Nathan Wilson

Britain needs some Thai adverts

Messages are important, and advertising is vital in conveying messages. I do not wish to dwell on the history of such activities, but when we think of advertising, we think of persuasion and attraction; luring the viewer towards the subject matter of said advertisement.

As a result, we (sadly) have advertising on television (as if televisions weren’t bad enough). In the past, iconic adverts have included gorillas playing the drums or memorable lines from Hastings Direct. Have they ever changed anything or produced anything substantial within the UK? I would argue no, not really.

Typically, in the West, government and private business messages on social issues tend to be negative. We see adverts of smokers with cancerous growths and drink driving victims. The ‘world of you’ is incomplete without a specific item and you need it to become complete. The shock factor of such messages intends to make the audience fearful of the consequences of such behaviours. 

Additionally, Western adverts which touch on important issues comes across as painfully inauthentic, superficial, and twee. This is likely compounded by a heightened awareness of forcing major issues into such a short space of time for televisions. I assume this is because such adverts are made not for the viewers but for the creators themselves, mirroring most modern media in recent years.

In contrast, one country has used a different means of spreading its message, utilising comedy and the heartfelt. Although funny adverts exist all over the world (most notoriously in Japan), it is the health adverts found in Thailand which do the most wonders.

This being all being said, what has any of this got to do with Thailand its own adverts? Thailand has problems with alcohol, it ranks among the highest in the world and the highest within Asia. Britain has alcohol problems too, all of which have their own effects and subsequent advertising campaigns. What is interesting is how both nations advertise differently to their respective populations. Thai adverts tend to be more friendly, less intense and hit home for the audience. All these things considered, I’m of the view that they’re more effective than UK adverts.

Perhaps the most famous Thai advert is this anti-drinking advert, found here. What is the most interesting is that it is weirdly powerful in nature. We see an individual go from being a alcohol-induced wreck to becoming a functioning member of society in the space of a minute.

It is done in a funny yet logically coherent way. There is no great shock value, no negativity, it is all laid out for the viewer to understand and enjoy. Moreover, the greater emphasis on becoming productive, not just for yourself nor your family, but most importantly your nation. The time you spend drinking could be used to tackle the issues facing your life and getting ahead of things. These actions aggregate into a big societal change occurring; a change occurring from one action.

Contrast this to the harsh and brutal actions taken in UK television adverts regarding alcoholism and related issues. We see botched and broken bodies that shock daytime viewers, yet none of them seem to be memorable or affect us in a long-lasting and meaningful way. There is no positive message nor spin that can be used to reach further to the viewers. In short, what this shows is that of the major cultural divide between how both nations approach not just raising awareness of such issues, but what can be done about it.

Another good example which evokes the heartfelt can be found within this life insurance advert. Again, we see this attitude of avoiding the negative and instead we see the aggregate effects of one man’s actions uplifting the society which surrounds him. The style may be different to that of the aforementioned ‘comedic’ type of adverts, but the messages remain the same. We see a singular man do minor actions which help society at a much larger scale.

This sits in sharp contrast to the types of adverts that are commonly seen in the UK. Most life insurance adverts are reductive. We see some random adult sat at the dining table talking to a suspiciously non-Indian call centre worker about being a non-smoker and the cost of insurance for a newly parented couple.

Above all else, what is propagated is a certain cultural attitude that is reflected within the nation. Generally speaking, this can be summarised as being that of Greng Jai (เกรงใจ). In short, Greng Jai means to be kind and considerate. This, in part, plays in the stereotype of being friendly and smiley in nature. This itself has many different problems which I will talk about in future articles.

However, the nature of Greng Jai, when played out in the role of advertising, presents the core functional difference. When negative and positive messages are presented, it is the positive messages which most effectively conveys the core message of the advertisement. Our ability to address certain issues need not be simplified nor brutalised.

In summary, the potential to learn from how various countries from around the world and how they spread, and promote certain messages to the population at large, remains important. Additionally, it remains important to develop a deeper understanding of how other nations handle themselves when presented with certain issues. 

