Mobilize the Working Class and Poor Peasants as an independent force against the “Yellow Shirts”, Army Command and Monarchy!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 4.12.2013, www.thecommunists.net
1. Thailand’s main opposition force, the misnamed Democrat Party, is organizing reactionary demonstrations aimed at overthrowing the government. These so-called “Yellow Shirts” are stirring up an atmosphere which could lead to another military coup d’état. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) considers these demonstrations as a reactionary maneuver by the traditional political elite of Thailand. The working class and the poor peasants must organize mass counter-mobilizations without giving any political support and confidence in the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. To overcome the social and political misery, the working class must build an independent workers party based on a revolutionary program which leads the popular masses towards social revolution.
2. Since mid-November, the “Yellow Shirts,” led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, have organized demonstrations and tried to storm government buildings. The Democrat Party is the traditional representative of the reactionary political elite which is composed of the army command, the upper echelons of the state bureaucracy, the majority of Thai’s big business and – as their figurehead – King Bhumibol. It is a neoliberal, royalist, big business party which has its main support base amongst the urban middle class of Bangkok. While it has participated in the government many times, it has usually gained this position via the regularly occuring coup d’état’s and interference from the military, and has never won a parliamentary election.
3. The reactionary demonstrations of the “Yellow Shirts” have the obvious tacit approval of the army command and the king. This is why the police and army offer only lukewarm resistance against the attempts of the “Yellow Shirts” to storm government buildings.
4. What triggered the current escalation by the “Yellow Shirts” were two bills initiated by the Yingluck government. The first was an amendment to the constitution which was imposed by the army command in 2007. It would have allowed that all senators be elected while, under the military constitution, half of them are appointed. However, while the bill was adopted by a majority in parliament, the military-appointed Constitutional Court ruled that parliament could not amend the constitution! Revolutionary communists are consistent democrats; therefore we recognize the importance of issues concerning democracy, and consider a senate elected in bourgeois-democratic elections more democratic than a senate which is half-appointed by the political elite.
5. The second bill introduced by the Yingluck government is an amnesty bill. In itself, this bill included disastrous concessions to the old elite. It offered amnesty not only to convicted activists of the popular protest movement as well as the deposed and exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (brother of the current prime minister), but also to the army command and Democrat Party leaders Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban. The latter were responsible for the military coup d’état in 2006, as well as the massacre against the “Red Shirts” protests in 2010. Hence the bill was justifiably opposed by the militant sectors of the “Red Shirts” who have the support of the urban working class as well as the rural poor peasantry. However, the traditional elite were enraged by the possibility of the return of the exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Albeit the Yingluck government withdrew the bill after wide protests, the reactionary “Yellow Shirts” movement attempts to utilize the political crisis in order to finish off the government and to reconstitute a government which is closely controlled by the army command and the majority faction of big business.
6. If the Democrat Party and the “Yellow Shirts” succeed in their attempts to overthrow the government, this will strengthen the grip of the traditional elite on political life, reduce democratic rights, and encourage an intensification of the attacks against the working class and the poor peasantry. This is why it is urgent to mobilize the working class and the poor peasants for the defeat of the reactionary “Yellow Shirts.” Such an independent mass mobilization would create favorable conditions to break both workers and peasants away from the bourgeois leadership of the Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra and their bourgeois populist Pheu Thai Party and to fight against their government.
7. However the decisive problem currently is the continuing political subordination of the working class and the poor peasants under the Thaksin leadership. Thaksin is a multi-millionaire and wants to build a “modern” capitalist Thailand. The Pheu Thai Party leadership has no intention to abolish the monarchy or to substantially cut down the powerful position of the army command, the military-imposed constitutional court, etc., not to speak of implementing any meaningful social reforms. In fact its whole policy in the past years has demonstrated that it is willing to compromise with the traditional elite, and it attempts to demobilize its workers and peasants supporters as much as possible. Thus the Pheu Thai Party is a bourgeois-populist party which represents a minority faction of the capitalist class but which, however, has to rely on the support of the workers and peasants in order to hold power.
