By moving to the city, people give up private property, cease pursuing productive occupations, and end up being folded into a consumerist paradigm. Within such a paradigm, problems like overpopulation, pollution, crime, and economic crises can only be handled by a centralized government and generally yield political solutions such as quotas, taxes, micromanagement, and regulations rather than meaningful technical solutions.
Also, such problems inevitably lead to a centralized government increasing its own power, always at the expense of the people and their freedom. The effects of economic catastrophe are also greater in a centralized, interdependent society, where everyone is subject to the overall health of the economy for even simple necessities like food, water, and electricity.
Image: A slide presenting the “New Theory” depicting a manifestation of greed leading the people from their rural private property and into a “city of extravagance.” If Agenda 21 had an illustrated cover, this could be it.
Image: The goal of the “New Theory” is to have people return to the countryside from the cities and develop their communities in a self-reliant manner. It is, in other words, Agenda 21 in reverse.
Under the “New Theory,” demonstration stations all across Thailand have been created promoting education in matters of agriculture and self-sufficient living. The program is competing against the contemporary globalization system, which as of now, is mired in many parts of the world with economic meltdown. The relatively self-sufficient nature of Thais in general has weathered this economic chaos fairly well. In 10 years, a plate of food still costs the same amount of money, as do many everyday commodities. This only further vindicates the value of being self-sufficient and now more than ever, in both Thailand, and abroad, it is a good time to get involved and get self-sufficient.
The West Strikes Back
Of course the head-of-state of a nation almost 70 million strong promoting a lifestyle that cuts the legs out from under the Western corporate-financier agenda does not sit well with the oligarchical establishment. Their response to this, as it has been with all of Thailand’s habitual displays of defiance is something to behold.
Perhaps the most vocal Western corporate-financier critic of Thailand is the Economist. It openly criticizes the King’s self-sufficiency economy in an article titled “Rebranding Thaksinomics.” It states that the economic plan is “a partial retreat from Thailand’s hitherto liberal economic stance.” The Economist muddles the debate by side-stepping the self-sufficient aspects of the”self-sufficiency economy.” It claims that socialist handouts under deposed Prime Minister and documented Western proxy Thaksin Shinawatra somehow accomplished the exact same goals. The Economist also claims the concept of self-sufficiency is merely a “rebranding” of such socialist handouts.
The Economist article then breaks down into a pro-Thaksin rant, decrying his ousting from power and continued claims that somehow encouraging people to grow their own food is a theft of Thaksin’s socialist/populist policies.
It should be noted that permanent socialism is not self-sufficiency. It is complete dependency on the state and on people who pay their ever increasing taxes. Socialism is not about growing your own garden, using technology to enhance your independence or solving your problems with your own resources. It is about taking from the collective storehouses of the state, and when you are again hungry, taking again. Socialism could only be very useful as a stop-gap measure between current problems and the active pursuit of permanent technical solutions. However, the goal of globalization is to create interdependency between states, and total dependency on global institutions, therefore, perpetuating problems, not solving them becomes the equation.
Another Western pro-corporate-financier point-of-view comes from Australia’s National University’s “New Mandala” blog written by academic wonk Andrew Walker. The blog itself is a clearinghouse for corporate subsidized talking points regarding Southeast Asia and is tied to the corporate-financier funded Lowy Institute. Some “contributing writers” even include Thaksin Shinawatra’s hired lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam.
Walker’s entire perception of Thailand seems to be derived from his time spent in a single village in Northern Thailand. From his myopic point-of-view in the minute village of “Baan Tian,” he condemns entirely Thailand’s self-sufficiency economy in his article “Royal misrepresentation of rural livelihoods.” He suggests that “the sufficiency economy prescriptions for rural development are inappropriate and disempowering.”
As with the Economist, the article breaks down into a pro-Thaksin rant claiming the entire plan is meant to keep the rural population of Thailand in their place, out of the cities, and thus out of the debate of national issues.
Of course, becoming self-sufficient is one step on the road to real empowerment. Academic wonks like Andrew Walker presume the height of empowerment is feeding a paper voting stub into a box, on your way home from a service sector job, and then relaxing behind the glow of a new plasma screen TV bought on credit. A more likely argument would be that sustaining your own existence, wrought from the land beneath your feet, and the ability to shape the world around you with an understanding of science and the mastery of multiple trades is the height of empowerment and the truest form of human freedom.
The hand wringing within the writings of the Economist and ANU’s Andrew Walker is not the full extent of the West’s reaction to Thailand and its wandering from foreign dominion. A full fledged “red” color revolution has been brewing within the Kingdom since at least 2009. Reading the “Red Siam Manifesto” penned by “red shirt” intelligentsia Giles Ungpakorn makes it quite clear how they view “self-sufficiency” and the need to “reform” Thailand as a “socialist welfare state.”
It should be noted that the leader of the “red shirt” protest is deposed ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Long before Thaksin Shinwatra would become prime minister in Thailand, he was already working his way up the Wall Street-London ladder of opportunity, while simultaneously working his way up in Thai politics. He was appointed by the Carlyle Group as an adviser, while holding public office, and attempted to use his connections to boost his political image. Thanong Khanthong of Thailand’s English newspaper “the Nation,” wrote in 2001:
“In April 1998, while Thailand was still mired in a deep economic morass, Thaksin tried to use his American connections to boost his political image just as he was forming his Thai Rak Thai Party. He invited Bush senior to visit Bangkok and his home, saying his own mission was to act as a “national matchmaker” between the US equity fund and Thai businesses. In March, he also played host to James Baker III, the US secretary of state in the senior Bush administration, on his sojourn in Thailand.”
Upon becoming prime minister in 2001, Thaksin would begin paying back the support he received from his Western sponsors. In 2003, he would commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public. Thaksin would also allow the CIA to use Thailand for its abhorrent rendition program.
In 2004, Thaksin attempted to ramrod through a US-Thailand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) without parliamentary approval, backed by the US-ASEAN Business Council who just before last year’s 2011elections that saw Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra brought into power, hosted the leaders of Thaksin’s “red shirt” personality cult.
Image: The US-ASEAN Business Council, a who’s-who of corporate fascism in the US, had been approached by leaders of Thaksin Shinwatra’s “red shirt” street mobs. (click image to enlarge)