Long Live Crisis!

by on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 Comments

In January 2004, a new monthly appeared on the shelves of Taiwan's bookshops: Renlai proclaimed on its front cover: '危機萬歲!" (Long live crisis!) Let's face it: the layout was not very professional, and it was something more approaching an experiment, lacking an experienced team or serious distributing channels. Nobody around us would have placed a bet that 99 issues later, this maverick publication would still be around... The readers are to be credited first for their faithfulness and resilience. The efforts of the team that has produced and distributed Renlai every month too must receive some credit, a team that believes more than ever in the relevance and mission of our publication in contemporary Taiwan.

By entitling our first issue '危機萬歲!" (Long love crisis!), we were, I fear, predicting our own destiny: it is through crises and risks that we have navigated our way amidst stormy seas, always in the face of an uncertain financial future and a market in which it is most difficult to assert our values and outlook. We found joy and inspiration in these challenges, however. Our first issue extolled the virtues of crises: it is in a state of crisis that we access the core of our beliefs, we learn resilience, we are taught what it means to bet on hope against all hope, we make our life-style simpler, we are pushed to examine ourselves, we are trained in the virtues of solidarity and cohesion. This is exactly what happened to us, and what we are still experiencing from day to day. However, it has to be said that the title of our first issue still seems very relevant for the Taiwan of today? The challenges that Taiwan experienced in 2003-2004 are not exactly akin to those we are facing at the moment, but we are still called to examine our values and life-style, there is still the call to participate in national debate about what kind of society we want to build – and Renlai is still a tool and a voice for fostering just such a debate.


A crisis is often a gateway to innovation and Renlai will indeed need to be inventive if it wants to survive. We have changed a lot in the course of these 100 issues, but we will have to change even more on the road ahead. Therefore this issue is also aimed at soliciting your advice, your input, so as to know better what kind of publication you would enjoy, what kind of debates you would like us to foster, what format or new technology would you like us to embrace. We hope that the future can be forged together with you the readers– as we experience together the reflection and innovation that crises inspire. In a way Renlai's changing format can be seen as a litmus test for Taiwan's cultural climate and the strength of civil society here.

An anniversary is always an opportunity for thanksgiving. This issue will be marked with our gratitude. We give thanks to all our readers for their support and their continued feedback. Thanks for telling us what you expect from us, thanks for being demanding of us, and pushing us to give our best. Thanks to all the members of the Renlai team for the mutual support, the sharing, the dreams and the common effort. We keep in our heart those who had to leave us in the course of these last nine years, and we are very much thankful for the wonderful contribution that each of them has made. The crises may still loom on the horizon but we feel still ready to say: "危機萬萬歲! (Long live crisis!)

Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

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