Tag Archives: Taksin Shinawat

They are ALL corrupt

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Now that the scandal of Rolls-Royce bribery of politicians and state official in Thailand has been exposed, we can draw some initial conclusions.

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In the case of bribes to “encourage” Thai Airways to buy Rolls-Royce T80 engines for its fleet, bribes were paid a total of three times. Between 1991 and 1992, $18.8 million were paid. Between 1992 and 1997 another $10.38 million was given and between 2004 and 2005 a further $ 7.2 million was handed out.

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A further Rolls-Royce bribery scandal involves payments amounting to $11 million to “persuade” PTT Public Company Limited, the Thai state-owned SET-listed “oil and gas company”, to award a total of 6 contracts to Rolls-Royce Energy Systems, Inc. (RRESI). These bribes were paid at various times between 2000 and 2012.

We do not know yet which individuals pocketed the bribes, and given the state of the police and the justice system we may never know. But what we can point to are the top state officials who should be held responsible for allowing this corruption to happen or for not instituting proper checks on large commercial transactions.

The Prime Ministers during the periods when all these bribes were paid were the following:

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(1) Anand Panyarachun, technocrat and so-called “Mr Clean”, who was appointed as an unelected Prime Minister by the military junta, after the coup d’état in 1991. The power behind this Prime Minister was Dictator Suchinda Kaprayoon.

(2) Chuan Leekpai from the Democrat Party.

(3) Banharn Silapa-archa from the Chart Thai Party.

(4) Chawalit Yongjaiyut from the New Aspirations Party.

(5) Taksin Shinawat from Thai Rak Thai Party.

(6) Surayut Julanon, military dictator following the 2006 coup d’état.

(7) Unelected Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader, appointed by the military under Prayut Chan-ocha and Anupong Paochinda.

(8) Yingluk Shinawat from the Pua Thai Party.

Some of the top officials at Thai Airways were military men and civilians associated with the 1991 coup and Thanong Bidaya, a Thai Rak Thai politician.

What can we conclude from all this?

Firstly, that rampant corruption has taken place and is still taking place under various military juntas who came to power in coup d’états, claiming to overthrow corrupt civilian governments. Given the long history of military corruption in Thailand under Pibun, Sarit and Tanom, this is hardly surprising. Even under elected civilian governments top generals sit on the executive boards of state companies.

Secondly, corruption also took place under elected and non-elected civilian governments of all the main political parties, including Thai Rak Thai, the Democrats and supposedly technocrat-led governments.

Thirdly, the entire Thai ruling class is steeped in corruption of both an illegal and legal nature. “Legal” corruption is taking place today because military generals have come to power and then appointed themselves and their friends and relatives to high paying positions.

Fourthly, corruption is an integral part of the world capitalist system, with Western multinationals paying bribes on a regular basis to avoid so-called free market competition. Corruption is not just a Thai problem, it is also endemic in the USA, UK and other European countries. We can see this in the “conflicts of interest” in the Trump administration and involving British cabinet ministers and payments to members of their families and dishonest claims for expenses by French and British politicians.

The difference between Thailand and many Western countries is that social movements, trade unions, opposition political parties and the press have more freedom and power to expose such corruption. The crucial role of mass movements can be seen only this past week in Romania, where a mass movement forced the government to withdraw a law which would have white-washed corrupt officials.

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In Thailand, the problem of corruption is closely linked with the lack of freedom of expression and the weakness of independent mass movements from below, including the trade unions.

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How did we reach this point in Thai politics?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Ten years ago the military, the middle-classes, and the various sections of the conservative elites, set about to destroy democracy. Since 2006 there have been two military coups, a number of judicial coups and mass anti-democracy protests by royalist middle-class mobs, supported by the Democrat Party. Over a hundred pro-democracy activists have been shot down in cold blood by the military and Thai jails now hold more political prisoners than they have done for decades. The country is now run by an arrogant but not very bright military regime. How and why did this happen?

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The Asian Economic crisis in 1997 was the spark that exposed the existing fault-lines in Thai society, and the actions of political actors in response to this, eventually led to a back-lash against democracy by the conservatives.

