Thursday, June 24, 2010

The DPP Protest March and Its Ersatz Leftist Rhetoric

The DPP Protest March and Its Ersatz Leftist Rhetoric
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 24, 2010

On Saturday the DPP will kick off its "Great Anti-ECFA Protest March." The theme of its protest march will be "The KMT and CCP are singing a duet. The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle." Of the two, the charge that "The KMT and CCP are singing a duet" is old hat. But the allegation that "The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle" is new for the DPP.
The DPP alleges that "The rich and the poor and locked in a class struggle." It would have the public believe that ECFA is beneficial to huge conglomerates, but not to "weaker industries," to agriculture, or to the lumpen proletariat.

Actually this line of argument is nothing new. Direct flights between Songshan Airport and Hongqiao Airport are transforming Songshan Airport into a business airport. The DPP has alleged that business airports are beneficial only to the wealthy, but not to ordinary members of the public. Thirty years ago it was the highway system. At the time the "dang wai" movement alleged that the highway system was beneficial only to the wealthy, not the ordinary citizen.

ECFA will have different impacts on different industries. Some favorable, some unfavorable. At the macro level, one must weigh the benefits against the deficits. At the micro level, impacted industries must be protected. In other words, one must simultaneously liberalize and protect. One must not focus solely on one's political agenda, demagoguing the issue by inciting rich vs. poor class struggle. Unfortunately the "dang wai" movement and the DPP have relentlessly turned the highway system, commercial airports, and ECFA into grist for the political mill.

In fact, the DPP is not a class-based political party. Nor is it a left-wing political party. Its rich vs. poor rhetoric is merely a tool in its political struggle. The clearest example is the year 2000. Before the Chen administration assumed power, various social movements within the DPP were highly active. But soon after the DPP assumed power, these social movements withered on the vine. Collusion between the Chen regime and Big Business created a major stink. Now that the DPP has been forced out of office, these fringe groups have gradually been revived. As we can see, the DPP's proletarian and leftist coloration is mere opportunistic posturing, devoid of substance or meaning.

In fact, the DPP is one of the few political parties among the world's emerging democracies without any trace of anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist political coloration. The reason is the Democratic Progressive Party and the "dang wai" movement have their roots among wealthy "huang min" (Subjects of the Japanese Emperor), land owners, and foreign missionaries. That is why the DPP lacks an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist mindset. That is why the DPP's "proletariat" and "leftist" posturing does not come naturally, but is mere political posturing.

ECFA must simultaneously liberalize and protect. It must seek liberalization for key industries. It must seek protection for weaker industries. Tsai Ing-wen was once involved in WTO negotiations. She knows this perfectly well. So does the Democratic Progressive Party, which oversaw its signing. Yet in order to demagogue the ECFA controversy, the DPP is shouting slogans such as "The KMT and the CCP are singing a duet" and "The rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle." It is linking "opposition to [mainland] China" with "opposition to the rich." This is no different from allegations that commercial airports and the highway system are beneficial only to the rich. It has merely raised the ante.

The ECFA early harvest list has yet to be made public. Yet the DPP is already screaming "The government failed to demand what it should have demanded. It failed to defend what it should have defended." It is clearly shooting first and asking questions later. No matter what the issue, it is determined to apply this same rote formula. The DPP is not interested in a rational policy debate. It is waging a political war.

In the past, the DPP demagogued the issue of "old age allowances" and "elderly farmers allowances." But these were merely local issues. Now the DPP is turning ECFA into a class struggle between conglomerates and the underprivileged. It is equating the interests of conglomerates with "pandering to [mainland] China." It is equating "opposition to the rich" with "opposition to [mainland] China." It is equating "hatred of the rich" with "hatred of [mainland] China." Isn't such political demagoguery just a wee bit excessive? Every time the DPP wants a baby, it advocates taking a knife and cutting the baby out of the mother's womb.

The DPP is not a left-wing political party. It is merely an "ersatz leftist" or "pseudo-leftist" political party. The ECFA controversy is the first time the DPP has linked "opposition to the rich" with "opposition to [mainland] China" and "hatred of the rich" with "hatred of [mainland] China." It is playing upon the resentment felt by weaker industries and the insecurity felt by disadvantaged groups. The DPP's demagoguery is not helping the public balance liberalization with protection. It is merely enabling the DPP to use ECFA to divide the rich and the poor, the cities from the countryside, and the nation as a whole.

Tsai Ing-wen comes from a wealthy family. Yet she has now become the most "leftist" chairman ever of the Democratic Progressive Party. Confronted with the impact of ECFA, she advocates "forsaking our economics first priorities" and "repudiating our export-oriented model." Is this "genuine leftism" or "ersatz leftism?" Is it a "alternative policy" for national governance? Or it is merely an agenda for partisan political struggle?

2010.06.24 02:47 am



其實,這種論述模式並無新義。日前「松山 /虹橋」對飛,松山機場將朝「商務機場」轉型;民進黨也說,商務機場只是對有錢人有利,對社會大眾不利。更早的事例是三十多年前高速公路通車,當時的「黨外」也說,高速公路只利於「有錢人」,但對庶民不利。









1 comment:

Juba59 said...

"The lumpen proletariat" is not an accurate translation of 基層勞工. "Grassroots workers" would be better, as it refers to workers (blue collar, or both blue and white collar) who are in employment or seeking it, whereas (to quote) "the lumpenproletariat is that sector of the population that, having been denied a legitimate way to make a living, resorts to the illegitimate: i.e. thieves, fences, drug pushers, numbers men, gamblers, pimps, prostitutes, loan sharks, beggars, thugs, etc." All are proletarians in that they don't own the means of production, distribution and exchange, but their social position and role are different. (See Of course there is no hard-and-fast boundary between the two groups.

"Lump" in German means "rag," so the lumpenproletariat are ragged, tattered or disorganized and unconscious proletarians. Chinese for "lumpenproletariat" is 流氓無產者 or 渣滓普羅. Lumpenproletariat being a single German word, it should not be divided into two words, in my opinion.