Paradoxicracy: An Essay on Thailand – Part 1

Published | Updated January 5, 2019
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Wat Pho Temple and Thailand Photographs & Digital Art Pieces by Helissa Grundemann Photographs & Digital Art Pieces of Wat Pho, Thailand, and other countries
People shopping at Asiatique, open-air mall in Bangkok
IMAGE BY HELISSA GRUNDEMANN

A country, a people, with a beautiful, strong, and proud tradition. A place where “losing face” is as important as eating, sleeping, and shopping, but where “losing face” increasingly means “losing tradition.”

Just a few years ago I thought—maybe only hoped—that the Thai would be able to integrate old and new, East and West, classic and modern, but today I’m not so sure any longer.

The Thai people are basically “active non-doers,” they have a let-happen and see-what-happens attitude, and unfortunately that makes them the perfect consumers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a people buying so much, so often, and with so much non-sense.

Maybe the term buy-aholic is not invented here, but it’s practiced intensely, almost as a religion, and to the absolute, terrifying max.

I’ve become ever more stupefied by the mindlessness, nonchalance, and increasing focus of Thai with regard to acquirement, possession, and usage of incredible amounts of, in my opinion, unnecessary material goods. There seems to be no end to it, and everything is pushed out of the way to—shop, shop a bit more, and to have-have!

Materialistically-based leisure activities and group-fun have reached the highest podium for a people which not so very long ago seemed to be utterly tranquil, satisfied, and Zen—as we like to state it. A nation not only fulfilled with basic material means, but most certainly mentally and spiritually content.

Thailand is noticeably on the brink of huge and profound changes. The country is thrown, no—drawn into “the new order,” the global world of more, and even more, and “better.” A relentless, rapid movement to so-called “modernity,” in a frightening form of Asian neo-capitalistic pre-post-modernity in all the dreadfulness of uncritical mega-consumptionism.

Both unfortunate and undeniable, Thailand in particular, and Asia in general, have become meat for the lions. And moreover—they are rapidly becoming the beasts themselves.

Read more in part 2.


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