Tag Archives: Military Dictatorship

What do the royalist really want?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

In recent times we have seen anti-democracy mobsters roaming the streets of Bangkok demanding “True Democracy under the power of the King”. The military is constantly harping on about need to protect the institution and prerogatives of the monarchy. If we were to take the hysterical shouts from the Thai royalists at face value, we would be led to believe that they want to see a return to an Absolute Monarchy or at least an increase in royal political power.

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Yet this could not be further from the truth. These demands are a coded way of saying that they want less democracy and more authoritarianism under the power of the military and the conservative elites with the monarchy simply being used as a rubber stamp for everything they do.

Ever since the 1932 revolution led by the People’s Party that overthrew the Absolute Monarchy, amid mass support from the general population, there has been only one single royalist revolt and that was 1 year later in 1933. The Boworadet Rebellion was led by royalist Prince Boworadet in October that year. It lasted 12 days and was decisively defeated by government troops backed up by volunteers including trade unionists.

Decisive action by government troops and citizen volunteers defeated the Boworadet Rebellion .
Decisive action by government troops and citizen volunteers defeated the Boworadet Rebellion .

This was really the end of the dreams of the royalists that they could restore the absolute power of the monarchy. From this period onwards, according to historian Thongchai Winichakul, the royalists merely sought alliances to increase the importance of the monarchy in political society.

Pibun
Pibun

Until the military coup carried out by Sarit Tanarat in 1957, the most powerful factions of the armed forces and police under the triumvirate dictatorship of Pubun, Pin and Pao were strongly anti-monarchy, seeking to severely restrict the public duties and role of the king. The civilian faction of the People’s Party under Pridi, even though it compromised about moving forward to a republic, was never the less totally against restoring the power of the king.

Pumipon visits his patron, Sarit, who was on his death bed
Pumipon visits his patron, Sarit, who was on his death bed

It was the rise of Sarit, a military man with no connection to the 1932 revolution, that the royalists saw their opportunity to increase the status of the monarchy. This was made much easier by the heightened tensions in South-East Asia under the Cold War. The monarchy became a conservative anti-communist symbol and the U.S. very much supported this and the dictator Sarit.

But at no point did the royalists even dream of re-establishing the absolute power of the king. The military dictators who were in power in the 1960s, including Sarit, had no intention of giving up their power to the monarchy either. Their promotion of the king was so that he could be used more effectively as a tool to justify their actions and to justify elite class rule.

When we consider the situation in modern day Thailand, neither the present military junta nor politicians like Sutep Taugsuban had any intention of handing over their power and influence to the ailing king Pumipon and they certainly do not want king Wachiralongkorn to rule over them.

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The military justified their 2006 and 2014 coups by claiming that they were protecting the monarchy when the monarchy was never under threat from Taksin and his allies. It was merely their standard justification for toppling democratically elected governments. The military are very confident about using the monarchy for their own ends. They have had years of practice and high-ranking and retired military generals surround the throne via the Privy Council, allowing them to run the monarchy.

Politicians like Sutep and the middle-class Yellow Shirts also need a justification for calling for the overthrow of elected governments or for wrecking elections. When they call on the monarchy to intervene, as they did in 2006, it was a call for a military coup under the guise of a “neutral and unifying” king. When in 2014 they called for “True Democracy under the power of the King”, they wanted authoritarianism under the power of the military and themselves. At that point king Pumipon was clearly on his deathbed and incapable of intervening in anything. Their excuse for the destruction of democracy was that the poor were too stupid to deserve the right to vote and were therefore manipulated by Taksin.

The middle-classes, the military and the conservative elites have appropriated both “the Nation” and “the Monarchy” to mean themselves.

Twenty years of military dominated politics in store

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

As the year 2016 draws to a close we can look forward to years of military dominated politics. The “20 year National Strategy”, set down by the junta and its hireling law-makers, is designed to position the military jack-boot firmly on the back of any “elected” government in the future. Government policies will have to conform to this backward National Strategy, no matter what the electorate desire and naturally the National Strategy is royalist and neo-liberal. Of course the term “elected” is a very impressionistic description, since any future elections will be designed to obtain the “best” result, allowing for a weak puppet government palatable to the military.

