By Andrew MacGregor Marshall
“An explosive research that lays naked what the Thai elite have attempted to maintain hidden for many years. A clear-eyed view of what's relatively at stake in Thailand’s carrying on with turmoil.”—David Streckfuss, writer of Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté
“A well timed and hugely readable account of the bleak political fact of the Land of Smiles. an important primer for each visitor.” —Joe Studwell, writer of How Asia Works
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Extra resources for A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand
It was a stunning moment, an event most Thais never dreamed would happen. Hundreds of people in the heart of the capital were shouting a crude insult and inflammatory accusation at an unthinkable target. The ‘bastard’ was King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Protesters also began scrawling anti-royal graffiti on the enclosure around the ruins of Zen. Serhat Ünaldi describes it as ‘a watershed moment in recent Thai history that has remained almost unnoticed in analyses of the country’s political crisis’: Writing graffiti on a wall which had been plastered with feel-good messages of unity, harmony and peace after the bloody crackdown political awakening 17 of May 19, 2010 was a means of countering the Bangkok elite’s escapist attempt of return to ‘normal’.
In this tradition, the monarchy possesses particular magical powers and plays a crucial role in ensuring harmony and order not only in society but also in the natural world. These beliefs have been overlaid by two of the world’s great religions, both of which swept into the Land of Smiles 29 Southeast Asia from India – Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hindu kingship, adopted by the Thais from the Khmer empire based at Angkor, which flourished from around the ninth to the fifteenth centuries, the monarch is semi-divine, a living god or devaraja, whose legitimacy derives from his sacred blood.
Scott draws on evidence from the social and economic structure of hill communities, and their culture and ideology, to support his thesis: Virtually everything about these people’s livelihoods, social organizations, ideologies, and (more controversially) even their largely oral cultures, can be read as strategic positionings designed to keep the state at arm’s length. Their physical dispersion in rugged terrain, their mobility, their cropping practices, their kinship structure, their pliable ethnic identities, and their devotion to prophetic, millenarian leaders effectively serve to avoid incorporation into states and to prevent states from springing up among them.
A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand by Andrew MacGregor Marshall