|[a] Rocky RF|
The next several dozen entries in this series represent my memories—in the form of fieldnotes that were already well on their way to being letters—of Taiwan's provincial elections in November 1985. I had taken down what I call "jottings" at the time, and "now," two months later, I was ready to get a little bit more detail down in the form of fieldnotes. If you are somewhat unfamiliar with the five-stage process that framed my work habits even back then, it might be worth a quick look at the introduction to this series. Suffice to say here that in Taiwan in 1985 I was working from "jottings" to "fieldnotes" most of the time. Every month or so, I would write a letter that made it all into a more sustained narrative. Even early on, I realized how powerfully the knowledge that I would be writing letters influenced my fieldnotes. You may see it, too. It has remained my method to this day.
|[b] Disputation RF|
That the Guomindang leadership saw a need to open the process back then...well, this still surprises me, and the fact that I did not see it coming is clear enough in these fieldnotes. For me, the linkage to a long philosophical tradition was also important. The quotations from Confucius's Analects summed up what I saw as the "studied privilege" (I mean that in several ways) perspective of the Guomindang leadership. One had to work at it, and stay good at it. This wasn't a perspective that merely rubber-stamped existing privilege. No, it was something thought to be earned through careful attention to the arts of rulership. The second quotation makes that abundantly clear.
Yet, in the end, this same process—throughout Chinese history—created a group (I hesitate to say "class") of people who were quite taken with their abilities and successes. In time, they sought to perpetuate it. Does that sound familiar today? Just read the papers, all over the world.
|[c] Outlet RF|
 In some ways, I would take exception to my third sentence. There was the language of competing political philosophies, especially as what we call the Spring and Autumn period (771-403 BCE) gave way to the Warring States period (403-221 BCE).* This latter period is the backdrop for one of the most interesting books in Chinese studies in the last thirty years—A.C. Graham's Disputers of the Tao. This was contended—and often contentious—discourse. My overall point in the note, however, still holds. The Guomindang leadership in 1985 was extremely suspicious of competition, even as it planned to open the process further, and this can clearly be seen in some of the government newspaper editorials in my previous fieldnotes about provincial elections.
*I have my reasons for using these dates, not the least because the partition of Jin in 403 BCE was the most important event of the period. My professional opinion.
16 February 1986
The Analects state the matter clearly. Rulers—the still point of the turning world—guide the ruled through sagacity and force of virtue. The government’s political vision must be accepted by a unified populace and instituted by enlightened scholar-officials. Two closely connected passages in the Analects succinctly state both the privileges and responsibilities of leaders. If all works well, society prospers.
remains in its place while all the lesser stars do homage to it
them by chastisements, and they will flee from you. Govern them by moral
force, keep order among them by ritual and they will keep their self respect
and come to you of their own accord
|[d] Bridged RF|