Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Sea Of Red

The blood-letting Thai demonstrations was quite a chilling message. It was a show of how far they'd go within their capacities of citizens and religiosity. Most external observers would think it to be a thoroughly silly act with a whole waste of precious blood, but to these guys, they were drawing on one of the most potent forms of retaliation they know of - cursing the government with superstitiously unlucky blood and playing on symbolism to create avenues for their needs to be heard. "If they are willing to step over our blood and go home, then the government truly doesn't care for us," one protestor warned. It is almost silly to draw rationality into the picture. These people would consider spilled blood more worth the while than stashing packets of donated blood to save lives, and you can't blame them. What is reasonable for one person is unreasonable for another; our rationalities are bounded by external forces that shape the choices we make.

The Thai government seems to be more content riding their luck on the matter. The general sentiment is that once the protestors get tired of demonstrating, they will have to get on with their lives anyway, and the numbers will dwindle. In so many countries with disgruntled citizens, that often happens to be the case. In China, the dissent of the populace often centers around practical purposes - poor ruling from a county head, unfair distribution of subsidies, lack of utilities and facilities, etc - rather than ideological ones. People often care little for ideological unification or pursuit; once their basic needs are met and all is considered fair, it doesn't matter what the intent of the government is. Life goes on. Ideological pursuits are more characteristic of American citizens, who want more than just the meeting of basic necessities but philosophical alignment.

But every now and then, some unlucky government doesn't quite get away with it. The tipping point for revolution to happen is organization. There is a lot of built up discontent among Thai citizens now, and while they are united in thought they are not united in resolve. It is not an easy process, but all it takes eventually is for a charismatic leader to rise among them, organize them and lead them for a revolt to occur. Governments systematically oppress unofficial organizations because this is the ultimate tipping cause for a political fightback. Once there is a uniting force that keeps the dissatisfied together, their individual needs will be subjugated to the group. People will begin to sacrifice themselves more. All the benefits (or ills, depending on the situation) of herd mentality, groupthink, deindividualization and social influence will subvert the 'soul' from the individual to the group such that the organization becomes an entity with a life of its own. And that's when the government that hasn't been able to keep its subjects happy will be in trouble.

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