From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fieldnotes From History (7)—Contested Politics

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Fieldnotes From History."
[a] Contestation RF
Part of an occasional Round and Square series that follows the blog’s main theme (east meets west, round meets square, and past meets present), these snippets from my early fieldnotes are reproduced as they were written by hand—and then revised on an ancient desktop computer—during my first fieldwork stay in Taiwan (1985-1987).  All entries are the way that I left them when I returned to the United States in 1987—some nicely-stated and some embarrassing. Although the series began with my assumption that the entries can stand alone, I have found that separate comments and notes might help readers understand a world that is now, well, history. These are always separate from the original fieldnote.

[b] Bitter PD
This is the beginning of a short set of notes that I made in the summer of 1985, reflecting on a theme that would not shake loose for me during my two years on the island. "How 'authoritarian' is the Republic of China?," I asked myself over and over. Even these notes will show the winding path of my thoughts on the matter. In one sense, I moved from these early musings—on the way (almost gone by 1985) that authorities would stencil "BANDIT" (匪) over pictures of Communist officials—all of the way to the first open elections held in Taiwan eighteen months later. It was an exciting time to be there, and I often say that I arrived in Taiwan thinking that it was the only way for me to study "traditional" China culture, and I was wrong. The reason I stayed was because I was utterly fascinated by a complex world of change, tradition, and political intrigue. This fieldnote is just a snippet of what was to come as I scratched the surface of politics in the Republic of China.
—"Caves" was the largest English-language bookstore in Taipei in the mid-1980s. 
—"ROC" refers to "Republic of China," the government that was established after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911; when the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in the late-1940s, they referred to the ROC as the legitimate government of China, which only happened to control one province.
—This was 1985. The "Tiananmen Incident" (June 1989) was still four years away.

16 May 1985
Caves's copy of China: Alive in the Bitter Sea has a picture of New York Times correspondent Fox Butterfield and his family walking beneath a large portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing's Tiananmen square. The portrait has a large, black—it looks like a grease pencil or magic marker—character scrawled across Mao's face: (匪; fei) bandit, criminal. The character is missing on copies printed in the United States. [An acquaintance] told me that the R.O.C. authorities regularly stencil in the character on pictures coming from overseas.   

Until recently, newscasters in Taiwan used to regularly say: "Deng (fei) Xiaoping", or "Hua (fei) Guafeng" during an otherwise straightforward news story. The newspapers often call the mainland simply gongfei, “communist bandits.” It is hard to imagine Dan Rather saying "Today, in Moscow, that bandit Mikhail Gorbachev said..., or "Yesterday the communist bandits, meeting in Geneva...” There is something worthwhile in being reasonably objective, even when talking about our enemies. For one, it doesn't require stooping to levels of petty propaganda. But here on Taiwan, the commentaries and blacklistings are similar to those from the People’s Republic, if not always as severe. They are simply on the other side of the political spectrum.  

The R.O.C. is militantly free enterprise (excepting the many prominent government monopolies), but their fervor stops far short of democracy
[c] Perspectival RF

No comments:

Post a Comment