Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's not the politicians, guys II

From Don DeGlopper's Lukang: Commerce and Community in a Chinese City. It's old, but still relevant. Re the post two below this one It's not the politicians, guys: what kind of politicians do you think these people will elect? What kind of politics will we have in this world? The attack on Chen Chu over the Kaoshiung gas explosion is no different than any other attack on any other politician at any level -- this kind of thing goes on at the local level all the time, it just doesn't get reported because it's "local". All politics is local, as it was famous said, but in Taiwan, even the national-level politics is just local level political behavior blown up to galactic scale....
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Anonymous said...


This is what I have been telling people for years. It makes total sense to everyone, but nobody wants to do anything about it in the off chance that they might need to rely on the underground gift economy of guanxi in the future.

STOP Ma said...

The street that is immediately outside the condo where I used to live in Keelung is testimony to this post. It was almost a tradition to rip it up at the same time each year.

JMcK said...

Do Chinese scholars write books with titles like Aberdeen: Commerce and Community in a Scottish town?

Mike Fagan said...

I remember a business owner in Kaohsiung telling me that some members of her family were involved in local and national government in some form or another and that therefore she came from a "good" family. Naturally, I regret not farting on cue as she finished her sentence.

Corruption occurs everywhere but arguably more so in countries with communal and authoritarian (rather than nuclear) family structures because that seems to breed nepotism and a reliance on informal networks, rather than formal trade with outsiders.

Having said that, corruption is made more difficult to combat by the fact that it so often occurs through misuse of "public" funds in institutions who enjoy perverse incentive structures because their funding does not depend directly upon market discipline.

A transition toward formal, depoliticized markets in things like education and healthcare would do much to rid Taiwanese culture of its latent nepotism. At the same time though, how far that transition could be pushed is probably limited by the extent that the nuclear family remains an alien idea to the Taiwanese.