Thursday, 6 June 2013

Re: J.M. Cole's Essay On The Losheng Sanitorium

"In the end, it was the old, the weak, the powerless, those who for [sic] political calculators have exactly no value, who were the chosen ones. They were disposable..."
J.M. Cole offers an oblique observation on the predatorial nature of politics, in the case of the elderly people living in the Losheng Sanitorium in Taipei County. Built nine decades ago during the Japanese occupation, the sanitorium was basically a leper colony where "patients" were forcibly relocated to over the decades. In the next year or so it is to be destroyed by the government to make way for a new MRT train depot.

This picture isn't framed by the broken shards of property rights violations - the residents of Losheng do not legally own the sanitorium - but is instead about wounded dignity. Cole points to the droppings of the political predator:
"It was the DPP that decided to build a brand new hospital next door to house the residents, without ever asking them if they were willing to move there, let alone consulting them on what the building — a cold, dark, utterly depressing affair of multistory concrete that we briefly walked through on our way to the old sanatorium — should look like."
Why should this be? How hard could it have been to consult the people who would have to live in this "hospital"? And even without such consultation, it surely doesn't require an architectural genius to understand that nobody wants to live in a building that resembles a prison. How to explain this?

Subliminal contempt brought to surface and form in glass and concrete?

When people have no rights, they pursue and maintain their life values entirely at the sufferance and permission of human predators. Given that fact, is it any wonder that their dignity should be forfeit? Dignity is surely a consequence of the attainment (and maintainence) of values, which cannot happen without a freedom guarded by a legally instantiated set of basic rights. For instance, once the former lepers had been cured and had become "residents" rather than "patients", could they not have been granted ownership rights over the Losheng Sanitorium, as a gesture of redress for how they were treated when they were young?
"...that a third way, a mobilization that transcends the ossified green-blue divide, is what this nation needs above all."
That phrase - "the third way" - ought to have been phased out of common usage years ago. It was already worth its' own anagram of ridicule when Anthony Giddens began using it in 1996.

The vagueness of the concept is its' danger, and is what sets it at great distance from a more clearly enunciated doctrine of rights and political limitations.

Not only is conceptual vagueness a potential hiding hole for all kinds of nasties, but it also hinders the mind's ability to follow logical implications. The danger of this ought to be obvious: an idea, a precept, a principle, or (especially) a policy prescription which cannot be clearly articulated and demarcated from other ideas, cannot be properly subjected to analysis, cannot render forecasts of consequences and cannot be held up for criticism. And the danger of vagueness ought to be especially salient given how obvious it is that the DPP is now finished as a substantial opposition party (and this has been obvious since at least 2010). There is a "gap in the market", which will sooner or later be exploited, but how that is done ought surely to be a result of a contest of reason.

A contest of vague slogans and floating abstractions is most certainly not "what this nation needs above all".

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