Growing Pains

Why the burgeoning middle class in a prosperous Asian country rose up to insist that a flawed democracy was better than military rule

HOW'S THIS FOR A SIGN OF political maturity: blood runs in the streets as soldiers repeatedly fire into crowds of protesting citizens intent on forcing government changes. In most countries those events would be interpreted as a sign of catastrophic breakdown. But in Thailand they signal that the country no longer consists of a mass of illiterate peasants who meekly submit to military rule. That may have been true for most of the past six decades, but now a five-year economic boom has created an urban, affluent, well-educated middle class that is demanding a voice in politics, and it cannot be...

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