after reforming the system to eliminate Thaksin's influence from Thai
> In truth, eliminating Thaksin and his influence from Thai politics may be
> a very tall order, and the protest leaders' unyielding demands for a vague
> and unelected council will have to be tempered by a more realistic and
> nationally acceptable compromise. Nevertheless, the protests in Thailand
> are not fundamentally antidemocratic. It is a reform movement born of a
> deep frustration and outrage with the way democracy has been cheapened and
> abused by one man and his interminable drive to regain power.
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"Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is humanity's
original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made,
through disobedience and through rebellion." -- Oscar Wilde, Soul of Man
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