Erenlai - Governance and Its Discontents 世界需要新藍圖
Governance and Its Discontents 世界需要新藍圖

Governance and Its Discontents 世界需要新藍圖

 

 
Good governance requires blending and satisfying opposing views. What rules of conduct and transparency should apply to enterprises, nation-states and international organizations? Does globalization require new models of governance? The materials here throw light on the world of developmental politics.

宏觀的管治需要智慧與經驗,以及解決問題的能力。理論若沒有落實成貫徹的計劃,那也不過是勞民傷財的一場空談罷了!世界需要有新藍圖,這樣我們才能知道永續發展的路要如何走下去。

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Sunflower Movement

 Image Courtesy of AOL News   

Taiwan’s peaceful democracy has been wracked by  protest over the last few days in response to the passage of the Service Trade Agreement with China, a follow-up agreement to the Economic Cooperation Framework agreement (ECFA) passed in 2010. The police violence surrounding the events has left many Taiwanese citizens scratching their heads, wondering how this could have happened in a country known for its friendly and peaceful society. Many wonder what has happened to the democracy in Taiwan, and what this means for its future.

The protests began on Thursday, March 18 when a group of students entered the Legislative Yuan in Taipei around 8pm and occupied the chamber. The occupation began as a response to the announcement by the administration of president Ma Ying-jeou the previous day that the agreed upon line-by-line review of the Service Trade Agreement had reached its expiration and the agreement would pass through the legislature without review. By the end of the day, over 300 people had entered the building and occupied the chamber.

The politics of Taiwan are divided between the Kuomintang party and the Democratic Progressive Party, respectively known as the blue and green parties. The ruling Kuomintang is the more conservative of the two, often shying away from any talk of Taiwanese independence and seen as more conciliatory to the People’s Republic of China. It is under the leadership of the Kuomintang that the first government-to-government meetings between Taiwanese ministers and their counterparts in the Chinese government occurred since the end of the Chinese civil war. Their leadership has also seen the expansion of Chinese trade and tourism in Taiwan, and a dampening of talks of a Taiwanese nation.

The Service Trade agreement opens up 64 sectors of the Taiwanese economy to direct Chinese investment, a move which is seen by many of these protestors as being one step too close to integration of the two economies. In my previous article, I wrote that the much feared takeover of the Taiwanese economy by China has yet to happen, and that still seems to hold true. However, the ways in which the KMT party pushed the agreement through the legislature, by executive order rather than open debate, appears to many Taiwanese citizens to be a quite tyrannical move.

One can only imagine what the Ma administration is trying to accomplish by insisting that there be no compromise and that the agreement will pass through the legislature as previously planned. The pressures on the Ma administration by the Taiwanese population may not be as strong as their suspected desire to impress Beijing enough to have a face-to-face meeting between Ma and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

If indeed Ma wants to go down in the history books as the hero, he is certainly pursuing an odd course on his way to fame. Ma’s domestic approval ratings have already hovered at around 10% for most of the last year before the protests even began. Yet, despite his abysmally low popularity, Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah thought it a good idea to send in the riot police on the night of Sunday, March 23 to break up the protests. There were reports of over 100 injuries to unarmed students, reports, and citizens following the incidence of violence.

I have heard several critiques of the protestors, that young students cannot possibly understand the complexity of these issues, and that most of the demonstrators there have little knowledge of the real stakes involved. Many people I have spoken to believe these young protestors are just there to be with their friends. While it’s true that the sunflower painting, arm band making, and constant Instagraming of selfies may seem juvenile in comparison to more violent protests going on in Crimea or Bangkok, this is an important distinction of Taiwanese culture not to be trivialized. Taiwanese society is characteristically nonviolent, the jovial events going on at these protests are a result of a Taiwanese shared consciousness that values peace and social gathering. It is these values that the Ma administration seems to be so out of touch with, and the reasons that the use of water cannons and riot police is so shocking to observers in Taiwan.

