Su Beng is a Marxist historian and veteran Taiwanese independence fighter
With the CSSTA, just as in the past, the KMT government is not keen on public discussions about political decisions. It inherited and preserved the occupying Japanese government's colonising features, even after democratisation. The historical facts about Taiwan's development have been suppressed in the official history that generations have been taught. Hence, what is really astonishing about the occupation is that, in this movement, we Taiwanese were able to say for the first time in a united manner - we are not Chinese!
The mobility and imagination shown by the young generation in this protest underlines the important nature of the struggle as doubled edged: against the KMT's rule in Taiwan, and against Beijing's political invasion.
Though Taiwan's capitalism is highly developed, the working class here remains mainly under the shadow of the KMT's propaganda. Thus, despite there being many workers' organisations, most of these unions care only about the wages issue but not about progress, about self-liberation, or about the socialist struggle. The problem is how to explain their historic role and their revolutionary task to individual workers. That is yet to be figured out.
Lu Chyi-Horng is an activist in the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories and advisor to Taoyuan County Industrial Union
Tell us about the "Vulgar Commoners' Liberated Area".
Some advisors of the occupation framed the controversy as a violation of democracy, a matter of procedural justice. We disagreed. For us, Taiwan's democracy never really existed. We thought it necessary to extend the issue to an anti-neoliberal agenda.
When supporters gathered outside the Legislative Yuan, some anti-China language was employed to mobilise public opinions. We disagreed with this. Anti-China sentiments are not necessarily intrinsic in Taiwan; it's rather that the people's experience of oppression has been constructed by that kind of discourse.
The scale of the movement was huge but, apart from the sit-in protest, supporters haven't really been offered any way to relate to the struggle. When there was a change in the central demand, they were unable to take part in decision-making. That's why we formed a forum with activist groups that share a similar agenda to ours. This later became the so-called "Vulgar Commoners' Liberated Area" within the sit-in protest. We wanted to do what we could to influence the movement: to challenge the relationship between the spokespersons/activists and other participants, and to redirect the ideology of the movement.
Is the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement the only way to counter the economic imperialism of the West?
The logic of this analysis, that fighting against the US and the West is equivalent to fighting against capitalism, is simultaneously too abstract and too simplified. How come Chinese capitals are not also capitals? Capitalist exploitation is not only directed by the West. And there is, in any event, US capital behind many Chinese capitals. One of the benefits of the CSSTA for capital is precisely that it could serve as the bridge for foreign investors who want to enter China's market through Taiwan.
This kind of argument cannot explain in what way these free trade agreements would benefit the working class in Taiwan. Would it be of any use to Taiwanese workers if Asia adopted China's Yuan Renminbi as the common currency?
We completely disagree with the argument that capital must first be accumulated by the capitalists in order to be distributed to the workers. The bitter reality is that for over a half century, there has been accumulation without distribution in Taiwan. Real wages have been falling despite the growth of the economy.