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.
What can honest people do to bring down a thoroughly corrupt, military and aristocracy-backed regime? If they had no interest in the country and its people, they could follow the fascist PAD route of violence and violent occupation of the international airports, government house and other public agencies which were looted and rubbished by the celebrity-sponsored right-wing thugs and their goons in the military.
Prem’s mouthpiece has of course refused to end his regime and call for elections as he was instructed to do (and also because, as one of Thailand’s biggest turkeys, his incredibly privileged and expensive education has taught him not to opt for an election in which the hatred of the people for Abhisit’s contempt for the poor would be so clearly demonstrated).
I’m not convinced that the drawing of a million litres of blood is really such a good idea. Then again, no doubt people like me said the same thing about Gandhi’s approach.
I followed the usual route today – up or down Ladprao Road to the Ratchada junction and then ready to turn right: the traffic board showed green so I was looking forward to a swift trip – but then, Ratchada Road was pretty jammed up – quite why this should be was not immediately obvious but it soon became clear that there was a demonstration outside of the court. Well, to be more accurate, there were preparations for a demonstration. The red-shirted pro-democracy movement had brought their continuing protests to the court, which is sitting on some cases and speedily rushing through others. Preparations were well under way: over about one hundred metres of the pavement there were numerous stalls set up for food and convenience goods, including a variety of red shirts and jackets. There was also a mobile toilet parked up and vans loaded with loudspeakers – of course, plenty of police were hanging around as well, waiting to see how things panned out, no doubt.
It looked like a substantial and well-organised operation established by serious people. The demonstrations are likely to continue at least until the 26th and, if rumours about what the Secret Hand has decided the judges should do are true, then beyond that as well. The Abhisit regime has responded plans to put up to 35,000 extra troops and police in the streets to suppress political dissent and establishing security bases in 38 majority pro-democracy provinces. It is easy to interpret this to mean that everyone knows what the decision will be on the 26th and there is a great likelihood of violence erupting as a result (of course, it is illegal to criticise any judicial decision and I would not dream of doing so, I merely pass on what other people are saying with good intentions).
If the Secret Hand has decided to take all the money and is planning for violence or else calculating that he can use violence for his own end, then is it possible for violence to be avoided? It seems sadly unlikely. The Secret Hand sees the ‘Thaksin Regime’ as a kind of Maoist alternative government which must be eradicated root and branch to return the Land of Smiles to the status quo ante. However insane (or just childish) this idea is (and it is part of Chaturon Chaisang’s argument in Thai Democracy in Crisis: 27 Truths), years of ideological state apparatus activity persuading the public that problems are caused by ill-intentioned people not systems are bearing their ugly, poisonous fruit.
One thing that does confuse westerners such as myself is the message ‘from the words of the Lord Buddha’ which is regularly broadcast on Radio Thailand stations – it says that, in English, mind is the most important part of the universe and that a person with a pure mind might achieve all things (I am paraphrasing based on what I have heard). So, an act committed by a pure mind is different from an act committed by a person with an impure mind. That is, the same act, no matter what its result is, should be judged not on its outcome but on the mind of the person committing it.
This is very different from people such as myself: most western democratic systems are based on variants of self-interested utilitarianism – that is, does the act of a politician benefit me or my interests and is not so obviously unfair that it is unsustainable. In other words, people would by and large vote for a political act that awarded us and our families a million dollars each but perhaps not if we felt it would lead to political unrest that would make our lives worse. Alternatively, those people who follow a political ideology (defined broadly) would vote for political policies commensurate with that ideology and against policies which contradicted the ideology.
In these cases, it is the nature of the policy and its outcome that is important, crucial in fact. The nature of the individual is generally irrelevant – that does not of course explain every situation, since there have been, for example, very strident protests in Britain at least against any policy enacted by Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and before him Tony Blair based on what people believe is their personal records of integrity. This is similar (and mostly alien to western concepts) to the Thai establishment system we are led to believe is common. In that system, it is not the act that matters but the mind of the individual concerned. Consequently, identical acts committed by different people should be judged differently based on understanding of the spiritual states of the individuals responsible for them. So, an act of violence ordered by individual A may be considered acceptable because of the spiritual nature of A while the same act (actually, any act violent or not) committed by B, considered morally impure, must be condemned.
Is it this which explains why otherwise seemingly intelligent and sensible people can support the violence-sodden outrages of the right wing while condemning the reasonable responses (on which, more tomorrow) of the common people? The alternative is just to condemn these yellow-shirt people as irredeemably evil or stupid – which is difficult to support. Perhaps they have just been infected by this religious meme?