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by Tom


Thursday, November 13, 2003

Better to stick with Garfield
Having committed myself to being a lifelong student of English, I try to be perceptive to new developments in the language. Recently I've noticed a few of instances of the expression "Bizarro world", the latest of which in this Dowd nonsense.

But why? Are the Bizarro cartoons really that famous? What for? Being both unsubtle and unfunny? Now that's bizarre, for that combination is neither intriguing nor rare!

Bizarro in the November 11 issue of the Bangkok Post features a pair of mother and son. The mother says:

Get packed. Your school just closed, so we're sending you to the ones we're building in IRAQ.

Ha ha. In the Bizarro world, the extreme Left borrow lines from the extreme Right.

But that, regrettably, is also the case in the real world. And I don't turn to the comics page just to be reminded of how empty the empty half of the world can be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


First day in office for Wattana Muangsuk as full-fledged Minister of Commerce. A case of blogs getting results?

No? I see you don't believe the Blogging One.

And you complain about your academia?

I'd long been itching to write about Thirayuth Boonmi, but had never thought it worthwhile until reading a glowing profile of him a few weeks ago in the Bunkum Post.

A professor at the prestigious Thammasat University (prestige, of course, is relative), Thirayuth is one of those "academics" whose views can be summed up as: The world is all fouled up and the West (read America) is singularly to be blamed.

Nothing new there. We're used to those hacks' warped polemics, which have time and again been shredded into pieces by real scholars.

Still, Thirayuth is in a class of his own in sheer ignorance. Lacking even the most basic knowledge about the world, he's unfit even to follow the intellectually bankrupt footsteps of, say, Noam Chomsky, who would only be embarrassed by him.

Yes, it's possible to be so bad as to embarrass someone who epitomizes the term "idiotarion". Let me demonstrate that first by telling you this: Thirayuth doesn't know what "the West" means.

In his article titled "ทิศทางประเทศไทย: เมื่อโลกหยุดค้อมหัวให้ตะวันตก" ("Thailand's direction: When the world stops kowtowing to the West", Matichon Weekly, April 4-10, 2003), he wrote:

...  ก็ปรากฎชัดต่อชาวโลก[ว่า]พฤติกรรมของสหรัฐและประเทศตะวันตกส่วนใหญ่ล้วนขัดแย้งกับคำประกาศของชาติตะวันตกเอง เช่น การเคารพสิทธิเสรีภาพประชาธิปไตยของมนุษย์ การเคารพสิทธิมนุษยชน ล้วนแต่เป็นสิ่งที่ชาติตะวันตกพูดอย่างทำอย่างมาแล้วทั้งสิ้น

ทหารสหรัฐสังหารผู้บริสุทธิ์หลายแสนคนในเวียดนาม โซมาเลีย และเกรนาดา



... [It] has become obvious to the world community that the conducts of the US and most other Western nations are all contradictory to the West's own tenets; like regard for human's liberty [and] democracy, regard for human rights; [these] are all the things about which Western nations have been hypocritical.

US soldiers killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Vietnam, Somalia and Grenada.

French special police killed Algeria's nationalist movement and tens of thousands of civilians.

Russia killed up to a hundred thousand Muslims in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

[my translation from Thai, emphasis added]

Yep, that's right. Russia, also known as the Soviet Union at the time of the Afghan invasion, is part of "the West". And boy, was it being untrue to its "Western" values!

What is this? Does Thirayuth think "the West" means "white"? He's really straying into dangerous territory there.

Should we be grateful, then, that he doesn't always think in racial terms? Only two paragraphs before the above-quoted, he wrote:

... อำนาจและความมั่นคงทางเศรษฐกิจของตะวันตกก็ลดลง จากที่เคยมีความมั่งคั่งเป็น 85.6 เปอร์เซ็นต์ของจีดีพีโลกในปี 1900 ก็ลดลงมาเหลือเพียง 50 กว่าเปอร์เซ็นต์ในช่วงสิ้นศตวรรษ คาดการณ์ได้ว่าอีกราว 2 ทศวรรษข้างหน้า จีนและห้าเสือเอเชียจะเติบโตอย่างรวดเร็วต่อไป เศรษฐกิจญี่ปุ่น รัสเซีย และอินเดียก็ควรขยายตัวพอสมควร เช่นเดียวกับประเทศยุโรปตะวันออกและประเทศมุสลิมที่เคยอยู่ใต้อาณัติของรัสเซีย

... the West's economic power and security are also declining, its wealth decreasing from being 85.6 percent of world GDP in 1900 to merely 50 percent at the end of of the century. [We] can predict that in the next two decades, China and the five Asian tigers will continue to grow rapidly; Japan's, Russia's and India's economies also should expand satisfactorily, just as [those of] Eastern European countries and Muslim countries that used to be under Russia's suzerainty. [my translation from Thai, emphasis added]

Judge for yourself what's worse: the flagrancy per se of Thirayut's counting Russia as a Western country or his blatant willingness to turn around and contradict himself in order to degrade "the West", whatever it happens to be at the time.

Or perhaps you find even more objectionable his, shall we say, unorthodox facts and figures. Be warned, though, that those are ubiquitous in all Thirayuth's utterances and you could go crazy trying to call him out falsehood by falsehood.

