Democracy Is the Mean, Not the End

Some of the recent events in Taiwan, including this editorial by Taipei Times created some random thoughts in my head….They make me wonder…perhaps it is really true that “democracy is the mean, not the end.”  Democracy is the best, and probably the only mean for Taiwan to continuously improve itself to achieve the ends.  However, some people I think has mistaken the mean as the end.

I would say the democratic transformation in Taiwan is a remarkable achievement of course, but it is only to establish a mean.  Already, this mean has allowed Taiwan to achieve some of the ends.  For example, Taiwan now enjoy great freedom of expressions.  On the other hands, a lot of ends Taiwan still is not able to achieve.  For example, Taiwan still does not have a proper Constitution that suits Taiwan’s situation.  Another example is that a single group or party (the KMT) still holds too much arbitrary influence in the court (just look at how they switch the judge for ex-President Chen’s case).  There are a lot of other possible examples, but I don’t think it is necessary to list them all out.

I think because of some people mistaken democracy as an end, they have some wrong mentality that could be potentially dangerous for Taiwan.  Already, some effect can be seen: in terms of democracy and liberty, Taiwan is actually going backward because of KMT and Ma’s behavior.  Two of the wrong mentality and statements that I have heard:

  • Well, now it is democratic, it does not matter who we elect, the system will take care of itself: I heard this statement or similar statement quite a few times before.  This is simply not right, especially in Taiwan’s case.  For more mature democratic government, where systems have been well established, there might be more room to make this argument.  However, even in that situation, this statement is questionable.  To counter this argument, simply think, if it truly does not matter, then maybe it will not make a difference if Taiwan  elected Chinese President’s Hu’s brother/sister as the president.  The other problem with this statement is again, democracy is only the mean, and by using it (voting), we are supposed to achieve ends.  Therefore, we should elect those that can help to achieve those ends.  Of course, the citizens have to study to know at least if the candidate is bullshitting (like the pure bullshit of Ma during election.  They sound like very good goals, but if one really pays attention one realizes he is really bullshitting.  Plus his past record can only be described by one word: sucks.  Not to mention…he still does not prove that he has no green card…seriously, what the heck…).
  • Now Taiwan is Democratic, there is nothing more to improve in politics. Everything will just go on auto pilot and improve itself: This I think is not totally correct.  Taiwan has so much left over baggage from the KMT martial law era, it is not hard to understand the democratic system is fragile and can fall apart.  In other words, without establishing the other “ends” in the process, the mean might destroy itself.  Historically it is not uncommon that democratic system falls apart…and I think partially it might be due to this mentality that democracy is the end of the road, and the leaders of society forgot to use the democratic system to improve their citizens’ liberty and prosperity…or a lot of times, they allow a group of people to use the system in the wrong way and destroy democratic system itself and freedom at the same time.

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