This is a casual chat, not an academic writing. 這是網上交換意見, 非學術性討論.
剛剛 (June 28, Thursday, 2018) 看了一段 在台北舉辦的政治研討 video.
Just now, I stumbled upon a video of a political symposium held in Taipei regarding Communism and issues of Taiwan.
That was a heavily loaded topic!
大得至少充斥著三大重型意識形態以其交織的離奇, (政治, 宗教, 以及經濟), 且要在半小時內蜻蜓點水, 三両撥千斤, 實屬不易! The subject matter involved at least with three major ideological domains and their intersectionality: politics, religion, and economy. It was an overwhelming task to be done within half hour by the speaker!
以下幾奌粗略聞閱, 恐有断章取義, 或屬個人偏見浅見, 僅是請教:
After having watched the video, I have a couples of observations which might be taken out of the contexts (since I did not watch other relevant discussions), or reveal my personal inadequacy or biases about the issues. So, your feedback and/or inputs are welcome.
1. 西方政教分離與東方宗教在學術引証的覌奌: A referential issue in academics regarding the difference between western separation of Church and State and those in some Asian religions:
I skipped the historical evolution and reformation/revolutions (such as, the power struggles and blood shedding among Popes, Monarchs, and aristocracy) of institutionalized religions (particularly, the late Medieval Catholicism) in this short writing.
Although conflicts among the three systems of thoughts occurring, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism gradually integrated into a holistic one as a way of life, except the theocratic Tibet.
In the US., Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd President) in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution often quoted in debates regarding the separation of church and state. He writes: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State".
Though as an important political statement in the US. history, the omnipresent influences, if not dominion, of religions (Christianity: Protestantism, Catholicism, Restorationism and the rest) on "education and politics" are well documented and researched, even till today, if not intensified, particularly, during the political campaign seasons.
The statements, or publications of theologians or religious scholars are respected in the religious field. Since that university is a religious institute, usually, private by nature, not involving taxpayers' public funding, the school has its own right for specific curriculum and instructions.
Separating church/temple and state has not been a politically salient issue in Taiwan, nevertheless, there is still certain awareness of scientific or academic disciplines expected, which, in this episode, demarcates the general political science from the faith/religion base studies. Even though there is a trending research to integrate religion, science and technology into the interdisciplinary subject matter, I don't see it applied to this case.
- 宗教與槍桿子是資本主義的左右臂, 骨子裏的立國精神! 浅見一樁.
Religion and military power are the two arms of Capitalism - the foundation of the "spirit" - a personal bias.
在大众廣庭之前, 是否只能看, 不好說? Perhaps, being aware does not have to make it apparent to the mass ?
2. 舉例辨证的陷謬: Fallacies in arguments
Ad hominem, short for argumentum ad hominem is the second lowest type of argument in a disagreement based on Paul Graham's research.
It refers to in a genuine discussion of the topic at hand that is avoided, but instead, attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person who makes the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.
Whether one agrees or disagrees to a strand of philosophy, knowledge, ideology, or practice in a debate or argument or not, ad hominem as a fallacy, the participant's (or debaters') awareness is expected, unless "other agenda is attached or associated with".
Karl Marx is one of the most influential, or controversial social thinkers/philosophers in the recent history according to different school of thoughts or individuals' various sociology-economic-political perspectives. Bertrand Russell who had difficulty to categorize Marx's system-building grandiosity, once said," Emphasis upon any one of multiple-aspects at the expense of the other gives a false and distorted view of his philosophy". This comment is not only on Marx, but also onto all the rest of knowledge builders. There are enormous research strands on different stages of Marx's ideas and practices available, thus, I will leave here for readers' endeavors in this regard.
So, focusing on the microscopic glimpses might bring up intimate understanding of an individual. The speaker referred to a letter from Marx's family documents as required reading assignment by the catholic professor. It was a good strategy to highlight an event, but in the academic engagement, the counterpoints are needed to balance information to prevent from over-generalization or reinforcing existing stereotypical thoughts.
