Category Archives: Movements in East and Southeast Asia

Social Movements and the Political Polarization of South Korean Society

By Paul Y. Chang

For all the dramatic headlines about the debilitating costs associated with the polarization of American politics in recent years, the inability of political parties and factions to engage in constructive debate and dialogue is arguably a greater problem in newer democracies. After all, when was the last time we saw congressional debates escalate into physical fighting between American legislatures on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives? While this might be unimaginable in America it is, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence in institutional politics in some Asian nations. In 2012, for example, members of the Thai parliament rushed the House Speaker, Somsak Kiatsuranont, who had attempted to force a discussion of a controversial “reconciliation bill” that Democrat MPs rejected. Between the grabbing and pulling, and under the swirl of documents flying through the air, Somsak Kiatsuranont hurried off the parliament floor behind the protection of security forces (Fredrickson 2012). This and other examples of physical fighting amongst legislators (e.g. Taiwan parliament fighting in 2004, 2006, 2007) are perhaps the clearest and most visible manifestation of polarization in institutional politics. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia

A Revolt against Chinese Intellectualism: Understanding the Protest Script in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement of 2014

By Ming-sho Ho

Karl Marx’s famous saying that great historical events happen twice, first as tragedy and later as farce, originated from an observation of the futile attempt of French leftwing revolutionaries of 1848 to ape their predecessors in the revolution of 1789. Marx apparently considered it a paradox that a history-making intention involved borrowing “names, battle slogans, and costumes” from the past. Thus he implied a truly successful revolution would have to proceed without the nostalgic attachment to the previous protest script. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia