So, ethnic minorities can no longer survive. They have to have cash crops like tea, vegetables, so that they have to make money to buy things. They can no longer be an independent society. So, my point is that I started paralleling what is happening here with what has happened in the United States, including with the Native Americans, and started posing more questions.
All of these are questions. And the questions are, Hmm. Look how the Native Americans were taken out. Look at how the capitalists took out people’s small rural farms in America. They did it through big industry, through global markets, through economy. They are doing the same thing here in Thailand (and the rest of the developing world).
If, for example, you take the world economy and flood it with the corn from America, this drops the market value. So you get the small local rice farmer here in Thailand (or the villager living in the mountains), who can’t afford to be independent from large corporations or government subsidies any longer because the selling price is now so low that he cannot survive independently. It perhaps forces him to sell his farm and move to the city and work for large corporations. I suspect that a similar thing is happening here in Thailand.
The way to do this is to homogenize people’s cultures, make everyone essentially the same. So I started learning more and more about what is happening to hill tribe people, and trying to find the possible connections between how my home country was developed, and now that I am in this developing part of the world, are the same development strategies being implemented? Is it happening to the Thais? And now is it happening to the hill tribe people as well, who for the most part aren’t even considered human beings in mainstream Thai culture (“They’re called, ‘the other people.’)
So this is when all of my experiences began developing more and more in to a deep curiosity, a passion to try and parallel these two realities between where I come from and where I am and understand the developing world.
So, I began ending up in other hill tribe villages, learning more knowledge. I was approached by CMU to do a documentary on the Hin Lad Nai village. However, at the time I had already built up this curiosity about development and what is happening to hill tribe people.
I wanted to know if it is true that what is happening here in Thailand is the same thing that has already happened in the States, for example. Because Europe has thousands of years of evolution there, right? And I don’t know enough about Europe to pull from any knowledge. I’m not even going to try. This just because more of a curiosity.
[Interviewer: You wanted to know in order to make a difference, to change something?]
I’m not sure. I just wanted to understand, and this has evolved into something more and more. Every time I go to another village, I learn more.
This isn’t so much about the hill tribe environment, per say. It’s about looking into what I view as the core of humanity, where people within short distances of urban modern environments are still living off from the land.
Okay. I am on the periphery of globalization. I call it this because modern development is like this snake, this growth going around the earth. Where I come from is the tail. And now here in Thailand, there are these people who are trying to live this traditional way of life, and in some ways are, as all human beings once did. And they are slowly being engulfed by this world market system.
So, I see this as, ‘Hey. If we can get in now and look at these people, while the elders for example are still alive, and their cultures remain intact. And if I can talk to someone who is 80 years old who knows little or nothing about the modern world. And at the same time I can talk to a teenager who is excited about some Koren hip-hop artist at the same time, wow; how much insight into what is really happening can we all attain?
The theory is that if I go into these environments before they are completely transitioned into, well, being machines basically, like the rest of us, subjected to this economic slave system, which is what it is, this slave market system that turns us all into corporate slaves; we’re not free, any of us. The only time we are free is when we live within the limitation of our resources. Right?