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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Lessons leading to democracy 3.0

Lessons leading to democracy 3.0

Montesquieu once noted that the full realization of a constitution demands that it is burned into the hearts and minds of every individual.

What a pity it is that due to certain historical factors of the political culture, Taiwan’s constitutional democracy bears all the markings of a representative democracy, and yet the path to its continued progress is plagued with obstacles. This is most recently evident from the blue and white camps’ aggressive pushing through of ill-thought out “reform” bills by dint of their slight legislative majority. In crisis comes opportunity, and we need only look to the Bluebird movement as an evolution of the Wild Lily and Sunflower movements.

First came the decentralization of power and ridding ourselves of personality cults, which, together with an overall healthy democracy, are important prerequisites.

Second, with the Bluebird movement taking flight across Taiwan, high-school students talk freely about the movement. There is a consensus that slogans on protest signs and placards such as “No discussion, No democracy” are core values of a democracy.

It is quite moving to witness this attitude of frank discussion of the matters at hand, but perhaps more encouraging is the constitutional tussle the executive and legislative branches are engaged in, providing lessons in constitutional law and democracy to the public.

Among other lessons, the centrality of constitutional knowledge, regardless of whether the result furthers one’s own agenda, and being concerned instead with the proper exercise of power and the importance of dialogue above and beyond overt confrontation or enmity, provides an excellent comparison with the arbitrary rule of China’s feudalistic despotism and of the casting down of anything the party does not agree with, and of the lack of any guarantees of freedom of expression to be found in that nation under that system.

Miles Yu (余茂春), senior fellow and director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute, has said that the Tiananmen Square protests that happened in China in 1989 are an unfinished revolution. Taiwan’s Bluebird movement, on the other hand, is developing opportunities to deepen Taiwanese democracy, evolving into a kind of “democracy, rule of law and human rights” 3.0, including the honing of a “constitutional consciousness,” as well as welding this consciousness into the hearts and minds of the public. Even more, it includes democratic discussions on the reliance on law and reason, and discussing matters as they actually are.

This would allow us to brush off vestiges of arbitrary rule of law, and get us to appreciate and cherish the democracy we have in Taiwan.

Lin Jui-hsia is director of Taoshan Salon and Humanity and Arts Institute in Chiayi City.

Translated by Tim Smith

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/06/14

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