At this point, it seems that the protests have become about more than just Sinophobia or concern over ECFA and the Trade Services Agreement. Other Taiwanese groups, like the strong anti-nuclear and gay marriage movements, have also joined in the protests to voice their concerns and oppose the administration. Taiwan is still a very young democracy, less than 30 years old. The protests are now about the vision Taiwan has for its self-determination and the way it wants its democracy and society to be shaped for future generations.

The KMT will almost assuredly suffer severe political backlash as a result of the way the current administration has responded to the demands of the student protestors. Taiwanese politics are notoriously divided and at times raucous, especially where the issue of Taiwanese independence and Taiwan’s relationship with China is concerned. The opposition party has a chance to seize on this political capital and vindicate everything these student protestors have been saying, turning this from a fringe student movement into a mainstream political change that will drive the KMT out of office. Regardless of what happens in the halls of the government, however, the anger and hurt associated with this Sunflower movement will almost certainly continue far into the future, spelling only sadness for Taiwan’s young, fragile democracy.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Got Beef with President Horse?


Is Ma Yingjiu truly the son of Satan?

Upon being reelected in the 2012 presidential election this January, Ma Yingjiu (or Horse England Nine1, as one of my former students called him), must have felt the calm satisfaction of a job well done. He had just defeated a fairly strong opposition by a very tight margin, and would have four more years of control to shape Taiwan the way he saw fit. Little did he know that just five months down the line, he would be the target of (almost) everyone’s criticism.

Thursday, 07 July 2011

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Sequel

“Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, written in the 14th century, is the most popular Chinese historical novel, based on the tumultuous history of the country during the second and third centuries. A cultural icon, it has lost nothing of its evocative power, revived through TV series, mangas and videogames. Throughout the centuries, its over-complex plot has also provided the Chinese political scene with endless analogies, helping politicians and commentators to assess power relationships, strategies and claims to legitimacy.

No wonder that the “Three Kingdoms” metaphor is still in use. And it serves today to describe the somehow subdued battle going on between the three main ideological forces that divide the Chinese intellectual spectrum, all of them trying to define policy making and future institutional transformations. Roughly speaking, the “Three Kingdoms” are now referred to as Confucianism, Christianity and a populist form of Maoist revival.

Let us start with the latter “Kingdom”: Bo Xilai (薄熙来), Party secretary of Chongqing Special Municipality and a scion of a prominent Communist family, has built up his popularity on the eradication of local mafias (or its substitution by new factions), the building of scores of social housing, and the chanting in group and on TV of revolutionary songs of the past. He has somehow reshaped a “spiritual civilization” based (a) on the comfort of small groups fostering mutual support through chanting together and participating in community activities, (b) on nostalgia for less corrupt times, and (c) on the reassertion of the quasi-religious nature of the Party.  Strangely enough, the model has proven effective, and is now embraced by a growing number of national and local cadres, making the ones who embrace the revival of the Party and the enshrinement its history leading contenders in the political battles to come. For sure, the ultimate motivations behind Bo’s launching of the “Red songs campaign” remain unclear, but it any case it has initiated a movement that has implications going beyond his personal political future. Current dissatisfactions as to inflation and unemployment may give more impetus to this peculiar form of populism.

Confucianism fits better the mind of the leaders and intellectuals who envision the future of China as a continuation and refinement of the current model: meritocracy is the core value, a meritocracy mainly based on technical and administrative expertise; virtue is to be extolled, along with obedience and sense of order; “scientific development” associates with uncritical reverence for China’s long past (while the Populist-Maoist model relies more on generational nostalgia and short-term memory); caution and wisdom anchored into the ruminating of Chinese classics have to predominate over daring attempts at change, so prone is the country to disorder and division.

Finally, “Christianity” is fostered by the rapid growth of Christian churches, joined by people aspiring to a spiritual experience anchored in both personal and community life; at the same time, it clearly posses political undertones as it goes with aspiration to personal freedom and rights understood in the Western sense; such aspiration ultimately implies to relax or even to overcome the Party-State’s overall control on society. “Christians’ are thus often assimilated to people aspiring towards a Western-leaning model, and such people can also be found in leading circles. An example is the one provided by the economist Zhao Xiao (赵晓), who has equaled the historical achievement of the West with its adhesion to Christian beliefs and has converted to Christianity. During the last few years and months, spiritual and political values have been more clearly associated than was the case at the beginning of the “religious fever’ tide, with tensions and debates consequently growing.

