The communist insurgency conflict in Thailand

Thailand has had a problematic history with communism. The communist insurgency was a guerrilla civil war that began in 1965 and ended in 1983, following amnesty declared by the Thai government in 1980. The war involved many different groups but was mostly fought between the Communist Party of Thailand(CPT) and the Thai Government. The CPT was backed by many communist countries and cells during that time including China, Laos and Vietnam.


Originally introduced by Ho Chi Minh during one of his visits to Thailand in 1928.He entered the country in the disguise of an old monk named ‘old chin’. He spent the next couple of years trying to organize Soviets throughout the local Vietnamese communities. (Barlett,1973). Ho Chi Minh was later made the head of the Communist International South East Asia branch. In 1932 a revolution by the Peoples Party turned Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy. The revolution was led by Pridi Panomyong who after which he began to have trouble with the conservative prime minister Pya Manopakorn in 1933.

Pridi was named a communist by Pya which resulted in the anti-communist law being passed in Thailand. This law made it possible to imprison people for up to 10 years if they were found to be communists. (Barlett,1973).During the next few years, the various communist groups in Thailand laid low, drafting manifestos and distributing information, there were a few clashes between the Thai police and the Vietnamese communists, however. During the war, the communists in Thailand aligned themselves with the Free Thai Movement against the Japanese.

Chinese communities have always been an issue of content for the Thai authorities, with 50% of Bangkok being of Chinese origins. The Thai government feared the Chinese communities might move against them as they had strong political economics and political power. They also feared the Marxist influence they were spreading.  The Thai government spent the next several years putting restrictions on the Chinese communities throughout the country in an effort to stop the rise of communism and other groups which may cause a threat to them.


In the 1950s there were numerous different communist communities and sympathisers in Thailand. A group of 50 Thai communists travelled to Beijing during 1950 for training on communist ideology. Over the next few years, many more Thai communist sympathisers also travelled to Laos and North Vietnam to receive various forms of training on communist propaganda. These training sessions eventually moved onto more physical training on armed conflict and even terror tactics.(Koplowitz, 1967).

Between 1961 and 1965 they had carried out 17 political assassinations. By the end of 1965 more than 350 Thai Nationals had received eight-month training courses in the North of Vietnam. The guerrillas at first had only access to the most basic flintlock weapons, but they began to slowly smuggle weapons intended for the Laos government troops who were supported by the US military. It was at this point that the guerrillas revealed themselves and began a full conflict with the Thai military. The majority of the clashes took place in ‘issan’, the most impoverished and least developed part of the country. During the summer of 1965 13 clashes with the Thai army took place with a further 25 the following half of the year. (Bartlett,1973).

At the start of 1966, the Thai Patriotic Front called the country to join in ‘the people’s war’, this led to a significant escalation in violence and hostilities. More attacks were carried out by the rebels against the Thai army. During the first half of 1966 alone 45 security personnel and 65 civilians were killed in the attacks. Although there were many US Airforce personnel based in this area during that time, the US remained distant and provided very limited support. Between 1967 and 1968 the Thai government carried out a number of raids in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. This resulted in numerous arrests of high ranking CPT members. In 1972 the Thai government carried out an operation where more than 200 militants were killed.

It was later that year that the red drum killings began to take place where up to 3000 unofficial killings took place. The phrase “red drum” began to get used because communist suspects began to get clubbed at the side of the road and were then burnt alive in a semiconscious state in oil filled drums. This was done to try and cover the massacres of the soldiers before this communist suspects were normally shot at the side of the road. (Normn,1975).These killing were most likely carried out by the Communist Operations Suppression Command(CSOC). Between 1971-1973 thousands of civilians died during the clashes or under the belief that they were communists.

The Thammasat Massacre took place on 6th October 1976, now known commonly as “6 October day”. The government began to grow afraid of a communist takeover like what had happened in Vietnam. It was on this day that they attacked a student protest at Thammasat university where 46 students were killed, and 167 were wounded. (Hanley, 2006), It was following this in 1979 that a new surge of Thai nationalism took hold. This coupled with the deteriorating relations between Vietnam and China saw the end of the CPT. An official amnesty was signed on 23rd of Apil 1980 by Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda .

It seems clear that there were external factors at play that contributed greatly to the communist civil conflict in Thailand. It was through the agendas of other countries that the influence of communism began to spread in Thailand. What was not clear however at the time was how many innocent civilians would be hurt during the varying conflicts. The American soldiers that were based in Vietnam and Thailand did little to stop the conflict. There were no serious investigations made into the serious human rights violations of the red drum killings and others like them. The people who carried out these atrocities were left unpunished.

