Tsunami Warning for Thailand West-Coast

A tsunami warning has been issued for provinced along the west-coast of Thailand following a strong earth-quake (8.9 on Richter skala) in Aceh, Indonesia. Al Jazeera has set up a live-blog where you can follow updates.

And the fastest way to get news is of course Twitter (but at the same time lots of unconfirmed rumors and false info, so take it with a grain of salt). As of now, seems’s there no hash-tag yet, but just head over to Twitter and search for tsunami.

Upcoming: Foodie Event, Art Exhibition, Chula Film Festival

now-September 15: art exhibition by Montri Toemsombat

August 16: Chulalongkorn International Film Festival, a mini film showcase for educational purposes hosted by the Department of Dramatic Arts, Chulalongkorn University, which is also open free to non-students.

September 6-12: The World Gourmet Festival is coming up. If you love food, you probably want to be there 🙂

Final Post

OK, that’s it. As far as I am concerned, this blog is over. Good luck to anyone else.

Chavalit’s Approach to the Palace

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, former PM, chair of the Phuea Thai party and veteran of many events and excursions, has outlined his explanation for seeking assistance from HM the King and, unusually, a summary (with some details) has been printed in The Nation. The argument is that HM the King is not ‘above politics’ in the way that is usually argued in public discourse because:

“Under the principles of international law, a monarch represents the country’s sovereignty. In Thailand, the monarchy is the oldest and most powerful pillar of society, while the King exercises his discretion for royal initiatives and royal rulings in accordance with royal traditions.

– During the period of modernisation, Kings Rama IV, V, VI and VII safeguarded the country’s independence in the face of colonisation. The monarchy nearly succeeded in introducing democracy but was interrupted by the 1932 revolution, resulting in an incomplete transformation into genuine democracy.

– Under Article 3 of the Constitution, the King exercises sovereign power via the Parliament, Government and Judiciary. In theory and reality, the dispensation of power is within the realm of politics. Therefore the monarchy is not above and beyond politics as understood.”

There are several other points but it always seems a bit pointless to me just copy-pasting an article the reader can find elsewhere.

What is important, irrespective of the degree to which this is an accurate summary or whether one does or does not agree, is that this argument has appeared in the right wing press, which generally suppresses any such discussion. As I mentioned elsewhere, Chavalit and Somchai’s appeal to the Palace is unlikely to be answered and, if so, it will be interesting to observe how that will be reported in the international media.

Suthep the Liar

How curious that two years after the violent PAD mob closed down the international airports in Bangkok, in addition to numerous accounts of (well-attested) attempted murder, assault, grievous bodily harm and all manner of other crimes, there is still no evidence to put the known criminal leaders in jail – and yet, a few minutes after ‘grenades’ were launched against Skytrain station Sala Daeng and other locations in Silom, Suthep Thaugsuban is able to claim that the attacks were launched by the pro-democracy demonstrators. Where does this evidence come from, Khun Suthep? You do have evidence, don’t you, and it is not just another lie? You have form, don’t you? He used this obvious lie to warn PAD supporters to pull back as the army is about to launch another murderous assault on political dissidents. Reports now indicate that the PAD bomb attacks have killed three people. (Allegedly, as people say.) Now that the liar Suthep has told his PAD ‘love Silom’ pals to pull back, we can expect the army to move in and murder many, many innocent people.

Bombs in Central Bangkok – One Dead – PAD Suspected

A bomb campaign has been launched in central Bangkok – four blasts are reported by the BBC with 45 people injured – although it is not clear who is responsible, the presumption is that it is PAD supporters again who are once again aiming to provoke violence and a military coup. The Nation suggests that grenades were launched and not bombs (but then they always do) – both Sala Daeng Skytrain station and unspecified ‘Silom Road’ targets are being mentioned. The Bangkok Post is now reporting one death and 75 injured. Both the Abhisit regime and the PAD have been threatening violence against the pro-democracy demonstrators repeatedly. There are fears that there will be many more deaths tonight.

Tangerines (a Change of Pace)

A story at MCOT about the Chinese-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) begins this way:

“Tangerines are one of Thailand’s most important products, a fruit which occupies an important role in the economy.”

