Rectification of names

Rectification of names is an ancient Confucian doctrine that, in essence, is calling a spade a spade, only applied to societies. Confucius believed that people masquerading as something else would eventually lead to social disharmony, and, in order for society to succeed, people declaring themselves as such and such should behave accordingly. No bullshitting, so to speak.

It’s what keeps red shirts together here – they know who Thaksin is, for example, who are his favourites, who represents him or anyone else and so on. Politicians can call themselves this and that but, ultimately, people know where their power comes from, what family they belong and whether they have their clan support or not. Samak declaring himself Thaksin’s proxy was a bold move on the surface but in reality he was just practicing “rectification of names”, and everybody knew what the deal was anyway.

Lately there has been a parade of Thaksin proxy wannabes and PTP found itself in turmoil because no one knew who the real proxy was. Finally Thaksin himself had to step in and tell everyone to wait for his decision and so PTP members shouldn’t believe anyone pretending to have any special powers. Rectification of names again.

Well, the world has progressed since Confucius times, he was talking about father and son, the rules and servants. Life wasn’t so complicated in those days. Now we have a whole bunch of new phenomena that requires careful consideration.

So, I have given it a long thought and finally I gave up on things like “benefit of doubt” and possibilities that there is something more than meets the eye. Let’s call a spade a spade.

The problem is that I still don’t know what a proper name should be, for example, for a popular movement that genuinely believes that the cream of the society is rotten and it needs change, that the elites have abused their positions for too long and they must answer to the public, that power and wealth should be returned to people.

What label to put on this movement, which is at the same time bankrolled by the richest segment of the population and led by exactly the same people the movement is rallying against. Nuts?

Nothing else, even remotely respectful, comes to mind. Idiots make mistakes but they are hardly dangerous, the worst kind are the idiots who think they are actually educated and who feel entitled, and are willing to impose their mistakes on you, oblivious to any sense or reason.

This week they will come out and make themselves heard, at midterm American elections.

I was talking about the Tea Party, of course.

If the supposedly better educated Americans can be so hopelessly deceived, I completely gave up on our local red shirts.

It all makes sense, though, if you treat them as Astrorurf – a brand name for artificial grass carpets, artificial grassroots.

Both movements have members really buying into their causes, that’s a fact. Over in the States they are angry at the big and inefficient government, over here they blame the elites instead. They are angry at the elites in the US, too:”The elite’s fear and loathing of the tea party movement is rooted in the recognition that the real change is only now coming,” – Tony Blankley. I’m sure you can find a lot more quotes in the same vein.

This kind of rhetoric is all too familiar.

The Astroturf creators played out on a whole sleigh of these largely dormant sentiments to stir up a real revolution against their current enemies. They saw the opportunity to use the useful idiots to their own ends and they seized it.

In both cases the movements still work for the ultimate benefit of the richest class and corporations. Over in the US they already control the country and, most importantly, the general population, and the government is the only entity that dares to stand in their way, so it must go. Here in Thailand the situation is very similar, the government and the elites stand in the way of Thaksin’s return.

What is truly remarkable, though, is the ability of those rich cats to control population minds, to impose their ideas and to convince the ordinary folks to even act against their self-interest. They have proved beyond any doubt that propaganda pays. For people who made fortunes by advertising their products, shift to political propaganda was seamless and it is pretty much an established fact of life in the West – politicians are nothing but products who live by the rules of marketing, on all sides.

The traditional concept of “democracy” has become meaningless – all we see is farming voters, developing and nurturing them and weeding out any troublemakers. And then out comes the ultimate product of genetic engineering – Tea Party like grass roots movements that completely identify themselves with corporate agendas.

About a month ago one of their millionaire leaders conceived a donation campaign, asking people to come online and give $10 to American Chamber of Commerce. That was a cruel joke – the board of that organization probably has a lot more money than all these misguided donors combined – Pfizer, Conaco, Lokheed Martin, JP Morgan, Rolls Royce… Poor souls still came out in force and crashed Chamber’s servers. Idiots.

Over here we have red shirts collecting money for the red cause, too. Let’s all help Thaksin come back and establish democracy. Duh.

For those who insist that reds have moved beyond Thaksin – just a couple of weeks ago he personally told PTP meeting that he would direct their election strategy, set up the platform and select the PM candidate. PTP resolved that bringing back Thaksin would be their major issue. As for reds – they will be given the opportunity to run in elections if PTP doesn’t have strong candidates themselves. Just like republicans in the US where they sport quite a few Tea Party candidates on the ballots.

Anyway, debating the merits of either Tea Party of Reds is a waste of time. There’s nothing left to prove there.

So let’s move on.

