Monday, November 27, 2006

ESWN hacks on Taiwan's Democracy Again

ESWN's obsessive hatred of Taiwan got the better of him again today as he posted another abusive article about our democracy here. I'm not going to bother to deconstruct that silly post in its entirety because really, reading ESWN's yammering on Taiwan's democracy is a comically painful act, rather like watching a Golden Retriever trying to form complete sentences. I'd just like to point out this little bit of rampant nonsense:
Nevertheless, these other factoids are popping up because the media are chasing after politicians' family members and pets as if these are matters of public interest or as if they are entertainment celebrities such as Faye Wong, Jay Chou and Jolin Tsai. No, they really are not! While it is boring and much less sexy to talk about platforms and policies, that is actually more relevant and meaningful!
It's rather hilarious to see a blogger who constantly puts up sex videos and does whole blogposts devoted to Hong Kong actress Gillian Cheong's nipple, complaining about the low tastes of Taiwanese voters. Let he who is without sin....

ESWN hates Taiwan, but more importantly, he just doesn't get democracy:
In like manner, I just find the fluctuating fortunes of the mayoral candidates in Taipei and Kaohsiung to be weird and irrational. Why should the numbers bounce on account of the indictment of the President's wife for embezzlement or the KMT party chairman's problems with the special funds being allocated partially to pay for the living expenses of his dog? The voters are supposed to be electing the best candidate to serve as the mayors for their respective cities. It is a serious mistake to think that they are voting on the presidency (either the current one or the prospective 2008 one). This is a lesson that I hope that United States and Taiwan can learn now, and that someday mainland China can learn based upon these examples.
My dear Roland, governance is about values. The "best" is a value, and values are only defined in reference to other values -- there is no objective absolute anywhere out there that we imperfect humans can consult that tells us who the "best" candidate might be -- "best" is merely a calculus of values -- in this case, voter's values. Voters take party affiliation -- and thus, the behavior of other party members -- as an important signal of the probable values of a particular candidate. Taiwan's voters, who have a far more sophisticated understanding of democracy than ESWN, know this. The reason Roland finds it weird and irrational is that lurking behind ESWN's view of democracy is the Confucian-cum-technocratic fantasy of value-neutral politics run by administrators who know what's best for everyone -- which is always and everywhere an authoritarian nightmare.

Fortunately Taiwan is slowly leaving that behind. Unfortunately, Chinese culture is filled with commentators like Roland who. just. don't. get. it. It is this widespread yearning for technocratic control in Chinese culture, not plebian tastes, that is the real threat to the future of Chinese democracy. Cast out the beam in thine own eye, Roland.


Carr said...


Carr said...


Carr said...


Editor said...

you talk of ESWN's 'obsessive hatred of Taiwan'. that is a stupid thing to say. you sound just as mindless as the guys on the blog 'taiwan matters'. they too are illogical in their indignations.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has different views on democracy and how a responsible citizenary should vote. To be fair, I think ESWN views are just as valid, and I tend to agree with him more. Since values are so subjective, "value" issues can be easily manipulated by a shrewd politician. Witness how the Republican party hijacked the Presidential election in 2004, by using wedge/value issues, such as gay marriage, school prayer, and abortion to win the election. I believe such blatant voter manipulative is dangerous for democracy since it tends to polarizes the public. We have seen this in the US and I think this is also ocurring in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Someone please send Roland this link:

Because I don't think he understands the concept at all.

Michael Turton said...

ESWN's longtime contempt for Taiwan is a docmented fact. I think you need to read more carefully at his site and this one. He even has a narrative explaining why he doesn't like Taiwan.

Anon --

it is quite true that everyone has their own views, but I don't think you understand what is meant by values. The idea that there is some "best" candidate out there, that we can judge on "adminstrative ability" using some objective measure that has nothing to do with politics, is a fantasy, specifically, a technocratic and Confucian one.

Consider a simple choice that city administrators have to make. Budgets are limited, so we have to prioritize. Should the city funding go for more parks or new bridges? How can that question be answered without reference to political values? It can't. Voting ensures that the political values of the voters are expressed in officials who will then carry out those values. The 'best' candidate is the one who satisfies the policy desires of the voters.

You only have to look at the Taipei mayor election. The three major candidates are Hau, Hsieh, and Soong. Who is the leading candidate? Hau. Who is the best administrator? Soong, hands down, followed by Hsieh. Hau has no experience at all of major administration. No one who wanted to pick the most skilled administrator would vote for Hau. But neither Soong nor Hsieh will win. Why? Because voters feel that Hau better embodies their values.


Taiwan Echo said...

It is this widespread yearning for technocratic control in Chinese culture, not plebian tastes, that is the real threat to the future of Chinese democracy

Huh? Chinese democracy? What are you talking about ?

Anonymous said...

mr. michael, please tell the specific address where ESWN points out he disdain for taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Clyde Said:

". . .such blatant voter manipulative is dangerous for democracy since it tends to polarizes the public."

If this were true, I don't know how the US democracy ever got past the election of Jefferson, or how about Jackson. If you want to see polarization and manipulation, check out those elections. Bush doesn't even come close. Shut down that "manipulation" and you kill democracy. Things look organized in the short-term, but there is hell to pay in the long-term.