The main reason for the present Thai political crisis can be traced back to this 1997 economic crisis and the attempt by Taksin Shinawat to modernise Thai society and reduce inequality while relying on mass support for his policies at elections. These policies were also designed to benefit big business, increasing profits and competitiveness. Taksin called this a “dual track” strategy, using a mixture of neo-liberalism and “grass-roots Keynesianism”. Among this raft of policies was the first ever universal health care scheme.

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Because the Democrat Party, and other elites, had ignored the plight of the poor during the crisis, while spending state finances in securing the savings for the rich and the middle-classes in failed banks, Taksin was able to say that his government would benefit everyone, not just the rich. Taksin’s TRT won the first post-1997 elections. The government was unique in being both popular and dynamic, with real policies, which were used to win the elections and were then implemented afterwards. Never-the-less, his government was not unique in the fact that it committed gross human rights abuses. Previously, the old parties had just bought votes without any policies. Taksin’s real policies reduced vote-buying and his overwhelming electoral base came to challenge the old way of conducting politics, eventually angering those who could not win the hearts and minds of the people.

The 1997 economic crisis exposed the material reality of Thai society which had developed rapidly over many decades but which was in conflict with an unchanged conservative “Superstructure”. This is the dynamic of conflict which was harnessed by Taksin.

It would be a mistake to see the present crisis as merely a dispute between two factions of the elite. It has another important dimension that cannot be ignored. We need to understand the role of the Red Shirts who had a “dialectical” relationship with their idol Taksin. There existed a kind of “parallel war” where thousands of ordinary Red Shirts struggled for democracy, dignity and social justice, while Taksin and his political allies waged a very different campaign to regain the political influence that they had enjoyed before the 2006 coup d’état.

Despite the fact that many believe that the centre of power among the conservative elites is the monarchy, the real centre of power, lurking behind the throne, is the military. King Pumipon is a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, and grovelling toadies. He is, and always has been, a puppet of the military and the conservative elites. The hypothesis that the present long-running unrest in Thailand is primarily caused by a “crisis of succession”, is a top-down view which assumes that the Thai monarch has real power and that he has been constantly intervening in politics. That is just not the case. There is no absolute monarch in his final years causing a potential power vacuum. All sides have also agreed that the scandal-prone and despicable prince will be the next king. To place the Princess, who has no male partner, on the throne instead, would immediately destroy all the “reinvented tradition” about the monarchy and undermine its mythical legitimacy. What is more the Prince will be even more of a weak and potential tool of the military because he cares nothing about affairs of state. The issue of royal succession is therefore of little relevance here, despite it being fashionable for journalists and academics to use this as a standard explanation for the crisis. [see http://bit.ly/2cju72D ]

The crisis has not been caused by a conflict between the monarchy and Taksin or the supposed presence of an anti-Taksin “Deep State”, either. There is no Deep State in Thailand. In order to argue for the existence of a so-called “Deep State”, the power of the King has to be exaggerated, the involvement of mass movements ignored, and long-running fractures within the military and conservative elites have to be overlooked. Taksin Shinawat, as a member of the ruling class, commanded a great deal of influence over sections of the military and judiciary in his early days as Prime Minister because of his promise to modernise Thailand after the 1997 economic crisis. The conservatives only turned against him when they could not compete with his electoral advantage as they were either not prepared to join him, or were not prepared to offer the population the kind of policies that would improve their lives. Thailand does not have some stable, unchanging core, of conservative reactionaries embedded deep within the state. There are fluid and dynamic bonds between members of the ruling class as the various factions make or break alliances in an opportunistic manner. Some of Taksin’s faction were drawn from the left, while others came from the conservative and royalist right-wing, who took part in attacks against democracy during the Cold War. Samak Sundaravej is a good example of the latter. [see http://bit.ly/29H0FC9]

The results of the referendum on the junta’s draft constitution on the 7th August 2016 were disappointing and are a set-back for democracy. But we should not forget that this was never a democratic referendum and 10 million people voted against accepting the constitution.

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This is not a time to retreat and try to build some kind of political consensus in civil society, as suggested by exiled academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Such a suggestion is not only a pipe-dream, but in practice would result in “half democracy”. This idea stems from Somsak’s lack of confidence in the potential power and relevance of pro-democracy social movements.

