Taiwan's Role in the New Global Home Paradigm

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Monday October 2, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Like a slow forming typhoon far out at sea, a major paradigm shift is developing in world economics. It is a change that involves economic theory, humanistic perspectives and an understanding of the difference between physics and metaphysics.

A key buzzword driving it is "re-imagining." "Re-imagining" as in the title of the 2016 Oxford Scholarship Online work, Re-imagining Capitalism edited by Dominic Barton, Dezso Horvath and Matthias Kipping.

This new paradigm entails a shift from an economic global village to a developing sense and realization of a global home; this change is coming and though it will not happen overnight, it will involve nations like Taiwan.

The term "global village" can be traced back to Marshall McLuhan's 1967 work, The Medium is the Massage and while he might be credited with coining the phrase, his focus was on global communication and its impact.

However, in economics, the groundwork and later application of the global village paradigm went far beyond McLuhan's focus and developed when corporations took up the term and built their business models around it.

The economic roots of globalization can be traced back to the Age of Exploration in the late 15th century when European merchants acquired ships that made it possible for them to directly reach the "Spice Islands" and Asia. This began to link more closely the world economies, from which came the economic global village paradigm.

Karl Marx incorporated these thoughts with a simplified global vision when speaking of a "world proletariat." He envisioned a worldwide class struggle in which the proletariat would claim the rights of its production and so create a communist and then socialist state.

Unfortunately Marx did not count on the human factor—on how individuals can manipulate such a struggle through their personal interpretations as often happens in mass movements.

Marx led to the often misunderstood and misdirected rise of communism, the subsequent major one-party communist states of the post-World War II/Cold War era and then on to the world's current situation where medium-sized nations like Taiwan remain specifically important.

Marx was correct in viewing history as dialectic, but what he missed is that economics is not a science like physics. It fits between the realms of physics and metaphysics and therefore demands different paradigm structures.

As Thomas Kuhn addressed in The Structures of Scientific Revolution metaphysical paradigm constructions are different from those in physics. As a social science, economics involves people and their goals and therefore rests in the realm of metaphysics, which has far more uncontrollable variables and where revolutions are bloodier.

Following George Orwell's Animal Farm, the two major communist nations, Russia and China, eventually abandoned communism, created their own set of oligarchs and ended up changing direction to become capitalististic.

However, as these nations brought with them the human factor along with their past baggage, they each sought to recapture the lost greatness of past ages. This is something that pure science or physics does not consider.

Russia dispensed with the hereditary rule of Czars and their families and replaced them with rulers like "Czar Putin," a man who works with oligarchs to regain the past greatness of Russia but not always to Russians' benefit.

China also dispensed with centuries of emperors. However the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did not allow the "Gang of Four," the natural successors of "emperor Mao," to succeed him.

Instead it turned capitalist and created oligarchs but Chinese President Xi Jinping and the CCP kept alive the idolization of Mao. His image gives them legitimacy and justifies a pursuit of past greatness.

The capitalist US cannot claim very much high ground in this capitalist struggle. Its president is obsessed with tweeting how he really did not lose the popular vote by 3 million people while claiming that he will "make America great again."

What these major powers do not grasp is the building paradigm shift from global village to a global home and the changing roles and relationships that this new paradigm demands of nations.

The main economic problem presented by the waning global village paradigm is that it still promotes zero-sum games of competition between nations while the global home paradigm does not. It also presumes that resources are limitless.

Life is linear in the world envisioned as a global home. Resources have limits and nations must aim at progress for all. No particular nation can return to past greatness or dominance, as now all must combine their efforts in meeting the demands of the new paradigm.

This shift translates into protecting the home planet in such contested areas as the environment, economics and even social justice for all.

Foreshadowings of this new paradigm shift have been multiple and can be found in past expressions like: "We are the 99%" of the Occupy Movement and even in songs like We Are The World. However, the heart of this shift involves the re-imagining of capitalism.

Here is where the role of Taiwan and other successful medium-sized nations such as those in Scandinavia comes in. They are not limited by dreams of a return to past regional dominance. They are better suited to experimentation and able to illustrate how to solve world issues because the scale of these nations is easier to observe and control.

Taiwan has national health care for all and an unemployment rate that is far below the rates of almost all European countries. Economically the nation ranks with the top 80 to 90 percent of UN member countries.

With remarkably little bloodshed, it has also undergone a drastic shift in governance, changing from a one-party state to a working democracy.

Voting in Taiwan does not suffer from the stagnation that gerrymandered districts bring to many states in the US.

The nation is working towards a more equitable retirement system that includes all Taiwanese.

While not perfect, Taiwan is one of the nations whose history and accomplishments should be examined as potential models in re-imagining world capitalism.

The nation stands out to others as a recognized player in the economy of the new world politics.