Is a strategy of non-violent civil resistance value neutral? The case of Thailand
Another reason the struggle in Thailand is so important to understand is that it is part of a global trend of the Right* adopting tactics that have been assumed to be anti-authoritarian.
The spontaneous, horizontal, direct action-style mass mobilizations associated with the Tunisian, Egyptian, Greek, Turkish uprisings and Occupy, tend to be associated with anti-authoritarianism, as they have most often been used to topple dictatorships and right-leaning governments. However, the strength of the tactics themselves — speed, flexibility and a feeling of ownership by all participants — are not inherently Left, and can benefit any political project. The Right appears to have learned a lesson from the 2011 uprisings and have used similar tactics with increasing success in Venezuela, Ukraine and Thailand. Of these cases, Thailand may be the most frightening, since the PRDC has simultaneously been successful and has managed, in some cases, to confuse foreign onlookers on the Left into supporting them due to their use of radical tactics and iconography.
We can no longer identify allies by the tactics they use in protests, the colors and symbols they use, or even their names. Those interested in social justice must adjust to a world in which we are not only battling governments and corporations, but antithetical social movements as well, some of which look a lot like ours.
In no sense whatever was the PDRC anti-authoritarian, as we saw here. While the "feeling of ownership by all participants" was there, that's not the same thing as self-organization or autonomy.
One might also ask whether the PDRC was adopting the well-known "pillars of the regime" strategy, or whether its "radical tactics and iconography" were empty shells -- kayfabe -- given that they had impunity due to protection from the controlling faction of the Army which, despite its professions of neutrality, has ended up adopting all the PDRC's proposals. Let me not forget the note--
NOTE * I'm not sure how relevant a left/right paradigm is to Thailand. Not very, is my guess.
NOTE Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, and the lese majeste laws are enforced, even against foreigners. Therefore, I must ask and appeal to you not to discuss anything relating to any member of the royal family or the monarchy generally.
NOTE I know I keep hammering on Thailand, but I hope the link above shows why it's a fascinating social and political laboratory.