“Romance of the Three Kingdoms” is characterized by the intricacy of its plot and the innumerable changes of alliances and fortune that occur. It would thus be unwise to see in the three “Kingdoms” now emerging the sole actors of an ever-evolving drama. But the understanding of the Characters who appear on the stage at a given moment of time might help all observers to better follow the plot yet to unfold.

Photo: C.P.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

CEFC Files: One World, One Health

Over the next few months we will be releasing videos of all the impassioned researchers based at the Taipei branch of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) to introduce their new research directions in Sinology and Taiwan Studies. Vincent Rollet is a researcher at The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China, Taipei branch based in Academica Sinica. His research is based around Identity, Security and Societal Dimensions of the Taiwan’s Foreign Policy against Infectious Diseases (2000-2008). Here, Vincent came to the Ricci Institute to introduce his research and reveals to us the role of public health and afflictuous diseases in international diplomacy, before looking at ways that Taiwan can have greater representation in international public health while it remains outside of the WHO.

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While the last decades have been characterized by the acceleration of the emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases, many governments have placed the fight against these diseases on their foreign policy agenda. Two main questions can be raised: what has been the nature of their foreign policy and which dynamics prompted or conditioned them?

To answer these questions and to contribute to the general debate on the link between « Foreign Policy » and « Health », my Phd research focused on the Taiwan case. It shows that despite the particular situation of Taiwan on the international scene, since 2000, its government has conducted a specific foreign policy to fight against infectious diseases which has taken several forms.

Calling upon the conceptual tools proposed by the Constructivist, Realist and Liberal streams of International Relations commonly used to analyse Foreign Policy, this thesis provides an original interpretation of this foreign policy. It also shows that corporative, role-type and collective identities, as well as exigencies of security and societal demands, represent the explicative factors of this foreign policy.

This research concludes that the Foreign Policy conducted by Taiwan between 2000 and 2008 in the fight against infectious diseases held identity, security and societal dimensions, which then displays the multidimensional aspect of a Foreign Policy in the field of Health.

 

Thursday, 01 July 2010

The sinking of the Cheonan

North Korea’s recent sinking of the South Korean navy vessel ‘The Cheonan’ has generated a lot of buzz and I'm going to jump on the bandwagon. I got wind of an article by Ruediger Frank, a well-known Pyongyang watcher. He proposes the idea that someone in the chain of command ordered the attack on the Cheonan without first gaining permission from the proper authorities.  The notion that someone other than the Dear Leader (Kim Jong-il) ordered the attack has crossed my mind. With this possibility there are a few things to take into consideration.

There are three domestic powers in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: The Party, the Family, and the military. The phasing out of Juche (self-reliance) rhetoric in favor of Seong-gun Jeong-chi (military-first politics) has been underway since the mid-nineties. This put the Party on the backburner as the main power broker and the military filled the void. Where ideology and economy fail, the barrel of a gun becomes the most reliable source of power. Most NoKo observers will agree that Kim was obliged to seek support in the military following the death of his father. As a result, Kim is obligated to work closely with the military in coordinating most matters of state.

 

Konrad_Mathesius_Korea_Revolutionary_Martyrs_Cemetery

What concerns me is the intensity with which some people have been indoctrinated into the ideology of the State. Like any system, there is a broad spectrum of loyalty and conviction among the people. Those people who had less against the State raised voices of rebuke when Kim agreed to dismantle the nuclear facilities last year. People were disappointed that he had shown deference to America's wishes; that he had doubled back on a hybrid ideology of self-reliant militaristic brinkmanship. It goes without saying that those in the military - their careers bolstered by an atmosphere of constant tension between North and South - are scattered similarly along the ideological spectrum; so much in some cases, that an act of insubordination wouldn't be all too surprising were the domestic situation bad enough. A vigilante attempt from below to put a regime, viewed as playing too soft, on the spot. The alternative is that they are trying to provoke a country-crushing retaliation from the South, going out in a blaze of glory in a final fight for the mother land... but I'll leave that scenario to Hollywood.

