Move Forward Party’s success in the election is a disaster for class-based politics in Thailand. They have achieved precisely what the capitalist elite have dreamed of for decades; to push Thailand away from the class-conscious politics of the 2000s/2010s, and towards a politics of aesthetics. Finally, Thailand has a respectable party for the middle class, one capable of defeating the red shirts.
During the past two decades, the north of Thailand has been turned into a corn factory farm, pouring toxic smog into the sky. Government, business and environmental groups offer few solutions. The only way to free us from this poison cloud is to empower farmers, to give them more autonomy and bargaining power against monopolies in the agricultural industry.
You consume invisible labour but the labour you sell is invisible too. We are detached and alienated from both our production and consumption. How can we begin to see labour through the haze of obfuscation? Who grew my rice? Who killed my chicken? Who made my clothes?
Here, we sit on the event horizon between core and periphery, if there is anywhere it can be reconciled, surely it must be here. Not just Thailand, but other regions that fall into the same global economic bracket of the middle-income trap. Can there be any interaction between the periphery and the core?
Spirituality provided us answers to these questions on suffering, which in a sense eased it. We are still suffering, the grounds on which we lay our pain are largely claimed by science and doctrinal organised religion– more often than not organised around the capital and capitalist state. Scientists tell us our bodies are sick, or our minds are mentally ill. While the monks tell us to devote ourselves to doctrine. Indeed, scientists follow a (supposedly secular) doctrine of their own.
The Lawan (to fight or oppose) Protests will be remembered by many in Malaysia as a critical voice of dissent during this tumultuous period of our history. Its capacity to mobilise and execute so many actions in such a short period of time is certainly remarkable. More so, is the engagement and participation that was engendered from outside activist circles. Its demobilisation and possible demise should also be understood from the perspective of wider failures within progressive and left movements.
The concept of Universal Basic Income was designed by global north economists for global north economies and cannot be applied to the global south. The principles of UBI mean that it pays people in the global north to consume while workers in the global south continue to suffer to produce the north’s commodities.
We spoke to Noor Netusha Nusaybah, a Malaysian Patani historian, about how today’s insurgency is connected and shaped by its post-WWII roots, which are often shrouded in misunderstandings, conflicting or competing narratives and secrecy.
May is our month of memory. Beginning with International Workers’ Day, it marches past several anniversaries—the gunning down of Jit Phumisak on the 5th, the Rajprasong crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in mid-May, the 2014 coup on the 22th—only to end with the anniversary of the execution of schoolteacher-turned-politician Krong Chandavong in 1961 on the orders of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. Here, a poetic ode to Chandavong is translated on the anniversary of his death.
มาร์กซ์กล่าวไว้ว่าแรงงานทั้งปวงล้วนแปลกแยก (Alienated) นั่นเป็นสาเหตุว่าทำไมคุณถึงรู้สึกหดหู่ตลอดเวลา และ นั่นไม่ใช่ความผิดของคุณ จะว่าเป็นโชคร้ายก็ได้นะ แต่คุณต้องเป็นคนหนึ่งที่แก้ไขมัน We have to become aware of our alienation, gain alienation consciousness, so as to fight it with solidarity and comradeship. Caring for others, for no other reason than we would hope someone else cares for us.
Thaksin Shinawatra defined Thai politics for a generation and forever reshaped it. Somehow, this elite capitalist billionaire became the unquestioned champion for a destitute peasantry. Thaksin’s politics defied left-right categorisations, creating an economic miracle, lifting millions out of poverty while further developing the very same mechanisms of capital that had placed them in said destitution.
In the late ’90s, the horrors of sweatshops became a focal point of concern in the global North. However, in the past two decades, they’ve faded from public attention. We spoke to No Sweat, a campaign to abolish sweatshops, about labour organising, campaigning, consumer culture and approaches to tackling the global North-South wealth divide.
In 2017, English football fans were left bemused when the English Football League Cup was rebranded as the Carabao cup. A cursory Google led fans to an energy drink, seldom seen in UK shelves, and an ageing Thai rock band.
There is virtually no material production in the north, only service capital— debt and foreign holdings. The material existence of the northern proletariat is dependent on global south labour and continued material extraction. This raises the question of whether successful proletarian revolutions in the north are even remotely plausible.
Folk Saharat, a novice monk of over 10 years, spoke to Din Deng about his religious faith as it relates to his Marxist beliefs. When we spoke to him, he was living underground in Bangkok after being charged with royal defamation.
