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Volume #25, Number #1

Published in June, 2021

Machiavelli has been conventionally understood as the proponent of extreme Machiavellism. He has been easily demonized as the advocate of tyranny pursuing private interests and power regardless of means and methods and of being unconditionally committed to evil, as well as a thinker who has completely disregarded morality and excluded this virtue from the realm of politics. By drawing upon a careful reading of his original writings, however, this article seeks to portray Machiavelli as a proponent of moderate Machiavellism rather than of the extreme variety. Although Machiavelli embraced the oft-mentioned Machiavellian elements of realpolitik, he also identified loopholes within Machiavellism. In particular, he was fully aware that Machiavellism—that is, the exercise of violence to achieve the purpose regardless of the means and method—may not bring the desired outcome and success. To be specific, this article proposes three reasons why Machiavelli himself must be interpreted as the advocate of moderate Machiavellism. First, Machiavelli called for the efficient use of violence as a means of rule. Violence should not be used consistently. The ruler must exercise violence at once and temporarily and must then obtain the public’s trust through proper dispensation. The inefficient or uncontrolled exercise of violence without the appropriateness in light of its consequences will inevitably lead to failure. Second, Machiavelli intended to constrain the use of violence and its evilness within the purpose and cause of the common good. He warned of negative consequences for the arbitrary and unrestricted use of violence. Finally, Machiavelli offered to use the violence in a timely manner. During the phase of founding a state when the concentration of power is highly required, immoral methods such as violence and deception can be tolerated. To govern the state afterwards, however, it is more important to have a form of governance that depends on a legal system or justice. In short, the main point of Machiavelli’s Machiavellism lies in his critique of the authorization of blind moralism and unconditional violence. Machiavelli himself was not a Machiavellian in the conventional sense.

Kyung-Hee Kim

The paper aims to explore the structural homology between policy ideas and their respective socioeconomic background, which has played an important role, par excellence, in the age of transition. In this regard, it studies the policy regarding drug users in Taiwan from its very beginning until now, within which there are three principal periods: the Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial period, the authoritarian period, and the period after democratization. Based on the Eliasian perspective on configurational sociology and the civilizing process, four idea-types of policy idea are elaborated: great confinement, intimidation, harm reduction, and reconciliation. Besides, based on the changes in the international regime of political economy, this paper presents a trajectory of policy ideas about drug users in general, and compares this with the case of Taiwan with political preponderance, not only because of the geopolitical tension between the Qing dynasty and Japanese empire, and Communist and Nationalist China, but also due to the political struggle between the KMT and DPP. While the first two periods emphasize the role of nation-state building, the last one focuses on human rights. In this regard, this research not only presents a reflexive stand vis-à-vis the Western-centred civilizing process, but also explains the reason why the case of Taiwan is more likely to represent the general elements for non-Western countries. As such, this study concludes that it is necessary to bring politics back into the realm of policy research.

Ming-Feng Liu

In contemporary international society where the use of force is largely restricted, economic sanctions are an important policy tool when states deal with conflicts between themselves and other states. Among those states with high levels of interdependence, at least one or both sides will have sanctioning leverage due to lower sensitivity and vulnerability. In addition, recent developments in globalization have further enhanced the interdependence between nations. Subsequently, what influence will globalization have on economic sanctions? The goal of this research is to explore the impact of the degree of globalization of the target states on their “political connections,” “economic connections,” and “social connections” when a single state either threatens to implement or implements economic sanctions directed toward them. The previous findings suggest that the stronger the political connections that the target states have, the less likely they will be substantively cut off, the more likely they will be able to receive external support, and the more likely that the senders and targets will be highly antagonistic towards each other. However, the economic and social connections between target states and other countries do not have the same effects as their political connections. Besides, the causal directions of target states’ political connections are much more stable than those of the economic and social connections. Therefore, the target states that have stronger political connections will have a lower probability of making concessions when threatened or when the sanctions imposed by the sender state are actually enforced. By contrast, the level of their economic or social connections will not be significantly affected regardless of whether they concede or not. Empirical evidence based on the post-Cold War economic sanctions from 1992 to 2005 supports this argument. The findings of this research also have important policy implications for current Cross-Strait relations.


Chien-Wu Alex Hsueh

This study aims to explore the relationships between personality traits and political tolerance. Given that past studies in Taiwan have never investigated the relationships between psychological factors and political tolerance, this study examines how the Big Five personality traits – extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience – affect college students’ political tolerance. Using survey data from the panel study on the political socialization of university students in Taiwan, this study employs an ordered logit model to estimate the effects of personality traits on political tolerance. The empirical results show that agreeableness and openness to experience have significant effects on college students’ political tolerance. Specifically, people with higher levels of agreeableness tend to have lower levels of political tolerance; by contrast, those with higher levels of openness to experience are inclined to have higher levels of political tolerance. Besides, conscientiousness and emotional stability also exert some influence on political tolerance. On the other hand, while extraversion seems to have nothing to do with political tolerance, further analysis reveals that extraversion has heterogeneous effects on political tolerance for female and male college students. That is, female college students with higher levels of extraversion tend to have lower levels of political tolerance. Furthermore, conscientiousness also exerts a gender-differentiated effect on political tolerance. Overall, this study confirms that personality traits are important determinants of political tolerance among college students and provides preliminary evidence for heterogeneous effects of personality traits on the political tolerance of women and men. The findings provide new insights into the study of political tolerance and suggest that personality traits should be taken into consideration to explain individual political tolerance apart from contextual, attitudinal and behavioral factors.

Wei-Ting Tsai, Ching-Hsing Wang

Amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, how do the Taiwanese public evaluate the performance of the United States’ and Chinese governments in handling the pandemic? How should people make judgments when the international situation and information about the coronavirus disease keep changing? Using “image theory as its research framework, this study explores whether the Taiwanese public’s impressions of U.S. and Chinese leaders and China’s military threat toward Taiwan affect their perceptions of the U.S. and China governments’ responses to Covid-19. We construct three variables: impression of U.S. leaders, impression of Chinese leaders, and enemy image. We utilize the 2020 China Image Survey and an “ordered logit model” to probe the effects of the leaders’ impressions and military threat when evaluating a government’s response. The findings reveal that Taiwanese people who have a better impression of a country’s leaders are more likely to rate that country’s government’s performance more positively; after removing the effect of the military threat, people who are fond of China tend to evaluate the Chinese government’s response more positively than that of the U.S. government. The results largely confirm the predictions of image theory. When information is complex, people are more prone to relying on their impressions of a country’s leaders—rather than on factual information— as the basis for their evaluations of government performance. This tendency is particularly pronounced in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, China’s military threat toward Taiwan does not affect the Taiwanese people’s assessment of government performance in other countries; it is only limited to the country where the threat originated.

Chi Fang, Chung-Li Wu