In the letter, Karl Marx requested financial assistance from his father (perhaps, more from Friedrich Engels). It would be a common private issue which is not much different from many other students/scholars who ask monetary support from their parents/relatives. You might know better than I do (在超資本主義下, 金銀堆積満山, 坐擁暴利的寵男寵女們五鬼搬運, 淘空臺金, 充當武陵遊魂的無止尽留學熱潮, 向美獻金貢銀, 商購學历文憑, 昭昭在人耳目): how many oversea students from the rich and powerful families of Taiwan, China, and the rest of privileged men and women of the Asian countries benefited by the Mutated Super-Capitalism, provide the US billions of tuition and the relevant high-end consumerism to enhance America's 金多謝 economy.
Then a black and white dichotomy of an ideology in the speech might sound arbitrary, leaving no room for the gradation or further discussion.
Next, this chat would delve into the key concern:
3. 中國是馬克斯所谓的共產主義國家嗎? Is China a communist country according to Marx's ideology?
Again, there are voluminous research and studies available on the rise and fall of Communist political entities, so, I leave them for readers' endeavors.
Before furthering the understanding, I would like to clarify the meaning of terminology used in this writing to avoid confusion. I tried the most general type of definition:
Capitalism is an economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are privately owned. typically, capitalism has these features: private ownership of property, pursuit of personal profit, and competition as well as consumer choice. (Note, there are many variations under the Capitalism umbrella. Furthermore, though, the actual term “Capitalism” was coined by Karl Marx, the original comprehensive work of the "Bible of Classical/Capitalism" was done by British economist Adam Smith in his groundbreaking The Wealth of Nations, in 1776. His main argument was that when individuals worked in their self-interests would create a strong and healthy society. As he said, “We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.” Thus, he propounded that it was in the best interests of the economy and the government for the government to interfere as little as possible with the economy).
The classical capitalism is quite different from today's super-capitalism which benefits the early social class of the Haves, in particular, in the land acquisitions through conquering, force, discrepancy in legality and the rest of policies, as well as specific labor "management" (exploitation) and slavery. Marx has detailed studies on the power of "Surplus".
Thus, protecting private ownership of property, pursuit of personal profit, and competition are essences of legislatures in the early developing stages of the US Constitution and the later legal protocols aligned with rising super-capitalism to ensure that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"! The following chart detailed information about who signed the Declaration of Independence and lay out the foundation to spearhead toward Super-Capitalism with the aid of African-American Slaves and Native Americans' land of the free and home of the brave, in addition to the Earlier Immigrants' managerial endeavors:
The similar practices in Taiwan and China, as well as all over the world, the Land Acquisition is the first step toward wealth, power and prestige. (有土斯有財, 有財斯有人).
Socialism is an economic system in which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are collectively owned. Generally speaking, socialism has these features: collective ownership of property, pursuit of collective goals, and government control of the economy.
Socialism is deemed as a transitional stage toward Community.
Now, getting into the key term - Communism, is a hypothetical economic and political system in which all members of society are socially equal. Some individuals might refer it as a utopian ideology. It is nothing new in the Far-Eastern Asia. For example, in the 禮運大同篇 The Chapter of Great Harmony (Ta Tong ), such an ideal society was well depicted by Confucius (551- 479 bce.) : "When the Great Principle prevails, the world is a Commonwealth in which rulers are selected according to their wisdom and ability. Mutual confidence is promoted and good neighborliness cultivated. Hence, men do not regard as parents only their own parents, nor do they treat as children only their own children. Provision is secured for the aged till death, employment for the able-bodied, and the mean of growing up for the young. Helpless widows and widowers, orphans and the lonely, as well as the sick and the disable, are well cared for. Men have their respective occupations and women their homes. They do not like to see wealth lying idle, yet they do not keep it for their own gratification. They despise indolence, yet they do not use their energies for energies for their own benefit. In this way, selfish scheming are repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless men no longer exist, and there is no need for people to shut their outers. This is called the Great Harmony (TA TONG)."
Similar Communist ideology appeared in the fifth century 桃花源記 (The Peach Land by Tao Yuan-ming 陶渊明 (369-427 ce.) , translated by Lin Yutang 林语堂). I added it here for a literature appreciation, in addition to the ideological flavor: 晋太元中，武陵人捕鱼为业，缘溪行，忘路之远近。忽逢桃花林，夹岸数百步，中无杂树，芳草鲜美，落英缤纷；渔人甚异之。复前行，欲穷其林。林尽水源，便得一山。山有小口，仿佛若有光，便舍船，从口入。初极狭，才通人；复行数十步，豁然开朗。土地平旷，屋舍俨然。有良田美池，桑竹之属，阡陌交通，鸡犬相闻。其中往来种作，男女衣着，悉如外人；黄发垂髫，并怡然自乐。见渔人，乃大惊，问所从来；具答之。便要还家，设酒、杀鸡、作食。村中闻有此人，咸来问讯。自云：先世避秦时乱，率妻子邑人来此绝境，不复出焉；遂与外人间隔。问今是何世？乃不知有汉，无论魏、晋！此人一一为具言所闻，皆叹惋。余人各复延至其家，皆出酒食，停数日，辞去。此中人语云：“不足为外人道。” During the reign of Taiyuan of Chin, there was a fisherman of Wuling. One day he was walking along a bank. After having gone a certain distance, he suddenly came upon a peach grove which extended along the bank for about a hundred yards. He noticed with surprise that the grove had a magic effect, so singularly free from the usual mingling of brushwood, while the beautifully grassy ground was covered with its rose petals. He went further to explore, and when he came to the end of the grove, he saw a spring which came from a cave in the hill. Having noticed that there seemed to be a weak light in the cave, he tied up his boat and decided to go in and explore. At first the opening was very narrow, barely wide enough for one person to go in. After a dozen steps, it opened into a flood of light. He saw before his eyes a wide, level valley, with houses and fields and farms. There were bamboos and mulberries; farmers were working and dogs and chickens were running about. The dresses of the men and women were like those of the outside world, and the old men and children appeared very happy and contented. They were greatly astonished to see the fisherman and asked him where he had come from. The fisherman told them and was invited to their homes, where wine was served and chicken was killed for dinner to entertain him. The villagers hearing of his coming all came to see him and to talk. They said that their ancestors had come here as refugees to escape from the tyranny of Tsin Shih-huang (builder of Great Wall) some six hundred years ago, and they had never left it. They were thus completely cut off from the world, and asked what was the ruling dynasty now. They had not even heard of the Han Dynasty (two centuries before to two centuries after Christ), not to speak of the Wei (third century A.D.) and the Chin (third and fourth centuries). The fisherman told them, which they heard with great amazement. Many of the other villagers then began to invite him to their homes by turn and feed him dinner and wine.After a few days, he took leave of them and left. The villagers begged him not to tell the people outside about their colony."
The utopian ideology can be traced back to the Classical Antiquity. Later, Thomas Moore's Utopia was published in 1516 ce., Francis Bacon's New Atlantis in 1627 ce., like most utopian ideology, with an emphasis on egalitarian principles of equality in economics, government and justice, though by no means exclusively, with the method and structure of proposed implementation varying based on ideology.
The readers who read this "meandering chat" do not have to agree to the above definitions. These are just some general concepts used in my Sociology class.
Based on the above understanding, no country has ever practiced and achieved the "idealistic" communism, unless you name a society where everyone is treated equally regardless their race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, ancestry, nationality, language, locality, religions.... and so on so forth. Since there is no country practicing 100% Capitalism or Socialism aligned with the above understanding, not to mention Communism, then, what kind of Communism does China practice?
