By J. Sul
South Korea is in a political conundrum now. For the first time since the establishment of Constitutional Court of Korea, a political party is disbanded because of its “hidden” socialist agenda behind their official manifesto. The United Progressive Party which has been framed as being pro-North Korea is disassembled by the judges of Constitutional Court of Korea. Out of nine judges, eight of them made a verdict on disassembling the party.
Aside from the accusation of the party being ‘pro-North Korea’, let us face the basic fact that the judges, who were not elected by the people, disbanded a party that is established by the people’s will and abstained the political position of the representatives of the party from the national assembly.
Perhaps, the dissolution of the party is a prelude of what South Korea is going to face sooner or later: a complete melt down of liberal democratic system and arise of a fascist state. I do not say this at the whim of demonizing the current despotic S.Korean government, but from the actual political reality of S.Korea.
A few weeks before the verdict was made, there was an incident where a 17 yr old man threw a homemade bomb to the lectures who were misleadingly portrayed as pro-North Korea agitators by conservative right wing media. The lecturers did not say anything about Juche Ideology nor did they praise the North Korea system. They were simply stating the facts of daily life in North Korea, as the one of the lecturers had seen during her travel in North Korea.
The man who threw the bomb was known to be a user of right wing website called “Il-Bae” (or, in English, Daily Best). A notorious website in South Korea where right wing fascists spew pejoratives toward women, immigrant workers, people of color and wage-workers (or part time workers).
It is evident that youth in South Korea have become very susceptible to fascist ideology. Being a fascist has become a new trend. It is considered to be rational and patriotic to be a fascist. The left, on the other hand, is considered as an irrational, not fact based, rabble rousing political faction.
In light of this disastrous political situation, an extreme terrorist right wing group, Western North Youth Organization, has been re-established. Their mission, according to their own words, is “to do what the law cannot do”. In other words, they are out to hunt all the lefties in South Korea.
This terrorist organization was initially established during the chaotic period of Korea when it was just liberated from the Japanese Imperialist government. They killed, raped, and tortured anyone who was suspected to be a communist. This terrorist organization is the utter shame of Korean history, but it is “legally” back now.
This is the current political reality of South Korea. A political party which was established by the will of the people is disbanded. A terrorist organization, however, is condoned to exist. This is the state of liberal democracy in South Korea now. And this ambivalent political situation is possible and exists within a certain boundary: the boundary called “pro-North Korea”.
Liberal democracy in South Korea is limited by the boundary of North Korea. This boundary accordingly becomes the narrative of disguising a despotic policy as ruling democratic. When we actually hear the political assertion of fascists in S.Korea, we almost always come across this phrase: “Due to the peculiar situation of South Korea being at war with the North, we should do ______________.” In that blank, we can put anything that goes against left leaning political party or just normal citizens who are concerned about the well-being of the people.
Is South Korea in a peculiar situation? Yes. The South is actually at war with the North. Korea is in the state of armistice. We cannot disregard this fact. But what does this peculiarity express and how does it function in S.Korea? In other words, what kind of economic and political structure does the particularity of the situation – being at war with the North – express in South Korea, and what kind of narrative does this formulate?
The particularity of South Korea does not exist as a special thing of difference compared to the nation that is not at war. The particularity of South Korea is based upon these following basic facts: South Korea is in the state of armistice; the South Korean government is not run by the majority of people but by a few capitalists; the basic political order of South Korea is liberal democracy; and its economic system is capitalistic.
When these general aspects of S.Korea are ignored or understood in isolation, people becoming fascist can be considered as a random phenomenon. That some people are just frustrated and acting out.
Yet, when we actually see what guides the economic and political order of South Korea, we can comprehend that the basic order or the law of South Korea, that being liberal democracy and the economic law of capitalism, is expressed as a particularity through the individual phenomena of the dominant presence of fascists.
In short, the particularity of South Korea expresses the limited structure of liberal democracy and its economic system; it is the expression of how the basic order of S.Korea exists in the era when a new economic crisis is immanent.
The particularity of South Korea is in constant mediation with the general order of S.Korea’s economic and political system with the individual phenomena of fascists acting out. This particularity, accordingly, is abused by the people of the power to make their despotic policy look “democratic” and to formulate the narrative of “everything is justifiable because of North”.
At the risk of sounding abstract, to overcome the limit of liberal democracy, not regressing to fascism, we should always challenge its boundary and expose the particularity of the boundary. Meaning, we should objectively analyze the fundamental law of economic and political system within the context of the social situation that expresses the cultural, political and economical structure of the law. These structures should be accordingly exposed to win over the masses and to formulate a strong anti-fascist cultural trend.