The conflict did give way to a sharp rise in Thai nationalism, not to be confused with Thai patriotism. The effects of which can be seen to this very day. This has not stopped all Thai people from believing and promoting a communist ideology, however. There are still those that are trying to create the CPT again. Perhaps in the next few years, Thailand will be able to elect the communist party officially, if there are elections of course.










The impact ideologies have on the economic life and political choices of countries.

Haywood defined ideology as a ‘coherent’ set of ideas providing the basis for political or economics action (Haywood 1998:6). Everyone follows ideologies, whether aware of it or not. Whenever we are speaking, reading, writing or even thinking, we are in fact following one or more political ideologies. (Heywood, 2012).Ideologies have huge impacts on the economics life and political choices of countries. Some countries experience freedoms through their ideologies while some receive many restraints and burdens due to the ideologies of their countries.

 Ideology was first coined during the French revolution by aristocrat and philosopher Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796. He stated that idéologie referred to a new ‘science of ideas’, which was quite a literal, idea-ology. It is hard to define what ideologies are; it could be that ‘Ideology is the most elusive concept in the whole of the social sciences.’ McLellan (1995).

Slavoj Žižek characterizes ideology (and its critique) as stemming from three basic moments: ideology in itself, as a series of ideas; ideology for itself, in its materiality (ideological State apparatuses); and ideology in and for itself, when it enters into operation in social practices (Zizek, 2003 Everyday language is infused with words such as ‘communist’, ‘capitalist’ and ’liberal’  or even ‘left’ and ‘right’. This terminology is familiar within our every day, global and multicultural societies, people are aware of these words and yet they are more often than not unaware of their true meaning.(Heywood,2012).Slavoj Zizek defines ‘ideological’ as “a social reality whose very existence implies the non-knowledge of its participants as to its essence – that is, social effectively, the very reproduction of which implies that the individuals ‘do not know what they are doing.”(Zizek 1989). This goes to show that ideologies can be used to misguide. For example, ideologies may address real-world problems and then mystify them-them, such as immigration issues and then building a wall.

There are not only wrong answers to right questions, but more commonly, there are wrong questions.(Chadwick, 2017). Terminology surroundings ideologies are just as misused as the use of the ideologies themselves. The word ‘ equality’ may stand to mean that all are equal, how does that meaning change though through different cultures and social structures throughout the world? Does it mean that everyone should be paid the same or be afforded ‘equal’ opportunities? Viewed through the scope of differing ideologies words stand to have different meanings, such as the cooperation/competition of actors in communism/capitalism. Political ideologies can often be viewed as simply a power struggle, with ideas and feelings bearing no real meaning.

From behaviourism, humans are seen as conditioned machines which are will act and react to external stimulants. As B.F. Skinner notes “The environment shapes people’s actions.”(1957).Behaviourism ties in closely with ‘dialectial materialism’, the crude form of Marxism used in the Soviet Union.(Heywood, 2012). Opposing this was put forward by John Maynard Keynes who said “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. (Keynes 1936).

Ideologies generally are a means for people to imagine how they expect and hope the world to be. Ideology being used as a key political term can be traced back to Karl Marx, although the term defined by Marx differs somewhat compared to mainstream political analysis. Karl Marx defined ideology as “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time the ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it”(Marx and Engels, 1970,).


Political ideology is all too often overlooked as a factor that contributes directly or indirectly to growth. Many academics have in fact denied ideology as having any influence in economic growth at all; they argue that ideologies can stand directly in the way of obtaining solutions to problems. This could be seen with the rise of communism in Eastern Europe, this, however, was an extreme situation and were, in fact, totalitarian societies. ( Bjørnskov,2005) But can economics theory ever be truly neutral? Are neoliberal economic policies not influenced by a neoliberal ideology?

If we took the example of a starving man in the streets as an example. Capitalists would insist that someone would open their doors and help this man, while a socialist and their faith in the state would believe the state would take care of this person; or more accurately would prevent this from happening at all.

 As was seen in the DPRK’s ideology of Juche it has profoundly influenced their economy with the full driving force of  an entirely self-sufficient economy. Although the DPRK has achieved some incredible milestones in self-sufficiency, some may not know that it would have been impossible if not for the massive influx of foreign aid. If the ideology of Juche were not in place, economic life in the DPRK would be entirely different. That is not to say better necessarily, but very different. Capitalism, for example, shows that the most desired materials are delivered. Capitalism also pushes towards innovation as individuals try to compete against each other.

