Politics of Thailand
* Thailand’s Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy
* Rising China and Asian Democratization: Socialization to “Global Culture” in the Political Transformations of Thailand, China, and Taiwan
* Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers: The Politics of Environmental Knowledge in Northern Thailand
* Thailand Unhinged: The Death of Thai-Style Democracy
* Thailand’s Political History: From the 13th Century to Recent Times
|Thailand’s Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy
When a populist movement elected Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister of Thailand in 2001, many of the country’s urban elite dismissed the outcome as just another symptom of rural corruption, a traditional patronage system dominated by local strongmen pressuring their neighbors through political bullying and vote-buying. In Thailand’s Political Peasants, however, Andrew Walker argues that the emergence of an entirely new socioeconomic dynamic has dramatically changed the relations of Thai peasants with the state, making them a political force to be reckoned with. Whereas their ancestors focused on subsistence, this generation of middle-income peasants seeks productive relationships with sources of state power, produces cash crops, and derives additional income through non-agricultural work. In the increasingly decentralized, disaggregated country, rural villagers and farmers have themselves become entrepreneurs and agents of the state at the local level, while the state has changed from an extractor of taxes to a supplier of subsidies and a patron of development projects.
Thailand’s Political Peasants provides an original, provocative analysis that encourages an ethnographic rethinking of rural politics in rapidly developing countries. Drawing on six years of fieldwork in Ban Tiam, a rural village in northern Thailand, Walker shows how analyses of peasant politics that focus primarily on rebellion, resistance, and evasion are becoming less useful for understanding emergent forms of political society.
|Rising China and Asian Democratization: Socialization to “Global Culture” in the Political Transformations of Thailand, China, and Taiwan|
by Daniel Lynch
Stanford University Press, 2006
This book argues that democratization is inherently international: states democratize through a process of socialization to a liberal-rational global culture. This can clearly be seen in Taiwan and Thailand, where the elites and attentive public now accept democracy as universally valid. But in China, the ruling communist party resists democratization, in part because its leaders believe it would lead to China’s “permanent decentering” in world history. As China’s power increases, the party could begin restructuring global culture by inspiring actors in other Asian countries to uphold or restore authoritarian rule.
|Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers: The Politics of Environmental Knowledge in Northern Thailand
Challenges scholars, policymakers, and resource managers to reexamine long-held assumptions about “environmental degradation.” Through a case study of northern Thailand the authors ask how, why, and with whose influence environmental situations are defined. Their conclusion that misleading and simplistic explanations fail to address the real causes of environmental problems, and unnecessarily restrict the livelihoods of local people, will be a valuable contribution to broader international academic and policy discussions. Tim Forsyth is a reader at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Andrew Walker is a research fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, the Australian National University.
|Thailand Unhinged: The Death of Thai-Style Democracy
“Thailand Unhinged: The Death of Thai-Style Democracy” delivers an excoriating critique of Thai politics and society over the tumultuous years that followed the ouster of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand’s ongoing political crisis is explained through the prism of the country’s painful post-absolutist history – a history marred by the systematic sabotage of any meaningful democratic development, the routine hijacking of democratic institutions, and the continued suffocation of the Thai people’s democratic aspirations orchestrated by an unelected ruling class in an increasingly desperate attempt to hold on to its power. This new edition, uncensored, expanded, and revised, argues that the tragic events of 2010 mark the end of “Thai-Style Democracy” – a five-decades-old system of government that, notwithstanding the appropriation of some of the trappings of democracy, has largely preserved the right of “good” men of high birth, status, and wealth to run the country. The essays are written in a pointed, combative style, making “Thailand Unhinged” a highly unconventional mix of academic scholarship, literary journalism, and radical pamphleteering.
|Thailand’s Political History: From the 13th Century to Recent Times|
First appearing in 2005 and quickly selling out, this fully revised edition of ‘Thailand’s Political History’ continues in the same style as the first but with its scope dramatically widened. Starting earlier than the old edition, ‘Thailand’s Political History’ discusses the development and evolution of the Siamese state from the early Sukhothai period through the fall of Ayutthaya to the rise of the Chakri dynasty in the late eighteenth century and its consolidation of power in the nineteenth. Moving into the twentieth century it traces the emergence of the Thai nation state, the large-scale investments in infrastructure and the commitment to economic expansion that have occurred since the 1950s onwards. A new final chapter brings the reader up-to-date and addresses Thailand’s current political situation spanning the rise and fall of Thaksin Shinawatra to the devisive and at times violent polarisation of Thai society. It traces the emergence of the red and yellow shirts, the takeover of Suvarnabhumi airport by the PAD and the occupation of the Rachaprasong intersection by the UDD and their eventual violent dispersal by the Thai military. Often at variance with dominant interpretations of nationalistic history, this absorbing account throws fresh and illumininating light on the political events in the past 700 years.