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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 13-May-2010
13-May-10 News -- Thailand's government retracts peace offer

Web Log - May, 2010

13-May-10 News -- Thailand's government retracts peace offer

U.S budget deficit quadruples in April

Thailand's class struggle becomes more bitter as government withdraws reconciliation offer

An offer to call new elections in November has been withdrawn by Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, after "red shirt" protestors accepted the reconciliation plan, but then refused to end their protests, according to AFP.

The protestors are occupying Úlite shopping areas in downtown Bangkok, causing store owners to lose a great deal of money, and causing Abhisit to come under an enormous amount of political pressure to bring the protests to an end.

Abhisit followed up the withdrawal of the reconciliation plan by ordering the protestors to disperse, and threatening to cut off supplies of electricity, water and food to the protestors camp by Wednesday at midnight. However, late word is that Abhisit has rescinded these threats, expressing concern about the potential impact on nearby residents. Australian Network News.

Abhisit has now offered several ultimatums to the protestors and has backed off each time, resulting in a danger that he'll turn into a laughing stock, according to the Bangkok Post.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, none of this political chaos is particularly surprising. This is a generational Awakening era in Thailand, like America and Europe in the 1960s. And, like America and Europe in the 1960s, there is a "generation gap" separating political views of young and old, and massive street protests.

However, there is absolutely no chance of a civil war, as some people fear. A civil war cannot occur during a generational Awakening era or, if one begins, it will fizzle quickly. We've seen this in other Awakening era countries that I've reported on over the last few years, including Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

Thailand's Awakening era confrontation pits two ethnic groups against each other. Businesses in Bangkok are dominated by fair-skinned Thai-Chinese Úlites in a market-dominant minority, according to Christopher Johnson, a Thai expert reporting for the Japan Times.

The "red shirt" protestors represent the majority, the poor dark-skinned laborers, mainly from farms in Thailand's northeast, but who have migrated to Bangkok in recent years, where they take low-paying jobs as servants.

The rural group won a political victory in 2001, when Thaksin Shinawatra, born in the north of Thailand, became Prime Minister, but was deposed by a military coup in 2006, after a financial scandal. The coup is thought to have been sponsored by the Úlites who were looking for a reason to restore power to the Thai-Chinese group. (See "Coordinated bombings across Bangkok cancel Thailand's New Year's Eve celebrations.")

However, the political power of the rural groups did not end until 2008, when a massive protest by "yellow-shirted" protestors caused the government to collapse. (See "Thailand government collapses, ending crippling riots from class war.")

So the yellow-shirt protestors, representing the Úlite, had their victory in 2008, and the red-shirt protestors, representing the rural groups, are exacting revenge today.

According to Johnson:

"Unlike previous conflicts in remote border areas, this urban rebellion has been happening outside the balconies of Bangkok bloggers and the windows of commuters, Japanese expats and tourists on the Skytrain. Lacking direct contact with protesters, many in the Thai media have mislabeled them off-duty farmers; in fact, many live and work in Bangkok and are able to quickly pad the size of crowds wherever protests occur.

The red shirts, who are used to taking sweaty buses or whiny two-stroke motorcycles to low-paying jobs with no benefits, have no qualms about causing inconvenience to white-collar employees and middle-class shoppers addicted to their air-conditioned cars."

Thus, these political protests will go on for a long time, possibly for years. However, as we said, this can not end in civil war in any country until it approaches a generational Crisis era.

According to Johnson, the Thailand protests represent a turning point for all of Southeast Asia, because the same kind of "demographic time bomb" occurs in other cities, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Saigon, and Manila, where market-dominant ethnic Chinese elites are being increasingly challenged by huge migrant populations consisting of indigenous populations. Many of these groups are watching Bangkok with fascination, and are making their own plans.

Additional links

It seems like only yesterday when we were reporting that the budget deficit was merely tripling. (See "Budget deficit triples (yes, triples!) in 2009.") Well, the April budget deficit was $82.7 billion, more than quadrupling from $20 billion in April, 2009. AP

Some 80% of security threats to corporate computer networks result from careless or malicious insider employees. InfoWorld

Popular German magazine Der Spiegel seems to be in conflict with itself. In one article, it complains that Greeks are in denial about economic reality because they blame foreigners for much of their country's predicament. But in another article, the magazine complains that many German companies ARE in fact at fault for resorting to bribes and corruption in lucrative Greek deals during the bubble.

South Koreans have concluded that the Chinese will not help them with reprisals against North Korea, when the current investigation conclusively shows that the North Koreans were responsible for the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan warship. Korea Times

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced harsh austerity measures to bring down the country's budget deficit. VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-10 News -- Thailand's government retracts peace offer thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2010) Permanent Link
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