Thursday, April 01, 2010

water water everywhere

As I predicted, everyone from my mother to the maid has simply assumed that the rain that deluged the blood-spatterers at the gates of the prime minister's house was a direct divine intervention in the affairs of Thai politics. The idea that it could simply be a cosmic coincidence has never occurred to any of them. Unless you understand this, you will never understand Thailand.

Water is at the very center of the Siamese worldview. Before there were roads, there were waterways. The alluvial-rich central plains have enough water for two rice crops a year and are the heartland of the establishment; the drier northeast can only sustain one crop a year, and is the heart of Thaksin country. It is an inequity that goes beyond money, and money alone can't fix it.

Right now, it's still the dry season: the rain that descended on the red shirts was therefore unseasonal. By definition, therefore, it was providential. There it is.

Opera composer Somtow Sucharitkul commenting on recent Thai protests on his blog Somtow's World.

Found Somtow's blog via the Guardian as I crawled out from under a rock this morning (crazy at work, lately; promises to be crazy for a while longer yet) to get my mind around what the bloody protests of mid-March were all about.

Of interest: the New York Times reports this morning that mobile-driven flash mobs have played a role in rallying the protesters to action, but it was Somtog who voiced the unsettling possibility that the mainstream media has only danced around:

There is in this country an enormous gap, financial and cultural, between city and country. This gap has been heavily exploited by the architects of this protest, but, contrary to what the western press seems to think, it is not what this present struggle is about.

It is in fact an incestuous war between two elites: an old-style, gentlemanly elite and a flashier, no-holds-barred elite. The poor have been duped into serving as collateral damage.

The actual struggle, the one to narrow the gap and to bring the entire kingdom into the modern age, has not even begun to be fought. We must give it time. To demand all the results immediately would be to insist that Magna Carta, the Reformation, the Restoration, the Industrial Revolution, and the New Deal all be squeezed into about fifty years.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails