Loyalty Demands Dissent
Parallax, 1998, £16.95 h/b
Sulak Sivaraksa is the de facto intellectual leader of Thailand’s Buddhist opposition, and Loyalty Demands Dissent is a briskly told autobiography following his progress from a middle class upbringing and western education to his current status as a Buddhist-inspired dissident intellectual. The book is stronger on what Sulak has done – the hectic round of publishing, academic work, writing, magazines and political activism – than on why he has done it.
His life is ideal material for a biographer seeking to make sense of the forces of modernisation, political repression and Buddhist values that have converged on Sulak’s life, and he himself can hardly be expected to provide a critical perspective on his struggles to accommodate them. Sulak emerges more as an intellectual seeking to draw on Buddhism than a Buddhist seeking to understand the world. Yet his life is characterised by huge energy and a fundamental integrity in his search for alternatives to capitalism and consumerism.
Review by Vishvapani, Dharma Life 9, Winter 1998