ESP B01 Special Seminar by Prof. Michael Connors
Date: Thursday, April 27th, 2017
Venue: GRIPS Room 4A ( 4th floor)
Topic: Liberalism against the people: Why liberals support coups d’état
Speaker: Dr. Michael K. Connors (Professor, the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus)
Moderator: Dr. Veerayooth Kanchoochat GRIPS)
Bio: Michael K. Connors is Associate Professor in the School of Politics, History and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. He is also a visiting fellow at the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University. Connors has recently published on Thailand’s conservative double movement in the International Journal of Cultural Policy, and also on political ideology in Southeast Asia in Asian Review. The third edition of the co-authored New Global Politics of the Asia Pacific will be released at the end of 2017. His current projects include political corruption, authoritarianism and constitutionalism.
Abstract: Various liberal political currents have co-existed with a number of regime forms in Thailand including military, bureaucratic, hybrid conservative-liberal and pluto populist regimes. Within each of these regimes, elite liberals found access to the state for partial reforms and advancement. For reasons to do with a conventional view of what liberalism is, this project has largely been ignored or discounted as “fake liberalism”. This paper makes a case for identifying historical forms of liberalism and engages in a morphological analysis of recent elite Thai liberalism. It explores how it is that some liberals found themselves in the illiberal position of either succumbing to the logics of a coup d’etat (2006) and “reluctantly” relating to it, or more forcefully supporting that coup d’etat. As liberalism around the world responds to a wave of nationalism and populism, understanding liberalism’s capacity to contest the electoral legitimacy of illiberal democracies is all the more pressing. The trajectory of Thai liberalism may hold lessons for other cases.