But the so-called elections are in the far-distant future because king Pumipon conveniently died a few months ago, allowing the military to spend millions on the ceremonies associated with his death, which are being used to whip-up royalist mania. Pumipon’s death will allow the whole political process to be put on ice. There will not be any elections in 2017. They probably will be postponed to late 2018 at the earliest, and if the military appointed rubber stamp assembly doesn’t finish its drafting of terrible laws, the election could be rescheduled into 2019.

The junta’s draft political party law shows that they want to put political parties in a straight-jacket. Naturally anyone wishing to set up a party will be vetted, in best authoritarian traditions and any party which doesn’t fit the junta’s requirements will be disqualified.

The law raises the level of punishment for “selling” political positions to ridiculous extremes. People could be executed for doing this!! But naturally, no punishment for wrong-doing applies to non-MPs who become Prime Minister. This is just in case the Generalissimo were to be invited to this top position once again in the future.

What is more, this draft law stipulates that political parties must have a minimum of 500 founding members who each pay at least 2000 baht to the party. This amount of money represents about 25% of what most workers earn in a month. So the poor farmers and ordinary workers cannot possibly found a political party. Once again we see the results of “A Coup for the Rich”!

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In 2017 we shall continue to see the grotesque play act of men in military uniform pretending to grovel to the demented king Wachiralongkorn in a pathetic attempt to make us believe that they are “taking orders” from this imbecile. Word has it that Wachiralongkorn has appointed a number of his women to high-ranking but powerless military positions, which no doubt will have to be funded by the public. However, in an honest moment Wachiralongkorn said that his heart was warmed that General Prem Tinsulanon was re-appointed as head of the Privy Council. Without experienced generals on the Privy Council, the clueless king would not know how to best serve the ruling class. But the Privy Councillors need to be patient as Wachiralongkorn is a slow-learner.

Meanwhile the repression and censorship continue. The new “Computer Censorship and Democratic Crimes Law” has passed the junta appointed parliament and government control of the internet is set to further increase with the future introduction of a “single internet gateway”. There has been sporadic opposition to these measures, but the dictatorship needs to be overthrown in its entirety  in order to fully achieve freedom of speech.

It has been made “serious crime” to “like” or “share” the BBC Thai service’s web post of Wachiralongkorn’s biography, despite the fact that most Thais already know the truth. The whole of the ruling class and society are to be set in an official state of denial. “Lèse-majesté” is designed to silence the truth about royalty and the military. Loyalty is to tell lies. Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Dictatorship is Democracy!

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But there is some good news. His Excellency, Generalissimo Prayut has been awarded the position of “Great Political leader of exercise” by the World Health Organisation, for his participation in outdoor aerobics! Well this is according to junta sources anyway. It is difficult to independently verify the truth about this, but since the junta is made up of self-declared “good people”, we ought to trust them, I’m sure.

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At the risk of repeating myself, the fact of the matter is that without building a mass social movement to overthrow the military, the terrible state of Thai politics will continue. Remember that the middle-classes and the conservatives are totally responsible for this state of affairs and the NGOs also played their part in the destruction of democracy.

As 2016 changes to 2017, spare a thought for Thailand’s lèse-majesté political prisoners, especially Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.

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Thailand is a grossly unequal society

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

A recent report by Credit Suisse showed that the top 1% of Thais owned 60% of the nation’s wealth. This should come as no surprise to anyone. When challenged about this, the Dictator Prayut only managed a pathetically feeble excuse, saying that it would be “very hard” to do anything about this “because people don’t trust the state”. Well, it might be true that people don’t trust the dictatorship, but that is hardly a reason for the gross inequality in Thailand. In fact, if there was a popular uprising against the dictatorship and the state, it would do much to help eradicate inequality.