 

 

In the past I've been concerned about the lack of effort the State has put into building the image of Kim's son. In time, however, I've come to realize that it doesn't really matter what the people think of the leader as he will only be a mouthpiece of the military. I highly doubt that the rogue elements in the chain of command are keen to launch an all-out coup, but it's likely that they are dissatisfied with the state of things and want to shake it up a bit, hence the attack on the Cheonan. Kim gives them a face, and the military gives him support. It's a mutual relationship and neither is going to profit from the destruction of the regime.

 

Konrad_Mathesius_Korean_propaganda1

Despite all the hype, what we need to keep in mind is that people have been predicting the downfall of the North for over half a century: if not from the people rising up in a blaze of democracy, then the inevitable crumbling of a failed economy or perestroika. As long as the army is fed and as long as Pyongyang is fed, the North exhibits enormous staying power. You cannot fight when you're hungry and with a lack of institutions that facilitate communication, any attempts at a revolution are dead in the water. Add to that the fact that people would probably go after each other (get to the armory-find the party cadres… aaah… that feels good) before any foreign powers could get into the action, escalation to all out war is in no one's interest.

 

 
The NoKos are betting that attack on the Cheonan will not escalate out of control. It will, however, get everyone's attention both domestically and internationally. It's not entirely unlikely that Kim knew about the attack either. Regardless of the supposed pressure from lower echelons, he'll be in the spotlight again. Nothing's going to change if you don't get things moving first. As usual, we can only guess what domestic amendments in policy the powers that be are looking to implement. Albeit the most frustrating option, our best choice is to listen up and engage the North.
 

Photos by K. Mathesius

 

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A world of distrust

Global economic indicators are mixed at best; the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake has been the occasion of much generosity but has also been marred by painful polemics; war is still raging in Afghanistan; Iran’s nuclear program remains one of the main worries of the Western world; and - more generally - commercial rivalries, disputes on currencies levels, sharing of global duties or internet piracy nurture a new climate of distrust among the nations of the globe. Rising tension between the US and China is the most obvious example of this state of affairs. But distrust is gaining ground in all areas and on every level. The quarrel brewing between Northern and Southern Europe on public debt or increased tensions on the Indian subcontinent constitute other examples.
 
This is just a ‘feeling’ of course, but the rise of distrust is also a logical consequence of a number of factors: the failure of the Copenhagen summit to agree on goals and duties and current polemics on global warming; uncertainties linked to economic imbalances; the continuous shift in the balance of power between the US, China and Japan; the failure of Europe to convert its political achievements into economic impetus; the near impossibility to answer adequately the twin challenges of fundamentalism and terrorism; finally, the lack of willingness shown by developed nations to challenge effectively their way of life and the subsequent resentment felt in the rest of the world. We could hope at some point that the very magnitude of the crisis, the presidency of Barak Obama or even the entry into a new decade would generate a new spirit of cooperation. Rather, it seems that governments and public opinions have entrenched themselves into a new world of distrust.
 
Public mood is versatile, and new developments may well generate a new spirit of cooperation and confidence. A gradual shift in our growth model fostered by a steady urge in green industries and renewable energies would certainly prove to be the most auspicious factor for heading in such a direction. But, in the short term, the rise of distrust might well be the main characteristic of international relations in 2010. If this is indeed the case, the changing trends must be monitored carefully, for distrust is a cause for irrational behaviours and unexpected crises. Political and spiritual leaders would be well inspired to find the words that will ignite accrued goodwill and confidence among national opinions. Today, more than ever, faith in the Other as well as plain ‘good faith’ when dealing with partners and competitors remain the main virtues to rely upon for building up positive interactions among the various nations, regions and interest groups. For the time being, relying on faith and good faith certainly means to go resolutely against the tide of distrust...
 