行禮運大同 or 深入桃花源 - what a grandiose social engineering ?
Since there is no pure Capitalism and Socialism on this planet, many countries adjust, adopt and adept different parts of political-economic philosophies (or ideologies) to meet the society's needs.
This creates several types of Hybridized systems derived from capitalism and socialism. Here are two major categories:
Welfare capitalism: is an economic and political system that combines a mostly market-based economy with extensive social welfare programs. It is found in some European nations.
State capitalism: is an economic and political system in which companies are privately owned although they cooperate closely with the government.
As we know there are relative advantages of capitalism and socialism:
1. Capitalist societies are considerably more economically productive.
2. Socialist societies display considerably less income and wealth disparity.
3. Statistics are not enough to compare overall well-being in either system.
4. Capitalist countries are characterized by more civil liberties and political freedom.
The hybridized politic-economic systems are quite successfully practiced in the Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, partially succeeding in Germany, Italy, Singapore...etc.
According to the world practices, suffice to say, it is about the quality of human population paralleling with the adjusted politic-economic philosophies or ideology that makes a society tick.
So, under what socioeconomic conditions does a Socialism (or Communist?) might be called up or needed by a specific society?
Generally speaking, thoughts are reified by action which is executed by human beings. It is humans that are the final executors. To attribute success or failure to a school of thought/individual is like saying: "humans don't kill people; gun/weaponry does it." (Similar to 庶人無罪, 懷璧其罪 which means that a person was not guilty but convicted of possessing the most precious stone: a white jade that made him/her guilty. Originally referred to as the ordinary people are unable to privately possess the jade, unless through stealing robbery. It implies there are talents and ideals who suffer.).
Along the same vein, I would like to borrow one of Russell's observations: "Greek philosophy down to Aristotle expressed the mentality appropriate to the City State; that Stoicism is appropriate to a cosmopolitan despotism, that scholastic philosophy is an intellectual express of the Church as an organization; that philosophy since Descartes, or at any rate since Locke, tends to embody the prejudices of the commercial middle class; and that Marxism and Fascism are philosophies appropriate to the modern industrial State".
Indeed, some predictions did not happen as Marx prophesied, and the last condition in the above statements are partially wrong. French, Russian, Cuban, China, even American revolutions did not erupt in the modern industrial state. As to Communist Manifesto, is an 1848 “political pamphlet”. For the detailed and genuine thoughts, Das Kapital provides a direct understanding of his original Communist “ideology”.
It is safe to say that China would be the least possible country to operate a “Communist” system according to Marx’s doctrines. She has never been qualified, nor civically industrialized enough to be able to relate to the original Marx’s ideology. Her long-term Conservative Obscurantism built upon feudal-familial-capitalistic ideology (共剷主義) oppressed millions of people to sustain her top 1% over-privileged, super-dominant, self-absorbed, and self-serving upper-aristocratic social class throughout 3 thousand years of the gloomy history. It is hard to find any extremely stratified society socio-economically like China other than the caste society of India or the Pharaohs' era of Egypt.
