Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Against Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) (Again)

Another day, another editorial to try to stop the bleeding. Today's effort is by Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) again - the professor of Land Economics at National Chengchi University, whose earlier piece I derided here...
"In light of these incidents [government expropriations of private property - ed], serious thought needs to be given to the issue at their core, namely, how best to define public interest."
Again, as with all the other editorials that have preceded this one, it is simply another attempt to recraft the "public interest" excuse for theft into a more palatable form. It won't wash.
"The public interest is an abstract and indeterminate legal concept. It should be formed and expressed through rigorous administrative processes in which information is freely available and members of the public have a chance to participate. In other words, public interest is a consensus that is arrived at through fair and open participation, communication and discussion."
I remind readers that the developer Le Young had already worked out a consensus with the Wangs' neighbours. The argument presented here is merely for that consensus to have been backed by some unspecified larger number of people, over a longer time. The core principle - the democratic sanction of theft - remains unopposed.
"In pursuit of the public interest, most advanced democracies have abandoned the traditional model in which a minority of experts had a monopoly on policymaking. Instead, they actively encourage public participation."
That is because those democracies are in an "advanced" state of decay; allowing for more "inclusive" sacrifical rituals at the altar of democracy does not alter the utter savagery of what it is that will be done. All this vaunted "public participation" does is to indulge the opium-induced delusions of "legitimacy" and "social justice" that the Left still cling to. And to shame the people with their own participation in the crime - which is unforgiveable.
"This reflects the acceptance of various knowledge systems, like traditional knowledge, and value choices, such as the idea that one’s land is one’s home."
Well a broader public discourse might allow such views to be expressed, but the very fact that they would be expressed within the confines of a democratic exercise is ample illustration of their subordinate political status. There can be no guarantee that they will not simply be ignored.
"In contrast, Taiwan has long been used to authoritarian rule. Our government and institutions have a cast-iron grip on decisions involving the public interest."
The socio-psychological habits that must have formed over that long period of time concerning the presumption of "authority" and arrogation of power are undoubtedly still around. Yet that reflexive contrast that Taiwanese intellectuals like to draw between autocratic rule in Taiwan and the "more advanced" democratic rule in other countries is becoming time-worn: when the present government's term ends in 2016, Taiwan will already have been a democracy for a full two decades, which is almost half the time the country spent under the autocratic rule of the KMT. Times have changed. Taiwan is no longer ruled by a totalitarianesque State and that is no longer the enemy which the cause of freedom must oppose. Today the enemy still benefits from being hidden from public consciousness; it is the democratic calibration of State power as its growth bursts all "constitutional" limitations. That is what must now be opposed in the name of rights - and rights properly understood in the negative, as the freedom of each and every individual from aggression.
"When ordinary people are excluded from the process and find their constitutional rights being violated or denied, they naturally take to the streets to protest such unjust treatment."
And - naturally - that is where they should be (or some other place to similar effect). What professor Hsu is doing there is making an argument for how to buy off the people's outrage and resentment by shaming them with their own participation in the savage ritual under the foreign feather of "democracy".

So far as I am aware, I am the only one calling it like it is. And that is appalling.

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