 

Monday, 21 December 2009

Beyond Copenhagen

The result of the Copenhagen Summit is creating strong disappointment all around the world, and rightly so. However, one might wonder whether the hopes pinned on the event were justified in the first place. After all, there were no signs before the summit begun that nations were coming closer on the most basic issues – mode and amount of financing the efforts to be made, national targets, and verification mechanisms. Therefore, one might wonder how such incompatibilities would have been overcome just by meeting around a negotiation table. For sure, the Chiefs of State and Government were anxious to prove that they still could be the “saviors” of the world, people able to work out last-minute compromises through their negotiation skills and innate wisdom. This time, the magic just did not operate. Maybe it was because differences in substance and style were really too strong for being ignored.

The trick of forging a five nations “deal” did not truly help, and it might be better after all that the text worked out by five of the protagonists were finally not formally endorsed by the whole assembly. On the long term, the failure that Copenhagen was might be more helpful for working out a reform of world governance – and even substantial progresses on climate change – than a more ambiguous result would have been.

First, the Copenhagen failure clearly shows that an age of world governance is coming to an end. Big circuses are not the way to make real progresses any more. A more multilateral approach, regional agreements, and pilot efforts made by a country or a group of countries are the best way to go ahead. World governance must rely on the principle of “variable geometry.” When Summits like Copenhagen serve as pretexts for diluting one’s responsibility, the present style of world governance proves to be actually harmful to the causes it pretends to serve.

Second, the Copenhagen failure shows that “leaders’ are not “saviors’. Progresses in natural conservation, energy-saving measures and sustainable development will primarily come from the creativity and dedication of the private sector, civil society and national governments (when the latter are pushed in the right direction by the nation they govern). The proven inefficiency in world governance can be a boost for accrued self-organization of civil societies around the world.

Third, I do not think that the Copenhagen failure is so alarming when it comes to managing climate change. At the local and national level, the dynamic is clearly towards rapid improvement in terms of technical know-how, political will and administrative implementation. The issue does not disappear with Copenhagen. On the contrary it is appropriated anew by all parties concerned. Hopefully, the global struggle for tackling climate change is now starting on a new basis.


Friday, 23 October 2009

沒說不,豈能當同意?

圖片提供/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
本文亦見於2009年11月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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器官捐贈是救人的善行,然而我們是否有強迫他人行善的權利?
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器官移植是現代醫學的奇蹟,不但挽救了許多人的生命,也提升許多人的生活品質,而關於「器捐」在醫療、法律、哲學、宗教方面的爭議,各界已有許多精彩的論述,此處我想透過「施與受」的角度,討論此一議題。


沒說不,即同意:強迫捐贈?
由於目前等待器官移植者的人數遠多於器官捐贈者,部分推動器官捐贈的人士遂希望另尋良方改善此一情況。其中之一即是衛生署長楊志良先生近來提出來的「沒說不,即同意」的器官捐贈構想。

依照楊署長說法,所謂「沒說不,即同意」的器官捐贈是指:除了十八歲以下未成年者及精神病患外,民眾生前若未拒絕捐贈器官,即視同同意捐贈。不過,倘若病人的家屬拒絕捐贈,也不能捐。

然而大家不妨試想一下,就施者來說,天底下有比「生命」更難捨的財產嗎?反之,對受者來說,天底下有比「生命」更貴重的禮物嗎?


不得侵損他人的權利
面對這種既昂貴又特殊的施與受關係,如果事先沒有審慎思慮「器捐」的本質,也沒有考量到「同意行使」之前所需的心理準備,那麼事後雙方關係可能會出現嚴重失衡的狀態,進而產生「獲益者」與「犧牲者」之間難解的糾葛,因為生命並不是身體衰毀之後就消失了!。

此外,對於身外之物,我們尚且知道「未經同意而取謂之偷」,更何況是長在別人身體內的器官,我們可以隨便用一個「沒說不,即同意」的法條就予以強取嗎?而如果「沒說不,即同意」這種說法行得通,是否表示任何人都可以用「你又沒有說『不要』」這種藉口來侵損他人的權利?


