Notes From The Underground

 
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 100 in 1998.
 
 

RUBLES TURNING INTO RUBBLE, AGAIN

"The terrifying scene in Russia causes dismay at every level... Most analysts agree on this much, that you have a revolutionary situation." - William F. Buckley, Jr. in the New York Post.

 
 

As the current situation in Russia deteriorates, Evergreen looks back at Russian revolutionary posters from 1917-1929 (#46 / Apr. 1967). For more information on these and other posters, click here.

Aleksander Kerensky was the premiere of the interim government between the Czarist regime and the beginning of the establishment of the Soviet Union. He refered to that period alternately in two books he authored as the "Prelude to Bolshevism" and "The Catastrophe".

In November of 1917, Kerensky rode into Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) on a white horse with the Cossacks.

Shortly afterwards he escaped disguised as a sailor. This scenario is strangely similar to Boris Yeltsin reaching to power from the top of a tank. In what mode will he depart?


 

DEJA VU - THAI TREATMENT OF HILL TRIBE PEOPLES VIS-A-VIS U.S. TREATMENT OF NATIVE AMERICANS

The Thai government is once again moving against the Hmong people at Wat Tham Krabok. A commentary on the Op-Ed page of the Bangkok Post states that "A community crackdown like the one under way at the temple would never be tolerated anywhere else in Thailand. Police and authorities must get the crooks, for sure. But they should look in the children's eyes too - they deserve at least some education." The piece went on to call the government campaign a "brainwashing".

 
 

According to Peter Rosset, Executive Director for Food First, "The Hmong 'hill people' in the mountains of Northern Thailand seem to constantly be targeted by negative policies and imagery. In the 1960s U.S. funded anti-drug programs and the Thai military forced some of them to stop growing opium and helped them start intensive farming of commercial crops on low fertility mountan slopes, where they sank ever deeper into poverty. Others lost their land and moved into national park areas where they practice tradional shifting cultivation in an ecologically balanced way.

 
 

More recently the Hmong have drawn the ire of urban Thai environmental groups, the World Bank, the Thai government and the Thai military again. Now they are accused of destroying mountain watersheds--critical for lowland and urban water users--by farming them, precisely what they were forced to do by earlier policies. Similarly they are accused of "deforesting" national parks. The unfairness is clear, not only because their present accusers are among those who drove them to do what they are now doing, but also because their traditiopnal shifting cultivation practices are actually the most ecologically sound way to exploit fragile, forested slopes."

After World War II perhaps 2 million Tribal Hill Peoples, one of which is the Hmong, migrated from southwest China to the border areas of Thailand, Laos and Burma. The black and white photos were taken in China in 1944 by Barney Rosset. The color photos were taken in northern Thailand in 1990 by Astrid Myers.


 

THAILAND'S ECONOMIC FALLBACK POSITION

The International Labour Organisation has reported from Geneva that sex has become one of Thailand's biggest industries. The profession grosses $27 billion annually, or 1.1 trillion bhat and an estimated 200,000 or more female prostitutes alone conribute more to rural development than all government programs combined. The report predicted that the Thai recession means the industry will probably grow even bigger. The report also covered the Philippines, Malaysia and Idonesia and atated that between 2 and 14 percent of gross national product comes from sex in each of these countries. The Bangkok Post reports that Malaysia went into denial mode and that a government minister demanded the ILO provide more justification for its numbers, denied sex was a major industry in Malaysia.

The Post also reports that Indonesia's Social Affairs Minister Justika Baharsyah rejected the report's call to legalise prostitution so that the government could reap the taxes. "From a religious side, it can't be accepted," she said.

 

"Narrator: If life can be chosen, who would want to stand here. But since we are here, all we ask for is understanding... and a chance to live the hope that one day we can walk away. We are life, we are part of society. We have to struggle for a better life. There are many roads leading to it, and the one we are walking on is called Patpong.

Music: Part-time Lover

-From the Patpong musical presented by Empower, 1987"

The above quote is taken from Cleo Odzer's Patpong Sisters: An American Woman's View of the Bangkok Sex World (Foxrock/Arcade, 1994).

A study out of San Francisco reports that prostitutes in five countries including Thailand claimed that two-thirds of the working women suffered from shell shock, a syndrome also known as post-traumatic stress disorder. The psychological reaction, which is usually studied in combat soldiers after battle, includes symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, flashbacks and nightmares. The study found that psychological trauma is intrinsic to the act of prostitution.

Photos by Barney Rosset