The concentration of power, wealth, and prestige via controlling of education and hegemonic ideological domination within the hands of a few of Monarchs/royals, intellectuals, and military rank-n-files in China had been omnipresent in the society for over 3 thousand years, longer than any other cultural or political entities, such as Hindu culture, Mesopotamia culture, Greco-Roman world, Medieval Catholicism, except Christianity/Judaism on this planet. This type of tribal/political entity is not mature with any bit of conditions to align with what Marx's activism for a real socio-economic change - "Philosophers have only interpreted the work in various way, but the real task is to alter it", but another cycle of dynastic vicissitudes in China: 苛政猛於虎, 官逼民反, 窮極思變, then, 被ㄧ個食古不化的小地主, 搗出清算幾千年來地富反壞右的養尊處優旣得利益權势團體, 為千年莫名冤死的農工兵 "申張正義". 黄巢, 張献忠,李自成, 洪秀全之類, 也曾演過"義". 只是時空情境略有不同, 與馬克斯的意識形態有岀入. (The above sentence involved several notorious rebels in uprisings throughout different Dynasties due to corrupted, repressive tribal/dynastic politics that forced the oppressed poor people to revolt. In short, I would like to use an old story to highlight the core regarding the dynastic vicissitudes which, apparently deviate from the origins of Marx's ideology: Confucius was passing by at the foot of Taishan Mountain (泰山) when he heard a woman wailing before a grave. As he bent over the front bar of his carriage listening with concern, he sent his disciple Zi Lu (子路) over to inquire. "From your crying we presume you have endured misfortunes," Zi Lu said to the woman. "Exactly. Some time ago my father-in-law was killed by a tiger, then later my husband, and now my son." the woman sadly responded. "Then, why hasn't she left this place?" the wondered Confucius asked Zi Lu regarding her situation. "Because this place is not plagued by tyranny," came the woman's answer. At this moment, Confucius reminded his disciples,"Keep this in mind - tyranny is indeed fiercer than a tiger.")
The practice of Chinese "communism" has not much to do with the original Marx's thoughts except stirring up a utopian ideology to the young (especially, some "conscientious" intellectuals), the desperadoes, and the have-nots. (向長期被剝削知的權利的廣大無識群众執行揠苗助長, 推銷無根無基的大同世界意識形態, 絕非是实行共產主義的先決條件). It ends up with dehumanized, totalitarian dictatorship and potential mobocracy that were unavoidable in the face of more than a billion ideological confined mass.
As to Taiwan, the early repressed immigrants were part of that dark history, like those of the US' first wave immigrants from Europe, abandoning the old world economic repression and political-religious struggles, and built an independent country of their own. Immigrants after 1940s were a complex entity: a defeated military troop with all sorts of Conservative rank-n-files carried on the privileged professions (except the "fare-foot" soldiers KMT老兵) of governmental bureaucracy, educational posts, "nationalized" industries established by Japan, and the rest of upholding the stagnated grandiose banner of "Cultural Recovery" reactionary business.
The question is to recover which part of "benign" culture that would have released the thousand years of pains, suffering, poverty and induced ignorance of the deprived mass (at least 95%) in China and the early immigrants to Taiwan? Through 5 decades of thorough brainwash and White Terror after 1947 political massacre, the conservative ideology was seamlessly reinforced on Taiwanese's mind. Particularly, through the omnipresent power of education and political propaganda (for example, most of my teachers from Elementary to NTU in Taiwan were waishengrens 外省人-Chinamainlanders, indoctrinating everything about China and the world, except Taiwan, my native country), supported by the early mass-land owners of local "genteel" privileged Taiwanese. Though some of them went through 375 Rent Reduction Act, but strategically sailed the boat with the incumbent China-mainlanders' big wind, profited by the Conservative Chinese Culture Ideology to feed the Asian-Capitalism.
Taiwan, has been enduring half of a century of military-fascist oppression (1946-1987), Japan's occupation and repression (1985-1945), and more than 5 hundred years of negligence from a so-called mother-land. Furthermore, currently claiming a unification from a "new mother" offers nothing to Taiwan, but, from the abusive military threat, economic/human-wave intrusion, to the daily politic-psychological harassment to a political entity, self-sufficiently building a thriving, democratic, and prosperous society through 6 decades of courageous struggle.
If history were able to tell a truth and the International community dared to read conscientiously, then how much Taiwan plays a role as the beacon of democratic-industrialized country, helping and inspiring China to stretch out her first baby-step after 1987 (KMT lifted the Martial Law in Taiwan) will be voluminous. Since then, knowledge, skills, experiences in business, industries, democracy, and prosperity successfully established in Taiwan has been shared and exported to China to transform her from a poor and old society into a less miserable one thought Taiwanese people's wisdom, generosity and sacrifice.