There is no promotion of equal opportunity in capitalism, however. Those who receive a valuable start in life will flourish, while those without will be unable to. According to the Marxist theory of labour capitalism also absorbs the extra labour leftover from the workers. A good example is a factory, where the labourer produces enough material goods for themselves. They must then continue to produce an abundance of more material goods. These good do not go towards the worker but instead go towards the capitalist owner of the factory,(Marx,1848)


It was mainly due to the fall of socialism that the world saw the rise of capitalism as it currently stands. Capitalism and communism/socialism are opposing ideologies; one creates progress through competition and the other through cooperation. Ideologies help to shape the political ideals and motives of a people. An example is to look at the ideology of citizens in The Democratic Republic of North Korea(DPRK) and the Juche framework which was created first by Hwang Jang-Yop but was later contributed to Kim II-Sung. Juche was originally a desire for of socialism, not a Marxist-Leninist form of state but rather a socialist form of self-reliance.

Juche has drifted somewhat away from its original ideology with several alterations in the constitution, deleting any references to communism and so on. (Sang-ho June 27, 2012).The official definition by the DPRK is that the “Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which includes the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.”(KFA,2011). This was the official line of the DPRK in 2011; the ‘man-centered’ approach makes Juche seem to have a focus on individualism. Many academics have stated that Juche, although has some distant similarities to socialism, is in fact fascism. The ideological ‘self-reliance’ has moulded a nation which aims to exist in political, social and economical isolation from the rest of the planet. (Dixon,2011). The strong focus on self-reliance started appearing after the Korean War and also the fact that they had been ruled by Japan for the last several decades.

In the speech On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, given on April 14, 1965, Kim Il-sung outlined the three fundamental principles of Juche:, political independence , economic self-sustenance and self-reliance in defence(Kwak,2009).

The Worker’s Party of Korea(WPK) is responsible for propagating the propaganda of Juche now and working it into all official legislature. As opposed to other ideologies, Juche is concrete in its ideals; it is not merely rhetoric but part of the written law. National survival has been at the top of much DPRK legislation. The DPRK has in the past, long struggled to survive after surviving once more after the Soviet occupation; the DPRK was determined to stay ‘Korean’.

Kimilsungism and Kimjongilism are both interchangeable with the terminology and ideology of Juche. Many have compared them to an evolved form of Marxism or Leninism; this has been denied Kim Jong- Il and the WPK.Juche is seen as something more, akin to the like of Maoism. What it has done has advanced the position of the family name in such a way that it could now be deemed a de-facto religion. In this sense, a form of immortality is promised to the citizens of the DPRK “Immortality comes about in that if your body dies, as long as your community survives you’ll have some sort of continued existence.”(KFA,2011). This shows that the state is in fact held about all else, even do the loss of ‘self’.

When Juche was revealed as the governing principle of North Korean Life, it gained godlike reverence of Kim ll Sung himself. Juche views people as history makers as opposed to Marxism-Leninism or even capitalism which sees material goods to be the real powers of history-making. In Althusser’s theory of Ideology and State Apparatuses, he wrote about the Marxist edifice of the infrastructure and superstructure. The two floors on which all is built, the infrastructure which consists of the forces, relations and means of all production. The superstructure is growing from the infrastructure and consists of both culture and ideology.(Althusser,1970).

In Juche, there is no floor; there is still a culture of ‘the masses’ though. In communism mostly labourers, farmers and workers are valued above all else. The Juche ideology has combatted this with the notion of ‘people’ this has been an attempt to destroy long-held strict social boundaries and hierarchies. This has resulted in the division of three classes, workers, peasants and professionals/academics. This lead to rapid and unstable industrialization, through the Juche belief of human power over nature. This has not worked as hope as millions of people are starving every year and the country depends now on foreign aid greatly. The focus on the sense of family is another notable trait of the ideology of Juche with the change from a micro-family unit to a macro-family unit. This would see the abolishment of the micro-family unit as seen in capitalism: mother, father, son, daughter and son of. Instead, the focus has been shifted to the focus of a macro-family unit.Juche views Kim-II Sung as the father and the citizens of the DPRK as his children. (Armstrong,2005)

It is clear from the example of the DPRK what incredible impact ideologies can have on the economies and political choices of people. It is natural and all too common to promote lies as truth through an ideology. As the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted “‘The form of consciousness that fits late-capitalist “post-ideological” society – the cynical, “sober” attitude that advocates liberal “openness” in the matter of “opinions” (everybody is free to believe whatever she or he wants; this concerns only his or her privacy), disregards pathetic ideological phrases, and follows only utilitarian and/or hedonistic motivations – stricto sensu remains an ideological attitude: it involves a series of ideological presuppositions (on the relationship between “values” and “real life”, on personal freedom, etc.) that are necessary for the reproduction of existing social relations’(Zizek,1994). Ideologies are formed through the social formation and order of societies. Marxist theory shows this, that there must be order to exist’. Ideologies are however often influenced by ‘the powers that be’ and the means of production and through this materials.


