Autonomous citizens entering the movement¡Ðour appeal to all citizens /Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies (Translated by Mon WONG)
Those who want to depose Bien to support the blue camp or those who counterattacking those who want to depose Bien to support the green camp are not real autonomous citizens. They may be respectable citizens, but they surrender themselves to an ulterior motive, giving up the serious reflection on their own belief and action as well as the responsibility of faithfully defending the people¡¦s self-interest.
The most obvious characteristics of autonomous citizens are: will not support the blue or the green camp by other¡¦s influence; will not take an anti-blue or anti-green stance without thinking; and will not attack one side for the sake of the other side. These actions and characteristics reflect a lucid thinking. Without self-autonomy, citizens will always be the puppets of existing political forces (incumbent or opposition), being used others, sacrificing not only their own interest, but also the fundamental civil subjectivity. A system without a body of autonomous citizenship as its basis is invariably not a true democratic system, even if this system may have elections and political parties.
Autonomous citizens like others also cast their votes; however, once they walk out of the voting booth, they will not stop thinking, will not close their eyes, and will not shut their mouths. Those who wait lie zombies for the next election are definitely not autonomous citizens. They are more like ¡¥obedient civilians¡¦ in the eyes of rulers in the past thousands of years.
Ever since the arrival of the new century, it is an indisputable fact that people¡¦s misery index has risen by leaps and bounds. All kinds of problems are rearing their ugly faces: corruption of the higher echelon of political leaders; nepotism in political party structures; exposure of plutocracy; intensification of ethnic politics; widening of poverty gap; hostility in cross-strait relations; gangsterization of news media; marginalization of the disadvantaged; dogmatization of human rights protection; sloganization of multiculturalism¡Ketc. People are especially angry at government leaders¡¦ immortalization, indiscreet remarks and ill-mannered behaviors, because they cross the moral boundaries the people, a society, a civilization and a state need to exist. The anger is reflected by the million people demanding the president to step down and the passive ¡¥anti-corruption¡¦ appeal.
These appeals may be passive, but the fact that people who have long been confined under the traditional autocratic, authoritative and patriarchal culture are able to break loose these cultural confinements and come up with the clear message of ¡¥depose certain someone as a ruler¡¦ is indeed a breakthrough and progress in the formation of autonomous citizens. To doubt this kind progress is to question the basic principal of a democratic society: if a government does not have the society¡¦s (or its people) cooperation, the government should bear the responsibility, not the society (or its people). This principal comes from Mr. Xu Fu Guan¡¦s article published in Democratic Review in 1949. His exhortation to the KMT regime during the Chinese Civil War still rings true today.
Therefore, supporting the party in power without question and smearing or counterattacking civil action is contradictory and irrational to the formation of a democratic society. It is also a self-destructive force for citizens. In the name of democracy, we are pleading everyone to question this so-called ¡¥people¡¦s power¡¦.
However, this does not mean we support the Depose Bien or the Anti-Corruption actions from the people without question, the key still being whether these actions can be considered real autonomous citizens¡¦ actions or not.
A real autonomous citizens¡¦ action during this period that is crucial to Taiwan¡¦s democratic future should: 1) possess citizens¡¦ autonomous consciousness that transcends pan-blue and pan-green ideologies; 2) be highly critical of the Taiwanese partisan politics formed by both the blue and the green camps. In other words, we are urging the brothers and sisters who walk down Ketagalan Blvd. to view both Depose Bien and Anti-Corruption demonstrations as a passive or temporary goal. The real goal is to use our citizenship as subjectivity in order to force the two major political forces to undergo radical changes.
We as a collective force are demanding the political successor (Hsiu-lien Annette Lu, Ma Ying-jeou or others) as well as the political forces (DDP or KMT) of the ¡¥post Bien era¡¦ (no matter how long from now) to salvage the important values ravaged by Taiwan¡¦s partisan politics tug of war but luckily are barely alive with concrete promises. These values include democracy, justice, peace, honesty, law and justice, human rights, social freedom and multi-culturalism.
We strongly feel that people¡¦s disgust with anti-corruption and their demonstration represents the serious condemnation of the gross negligence of duty of both the pan-blue and the pan-green parties from Taiwan¡¦s society.
It also represents people¡¦s awareness and faith in certain important values.
We want to stress the fact that an honest government, a transparent power monitoring system, an effective enforcement of the law, the emphasis on social fairness, the protection of human rights, the freedom and openness of diverse cultures, the tolerance for marginal and dissident groups¡Ketc., should be the public values shared by everyone in Taiwan society, regardless of pan-blue or pan-green ideologies. These values transcend any single party, faction, family or person¡¦s interest and should not be compromised or be confused and manipulated by anyone using political means.
We advocate the idea that political parties and partisan politics are only one of the means to realize public values rather than the ultimate goal. Other than public election, there are other methods and diverse tactics to defend these values, such as demonstrations, strikes and business closures by common people and disadvantage groups, judicial actions, legislative lobbying¡Ketc. We are against the pseudo-democratic discourse that considers election as the only democratic practice and discredits demonstration and other resistant methods used by the people.
We strive to eschew the struggles between politicians and are against any form of injustice. To allow all kinds of public values that are being trampled on, voices that are being ignored, groups that are being excluded and identities that are being discriminated against to ¡¥see the light of day¡¦, now, that is truly ¡¥democracy¡¦ and ¡¥progress¡¦!
We also want to reiterate that the autonomous citizens¡¦ sit-in demonstration in the square should not be only about Depose Bien or Anti-Corruption. This is way too passive. Deposing Chen Shui Bien should coincide with urging Ma Ying-jeou and Hsiu-lien Annette Lu to step toward a true democracy and progress. We are against the Chen Shui Bien political practice which uses the empty talk of fighting for Taiwan¡¦s independence via legal means as a cover to benefit from partisan and familial political practice. We are also against Ma Ying-jeou¡¦s political philosophy of maintaining the status quo (i.e. taking no action) while practicing a passive politic without any expectation.
Surrounded by rows of barricades and military police, facing what used to be the Governor-General Office during Japanese occupation which is now the Presidential Office, the people in the square will demonstrate their mass, weight and courage to fight against corruption and force Chen Shui Bien to step down. Moreover, they should also use their collective knowledge and strength to delineate the justice and democracy of the post-Bien era and to come up with concrete appeals related to these important values.
Upon the arriving of this crucial historic moment, we passionately await the appearance of autonomous citizens.
(August 31, 2006)
Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies is an independent intellectual journal, founded in 1988.
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