Sunday, December 3, 2006

Proposals to Institutionalize "Thai-Style" Democracy

Andrew Walker and Bangkok Pundit report on some recent proposals by academics to institutionalize so-called "Thai-Style" democracy. Walker comments: "Thank goodness Thailand is well supplied with these great academic thinkers because those silly villagers seem to have the crazy idea that “democracy is equivalent to elections.”

The flawed assumption that lies at the heart of such scholarly proposals is a timeless fantasy of intellectuals of a certain mindset. Since Plato wrote his Republic, various academics have pursued the dream that one group within a society can be "most practical and realistic, focusing on the nation’s integration, security, and spirituality" -- to quote Pattana Kitiarsa, whose paper I critique here. I wonder if these Thai scholars are not Thailand's equivalent of the "Fellow Travellers" of the West. In 1930s many Western intellectuals uncritically swallowed Soviet propaganda, propagating the myth that Communist Party of the Soviet Union had the ordinary man's best interest at heart.

Human nature being what it is, elites -- whether communist, militarist, royalist, or corporatist -- tend to be self-serving. That's because power corrupts. Genuine democracy is the tried and tested safeguard; open society the antidote to this universal human frailty.

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