Thursday, January 27, 2005


When I cited the decline of liberal arts departments into p.c. silly-farms for the rich, and the teacher accreditation process as Venus fly-traps for under-achievers, I was making the point that, to the degree that these institutions lose credibility, one might feel relatively less indignation about unaccredited teachers. Agree with their platform or disagree, clearly the purpose of is to reform educational institutions and restore what they consider to be lost credibility. I did not (and do not) take the position that all standards should be dispensed with, only that I feel the stakes for society are less dire than Scott does.

There's always a balance to be found on the regulated/ unregulated spectrum. Moreover, the ideal balance will be different for every society. One thing that struck me after the 9/21 earthquake was that rescue workers who'd worked on disasters all over the world noted that Taiwan was singular in that, in the days following the quake, when police and other institutions were paralyzed, there was virtually no looting or rioting. Across the strait, the authoritarian government justifies a whole panoply of oppressive regulations by citing the specter of dissolution, disorder, a descent into Hobbesian chaos, if these measures were not taken. Whether that's justified or not in China, it's clear that Taiwan is a far more pliant society, with a bottom-up societal cohesion that's the envy of many other countries. A lot of times, in Taiwan, things get done precisely because the regulating institutions are a bit ramshackle, but the civil society is strong. That's Taiwan's strength, not weakness.