The continued relevance of Paulo Freire i the 21st century


Paulo Freire was on the forefront of the critical pedagogy movement; he argued that education can never merely be a neutral process. Education can either be used to adopt generations into the current logic system or instead, education can be used a tool to allow people to think critically about reality. This allows people to conform or transform their world respectively. Many academics have debated over the last several years whether the theories of Paulo Freire are still as relevant now regarding education in the 21st century as they were in the 20th. Some academics argue that his opinions are no longer relevant in a ‘western’ setting, yet some debate that his theories are more relevant than ever as education could be deemed an inflated ‘banking’ system more than ever.


Paulo Reglus Neves Freire was a Brazilian educator and deemed by some to be the most important educator of the second half of the twentieth century (Carnoy 2004). Freire was the leading voice in the critical pedagogy theory and thus wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed, believed to be the founding text of the critical pedagogy movement. Freire was born to a relatively wealthy middle-class family in Brazil who then suffered during the great depression resulting in Freire experiencing the life of the poor.  Freire did not do well in school, nor did many of the more impoverished children who came to be his close companions; this was due to their hunger and social situation as Freire stated ” “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education”(Stevens, no date). Many believe these early scenarios are what led Freire on his lifelong conquest to aid the poorest in society. After his family had their fortune back, Freire enrolled into law school and also studied phenology and language psychology.

For the next few years Freire worked as a lecturer and attained many high ranking positions at various universities; he was imprisoned as a traitor during the 1964 military coup as he was believed to be a traitor. After being released, he worked in Chile and published Education as the Practice of Freedom which was his first book. He was then offered a visiting professorship at Harvard. The next year Pedagogy of the Oppressed was released, although it took some years to be translated due to political feuds. After working in The USA and Switzerland, he eventually moved with his wife to Sao Paulo where he died in 1997 due to heart failure.

Paulo Freire contributed in many ways to a number of schools, namely in education, psychology, philosophy, law and liberation. Much of his work focused in five key areas; these were: dialogue, praxis, conscientization, lived experience education, and his theory of class suicide. Freire recognized the need to reform education from the traditional monologue of traditional education; this is where he came up with the contrasting dialogue of schooling.(Vella,2004). Traditional monologue education focuses on presenting learners with information, they do not have to engage with the information but are instead ‘fed’ what the instructor wants them to know.(Global learning partners,2006). The method of monologue education was directly opposed by dialogue education which is a form of constructivism which can lead to transformative learning.(Vella,2004) Praxis was an area in which Freire was also focused, an area in which few other educators have delved. Praxis can be linked back to Aristotle and later, several young Hegelian authors in defining Marxism. Praxis is often thought of as when skills, theories and ideas are put into practice, linked with certain values in mind. He defined praxis as: “reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed.” (Freire,1970) He wrote in detail about Praxis in Pedagogy of The Oppressed and explained how dialogue and praxis are entwined to make transformative change.

The concept of conscientisation was first developed by Freire and has its roots in post-Marxist theory. Conscientisation can be  achieved by having a critical consciousness and engaging a form of metacognition.  Many modern academics have built upon Freire’s’ theory of concinzisation such as Joe Kincheloe. Joe Kincheloe expanded upon the term and linked it with his work in post formalism. In this context, Kincheloe constructs a critical theory of cognition that explores questions of meaning, and a focus on the socio-political construction of the self.(Thomas and Kincheloe,2006).

Lived experience education for Freire meant opening up opportunities for educators both formal and informal to open up to new practices. In particular, this is done through the use of language as Freire believed that creating new names and ways of acting to be particularly powerful. Class suicide is another concept in which Freire focused. Class suicide means for both teachers and learners to rise above until they are thinking in a conscious way. As Paul Taylor noted “the educator for liberation has to die as the unilateral educator of the educatees, in order to be born again as the educator-educatee of the educatees-educators. An educator is a person who has to live in the profound significance of Easter. (Paul Taylor,1993).


