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Posts Tagged ‘electoral democracy’

America at a Crossroad: Rethinking Trade, Geopolitics, and Economic Well-Being

April 8th, 2016 6 comments

China U.S. Free Trade[An edited copy of this article under the title “America should not blame trade – or its trading partners – for its ills ” is initially published at the South China Morning Post (pdf archive here)]

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are leading a new American awakening on global trade.  According to the new emerging consensus, America has been the victim of bad trade deals – including the yet-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – for decades.  These deals have shipped millions of good-paying American jobs abroad and in the process hollowed out the American middle class.

When Sanders and Trump recently began questioning the merits of trade with allies such as Japan as well, however, many believed them to have crossed a line. It is one thing to attack China for “stealing” jobs but quite another to sell short a close and faithful ally.

Americans have long harbored schizophrenic attitudes on trade, however. Read more…

Eric X. Li Interviews Francis Fukuyama on Political Systems, Political Legitimacy, Political Renewal and Decays

April 2nd, 2015 2 comments

Eric X. Li recently interviewed Francis Fukuyama on Political Systems, Political Legitimacy, Political Renewal and Decays for his Guancha views.  The interview (about 53 minutes) is carried out in English with Chinese subtitles.  A link to the video on youtube can be found here.  A link to the video on tudou can be found here.  A transcript of the interview on gunacha in Chinese can be found here.

The interview covers a lot and it is not my intention to discuss everything about it.  However, one thing I do like is the tone it sets.  For example, it doesn’t pose the questions such as whether electoral democracy or meritocratic democracy is superior.  Instead, it poses question that ask what are the benefits and risks of each.

It is also witty.  For example, there is a segment where Fukuyama exemplifies the respect for “rule of law” in terms of rulers not able to take things away from the citizens arbitrarily. Eric wittily retorted something to the effect: “or to get permission to get a divorce!”   Laws are but a tool: it can “protect” while at the same time also invade.   Ah … the double edge sword of law.

Nevertheless, there are several things I don’t like though.   Read more…

Taiwan’s Student Mob?

April 9th, 2014 8 comments

Taiwan ProtestThis is a belated post.  I have been busy with a project at work the last couple of weeks…  Still, I believe what I have to say is still relevant.

It appears that the student protest occupying the Legislative Yuan the last 2-3 weeks is coming to an end.  Depending on which media you read, the significance of the protest meant different things.

Some think this is just a purely economical issue.  The Taiwanese students are not happy with the trade agreements agreed upon but not yet signed into law between the Mainland and Taiwanese side.  This is understandable.  College graduates in Taiwan has had a tough time getting (good) employment this past several years (decade?).  Many – unfortunately – have come to feel protectionism – legal protection from globalism – is the best way to “compete” in the global economy.

However, this is oversimplification.   If you listen to the speeches and talks within the protest, you have no doubt this is about partisan politics between KMT and DPP – and also emotional politics invoked against the Mainland.  As I noted earlier in a comment in another thread, the main impetus of the protest is not about economics, but about the uneasy unsettled status of Mainland-Taiwan relations.  The real reason is unification/independence politics.

But if this is all there is to the protest, I’d not write this post – as there is not much for me personally to write about.  It’s just about normal democratic politicking – built upon base politics, misinformation, distortion, emotional rants, hateful or divisive rhetoric, and what I might call ethno/religious/identity politicking. Read more…

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems (李世默:两种制度的传说)

July 2nd, 2013 43 comments

eric x. li - hEric X. Li, whom both YinYang and I know personally, recently gave this TED presentation on the ideological worship of two political systems – communism … and electoral democracies. As usual, I find Li’s perspective insightful and interesting. It certainly takes guts to stand up and speak against the predominant religion in the world! Now I appreciate even more how Galileo must have felt in confronting the Catholic Church!

I do want to make a quick note about one of the two questions the host at Ted asked of Li at the end of the talk.  The host asked about how a non-elected government can legitimately set the agenda without feedback in the form of contested elections.  Li talked about how the Chinese government – at all levels – takes surveys of the people on all types of issues, from what people think of the garbage collection at a local level to what people think about the direction of the nation on a national level.

This exchange reminded me of the adversarial vs. inquisitorial approach to resolving legal controversies. Read more…