Can this be true? It talks of the Fang district in the north in which 34,000 rai are used to grow the little orange devils (and then goes on to say how many farmers are supposed to be cutting down their trees owing to lower profits etc). However, figures I have from one of my students (don’t have the source to hand) indicate that nationwide there were 680,927 rai devoted to growing durian, 487,405 rai given over to growing mangosteen and 373,158 rai used for growing rambutan. I imagine there will also be substantial amounts of land devoted to bananas, pineapples, mangoes, water melons, papayas and so forth.

So, on the face of it, the story starts with something of an exaggeration. Does it matter? OK, so it deals with FTAs and these have become politically divisive in recent years for reasons I have discussed elsewhere. Is that a reason for bias or is it just carelessness. Of course, this is not to minimise any problem faced by the tangerine growers (although they mostly seem to be sanguine enough about switching to another cash crop, since they have done so before). Or should I try and get out of the office more and try to lead a more interesting life?

Democracy and Ochlocracy in Thailand

Perhaps the most cogent and stringent critic of democracy was one of its earliest, Plato:

“For Plato, the demos is the intolerable existence of the great beast which occupies the stage of the political community without ever becoming a single subject. The name which accurately qualifies it is ochlos: the common rabble or, in other words, the infinite turbulence of collections of individuals who are always at odds with themselves, living rent by passion and at the mercy of desire. On the basis of this observation an original duplicity can be defined, a relationship between philosophy and the political which is both thoroughly immanent and radically transcendent, prohibiting the existence of any such thing as ‘political philosophy.'”*

This (rather less well expressed) is at the heart of the position of the PAD and its New Politics Party: the poor people are too uneducated and stupid and greedy to be allowed to vote.

However, Plato was wrong and wrong for several reasons: first, he did not take into account the impact of change and the ability of people to learn; second, the nature of democracy in a modern (and much larger) community does not depend on the ability of individuals to argue with rhetoric against others; third, the desire of the poor (the aporoi, those without means) to achieve liberty (eleutheria) is in fact the principal struggle of human society. Higher levels of goals to be achieved by democracy (i.e. the arete or virtue that is supposed to be desired by those with means (euporoi) may be considered later when people have the basic means of survival in their hands.

This leads to the modern definition of democracy:

“What we mean by democracy is not that we govern ourselves. When we speak or think of ourselves as living in a democracy, what we have in mind is something quite different. It is that our own state, and the government which does so much to organize our lives, draws its legitimacy from us, and that we have a reasonable chance of being able to compel each of them to continue to do so. They draw it, today, from holding regular elections, in which every adult citizen can vote freely and without fear, in which their votes have at least a reasonably equal weight, and in which any uncriminalized political opinion can compete freely for them.”**

In Thailand, of course, the legitimacy of the present government does not come from the mass of the people.

* Jacques Ranciere, On the Shores of Politics (London and New York: Verso, 2007), translated by Liz Heron, p.12.

** John Dunn, Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy (London: Atlantic Books, 2006), pp.19-20.

Reports on Thailand from the Left

We have seen plenty of coverage of the red shirt demonstrations in Thailand from the right and the centre. How is it being reported on the left? In answering this, I am reminded of how far away and little known the Kingdom is in the west. Even the admirable Amy Goodman of Democracy Now has read out two short news items misidentifying the army with the police.

The Morning Star in Britain had a couple of articles on the 12th of April. The focus was on the red-shirted demonstrators as representatives of the rural poor, their support for the pro-poor Thai Rak Thai administration and the violent suppression by the state, in addition to suppression of political dissidence through censorship.

A longer piece by Kenny Coyle stressed the emerging class war element of the demonstrations and includes some comments on a central institution which it is not possible to repeat here (and which, I think, become simplistic in this piece). The article concludes:

“At the very least, international solidarity and vigilance might stay the hand of the Thai military from committing further bloodbaths. The Thai embassy in London should be bombarded with protests about the outrageous massacre of its own people and in support of the demand for new democratic elections.”

According to this argument, a victory for the red shirts would bring a new political space in which socialist ideas in the region (presumably the Mekong region) might be rekindled.

Over at the website In Defence of Marxism, which is led by Alan Woods and is I think the best of its type, a typically detailed piece on April 1st sought to explain the background of the current political situation and rooted the problems in the divisions and inequality in society. Here is a sample paragraph (note this is also a not-a-certain-institution-friendly-piece):

“The seedy industries for which Thailand is well known have their origins in the class division between anmart (bureaucrats or aristocrats) and phrai, or commoners and can be understood in the context of social conditions and low status enjoyed by the poor farmers. The bar girls in Soi Cowboy and older women in the sex industry appear undernourished compared to the tourists on the beach in Pattaya. Nearly all are working to support children who live with the grandmother in a village. The begging industry is fully Dickensian with businessmen of the street leading their captive cripples to prime sites to be artistically displayed spreading out the frayed trouser legs with no leg inside, for example, positioning a cute puppy in the arms of the beggar and studying from a safe distance the emotional impact on Japanese tourists leaving the Tokyu department store.”

