Whereof We Can and Cannot Speak

The main reason why the aristocracy-establishment so hates Thaksin and his government cannot be mentioned – by the establishment because they refuse to admit that it exists.* Instead, refuge was taken in the Treason of the Intellectuals. In Thai Democracy in Crisis: 27 Truths, Chaturon Chaisang cites Kaewsan Atibodhi’s description of the so-called ‘Thaksin Regime,’ which supposedly had these characteristics (p.8):

“1) Hijack the constitution, amend or change it so that it works for the businesses you are interested in or provides hidden benefits for your own group. 2) Seduce people with a new capitalism so that they forget the nation and build a capitalist mainstream so that they forget the roots of their Thainess. 3) Defraud the nation through many uncorrected corruption problems and conducting secret businesses. 4) Put an end to peace in the country and instigate divisions in the nation.”

Although the slant of attacks is different, the methodology is roughly the same for the ways in which the extreme right is slandering President Barack Obama: he is accused of being a ‘Communist,’ a ‘socialist’ and a ‘Marxist’ (also simultaneously he is a ‘Nazi’) who has a secret plan to sell out the country and the soul of the country for the benefit of a shadowy and ill-intentioned conspiracy. He is also accused of failing to protect the American people by his foreign policy and, therefore, ending the ‘peace’ enjoyed under the previous administration. He is further accused of recklessly spending money with a view to causing long-term problems for the USA and of squandering the nation’s resources for his own aims. The similarity is marked.

Related tactics have been used in the effort to justify the military coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, with its talk of ‘criminal’ acts, ‘tyranny of the majority’ undermining democracy and the constitution and so forth.

* Of that whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must pass over in silence, or something like that. Good old Wittgenstein, eh?

The Establishment Speaks

Control, so the amartya establishment would no doubt have it, confers legitimacy: when the establishment was able to win elections, then the election was the sacred symbol of democracy and any dissenters were excoriated for illegitimate and perhaps even communist direct action. Then, when Thai Rak Thai proved that winning elections was no longer the preserve of the establishment, suddenly the election was downgraded to just one of the institutions of democracy and far from the most important. Then, public participation suddenly became more important and regular endorsement of policies above and beyond periodic elections should take place (this was supported by the treason of many of the intellectuals whose compromises were revealed as shameful by the change in the political scene).

Above all, the checks and balances then were elevated to high rank: adopting the discourse of American politics (where the ‘checks and balances’ are currently being used by obstructionist rightists to prevent the will of the people being carried out), we were supposed to believe that ‘objective,’ ‘independent’ and ‘non-partisan’ individuals were uniquely placed to be able to judge the legitimacy of the democratically-elected government and should be put in a position of power above the politicians.

From here, of course, it is a very short step to justifying a military coup (which many of the traitor intellectuals were all too keen to do, even in their ‘award-winning’ books).

There is an obvious parallel with the courts. After the judicial coup wrought by the junta before it handed power to the sleazy, repressive and incompetent Abhisit regime, judicial verdicts were more or less guaranteed to follow the establishment line (there are always a few mavericks, for one reason or the other). Hence, in the run up to important and controversial verdicts,* we are urged by all the great and good to respect the courts, told that only courts can make decisions and should by no means make any kind of protest against judicial decisions. As ever, moralistic language is employed to make the distinction that obedience to the rightist establishment is virtuous and disobedience is vicious.

 * I of course have a stake in the most prominent of these decisions, since it might have a powerful influence on my ability to put the rice on the table.