So I won't do that. My point is already well served by sticking with the very most astounding examples of his ignorance.

Here's another one. Thirayuth being a committed America-hater and his article being about, insofar as this befuddled screed is about anything, the world's political and social landscape after the watershed Iraq war, you'd have expected him to wax vituperous about the neocons, right? Wrong, he didn't mention neo-conservatism once in the whole article.

But of course, it wouldn't be like Thirayuth to write a paragraph without an "ism" and here in particular he needs one to blame for the evil war. So what ism does he turn to? Well, after that bit about "the West", this shouldn't be too shocking:

สำนัก realism หรือสำนักอำนาจ-ประโยชน์นิยม สำนักนี้กล่าวว่า แต่ละรัฐแต่ละชาติจะมองกันในแง่ร้าย ถือประโยชน์ของตนเป็นใหญ่ จึงมักนำไปสู่ความรุนแรงหรือสงครามมากครั้งในโลก

. . .

กรณืสงครามครั้งนี้จะผลักดันให้โลกคิดไปตามแนว realism หรือแนว neo realism ซึ่งเน้นความขัดแย้งระหว่างอารยธรรมมากขึ้น

Realism, or doctrine of power and [self] interests. This doctrine states that each state, each nation will be cynical toward each other and gives precedence to one's own self interests, hence [this cynicism] has led to many a war in the world.

. . .

This war will compel the world to think along the lines of realism or neo-realism, which emphasizes clashes of civilizations. [my translation from Thai, poor word choices original, emphasis added]

So realism leads to wars, and even clashes of civilizations? Oh yes, I remember Henry Kissinger's taking America into the ping-pong war with China and the détente clash with the Soviet Union.

Gee, how shocked will Thirayut be when he learns that, in loathing realism, he has one thing in common with the hawks who have come to be known as the neoconservatives and who provided intellectual firepower to the War in Iraq?

That is, of course, hypothetical. He will never learn that, or anything else. If Thirayuth's anachronistic obsession with "realism" (mentioned six times in the article) suggests that this man stopped absorbing new information long ago, his total misapprehension of it reveals that he did so even earlier.

Still, Thirayut didn't completely shut everything out. He did pick up bits and pieces here and there, which, while far from constituting "information", do provide him with new ways to make a fool of himself.

Take neo-conservatism for example. Despite being utterly oblivious about the doctrine, Thirayut did know a neocon (if only by the name, as will become obvious) and even mentioned him in the article:

สำนักระบบโลก... ครอบคลุมหลายสำนักคิด ทั้ง สำนักเสรีนิยมที่มองว่าท้ายสุดโลกจะพัฒนาเชื่อมโยงอยู่ภายใต้ระบบเศรษฐกิจดียวและอุดมการณ์เดียวคือเสรีนิยมด้วย เช่น ความคิดนาย F. Fukuyama...

สงครามรุกรานอิรักครั้งนี้ ทำให้แนวคิดระบบโลกไม่ว่าจะเป็นมาร์กซิสม์ ชุมชนนิยม หรือโลกาภิวัฒน์ขาดพลังในการอธิบายลงไป

The school of Global Order... covers many schools of thoughts including Liberalism which foresees that the world will eventually develop and be connected under one economic system and one ideology that is Liberalism, like the thinking of Mr. F. Fukuyama...

This war of aggression against Iraq will cause the thinking of the Global Order school, be it Marxism, Communitism [Communautarisme?], and globalization lose explaining power. [my translation from Thai, emphasis added]

While I understand little of this quote (particularly that "Global Order" bit), this much is clear: Thirayuth thinks Fukuyama is Liberal (not "classically liberal", mind you) and implies that he's against the war in Iraq.

Yep, and Reagan is a left-winger who opposed the Cold War.

All this should be enough to give you an idea what kind of person Thirayuth is. No, he's no communist, socialist, leftist or any other ideological creature, whatever he thinks of himself and regardless of what the stereotypes tell you. Just as a color-blind person cannot have a favorite color, Thirayuth cannot have an ideology.

Nor is he a "romantic" -- a bookish academic out of touch with the real world -- as his critics in the TRT Party dismiss him. Such a characterization not only makes a travesty of the word "academic", but is also slanderous to the notions of being romantic (like Beethoven), bookish (like Nietzsche) and even out of touch (like the current Tories).
Rather, Thirayuth -- a political science professor who considers the Soviet Union part of the West, believes realism is about promoting clashes of civilizations and doesn't know about neo-conservatism -- can only be described as the composite of a fraud, an idiot and a madman.

That is, of course, not how he was portrayed in the Bunkum Post's nauseously fawning feature story. The piece is titled "Thinking is beautiful" and ends with "his advice to younger people... shows that the teacher in him is rising."


If whatever it is that's in Thirayuth (I wouldn't call it "teacher") is rising, then Thailand is sinking, like that brown stuff in the bowl, waiting for his "beautiful thinking" to flush it all down the drain.

Which might very well be the case, given the alarming frequency with which Thirayuth's drivels swamp the front pages of Thai newspapers.

But no, that's NOT the case as long as Thirayuth is still ranting away on a soapbox while the bully pulpit is occupied by the two entities for which he reserve most of his boundless hatred.

That would be America (of Planet Earth) and PM Thaksin (of Thailand).

Please support them.

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