The article continues to decry the lack of a large-scale political party that represents the interest of the working classes and notes that this has occurred since the demise of the Communist Party of Thailand. Author Joe Gold is optimistic that such a party may be created:

“What is required today is the building of a genuine party of the Thai working class, one that is capable of intervening in the present movement and placing the working class at the head of the people’s protest. All the potential for such a party exists today in Thailand.”

Finally, from International Viewpoint, the online socialist magazine reporting in support of the Fourth International, a piece appeared on April 14th, 2010, entitled “Neither martial law, nor state of emergency, nor coup d’etat! Democracy and social justice.” This article is again in favour of the red shirt movement, labels the Abhisit regime as ‘illegitimate’ and calls for immediate dissolution of parliament:

“The Fourth International is in solidarity with the fight for social justice and democracy of the “Redshirts”. The repression of the demonstrators in Bangkok has not dented their determination. Abhisit, the person responsible for the blood bath, must resign and call legislative elections as soon as possible.

There must be an end to repression, the censure of the media and the denial of democratic freedoms. The rights to organise, freely associate, strike and demonstrate must be respected.”

Again, the PAD yellow shirt movement is labeled as royalist, in fact as ‘reactionary royalist forces,’ which is unfortunate not because the description is untrue but because it implies that other parts of society are not equally royalist in nature. The PAD leadership, by relentlessly describing themselves as the ‘defenders of the monarchy,’ show the power of the right to distort the truth by repeating lies – consider the same phenomenon among the Tea Party supporters in the USA, for example.

One problem that the left faces in analysing the situation in class terms is that most red shirt supporters actually want capitalism in Thailand (with democracy) since it is better than the feudalism which was restored after the 2006 coup. Many, after all, continue to hope for the return of Thaksin Shinawatra and his administration, which of course is entirely a representative of capitalism (albeit certainly pro-poor and redistributive in nature). Thaksin is, therefore, referred to as a ‘transitional figure’ in a process which will lead to some kind of revolution that will go much further than the return of democracy.

The Stain of Blood

Blood may be washed away but the stain of the blood can last for a long time – consider Lady Macbeth, her crimes years in the past, still waking every night into the nightmare of the guilt and shame of what she has done. Does the same destiny await the Butchers Abhisit and Suthep? On the face of it, Suthep seems to be a wholly self-satisfied knave largely untroubled by the thought process but is Abhisit the same? Is that what he learned from his privileged Etonian education and his gentleman’s PPE degree at Oxford?

Reminders of his ordering the killings of pro-democracy demonstrators will not all be psychological – some will be physical too. The relatives of one of the protestors killed by troops under the order of the Abhisit regime have begun filing complaints with the police about the actions and the killings. If this happens in a number of cases, it is possible that the Butchers may be entangled in legal proceedings for many years – until last week, it was possible to believe that all of these cases would just be brushed under the carpet, as cases against the designated organs of the establishment always seem to be in Thailand. Yet the Electoral Commission’s decision to dissolve the Democrat Party may mean that all of this has changed. If the dissolution goes ahead, it presumably indicates that the establishment no longer considers Abhisit and his pals as designated agencies and so it will be open season on them. If that is indeed the case, then there must be a genuine chance (slim perhaps but genuine nevertheless) that Abhisit will be forced to stand trial for whatever crime he is deemed to have committed resulting from the deaths of protestors (and who knows how many more there will be in the next week or two). Will he too spend the rest of his life as a fugitive from Thai justice?

I imagine this consideration must have had some influence on his decision to appoint General Anupong as head of the Committee for Resolution of Emergency Situations (although there is a story that Suthep is still actually in charge, although that just seems to be face-saving spin). Military officers do not have to face trial for the acts they commit, as the conspirators and henchpersons behind the 2006 coup demonstrate.

The Thirst for Blood

It was, I think, in John Le Carre’s excellent novel The Honourable Schoolboy in which it was observed that, of all the peoples of the Mekong region, it was the Thais who were the most willing to turn guns on each other. This seems to be borne out by the thousands of PAD members and others masquerading as the ‘no colour’ demonstrators, whose principal demand seems to be that the army open fire on the pro-democracy demonstrators and use any means available for crushing political dissidence and free speech.

