Cold War and Meanings of Democracy in Taiwan

More Than Anti-Communism: The Cold War and the Meanings of Democracy in Taiwan” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2020.1716990) is a new article by Erik Mobrand of the Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, South Korea.

This article is the fifth for a special issue for JCA’s 50th anniversary on the impacts of the Cold War in the region.

The abstract for the paper states:

Governments across anti-communist Asia, with US backing or tacit consent, devised institutions and practices for marginalising popular forces. Such internalisation of the Cold War involved measures ranging from violence and ideological mobilisation to disciplinary modes of control. With democratisation, Cold War devices for domestic control could remain entrenched or be rolled back. Examining the relationship between democratic transformation and the unwinding of Cold War practices in Taiwan can shed new light on democratic change in the region. While the Kuomintang regime of the martial law period had abundant resources for suppression, electoral politics was left relatively undisciplined by anti-communist meanings of democracy. The limited elections produced a new group within the political elite, who negotiated for a more open electoral landscape. The rules governing electoral politics in Taiwan today reflect the principles of pluralism and inclusiveness that were at the heart of that elite bargain. As far as control over electoral politics is concerned, and in so far as the electoral sphere’s growth is taken as significant, democratisation moved Taiwan out of the shadow of the Cold War’s internalisation. Comparison with South Korea clarifies an alternative form of change.

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