Democracy: Do Dictators “Knows-Best” or “Dictators Know Shit”

By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist

The following argument in the Guardian could be about Thailand.

As most Thai Intel’s readers knows, Thailand is a royalist, elite military junta-meaning just a little better than a dictator. The argument here in Thailand, is that Thailand is unique and special that democracy, liberty and justice-along with human rights-are foreign values that Thailand must be protected against.

In that protection of this special and uniqueness of Thailand-many Thais were slaughter, and every Thai institutions that are there to mediate discourse in the Thai society have been corrupted away in support of that specialness and uniqueness.

What is that specialness and uniqueness?

Well, it is simple, meaning the continued rule of the royalist, elite military rulers of Thailand-and that is basically all it is about. The argument is that the rights of the royalist, elite and military rulers of Thailand takes precedent over the rights of ordinary Thais. That is the justification of the recent slaughtering in Thailand, of Thais who sees democracy, liberty, justice and human rights comes first.

The Red Shirts are not Thais and are the enemy of Thailand that must be destroy,” says Prayuth, the commander of the Thai army.

“Human rights, Democracy, liberty and justice are a bore,” says Thanong of the Nation, a newspaper of the royalist elite military propaganda in Thailand.

The following is from the Guardian: 

Stephen Kinzer’s accusation that Human Rights Watch imposes western values is an inadvertent apologia for dictators


Kenneth Roth, Executive Director

Published in:

January 6, 2011

Kenneth Roth, executive director

© 2010 Sarah Shatz

When rights are trampled upon, the proper course is to work with those who peacefully oppose that repression, rather than concoct justifications from afar for why the dictator really knows best.

Stephen Kinzer accuses Human Rights Watch of imposing western values on impoverished or war-torn countries. Yet his argument rests on a paternalism that treats the people of such countries as if they do not value, or know how to exercise, their fundamental human rights.

Kinzer cites two contemporary situations to make his point: Darfur and Rwanda. In Darfur, he contends that the involvement of human rights groups encourages rebels to “provoke massacres by the other side” so as to mobilise public opinion in their favour and prolong the war. In Kinzer’s perverse view, it is not the Sudanese government that bears responsibility for slaughtering civilians, but the human rights groups that condemn the killing and the rebel groups that somehow “provoke” it. By that logic, Darfur would be better off if the world left the Sudanese government to proceed on its abusive path rather than pressure it to stop. Murderous regimes the world over would, undoubtedly, be all too eager to embrace such a deflection of responsibility.

In Rwanda, it is widely recognised that the government has brought economic progress to the country, while using the spectre of another genocide to impose increasingly harsh and intolerant rule. Kinzer asserts that the Rwandan people are “thrilled” to give up their political rights, as if Rwandans were incapable of criticising their government without inciting genocide. In the absence of meaningful political pluralism or debate in the country, Kinzer’s claims that he knows what the Rwandan people want ring hollow. 

Kinzer is correct that human rights are about not only political debate, but also such matters as health, education and security, as the quickest perusal of Human Rights Watch’s website would show. But the best way to achieve the full panoply of rights is not to adopt a paternalist perspective in which government killings are dismissed as outside provocation and repression is justified by imaginary applause from a silenced population. Instead, people in each country need to be empowered to set their nation’s course and to hold their government accountable for pursuing their vision.

When rights are trampled upon, the proper course is to work with those who peacefully oppose that repression, rather than concoct justifications from afar for why the dictator really knows best.