The way forward is to build a mass social movement against the junta. The rich experience of Thai mass movements defeating the military in 1973 and 1992 and the huge potential of the Red Shirt movement should be revisited. It is time to stop playing symbolic games organised by a handful of self-appointed heroes. Such misguided views arise from a mistaken analysis that in the days of social media we do not need to build mass movements. Ridding Thailand of the influence of the military will take time and determined political organisation.

 

My full paper written for “10 years of Politico-Social Crisis in Thailand”, a seminar organised by “Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy” at CCFD-Terre Solidaire building, Paris, France, 19/9/2016, can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2bSpoF2  or http://bit.ly/2cmZkAa

Gangster Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (22 May 2016)

The election of local Davao City “war-lord” and gangster Rodrigo Duterte raises many questions. The man has a history of human rights abuses in ordering the extra-judicial killings of thousands of petty criminals. Some of those were children. His death squads were made up of police, hired gunmen and ex-Communist Party fighters. After his recent success in the presidential election he vowed to bring back the death penalty, abolished in 2006, and boasted that some “criminals” would be hung until they were decapitated.

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Duterte is also famous for his appalling attitude to women, joking about the rape and murder of an Australian nun in a prison riot. He said that he regretted that he hadn’t been the first to rape her.

Duterte is a reactionary right-wing politician who uses populist rhetoric in order to appeal to working people and the poor. He has said that he would appoint people from the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to cabinet positions responsible for the environment, rural reform and labour. His deliberate self-constructed image as a “strongman” is meant to appeal to the most backward elements in society, including sections of the middle-classes who are worried about crime. His anti-women comments go strangely together with his support for GLBT people. The aim of all this mixture of ideologies is purely to win himself mass support. There are no principles involved.

His flirtation with the Maoist CPP has been reciprocated by Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the CPP, who says that it is time for reconciliation. Today, the Maoist CPP is no force for progress. At best their Maoist ideology in the past was a form of authoritarian Stalinist conservatism and nationalism. Like all Stalinist parties they are obsessed with cross-class alliances with bourgeois politicians. The “Maoist” communist parties in China and Nepal now support neo-liberal economic policies.

If Duterte is not just talking hot air about appointing communists to cabinet positions, these appointments will not result in any serious progressive policies. There is an historical precedent for appointing leftists as Ministers of Labour in the Philippines. After the overthrow of the dictator Marcos, Augusto Sánchez, from the militant and CPP influenced KMU union federation, was appointed to head the Ministry of Labour under Corazon Aquino. When bourgeois politicians appoint people perceived as leftists to ministerial posts it is so that they can better control the social movements, including the unions. When their job is done they are then removed. This is what happened to Sánchez.

Before Duterte’s victory, Sonny Melencio from the non-Stalinist leftist party “Partido Lakas ng Masa” (literally translated as “Force of the Masses Party”), wrote that socialists should not support either front-runner in the elections. [see http://bit.ly/1WEyXKb ]

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The Liberal Party candidate, selected to succeed Aquino’s son, Benigno Noy Noy, was Duterte’s main rival. As Melencio points out, the victory of Duterte shows that the population were fed up with the old “trapo” (“filthy rag”) elite politicians who have done nothing to improve the lives of ordinary working people and the poor. Duterte’s victory is also due to the weakness of the left alternative.

He goes on to explain that Duterte reminds him a bit of Juan Peron, Argentina’s ex-populist dictator who built alliances between the left and the right. Yet Duterte shows no sign of being able to use the state to pursue corporatist policies like Peron.

Melencio has rightly dismissed the idea that Duterte is an “outsider” because he actually comes from a local political elite who dominate the island of Mindanao.

It is interesting to compare Duterte with Thailand’s Taksin Shinawat. Both are responsible for human rights abuses. Taksin tried to create an image of being a strongman and is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings in his war on drugs. Both drew support from ex-Maoists. However, Taksin was not a local gangster politician. He was a rich business tycoon who brought in some serious pro-poor policies, including the universal health care scheme.

When comparing Duterte with Taksin, an important question arises as to Partido Lakas ng Masa’s policy towards Duterte after the election. Melencio’s tone is too conciliatory towards this gangster and his supporters. He maintains that the old “trapo” parties of the elite are the main enemy. But Duterte is equally the enemy of working people. He says that the left should march alongside Duterte’s supporters and he welcomes Jose Maria Sison’s proposed alliance with Duterte. Yet the left must remain totally independent from bourgeois politicians, especially those who abuse human rights. The left needs to put forward a real alternative platform to campaign for a welfare state, trade union rights and an end to the oppression by the state. This is what we did in Thailand during Taksin’s government.