Thailand often joins a small list of ‘third world’ or ‘global south’ countries, along with Ethiopia and Afghanistan, that escaped the horrors of European colonisation. However, as with the aforementioned states, the claim is somewhat dubious. In reality, Siam was ‘all but’ colonised starting in the late 19th century and well into the 20th century.
Writer and political scientist Myo Min, examines the institutional characteristics of the Tatmadaw, exploring their self-appointed role as the parental guardians of the nation and how this led to the February coup in Burma.
In this second article, we will outline the different periods in Tai history, beginning in the ‘primitive communism era’ and concluding in the formation of the Saktina state, examining how they developed through Jit’s understanding of historical materialism.
Ties between many of the original and most influential radical folk artists and their anti-capitalist beginnings seem to have frayed long ago. In an exercise of separating art from artist, leftists today must analyze the troubling messages espoused by many of these artists during the tumultuous political period from 2008-2014.
We spoke to Myo Min, an ethnic Rohingya, Din Deng contributor, activist and Yangon resident about the current situation in the former capital city on the eve of war. In the past few months an underground insurgency has grown in the city and life for it’s residents has become increasingly dangerous, although many are determined to aid the movement against the military junta.
For the past few weeks, there have been constant violent protests in the Din Daeng neighbourhood of Bangkok. Din Daeng is an extremely deprived area of the capital, particularly after strict lockdowns in the latest wave of the Covid pandemic were implemented with virtually no economic assistance. Since mid-august, predominantly young people have been fighting the police with improvised weapons like fireworks, small homemade bombs, slingshots and Molotov cocktails.
Every time I find a new leftist media outlet I always type Thailand in the search bar to see if there’s been any coverage. More often than not, there’s nothing, but on the rare occasion that Thailand does appear, it’s typically an article denouncing the Thai protest movement at large as a ‘colour revolution’. Often this claim is made with little to no explanation as to what a ‘colour revolution’ is in the opinion of the writers.
The purpose of the book was to expose how the plight of the rural Thai peasant in the 1950’s was a vestige rooted in the old feudal system, laying bare its horrors and its exploitative framework. Jit wrote this book as an antagonistic rebuttal against the revisionist history of the ruling classes taught to most Thai’s at the time (and still today), which typically depicts a utopian agrarian past, rather than the brutal exploitative reality.
No One Cares – Bangkok is a horizontally organised volunteer group made up of around 20 people. No One Cares was recently formed during the second lockdown in Thailand. They provide emergency food and medical aid to temporary worker camps in Bangkok, which have been sealed shut since the imposition of the latest lockdown. We spoke with Dion, an activist and coordinator for the group.
Din Deng spoke to Baimai, a lead organiser from the FreeYouth protest group, which was one of the main forces behind the nationwide protests on July 18th. We talked about how the recent Covid outbreak has affected protesting and the new presence of workers unions in the democracy movement.
We spoke to two senior Isaan activists, both graduates of the Dao Din student group. Pai from UNME of Anarchy and Nice from Dao Din about their beliefs, influences, tactics and the character of Isaan. We previously interviewed another Dao Din activist for some background information on the group.
Rohingya writer Myo Min shares his hopes for the future of the Burmese governments as it relates to his people.
An interview with a member of the Dao Din protest group, a radical youth led organisation, based out of the Isaan region in Thailand. Dao Din have been an instrumental player in the Thai democracy movement.
In the 1930s, Thailand began a project of mass homogeneity based on western Euro-Fascism. This project was refined by the monarchy in the 1950s, leading to a reactionary consensus lasting a half-century. However, many elements in the recent protest movement, so far, fail to recognise their own deep-seated Euro-fascist tendencies when challenging the contemporary Thai state.
“Given the news that Bangkok will drown in our lifetime, if we were to move the capital city, where would it be?”
“Can’t all cities be the capital?”
An examination of the implications of the mass uprising and Civil Disobedience Movement in Burma/Myanmar on the much maligned Rohingya people (many of whom are joining the campaign against the military government, standing in solidarity with the protesters).
A preliminary examination of communal and capitalist realism in Malaysia, and the forces that reproduce it. ‘It’s easier to imagine the end of Malaysia than the end of communalism (or racialism) in Malaysia.’
A rebuttal on an unscientific outlook on history in response to Panarat Anamwathana’s opinion piece
A poetic insight to the struggle of the Karenni people, who for decades have been oppressed by the Burmese State.
A protest organiser in Burma reflects on the current crisis following the February 1st coup. Examining the road that led there, the state of Burma’s “Military Bureaucratic Capitalist System” and the future of the movement.