Thai-Rut newspaper cartoonist, "Sia", drew this to expose inequality. In the past he has been summonsed to an "attitude" changing session by the junta.
Thai-Rut newspaper cartoonist, “Sia”, drew this to expose inequality. In the past he has been summonsed to an “attitude” changing session by the junta.

The causes of Thailand’s inequality lie with the lack of democracy, the domination of the military, the extreme ideology of the monarchy and the fact that there is a serious lack of a strong labour movement with its own political party.

Despite the fact that Thailand’s GDP is 40 times smaller than that of the USA, Thailand has 3 billionaires who are among the world’s richest 85 people in the world. They are the monarchy, which is the 8th richest monarchy in the world with $44.24 billion, Dhanin Chearavanont, 58th richest man in the world with $12.6 billion and Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, 82nd richest man in the world with $10.6 billion. Taksin Shinawat is the 882nd richest man in the world and the 7th richest Thai with $ 1.7 billion. At the same time, most ordinary workers in the private sector earn a minimum wage of 300 baht per day ($9.3) and migrant workers and workers in the agricultural sector earn even less.

Generalissimo Prayut’s official salary is ten times that of a qualified nurse and 16 times what ordinary workers earn. But of course that does not include all the shadowy earnings and multiple positions that many top generals enjoy, which far exceed their official salaries.

The rich, from the monarchy downwards, pay little or no tax. The majority of the tax burden being placed upon ordinary working people and the poor. Eighty percent of government tax from Thai citizens is collected in the form of regressive Value Added Tax and taxes on petrol, alcohol, cigarettes and vehicles. Only 19% is collected from income tax, which the rich avoid anyway. It has long been this way with ordinary people being forced to keep the elites in their luxurious life styles through exploitation of labour and collection of taxes. The rich are parasitic blood-suckers.

Abolition of the monarchy, down-sizing the military and introducing progressive taxation on the rich would go far towards redressing inequality.

Diamond-studded "Santa" outfit for one of the Princess' dogs.
Diamond-studded “Santa” outfit for one of the Princess’ dogs.

Thailand has no welfare state. There is no universal unemployment benefit and most elderly people do not have real pensions. Yet billions are spent on the already over-rich monarchy and the bloated military. A Welfare State was proposed by the leftist revolutionary leader Pridi Panomyong just after the anti-monarchy revolution in 1932, but it was successfully and vigorously opposed by the conservative ruling class, including the monarch, Rama 7th. Pumipon was also very much against a welfare state, instead proposing the reactionary “Sufficiency Economy” ideology. In this ideology, the richest man in Thailand claimed that the poor needed to “learn” to live within their means.

The “Sufficiency Economy” dogma was enthusiastically taken up by the rest of the ruling class, especially the military dictatorships of 2006 and Prayut’s present dictatorship. As an extreme neo-liberal ideology, it fitted well with free-market beliefs and both the worship of the free-market and the “Sufficiency Economy” were written into various military sponsored constitutions, binding future governments to anti-poor policies. The yellow-shirted middle-classes loved this because they had long derided Taksin Shinawat’s Universal Health Care scheme and his weak attempts to improve the standard of living for ordinary people. The present junta are threatening to introduce “co-payments” into the healthcare scheme and have devolved the minimum wage rate in order to keep wages low. They have also tried to prosecute former Prime Minister Yingluk for her government’s rice price support scheme which helped farmers. Of course Taksin was no socialist, he tried to avoid tax, and was also committed to the free-market, although he also favoured grass-roots Keynesianism by which the state intervened to help the poor. These policies were denounced by yellow-shirted academics as “populist vote-buying”. It would be “better” for the country if the poor, who make up the majority of the population, just starved or lived short and bitter lives.

What was shocking was the way in which many NGOs lapped up the “Sufficiency Economy” ideology because of their anarchistic rejection of state welfare. Academics like Chris Baker also praised it.

