Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The limits of exclusion

A new political party claims that to protect Taiwan, people who were born in or have lived in Taiwan for an extended period but who identify as Chinese should be expelled. Here’s why this could be dangerous

Election fever is slowly descending upon Taiwan, promising excitement as contrasts and divisions become more salient between and within parties. The birth of a new political party over the weekend, whose main objective is the creation of a new country, will add to that febrility.

Although the arrival of a new party is a welcome development in a pluralistic democracy like Taiwan, it is important that we closely scrutinize its ideology to ensure that it does not deviate too much from the ideals that buttress our society.

Announcing its formation on Sunday, the Taiwanese National Party (TNP) left no doubt that its raison d’etre centered on a hardened nationalistic stance vis-a-vis China. Given Beijing’s unyielding claims to Taiwan, added to fears that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is being too “soft” on China, it is not surprising that, with elections looming, we would see the emergence of more hard-line rhetoric.

To a certain extent, that is a welcome development, as it will add a new angle to the soul-searching that ought to precede important elections such as those in January.

However, some elements of the TNP platform give us reason to pause.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

1 comment:

Michael Fagan said...

It's good that you blog your own "unsigned" editorials. I dislike the practice of letting editorials go "unsigned" such that nobody can know which editorial was written by whom.

I understand your point of view: on the one hand, another democratically organized party should be free to organize and express their views, yet on the other hand a Taiwan Nationalist party proposing to expel all loosely defined "Chinese" is ethically despicable in such a way that contravenes the supposedly Liberal principles on which multi-party democracy rests.

However, I take a different view: the freedom of expression they enjoy is a blessing to everyone else, since their rotten ethics can be exposed to the sunlight of criticism. You cannot eradicate ideas by suppressing or censoring them, but only by exposing them to criticism - which is an unending chore. The importance of choosing criticism instead of censorship is especially important in the age of digital media.

The other thing here, and which is in my view far more important, is that the only reason why such ultra-nationalist nonsense as "expel all the Chinese" can emerge is the concentration of power in a centralized apparatus of State in Taipei whose only constitutional limitations are, at best, as vague and insubstantial as cotton wool. Hence, the continuing cases of "expropriation" in Miaoli and Hsinchu, which, I note your reporters still do not have the ethical wherewithal to correctly identify as cases of legalized theft.

The only people who must be suppressed are those natural born sociopaths who invariably gravitate toward the greasy pole of political power. This can only be achieved through institutional redesign on the basis of original Liberal principles - i.e. libertarian principles, not the cannibalist utensils of technocratic and quasi-socialist policy in the debased U.S. sense of the term "liberal".