Speaking candidly with FORSEA’s Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Professor Noam Chomsky paints a bleak picture of the state of Thailand’s democracy.
My own feeling not just regard to Thailand, but quite generally is that the veneration of leaders is a dangerous and threatening characteristic of a society. It’s true if venerating the monarch in Thailand … any veneration of authority and subordination to external authority carries dangerous implications.
Societies should find ways to extricate themselves from these conditions of subordination and domination, then move in their own ways. Each society has its own way towards establishing true equality.
Drawing from his longtime observations on American politics, Chomsky detects similar problems facing Thailand and the United States. Although a republic, the US media and voters tend to hold certain leaders sacred, just as Thai people venerate their kings, Chomsky says.
But the excessive reverence of the royal institution in Thailand has generated myriad political problems. It has placed the monarchy at the apex of the political structure, which, as Chomsky sees it, demands forced veneration from the public – and thus political submission.
Looking into the future of Thailand, Chomsky hopes there will be efforts to confront the political regression to move to a more just and free political environment.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Japan, conducted this interview after Chomsky moved from MIT to the University of Arizona on December 1, 2017. Pavin, a refugee, remains charged with lèse-majesté in the aftermath of the 2014 coup in Thailand.