The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

It can feel very uncomfortable to stand alone.

That’s why people are so eager to join things – as long as it doesn’t mean actually doing much.

You wear a uniform correct to the last detail (and then some) even though you’ve been in the university barely a week or two. You’ve had hardly any chance to do anything for the institution bar scream yourself silly with freshman chants.

You put on your replica shirt and cheer goals loudly (or claim offside just as loudly, as the situation requires) when in fact all you’re doing is sitting in front of a TV screen and your personal contribution to your favourite club is zilch (your shirt is a Pratunam knock-off so there’s not even a penny of royalties involved).

And you feel pleasantly warm inside when someone wins a medal in the name of the nationality you share, although your personal contribution to national prowess in martial arts or mathematics or marching bands is perfectly non-existent.

It doesn’t matter. You have a bunch of people out there who think of you as one of ‘Us’. Just as long as you go through largely symbolic gestures of allegiance. The process of belonging may be completely painless. The big ones, like religion or nationality, you’re born into.

And it’s nice to feel part of a larger group. The Thai horror of being alone is kept at bay, for one thing. You can feel proud and noble and other nice things when one of Us, who you may not know from Adam, achieves something that is recognized by the world at large.

But the slippery slope is remarkably easy to slide down. If it’s better to be part of your group than not, then it’s a small step to saying it is better to be part of your group than any other. Because you must, in some indefinable way, be better. And if the objective knowledge of your senses can’t quite see anything that proves that your lot is better, then the easy alternative is to say the other lot is worse. And when the verifiable proof of that is also lacking, then your imagination has to take over. The Others out there are what are because they are pathetically misguided, or inherently evil, or even completely inhuman.

So even though you feel cosy being part of your group, at the same time you feel threatened by those outside the group, by the irrational otherness of the Other. So Man United supporters start cracking heads at the sight of a pale blue football shirt. Boko Haram (whose name means ‘western education is a sin’, a potential motto for a good half of Thailand’s education system) blow up anything Christian. And supposedly educated, civilized and moral populations, like that of the US, decide it is educated, civilized and moral to bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age.

And the vice could just as easily be versa, of course.

One of the most comical ethnic prejudices I ever came across has to do with the name of one of the native peoples along the lower Colorado, the Chemehuevi. As with many other tribes, the name by which they are known is not the name they use, but was given to them by some other tribe who were first to ingratiate themselves with the missionaries who did all the initial ethnography.

And it turns out that the word ‘Chemehuevi’ is not to be found in the Chemehuevi language, but is Mojave for (at least to some Mojave) ‘people who do unspeakable things with fish’. And when, with visions of what happens in upstairs rooms on Patpong, you probe further to find out exactly what these unspeakable acts may be, you are disappointed to discover that it means the Chemehuevi eat fish. The Mojave also eat fish, of course, but the Chemehuevi, being Other, do it in an unspeakable way.

All good fun, but it has led to war and death and the kind of visceral hatred and distrust that ensures more of the same for generations to come.

The badge of being Us or Them rarely hinges on fish-eating manners. Invented physical symbols like flags and uniforms seem to be important in many societies. Find an American politician these days who does not wear a Stars and Stripes pin and I’ll show you a loser in the next election.

In the UK, Norman Tebbit decided the true loyalty of immigrants could be established on the basis of sport. The ‘Tebbit test’ asked who they supported when the Indian or Pakistani or West Indian cricket teams came to play. Which is a bit rich because they were playing not the UK but England. (Though to be fair the England cricket team has included Scots.) (And South Africans.) (And Australians.) (And …)

And in Thailand? Well in one famous case, an admirably straightforward ‘Are you Thai?’ questioned the patriotism of one subject. And what had he done? Failed to show the expected deference and respect to the Supreme Institution.

The years in institutions of indoctrination (aka schools and universities) on the glorious past, present and future of the Thai have inextricably twinned being patriotic with being royalist. And all that this entails.

But of course, being Prachatai readers, you all know this already. Not like those mistaken fools who read the Bangkok Post. Or the wilfully ignorant subnormals who read The Nation. Or the neanderthals who rely on TV news. Or …

 

Comments

Some very good insights into

Some very good insights into the Thai psyche here (all other psyches as well, but, well Thais have made weak psyches their strong point).

