Sunday, 17 July 2011

North Vs South

The contemptibly base in-group, out-group slanging dynamic which was behind the setting up of the new Taiwan Nationalist Party can also be seen through this story about a TV show ridiculing southern Taiwanese women.
"The episode, aired on Wednesday, invited women from southern Taiwan to discuss the differences between women in northern and southern Taiwan. During the show, clothing, makeup, accent and bearing were compared, all at the expense of women from southern Taiwan."
As Ben Goren remarks, this sort of thing is in the same vein as...
"The case of diplomat Kuo Kuang-ying... especially his comment about southerners being red-neck Japanese pirates."
Har har, me bonnie lad!

Yet this isn't in essence about women and their frivolities; it's about the north-vs-south political and cultural divide. Rather than responding by smothering this divide with an over-bearing Taiwanese nationalism, it would be better to dishonour the entire discourse with an aloof dismissal.

I'll always be on the southside of the island.


  1. I blame this problem, at least partially, on there never being any real attempt at any form of national reconciliation. Lee Teng-hui's apologies didn't really count, as he was labeled a this and a that by one group (and the spiral continued). There also will never be a national reconciliation unless the KMT renounces its claims to China--what would be a real declaration of independence--because the KMT does not view Taiwan as a nation and that precludes national reconciliation. (National reconciliation for the KMT would mean unification; national reconciliation for the DPP would mean, essentially, independence.) At base, both groups are fighting over what is essentially a constitutional party-state (although neither desire to admit it). No national reconciliation needs to take place as far as the KMT is concerned (there is no national and no constitutional issue). This is one divisive issue which has little to nothing to do with ethnicity or "location." If you can imagine an end to slavery followed by a complete (or at least partial) official denial that it ever existed, I think you're getting close to some of the sentiment here. (Then again, I'm using an analogy which doesn't quite fit, but as we've both discussed before, this whole issue has more to do with domination than "ethnicity.") Of course, "ethnicity" itself is more ideational than anything; the nebulous definition of what it is to be "Chinese" demonstrates that. But I digress.

    I can understand and appreciate your calls for a liberal society here; I have made similar arguments elsewhere. The fact of the matter is that nothing has actually been forgiven because forgiveness has never really been asked for--and even then, memories remain and will do so in perpetuity. But one good sign has been appearing, and that is that politics seems to divide the younger generation less, at least as far as the ethnic-national issue is concerned.

    As far as the location issue, this will forever be a problem. Originally from the Midwestern United States myself, I've dealt with my fair share of Northeastern snobs in my time, especially during my time in DC. Of course, the movie "Fargo" didn't help that at all. . . .

  2. "The fact of the matter is that nothing has actually been forgiven because forgiveness has never really been asked for--and even then, memories remain and will do so in perpetuity."

    Well it's partly a matter of not wanting to lose face isn't it? I've always thought this a deplorable aspect of Chinese culture. I don't think a "national reconciliation" is feasible or even an unalloyed good in that, though it may have some value for people in the south, it will likely strengthen the aura in which the State is held. I'm not sure that would be a good thing.

    "Of course, the movie "Fargo" didn't help that at all...."

    Never seen it. I know it's a Coen Brothers film and I loved Miller's Crossing, but I've never seen it so I can only guess it takes the piss out of people in the Midwest a bit like Raizing Arizona took the piss out of people from the South - is that about right?


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