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 particularly 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 awful political truth of the Land of Smiles. an important primer for each visitor.” —Joe Studwell, writer of How Asia Works
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Additional resources for A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand
Dhani quoted the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski: 30 A KINGDOM IN CRISIS A society which makes its tradition sacred has gained by it an inestimable advantage of power and permanence. Such beliefs and practices, therefore, which put a halo of sanctity round tradition and a supernatural stamp upon it, will have a ‘survival value’ for the type of civilization in which they have been evolved. … They were bought at an extravagant price, and are to be maintained at any cost. (Malinowski, 1925) This passage had an immense impact on Thai royalists in the twentieth century.
G. Quaritch Wales, a British scholar who served as an adviser to kings Rama VI and VII in the 1920s, was heavily influenced by Malinowski (Quaritch Wales, 1931), and Bhumibol told his biographer William Stevenson that the words ‘made a deep impression’ on him (Stevenson, 1999). Thailand’s royalists made a very deliberate and systematic effort to construct a halo of sanctity around a social order in which they would be firmly in charge. An imagined historical narrative was created that portrayed the palace as crucial to Thailand’s success and harmony.
The myth that during his reign Bhumibol had overseen a steady evolution from military dictatorship to sustainable democracy unravelled – suddenly it seemed that instead of making progress,Thailand had just being going round and round in circles. Contemptuous and dismissive of rural voters they regarded as uneducated, the establishment assumed the poor would meekly accept the coup and soon forget about Thaksin. They were wrong. By the twenty-first century, Thai villagers were no longer the obedient serfs the elite believed them to be: The confined world of rural Thai villages … in the 1950s, where spirits and officials were to be appeased and a traditional subsistence way of life was passed on from generation to political awakening 21 generation with little change, has radically changed.
A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand by Andrew MacGregor Marshall