Of course, the left must also oppose any attempts by the mainstream parties and the military to stage a coup and if such a coup were to take place and a huge pro-democracy social movement were to arise, it would be right to stand with supporters of Duterte in opposing a threat to democracy. That is why we stood with the Red Shirts in Thailand while maintaining our independence from Taksin and the Taksin-supported UDD leadership.

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Now is not the time for the left to build any kind of alliance with Duterte. For too long, the left in South-east Asia has spent time building cross-class alliances in the hope of a shortcut to power. The non-Stalinist socialists in the Philippines are much stronger and influential than us in Thailand and it would be a shame to waste the opportunity to grow even stronger.

Read more about the Communist Parties of Southeast Asia here: http://bit.ly/1OEfsJo

UPDATE: 1/10/2016

After President Duterte compared himself to Hitler, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in his bloody war on crime, he has been condemned by the Left in the Philippines.

Sonny Melencio, Chair of Partido Ng LABAN ng Masa (PLM):

“It is now, more than ever, up to the mass movement to take the cudgel in the fight against extra judiciary killings. This might well be for the good of the campaign. We need an independent mass movement, i.e., independent from the trapos and the factions, to carry on the fight against mass killings and for human rights”.

Walden Bello, Former Akbayan Congressman condemned the president’s human rights abuses…. “The killings will not solve the country’s drug problem. It is a war against the poor”.

Bayan (the Maoists):

“We do not subscribe to the President’s referencing of Hitler in relation to the war on drugs and the killings of so-called drug addicts. Killings by state forces of unarmed civilians, even if they are suspected criminals, goes against the principle of due process. It is also important that the President realize that the drug menace will not be solved simply by killing the 3 million addicts whom the President believes threatens the survival of the next generation. The drug problem is not a mere police problem”.

Read the analysis of PLM here:http://masa.ph/  in my view they are still too supportive of Duterte.

The UDD Red Shirts leadership isn’t up to the job of defending democracy

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

One thing that the Thai political crisis over the last 8 years has proved is that being in government does not mean controlling the state. Ever since the time of Marx and Engels, Marxists have argued that the state is made up of much more than the government. There are the “bodies of armed men”, courts, prisons, top civil servants and elite CEOs of big business. The state is the unofficial, unacknowledged, committee for managing the affairs of the entire capitalist ruling class. Its pretence at being neutral and law-abiding is a mechanism to win legitimacy among the population. There will be differences of opinion within the state. But its overall aim is to rule over, control and oppress other classes. In Thailand its function is to rule over ordinary working people and farmers who make up the majority of the population. It has not yet faced the power of the organised working class like in Europe or Egypt. The Thai state has yet to make serious concessions to democracy.

Over the last 8 years of the Thai crisis the Thai state has set its face against democracy and the idea of a free universal franchise. We have had one coup d’état by the army and 3 judicial coups. This repression of democracy is backed up by armed Democrat Party thugs on the streets who act with impunity. It is backed up by military appointed so-called “independent bodies”, acting under a military drafted constitution. It is supported by middle-class academics and NGO leaders. They also all claim to be “protecting the monarchy”, although the draconian lèse-majesté law prevents people from questioning or testing this.

It is obvious that to achieve freedom and democracy we shall have to pull down all the old structures of the Thai state.

But Taksin, Yingluk and Pua Thai have no intention of doing this. Their aim is to re-join the elite club who now run the state. They are not pro-democracy out of principle, merely out of convenience. The UDD Red Shirt leadership is wedded to Pua Thai. It is incapable of leading the necessary fight.

Any defence of democracy must come from the Red Shirt movement. There is no other movement which is remotely interested in doing this and no other group which has the potential capabilities. The Red Shirts are the largest pro-democracy social movement which has ever existed in Thailand. The majority still support Taksin, but at the same time wish to fight for democracy as a matter of principle and personal interest. They have a contradictory relationship with Taksin and Pua Thai.

