Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Importance of culture revealed by the past

By Lee Min-yung 李敏勇

Fifteen years after leaving office, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) released first the Japanese and then the Chinese versions of his book, titled New Road to Democracy (新‧台灣的主張). Both versions have attracted much attention upon their release.

The book features Lee’s account of and insights on how he had learned from the Japanese spirit, how Taiwan had walked the path to democratization — a new era for the new Taiwanese — and the Japanese and Taiwanese views on national defense.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wears a stupid grin on his face; former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) liked to blabber; Lee is not like them.

Chen and Ma, the former of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the latter of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), are both Lee’s successors, but neither have his cultural depth. This shows the difference between the civilized general education during the Japanese colonial rule and the uncivilized general education during the Chinese colonial rule.

The intellectuals educated after World World II focus on the Three Principles of the People (三民主義) and the Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經), unlike those educated before the war, who had intensively studied world literature and classical philosophy.

Both Taiwan and the two Koreas pursued modernization during Japanese colonial rule. However, culturally confused Taiwan has become a captive of its “motherland” after the war, while moving backward toward premodern culture. The 228 Incident was an example of a cultural confrontation, in which most of the Taiwanese elite raised during the Japanese colonial era were killed. As for the rest of the elite of that generation, such as Lien Chen-tung (連震東); they had joined the semi-colonial rule of the KMT by tramping the souls of the dead, serving as mere servants of the powerful.

What was the nature of those servants? Looking at Lien’s son, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), will be sufficient to understand their nature. The younger Lien gives more weight to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than the KMT and he uses nationalism to cover his political disloyalty.

Chen and Ma graduated from the Department of Law at the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU). From Lee’s generation, he, agricultural economist Liu Ching-jui (劉慶瑞) and political academic Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) shone at the NTU. Peng was forced to live in exile for some years after publishing the Declaration of Self-Salvation of the Taiwanese People (台灣人民自救宣言) in 1964. Liu, who proposed to draft a new constitution, died of illness the same year.

Peng and Liu released a number of translated literary works when they were young. They had read hundreds of books published by Japanese publisher Iwanami Shoten during high school and built a solid foundation to later become part of the intellectual elite. In contrast to this period, the post-war Chinese era in Taiwan lacks profound thought or spirit.

The KMT regime and the nation it hijacked are both on the verge of collapse, but the party is still attempting to fiddle with high-school curriculum guidelines to cultivate more followers of the party-state system instead of cultivating followers of what is true, good and beautiful.

After its expulsion by the CCP in 1949, the KMT’s various unrealistic policies concerning China have exposed its harsh and disgraceful power structure.At first, the pro-China KMT was welcomed by Taiwanese, but it later came to be despised. Regardless, the party never really tried to reform itself.

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