Thursday, 4 August 2011

Income Inequality Is Not A "Social Issue"

"Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said social issues, in particular income inequality, would be the central pitch of her presidential campaign..."
That the leadership of Taiwan's main opposition party seems to regard income inequality as a "social issue" indicates two points of systemic philosophical weakness: the corruption of their concept of property (income) with ethical collectivism (inequality) and their lack of any clear distinction between "the social" and "the political".

Let's specify each of those points.

(1) Property is necessarily exclusive. The concept of property, especially when used in its proper context of a property right, designates the exclusive control over resources in connection with a specific individual or group. The income I receive in exchange for my labour is my property, since my labour is naturally my own and I have simply exchanged it for the means to make further exchanges on the market.

Yet since labour is properly under the exclusive control of the individual citizen (and therefore the income exchanged for that labour is property), the notion that the income exchanged for this labour can be legitimately redistributed by the State severs the control which a citizen exercizes over his own labour, and therefore over his own life. His "right" to his own property (income being one such property) is therefore corrupted and would be more accurately referred to as a privilege.

(2) Just as the terms "proper" and "property" are naturally related, so are the terms "society" and "social". A "social issue" is therefore a problem which several people in society with one another have in common (drought or flooding, for example). The term "politics" refers to the rules of conduct by which people interact with one another (to respect the boundaries of other people's property, for example).

To conflate the social with the political is to consider all common problems under the question of rules of conduct. Since politics in Taiwan, like everywhere else, occurs under a territorial monopolist (a democratic State) it therefore follows that there is no common problem, no social issue, from which the State is barred from acting on. In the absence of a clear demarcation between the social and the political, the government of Taiwan under either administration already has a totalitarian reach in principle, even if it does not yet choose to effect the realization of this reach in a way that bears sensible comparison to the atrocities of earlier totalitarian governments.

* * *

Given those two points - the corruption of the concept of property held by the political leadership of the DPP, and the absence of any clear demarcation between the social and the political - then it follows that under a DPP administration, there would be no social issue from which the government is, in principle, restricted from acting on and nor could there be any property rights that could not be usurped by the government - a government which effectively regards all people within its territorial scope as its own property.

I despise the DPP and its political leadership because they do not offer a principled alternative either to the KMT or, indeed, to the CCP they claim to oppose.

They are merely three varieties of "diet"-totalitarianism.

Note: I've just edited this somewhat because I thought paragraph three in particular (together with its link to paragraph four) was over-written and thus poorly written.

2nd Note: I made some further stylistic changes today (Friday), including the asterisk paragraph break and the addition of the words "effectively" and "own" in paragraph six.

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