How many deaths will be enough to satisfy the thirst for blood these people have? As a farang, I occasionally come across other farangs who seem determined to tell me that there is a need for the Butcher to show some ‘balls,’ not to be a ‘wuss’ and so forth, by which they seem to mean it is justified to murder scores, hundreds and perhaps even thousands of demonstrators in order to ‘return the rule of law.’ I used to do interviews with executives in different countries as a form of research but, frankly, I became dispirited by the almost relentlessly hate-filled contempt these people mostly have (there are of course exceptions) for the people of the country where they live.

Are the Pylon Bombings Staged?

Before Abhisit’s murderous attack on the pro-democracy protestors last weekend (the death toll has now risen to 24), there were nightly ‘grenade attacks’ on a variety of targets, mostly aligned with the state and its cronies. These attacks generally shared the characteristics that no one saw who was involved, one grenade per ‘attack’ and the almost complete lack of any damage – I have never launched a grenade myself and, indeed, I don’t suppose I have ever seen one in real life but I have the strong impression that if I were prepared to launch attacks against the state, I would make sure the grenades exploded properly and I would shoot several of them to make sure.

Many people concluded, therefore, that these were not genuine attacks.

Now, there are ‘powerful C4 bomb’ attacks against electricity pylons in Ayutthaya, which are being used as ‘evidence’ that ‘terrorist’ attacks intend to plunger Bangkok into darkness. Based on the photos presented in the media that I have seen, these ‘attacks’ seem to have done picturesque but superficial damage to the bases of the pylons but not to have had any real threat to the pylon itself.

Since these ‘attacks’ serve so very well the purpose of the Abhisit regime and the Committee for Resolution of Emergency Situations (when did this start? How many more special powers from the junta’s charter will we see before all this is over?), it is not surprising that people are concluding that these, too, are staged.

The new committee seems to be favouring the use of special forces and, perhaps, vigilantes – since it is known that PAD goons have cooperated with the security forces in the past.

The state is threatening more violence against the pro-democracy demonstrators this weekend. How many will they kill this time?

Anarchists in Thailand

One aspect about political protests in Europe (not sure about America) is always the presence of anarchists – sometimes dressed in the traditional red and black but more commonly masked and hooded to reduce the risk of being identified, the anarchists are so determinedly opposed to the state that they will take any opportunity to try to bring it down through violence. When there is a political protest in a progressive cause, the anarchists tend to join in on the fringes with their own program of violence; when the protest is reactionary, they might instead attempt to intimidate the protestors or anyone else through using or threatening violence.

Yet we do not seem to have any anarchists in Thailand (unless, as Esther Rantzen might say, you know different[ly]). Of course, some people would argue that all Thai people are at heart anarchists anyway (Thai means ‘free’) and joke about road usage and so forth. In any case, most protests in Thailand attract a wide or at least fairly wide range of different interests. The pro-democracy UDD demonstrations, for example, include leftish progressives (many of whom deeply disdain the capitalism of Thai Rak Thai), Thaksin supporters (these categories are not all mutually exclusive), the rural dispossessed, those upset with the corrupt and brutal Democrat rule, former Communists still wondering when Prem is going to keep his side of the bargain (never, is the answer to that one), labour activists and so on and so forth. The only people who can be accused of anarchic tendencies would be Maj-Gen Seh Daeng Khattiya and his supporters but it must be contradictory being any kind of anarchist in the rigidly hierarchical Thai military forces. Some of the PAD associates appear to be deeply unpleasant and heavily-armed sociopaths, of course, but that is not the same as being an anarchist.

Are there any Southeast Asian anarchists (he asks having thought about this briefly and not done any research at all – hey, it’s a blog not a journal)?  

One Hundred Days of AFTA

In an article that reminds me why I still plan to re-subscribe to The Bangkok Post, despite its thoroughly disgraceful treatment of the pro-democracy protests, evidence is presented of the positive aspects of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), which came into force at the beginning of the year and has just passed its first one hundred days.

Many tariffs have been reduced or eliminated (although plenty still remain in the case of so-called ‘sensitive’ products) and so cross-border trade will increase and, as subsidies are reduced or removed, industry will have to become more competitive or fold. One longstanding problem with ASEAN has been the low level of intra-country trade and reliance (by the larger economies) on trading with distant, western markets. Of course, there are powerful political reasons behind this but lack of economic partnership perpetuates political difficulties.

