Problems of Modernization in Siam
Modernization in Thailand demanded allegiance to the western ways of governance, religion and education. These were against the traditional Buddhism beliefs which stood for harmonious coexistence. Those who opposed the westerner’s view of how the country should be run like Pridi were disliked. Most of the leaders under the modern system used their power to glorify themselves at the expense of other citizens. There were always attempts in the political, military and business circles to demean the constitution. After Pridi was overthrown there was a deviation in the concept of peace, democracy and justice. He fought for democracy which guaranteed equality, liberty and independence for all (Sivaraksa 103-104).
Democracy lost its meaning from the reign of King Rama V. The Thais were forced to dress like the westerners. They were forced to decorate their houses the western way, their eating ways were altered by force, and their names were changed. They had to worship the flag every morning and dictatorship was considered the proper way of leadership (Sivaraksa 99).
There was change in the kind of art which appeared to abolish the Thai traditions. These changes were against the Thai tradition was contradicted by the western teachings and cultures. Modernity appeared to uproot the Thai traditional way of life and replace it with the western way of life. People were forced to dress in a different way, the tradition of music when working and harvesting reduced and disappeared. To the people, tradition appeared to ruin their moral conduct that encouraged the natural existence in harmony (Sivaraksa 109).
‘Civilization’ according to the westerners was living in the cities while in the past; Thais living in the forest was a noble thing. Western civilization however discouraged living in the forests and encouraged city life. The western civilization which was embraced by the locals believed in political power and technology which was contra to the Thais perception of good life. The traditional way of life was considered inferior in general. This led to the loss of important aspects as living in harmony with nature and protection of the animals and forests (Sivaraksa 110).
Modernization eroded the elite’s minds from the cultural foundation of the natural beauty of the environment. This was replaced by the view that progress meant abolishing the tradition and embracing the western type of development. In doing this, the environment lost its harmony when Western architecture was used to construct buildings in Asian background. The use of automobiles also contributes to environmental degradation. The community’s social fabric was torn affecting peoples way of thinking. Young Thais who pursued education abroad completely lost the traditions by admiring the west (Sivaraksa 112-114).
Western development has had its negatives on some Thais. It has led to the degradation of the positive aspects of the traditional Buddha’s...