In response to 'Thai Nationalism' (ajarn postbox 18th October 2010) Andy. Let me start with a question. Can you name another country on this planet where people are not nationalistic? Isnt pride in where you are from an inate feeling that probably has some social bonding mechanism that aids survival at a more primevial level? I would also argue that nationalism is a negative phrase implying some kind of desire for dominiation of non-nationals, which is unlikely to be the case here. I find it ironic that an American is writing this attempt to discredit Thai pride with something more sinister, when America is supposed to be the beacon of freedom and Americans are urged to believe in themselves, which they certainly do.
Second question, do you really understand Thai culture well enough to be able to state quite categorically that what you perceive is nationalism and the belief of Thais in the pefection of their people? Do you understand Thai well enough to really know the subtleties of the language to truly know how the speaker feels? Maybe what you percieve is a desperation not to lose face, after all isn't that what Thais are infuriatingly famous for? And if they dont want to face, this implies there is something wrong to make them lose face. Knowing something is wrong or not perfect would surely imply Thais dont feel they are perfect, they simply do not want to be hurt by showing they are not perfect. Remember what you see on the surface does not necessarily reflect what is felt inside. Maybe you are confusing preserving self pride with facist tendancies.
You claim you have never had a satisfactory answer to your question about what objective facts give Thais the right to feel so proud? Well what are you criteria for assessment. I am certain they will be based on Western values, technological and scientific advancement, a fair society, well developed legal systems etc (all the things you Americans have to thank us Europeans for). Maybe Thais do not judge their country in the way that Westerners judge theirs. They may have different criteria and to regard their criteria as anything other than different is arrogant.
As for having no substance, what about the price of a McDonald's hamburger, there is somethiing that truly has no right to it's belief in it's value of over a dollar, when it is worth 4 cents at best.