Education in the 21st century is not the same as education in the 20th, as technology has changed . It could be deemed as a time where education has been taken over by the ‘mega rich’, where the political relevance of education has been lost to the language of measurement and quantification.(Giroux,2010).

As the ‘mega rich’ have been sieging educational institutions with both neoliberal and conservative forces Friere’s words ring truer than ever: “The fatalist is discouraging ideology which drives the liberal discourse is stalking the world. In the name of postmodernism, it seeks to persuade us that we can do nothing to change the social situation which, once seen as historical and cultural, is now becoming ‘almost the natural state.” (Friere,1970). What is clear is that the majority of Freire’s ideals are stuck in the past, they are viewed with a sense of nostalgia, even by academics who grew up in his era of struggle. They now think differently and have accepted the current totalitarian hegemony as ‘normal’.

For younger academics, he is simply a bibliographical reference in an exercise, devoid of characterization or anything deeper. (Hurtado, 2007). Freire’s works and ideals without a doubt helped shape the 20th century. Many intellectuals in the past and even now claimed to have ‘read’ Friere; they can quote, mark and regurgitate countless examples for any given situation. Freire requires commitment; he must be read, reread, and read again, this then allows people to form their own Freire in the way they see him.

The commitment that it takes to ‘read’ Friere is something which is all too sadly commonly lacking in our neoliberal age. The reason that students who have studied Freire are so dangerous to ‘the powers that be’ is that it grants them the ability to negotiate the relationship between theory and practice. Not only why they are learning what they are but also why. Why are they learning in this specific way and in what way is it benefitting themselves and others? Students who are educated liberally and radically can critically analyze both themselves and their society. One method of implanting liberal education could be done through what Freire named culture circles. This is a teaching methodology in which the focus is based on group discussions and participation as opposed to a syllabus which can be both alienating and daunting to any student.

Some academics now argue that many of Freire’s contributions were relevant in the past, they worked but are no longer useable in a modern society. In many ways, we need to be using strict and structured language in the 21st century. Ideas that can be grounded in their contexts. This can tie in well with Freire and his perceptions of the oppressed. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, he deems that a side must be chosen, either with them or against them. This is perhaps outdated particular in development when actors should be looked at in a holistic fashion.

Regarding holistic thought, much of Freire’s work has been criticized by academics by being sexist, particularly by feminist scholars. This was because when he would write the word he, writing it as an inclusive term for all of humanity. Much of his writing was based on the oppressed, but much of his work portrayed the downtrodden as only males, mostly in the form of male peasant farmers. (Weiler, 1996)As concepts of gender and expressive sexuality have changed entering the 21st century, Freire could be deemed outdated.

Education and in many ways, development was shaped in a number of ways by Freire. Although education and development have changed a lot, many things have not and do remain the same. In this sense, Freire is still very relevant and perhaps more important than ever. The ideal of a democratic society has not changed in the last couple of thousand years and very little since Freire’s first writings. A democratic society is one in which people are allowed the rights to freedom of speech and expression and have a hand in crafting their nation.

As Abrahan Lincoln said during the Gettysburg Address “”Democracy is for the people, By the people, Of the people.”(Abraham Lincoln,1863). Freire believed that is a true democracy that equal opportunity does not exist.  He wrote “No one can learn tolerance in a climate of irresponsibility, which does not produce democracy. The act of tolerating requires a climate in which limits may be established, in which there are principles to be respected. That is why tolerance is not coexistence with the intolerable. Under an authoritarian regime, in which authority is abused, or a permissive one, in which freedom is not limited, one can hardly learn tolerance. Tolerance requires respect,, discipline, and ethics.(Freire, 2001).Ethics was central to Freire when it came to development and education. Education is not merely a tool to learn knowledge, knowledge itself is a social construct after all; but ratherto  learn ethical values which are particularly important in the development field.(Hurtardo, 2007) Ethical knowledge is more important than ever in the 21st century. We have become in many ways been educated a neoliberal and hegemonic sense of ethics, which is further than ever from humanist values. As we have firmly settled in the ‘culture of normality’, it is harder to create changes in development, As so much of development now is reigned by distant and alienating terminology, facts and figures. Through education, progress can be adapted to fit the 21st.

As many academics have pointed out, much of Freire’s methods and particularly his terminology may be outdated. Many have had problems with his views on the oppressed and his definition of democracy. Radical education and humanist values are essential to changing how development is seen in the 21st century. Only through educational frameworks set out by Friere and others like him can this be achieved. Even development has seen the impact of the neoliberal ‘powers that be’. The first steps towards change are to acknowledge the dominant factors and examine them critically. They must be considered, and how they impact lives in social, political, and even personal contexts, this will then lead to changes in education and therefore development. In this sense, Freire cannot be said to be outdated but more relevant than ever.












