Reposted & edited for new site: Alternative Thai News Network (ATNN).
For an extreme in-depth look at Thailand’s “Sufficiency Economy” and “New Theory” economics, please see, “Wisdom from the Orient: Self-Sufficiency.”
When thinking about “solutions” many are quick to cite organizing a protest and taking to the streets. Let’s for a moment consider the mechanics of a protest, what it might accomplish, and what it may leave to be desired.
Take Glenn Beck’s disingenuous 2010 “Restoring Honor” event in Washington D.C. It drew thousands of honest, well-intentioned people from all over the United States. Indeed, thousands of people filled up their Fortune 500 made cars with gas from Fortune 500 oil companies, drove countless miles, stopping along the way at Fortune 500 fast food restaurants, stayed at Fortune 500 run hotels, and stocked up on supplies purchased at Fortune 500 Walmart. They slaked their thirst under the hot August sun with cans of Fortune 500 Pepsi and Coke, and at the end of the day, they drove home, paid their Fortune 500 cable subscriptions to watch their Fortune 500 media reports, most likely on News Corporation’s Fox News, a Council on Foreign Relations corporate member.
At best, all a protest will lead to, while we are so hopelessly dependent on this system, is a round of musical chairs inside the political arena, with perhaps superficial concessions made to the people. The vector sum however, will still be decidedly in favor of the global corporate-financier oligarchy.
If we understand that the fundamental problem facing not only America, but the entire world, is a global corporate-financier oligarchy that has criminally consolidated their wealth by “liberalizing” their own activities while strangling ours through regulations, taxes, and laws, we should then understand why events like Beck’s “Restoring Honor” are not only fruitless, but in fact, counterproductive. We should also realize that any activity we commit ourselves to must be directed at this corporate-financier oligarchy rather than the governments they have co-opted and positioned as buffers between themselves and the masses.
While people understand something is wrong and recognize the necessity to do “something,” figuring out what that “something” should be becomes incredibly difficult when so few understand how power really works and how to strip it away from the oligarchs that have criminally consolidated it.
As of late, the expansion of this global oligarchical empire has taken a more extreme, perhaps desperate form involving staged revolutions as seen in Egypt and Tunisia, and in Libya’s case, armed rebellion and foreign military intervention. However, worldwide coup d’etats have occurred before – for example, in the late 1990′s under the guise of a “financial collapse” and IMF “restructuring.”
Many nations fell beholden to the IMF and its regiment of “reforms” which amounted to neo-colonialism packaged under the euphemism of “economic liberalization.” To illustrate how this works, it may help to understand what real colonialism looked like.
Image: Thailand’s geopolitical surroundings 1800-1900. Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country to avoid European colonization.
Thailand in the 1800′s, then the Kingdom of Siam, was surrounded on all sides by colonized nations and in turn was made to concede to the British 1855 Bowring Treaty. See how many of these “gunboat policy” imposed concessions sound like today’s “economic liberalization:”
1. Siam granted extraterritoriality to British subjects. 2. British could trade freely in all seaports and reside permanently in Bangkok. 3. British could buy and rent property in Bangkok. 4. British subjects could travel freely in the interior with passes provided by the consul. 5. Import and export duties were capped at 3%, except the duty-free opium and bullion. 6. British merchants were to be allowed to buy and sell directly with individual Siamese.
A more contemporary example for comparison would be the outright military conquest of Iraq and Paul Bremer’s (CFR) economic reformation. The Economist gleefully enumerates the neo-colonial “economic liberalization” of Iraq in a piece titled “Let’s all go to the yard sale: If it all works out, Iraq will be a capitalist’s dream:”
1. 100% ownership of Iraqi assets. 2. Full repatriation of profits. 3. Equal legal standing with local firms. 4. Foreign banks allowed to operate or buy into local banks. 5. Income and corporate taxes capped at 15%. 6. Universal tariffs slashed to 5%.
Read more: Egypt Today, Thailand Tomorrow
And few could argue that the IMF’s rehabilitation regiments being forced upon nations all over the world after the late 90′s financial crash are any different than economic colonialism both past and present. In fact, the IMF itself publishes reports at great length concerning the “necessity” of economic liberalization.
To be sure, the governments that come to power in the wake of the current Middle East destabilizations will be more servile and will undoubtedly be committed to similar economic liberalization. Brookings Institute’s Kenneth Pollack already made it quite clear that “The struggle in the new Middle East must be defined as one between nations that are moving in the right direction and nations that are not; between those that are embracing economic liberalization, educational reform, democracy, the rule of law and civil liberties, and those that are not.”
Siam eventually rolled back the terms of the 1855 Bowring Treaty as the British Empire waned, but as of 1997, Thailand was once again faced with similar terms, dictated this time by the bankers of the IMF.
Thailand‘s Answer to Globalization
Thailand’s answer to the IMF, and globalization in general was profound in both implications as well as in its understanding of globalization’s end game. Fiercely independent and nationalistic, and being the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid colonization, Thailand’s sovereignty has been protected for over 800 years by its revered monarchy. The current dynasty, the House of Chakri, has reigned nearly as long as America has existed as a nation and the current king is regarded as the equivalent of a living “Founding Father.” And just as it has for 800 years, the Thai Monarchy today provides the most provocative and meaningful answer to the threats facing the Kingdom.
The answer of course is self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency as a nation, as a province, as a community and as a household. This concept is enshrined in the Thai King’s “New Theory” or “self-sufficiency economy” and mirrors similar efforts found throughout the world to break the back of the oppression and exploitation that results from dependence on an interdependent globalized system.
Image: A vision of self-sufficiency in Thailand. Agrarian values and the self-reliance they engender are the hallmarks of real freedom.
The foundation of the self-sufficiency economy is simply growing your own garden and providing yourself with your own food. This is portrayed on the back right-hand side of every 1,000 baht Thai banknote as a picture of a woman tending her garden. The next step is producing surplus that can be traded for income, which in turn can be used to purchase technology to further enhance your ability to sustain yourself and improve your life-style.
Image: The Thai 1000 baht banknote. Left is one of the many dams controlling floods and producing electricity throughout the Kingdom. Center is the current King of Thailand. Right is a depiction of a local garden providing food in a self-sufficient manner.
The New Theory aims at preserving traditional agrarian values in the hands of the people. It also aims at preventing a migration from the countryside into the cities. Preventing such migrations would prevent big agricultural cartels from moving in, swallowing up farming land, corrupting and even jeopardizing entire national food supplies (see Monsanto). Those familiar with the UN’s Agenda 21, and the more recent UN “Climate Change Program,” may understand the deeper implications and dangers of such a migration and why it needs to be stopped.