Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Utopia lets us shape history

In May I attended the play Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, performed by the students at the English Department of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. I was deeply impressed by the great passion and energy of those young actors and actresses.

The play reminded me of an important milestone in history, the French Revolution, when the French fought to escape the oppression of the aristocracy.

At the end of the play, Roux, a former priest and a radical socialist, shouts: "When will you learn to see? When will you learn to take sides? When will you show them?"

My heart was racing as I sat mesmorized. Yes, we have the freedom we wanted. Yet on the other hand, we have become enslaved by the overwhelming desire for money and power.

People chase wealth and fortune, organizations chase profit and growth, countries chase influence and power. In short, the whole world is locked up in a materialistic and capitalistic cage.

Hope is the mother of mankind. Ideals give us the essential driving force to continue writing our history. Nothing is more important than pursuing ideals.

Two months ago, during the French presidential elections, President Nicolas Sarkozy adopted the fresh ideas of others, claiming them as his own to garner votes. He gave the French the impression that he hoped to bring about a new era of prosperity for France, like Marat in the play.

Sarkozy's policy of immigration and national identity is obviously taken from France's right-wing National Front party; his affirmative action plans to counter racial discrimination on the job market, to fight against poverty and to protect the environment come from left-wing parties.

Sarkozy even brought four socialists onto his team, including Bernard Kouchner, a wellknown human rights campaigner who founded Doctors without Borders. Sarkozy also recommended Martin Hirsch, head of charity organization Emma, as high commissioner for poverty reduction.

The intriguing aspect of the election was that it highlighted the similarities between the country's ultranationalists and far-leftists, who otherwise expound wildly social views.

The ultranationalists want France to keep its economic independence, while the far-leftists reject blindly pushing for economic growth.

They argue that democracy, economic justice, environmental protection and human rights must be prioritized above purely economic concerns.

These parties deserve respect because they pursue ideals such as economic justice.

These core values are common ideals across the globe.

Taiwan is on the verge of a presidential election.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is eager to push for economic growth if he wins.

Ma has told business leaders he could raise the economic growth rate to at least 6 percent and raise per capita income to US$20,000 by 2011.

He said direct flights and shipping across the strait would become a reality in one year's time, with at least 10,000 Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan within four years, bringing in an estimated NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion) a year. And with the gains this would entail for related sectors, Taiwan would earn NT$100 billion per year.

But let's put these tempting figures aside. If the nation only pays attention to monetary gains, it won't have much of a future.

We must keep the truth in mind. A country that allocates massive resources to pursue economic growth in the belief that it is the only way to survive the wave of globalization not only risks destroying its environment, but also destroying the social fabric that keeps social ills at bay.

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