Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Protests in Thailand

Protesters in Thailand today stormed the Parliament building and forced the ministers to flee. The protesters, known as the Red Shirts, represent the ousted government of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in 2006 in a sort of Parliamentary coup.

The political dispute reflects a deep social divide between the poor, especially the peasants, and the urban middle class. Thaksin Shinawatra came to power as a champion of the poor, but the middle classes regarded his government as little more than a theft ring that aimed to steal all their money and give it to ignorant peasants. In Thailand, the rural poor are the still the majority, and the urban elite sees the prosperity created by their efforts over the past 30 years as seriously threatened by peasant greed.

This is exactly the scenario that frightens the Chinese elite, and I think this is why most urban Chinese don't agitate for more democracy: they know the peasants would outvote them, and they would rather be ruled by autocrats than peasants.

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