Welfare states are built through the struggle of social movements, especially the trade unions. Unfortunately, a combination of Maoist rejection of the working class by Thai left-wing radicals in the past, a patronising attitude to unions by the NGOs today, and ruling class repression, has meant that both the left and the unions remain too weak. This a problem which needs to be urgently addressed if we are to build a more equal society.

Abolition of the monarchy would not only save millions of baht, which could be put to better use, it would also end the obscene crawling on the ground in front of “big shots” and would be a political and ideological blow against inequality.

Patani: NGOs, Civil Society Groups, and the National Human Rights Commission back Thai state repression

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Recently there was another bomb attack at a market and a shooting outside an educational establishment in Patani. Who should take responsibility? Who should be condemned? And in this war between the oppressive Thai state and those fighting for self-determination, which side should we support?

The NGOs and those claiming to be so-called “civil society” groups in the South are quite clear. They issued a declaration condemning the Patani fighters and urging the forces of the Thai state to catch and deal with the perpetrators. They also urged the insurgents to stop using violence.

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There were no declarations from these groups urging the military junta and the Thai state to cease violence against the local Malay Muslims, no condemnations of Thailand’s violent occupation of Patani and no urgent requests that all the generals, politicians, soldiers and police who have committed state crimes be brought to justice.

Another group, calling itself the National Human Rights Commission, condemned the insurgents and urged support for state forces of “law and order”. This commission remained silent after the killing of unarmed red shirts in 2010 and has failed to condemn the use of lèse-majesté.

So the NGOs, so-called “civil society” groups, including civil servant associations, and the National Human Rights Commission, all show double standards and take the side of the oppressive Thai state in Patani.

Arundhati Roy once wrote that “any government’s condemnation of terrorism is only credible if it shows itself to be responsive to persistent, reasonable, closely argued, non-violent dissent. And yet, what’s happening is just the opposite. The world over, non-violent resistance movements are being crushed and broken. If we do not respect and honour them, by default we privilege those who turn to violent means.”

The people of Patani are prevented from forming legal political parties which advocate independence. The Thai constitution rules out any division of the country. Various members of the ruling class have repeatedly dismissed any ideas of autonomy or even proposals to use the Yawee language alongside Thai in Patani. State officials commit acts of violence with total impunity.

All Thai citizens are forced to respect the authoritarian ideology of “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” and those who do not are thrown in jail or witch-hunted by mobs of fanatical monarchists. Naturally the “religion” in this context is Buddhism.

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The peaceful protest against the detention of friends and relatives, organised by villagers at Takbai 12 years ago, resulted in the state murder in cold blood of nearly a hundred young men. No single state official has been prosecuted.

Torture and extra judiciary killings carried out by the Thai state are commonplace and any genuine rights organisations seeking to expose this are threatened by the military.

So how are those people who oppose Thai rule and repression, supposed to act in a non-violent manner? What space for them to act in such non-violent ways has been created by the NGOs and so-called civil society groups who backed various military coups?

A quick review of some historical events shows the way in which the Thai state has used violence and repression against the Muslim Malays of Patani.

1890s King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) seized half of the Patani Sultanate. The Sultanate was divided between London and Bangkok under the Treaty of 1909.

1921 Enforced “Siamification” via primary education took place. Locals forced to pay tax to Bangkok.

1923 The Belukar Semak rebellion forced King Rama 6 to make some concessions to local culture.

1938 More enforced “Siamification” took place under the ultra-nationalist dictator Field Marshall Pibun.

1946 Prime Minister Pridi Panomyong promoted local culture and in 1947 accepted demands by Muslim religious leaders for a form of autonomy, but he was soon driven from power by a coup led by Thai nationalist military leaders. Patani leader Haji Sulong proposed an autonomous state for Patani within Siam.

1948 Haji Sulong was arrested. In April the same year, police massacred innocent villagers at Dusun Nyior, Naratiwat.

1954 Haji Sulong was killed by police under orders from police strongman Pao Siyanond.

1960-1970 Thai state policy of “diluting” the Malay population was initiated by re-settling Thai-Lao Buddhists from the North East of Thailand in the Patani area. This was carried out under various military regimes, starting with Field Marshall Sarit Tanarat. A ban was imposed on the use of the Yawee Malay language in state institutions including schools.