Of a particular interest in this regard are the PR people who manage the movement. Over in the US it’s all republican machinery through and through. Over here the masterminds stay in shade, with the exception of Amsterdam who represents red shirts internationally. Oh, hold on, officially he is paid by Thaksin, but, of course, there’s no practical difference.

He claims he is not in for the money (duh!), that he is in for the cause. Well, I, for one, believe him, to a degree. I believe he fully supports the cause – corporations and rich people should rule the world. He also supports the modern day methods of slavery – dragging people into electoral process that falls under full control of big money.

A few months ago Amsterdam wrote about “state capture” where a few privileged individuals make all the important decisions while the general public is left with the image of democracy and a notion that they really matter. Amsterdam learned all about it while working in Russia, for one of those privileged few who fell from grace, so he had access to the inside knowledge of how it works. Fine, don’t want to argue about that, but, look at the free world and tell me there’s no “state capture” there.

Take some most important decisions of the past decade and tell me people were consulted. Financial bailouts – no. People were just told that it was necessary, there was no debate. Iraq war – no, people were not asked, they were brainwashed to believe that it was for the right cause. Just these two decisions benefited the corporations to the tune of trillions of dollars. People were left to fight for crumbs like medicare instead, something they should be entitled to anyway, and they were reduced to fighting amongst themselves.

So yeah, I believe Amsterdam fully buys into this kind of democracy – protecting corporate grip on the world and “liberal democracy” as an instrument. He made a career out of that already. Thanks to his alphabetical advantage he is at the top of major donors of Chatham House, one of the most influential European think tanks supported by a long list of biggest corporations. Who is stupid enough to believe their research supports transfer of wealth and power to the poor?

Another famous freedom fighter like that is George Soros. Here in Thailand he was blamed for the 1997 crisis. Eventually people realized that they brought it upon themselves and left the sheep unprotected and Soros just did what the wolves should naturally do – slaughter as much as possible. What I can’t understand is how this wolf, who brought so much destruction and suffering to millions of families, claims to be world biggest human rights campaigner, bankrolling Human Rights Watch.

Last article about him I read was directed at South America’s human rights abusers. Coincidentally it was directed strictly at the governments that fell out of favor with Wester world order – Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil etc. I’m sure they deserved some of the blame but I can’t help myself to think that the underlying reason for his attacks is to put them back in line and pay their dues.

When in comes to Thailand the concern is not so pronounced but it’s still there. Remember when Thais decided to produce generic drugs themselves? In no time a big name PR company came out with full page adverts condemning the move. Then there was talk about proxy ownership – another stick to stir up the hornet’s nest. Thais managed to escape major wrath but the apprehension of possible consequences was palpable.

Another interesting aspect is New Mandala’s campaign on the internet. Mandala is not just a fancy asian word, it’s distribution of power, the power pyramid, and the relationships between various players and parts. Traditionally in Thailand it culminates at the King at the top who answers to Gods but in the old days Thailand was answerable to China, too.

The problem with this arrangement is that modern corporations don’t have a major say, they are granted permissions but not ultimate control, and “liberal democracy” has no place in it either, hence the need for New Mandala. New power center should be the West and its values and practices, its freedoms and elections.

Unfortunately, people over at New Mandala are not sophisticated enough to slip these ideas without challenging the traditional structure. Americans were far more skillful at that for the last part of the 20th century. New Mandala people instead went into a full attack mode, centering on Thai monarchy and going after elites in general.

For a while I thought I should give them a shot and see if there’s anything more behind their project – after all they all claim to support freedom of speech and look so nice and friendly.

Well, that didn’t last long. Those who read this blog surely remember “What you don’t see on New Mandala” entry a year ago. That had quite an effect on them as they had to admit to some sort of moderation. At first they said they censored my posts because I was talking too much. I thought I’d comply and they’d let me comment there. Nah, didn’t work.

They simply won’t allow anything that undermines their agenda of imposing democracy on uncivilized Thai natives. They allow dissent about as much as Christian preachers talk about atheism – it’s fine to talk about it as long as it stays defeated. They need it there to ridicule it, not to consider it with an open mind.

When they eventually stopped accepting any of my posts on New Mandala this time (it was back in August) there was public campaign to weed out anyone suspected of being me. “Are you StanGin disguise?” was the popular question there for a while.

There was this one comment, about Amsterdam’s White Paper, where, after reasoning that it’s not worth reading as it would contain to many lies and half truths by definition, I gave it a shot and right there, in the very first paragraph, Amsterdam stated that at the time of the coup Thaksin was properly and democratically elected, apparently as the winner of 2006 elections.