The weakness of the Red Shirt movement comes in two forms: political leadership and power. What is needed is new leadership which is independent of Pua Thai and Taksin, with more self -organisation. There is an urgent need to assess the required task of overthrowing the old state structures and how this can be done. Power needs to come from being more closely allied to the organised working class, especially the private sector unions. Power also comes from the mass movement being made up of farmers throughout the country. Until this happens the Red Shirts will not be able to rebuild democracy and expand the democratic space.

Save the outrage at the impunity of Sutep’s mob

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

     No amount of outrage at the violence and impunity of the thugs will push Yingluk or Pua Thai or the authorities into a crackdown on those committed criminal acts. Yingluk would rather do a dirty deal with Sutep and others than to mobilise the Red Shirts and the general population to fight for democracy.

After the 2011 election Pua Thai and Taksin made an uneasy peace with the military. This was reinforced in late 2013 when the Pua Thai government tried unsuccessfully to push through a disgraceful amnesty bill covering the military and Democrat Party leaders who murdered red shirts in 2010. Naturally, it also covered Taksin, but not lèse majesté political prisoners.

Since the eruption of Sutep’s anti-government protests, the military have realised the advantage of just sitting on their hands. Sutep’s mob, with the backing of the elites, academics and NGO leaders is putting pressure of Pua Thai to make more compromises.

No amount of compromise or negotiations with the anti-democratic thugs will solve the crisis. The only short-term result would be shrinkage of the democratic space and the further empowerment of those who view the majority of the electorate with contempt.

This means that pro-democracy activists, whether they be progressive Red Shirts, pro-democracy trade unionists, White Shirts, Nitirat supporters, socialists, or members of the Forum for the Defence of Democracy, all have to work together to prevent the destruction of the democratic space. They should also push forward with real reform proposals which will increase rights and the empowerment of the majority. The future of Thai democracy lies in their hands.

Democracy is not an unchanging state of affairs. It is constantly contested. If the Thai democratic space is compressed today, it does not mean that we cannot fight to expand it in the future.

Photo credit (from facebook)

Corruption in hypocrite land

Numnual  Yapparat

The Thai army always accuses civilian politicians of being corrupt in order to justify staging military coups. Sutep’s mob, the Democrats and the middles class love to use the same accusation against Taksin and Pua Thai. Yes, corruption is a serious problem for Thailand and therefore we need a serious discussion about how to fix this problem.

We need to ask which groups are most corrupt. The answer is the army, both in the past as well as in the present. In normal times the army generals enjoy lavishly fees by sitting on boards of state enterprises and big companies. The military also own much of the mass media, which gives them large profits.

Independent bodies and courts are corrupt to the core because people in these high positions are appointed and enjoy huge salaries. To get into such positions you need to be well connected with politicians and army generals.

What about politicians? Yes, the corrupt politicians are especially those who have no policies to offer to the electorate, like the Democrats or the old style parties. They love to stress, over and over again, about morality and justice, but have nothing to provide to the people except “special favours” to their clients. They are also only motivated to become politicians by the prospect of accumulating wealth.

Taksin was also interested in accumulating much wealth and he never paid enough tax. Like all politicians, he used his powerful position to further his own interests. But his motivation to become Prime Minister was more about feeling that Thailand needed to be modernised.

What about the police? Yes, we can see their corrupt activities every day on the streets.

The whole system is a fertile ground for corruption to grow. What about the solutions?

A few days ago there was a seminar about the corruption hosted by The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). What were the main points that concerned them? The director of TDRI said that monopolies are the root of corruption.  The representative from the Thai Chamber Of Commerce implied that “populist” policies by Thai Rak Thai or Pua Thai were examples of corruption! He claimed that governments all around the world are reducing the role of state to intervene in the market with the exception of Thailand. Obviously, he has not kept in touch with the news in Europe and how much ordinary Europeans have expressed their resentment against austerity and their support for the Welfare State. There were a few academics in the seminar, but only one, Pasuk Pongpaijit, defend democracy as the best tool to cope with corruption. Even so, she did not offer any concrete way to do this.

Corruption is a serious problem in Thailand, but it is can never be abolished by the elites who are universally corrupt. It cannot be abolished by legislation either. To abolish corruption we need to expand the democratic space so that the public can reject corrupt politicians and state officials. Everyone, including the army generals and members of the royal family need to be openly scrutinised and made accountable. Strengthening social movements and trade unions can be an important part of this and we need mass media to be free of elite control. Reducing inequality and providing decent public services can also be part of the fight against corruption.

