Colonialsm or open standards

February 10, 2006 at 7:15 am Leave a comment

Recently a foreign cheif in Taiwan was saked for voicing the opinion that Japan had helped Taiwan by forcing them to learn to read. Such an opinion would be heretical in Korea where anti-japanese sentiment runs high, but in Taiwan the people live at a certian distance from the spited libels of other Asian countries. Democracy and literacy have been good to Taiwan and it’s international standing hasn’t hurt either. But the question remains years after colonialism ran out of fashion we are still trying to impose minor modifications on the world, universal human rights, free press, and perhaps most controversly free trade. Such virtues are primarily from the Americas and Europe and are not shared in heavily Islamic countries and upstart Asian tigers. While a percentage of the population will always see a value in these freedoms, the cultures that grow out of them aren’t always as controlled or as stable, American culture is an experiment where ideas have a somewhat free marketplace (although there is much that is taboo such as racism similar to the islamic taboos against picturing the prophet), but the question that our Taiwanese diplomat posses is vast: which is more ethical to impose one people’s advancement on another or to let differance foster itself in cultures?

“The West” that colonlies of people including Europe, Australia, and Southern and Northern Americas has professed to solving problems through debate (especially on the European side) while pushing for an agenda that favors the polite economic and cultural understandings that comprise Europe. Open standards seem to be the rallying call of the day, open debate, transparency, etc. While these methods would work well in many of Europe and the America’s governments and institutions they might be antithetical to the actual development of people in other countries. My point being if we’re really going to take the concept of tolerance seriously it’s going to require a more complex view of the world than just, “we’re all basically the same.” etc.

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