The ideological crisis

Eugene Mark is identified as a Senior Analyst with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). He claims “a deep interest in Thailand’s political and security affairs.”

He writes in the Diplomat that “Thailand’s military-led reconciliation talks … have again wrongly perceived the country’s crisis as an elite competition played at the top of a hierarchical society.”

He thinks “the military elites are trying to seek a negotiated deal with opposing politicians while further entrenching their political control.” He sees this as a mistaken perception that may fit with the military’s past efforts to co-opt politicians while giving them little power.

Mark reckons the thing that’s really wrong with Thailand is a “fundamental ideological crisis.” This crisis pits a changing society against “official ideology, which forms the basis for the military elites’ authoritarian control.”

The threat is from electoral politics:

A demand for electoral democracy by the rural populace poses a significant threat to the ideological basis upon which the military elites can exist in the political realm. It essentially rejects the role of the King and his “few good men” in providing for the nation.

Mark thinks that this “ideological crisis can get more severe over time…” due, he asserts, to the end of the last reign: “In other words, the way in which King Bhumibol’s personality cult was formed set the military on the course of failure right from the start.”

The “attempt to strike a negotiated deal with politicians from the opposite end while entrenching their control suggests military leaders do not understand that their justification for authoritarian control has reached an expiration date.”

He predicts more instability unless the elite can come to terms with the people by coming up with a new social contract that is more than an elite arrangement for more exploitation and resistance to change.

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