However in present day middle class Thai discourse, “corruption” is merely an insult people use against public figures whom they dislike, while ignoring the corruption of others.

 

 

Why does Yingluk’s government do nothing? Permanent Revolution in the Thai context

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Many people might be wondering why Yingluk’s government seems to be paralysed in the face of violent and criminal actions by Sutep’s Democrat Party mob. The answer is not that there are “invisible hands” from the throne or that there is covert military support for Sutep. In fact, the top elites regard Sutep and his acolytes as lowly street gangsters. They also regard former Democrat Party PM Abhisit as a weak creature to be used and then ignored. But these disturbances are useful to the military and the conservatives because they can push Pua Thai and Taksin into further compromises. That is why the military is sitting on its hands with a smug smile. Naturally, Sutep is getting support from the backwoodsmen in the Constitutional Court and the Election Commission, but the street mobs are doing all the work. They are also supported by the reactionary doctors, vice chancellors and NGOs who represent the middle class.

The real reason why Pua Thai appears to be paralysed is that they face a choice. Either they order the sacking of the top generals and reactionary judges and the arrest of the violent protest leaders, using the police and the support of millions of Red Shirts, mobilised on the streets, or they go for a grubby compromise with the conservatives.

To put it more bluntly, either Pua Thai mobilise their supporters and the Red Shirts to tear down the old order, or they make peace with their conservative elite rivals. Given that Taksin, Yingluk and Pua Thai are basically “big business politicians”, they naturally choose the latter option. This is not to avoid civil war, but to avoid revolution from below.

When I refer to Thailand’s “old order” I am not talking about some semi-feudal state structure. I am talking about a modern capitalist semi-dictatorship controlled by the military, the business class and the top civil servants. They are all united in their royalism, but Thailand is not an absolute monarchy either.

Until the election victory of Taksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party in 2001, the old way of conducting politics was for the different elite parties to compete on the basis of personalities and patronage. Taksin introduced the central importance of policies to the electoral process. Before this, and before the 1997 economic crisis, the laissez-faire policies of successive Thai governments resulted in unplanned and chaotic public infrastructure and total lack of welfare. The elites and the middle class enriched themselves on the backs of the poor.

On an economic and social level, the rapid growth that the Thai economy experienced through the 1980s and early 1990s meant that more and more ordinary people were becoming urbanised, educated and more self-confident. People wanted to see change and they wanted a share in the fruits of development.

Growing conflict was emerging between the realities on the ground and the old political structures that had a stranglehold on society. Taksin and Thai Rak Thai played a part in increasing this conflict by proposing modernisation. Yet Taksin’s aim was not to pull down the old order, but merely to gently modernise it. Today, Yingluk, Pua Thai and Taksin are still determined to protect the main pillars of the old order. They fear revolt from below more than competition from the conservatives.

Thailand today is not the Europe of 1848, but there are some aspects of Europe in 1848, as explained by Karl Marx, which can help us understand the Thai situation. Marx wrote that the rising capitalist class in Europe were too cowardly to finish off the old order by leading a revolutionary movement of workers. The capitalist class preferred a compromise with the old feudalists rather than mobilising movements from below which might come to challenge the capitalists themselves. Marx announced that from then on, workers needed to lead an independent “Permanent Revolution” which would sweep away the old rulers and go on to challenge the capitalist class. Leon Trotsky developed this idea further by arguing that in under-developed countries workers should lead movements of workers and peasants to sweep away colonialism or feudalism and not merely stop at modern capitalism, but move on towards socialism. This happened in Russia in 1917 until the revolution was drowned in blood by Stalin.

What this means for Thailand is that we should not raise false hopes that Yingluk, Pua Thai or Taksin will carry out the necessary mobilisations to get rid of the old order. That task must be led by a movement from below whose aims should be to go further than just establishing capitalist parliamentary democracy as seen in the West.

In practice, given the weak state of independent red shirt and left-wing organisation on the ground, the best we can hope for right now is to build a movement from below which continues to push against the boundaries of authoritarianism and to continually criticise any nasty compromises which Pua Thai will want to make. But ultimately, in the long term, this movement will have to rise up and pull down the structures dominated by the military, big business and conservative officials.