With the anniversary of the April-May 2010 red-shirt protests looming, can colourful demonstrations and incendiary street brawls be far away?
Thousandsof red-shirt supporters cheer as they listen to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra viaavideo link during a rally atMuang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi last year. APICHIT JINAKUL
Protest organisers often point to numbers as a metric of success. The reasoning is easy to understand, which is perhaps why Hitler saw it that way too. The bigger the crowd - the epic rally at Nuremberg comes to mind - the easier he found it to tap mass emotion and manipulate minds. Individual expression, reflective thought, tolerance of diversity and differences of opinion were stifled in the shadow of red flags and swastikas. So it was then, so it is today. The more who march, the louder the pronouncements, the harder it is for marchers to be true to themselves. To those risking life and limb, the drumbeat from on high can be compelling to the point of hypnotic. With lockstep, groupthink takes hold. The colour schemes, runes and symbols, anthems, bright banners and headbands set the stage for a good propaganda show, but when the rhetoric gets vitriolic and lies take the place of unvarnished truth, individual agency is lost and people get stepped on and crushed.
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