Fading Rays of Taiwan Independence Fall on Sunflowers
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
April 15, 2014
Summary: Twenty-five years ago Cheng Nan-jung advocated Taiwan independence.
Twenty-five years later, the Sunflower student movement is still belated
advocating Taiwan independence? Twenty-five years ago Cheng Nan-jung
advocated 100% freedom of speech. Who knew that 25 years later the
Sunflower student movement would impose a Black Terror that permits only
Full text below:
Roughly 25 years ago, Cheng Nan-jung said "I am Cheng Nan-jung, I advocate Taiwan independence." Today, 25 years later, others have said "I am Lin Fei-fan, I advocate Taiwan independence" and "I am Chen Wei-ting, I advocate Taiwan independence."
Cheng Nan-jung has become the student movement's latest Taiwan independence idol. But over the past 20 years, Cheng family memorial services changed. Now the family speaks only of Cheng's advocacy of "100% freedom of speech." They no longer speak of his advocacy of Taiwan independence. This is because freedom of speech is a universal value. Whereas Taiwan independence is merely a fleeting strategic option for national survival.
Cheng Nan-jung advocated 100% freedom of speech and Taiwan independence. But he did so within a specif historical context. Martial law had just been lifted. Article 100 of the Criminal Code however, was still on the books. Advocacy of Taiwan independence was part and parcel of advocating 100% freedom of speech. Furthermore, when martial law was being lifted, its political aftershocks were still being felt. The Cold War continued. The Chinese mainland showed no signs of becoming a rising power. The United States had yet to be weakened by 9/11. Globalization was still a distant concept. As a result Taiwan independence became a political option for many intellectuals, including Cheng Nan-jung. In 1991 the DPP announced its Taiwan Independence Party Platform, two years after Cheng Nan-jung immolated himself in 1989.
Recent student movement protests have touched off a wave of Taiwan independence sentiment, eight years after the fall of the DPP's Taiwan independence regime. Even DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has acknowledged that the DPP "can no longer return to advocacy of Taiwan independence." If Cheng Nan-jung were alive today, would he still insist on Taiwan independence as the proper strategy for national survival? No one is in a position to speak for him.
In this regard, we must distinguish between freedom of speech and strategic options for national survival. A person may be exercising his right to free speech. But that hardly mean that his strategy for national survival is correct. Cheng Nan-jung demanded Taiwan independence. When martial law and Article 100 of the Criminal Code were in force, demands for Taiwan independence were a form of free of speech. Is Taiwan independence the right strategy for national survival? We will not pursue that in detail. When Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting advocate Taiwan independence today, it has nothing to do prohibitions against free speech. When one already enjoys 100% freedom of speech, then the accuracy of what one's utterances becomes more important than whether they were uttered freely. Upholding the right to advocate Taiwan independence, does no mean that Taiwan independence is the proper strategy for national survival. After all, "free" and "correct" are not synonyms. In fact, they are often at odds with each other.
Since Cheng Nan-jung's time, Taiwan independence has undergone over 20 years of trials and tribulations. Today even the DPP is considering whether to repeal or freeze its Taiwan Independence Party Platform. This has nothing to do with upholding the freedom to advocate Taiwan independence. The real issue is whether Taiwan independence is the correct strategy for national survival. Alas, Taiwan independence is akin to the setting sun. Its last rays are shining upon the sunflowers.
Li Ao said "A belated Party Outsider is not a Party Outsider." In other words, If one waits until there is 100% freedom of speech before becoming a Party Outsider, one is merely another political opportunist. Many young students today are belated Taiwan independence advocates. Some of them have political motives. Most of them are merely hot-blooded and naive. These belated Taiwan independence advocates feel increasingly bewildered and anxious, not because they lack freedom, but because they failed to exercise their freedom in a responsible manner, and use it to seek correct solutions.
We prefer to characterize Cheng Nan-jung as an advocate of 100% free speech, rather than as an advocate of Taiwan independence. Freedom of speech is a right. But those who advocate Taiwan independence or oppose the CSSTA, must assume responsibility for their exercise of freedom. After all, Cheng Nan-jung's 100% freedom of speech should mean 100% freedom of speech not just for oneself, but for others as well. Does this society tolerate only anti-CSSTA speech, while prohibiting pro-CSSTA speech? Does this society tolerate only pro-Taiwan independence speech, while prohibiting anti-Taiwan independence speech? Is this the Taiwan pursued by Cheng Nan-jung or the Sunflower student movement?
Student movement members must not forsake the freedom to dialogue with oneself. Does one agree with Taiwan independence? Does one oppose the CSSTA? These are strategic choices for national survival. They are matters of knowledge. If one blindly advocates Taiwan independence and blindly opposed the CSSTA, one has denied oneself the freedom to dialogue with oneself. One's unfree self has lost the freedom to know itself. It can no longer acquire correct knowledge. It can no longer formulate a proper strategy for national survival. One must not become an intellectual who has forsaken the freedom to dialogue freely with himself.
Finally, let us pose two questions. Twenty-five years ago Cheng Nan-jung advocated Taiwan independence. Twenty-five years later, the Sunflower student movement is still belated advocating Taiwan independence? Twenty-five years ago Cheng Nan-jung advocated 100% freedom of speech. Who knew that 25 years later the Sunflower student movement would impose a Black Terror that permits only one viewpoint.
2014.04.15 02:04 am