The school and education system has long been used to enforce “Thainess” by the state. Given this fact, it is hardly surprising that government teachers are targets for the insurgents. Even Buddhist monks in Patani are now totally compromised by their close links with the military.

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For this reason we must be clear that the violence in Patani is the responsibility of the Thai state and it is this state which should be condemned for its actions. The violence of those fighting oppression cannot be compared to the violence carried out by an oppressive state. We should therefore side with the people who are struggling for self-determination.

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Despite the fact that I support those fighting for self-determination, the insurgent armed struggle strategy prevents the building of mass political movements for freedom. It shuts out the role of ordinary people because of the civil war conditions and often results in the death and injury of innocent civilians.

Using “ghosts” to attack the Thai security forces and then not claiming responsibility might have some military advantages, but such advantages are massively out-weighed by the political disadvantages. By not claiming responsibility for attacks on “legitimate military targets” and by not confining attacks to such targets, the insurgents allow the Thai military to use death-squads, usually out of uniform, to attack and kill local activists and ordinary civilians who are on government black-lists. The government and mainstream media can then paint a picture of the insurgents as “armed gangsters” who kill people indiscriminately. This spreads fear among the local civilian population and is counter-productive to building real mass support among local villagers and also among the general Thai population in other regions. The ghost war strategy plays into the hands of the Thai state’s dirty war.

The Patani insurgents cannot hope to beat the Thai military in an armed struggle. They are significantly less well armed and funded and the local population which might support the insurgency is a small minority of the population within the current Thai state.

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To make any political progress towards liberation and self-determination, the Patani movement needs to abandon the armed struggle and build a mass political party which can operate openly without registering as an official party under Thai state legal constraints. This party should put forward political demands which go beyond just “Patani nationalism”. The party would have to address economic and social issues and be capable of winning support from local Thai Buddhists and also capable of winning solidarity from social movements in the central, north and north-eastern regions of Thailand. The experience of the IRA struggle against the British state or the struggle of other minority separatist movements shows that the demands for freedom cannot be won through armed struggle but must be achieved through political means.

Why do so many Thais mourn the death of Pumipon?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Embarrassing pictures of thousands of Thais crying and wearing black after the death of king Pumipon might lead a sane person to conclude that most Thais were political half-wits with a slave-like mentality. That would be a wrong conclusion.

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Firstly we have to factor in the royalist military repression where anyone criticising the king is sent to jail under the draconian lèse-majesté law. Added to this is the green light given by the junta for mobs of fanatical royalists to “deal” with dissidents.

This is also one of the explanations given for the “cult of the dead king” in a recent article by Narisara Viwatchara in New Mandala [see http://bit.ly/2etCiva ]. She also mentions mysticism surrounding the monarchy and state funded king promotion. But these two other reasons are not enough of an explanation.

It is also not very useful for anyone to talk about “brain washing” and any explanation which says that “Thais have always held their kings in high regard” is historically incorrect and not a scientific explanation at all.

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What we must explain is how millions of Thais came to voluntarily love Pumipon, despite the fact that he never did anything useful for Thai society, as I have previously outlined in my obituary on this blog site. This phenomenon is also despite the fact that royalism goes against the class interests of the majority of Thais because royalist ideology is used to enforce inequality and lack of freedom and democracy.

The Marxist theory of alienation helps us to understand how millions of Thais came to voluntarily love Pumipon by explaining that widely held beliefs and appearances are often not based on the truth. We can also understand when socialisation and coercion can work and when it fails to work. Socialisation is not the same as so-called “brain washing” as the latter term implies “stupidity” of those whose brains have been warped. Thai royalists are not royalist out of stupidity, although the content of their beliefs is stupid.

We know that the capitalist ruling class boosts its power by getting us to believe that the market, the family or the monarchy are “natural and good institutions”. This socialisation relies on a feeling of lack of power and a feeling of insecurity among the general population.