8. Nevertheless Thaksin and his party are despised by the elite because it is a party whose strength is based on the support of the masses of workers and peasants who have repeatedly intervened in the political life of Thailand during the last decade by militant mass mobilizations. Thaksin’s party (initially called Thai Rak Thai party) won the majority of votes in the 2001 elections, as the first party outside the traditional establishment. Thaksin achieved this by promising social and democratic reforms for which he could rally mass support amongst the working class and the poor peasantry. With this support base, he was reelected in 2005. However, after the Democratic Party failed to drive him out by parliamentary elections, the military staged a coup d’état in 2006 and deposed Thaksin. The army command banned his party and Thaksin was forced into exile. After this, the army command imposed an extraordinarily undemocratic constitution. Nevertheless, the next elections, held in December 2007, were won by the Phak Palang Prachachon (People's Power Party) which, in fact, acted as the reincarnation of Thaksin’s banned party. This, however, did not prevent the army command from deposing the PPP government a few months later, and banning the party. It was only through such blatant interference of the military that the Democratic (!) Party could reenter the government. This provoked a new series of militant mass protests in March-May 2010, when hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants occupied parts of Bangkok, and heroically fought off the army and police. The army sent in its soldiers, backed by armored personnel carriers, and fired at the protestors with live ammunition. Altogether, during these weeks, at least 85 people were killed and 1,378 wounded. When the reactionary government was forced to hold general election on July 3, 2011, again the Pheu Thai Party, led by Yingluck Shinawatra (Thaksin’s sister), won an outright majority. This short overview demonstrates that the current mobilizations of the “Yellow Shirts” are a continuation of the repeated attempts of the old establishment to prevent any government which is not under its complete control.
9. As we have said, the main problem is the political subordination of the workers and peasants in the “Red Shirts” movement to Thaksin’s leadership. At the moment, a central challenge is to fight against the ambitions of the reactionary army command, the “Yellow Shirts,”the King, etc., to smash the limited democratic achievements and launch another coup d’état. Such a struggle necessitates the mass mobilization and militant organizing of the workers and peasants who have been demobilized by the bourgeois Yingluck government, since the latter is hoping for another compromise with the army command. Such a struggle will include temporary blocs and united front actions with the “Red Shirts” movement, and even with those in the bourgeois-populist Pheu Thai Party who are willing to mobilize on the streets against the coup d’état.
10. The goal must be to split the working class away from the Thaksin leadership and to organize them in an independent workers’ party. The RCIT believes that such a party must raise the program of permanent revolution, i.e., the intermeshing of the democratic and socialist revolutions, which will lead to an armed uprising of the workers and poor peasants in order to overthrow capitalism and build a workers’ and peasants’ republic.
11. Such a program must include the struggle for a democratic revolution. An important part of this will be the abolishment of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic, as well as a struggle against the powerful position of the army command and its constitutional court. It should also unconditionally support the right of national self-determination for the Muslim people of Patani (the three southernmost provinces of the country which the Thai state created after it destroyed the Patani sultanate.) The majority of the populations in these provinces are Malay Muslims, with their own language and culture, and who are fighting against the central Thai state.
12. Against the reactionary constitution and the permanently-rigged process of writing and amending the constitution, authentic socialists have to fight for a Revolutionary Constitutional Assembly. Such an assembly must not be controlled by the reactionary ruling class. It must be the outcome of a mass uprising. It must be controlled by armed mass organizations of the workers and peasants, and its delegates must be controlled and recallable by their voters. The assembly’s only purpose would be to draw up a new constitution. In such an assembly, Socialists have to argue for the program of a workers and peasants republic.
13. A revolutionary program also has to include the expropriation of big business and the nationalization of the banks, as well as place the large industrial and service enterprises under workers’ control. It also must nationalize the media under workers’ control. Such a revolutionary workers’ party could rally the poor peasants for a program that expropriates the big landowners and foments an agrarian revolution. However, in doing so, it must patiently explain to the workers and poor peasants that sustainable democratic reform and social improvement can only be achieved if the working class takes power and creates a government of workers and poor peasants, based on councils and popular militias of armed masses. Its purpose must be to build the dictatorship of the proletariat, which would suppress the old ruling class and ensure freedom for the popular masses.
14. Such a revolutionary workers party must be built from the beginning, in conjunction with the efforts to create a new World Party of Socialist Revolution which, in our opinion, will be the Fifth Workers’ International. The RCIT looks forward to discussing these matters and collaborating with revolutionaries in Thailand and Asia, in order to advance the formation of such a revolutionary organization.
International Secretariat of the RCIT