Friday, April 29, 2005

Island of Contention: Taiwan Nationalism(s)

The latest issue of the New Left Review features analysis of Taiwan's nationalist consciousness and the political struggles over "one China" versus independence and several positions between. (link above).

The author, Chao-hua Wang, of course leans heavily toward national democracy. Much of the article is sensible and worthy, although when the author recommends that the Taiwanese must first fully acknowledge the de facto separation of the island from mainland China's rule over the past 50 years, I would immediately add to this a larger necessity: The political struggle here would become easier to resolve once China fully recognized this de facto separation. The millions of Blue Camp KMT ROC supporters are often motivated simply out of desire to avoid conflict, especially military conflict, with mainland China -- in the face of hundreds of missiles pointed their way a mere few minutes of flight time over the Taiwan Strait, and in the face of weekly threats from China's war hawks. If such threats were removed, if Taiwan's de facto separation was given some de jure legitimacy from within China, then the political clashes over conflicting nationalisms on the island of Taiwan would soon resolve themselves more readily.

Here's how the NLR article concludes:

"To free the population from a sense of political impotence, unleash active civic participation and ignite the inspirational force of social movements, ought to be the goals of a Left on the island today. Taiwan is seeing the growth of non-governmental organizations engaging in activities of a charitable nature or cross-Strait cultural exchanges. These in themselves are highly commendable. But it is in the nature of such enterprises that the target groups are rarely thought of as political forces. Similarly, the attempt last year to muster a ‘million invalid votes’ in protest against the narrowing of political options in the system, though it sought the formidable moral strength of a radical platform, risked encouraging citizens away from political involvement or debates altogether. As such, it may not have been the best cure for a widespread sense of powerlessness. A real social movement should not confine itself within the sphere of welfare, still less run away from electoral participation. Otherwise, the long-term fate and future of the people of Taiwan will continue to be twisted by manipulative great powers and murky local politics."

Today's bloggence is brought to you by our sponsor, "Orphan Punks for Poetic Orgasms", and is an update on previous and in many ways more interesting entries regarding this theme:


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