Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Regarding the Wang Dan interview


To stand up to any government, but particularly the Chinese government, must surely take enormous courage, and for that alone Wang Dan - interviewed Thursday 4th February in the Taipei Times - can have applause from me all day long. I have disagreements with him however. Essentially, I believe that Wang is mistaken in his identification of democracy as an instrument for establishing freedom. And let's be clear - if freedom is not the value in play here, then power can be the only alternative. Democracy, at its' best, is nothing more than an uncertain means of inconveniencing the growth and maintenance of state power. It's connection to freedom is a bug rather than a feature.

Now is it true that there is a greater measure of freedom in Taiwan than there is China? No and it is most emphatically not a matter of semantics to identify the supposedly greater "freedoms" of Taiwanese as nothing more than a greater latitude of state sanctioned privilege. A free man does not account to the state for his existence; a free man does not need to develop connections among the local government and police in order to be allowed to continue his business unmolested; a free man does not run to a polling station every few years to sanction state violence over the natural rights of himself and his fellow "citizens".

Wang Dan will always command respect because of what he has done, but it is a truly horrifying irony to see him urging the young to place their hopes for freedom upon the process of democratization just as the great democracies in the west are falling over themselves to extinguish all memory of individual freedom and its' necessary institutional corollaries. The heroes of the future must necessarily dwarf the likes of Wang Dan.

Yours as ever,
Michael Fagan.

(Sent: Tuesday 9th February 2010. Unpublished by the Taipei Times)

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