Yesterday in this space, we elucidated the lies currently being bandied about by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as reasons for yet again opposing the purchase of the weapons deemed essential to protect Taiwan from China. We finished by pointing out that the truth of the matter is that the legislature is currently in the power of agents acting exclusively on behalf of Taiwan's enemy. Al-Qaeda controlling the US Congress would be one parallel.
What are patriotic Taiwanese to do while the pan-blues go off to China to sell out their country? First, let's admit this isn't a question typical of a constitutional democracy. Few countries ever find themselves with a large political faction which, in return for a guarantee of perpetual power, wants to hand the nation over to its enemies. The Irish Act of Union in 1801 and the Anschluss and Sudeten Crisis in 1938 are the only even remotely similar examples that come to mind.
Taiwan's position is, in fact, a nightmare whereby expert, well-financed political operators use the freedoms granted to them by a democratic system, and the tolerance given to them by the population, to destroy that system and sell those people into slavery.
The idea of democracy's misuse is as old as the Weimar Republic. And post-Sept. 11, freedom can be exploited for evil purposes, and any polity has to find what it deems a suitable balance between liberty and security. What makes Taiwan's condition unusual, however, is that the lack of a clear Taiwanese identity means that handing the country over to its enemy is unusually easy, in that there is little patriotic spirit among the Taiwanese with which to oppose such a devil's bargain.
This is a result of Taiwan's miserable history of colonization, first by the Japanese and then by the alien KMT regime. The relationship of the Taiwanese to power has always been one of weakness; there has always been some massive external authority against which it is deemed futile to struggle.
This has resulted in a mindset whereby success depends on deft maneuvering within an alien-imposed system, rather than a head-on defiance of that system. Such a viewpoint promotes petty self-interest at the expense of the interests of the people as a whole. A perfect example of such thinking can be seen in the uproar over fruit exports to China, where a few hundred farmers are prepared to trash the authority of the central government in return for being able to send some boatloads of mangoes across the Taiwan Strait.
The pan-blues are set on putting Taiwan under another colonial master, China, with themselves as the master's agents. To prevent this, the Taiwanese first have to evolve a real patriotism, a sense of Taiwan as something worth saving, something worth protecting and fighting for. What is needed is a mass organization, independent of any political party, which can educate and mobilize people with the pledge to protect Taiwan from its enemies, both without and within.
The germ of such an organization was in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally last year, and the march against China's "Anti-Secession" Law this spring. It's been shown that people can be roused, but so far it has been for a message of peace. Instead, they should be mobilized to send a message of angry defiance -- either you are for a free Taiwan or you do not deserve to live here. They should then begin to suit actions to these tough words.