切忌貿然行動
我們畢竟是肉身凡夫,就算是在意識不清,末稍神經對肉體痛覺已經消失的時候,在心理上,對於身體還是會存有一股頑強的防護驅力和執取衝動。因此,多數人都必須經過長期的教育薰陶冶與意志鍛鍊,才能慢慢地讓自己在色身、言行、和思想上都做好「捨身布施」的準備。

主事者如果沒有看透這一點,便在匆促的情況下貿然摘取病人的器官,進行移植,這時無論對捐贈者、家屬或受贈者而言,都可能造成某種風險和傷害。更令人擔憂的是,一旦「沒說不,即同意」的器官捐贈構想付諸實現,一些無家屬可代為發聲的鰥、寡、孤獨者,以及一些無依無靠的遊民和社會邊緣人,也很容易在利益團體的虎視眈眈下淪為俎上肉,變成合法的器官供應來源。

「器官捐贈」不應該只是一種感性的善行召喚而已,它更應該是一項嚴肅的「生命之施與受的價值抉擇」,既然是抉擇,便是有所取、有所捨、有所承擔。而人只有在承擔自己的責任時,才可能產生心甘意樂、堅定前行的力量,這也是我極力強調在「器捐」之前,必須讓捐贈者「知情同意」的原因。



欲知作者對本議題的更多看法,請見
李素卿個人部落格「禪者手記」

附加的多媒體:
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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Four Year Development of Tourism in Taipei County

Wei Ding-Lung outlines Taipei County’s tourism vision for past 3 years and this year.

Attached media :
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Wednesday, 02 September 2009

The Aftermath of Typhoon Morakot

On August 7-10, Typhoon Morakot’s torrential rains devastated southern Taiwan. At least 600 people died under the giant mudslides triggered by the typhoon. More than three weeks after the disaster, the psychological and political aftershocks are still felt throughout the island. The raging debate has become increasingly multilayered:

- The first debate has been about the dismal performance of the forecasting system, unable to predict the deluge that has engulfed the southern part of the island.

- The second one, and the most damaging politically, has focused on the slow response of the central government. President Ma Ying-jeou, it has been argued, has shown that he was not a strong and capable leader. From the start, he had appointed a cabinet of technocrats insensitive to real life issues and popular feelings. And he has focused so much on bettering relationships with China that he has forgotten to tackle Taiwan’s everyday concerns. Whatever the fairness of these allegations, they have suddenly altered drastically his public image, with consequences so far-reaching that they are still difficult to predict.

- Though they have not taken the brunt of political criticisms, local governments have not fared much better than the Center. They sometimes have been slow to request external help. Roads and other public facilities might have been so inadequate because public works contracts are given out by local powers in dubious fashion; however, the “Green” counties of the South have been keen to shift the blame towards the central government.

- Quite logically, the attention now focuses on the poor quality of public works, deforestation and general neglect of environmental imperatives, which might explain the amplitude of the mudslides. Political leaders are not the only ones to blame. The strife towards rapid profit and Taiwan society’s indifference to long-term issues account for the rapid ecological deterioration, especially in mountain areas, which might trigger similar disasters in the future.

- The prayer tour conducted by the Dalai Lama has opened up a new front: political motivations have been invoked, as the invitation made by Green local leaders is deeply embarrassing for Ma Ying-jeou, who could not reject the Dalai Lama’s application without further political consequences but has now to deal with China’s anger. Meanwhile, not all Taiwanese religious leaders have reacted enthusiastically to the coming of the Dalai Lama: many victims from the mountainous area were aborigine, thus probably Christians. Taiwanese Buddhist leaders fear the growing influence of Tibetan Buddhism on their own flock; and Chinese religion associations have pointedly underlined the “efficacy” of traditional memorial services and rituals…

- Once avidly watched, medias have also suffered from a backlash: their unbridled sensationalism, the relentless flow of often meaningless reports and interviews and the competition among TV channels have illustrated once again the very poor quality of information service in Taiwan. Medias now appear as the main profiteers of a national disaster.

- One positive effect of the disaster has rarely been noticed: Civil society has very quickly taken up relief work (from the outset of the disaster in fact), without public support, and newly relying on Internet Social Networks, especially through Plurk, preferred by many young Taiwanese activists to Twitter. Once again, Taiwan has shown that its main strength lies in its robust civil society that works independently from the public and media apparatus. A positive inheritance from the way Taiwan’s democratization came about.

