Virat Trampongphan, Architect & Director of Community Projects at the Ashram of Community & Environmental Architects Ltd.
(Excerpt from a forum at the Ashram)
The notion of having a community is a constructed perception. Today, just because people are living together doesn’t mean that they see themselves as a ‘community’. To have a community, you must build it from the base.
Nowadays, the idea of seizing state power through “social revolution” is not so popular. In the past, we’ve seen many groups of people who have successfully seized state power. They positioned themselves at the top, and in effect, became the new ruling class themselves. So the egalitarian society they’ve hope for didn’t quite materialize. That’s why people nowadays tend to shy away from the theory of “social revolution”.
But the desire to make social changes still lingers in the people’s mind. So, people start looking for new ways to build a just society. Recently, there emerges a new trend of making social changes. The idea is to strengthen progressive ideals by building a strong civil society. This would create a strong base for which an egalitarian society could grow. In this method, changes tend to happen slower than the method of seizing power at the top, but many people believe that it’s more reliable.
According to Professor Tianchai, the end of the Cold-War had changed everything. Today – in every parts of the world – we see the emergence of ‘fundamentalism’. It’s a global trend towards reviving the long-neglected local traditions. We can see this in America, Middle-East, and even in Thailand right now. In Thailand, some people say that we are witnessing the battle between the force of global capital and the force of tradition.
Time will show us the victor as we cannot judge history in such a short period of time. But I don’t think that it could end peacefully – it’s not the nature of this kind of conflict.
As we continue to do our work for the community, we must ask ourselves: Is it important for us to see the impact of our work on the larger world right now?
If we don’t think it is that important, then we just need to do what we think is right for us and the society. There are many open paths that are available to us all.