Economic "Nationalism" in a Post-Nationalist Era

Author: Jim Glassman

Abstract:

Major media discussion of the Thai Rak Thai party's electoral victory in 2001 characterized the party as a populist-nationalist party that was threatening to implement “closed-door” economic policies and “turn back the clock” on economic liberalization. While Thai Rak Thai has, since coming to power, implemented a small number of mercantilist and populist policies, its actions in no way resemble those of a nationalist regime intent on promoting closed-door economic policies. The reasons for this are evident from an examination of the party's social base. This paper analyzes this diverse social base of support for various Thai Rak Thai policies and argues that Thai Rak Thai “nationalism” is more a function of the temporary and partial convergence of the scale politics of these diverse social groups than of any commitment to serious economic nationalism. Moreover, it argues that the groups involved in supporting Thai Rak Thai “nationalism” are already internationalized in many of their activities. What therefore characterizes Thai Rak Thai's project is not a unified, strong nationalism, but rather a shared reaction of opposition to global neoliberalism by different Thai social groups.
Countries: Thailand

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March 2004
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