Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Fear vs. Democracy: Taiwan & USA

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail for Unification

The election of legislators last week in Taiwan was distorted by fear, much like the election of Bush was distorted by fear. Different fears for different countries, to be sure, but fear and democracy do not mix.

Interviews strongly suggest that the vote was based on fear of a Chinese invasion -- which again the Blue-KMT media had drummed up relentlessly. Those who were not afraid voted Green-DPP (aka, independence), while those who were afraid voted KMT (aka, unify business interests with Mainland China). After the election results were reported, everyone relaxed into the notion of Confucian harmony. Harmony is at the highest priority in Confucian tradition. A conciliatory gesture toward the Mainland had effectively been made, and now everyone could go back to shopping. After all holidays are coming soon!

But the Taiwanese seem to be the last people on Earth to get the message that they themselves just sent out to the world. All of the international press, including even the Arab press as someone noted, printed the same headlines: "Taiwan voted against indepedence." Here in Taipei scholars are busy trying to deny this message, but they seem in denial. The denial nevertheless reveals that the election was distorted by fear: people didn't vote against independence; they just voted for peace. But that choice is an illusion. It may take a few years before the Taiwanese realize what they've just done.

In other words, the international press got it right, and further the "no independence" sign is not merely a rhetorical message. Beyond communicating this message, Taiwan's little window of opportunity just slammed shut. History is moving relentlessly onward, in an accelerated period of transition. Time waits for no one. President "Abian" Chen cannot run for election again. Like for the past 4 years, we again are saddled with a KMT majority in the legislature blocking any effective reform, trashing anything and everything that the DPP attempts to pass -- much less independence. For the next 4 years, Taiwan will be able to change nothing.

Meanwhile, after 4 years, they say that China's military will have attained effective superiority. More fear is the consequence. More fear equates to more KMT. Hence, the KMT will be back in full power, controlling the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary, and the media. They will have the authority to move toward unification. Taiwanese independence from China will remain a curious little dream left in the wake of historical "realism".
Capitalists unite! You have nothing to lose but your democratic chains!


At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erick, Jeffrey Barlow here, I just didn't want to go through more registration processes so am logged in as anonymous.

Thanks for the blog. I, too, wondered what in heck was going on over there. Incidentally I just posted an editorial dealing with the IBM-Lenovo deal at:

Check it out and let me know what you think....



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