On the whole, there are more winners than losers, especially since most countries have governments willing to intervene in their economies to support local industries and, now that we have reached 2010, a lot of people now realise how to make this kind of arrangement work. However, this being a capitalist world, there are inevitably winners and losers and, while winners can be left to get on with it by and large, the losers are the ones who need additional assistance from government. As ever, it is the vulnerable who need most consideration. Women, in particular, are facing the worst of the ongoing global economic crisis, with many manufacturing jobs (often women-dominated) replaced by stimulus package construction jobs (male-dominated), for example, while reductions in family income mean more women and girls face reduced opportunities for education and social mobility – i.e., once you are poor, you stay poor with poor social mobility. This also has negative effects on quality of life – in practical terms, women are more likely to be stuck at home, especially in rural areas. Then again, when women want to replace lost jobs, they may be forced into the informal economy, where working conditions are insecure. This is not necessarily the karaoke industry but street vending and petty trading, where no protection is available from bullying by officials or gangsters.

Early Songkran on Ladprao

It has been a quiet start to Songkran in this part of Ladprao – well, I only popped out to Foodland around 11 to collect some Raad and Kaeo Savoey mangoes for she who must be obeyed. A few kids were setting up their stations (and a few more on my back home less than an hour later) and some daddies were transporting their kids on the back of their motor cycles with their water pistols and so forth (I assume they were daddies, I know the look). It would be a pity if the kids cannot have their fun at all.

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I noticed that the troops and their vehicle had been withdrawn from outside the courts on Phahonyothin Road and the Songkran facilities (an indoor pond, some little fountains and so forth where people can pour water respectfully over each other) had been removed – it is a fixture every year and no one had managed to stop the festive music coming over the PA system.

It is a strange atmosphere: people along Ladprao Road still openly display red shirts, banners and so forth (some people of course just wear work uniforms that are red and some are wearing Manure or Liverpool shirts but still) – some wear pink (not sure if they are the PAD coming back onto the streets or just people wearing pink shirts – it is very tempting, invidious in fact, to judge people by the colour they are wearing because I feel very sensitive to it but one must be careful in doing so). People still travel to the occupied sites in their red shirts to join the protests but everyone knows now what Abhisit has ordered the soldiers to do. It will not be the same again. Even knowing that Abhisit has been declared a non-person by the establishment has not yet made much difference. Symbols are still important – it has not been hard to interpret the meaning of a very well-known person with a record of supporting reactionary interests lighting incense to the officer among the soldiers killed and ignoring the rest, not to mention (obviously) the small people murdered by the state. Perhaps new pictures will emerge tomorrow.

Court Votes to Dissolve Democrats

Amazing Thailand and the amazing ruthlessness of the establishment: within a day of Army Chief Anupong Paojinda calling for a dissolution of parliament (which I take it means no more crackdowns on his watch) and the Electoral Commission has apparently voted 4-1 to dissolve the Democrat Party for receiving an illegal donation and other charges (at least one other charge anyway – the reporting is not entirely clear).

The process is not automatic (well, not in law anyway) as the case is now passed to the Attorney General and then on to the Constitution Court. However, I think there is no need for me to spell out what this means.

So, Abhisit is finished and will presumably be banned for five years, along I guess with Suthep, Kasit (? do PAD coalition members also get banned) and whoever it is who passes for the brains behind the Democrat Party.

This would mean an election and another few months of faffing around with the relevant court still having the power to ban any successful party, if the court so decides (how many times can they do this without looking just a little bit, shall we say, presumptuous?).

That would be good for Anupong, who stands a chance of getting to his retirement with his various powers intact, so to speak. Any potential violence might be put off (unless the stories of the Prem v Watermelon coup/battles I mentioned earlier turn out to be true) but the ill-feeling will be stored up for explosions of anger later.

For the establishment, the system prevails – which is what the system and its key supporters most want.

Following the Money

Follow the money: well, it is a possible method of approaching the truth. In this case, let us say for the sake of argument that there are three factions within the army (the navy and air force are not considered important players and can be bought off in due course with a submarine or additional unneeded fighter planes).