Thailand has no welfare state and the labour movement is not yet powerful enough to collectively enable citizens to stand up and fight for equality. The quality of life for most people seems to depend on big powerful people because of the lack of confidence that ordinary people can bring about change.

It is this feeling of fear and lack of status and confidence in Thai society, which is encouraged by the ruling class because it helps to socialise people into believing that the monarchy is a powerful benefactor. Yet it is an instrument to strengthen, not just the monarchy, but the entire modern Thai capitalist class, especially the military. That is why Taksin, the military, the civilian bureaucracy and the corporations all support and promote the monarchy.

The important thing to also consider is that devotion to the king is not an unchanging thing. After the 1932 revolution or during the struggle carried out by the Communist Party in the 1970s millions of Thais hated the monarchy.

The Marxist George Lukács, in his book “History and Class Consciousness”, explained that ruling class socialisation, which leads to an alienated belief in lies, can be overcome by mass struggle because it allows people to see their own strength and ability to determine the future on their own terms.

By struggling against the dictatorship in a collective manner, millions of Red Shirts ceased to revere the monarchy, especially when the royalist military dictatorship shot down unarmed pro-democracy activists. This effect may now have been mitigated to some degree by the time spent in inactivity and the fact that Taksin sowed seeds of hope in peoples’ minds about the so-called “progressive nature” of Wachiralongkorn. Never the less I would be willing to bet that millions of Thais would be happy if Thailand became a republic, especially after the death of Pumipon and the prospect of king Wachiralongkorn.

In order to challenge the collective madness or the “cult of the dead king”, which is gripping the population, we therefore need to build a mass pro-democracy social movement against the military dictatorship which can develop the fight into a struggle for socialism. Such a movement will inspire people with the confidence that they have the potential power to determine their own futures.

Finally, we need to oppose the statement from many people that “we must respect” the grieving of millions of Thais after Pumipon’s death. This grieving is not about personal loss of a friend or relative. It is totally political. Would people have said that we must “respect” the political views of millions of Germans who loved Hitler? Do we have to “respect” the views of racists? No, we do not have to respect political views and feelings which lead to tyranny or enslavement.

 

“Nation, Religion and Monarchy” is a constant source of violence

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The images of mob violence carried out by fanatical royalists after the Thai king’s death is a stark reminder that the ideology of “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” is a constant source of violence in Thai society. This is why calls for peace and understanding are likely to fall on deaf ears.

In historical terms it comes as no surprise that the institution of the monarchy has always been associated with violence. In the feudal “Sakdina” period, forced labour and the trade in products of forced labour, was the source of wealth for the monarchy. Many ordinary people tried to escape this violent coercion by moving into rural areas far away from kings and their soldiers. Naturally, the process of becoming a king was little different from the process of becoming top boss in a criminal gang. It relied on naked violence. Frequently big men fought it out to take the throne, even in the early Bangkok period.

Even when the Sakdina system was no longer sustainable and the Absolute Monarchy came into being under king Chulalongkorn, violence was at the heart of the new royal dictatorship and it was used to suppress those who wanted to seek political self-determination, such as those in the north-east or Patani.

After the 1932 anti-monarchy revolution, the ideology of “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” was redefined and modernised in the 1950s for use in the Cold War by the dictator Field Marshal Sarit, who used military violence to take power. Sarit was a brutal and corrupt ruler who promoted and used the monarchy for his own ends. The monarchy became a symbol of the collective conservative Thai ruling class.

Sarit executed socialists like teacher Krong Jundawan without any trial. This was justified by saying that it was necessary for national security and to protect “Nation, Religion and Monarchy”.

After the 14th October 1973, when Sarit’s protégés killed pro-democracy students in the streets to try and maintain power, the king had to step in to protect “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” from the rapidly radicalising movement of students and workers. The royal family, top military generals and conservative politicians cultivated fanatical royalist mobs and para-military police who eventually attacked students and workers at Thammasart University on 6th October 1976. People were hung from trees, shot and beaten to death. The justification was that these were leftists bent on insulting and overthrowing the monarchy. “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” were saved through a bloodbath against unarmed civilians.

