Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Good evening! Magandang gabi! Buenas noches!
The Red Shirts phenomenon in Thailand seems to baffle many observers world-wide. Accustomed as they are to seeing Thailand as a nation in moderation, they just couldn’t believe that a revolt just took place right at the heart of the nation: Bangkok.
Conditioned as they were by Establishment media, they continue to peddle the same blind thought about the Red Shirts as cult followers of the former premier Thaksin Shinavatra. True, the Red Shirts exalt the former premier to the pinnacle of heroism. But there’s more to the Red revolt than Thaksin, and those blind observers better rethink their nauseating contentions.
Thailand, like the rest of the developing world, tied up its economy to the global economy with great exuberance. The Thai state showed fidelity in instituting liberal reforms that quickly encumbered the country to the global economy and therefore played themselves into the hands of the financial cartels and ‘military industrial elites’ of the North.
By mid-1990s, it was clear that Thailand had departed from the cherished principles of the general welfare, the same principle that transformed backward regions into economic powers. The same cherished doctrines, which one finds in the teachings of spiritual masters (P.R. Sarkar, Vivekanda, Gandhi, Buddha, Baha’ullah, Sri Aurobindo), are also the ‘philosopher’s stone’ that can redistribute wealth to the greater masses.
Departing from those cherished principles would clearly spell the following hazards: (a) de-industrialization, agriculture decay, and mass lay offs; (b) destruction of national currencies upon their total subordination to currency markets dictated by the speculative maneuverings of global financiers; (c) huge income inequalities between the middle-to-upper brackets and the poorer working classes and rural food producers.
It is not surprising that in June 1997, Bangkok was the site of the 1st spark of currency attacks in the region by the cabal of George Soros & pals. What followed next was the Asian financial meltdown, and the rest was history.
Bangkok, or its technocratic-oligarchic coalition of rulers, sadly departed from the very teachings of the Lord Gautama who, 2,600 years back, showed the way to ‘right livelihood’ and proper living. The same oligarchic-technocratic elites likewise departed from the post-war interventionist policies that led to the re-structuring of its economy and could have, with more institutional strengthening, led to poverty elimination and a materialized ‘middle class dream’ for the Thais.
The revolt waged by the Red Shirts is therefore a re-declaration of the commitment to noble principles of the public welfare taught by the spiritual masters of the East. They were among those excluded from the globalization game, eking a life amid abundance accruing on select urban habitués and oligarchs.
Meantime, Thailand’s own oligarchs have clearly integrated their wealth pursuits to those of the global financial cartels, and their wealth keep on growing at the expense of the masses. King Bhumibol himself leads in the massive wealth accumulation as his exemplars, the royal houses of England and Netherlands, have taught his family the way to unhampered accumulation via a regime of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation.
The Royal Family in Thailand must be assessed by its own people whether it stood up clearly for the general welfare during its reign. Whether the same family still stands for Thailand’s interest, or for the interest of their personal pockets and those of their friends in the global oligarchy.
The Red Shirts, as I see it, is part of a worldwide chain of mass revolts against the global oligarchy whose godless global economy has been encumbering more folks down pauperism and hunger. It is much related to the people’s protests today in Greece that is suffering from the same greedy pursuits of the global oligarchs and austerity measures of the IMF.
Even if all of the revolting Red Shirts in Thailand were annihilated today, their termination will not mean death to the anti-oligarchy movement across the globe and in Bangkok. Justice is on the side of the Red Shirts no matter how violent and crude they may have behaved in the Big City.
It is doubtful whether the bureaucrats in Bangkok will manifest the political will to clip the powers of the local oligarchy, redistribute patrimonial wealth equitably, and reverse free market/free trade policies. The same bureaucrats, led by the British-twanged premier, are enjoying the fruits of their partnership with the oligarchy, so where does that lead them to?
Mark my word well: there will be more Red Shirt revolts across the globe with the passing of the months ahead. Let me repeat: the months ahead. The anti-globalization/anti-oligarchy wasn’t invented by the Red Shirts of Thailand, as they are merely among the embodiments of the ethos of the public welfare that is a global phenomenon as well.
Lucky enough if King Bhumibol and his minions of oligarchs will survive the judgement that will be cast upon them by struggling Thais in the months ahead. Bhumibol should better reflect on the Nepal experience: the handwriting on the wall of oligarchic monarchs and cronies.
[Philippines, 20 May 2010]
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