Critical Thinking in Development

Critical thinking is a concept which we have all heard but rarely understood. Critical thinking can be argued to be particularly important when it comes to a context of development. This does not mean that critical thinking is always embraced, however, quite often it is rather something aspired to put into practice rather as opposed to concrete action.  Many actors in the field of development are often too busy providing services and aid to focus on a more thoughtful and holistic approach; and therefore forget to ‘hunt for assumptions’ . (Brookfield, no date). There are a number of factors that can enable true transformation in a development context to occur and several pitfalls which more often than not prevent this from happening.


Critical thinking can be defined as “the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment” (Edwards Glacer 2017).Critical thinking of any given situation can lead to critical analysis. To think critically it comes down to facts, what you know and the ability to make a decision based on the analysis of the facts you know. The more you now allows to to make better well-informed decision overall.  Critical thinking can and should be applied to every situation in life, when attempting to think critically it is important to keep in mind a number of questions namely: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How. (Lee Watanbee-Crocket,2016)





The questions mentioned before should be applied in a development context in a number of ways:


  1. Who – Who will this action harm/benefit, Who will be directly affected, Who should be consulted, Who will implement this action.
  2. What – What alternative approaches are there, What is most/least important, What is the best/worst case scenario, What obstacles may be faced.
  3. Where – Where has similar action been carried out before, Where to find capital, Where is this needed most.
  4. When – When is the best time to implement this, When could this cause problems, When will we know if it has been a success or failure,
  5. Why – Why should we be doing this, Why is this relevant to us, Why has this not been addressed before, Why have we allowed this to happen
  6. How – Will we approach this safely, How does this affect us in the long run, How does this benefit/disrupt us, How do we see the affects in the future.




The questions outlined above are questions which should be applied to any given situation in development. This ensures that the most vulnerable can be protected. Thinking suspiciously is important as it allows actors to prepare for the worst-case scenario. This is not to say that pessimism should be encouraged in development planning but rather to be prepared for any situation from the ground up.  This is why it is also once again to reiterate the importance of viewing development practitioners as facilitators and not as experts.  Development practitioners need to be placed in situations where they can develop their critical thinking, this can be done through ‘hunting assumptions’, Brookfield defines ‘hunting assumptions’ as “Trying to discover what our assumptions are, and then trying to judge when, and how far, these are accurate, is something that happens every time critical thinking occurs.”. (Brookfield, no date). Assumptions must be found, identified and analyzed; it must be found how far they stretch and how valid they are.  Our assumptions are built into our upbringing, they are not however solid, they adapt and change as we do, often through adolescence or becoming part of new social groups and surroundings.  For example, if you were brought up in the UK, you would have certainly built-in assumptions of patriarchy, or in India, certain assumptions about other castes.


There are a number of factors that can prevent or hinder critical thinking. Critical thinking is something that we would all like to put into play every day but often do not because of various hurdles specific to development.  Actors tend to rely on traditional education to aid them which falls short in many scenarios by being far too linear.  Academic and technical knowledge is far more accessible, however, is limited due to the specific contexts where it was/can be applied.  Rather actors should build up a base of knowledge from exposure to multicultural environments, Work experience, life experience and so on.  Most actors in development rather are too busy trying to busy spending limited time and resources to bring about change than to think about a situation in a truly critical and analytical way. Critical thinking takes time, money and resources, factors quite alien to the development industry.


Critical thinking is integral to implementing effective and holistic development. Actors must look at situations, taking all factors and contexts into account. This can be done by continually applying the critical thinking questions outlined above. It is true that there are numerous factors contributing to the prevention of critical thinking. This is why specific critical analysis training should be given to all involved. One factor contributing to the prevention of critical thought practice is the lack of resources, this would, of course, be for the benefit of all parties involved in the long term as investing in the pursuit of critical thinking would lead to saving in numerous ways, including assets.


The Five Capitals

I agree that there is not one precise accumulation of assets that equates development, definitely nos ‘success’ . It is important to see capitals as vehicles for instrumental actions(making a living) which then leads to hemenetry  action(making a living meaningful) which in turn then leads to emancipatory action(challenging the power of structures)(Bebbington 2013). This is why is is important to view assets as not only single assets with single uses but rather look at the interconnectedness, a single asset but multiple uses. Look at the example of an ox, a farmer may buy it to work the fields whch brings them physical capital. They then use the ox tow build economic capital, enhance their nature capital, working together with their human capital. The farmer can also use the ox to enhance their social capital(renting to a friend or building association etc.