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In more modern times the ideological slogan of “Nation, Religion and Monarchy” has had a fourth word reluctantly added, almost as an afterthought. We now see the slogans “Nation, Religion, Monarchy and the People” as a backdrop to military press conferences.

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The royals have always been photographed in military uniform, often holding guns and even the females like the queen have used the language of violence. A few years ago she was quoted as saying that she wished she could just pick up a gun to fight Patani dissidents.

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Today during the imposed mourning period for the king, a mixture of violence and socialisation are being used to enforce a public expression of royalism. Howling mobs of fanatical royalist attack anyone believed to be anti-royalist and this has the backing from the general who runs the so-called ministry of justice. Those in power today got where they are now through the barrel of the gun and seek to maintain power to protect the monarchy using all sorts of violence, including the lèse-majesté law. Victims of royalist mob violence are arrested and charged under this draconian law. The use of the law is an act of violence against thought and body. It is there to prevent free thinking and to lock up dissidents.

Lèse-majesté cases mushroom under military regimes, both the present one and the previous Abhisit led government which was controlled by the military.

We need to build a counter ideology which opposes nationalism, fanatical Buddhism and royalism in order to reduce state-sponsored violence in Thai society. That involves building a strong social movement opposed to military rule.

Thailand should be a republic

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The military and the monarchy are so tightly wrapped around each other, like two venomous snakes, that it is necessary to abolish the monarchy as part of the struggle against the military dictatorship.

The Thai military claim that its main reason to exist is to protect the monarchy. But it is the ideology of the monarchy, and all the repression that accompanies this ideology, that props up authoritarian and corrupt military regimes, both past and present.

This is a major reason why we need to fight for a republic. But the actions of key members of the royal family are another reason.

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The future king, Wachiralongkorn, is a vicious, sexist, thug. He is a man who totally disrespects women and doesn’t care if we all know it. He is also well known for inappropriate behaviour at public functions. For example, allowing his pet dog to run up and down the high table, spreading germs at official dinners, where it licked the plates of foreign guests and lapped water from their glasses.

His dead father preached the “Sufficiency Economics” ideology, pretending to be frugal, when in fact he was the richest monarch in the world. King Pumipon has never lifted a finger to defend democracy or criticise the military for killing pro-democracy citizens. This weak and cowardly king also loved his dogs more than his fellow Thais. (See my full obituary on this same site).

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The Queen and her daughters have supported the middle-class mobsters who helped bring about two recent military coups. They are thoroughly reactionary.

These royal parasites are treading on thin ice. As the monarchy goes into a downward spiral, those in power become more manic and oppressive in their royalism. Lèse-majesté charges against opponents of the junta have sky-rocketed. Military courts are the order of the day and an authoritarian sham democracy is being crafted in order to hold “elections” in the future.

After the death of the king people are being witch-hunted on social media for not changing their profiles to black and white.

Ever since the barbaric military crack-downs in the 1970s, right up to the two recent military coups, the military has continuously sought to legitimise itself by using the monarchy. In attacking democracy during the present crisis, the royalists have continually insulted the “ignorant poor”, claiming that government policies to raise people out of poverty are somehow “corrupt”. These are the enemies of all decent working people.

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Yet, Taksin and his fellow business elites are no different. They all promote the monarchy to serve their own interests. For all these members of the Thai ruling class, the monarchy is a symbol of the “natural order of things”, where some are born to rule and the rest are born to be exploited under capitalism.

The tension and division between those who are deeply fed up with the royals and their military allies and those who claim to adore the monarchy above their own lives, is rapidly deepening. The Thai monarchy is well past its sell-by date. Yet change is never automatic or inevitable. All of us who wish to see a free and equal society in this country must work hard to push forward to a democratic and socialist republic. This will take serious political organisation.