The junta’s history

17 09 2014

Like dying your hair jet black – a trait exhibited by many Asian dictators – things that are uncomfortable, truthful and disliked can be summarily expunged from history. It is cosmetic, for the truth is still able to be retrieved, yet dictators like to make history fit their own narratives. Just think of how the military dictators have previously demanded and used a santized history of the monarchy; as we have seen, that can be undone.

HairHence it is predictable that General Prayuth Chan-ocha should demand a history for school children that is a fairy tale, with uncomfortable facts erased.

The New York Times reports that “high school students will not find the name Thaksin Shinawatra in the history textbooks that the country’s military junta recently ordered schools to use.” Thaksin and his supporters domination of elections from 2001 to 2011, and his role in the red shirt rising will simply be erased.

The compliant and generally hopeless Ministry of Education has, according to the textbook’s author, Thanom Anarmwat, “just deleted it, cut it,” referring to mention of Thaksin’s period.

Of course, the Ministry of Education is more like a Ministry of Propaganda. It has long served the dictators and the ruling elite by providing texts that are sanitized. More importantly, the Ministry has had the role of disciplining the unruly and unwashed – we use Korn Chatikavanij’s term – and making them kowtow to the great and the good (a term the elite applies to itself). In its most recent propaganda work, the Ministry has ordered that:

all public high schools use the new textbook is part of a broader effort to instill patriotism in Thai youth. The junta has ordered a new school curriculum that underlines what are seen to be the unifying themes of the monarchy and the glories of the ancient kingdoms of Siam, as Thailand was formerly known.

Royalist propaganda has been heavily promoted by most of Thailand’s dictatorial military leaders. As historian Charnvit Kasetsiri explains, “This is very much the usual practice of Thai elite…. But it will be difficult because of social media and because it is not that easy to control the thinking of the masses, especially educated youth.”

Another historian, Chris Baker, says: “Snipping history like this is straight out of the handbook of totalitarian regimes…. I think doing this in a society that has become as open as Thailand is counterproductive, because people will notice the absence.” It is totalitarian, but it is not unusual in Thailand.

Other measures to bring Thailand into line with one-party dictatorships like North Korea and China include:

Under the new curriculum, students will learn more about the meaning and symbolism of Thailand’s tricolor national flag, and songs such as the king’s anthem will be played in schools.

Schoolchildren will be trained to act as ambassadors of patriotic spirit….

https://thaipoliticalprisoners.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/slippery-slope.jpg?w=181&h=218

The junta wants royalist-nationalist automatons to be produced who become self-disciplining and discipline others. Students will be asked to go about “reprimanding adults who fail to stand at attention during the national anthem, which is played on radio stations and on public broadcast systems at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.”

PPT used to write of the slippery slope to authoritarianism. Thailand is at the bottom of the slope. Getting back up it is more difficult than the slide down. Undoing the propaganda of royalism, nationalism and militarism is difficult as these are the foundations of the ruling order and its sytems of exploitation. They are part of the reason the rich are so fabulously rich in Thailand. Indeed, if nothing else, the Thaksin period shows just how difficult it is to make a society that is not authoritarian.


Actions

Information

9 responses

20 09 2014
Learning from North Korea | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the same time, the Propaganda Ministry, also known as the Education Ministry, has released a poem, said to be “based on the Twelve […]

20 09 2014
Learning from North Korea | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] the same time, the Propaganda Ministry, also known as the Education Ministry, has released a poem, said to be “based on the Twelve […]

20 09 2014
Enforced historical amnesia | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] posted recently on General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s underlings rewriting history to excise that nasty politician who seems to always have the electoral support of …. We also posted on The Dictator’s distaste of discussions about any kind of dictatorship, […]

20 09 2014
Enforced historical amnesia | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] posted recently on General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s underlings rewriting history to excise that nasty politician who seems to always have the electoral support of …. We also posted on The Dictator’s distaste of discussions about any kind of dictatorship, which […]

10 10 2014
Dictating IV | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is being promoted as a replacement “father.” In our earlier post, we noted that the Propaganda Ministry, also known as the Education Ministry, released a poem that lauded The Dictator’s simplistic […]

3 11 2014
Us and them | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Thaksin from Thailand’s collective hard drive seems to involve history and school texts and now the media. More important for the junta and its allies is dismantling […]

3 11 2014
Us and them | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Thaksin from Thailand’s collective hard drive seems to involve history and school texts and now the media. More important for the junta and its allies is dismantling “Thaksin’s […]

22 03 2015
Lies and lies | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] boss, the suspiciously dark-haired General Udomdej “has threatened to take legal action against anyone who accuses the military […]

22 03 2015
Lies and lies | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] boss, the suspiciously dark-haired General Udomdej “has threatened to take legal action against anyone who accuses the military […]