In This Review

Future Forward: The Rise and Fall of a Thai Political Party
Future Forward: The Rise and Fall of a Thai Political Party
By Duncan McCargo and Anyarat Chattharakul
University of Hawaii Press, 2020, 252 pp

This pithy and accessible book charts the short life of Future Forward, a progressive political party founded in 2018 that, until its dissolution in 2020, challenged Thailand’s authoritarian political order. The authors sketch the party’s leadership, including its charismatic co-founder the tycoon Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit; its progressive ideological platform; and its supporters. Quietly simmering under the narrative are concerns about whether the movement can be revived and whether it represented a new kind of party or merely put a new spin on a conventional model centered on high profile, charismatic leaders. The authors highlight a generational divide underlying recent protests in Thailand: digitally savvy youth with global worldviews do not share the values of older generations, which remain loyal to the monarchy and the social hierarchy underpinning it. Future Forward’s political platform—advanced in large part on social media—appealed to younger generations because it advocated values such as inclusivity, diversity, and opposition to hierarchy. Although the book argues that Internet platforms are crucial to progressive politics in Thailand, it is less successful in explaining what this means in a country where virtually everyone, including conservative royalists, is active on social media.