Notes on Thailand
Nope, I haven’t been jetting off for a Christmas break, or even a later autumn tour of activist hot spots. But I thought it fit to comment on three aspects of the recent surge in activism that toppled a government in Thailand: the reasons, the tactical ability and those damned “Clappers”.
The reasons for the uprising, in case you don’t know, are fairly simple: the current government is seen as being a threat to the world’s most loved monarchy, and so it must go. Simple as. Do I agree with this politically? Well, erm, you see, I like these protesters, and wish them well.
They seem to mostly be exemplifying a popular movement, but I must say the issues seem a little, er, undemocratic. But then, these are the people who must live with their government, and if they don’t like the way things are, they should get active, surely? In a way, this is a very commendable democracy movement: fighting corruption and promoting the will of the people.
And so we come to the tactical capabilities of the movement, which I must say have been quite extraordinary, and perhaps somewhat humbling. They are the equivalent of occupying Parliament Square and Heathrow. I doubt any movement in Britain could manage this, not even the fox hunters. Animal Rights sure as hell couldn’t, even before the government rounded half of them up. Still, it took only the number of people involved in Climate Camp to get the thing started, and never required more than 10,000 to keep things rolling.
How utterly impressive the ability to mobilise like this? I think they did a grand job, and appear to have kept a real party atmosphere going at the airport. It doesn’t seem like there was much violence at all. But perhaps this is somewhat tied to the previous point: that these were essentially pro-government, if not pro-Government protesters.
And now to the clappers. I swear these things will be featured on Stop the War marches in future. The devices are made of three bits of plastic; a handle with a large plastic outline of a hand at the top, and two other hand outlines, slightly smaller, attached loosely so they each clap the middle hand in turn when waved forwards and backwards. And the make a huge noise.
These actually appeared at the London Marathon last year, and we in evidence with an East European Trade Union in Malmo during the ESF. Like White Bands, CND pins and so much tat before them, I’m afraid we’re probably doomed to see a lot more of them.