No to Military Dictator and Thaksin
Thai Middle Class and the Third Alternative:
Middleclass is undeniably the most important group of people in the democratic building process. They are the component that cannot be neglected for the continuity to strengthen democratic system.
Renowned political philosophers in the world from the past to the present have highlighted the importance of the middleclass. Even Aristotle, the political philosopher of the old era had clearly stated that the important condition for the creation of a political community in the democratic society needs to be in the hand of the middleclass where they have to play their role as the dominant struggling force.
However, today under the military regime, the Thai middleclass ironically marginalizes themselves and refuses to seriously join hands on the struggle against the dictators. More ironically, a part of the middlesclass has fall short serving as the ideological tools in media-space where the military has controlled to legitimize its rule.
From 14 October 1973 onward, the Thai middleclass has played a significant role in the forefront struggle against authoritarian governments in numerous times (such as in 14 October 1973, 17 May 1992, and the demand for the 1997 constitution). Contrary, the very same people have involved in knocking on the door to the military barracks and asking the military to be more involved in the political arena (such as in 6 October 1973 and recently the 19 September 2006 incidents).
However, it is understandable that the color of the Thai middleclass can easily be changed from the progressive force to the conservative one. It is so from because of the easily-fractured base of the political emotion of the middleclass. They have been trapped between the search for the security against threat and the freedom to search or freedom from the open political system.
During the post-cold war era, Thailand has rid itself from the period of focusing solely on military security to the age of globalization, therefore affecting the perspective of the Thai middleclass. The middleclass has transformed their perspectives from the issue of security in the past to the economic security in the present time.
When Thaksin government gained power, there were assumptions from the middleclass that Thaksin would take up the goal toward bring sustainable economic growth as a mission to serve the middleclass. However, Thaksin's role in destabilizing and weakening the Thai political institutions were questioned by the middleclass, since it is directly a threat to the security of the middleclass. And also Thaksin instead were turning to the grassroots for their supports.
When the Peoples Alliance for Democracy used the following question and created the exaggerated trends that the call for political change through an "extraordinary" way outside of parliamentary system is necessary, it led to the process where the leading part of the middles class, that did not have strong political maturity, were lured victims to the authoritarianism once more.
Today, the military regime has shown its clear intention that their sophisticated plans to topple Thaksin supporters is bringing to the people the ill-intentioned democracy, bureaucrats-based constitution, election with premeditated result, and a puppet government.
Behind the motive is the intention to destabilize the political institutions and create a loophole where the military can intervene in politics and greedingly consolidate power and interests.
The above goal of the military simply means that the political struggle on the street is being pushed toward increasing violence and confrontations. It also means that the outcome from the decades-long struggle for freedom by the Thai middleclass is being savagely robbed.
The question is if the middleclass refuse to stand up to and show the progressive role in building democratic political community and to stand firm "against dictator and Thaksin" and make it as the third alternative to bring the political community back to the democracy path once more. If it is not the role of the middleclass, who will take up this role?
If the middleclass allows the hatred of Thaksin to dominate and accept the military control and/or allow the pro-Thaksin that do not care about public issues and lead Thai society toward confrontation and violence, it will be clear that the struggles for freedom in the past will all be a waste.
Or we are accepting this to happen without doing anything?
The path of solely fighting for Thaksin
will be an empty struggle and the defeat of democracy
The start of the Thaksin-lovers group against the authoritarian power sparked and attracted the people to join powerfully, however as time progress the strong point becomes weak point. And it is becoming a blind spot which can easily be crushed.
The reason is that the Thaksin-lovers group has failed to expand the struggle to other groups by bringing in public issues which will be favorable to the mass struggle against dictatorship.
The Thaksin-lover group tries to focus by relying the majority of the support primarily on the grassroots. Therefore coalition with the middleclass and other groups that could legitimize their struggle has been disregarded. The fact in history has shown that the peoples struggle can never be materialize if the struggle is based on a single-class struggle. Any struggle without the factors of multi-classes struggle can never defeat the state power.
The examples of the Boxer Rebellion in China, Paris Commune in France, Zapatista in Mexico, and the 19th century Uprising of the farmers movement in Brazil are all lessons of failure from not able to expand the groups' struggle to a larger struggle.
