We are now rapidly approaching what Frank Zappa might have called “the crux of the biscuit” in this most recent round of the Thai political struggle. The February 2 election has been officially annulled and soon there will be a Senate to deliberate the question of Yingluck’s impeachment.
All of which means, of course, that the Redshirts will likely be back on the streets of Bangkok some time in the next few weeks. And that brings to mind another 20th century giant of the apt phrase:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Indeed. What will happen if and when the UDD under it’s battle commander Jatuporn Prompan returns to the streets of the capital?
One thing that will almost surely happen is that the journalists, bloggers and social media boffins that have harshly criticized Suthep and his anti-democratic PDRC, will begin to turn their disapproval on the Reds.
This has happened before of course. Many commentators in May 2010 blamed the Redshirts for the eventual crackdown that involved snipers and headshots because they had continued to insist that the Abhisit government step down and call new elections. They pointed out that there were armed guards at Redshirt camps and that Reds engaged in violence.
And political violence, as any resident in a liberal democracy will tell you, is not only bad but anti-democratic.
Problem for the UDD and all Thais who would prefer to live in a democracy is the rather simple and obvious fact that Thailand is not a democracy, liberal or otherwise. So to judge the actions of the UDD by the standards of a liberal-democracy is irrational at best and disingenuous at worst.
You can’t really expect democracy to be won by “voting” when elections have the solidity of air and you can’t win democracy and free speech by talking and writing because there is no free speech and most domestic media is owned by, or kowtows to, the “other side”.
This means that there is no choice for the UDD but to hit the streets. And when you are on the streets. violence will occur, as we saw yesterday with the monk who decided it would be a good idea to start lecturing a group of Reds who were engaged in tearing down a PDRC stage.
So-called “liberals” like Nation journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk instantly condemned the violence, calling down shame on the heads of the Reds. Later that evening, two grenades landed at the site, presumably lobbed by the military-backed PDRC, who Pravit considers an equal “side” to the elected government of Thailand.
The notion that a group of anti-democratic, some would say fascist, thugs who have spent the last three months tearing down what shreds of democratic governance remained in Thailand should be acknowledged as a “side” in negotiations with an elected government is, quite simply, little more than one move in the argument being made by the anti-democratic “network” that comprises the real or “deep” state. So much for this particular version of “liberalism”.
The fundamental contradiction that such commentators thrive on is this: slap a monk and you will be condemned for not maintaining liberal-democratic standards; but tear down democratic structures using street violence, corrupt courts and a passive-aggressive anti-democratic military, and you will be awarded a seat at the negotiation table where a new system of government will be hashed out with the elected representatives of the Thai people, presumably in recognition that democratic structures are not yet in place.
The hypocrisy is staggering, but status quo for the Thai middle and upper class “liberals” who value theoretical liberal principles over the messy reality of democracy, ignoring the fact that only a messy democracy can give meaning to those principles in a state like Thailand.
And that is the real “rough beast” that we can anticipate arriving any day now. And his name shall be Moral Equivalence.