Monarchy, morality and crusty conservatism

13 03 2011

Prachatai has a commentary on a new approach taken by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has come up with a program to boost the apparently flagging “morality” of the people.

This is one of the most basic, even foundational, elements of conservative ideology. The idea is that political resistance and modernity is seen as “unThai” and to be rectified by fiat.

The Cabinet has apparently decided that everyone needs to get to the temple or some other religious institution to be brought back to the straight and narrow. For good measure, they are also told to honor the king.

This bit of loopy and conservative royalism is attributed to the Ministry of Culture and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban as Chair of the National Culture Commission.

These conservatives have apparently “found that a lack of morality is a national problem due to social changes as people cling to materialism and consumerism under the influence of globalization in all aspects. The result is that Thai people in all sectors of society are removed from religion and do not follow religious teachings in their everyday life, and society has become more and more morally ignorant.”

One imagines the crusty old men of the Privy Council and their fellow royalists nodding in agreement as they themselves engage in all kinds of immoral acts themselves.

Don’t get us wrong, we are not saying that all the old duffers are immoral bastards. We are just being cynical and recognizing that those who demand high moral standards do so not because they value morality (especially for themselves) but because they demand morality from the masses for political reasons.

The Ministry has come up with a program to “encourage people to go to the temple, ‘to get close to religion, to meet monks, to listen to sermons, to find happiness for themselves and their families, and to honour His Majesty the King’.”

One thing that is odd in the report is that some of things being demanded by the Ministry and their bosses are things that have been common in the past:  participation in an oath of allegiance to the king and having a set of altar tables together with the national flag and a photograph of the King in its meeting room.

PPT gets the impression that the old duffers think that some state agencies may be imbibing from the glass of republicanism.

Of course, student are to be made more loyal by forcing them to temples and oaths of allegiance to the monarchy, while making them pray every Friday. What punishment for those who refuse?

These kinds of conservative reaction are clear indications that the foundations of the royalist regime are rotten. Shoring them up is unlikely to be a successful strategy in the long term. Desperate and crusty old men have lost the capacity to understand their own people.


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