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Will The Amish Become Fashionable?

America is still young and, so far, remains the core of the proverbial ‘New World’. A brand-new world might, for some, require new thoughts and ideas taken from the ‘Old World’, or potentially, nearly new and separate religions. One might think of Mormonism or Scientology, but the rise of the Old World, emerging in the New, has found a solid foundation from the Anabaptists in the form of the Amish.

Finding their origins in the world of Dutch Calvinism, the Amish started as a series of small communities that spread rapidly. These communities were found within the Midwestern states, but in recent years, due to rapid population growth, have spread to over thirty states. This population growth in such a short space of time has left many wondering just how big the Amish population will be within the next few years across the United States.

As noted by Lyman Stone in 2018, it remains highly unlikely that the Amish will ever become a majority within the US largely due to structural factors relating to modernisation within certain groups and shifts from farming towards manufacturing. This is compounded by a lack of available farming areas for which they can use to move across the US. Most likely, in the coming decades, they will slowly become significant minority groups within many states, with Holmes County, Ohio most likely to become the first majority Amish County in the US this year, which will soon be followed by LaGrange County, Indiana.

For the Amish, all non-Amish are called ‘the English’. For the rest of this article, I will use the Amish’s own terminology (for my own sick amusement, knowing this article’s intended audience). The importance of this is because, at its core, what remains important is the examination of whether the Amish will bend to the knee to the English World or if the English World will learn anything from the Amish.

Will the Amish become fashionable as a cultural force that the English in America can rally around? Will they become fashionable, and can they not offer to help guide America back to its traditional roots? These are all important questions, which I hope might spark some debate amongst people and The Mallard readership. The good thing about writing online about the Amish, is knowing they will probably never see this.

Even prior to Covid, we have seen vast internal migration from around the US, from people fleeing states like California and New York towards that of Florida and Texas. Additionally, we are seeing a gradual return from the major built up cities towards the countryside. These trends are not unique to the US but it would seem that some kind of return to a more ‘tranquil’ and, dare I say, ‘traditional’ lifestyle has applied to many. Alongside this return to the countryside, the Amish have always, in one form or another, received attention from the body politic and general cultural zeitgeist of America. A friendly, devout, and non-violent group of Christians that merely wish to be left alone.

Following this, knowing that you have a high-trust, self-sustaining, and low crime faction of the population, may start paying dividends within certain states that have large major cities which suffer from various modern social ills (crime, drug abuse, etc.). As the Amish population grows, so too will the cultural weight they can throw around locally. Of course, we will never see Amish Congressman or Presidents. Instead, we will see a strong and firm cultural base in which a growing traditionalism-seeking group of people can find support within.

Will the Amish way of life ever become, by contemporary definitions, ‘popular’? Certainly not. However, similar to how people become Priests or Nuns, such paths may not be for them, but can be respected and admired. That admiration, the idea that such a group can do so much, may itself become fashionable; the Amish may come to symbolise a desirable form of of social stability, one situated in contrast to increasingly stormy issues emerging within American cities. As such, whilst the ‘full’ Amish way of life is not purely feasible for much of the population, elements may be worth emulating. A strong sense of local community identity, sustainability, and solidarity, as well as emphasising family and family-building; something that most agree is drastically needed.

In summary, will the Amish become a massive cultural force? It’s too soon to say. If demographic trends continue on their current trajectory, then within the next few decades, we may see the Amish become, not just a major cultural force, but the foundation of a parallel society; one providing an alternative to the excesses and drawbacks of globalised modernity.

It is entirely possible that the Amish, more than just playing a role as an increasingly culturally-influential Christian group within America, will come to provide a full-bodied blueprint for revitalising American ‘rugged individualism’. However, what is known for certain is that, in some distant rural parts of America, there still exist those who believe in the core values which made America into America – the will to flourish on the frontier of a new world.