The 5 capitals pentagon has five parts namely:

-Natural capital

Natural resources stocks(Soil,water,air etc) and environmental services(Hydrological cycle etc)

-Social Capital

Social resources(Networks,associations etc)

(Can have negative impacts, joining certain groups etc,KKK,Antifa,…)

-Human Capital

Skills and Knowledge,Labour and Health


-Physical Capital

Infrastructure(Tools,transport,shelter etc)

-Economic or Financial Capital

Capital Base(Cash,credit etc)

Having the ‘x factor’ is important to creating a successful household. The concept of the ‘x factor is the same (being the right combination of the 5 capitals, being able to suffer shocks etc,as well as being sustainable). It holds true however that the ‘x factor is entirely contextual and differs greatly on the location and background of any given household.The ‘x factor should rather be viewed and analysed by its perceptive surroundings.

As the sustainable livelihoods approach was originally developed for rural settings it is now moving towards urban contexts. Capitals change over time (water is more valuable in a drought etc). This is why households must focus on the opportunity cost of any move, for example, if more money is spent on electricity, then there is less money to spend on other things(food etc).

‘The striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environments. (Diamond 1997

Human Development Index/Wellbeing Thailand

The Human Development Index (HDI)  originated in reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Originally developed and implemented by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990 “to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people-centred policies”(Haq,1990). The HDI focuses on measuring education, life expectancy and per capita income. So countries where people live long and happy lives, are well educated and have a comfortable standard of living tend to score the highest. Thailand currently has a score of 0.74 placing it at 87 out of all 188 countries measured making it a top scoring country. In 1990 Thailand had a score of 0.54, this means that Thailand has achieved an increase of almost 29 percent since 1990 and the last HDI report in 2015. The mean years of schooling increased by 3.3 years, life expectancy at birth also increased by 4.3 years, and there has been a huge increase of 121.2 percent regarding the GNI per capita. The Inequality-adjusted HDI helps to focus on and brings into account all the inequalities in all three areas; inequality is something that the standard HDI fails to reveal. When the Inequality-adjusted HDI in taken into account Thailand’s score falls to just 0.54, resulting in a 20 percent loss. This is, however, the average for high scoring HDI countries.(HDI report,2016)


The Happy Planet Index was conceived by and carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in 2006.As opposed to the HDI the HPI focuses more on sustainability. The HDI report of a country may only reveal the GDP and solid figures relating to standard development but not on sustainable development or the effects on the environment. Countries that leave small ecological footprints score significantly higher than those that leave large ones. The HPI also takes into account the happiness of people and believes that the usual ultimate aim of most people is not to be rich, but to be happy and healthy(Sen,1999).Thailand measures very well on the Happy Planet Index with a score of 37.3, placing the country at 9th place of all 140 countries that were measured. The life-expectancy of people in Thailand is currently 74.5 years, with people having a wellbeing of 6.3 out of 10. Thailand scored 2.7gha/p(global hectares per person) for their ecological footprint and achieved  a score of 15 percent for inequality. Thailand has scored very well on the HPI, making it into the top 10 of all countries measured. The HPI does not take into account human rights abuses, however, although some figures may reflect this. The HPI has also been criticized as an effective tool for measurement as there is too much focus on happiness, something which is subjective and personal and the parameters for which change with each perspective culture.(Happy Planet Index,2017)


The GDP of Thailand currently represents 0.66 percent of the economy of the world which is worth 406 billion USD. The GDP growth rate was showing a downward trend over the last few years due to political turmoil but now is on the rise again due to some sense of political stability. (Trading Economics,2017)


Thailand scored significantly higher on the HPI compared to the HDI. This is due to the focus on sustainability, environmental impact and ‘happiness’. There are major merits to both of these measurements as well as numerous ways that they fall short and fail to see the whole picture. The HPI does not take into account human rights abuses which are a major issue, particularly in Thailand. Human rights abuses do effect the figures to a degree such as the scores for wellbeing and equality. They do not, however, have much to do with life expectancy or Thailand’s ecological footprint. Sen Amartyas statement about the primary focus of people is their wish to be happy over wealth is very accurate. (Sen,1999)  If people were offered to be happy or wealthy, they would more often than not choose to be happy. Most people believe that wealth is the vehicle that leads to happiness. Happiness is hard to quantify, as it is not a concrete figure and means something different for everyone. In either case, Thailand is on a positive trend, and as long as there is no more political unrest, the country can look forward to both financial security and happiness.