The typhoon has thus proven to be a social and cultural revelation. Taiwanese have experienced once again the ills that come with short-term vision and concerns, and have strongly expressed their political disillusions. At the same time, their natural gift for self-introspection and for self-organization has been as remarkable as has been the case in previous circumstances, such as after the massive earthquake that happened ten years ago. The problem is now to draw the right lessons from the disaster, and to resolutely orient Taiwan towards sustainability and proper use of land resources. A global challenge that new social networks might help to spell out for the greater good of a traumatized society looking for meaning, purpose and unity…

Thursday, 20 August 2009

救災,網路總動員!

圖片來源/台大批踢踢實業坊 Emergency板
本文為節錄,完整內容請見2009年9月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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相較於政府的失能,這次風災,台灣民眾透過網路展現的驚人動員力量,宛如一場救災形式的革命,也讓我們重新審視微網誌等網路工具的興起,是如何改變人類的生活。
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從Twitter(中譯「推特」)到plurk(中譯「噗浪」),在金融海嘯跟隨著全球化的腳步席捲全世界之際,140個字的威力與144個字的夢想成真,讓深陷經濟泥淖中的人們,彷彿看到了一雙能夠帶著自己脫離現有困境的翅膀。確然的,伴隨著上網工具與網路媒介同步微形化的趨勢,做為一雙翅膀,Twitter與plurk的確威力強大,只是光是擁有強而有力的翅膀,並不能保證我們所航向的未來必定光明,畢竟決定方向一直都是擁有翅膀的人們,而不是翅膀本身。

網路救災效率高
近日襲擊台灣的颱風莫拉克,造成了台灣南部許多縣市的重大災情。高達2000公釐的驚人雨量造成南台灣山區大量的土石滑落,伴隨大量雨水所形成的土石流切斷了山區聯外道路、淹沒山中小鎮部落,更順流而下摧毀橫跨鄉鎮縣市間的巨大橋樑。正當災難步步席捲南台灣,而中央防災指揮中心的網站上仍閃著零災害發生的訊息時,一場台灣救災史上的革命,正悄悄的隨著微型網誌144個字的限制,在網路上逐漸成形。

相較於中央防災體系的顢頇遲頓,在網路上透過網友既有人際網絡所傳達的各種災區訊息,顯得快速又有效。當內政部長忙著在電視上和地方首長對罵以釐清災害發生的責任歸屬時,在plurk上的噗友們正努力傳遞災情的相關訊息。很快的,就有網友建立網站,運用災區當地網友所傳來的資訊,以地圖的方式呈現台灣各地的災情現況,並協助整合來自災區的大小訊息。然後開始有網友在plurk上大量轉噗其中相關物資與志工需求的資訊,於是有錢的出錢、有力的出力,當中央政府還在為了種種政治考量,猶豫是否接受來自國外的援助時,帶著民眾自主捐贈物資的志工們,就已經趕赴災區協助救災了。

滴水穿石:網路力量大
這是一場革命,民眾透過自發主動的行為,向政府傳達民眾不滿政府救災效率低落的訊息。因為如果連民眾都能做的到的話,沒有理由中央政府可以是如今這種表現。而在這場革命中民眾所運用的武器,正是plurk這144個字的夢想成真。
當然囉,plurk絕不是為了救災而存在,在平常的日子裡,plurk也不過就是個網友們互通訊息與情感交流的網路媒介。方便、快速、進入門檻低,再配合手機上網功能的日益普及,讓plurk這個網路媒介成為許多網友日常生活的一部分。但這種結合網路與日常生活的形態,事實上也曾遭到某些人的批評。對某些人來說,他們無法忍受plurk上總是一堆人在那裏早安、晚安打招呼,全然的言不及義與浪費生命。但是就我個人認為,plurk之所以能夠在這回的救災過程中,發揮這樣大的功效,正是噗友們平日在plurk上早安、晚安打招呼所形成的。