The Lèse-Majesté law, also known as Article 112 in Thailand, forbids any criticism of the monarchy in the kingdom under punishment of imprisonment. Even those far removed from the machinations of Thai politics are vaguely aware of this law. In an era where basic freedom of speech is held as sacrosanct, this law is globally recognised as being bizarre and archaic, and hardly used for anything other than protecting an already seemingly beloved institution.
So the million dollar question regarding the coup is: Why now? That’s what’s confusing so many Burma watchers.
คำถามโลกแตกเกี่ยวกับการรัฐประหารครั้งนี้ก็คือ ทำไมเป็นตอนนี้? คำถามนี้กวนใจผู้ติดตามสถานการณ์ในพม่าตอนนี้อย่างยิ่ง
The name Haji Sulong is little known in Thailand proper, despite being considered a hero and the founding father of the modern separatist movement in Thailand’s deep south ‘Patani’ region. Little is known outside the region about the conflict that erupted following his death, showing just how localised a civil war can be. This nescience is embodied in Haji Sulong, a man who lived an extraordinary life, was wildly influential and yet almost totally unknown to Thai society at large.
Looking beyond the symbolic limitations of protest in an attempt to escape the seemingly omnipresent capitalist state superstructure in which our defiance lacks any material consequences.
Since the involvement of select labour unions, I have begun to see potential in the protests happening in Thailand today. However, the protests need to rapidly take on a working-class character, they need to be brought to consider economic injustice, and they need to involve the people who live on the edge of Thai society if they are to be successful.
An insight into many of the difficulties faced by the Rohingya people in the IDP camps in Burma, how despite the work of international charities the government healthcare workers and the localised racism holds back any real future in which the most vulnerable people in Burma can have some kind of dignified life.
As our society is speeding towards climate catastrophe, we must radically re-examine our relationship with and conception of the natural and material world, which is currently based on the hierarchies of our inter-human relationships: A blueprint for avoiding ecological collapse and radically improving the lives of humankind.
The 2015 film Freelance (English title Heart Attack) directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is an extremely rare example of Marxist Thai cinema. Knowingly or not the film explores a number of Marxist critiques of capitalism and The Protestant Work Ethnic.
Examining how further action, a more holistic approach and a deeper understanding and appreciation of Thailand’s previous challenges to the state could aide the burgeoning protest movement within the kingdom, written by Samaideng Tungdin.
In the hills of Chiang Mai province a battle is being fought between locals and the government over a proposed coal mine, which will devastate the local community. We explore the issue and the response, examining the state of activism within Thailand.
For the purpose of this critique I will be primarily deconstructing the sequel (Luang Pee Jazz 5G), as the first installment is almost too chaotic in it’s narrative to attempt to decode, and in truth I did not fully understand the plot. We must also consider, throughout this analysis, Marx’s view on religion…
An examination of Thailand’s internal ‘auto-imperialism’, how the state works to capture populations on the fringes of the kingdom and put them to use for the nation’s imperial core. Exploring the roots, history and present-day effects of Thai ‘auto-imperialism’.
If in the United States, the police are shown to uphold systemic racism, what are some sources and examples of systemic racism in Thailand? Here Capitalism leads to the exploitation of migrant workers, the State alters attitudes towards Chinese people due to National Agenda changes, and the country’s history of Fascism…
Jit Phumisak became the first to truly expose Thai history, to lay it bare for what it really was, and inspire a radical attempt to restructure the kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Che Guevara of Thailand, Jit’s legacy as a folk hero of the working class lives on today.
The soft guitar and haunting vocals ring out: “He died in the outskirts of a jungle. His red blood spilled all over Isaan soil. It’s red colour will last forever. He died worthless, but his name lives on. People asked about him, craving to know more about Jit Phumisak. A philosopher and author who lit the candle for common people.”
How leftist Thai folk radicalised a generation and continues to inspire today.
Ceaseless doses of daily nationalism serve one purpose, to enforce the Thai identity and link it to the state, to make being Thai part of the Thai national state. This grand plan, however, did not come out of nowhere. It is, in fact, a direct response and attack on the long history of anti statehood found inside of Thailand’s borders.
Gabriel Ernst HAVE YOU EVER seen a YoungBong (YB) or Juu4E music video? If you’re reading this, probably not. These low-budget yet extremely popular videos consist of heavily tattooed members of the Thai underclass messing around to hip hop/trap music shot in $10 a...