The struggle for Thaksin is opening holes for the Council for National Security (CNS) and the allies of the dictators to make use of the media war - by saying that the pro-democracy and anti-dictator groups are purely pro-Thaksin forces.
During this period, the military dictator is gaining confident that the people that have joined the rally in Sanam Luang and on the street are being positioned to the lower level. Therefore the military is opening up its major offensive before the final checkmate by portraying that people in the Democratic Alliance against Dictators (DAD) are all being paid to join the demonstrations.
Even though the message does not carry any weight, but it does carry on to the new forces especially the middleclass whose fear of Thaksin government is still prevalent which makes them decide not to join the rallies. Eventually the pro-Thaksin group will be marginalized and later faced cracked down.
The above operation is the psychological warfare that understands that the majority of the people demonstrating in Sanam Luang and on the street are not yet ready to take the struggle toward the underground operation. And that the leaders of the demonstrators are not ready as well.
The only alternative left is that the Thaksin-lover group needs to retreat and bring in other public issues so that the struggle against the dictators can be widely and continually supported by the mass.
The premeditated retreat is the strategic offensive, similar to what Sun Tzu had once said that the best warfare is winning without having to go to battle. Similarly, a warrior that focuses only about fighting is an appalling warrior. He may win wars, but will lose in the end.
If only retreat is recognized, and if the pro-Thaksin group will be willing to wait for the "fruit to ripe before picking it off the tree", they could build a coalition of people that are willing to struggle against the military dictators and incorporate those that do not support the military, the CNS, and do not support for the return to Thaksin. If this is achieved the struggle against anti-military dictators will likely to become the national agenda and gain stronger ground.
This is the only alternative to fight against the deceitful military dictators. If the peoples are the winner in this struggle to bring democracy back, Thaksin-lovers will gain victory as well. Since after the end to dictator, the only group that will receive the effect of the return to democracy will be the Thaksin lover group since 1) They are the biggest political group outside of the current bureaucracy politic 2) they have the strongest political tools comparing to other groups - and they will be able to win the heart of the people going to election poll more than other.
If this alternative is not chosen, the only way is for the hard-line confrontation which is likely to fail.
Democracy is our Principle Flagship
The ongoing struggle against the authoritarian power on Sanam Luang until today raises the question of what issue should be the primary flagship to empower the people of diverse groups and classes to a better united mobilization - so that they could be able to counter the media war and the serious manipulation by the authoritarian state.
The different flagships that are still under debate by the leaders of the DAD, similarly to the "Egg before Chicken and Chicken before Egg" debate, is whether which should be the priority. It is between:
1) The Struggle for Thaksin
2) The Struggle against Dictatorship to restore democracy
These two points have been proposed to the people confusingly - sometimes the 1st proposal is made as the primary flagship, while other times proposal 2 is made as the prime flagship.
The confusion makes the majority of the people that wants to be involved with the struggle against the dictators (especially the educated middleclass) were force to stay as "observers" rather than being involved as a "player", therefore making the content of the struggle going nowhere.
To unchain from the structured mindset, the most important thing is to re-strategize the most important priority of the flagship. There needs to be a clear understanding that the struggle against the dictatorship-for the restoration of democracy is the primary goal of the struggle.
It is so because the struggle for Thaksin has the limited path which is - in order to fulfill the Thaksin struggle, it is under only one condition can that be achieved. It is when the dictators will be taken off power and democracy restored will the struggle for Thaksin bears its fruit.
The struggle against dictatorship - to restore democracy is the mother (meaning primary struggle) since it is the struggle toward the freedom of the people and for the space of justice in society. Contrary the struggle for Thaksin which is only child holding on to the mother's back, since without freedom and justice, the struggle for Thaksin is purely an empty cause.
If the flagship for the struggle for Thaksin is to be prioritized instead of focusing on the struggle against the dictator-restoration of democracy, it will be like walking to the shadowed corner toward the deep hole that has already been dug by the military dictators.
The flagship toward struggle against dictatorship-for the restoration of democracy (and struggle for Thaksin as secondary flagship) will create the unity in the struggle. And bring the "observer" into a "full players" arena - for the mass mobilization where they will join in freely and open-heartedly.
Translated by Pokpong Lawansiri