一直以來我都認為網路僅僅只是種人際關係的延伸,網路的出現或許令我們的人際關係得以擴張,但是人們在網路上所進行的,仍然只是尋常的人際交往而沒有特出之處,也正因為如此,所以在plurk上的早安、晚安才會顯得那麼重要。在那些日常資訊的交流中,噗友們自然的確認了彼此間的關係,噗友們之間比較有話聊的就變成朋友,這個朋友關係可能延伸到現實生活中,也可能一直只存在網路上。但是等到面臨了共同的危機,例如像這回的莫拉克風災時,這些網絡就開始發揮功效,透過平日所建立的信任關係,彼此合作分工投入救災的工作之中,相較於存在政治利益衝突的中央與地方,其效率自然是不言而諭。


想知道大腸如何進一步分析網路的力量,請見2009年9月號《人籟》論辨月刊。

更多關於作者
大腸的部落格「大腸的人生」

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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

天人菊與骰子的賭局──賭博不是天性

本文亦見於2009年9月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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今年一月,立院通過「離島建設條例」中賭博除罪化的修正條文,
為國內外博奕觀光投資業者敲開了關閉已久的大門。
這場財富與道德的賭局,目前勝負似已判定。
然而,我們是否真的知道賭桌上所押注的是什麼?
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9月26日,澎湖縣政府即將舉行「博弈公投」。為了要讓公投結果合乎少數既得利益者的預期,他們竟然擅用公部門的資源,舉辦著一場又一場充滿美麗謊言的說明會。許多民眾被這些謊言洗腦,誤以為開放賭博將可帶來滾滾財源。


國外賭場所在地百業消條
反賭博合法化聯盟」業已披露國外賭場所在地「賭業一枝獨秀,百業消條」的真象,戳破了「賭能興邦」的謊言。聯盟並援用國外賭場所在地堅實數據,指出一旦開賭,必將導致犯罪率、自殺率、離婚率、破產率、偏執性賭徒年增加率、青少年染上賭癮年增加率,悉數飆高。

但言者諄諄,聽者藐藐,因為促賭人士一些似是而非的說詞,確實發生效用。那就是:「賭博是天性,既然無法禁絕,就應該滿足它。」許多官員與民眾被這個觀念誤導,將開賭視為「必要之惡」。


賭博並非天性
然而賭博並非天性。「天性」理應人人有之,但全世界最起碼有一大部分人,終其一生都不賭博,也沒有賭博的渴求。這與芸芸眾生在生、心理上強烈渴求飲食、男女的程度,顯然不同。

若將賭博心理予以分析,此中不外乎「爭強鬥勝」與「贏取財富」。而這兩種心理也都不是「天性」:世間自有許多人,是不與人爭強鬥勝而怡然自得的。即便有些人有爭強鬥勝的心理,但也不必然用「賭博」來滿足。因為爭強鬥勝可發展出多種樣態:有陰暗、罪惡的,如掀起戰爭、勾心鬥角;亦有文雅、節制的,如參加運動、競技及棋賽,後者甚至可以在公平的遊戲規則下,培養出一套進退有節的競賽文化,如中國「揖讓而升,下而飲」的射御文化、日本的武士道、西方的騎士精神。

再者,世間自有許多人,志不在贏取財富,只將財富當作滿足生活需求的工具。即使有些人志在贏取財富,依然有某種程度的道德意識,不敢不擇手段,此謂「君子愛財,取之有道」。妄想賭博致富,絕非取之有道。即便僥倖贏之,也只不過是奠立在他人失落、痛苦乃至罪惡的基礎之上,此謂「不義之財」。這使得許多志在贏取財富的人,寧願從事農工商業以增殖財富,也不願以賭致富。

既然,志不在「贏取財富」或志在「贏取財富」的眾多人,都不想、也不會靠賭博來贏取,那麼,贏取財富也就談不上是「天性」。

如上所說,不但賭博行為不是「天性」,連爭強鬥勝與贏取財富的賭博心理,也都不是天性。既然如此,又何必想方設法滿足它呢?



更多關於是否開放博弈的討論,請看

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