Nationalism and the RadicalIntelligentsia in Thailand
The prominent Thai scholar, Chatthip Natsupha, has gone frombeing a Marxist intellectual in the 1970s to a cultural nationalist advocate of a genuine Thai essence which, he believes, is an antidote to the dominance of theWestern neoliberal capitalism. His case is not an anomaly. The intellectual path from the Marxist left to the cultural nationalist right is well-trodden and reﬂects broader changes in nationalism in the country. The cultural nationalistThai ex-left rejected what it called ‘bad’ nationalism and embraced a ‘good’ one.However, its ideas were signiﬁcantly drawn from conservative nationalism.Such nationalism, which is widespread among the Thai intelligentsia, was animportant factor in their support for the military coup which, in 2006, ousted anelected government on the dubious grounds that it was a proxy for global capitalism.
In his preface to the book,
Prawattisat lao 1779–1975
(History of Laos,1779–1975), written by one of his students, Chatthip Natsupha (hereafter‘Chatthip’ as a Thai is called by his ﬁrst name), one of the best knownscholars in Thailand, writes:
If it had not been for French imperialism, the whole Lan Sang Kingdom, boththe left and right bank of the Mekong, would have been included in the ThaiKingdom today.
He goes on to add:
people are strong. In the long term, in making serious eﬀorts toconsolidate the
in the Golden Peninsula
into the same federation, theBangkok
should admit their past mistakes and establish relationshipswith the Lanna
and the Lan Sang
both in Laos and in thenortheastern region [of Thailand] as equals and with respect...The consolida-tion of all the
peoples in these three regions would be a highly meaningfulstep.
Thongchai Winichakul is in the Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5211 Humanities,455 N Park Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Email: email@example.com.
Third World Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008, pp 575–591
ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/08/030575–17
Third World Quarterly
D o w nl o ad ed B y : [ Th a m m a s a t U ni v e r si t y] A t : 08 :31 7 M a r ch 2010