As soon as I pointed out that gross inaccuracy the hell broke loose and no one else but Andrew Walker himself stepped in and said that he won’t allow anymore “pointless” debates with Stan G.

In a way he was right – all debates on New Mandala are pointless, as someone noticed in another thread that was labeled as a great discussion – where’s the discussion, you all agree with each other?

I was thinking about writing “What you don’t see on New Mandala part 2” and include some of the banned posts but I don’t see the point – they were banned for advocating a different point of view. Interestingly, the original premise of New Mandala was to facilitate new looks at Thailand and South East Asia, or something alone those lines. Do they believe in it? I think they do, they just don’t realize they don’t live by it anymore.

I don’t believe they notice how incredibly condescending and insensitive they are to Asians. There was this strange post of some photoshopped work of some south asian woman carrying a huge can of Coke on her head and a huge hamburger in her hand. All the comments were about asking permission to use the image in some classes, but who they were asking permission from? The dude who photoshopped this poor woman? Not a single soul paused and thought that the woman in the picture has a name and a family and pride in her way of life. She was just an object that doesn’t matter to them, South East Asia scholars.

Speaking of their scholars – about a year ago they had a series of video interviews on Thai political situation. The last episode was particularly telling. Three of their students started the talk by saying they don’t know what was going on with red protests because of the censorship.

Well, the red protests were probably the best covered violent protest in human history. There were hundreds of journalists covering everything from every possible angle. Hundreds of people with mobile phones snapping pictures and videos. There were hours and hours of video footage on Youtube. As soon as something had become the point of interest, some one would come up with video evidence for it. There were literally hundreds of thousands of people online discussing every possible turn.

And there they were, three ANU students, claiming ignorance due to censorship. No, it’s not censorship, it’s lobotomy they’ve undergone while studying there. They just have to repeat this familiar NM party line. Funny thing, I believe they were also taught that they were independent and critical thinkers.

I believe Nick and Andrew are also fully convinced that they are fair and open minded and independent and what not – they themselves had been conditioned this way. They can’t step out of this box – they don’t even notice the box exists, and that’s their ultimate failure as intellectuals.

Recently Walker has got captivated by various graphs. God knows how many of them were completely meaningless, only exposing his ignorance on the matter. Not that there were wrong, but there was simply too much information that was missing that no intelligent person would dare to come up with any definite conclusions. Many people pointed various gaps, sometimes he just lashed at them, sometimes he would simply move on and produce another useless graph.

With that kind of “academic” work I’m not surprised that he pushes the brand of democracy that doesn’t stand a chance in any proper university. On the other hand, if universities are so progressive and anti big money, why doesn’t it translate into real leadership? I guess once people outgrow their idealism they decide to partake rather than fight.

Amsterdam started out with Marxism himself. Now he makes a living off the biggest capitalists. Our local revolutionaries from 70s haven’t fared much better, as they make living off Thaksin’s movement.

At least be honest and declare what you stand for. I don’t think Thailand would reject their model outright, Thais always find ways to incorporate whatever new ideas they find. As I said, Americans knew how to do that fifty years ago. Maybe they just had people a lot smarter than Walker and Farelly advising them on how to take over Thailand.

Now that Americans are on the way out, Australians would never stand a chance, not with this sorry bunch leading the effort.

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4 Responses

  1. I like your point about astroturfing parallels. It’s one I hadn’t thought of and an immediate counter argument doesn’t naturally surface.

    It’s a shame your voice is curtailed on NM as it’s one I’d like to see more of. But I’ll be keeping an eye on your thoughts here. Good work.

  2. Posts that were rejected by NM, as requested by twitter’s @on_off_course – James

    StanG // Aug 7, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Amsterdam has certainly no clue what declaring himself someone’s proxy means in Thailand power play.

    Or maybe he does, which means he appeals to really clueless.

    Funny how he found receptive audience in the blessed halls of ANU.

    I mean, the way Amsterdam argues, you guys must demand checks from Thaksin twice a week, you are certainly doing the better job.

    As for PAD employing same manipulation techniques – you don’t give them equal stage, do you? Reserved for Thaksin’s propagandists only.

    Otherwise you go “liberal”, meaning with the hand on the trash button.

    StanG // Aug 8, 2010 at 3:15 am

    isn’t it time you went and trolled somewhere else now Stan?

    This Amsterdam fellow is too interesting to pass.

    I mean what goes on in that head of his? What would be his next step?

    He started off as a complete idiot with his interviews on CNN, some Aussie and Hong Kong stations, then Al Jazeera.

    Then he produced the “white paper” that I believe no one has bothered to read.

    Then he got trashed by Somtow, wrote a wordy and incoherent reply that got published in the Nation, then he got here, still not making any sense and not learning any lessons.