Apparently China's current practice: as mentioned above, the politic-economic ideology and practice is far away from the original Marx's ideology, but evolving into a Tapir - anything but the basic democracy (四不像, 当前一個 "美" 麗的 "國" 家的領導主子, 也是如此長像): capitalistic-communist-authoritarian fascism.
Nevertheless, she is still struggling, and perhaps, evolving, hopefully, not too much a detoured one.
Why have people had to endure everlasting pains and suffering throughout centuries if the QUALITY of the population is lifted? The quality in enhancing three major goals in a person's life chances: education, career and health care has been successfully practiced in several countries as mentioned in the previous section: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland... where super-Capitalism is under checked. Meanwhile, the “false, deviated Communism” cannot endure the communication-no-border’s check and balance. Even the fake news intend to distract the main concerns of humanities, the awakened warriors will continue to fight for human dignities.
Finally, may Taiwan, be aware of the lingering traps of Conservatism implanted from the long history - of China. Though Conservatism convinces the innocent and the powerless with the illusory promise of social stability, nevertheless, in terms, it demands the status quo, protects the dominant class, and enhances the privileged few's wealth, power and prestige at the cost of the silenced mass' well-being. (保守主義的主要功能, 無非是用來维持現狀與鞏固旣得利益權势).
The abhorrence toward social change is part of human nature, but it cannot flourish without ideological controlling through education, fearmongering propaganda, and media manipulation. In the long run, the blind, obedient, silenced mass is the most powerful tool to reinforce the despotic ruling. Capitalism needs Conservatism to flourish. The frog in the slowly warming up pot has hard time to avoid death.
As the world is in the fast changing mode, Prometheus' fire, the idealism of 禮運大同篇 The Chapter of Great Harmony (Ta Tong), 桃花源記 (The Peach Land), Thomas Moore's Utopia, Bacon's New Atlantis, and the activism of John Brown, Rosa Parks, John Lewis, to the recent OWS (Occupied Wall Street) of the 99%, and the rest of the noble and awakened spirit and souls, carrying on their torch, passing on the baton, never slowing down the footsteps, stand for the deep aspiration of love, peace, and justice for the humanities. The hope and spirit still continuously inspire the mass who incessantly educate, organize and act against the thousand years of social deprivation, domination, and injustice. Indeed, the world does not need to confer and offer more protection, resources, opportunities, privileges to the dominant, advantaged few. The planet does not want another ready-made heroes and heroines. To create a just environment for people to have a fair shot into his/her life chances is feasible with the aid of allies, the unselfish/less-selfish, the conscientious, and the awakened human beings.
As a cross-cultural sojourner, I understand the de facto vs. de jure status of Taiwan in facing a rising "Tapir" when the national identity confusion is concurrently challenging many people in Taiwan. Objectivity vs. subjectivity in thoughts, ideologies, and doctrines are blurrier more than ever. It is overwhelmingly to render issues embedded in the historical, geo-political complexity at the public setting. These conditions may impose challenges onto some researchers/scholars in expressing their thoughts publicly. Thinking and behaving might be gingerly "circumscribed" into certain framework for specific economic-political agenda implicitly or explicitly. And this could be my unnecessary sensitivity when listening or watching events going on in daily life.
Now I am going back to the main topic of my question one and two at the beginning of this chat. Who would deny that to reach "value free" in social science research is too much an idealistic goal yet an optimal one to thrive, particularly, in a public forum?
As this loosely written chat which I did not expect to turn into such a long and cumbersome manner is close to the end, one might recognize that everyone may have his/her own biases to offer. The more passionate the idea is, the more potential preconception it may be. I am aware of my own share of it.
As aforementioned, I fully understand the daunting task of the speaker to share a heavy and complex topic within half of an hour! I also agree to the speaker's conclusion from the bottom of my heart that justice and peace, in the long run will prevail!
夲來起意, 是打字網聊. 不料赘言叠累. 以上浅見, 請賜教更正! A penny for your thoughts!