Whether people realize it or not, their lives are governed not by reality, but by multiple paradigms that reflect and interpret how people feel it should be. These paradigms in turn have multiple levels and play out in different intersecting fields. Some paradigms are assumed and acknowledged, while other subtler ones may go unnoticed until something challenges them and calls them into question.
Take Taiwan, for example, as it enters the Year of the Horse. Taiwanese may or may not be aware of the interplay of two important paradigmatic fields in their lives: the basic paradigms of ideology and religious spirituality. The differences between them point squarely to the basic differences between Taiwan and the country on the other side of the Taiwan Strait: China.
Why is this happening this year? First, Taiwan fought for and holds to the paradigmatic belief that a democratic government is best for society — its democracy may not be perfect, but it is solid and functioning. So it is natural that a major democratic event, namely the seven-in-one local elections on Nov. 29 this year, brings this discussion to the fore. In that election, the mayors, councilors and other officials of municipalities, cities, counties, townships and others are to be chosen.
Who will run? Interest is peaked as major political parties go through the process of selecting their candidates.
However, the elections are also being watched by many as a potential bellwether. They are a bellwether not only because all the key cities are involved, but because the results could reflect the growing unpopularity of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, brought about after six years of incompetence and stagnation. This in turn could impact and influence the 2016 presidential and Legislative Yuan elections.
Many primaries are in process and many contenders have yet to be chosen, but additional questions arise. Do the voters feel that it is time to punish the lackluster performance and failed promises of Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)? Will the Green tide that is creeping north from the south prevail? While the results are up in the air and some candidates are starting to distance themselves from Ma, will he try to impact the 2016 elections by pushing for closer interaction with China?
Contrast Taiwan’s pursuit of a multi-party democratic paradigm with China, where the paradigm held is a one-party state oligarchy masquerading under the guise of communism. In China, there are no basic elections or contesting parties of consequence at levels where it counts. The hands that rule and control the nation are predetermined and from select families. How a person qualifies is worth examining. Disgraced former elite Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official Bo Xilai (薄熙來) tried to crash that group recently, but his pedigree and style did not suit those in charge.
In China, the issue is not communism versus capitalism. The claim to communism is simply a means used by the oligarchy to legitimize their ties to the past overthrow of a past-privileged KMT group, which with its corruption had lost the minds and support of the people. China is not becoming a classless and moneyless society; it is becoming more of the opposite. As the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, it might best be called a socialistic form of capitalism, where a select and minute controlling cabal determines all.