Paulo Freire, Oppression and Conscientization

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire was a Brazilian educator and deemed by some to be the most important educator of the second half of the twentieth century(Carnoy 2004). Freire was the leading voice in the critical pedagogy theory and thus wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed, believed to be the founding text of the critical pedagogy movement. Freire was born to a relatively wealthy middle-class family in Brazil who then suffered during the great depression resulting in Freire experiencing the life of the poor.  Freire did not do well in school, nor did many of the poorer children who came to be his close companions; this was due to their hunger and social situation as Freire stated ” “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education”(Stevens, no date). Many believe these early scenarios are what led Freire on his lifelong conquest to aid the poorest in society. After his family had their fortune back, Freire enrolled into law school and also studied phenology and language psychology. For the next few years Freire worked as a lecturer and attained many high ranking positions at various universities; he was imprisoned as a traitor during the 1964 military coup as he was believed to be a traitor. After being released he worked in Chile and published Education as the Practice of Freedom which was his first book. He was then offered a visiting professorship at Harvard. The next year Pedagogy of the Oppressed was released,although it took some years to be translated due to political feuds. After working in The USA and Switzerland, he eventually moved with his wife to Sao Paulo where he died in 1997 due to heart failure.

Oppression was believed to be Freires most contested social issue. Oppression is a constant and ever evolving struggle between those with power and those without it, between the oppressed and the oppressor. We all belong to one of these groups at certain points in our lives. There are numerous categories which can form our varying forms of as oppressor/oppressed such as: social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, sex and so on. Sometimes people use these categories as a mode to vent their own prejudiced ideologies, for example, someone of a particular race may steal from them, they then, in turn, may view all people from that race as thieves. This can also be seen the other way around  where dominant groups may be victimized such as if a woman suffered some form of domestic abuse they may them blame all men. Both forms of mistreatment may hurt individuals equally case by case but mistreatment by women is systematic and socially accepted so the context within the mistreatment really makes a big difference (Sean Ruth 2006).Oppression is a word which people hear and often think of an authoritarian regime bent on totalitarianism. This is not always the case as Sean Ruth defines oppression as “where people do not get equal treatment or do not get treated with respect because they belong to a certain group or category of people”(Sean Ruth 2006). Oppression is a systematic process; it is not random. Many people internalize oppression, if someone is told something for long enough, they start to believe it. If someone Is told that they are stupid or ugly for long enough, then they begin to see it as fact.

Conscientization is defined by Ledwith as “the process whereby people become aware of the political, socioeconomic and cultural contradictions that interact in a hegemonic way to diminish their lives” (Ledwith 2005). Conscientisation means developing a critical consciousness which is pivotal to perceive social, political, and economic oppression and to take action against the oppressive elements of society.(Hermes press, no date). Conscientisation can result in collective action, or can even be applied individually to encourage critical analysis, metacognition and perhaps also to let go of long-held and oppressive worldviews.



Freire believed that the key to attaining conscientisation was through liberating and radical education, one such mode could be culture circles. This is a more informal teaching methodology where the focus is on group discussion and participation as opposed to an alienating syllabus. This is a form of liberating education.



Freire saw two perspectives two education. Firstly there was the banking approach where the student is seen as an empty account merely waiting to be filled by the teacher; this results in the students simply being receiving objects and little more. This keeps things as they are and educates individuals to fit into society. Secondly, there was the liberating approach; this can be implemented through methods such as culture circles. This allows both teachers and students to be co-learners where relevant knowledge can be sought together. Students are left with critical knowledge in a way that the banking approach to education could never provide. This results in the transformation of the status quo entirely. (Hope and Timmel 1995)

Freires concepts of oppression and conscientization have always impressed me and are most relevant in our current narcissistic era. In our current societies, we aspire to be cool, illiterate, egotistical and violent individuals. Not to seem like a political nihilist but we truly are victims of our past and upbringing, and that is why we do what we do now, we have little control. We have lost the knowledge of how precious real human liberty is. This is because our education systems have and are continuing to create a whole generation of distracted people. In Frieres own words:

“Who are better prepared than the oppressed to understand the terrible significance of an oppressive society? Who suffer the effects of oppression more than the oppressed? Who can better understand the necessity of liberation? They will not gain this liberation by chance but through the praxis of their quest for it, through their recognition of the necessity to fight for it. And this fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence, lovelessness even when clothed in false generosity.”(Friere 1968)