Wednesday, February 11, 2015

a fascist echo, in taiwan

on tv yesterday i saw a group of officials taking their oath of office: they stood, heads bowed, facing a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the 'father of the nation,' one arm held straight out, palms down, toward the visage of the long-dead man. wait: were their heads bowed? am i mixing up what i saw with other images? like the two black athletes, carlos johnson and who else, in their gesture of protest in mexico city, 1968? heads bowed or not, the sight reminds me that the nationalist party (KMT) which led the early Chinese republic, modelled itself on revolutionary leninist parties, as well as on fascist parties. in the 20s and 30s both communism and fascism seemed to promise a sort of order to societies roiled by invasion, warlordism, and predation of all kinds. it didn't seem possible to wait for such a massive, rural country to just evolve toward modernity: iron-willed cadres were needed. taiwan is now democratic, and the nationalists trade power with the Democratic Progressive Party. but remnants of that turbulent past, and the longing for stability, remain: arms raised en masse, pledging loyalty to a man standing for a nation.

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