    I understand how red supporters get high reading his works but what about everybody else? What is he trying to achieve? Who is he trying to appeal to?

    He is five years too late to start wooing followers, his works won’t have any effect on anybody who’s got any interest in Thailand, people are converted to one side or the other already.

    Look, his calls for “independent” investigations in April-May violence didn’t even find a deaf ear to fall onto and that is not going to change no matter how hard he tries.

    Why is he doing this? For the love of democracy?

    More likely he just needs to bill Thaksin and show him at least something.

    Btw, in the past I wrote quite a few blog entries partly inspired by what I read on New Mandala, maybe I should give more credit for this inspiration.

    Oh, and since no one talks about content of Amsterdam’s post, again, let me add a thought here.

    There’s nothing in common between Thailand now and Strategy of Tension in Italy fifty years ago, most notably that the bombing campaign is conducted by the government enemies.

    Quality comment or not? 0 0

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I didn’t worry too much about Amsterdam’s comments, it was a hot topic, but when they’ve banned the following it was clear they were just deleting them straight away. Well, not straight away, as soon as they saw them, so I managed to save copies:

    StanG // Aug 13, 2010 at 2:35 am

    What to make of Phibun’s quote about elites and democracy?

    Who can honestly claim it doesn’t remind of red shirt speeches?

    If there ever was a fascist regime in Thailand, it was under Phibun.

    From this quote it seems he was convinced it was democracy.

    Just can’t avoid the comparisons again.

    Quality comment or not? 0 0

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    StanG // Aug 28, 2010 at 6:28 am

    The Imperial that houses Red People TV and red coffee and souvenir shops is actually at Lad Prao, not Samut Prakan, but the brand name is the same.

    Perhaps Samut Prakan’s “Imperial Samrong” is really the substitute for Lad Prao branch now but all has gone very quiet at the original location.

    And it was a ghost town before, scaring people going up to the movies on the 6th floor, who were forced to pass all the red regalia on display on the 5th – life size cutouts of Thaksin, stalls with endless rows of red magazines like “Voice of Thaksin”, noodle shops with “Thaksin” stuck somewhere in the middle of the sign etc. Everything was very very red.

    So many ads of the , allegedly, most popular politician in Thailand but still no one ever went there apart from passing movie goers. Who paid for all this ad stuff? Shopowners? Their sponsors? One will never know.

    Seriously, that was the only dept store in Bangkok were you could stage a drift race on a salary weekend in the car park without even notifying the management.

    The key was to go up to the “red floor” where there were no regular shoppers at all. That floor resembled an office tower on a weekend, not a shopping mall, certainly not a place for the red “prais” to hang out.

    Who the clients of all those shops, many in the internet business, were, you could only guess, but all those shops went belly up in May, when DSI froze red sponsor accounts, incidentally, only a few have reopened since, under new names and a lot less red outside.

    For a mass movement purported to represent the overwhelming majority, the Imperial Lad Prao, the HQ, has always been a very poor show.

    Many businesses on shopper friendly floors used to carry pictures of Thaksin, not anymore. The name has gone off the front counters completely, as well as any outright display of allegiance to the red cause.

    That shit just turns people off, I guess. And before you mention that dept stores are for high class urbanites I implore you to go and have a look at Imperial yourself.

    No self-respecting urbanite will ever enter that shit hole. The Imperial Lad Prao is so gross it is offending to one’s urbanite senses. You could just piss on the floor there an no one would ever notice, certainly not the smell afterwards.

    Want proof? They don’t even sell iPhones there, or BBs. Not that kind of customers.

    And even there, from that group of low income Bangkokians who can’t afford shopping at The Mall or Central on the either side of Lad Prao Rd, reds can’t get any custom in their dedicated red coffee shops with “sabha” sings on them. “Sabha” means a place where they are welcome to express their views for the cause. Not exact translation but close enough to what I wanted to say. It is inviting but no one, not even reds, are bothered to come.

    • Ok. found that the first two comments are on NM. Perhaps I saved them while they were in “awaiting moderation” stage. The last two were deleted as soon as mods saw them.

      What was wrong with Pibul’s comment, for example? Binned. What’s wrong with Imperial comment? A couple “shit” words? Hmm.

      Here’s what one of the commentators on NM had to say about the level of civility there:

      “it’s not just “apologists for the government” here. Found among us are “rednecks,” “disgusting moral retards,” “utterly grotesque” selfish people, “apologists,” and one “disgusting” sick and “grotesque” expat who supports massacres to protect his expat lifestyle.

      That is perfectly ok when addressing “dissenters” there.

      ’nuff said

  3. @on_off_course – James Is wise beyond his years. We should welcome his comments.

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