Year in Review I

Fortunately, there are some compensations for those of us who are positioned closer to the revolutionary than the reactionary end of the continuum. There are two main aspects to this: the first is the optimistic belief that things can change for the better and, no matter how grim matters may appear to be, there will always be hope. Look, for example, at the election of Barack Obama, which is an occurrence that could scarcely have been imagined four years ago when the American people were re-electing George W Bush.

Second, there is the belief that the worse the situation becomes, the closer comes the inevitable revolution that will save us all. Marxists, for example, believe that it is necessary for the capitalist system to destroy itself before the arrival of the revolution that will usher in the age of equality. Christianity, too, requires the most devastating event possible to occur before the redemption is possible: without Judas, that is, there can be no crucifixion and then no resurrection. Other belief or thought systems with (variously defined) progressive aims have similar paradoxes at their core.

In this light, therefore, we can look at what has happened in Thailand this year with a slightly less depressed air than would otherwise appear necessary because, let’s face it, this has been a terrible year for Thailand. The armed coup of 2006 demonstrated that army personnel (in the form of sad little General Surayud – who always appeared on television like the little boy on his first day at school wearing his older bother’s discarded uniform) are now completely incapable of running a modern economy – back in the 60s and 70s, generals could run the economy more or less successfully, as they demonstrated. That is no longer the case and, as mentioned, the 2007-7 junta showed it to be the case. So, after ceding power to a democratically-elected government for a brief period (buy paying the PAD to prevent them from actively governing effectively), the powers that be launched a Silent Coup this year to give power to the quisling politicians who can be trusted to maintain the army’s extreme conservative agenda. Preventing the police from acting (this is well documented), the army encouraged (and celebrity sponsors helped pay for) the PAD to occupy not just Government House but Bangkok’s two international airports among a welter of violence aimed at the police and the general public. The closure is likely to cause a million extra job losses and costs of up to 100 billion baht. Weeks after the army-brokered agreement (allegedly) with the PAD to end the occupation in return for the dissolution of the ruling PPP party on a pretext by junta-appointed lawyers and a place in the new Democrat-led coalition – and the Foreign Ministry was indeed given to a prominent PAD spokesperson, to the absolute bemusement of the international audience. No PAD supporter has yet been prosecuted for any of the catalogue of crimes for which more than ample evidence exists that were committed on a premeditated basis.

Now we move into 2009 in the face of possibly the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s with an army puppet PM with no idea of the extent of the problems facing the country. So, on the optimistic note on which I started, is the situation now so desperate that it will lead to real change?

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JW has been one of the first contributors to this blog before he gave up on it all in April 2010, during a time when Thai society got more and more polarized about political matters because of red-shirt protesters.

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