How cohesive is Taiwanese society?

It’s well known that Taiwanese nationalism is weak and some here have scoffed at the idea that Taiwan’s world-leading Covid response was due to a greater willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. This isn’t just expat venting–Fukuyama has noted that Confucianism holds filial piety (孝) as cardinal virtue number one, with the consequence being a lack of trust outside the family. This deficit, Fukuyama argued, leads to businesses in Chinese-speaking societies never becoming very big, because families are reluctant to relinquish control, hence they retain at least 25% stake in whatever family business they own. At least one Forumosan has experienced this unwillingness firsthand.

In contrast, Japanese Confucianism demoted filial piety into the teens in importance and made loyalty (忠) the supreme virtue. Consequently, Japan is a collective society with huge corporations. Paradoxically, this has also made Japanese into stingy givers because almsgiving is considered showboating.

Whenever the Taiwanese government says, “There’s covid outside, stay home” or “buy Lithuanian chocolate,” the people fall in line.

Furthermore, I heard it said here that Taiwanese are lifelong friends with people they went to school with, which means people don’t go bowling alone.

This could be true. My son has life long friendships with people he went to school with in Taiwan, both in Alishan and also at the American School in Taichung. I’m friends with people I taught when they were children who are now adults.

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The mafias in Taiwan emphasize on loyalty more than filial piety. I mean filial piety probably isn’t the number one concern when someone enters the rank of entry level mafia. Not exactly sure how that automatically means larger businesses.

I’m also not sure what these things have to do with social cohesion.

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This kind of reductive analysis serves no purpose, especially not in an advanced modern society. Taiwan and China are both home to some massive companies most of which are not family businesses unlike Zaibatsu in Japan and the Chaebol in Korea. This is all because of economic policies. Also why are we singling out just four countries? There are more countries out there, and a proper analysis would take a lot more of them into account.


According to Fukuyama, mafias run the show in countries like Russia where you don’t trust your own family or strangers.

Zaibatsu are not family-run.

Taiwan has big businesses now (his book Trust was written in 1996) but not before. And many of the largest businesses (TSMC, UMC, Mediatek) were originally government-owned.

There are still cultural barriers preventing companies from getting big.

His analysis includes USA, Japan, Germany, Chinese societies, Korea, France, and Italy.

I honestly think countries without a tradition of family businesses just have policies making investmenting to be more profitable and lets rich people get out of more taxes than managing their own corporation.

What do you think the purpose of a business is?

Taiwan’s filial piety really only allows cute and tiny semiconductor companies, while there is the huge JSMC dominating the world’s chip production market due to different interpretation of Confucius.

Did I get it right?

We didn’t have massive comlanies before for very real reasons outside of piety. No? 1996 was just getting out of martial law. Taiwan had a long history of a China a like government. It was a complete shit show before with very real horrible human beings commiting tyranny on their people. So it’s no wonder only now we have expanded to this level of quality we see today. frankly, it still remains quite amazing how fast taiwan did it. Not that i am denying government interference/investment/corruption/etc to help things slide along faster. But Taiwan has been turning the corners faster than most. Now we are entering an Era of more human rights, personal freedoms etc. This is great. This will also likely cause some strain on economy, as it does everywhere, including Japan a couple decades ago… It’s a natural evolution. But taiwans small size, overpopulated reality and strategic position (both geographic and technilogical) makes it a no brianer for quick evolutions so long as no one goes and starts murdering and genociding people. Or selling off our best tech as protection money…

Literally the definition. They just got out of the controlling families hands after centuries and losing WWII. Many are still family-run including Toyota.

Well, Morris is also an American. Although, Jansen Huang’s children are both working at Nvidia, so…

I guess it all comes down to each individual’s decision. Like the Trump business seems like its all kept within the family, while Trump demands absolute loyalty from those not within his family, but often toss them aside when it’s convenient to do so.