But I am obliged to ask why you have apparently not fully absorbed the propaganda that all Thais are beaten about the ears with from birth. Are you really doubting that himself can walk on water? That himself can make it rain and has magic rice seeds to give away? That himself is like the urban spaceman and does not need to do all that icky bathroom stuff?

Are you Thai?

Give me your address at once so I can make a complaint and make myself feel important at the same time. I know he loves me already but then he will really love me.

http://www.prachatai3.info/fu

http://www.prachatai3.info/funding-declare

Talk about scoundrels - you disclose in English your millions you get from the US government and Wall Street bankers but here you are still begging for money in Thai? Do your Thai readers know you are funded millions of baht a year - EVERY YEAR - by foreign governments and bankers?

I remember many of your foreigner supporters claiming I was a liar before you posted your funding - claiming you hardly have any cash at all and barely get by - your disclosure shows you get up to 8 million baht in a year!!!!

My God! What frauds!!!! And still you won't address this in detail? Because you are frauds? Or because you don't think you have to?

'But of course, being

'But of course, being Prachatai readers, you all know this already. ' You all HG? But, but... that makes you... one of Them!

I think Ambrose Bierce had it more nearly correct...

PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

<- This is routed in bas relief on the panel of the door of the master bedroom of our rent here in Thailand.

My theory is that it is in our genes. That a million or more years ago those small bands of our primate fathers and mothers with the most comprehensive cohesion lived to reproduce. The Others were their victims. And behavior is congenital... at this level. Look at the ants. Do they not die when crushed, just like ourselves?

So the solution is not to 'do what comes naturally', perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively. Hardly an innovative observation.

The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi — ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ, and examining life means more than inventing unicode.)

Perhaps, contemplating consciousness in consciousness, in the Satipatthana Sutta from the Buddha covers the same ground.

It becomes, then, not a question of US and Them, synonyms or pseudonyms for Nobody, but Me, Myself and I - for I am Somebody.

'The Others were their

'The Others were their victims. ' ought to be 'Perhaps the Others were their victims.'

Perhaps not. Perhaps they succumbed to heat, cold, disease, or starvation. In fact, more likely. More likely, in my view, the victimization of The Ones by The Others did not proceed while there was still room to just cross over the next hill. But that room has been being limited by our 'success' over the past few thousands of years, and is certainly absent now. We are all in the same spacecraft now, as they say. But remember..

Me, myself and I
Are all in love with you
We all think you're wonderful
We do
Me, myself and I
Have just one point of view
We're convinced
There's no one else like you

'And supposedly educated,

'And supposedly educated, civilized and moral populations, like that of the US, decide it is educated, civilized and moral to bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age.'

Well, according to a poll of American adults (pdf), not exactly. The question, "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?", asked 28 times from Sep 2006 'til Nov 2011. But who cares what 'the people' think! War is too important to be left to the 99%!

Discounting the peoples' views from the very start there has been no poll asking, "Do you favor or oppose Article 112?" Here in Thailand. It is not illegal to do so, but there is no one brave uncowardly enough to ask it. So it remains unknown. Indeed it may not be possible to get a reliable sample to answer the question.

And gaining knowledge of peoples' professed 'favor' or 'opposition' is a moot exercise. Their professions have absolutely no effect on the 1%'s conduct of war or oppression in any case.

It remains for such professions to be realized, as only the people can.

I've had this commented

I've had this commented deleted, along with others, 4-5 times. Quite obviously you can't be a free speech advocate if you are busy censoring your own forums whenever anyone raises contrary views or asks legitimate and still unanswered questions about why Prachatai poses as a liberal-progressive outfit yet takes millions from corporate fascist warmongers from the US.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/08/exposed-indy-newspaper-funded-by-us.html

It is no less spam to ask the same question over and over so long as no one has answered it - and so long as everyone else is allowed to repetitively harp on the same tiresome talking-points day in and day out.

You mean the post that claims

You mean the post that claims you were censored was deleted? I've seen it 2-3 times. You are simply forgetting how much junk you post and where to. It does seem bizarre that you post the same thing hundreds of times at a website that you claim to hate.

