Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan, Karl Marx and communism

By Jerome Keating

As Taiwan continues in its democracy, it is natural and fitting that it takes note of the 200th birthday of Karl Marx, coauthor of the Communist Manifesto.

This is important not only because Marx has had a significant impact on today’s world, but also because China, Taiwan’s main regional adversary, claims to be a communist state. All this gives Taiwanese much to ponder.

Taiwan had its own brief flirtations with communism during the Japanese colonial era and the following Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) one-party state period. During each period, it managed to avoid their communistic pitfalls. It later also broke free of the KMT’s one-party state dominance. With such experiences, Taiwan can see more clearly than most.

One lesson learned is how the KMT has changed, and revealed its thirst for power and wealth. During the one-party state period, KMT leaders found it acceptable to “kill 100 Taiwanese to find one Communist.” Now that the same leaders are out of power, they have reversed their position. They would betray Taiwan’s democracy to curry favor with communist China’s one-party state.

A second lesson is how most communist leaders hide behind the facade of proletariat concerns. If Marx could see today’s world, he would turn in his grave.

Marx’s cherished dream of the improvement of all the world’s workers, and a classless and stateless society is gone. In its place are narrow, autocratic regimes, catering to oligarchs and bent on maintaining personal power and wealth.

The evidence is there. In Russia and China, the two largest former and current communist nations, communism is certainly dead.

The Chinese Communist Party could easily — and ironically — change its name to the Chinese Capitalist Party, the Chinese Corporate Party or even the Chinese Corrupt Party without changing its initials, and each name would be recognizable and fitting.

Marxist communism did not die for lack of an ideal; the ideal had merit. It did not die for lack of sacrifice; millions upon millions died in its formative process in both Russia and China. It did not die for lack of effort or lack of preaching; untold energy went into both.

It died because, ideologically, its host nations simply could not find a lasting way to counter the subjective realities of human nature, whether they be greed or the lust for power and control.

A major shortcoming of communism has been, and continues to be, that while it learned to tear down outmoded systems, such as dynastic emperors, czars or corrupt regimes, it has developed nothing better with which to replace them.

In mocking parody, purists of course might be tempted to paraphrase the words of British author and lay theologian Gilbert Chesterton: “Communism has not been tried and found wanting; it has been tried for a while, found difficult, and given up for something easier and far more lucrative to its leaders.”

That said, many ironic takeaway points are evident. The wealth gap is widening in China and Russia. China has the most billionaires in the world and Russia is not far behind, ranking fifth in nations with the most billionaires.

Further, neither China nor Russia — nor any communist state for that matter — has solved the problem of curbing their “dynastic succession” of greed, power and control. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) can be president for life if he wishes. Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun his fourth term, and at the end of that he would have ruled for 20 years; not including a four-year hiatus when he was prime minister.

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