The content in this page ("‘Regional Centeredness - Class Centeredness'; Political Violence in Thai Society" by Woraphat Veerapattanakup, Secretary-General, Young People for Democracy Movement, Thailand (YPD)) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

‘Regional Centeredness - Class Centeredness'; Political Violence in Thai Society

In line with expectation about the election, it was almost unnecessary to wonder about the results that came out since the trend was visible from the constitutional referendum. At that time, if many people can remember, the north and northeast regions were so red that you could almost speak of the region as a block without being wrong. One interesting point is that even though the south was entirely green, the 3 southernmost provinces had the highest number of no votes in the south.


And in line with expectations, the People Power Party had an almost clan sweep of the northeast and north. Interestingly, in Khon Kaen, home of Suwit Khunkitti, leader of the Puea Pandin Party, who has won many times when even changing brand has never cost him votes, the People Power Party took all seats. In the central region, votes were shared. In the south, it was already certain who would win, and they did. But it is worth noting that Yala and Narathiwat, two of the three southernmost provinces, were penetrated by the Wadah group.


Results like this must certainly bring criticism of various kinds from qualified people who fancy themselves as gurus and know-nothing gurus.


It was also in line with expectations that the analysis of the gurus and know-nothing gurus had to include criticism of northeast voters for being ignorant, for selling their votes and for being led by the nose by the former power.


And it is certain that the pro-coup side will not be amused and have to come out and criticize those who support then opposition, which will say nothing more than that they lack education, are labourers and are lower class, just like before.


What is happening in Thai society today is a phenomenon called regional centeredness and class centeredness, which are characteristic of egocentrism. In his book ‘Do Weapons Have a Life? A Critical View of Violence', Acharn Chaiwat Satha-anan explains that egocentrism is the capacity of humans to distinguish themselves and their own group from others and their groups. In psychology this is called egocentric perception or perception with oneself as the centre.


Egocentrism is something that builds walls against differences. It creates us as distinct from them from our view that we are the centre and cannot understand others from their point of view. This relies on a feature called pseudo-speciation as a catalyst that makes it easier for us to put those who are different from us at a lower level of humanity than our level.


And this is the basis for human violence. The false perception of identity, apart from serving as a wall closing off understanding of differences between each other, also adds to the ability of humans to choose various reasons to legitimize violence against others.


In a democratic political system, ways of thinking under a false perception of identity are very dangerous because they create divisions where we become self-centred, preventing us from learning to understand others. Looking at conflict from a position of self-centredness enables us to find justifications for the faults of the opposing side and the many reason that legitimize the use of violence against opponents, and at the same time it reduces our ability to consider rationally the errors that come from ourselves.


In this way, the coup-makers and their supporters have never considered that people are fed up with dome things they have done, whether it is administering the country without listening to the opinions of the people, making an enemy of everyone who think differently from them, running the country by looking only at the mistakes of the old power (and not having sufficiently clear principles that society can accept). But at the same time, the people's quality of life is not improved, and innocent villagers are oppressed by the use of military force and threats to the rights and freedoms in the three southernmost provinces.


Eventually, when they tripped themselves up with the results of the constitutional referendum, which was won only by a whisker, and the results of the election, where they were beaten hollow by a proxy party of the old power, these honourable people still cannot see their own faults.


I am writing this article to alert the Thai people, especially the middle class and those who feel that they are middle class, not to be fooled by simple-minded propaganda from those with the power to divide us.


Do not be fooled with being middle class and urban to the point where you sloe your heart and refuse to listen to the feelings of others, especially people of the same nationality bit from a different region, different status or a different faith.


We will never reach the democracy that we aspire to if we still do not open-heartedly accept differences. This is because real democracy is a society where different and diversity can co-exist in peace, without marginalizing anyone, without ascribing to other a different level of dignity as human beings because of stupid prejudice that human beings have raised to a position of higher importance than a common biological humanity that has almost no differences.


Real democracy is the direct opposite of dictatorship.


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