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Why Taiwan Will Probably Survive Against a Chinese Invasion

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, many have turned their attention towards Taiwan and China. It has been no secret that since 1949, China have sought to reunify the island with the mainland and that Taiwan has sought to resist. However, I argue that for Taiwan this decade will be vitally important and that if it can survive the next ten years then it will probably outlast mainland China.

Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I argue that demographics play a greater role than what has been initially stated. When you have a largely aging society like Russia has, the nation’s political elites know and understand that there is a limited timeframe in which they can act. The reason for this is because, they understand the current size of potential army recruits remains at the largest it is going to be for the foreseeable future.

As too it has been argued that Russia sought to invade Ukraine now because of this reduction in young people and the need to secure the nation’s geographic security gaps that are presently open. Consequently, I argue that China is no different with these problems and the need to secure its own political goals regarding Taiwan.

Subsequently, since 1949 China has been defiant about its position on Taiwan and its strategic messaging to the rest of the world about it. Alongside this, China will have needed to take Taiwan by the latest 2027.

This is because of similar demographic reasons that an aging China has started to face, mirroring the structural conditions that plague Russia’s desire to act while it still can.

If we take the fact that China is the fastest aging society in history, and that it needs to achieve all its goals by the year 2049, we are left with two very interesting intersecting factors at play.

If we work backwards from the year 2049, the targeted symbolic year of a hegemonic Chinese nation we can start to be presented with a better image and a potential reunification timeline that could unfold. That gives us a twenty-seven-year gap from present, in which they will need to achieve this.

Typically, it takes twenty years for a generation to occur, as noted by Strauss and Howe. This period will be important because it will be the benchmark for which unification normalisation will start to begin. What this will allow is the full political annexation of Taiwan over to mainland China. This is because a full generation of normalisation needs to happen, to make sure all political issues can be worked out and solved when being cored happens.

We can observe similar processes occurring in both Hong Kong and Macau, but as shown China does not have fifty years to fully transfer sovereignty to the mainland. Therefore, a mere generation will be the minimum for which China can hope to achieve this change.

We do not have much historically to compare too when regarding modern Island nation invasions but if nations like Ukraine and Afghanistan are to be models for Post-Cold War invasions and occupations, then it is deeply unlikely that an invasion’s success would be achieved in the space of a month.

However, working on the core assumption that China can peacefully walk straight into the island and the straight the process of sovereignty transfer right away. This would leave us with the year 2029 to start this process immediately in theory.

Secondly, if a drawn-out conflict would occur to fully control the island, this would take arguably two-five years depending on the resistance put up by Taiwanese soldiers and citizens alike. If we take a conservative estimate and say it will take two years of conflict to fully pacify the nation (something unprecedented in modern history). This would leave us with the year 2027, just five years from now, for which invasion can occur to reach China’s own deadline of 2049.

I argue that Taiwan will have plenty of time to both prepare and acknowledge a basic timeline of how China will seek to act. This becomes especially relevant due to the geographic conditions of the island and its 180km distance between itself and the mainland. It will be almost impossible to sneak up on the nation or launch a full amphibious assault. In addition, any Chinese military build-up will be noticed and will give the Taiwan several months to directly prepare for an invasion.

This is not withstanding neighbouring nations, that will be brought into interfering in any potential conflict, especially with the QUAD nations being heavily reliant on Taiwanese business.

Yet, we have ignored one core thing that still matters and that is China’s demographic position. The nation similarly to Russia is approaching a massive demographic bust moment, in part due to its over thirty years of negative fertility rates. Subsequently, the chances of China invading Taiwan remain unlikely at 20%, in the long term when regarding the next five years. As such, this has been best documented by both Hoie and Darley, both have demonstrated the difficulty on China’s part towards achieving this aim.

However, if they do China will not be able to hold the nation, just like how both the Soviet Union and the West could not hold Afghanistan. The outcome of this will be catastrophic for the Chinese nation state, on not just a political level but on a civilisational one too.

Taiwan will continue and will eventually survive, against Chinese aggressions. This is in part because of the decreasing likelihood of China of securing its desired timeframe due its fast-approaching demographic bomb.

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