Revolutions: Televised or Otherwise


Hannah Arendt observed in On Revolution that it is when revolutionaries focus on one goal (freedom from oppression or freedom from poverty) that a revolution is likely to be successful. So, she argues that the American Revolution was successful because it was able to focus on the political aspect since the country itself was rich (although it had its share of the poor and miserable too), while the French Revolution was ultimately unsuccessful because revolutionaries wanted relief both from tyranny and from economic misery. According to this argument, the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian Revolutions could be accounted failures because they too did not satisfy the demand for economic freedom that had been promised to the people and, just like the aftermath of the French Revolution, was forced to use terror to constrain the people from seeking counter-revolution so as to exit their lives of misery and starvation (readers will be reminded of Lenin’s observation that communism consisted of the Soviet system and electricity). The most successful revolution in Thai history would be that of 1932, therefore, which brought down the Absolute Monarchy and replaced it with the current Constitutional Monarchy system. That Revolution was entirely political and, indeed, took the form more of a coup in that it involved a comparatively small number of members of the state forcing out those others who were enforcing political tyranny. What the PAD achieved was a kind of anti-revolution rather than a counter-revolution. Their goal was to overthrow what political freedom had been achieved and increase tyranny while reducing the possibility of economic freedom for the poor. That aim was achieved, through violence and the compliance of traitors.