Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker have sent through a paper they presented at the Siam Society in December 2008. It deals with the same general set of magical themes as the article by Charles Keyes discussed in this recent New Mandala post. The text of the Pasuk and Baker presentation, plus a fascinating series of powerpoint slides, is available here. Their concluding paragraph deserves special attention:
In the end, the survival of these beliefs has a profoundly anti-democratic aspect. Generals who command a nation’s armed forces, and businessmen with assets in billions of dollars, are reluctant to accept that politics are moved by the sentiments of the people rather than the influences of the stars and spirits over which they can claim some special control.
In the context of my earlier question about the enduring role of spirits, stars and other rituals in the life of the Thai palace such issues are worthy of some further reflection. Thanks to Pasuk and Chris for sharing their illuminating analysis.