An open challenge to Bedwyr


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11 thoughts on “An open challenge to Bedwyr

  1. I guess most good-hearted, left-leaning, educated people from the West (or at least the States) with an appropriate concern for fairness, political correctness (without the negative connotations to the word), and a desire to see all people given their due respect feel the way you do when the first arrive here. I sure did, and I know most of my friends did, as well. There comes a point, though, when if you stick to this outlook, you'll realize you're doing it more because you're afraid to let it go than because there is any rational reason to stick to it, and doing that makes one simply a blind apologist.

    Yes, to a large a degree cultural values are a result of economic and physical circumstances. Thais generally place a high value in bonds of family, just as is done in all undeveloped, agricultural economies (including in the West, pre-industrialization). Thais place a high value in bonds of clanship and patronage (causing what we today call nepotism, cronyism, corruption), just as is done so in all undeveloped, pre-literate societies (as Thailand was until VERY recently).

    As much as cultural values are a result of economic and physical circumstances, however, they are also a cause and perpetuating agent of them. Saying otherwise absolves people of the right to responsibility over their own destiny. It's hard to imagine how one could deny that the top-to-bottom culture of corruption has taken its toll on the country. Imagine what this country could be without it, imagine what it would be like if that kind of corruption didn't exist. By now, it could be as economically, physically, and intellectually developed as Japan. Sure, one could try to make the argument that the corruption which has stunted this country's development on every level is a result of poverty, and there would be some degree of truth to that; every civilization without a sophisticated legal and social system relies on loyalty bonds of patronage for social control. The fair and transparent system which we hold as an ideal now has only existed for about the last 1% of human history, what we see here has been the norm for thousands of years and what we hold as an ideal is really only a luxury of the modernized world that has just barely begun to exist. Of course the level of economic development has caused corruption, be it at the top levels of government or the bottom levels or private-sector business. To let the argument end there, however, is a disrespect to other countries which have managed to overcome corruption and patronage ("immorality") on their way out of poverty, and it is an disrespect to Thais as well, who deserve every right to have control of and responsibility for their own destiny. If we, as foreigners, excuse every problem we see here as either a difference in culture ("I think their morals are just different from yours, whatever those morals may be.") or as an inevitable result of economic/physical circumstance ("BECAUSE THEIR F*CKIN’ POOR, DUDE!!!"), then we are essentially saying that Thais don't deserve the respect of being treated as equals, which, I think, would be the most immoral action of all. Rather that play apologist, I think we would better to treat Thailand as a country equal to any other on the global stage, part of which means taking responsibility for its failings, where responsibility is due.

  2. I'd like to add two addenda to what I posted this morning:

    The first is that I didn't actually read the post to which Gonzobrains was replying, so my comments aren't necessarily in defense of Bedwyr was saying. For the record, I think that summarizing Thais as "essentially dirty, incompetent, stupid and amoral" is both reductive and counter-productive. My comments were in response to Gonzobrains response, not in defense of Bedwyr.

    Secondly, my ability maintain a single grammatical thread from the beginning of a sentence to its end appears to be quite stunted at 7:00 am, as I'm drinking my coffee. Please forgive me, all, I'm actually a native speaker of English, despite what the grammar in my earlier post may suggest.

  3. Gonzo, hi. And thanks for your challenge, though it does seem to have taken you a while to put it together…

    I have been away for several weeks and I am a bit out of practice at taking a scalpel to daft rhetoric, but if you bear with me for a few moments I will try to point out some small things which I noticed.

    Now it has to be said that your post was a bit of a rant, but setting aside all of the nonsense, the essence of what you appear to be saying is this:

    I am wrong to say that Thai people are “essentially dirty, incompetent, stupid and amoral”. You say that is a bad thing to say and then go on to say I am right, but only because they are poor. Right so far?

    You then go on to say I am being judgemental because USA has got lots of poor people too. Right so far?

    You then go on to say that Thai people are clever, and that absolute proof of this is the fact that Thais use toilet paper as napkins at the dinner table. You obviously aren't aware that the Thai government has measured the average IQ of Thais at <88. With me so far?

    You then go on to say that I am wrong to call Thais amoral because they are only amoral because they are poor. Then you savagely describe their amorality in your own experience. Right so far?

    You then go on to quote a single example of how someone was amoral for helping his Mom and then by implication seek to extend this across the whole population. Still right am I?

    You then say that I am talking trash because you think I have criticised the monarchy. Then you say that I am actually right, but that it is trash because monarchies have been around for quite a long time. Added to this you mention the wearing of yellow shirts and suggest that people can wear what they want. But in doing so you miss the whole point of *why* the superstitious, fawning little buggers wear yellow shirts. Still on the right track am I?

    And finally you note that America has the same problems as Thailand and that I should not therefore criticise Thais because they are only being like Americans – right? Except of course the Thais don't invade other countries on the whole. probably because they got their asses kicked by the Burmese so often that a real fight holds no attraction for them. I would say that they are lovers not fighters were it not for the fact that their penises are famously small so they can't be that either.

    All in all, yours was an interesting if undistinguished post which seems only to say that you think I should not call Thais “essentially dirty, incompetent, stupid and amoral” because they are so much like Americans. Must make you feel all warm inside…

    Bedwyr

    ps BTW, I was curious as to why you called yourself Gonzobrains. But it was only unclear for a short while.

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