I don't see any interest in your claim. I do see plenty of interest in Nitirat, lese majeste and freedom of expression, for example.

By the way, you are now posting in a thread that is about the "Last refuge of a Scoundrel," which seems entirely apposite.

He's making this up.

He's making this up.

That's funny - I archived the

That's funny - I archived the website before and after - clearly Prachatai is deleting my posts. I've included 2 examples, but yesterday I probably had 10-15 posts deleted within minutes of posting my comments.

US-Funded "Rights Advocate" Censoring Free-Speech Forum

Prachatai is an utter fraud - most of you "commentators" work DIRECTLY for Prachatai. Prachatai poses as "Liberal/Progressive" yet you are funded millions a year by US Neo-Con corporate fascists - ON RECORD. The whole thing is a scam and now you got caught censoring your own "free-speech" forum. Congratulations.

Of course you are all closet UDD and Thaksin supporters and we already know what the penalty for Lese Thaksin is - prison, death, or perhaps a 2 month purge where 2,500 people end up dead. This is the reality of this "rights crusade" here in Thailand. You're trying to get rid of your opposition, and as Prachatai is now proving, you have no intention of holding yourselves to the same standards you're trying to destroy the Thai establishment with.

Now with proof that Prachatai has censored my comments we'll see just how overt a liar you are Albert - perhaps you'll surprise us all with an apology - that is if Prachatai doesn't go and delete my comments before you get a chance to answer.

TC is lying again: "most of

TC is lying again: "most of you "commentators" work DIRECTLY for Prachatai." Who's the fraud?

I documented Prachatai

I documented Prachatai censoring my comments - below is a link - you go and look for yourself at the screen shots, look at the date, and look at the comment section now. Clearly my post was deleted. I provide 2 examples out of perhaps 10-15.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/01/us-funded-rights-advocate-censoring.html

The beauty is - if you don't censor me the truth will keep getting out that Prachatai is a foreign funded corporate fascist fraud - if you DO censor me, the truth will STILL get out that you are a fraud. How can you be for free speech when you censor someone merely pointing out verified facts about Prachatai's suspicious funding and connections with Thaksin when ALL Prachatai does is support Thaksin's henchmen and mobs? How can you call it off topic to simply point out the conflict of interest present in each and every post when it verifibly exists.

A lie is a lie. Not one shred

A lie is a lie. Not one shred of evidence in your comment or your LD post that shows that "most of you "commentators" work DIRECTLY for Prachatai." You continue to fabricate nonsensical fairy tales.

I keep noting your lies and you keep lying. Pathological.

You are shown to be a fraud again and again.

You are shameless in using the website you claim is foreign-funded to attack its excellent work. How do you justify your use of a corporate-fascist site for your own propaganda when that propaganda rejects the use of such facilities?

Again, you are fraudulent, not even meeting the standards you yourself demand of others.

"You are shameless in using

"You are shameless in using the website you claim is foreign-funded to attack its excellent work."

The website I "claim" is foreign funded? "CLAIM?" .... http://prachatai.com/english/aboutus

It's right here on their own "About Us" page! Here it is on National Endowment for Democracy's page too...

http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/asia/thailand ... Listed under "Foundation for Community Educational Media..."

Seems I am telling the truth, have been telling the truth, and that you hold Prachatai's readership in such low regards you assume they will not even click on the "about us" link at the top right of the page and see for themselves what a liar you are.

Here's my research to match...

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/08/exposed-indy-newspaper-funded-by-us.html

Why do I use Prachatai to post my protest against them and the fraud they commit on a daily basis? The real question is why you, a champion of freedom, transparency, and accountability, refuse to ask critical questions of anyone but your political enemies - especially a website that is on record funded by the scum of the earth - Neo-Con corporate fascists, warmongers, and corporate lobbyists of Wall Street - the 1%.

A lie is a lie. Not one shred

A lie is a lie. Not one shred of evidence in your comment or your LD post that shows that "most of you "commentators" work DIRECTLY for Prachatai." You continue to fabricate nonsensical fairy tales.

I keep noting your lies and you keep lying. Pathological and shameless.