Rest Cure

One night, near the end of a journey in the south of Thailand, I ran into trouble.

For the previous weeks, my partner and I had been out on a remote island, where there was no tourist infrastructure – and no internet. We were disconnected from the outside world. No social media, no news.

Then at the end of a long boat trip, we found ourselves back on the mainland.

Back in ´civilisation´.

Cruising the electronic world in the privacy of my air conditioned room, I came across a report concerning three Thais political activists who been found murdered on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos. Their bodies had been hideously mutilated.

This was a political crime.

It was a hate crime.

And it wasn’t too difficult to work out who was responsible for it: the Thai military, which ruled Thailand with an iron fist – in collusion with the Thai King. A cosy arrangement which had long defined the political landscape of Thailand.

Thanks to this snippet of news, I found myself dwelling on this brutal reality.

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Long Tail


Anya and I got talking to Ulrich one night over a glass of Thai whisky.

He was on his own and invited us over to his table.

The whisky went by the name of ‘Hong Thong’. We drank it with water.

We were surprised to see whisky on an island where most people were Moslems. To be sure, the Islam on Ko Sukorn was the most relaxed version of that religion I had seen. Many of the women did not wear head scarves. Still, alcohol was frowned upon by most religions – but especially by Islam.

We assumed that Ulrich had brought the whisky with him from the mainland.

He hadn’t. He’d gone around to all the shops (well, there weren’t that many of them) and asked at each one if they had drink – and he’d finally hit the jackpot, so to speak.

‘They keep it down the back, you have to ask for it.’

Ulrich liked his whisky alright.

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The King



The King was worshipped by his people.

No one ever wondered about the reasons for this worship. Everyone did it. You grew up with it. It was normal: King worship.

The King was a God, a Prophet, a Great Leader, a Great Helmsman, a Brother No. 1; the Father of the Nation.

Often you heard people on the street saying: ‘I’m so glad I was born under the reign of this magnificent King.’

No one could criticise the King or those who profited from his regime.

The military ran the country and the King was at the top of the hierarchy of dictatorship. The generals and the bureaucrats and the business leaders, all of them corrupt, were amongst his most enthusiastic supporters.

Because the universal worship of the King was a given, he never did anything for his people. The idea never occurred to him. In his own mind, he did more than enough for his people by existing. Hence it didn’t matter what happened, how poor the people became, how badly they were exploited, how corrupt and greedy the politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen; how unfair, how inefficient, how brutal the nation became, the King reigned supreme and nothing ever changed.




This King worship wasn’t something which was happening centuries ago.

It was happening now, in the 21st century. It was happening in one or another form in many nations all over the world.

How was this possible? This blind worship of a King – and the blindness towards the terrible list of injustices which went with it?

It was after all, 21st century, wasn’t it?

A time of modern communications and globalism, the lightning transference of ideas and images?

Once upon a time there were people who predicted that this modern, high-tech age with its communications revolution, would give power to the people, unleash a wave of democratisation across the globe. The net would change history forever. Wonderful it had been true – but it wasn’t. (Remember the ‘Arab Spring’, when Facebook was going to democratize the Arab World and topple dictators? Instead, it became a means of proselytization for I.S.)

Modern communications made King worship easy. Hard to believe, but true.

The TV, the internet and the social media were censored. Everywhere you went, everywhere you looked, there were images of His Highness, video clips of him as boy and a youth and a general, waving to the people and granting them his blessings.

There was censorship on the one hand, and propaganda on the other. The modern era offered unprecedented opportunities for thought-control.

All over the world, where ever you looked, there were nations where the people were held in bondage, like in ancient times – more, there were people who fastened the chains of oppression on their souls with smiles on their faces. Who revelled in their submission to a great father figure, a King.


Marx once said: ‘workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.’
But what if the workers wanted the chains and feared losing them?

How about that, Karl?




One day the King died.

It was more than a tragedy. It was a national trauma.

Millions of people cried, went into hysterics, for the Great Leader who never did anything for them.

Everyone wore black.

No one dared not to cry and not to wear black. The shops had no other clothing to sell: only black.

Everywhere, in the schools, along the roads, at the intersections, on the tall buildings – everywhere there were huge posters of the former King, dressed in all the finery of his station, ensconced in his palace costing billions of dollars whilst most of his people had to get by on a pittance.

The whole country was distraught. The economy went into a tailspin.

Everyone was depressed.

‘Why didn’t we die along with our King’ many people said.


Then finally a glimmer of light appeared. The generals stepped in. They had too much to lose.

The King’s son, a profligate and a man of extremely limited intelligence, ascended to the throne.

The people were saved, they had a reason to continue living their wretched lives.

The corrupt leaders grovelled on the ground and gave thanks to God.