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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/22/10

Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and Revolution

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Are revolutions happening in Thailand and Kyrgyzstan? Are they instead "uprisings"? Does it matter? The distinction is important insofar as it helps to educate others inspired by these recent events, with hopes to radically change their own political and economic systems.

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For our purposes, the word "revolution" will be defined as: a prolonged period of mass activity by the normally silent oppressed, with strong intentions to drastically change society to meet the needs of the majority.If successful, representatives of the oppressed majority take control of the government and replace the former ruling class. This activity throws society's equilibrium off balance, since capitalism requires total obedience from workers and peasants, so that corporations may make profits undisturbed. Once this power dynamic is disrupted, an extended struggle for state power ensues, between those who previously wielded it -- the rich -- and the majority of people attempting to assert themselves politically-economically.

Revolutions are not one-act dramas, but a series of acts -- some more dramatic than others -- that have as their basis the underlying power structure of society: the rich owners of corporations -- and the state that props them up -- versus the working class and the unemployed (plus poor peasants in underdeveloped countries). The struggle for political power is at the basis of every revolution, between these two principal contending social forces. Once the working class begins revolutionary struggle, it must eventually take state power or allow it to return to the corporations and wealthy. A situation of permanent flux is impossible, since eventually one side will exert its dominance and consolidate its power.

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Revolutionary periods are exceptional moments in history. They are eruptions of social tensions that once were buried deep in the consciousness of men and women after having accumulated for many years due to deteriorating economic and social conditions for the vast majority of working people. Thus, old beliefs and customs are suddenly discarded, as is silent obedience.

Are these unique characteristics present in Thailand and Kyrgyzstan? The corporate-friendly New York Times wrote a remarkable article recently about Thailand, revealing insights that help prove that an unfolding revolution does exist. The following excerpts list the changes in consciousness in the average Thai worker and peasant, changes that are apparent in all revolutions:

""more than ever Thailand's underprivileged are less inclined to quietly accept their station in life as past generations did and are voicing anger about wide disparities in wealth"The deference, gentility and graciousness that have helped anchor the social hierarchy in Thailand for centuries are fraying, analysts say, as poorer Thais become more assertive, discarding long-held taboos that discouraged confrontation."

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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