The factions are: Prem’s people: deeply reactionary yellow shirt types (perhaps 25%), watermelons (pro-red shirt and in some cases pro-Thaksin) (again perhaps 25%) and the neutrals (50% or thereabouts). The fight going on between them is who will take the top position in the army once Anupong retires (which is due to be in October, as I recall).

The prizes of this, not to mention the status and getting to stand in number one positions at official ceremonies and the like, include the Prem plan to establish a new armoured division in Korat (with its multi-billion baht plan to buy tanks) and other high profile procurement opportunities. These procurement opportunities are, of course, according to this argument, primarily opportunities for whoever is in charge of the army to put most of the money in their own pockets and the pockets of their supporters.

Currently, the three factions have not been able to reach an agreement and, apparently, are reinforcing their troops in Bankgok. At some stage, probably this week or next weekend, a coup will be launched on the pretext that the current government cannot keep order and, if no agreement among the factions has been reached by that time, then there will be considerable bloodshed in the city as the rivals fight it out.

Another rumour has it that the truck full of weapons now in the hands of the red shirts was in fact deliberately left behind by watermelons to help them protect themselves. In this case, I usually incline towards the cock-up rather than conspiracy theory of history, especially when the military (of any country) is involved. Military formations are not designed to be learning organizations.

Abhisit Vejjajiva: Butcher of Bangkok

After all those yearsof being groomed for the position,  Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally lived up to his destiny as the Butcher of Bangkok.

He tried to run away to Australia but Prem banned him.

He tried to run away to Vietnam but Prem banned him.

Now, on orders, at least eight are dead and hundreds injured after Abhisit Vejjajiva was responsible for the murder of unarmed civilians. Update: 21 are confirmed dead and more than 800 injured.

These despicable crimes against humanity can only be ended by the immediate arrest of Abhisit and those who ordered the massacre of unarmed, innocent civilians. Irrespective of whether anyone in the crowd was armed or fought back, those soldiers were armed with live ammunition and used it against civilians. Abhisit must take responsibility for what was done.


Glorious Victory at Thaicom

What an extraordinary victory for people power! After dirty little Abhisit banned People TV from broadcasting (of course, he does not give the orders – he is, after all, banned from foreign travel by the Secret Hand). (It’s Prem who is the Secret Hand – we can say this now). Now, after thousands of red-shirted pro-democracy gathered at the Thaicom Satellite Station at Pathum Thani, were resisted by 2,000 soldiers (numbers vary according to who is talking) and water cannon and tear gas attacks were used by the state forces. After a brief retreat, the brief demonstrators pushed the jack boots out of the way – some, of course, recognise the justice of the pro-democracy demands (or at least are sympathetic for various human reasons) and now, apparently, People TV is back on the air.

A glorious victory for the masses. Non-violent resistance to the illegitimate state proves successful.

No doubt it will all go wrong overnight or in the next couple of days but even so.

Working Class Culture and the Treason of the Liberals

One of the reasons underlying the formation of the PAD and the willingness of so many supposed liberals, professionals and academics (both Thai and foreign) to applaud the 2006 military coup is the abandonment of the working class and working class culture. This is not unique to Thailand – indeed, it is a common phenomenon in Europe and many parts of the world. From the end of the Second World War until the 1960s and 1970s, the nature of society was much more appreciative of what are now considered left-wing ideas: solidarity with the poor, strong labour union movements, increasing social mobility and decreasing income inequality and so forth. In most countries, these ideas have become deeply unfashionable and unpopular – as typified by the Thatcher/Reagan/Kohl political revolution (although systemic change was much longer in appearance than these totemic figures). Since then, working class interests have been abandoned and working class culture denigrated by those who were once its friends.

Consider the role of NGOs in Thailand: many members, especially in management, of NGOs come from the bourgeois classes, often from urban areas. At first, the NGO people were in tune with the local communities with which they were working in partnership, learning from each other and so forth. Over the course of time, the NGO people began to feel that they were the source of knowledge and wisdom and the local people began to disappoint them because they were more interested in acquiring consumer goods and enjoying their lives rather than abiding by traditional methods of production which were quaint but inefficient. For example, Thai farmers embrace technology such as chemical fertilizers if it increased yield and hence income; the NGOs tended to deplore this for environmental reasons and, crucially, for moral reasons. The poor became blamed for failing to live up to the standards invented for them by the NGOs. The latter, then, started to blame the poor for being greedy, stupid, wicked and so forth and, from there, it is a short journey to joining the fascist organisation that tries to have the poor disenfranchised.