Mitochondrial Vertigo

April 17, 2010

Threat of Half-Coup: The Spectre of Thai Factionism

Filed under: Thailand — Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu @ 11:16 pm
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Thailand mulls a ‘half coup’ by Shawn W Crispin at Asia times is an interesting in depth article on the possibility that the Thai army is splitting along Red and Yellow lines. Much of it requires the piecing together of shards of evidence found in the half-light left in the clash of last week, making it speculative and projective. Were there military Red Shirt operatives carrying out deadly hits upon the Thai army? It seems that much of Thai politics works in this way, the floating sensation that behind soft words or grand claims, or festive gatherings, there is a brute force with great financial backing that could be quite bloody.

Al Jazeera English has a related report.

What is difficult is the way the subterfuge trades upon itself. The threat of it operates with greater persistance and effect than acts alone (a few rifles fired, a few grenades tossed), yet as the image of possible civil war wedges itself within the political imagination “the few” are able to exercise power through the reference to the spectre, and ever real forces may threaten to fill the gap within the imagination itself, filling the imaginary space with hard power.  Each side using the spectre for themselves. Politics as poker game.

As Red Shirts have entrenched themselves within the narrower confines of the commercial district, literally choking commerce with farmers, almost provoking the possibility of a more bloody confrontation, one is never sure what cards each hand is holding.

April 15, 2010

The Thai Clash Between Red Shirts and Government

Filed under: Thailand — Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu @ 12:31 am
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Here I repost the three videos that ended my last blog. I was particularly moved by the surreal quality of silence, lunar lighting and eruption. As some know I just returned from Thailand, perhaps 10 days before these clashes between demonstrators and government. While in the outskirts of Bangkok we saw the terrific parades of Red Shirts, combining a festive joy with something a bit ominous. Thailand seems like that, a place where anything can happen. It could be nothing, or it could be something.

One thing I learned from being there was that the political situation is far too complex to be summarily taken under a few principles. The West, maybe the academic West, at times would like to embrace the Red Shirts as some kind of REAL democracy against bureaucratic urban cronyism, military shadow rule, or antiquated Royalism, yet billionaire Thaksin the Red Shirt de facto leader was corrupt beyond expectation. There are no easy lines here, no place on which to get firm ideological footing.

The Thai situation seems to speak at large about the resistance of politics (and revolutions of many kinds) to abstract categorization. Much as Spinoza claimed that mathematics itself was Imaginary, it is only by wiping away real and powerful differences, the long, deep heritage of affects and memory, and sweeping groups into “classes”, that we are able to make a political calculation – and inhuman calculation, which then itself tries to seize ethical authority for itself, the moral choice.

What the film shows is the ambiguity of a gunshot. The Red Shirts – largely farmers from the country-side – had come to protest and demonstrate, clogging the city of Bangkok until their economic clot brought real political change, a change in government. They are dancing in the street, having been there for weeks, poised amid soldiers who also are from the Northeast, Issan, much like themselves. There is only stillness and dancing. It is both tense and peaceful. A shot rings out, an affect traveling across all the bodies. Each side claims it was the other, the insistence of secretly clothed parties carrying out armed attack. Who is moving whom?

The thing that touches you is the humanity that can be lost when we appeal to Ideas to save the humanity that is lost when we appeal to Ideas.

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