Monday, 12 April 2010
Over Easter I was lucky enough to be able to go to Marxism 2010 in Melbourne, a worthwhile event in all sorts of ways (my particular highlight, among plenty of rewarding sessions, was being able to listen to Trevor Ngwane, veteran South African anti-privatisation campaigner).
As part of the conference I spoke on some of the inspration and lessons of Korea’s Candelight Movement from 2008. The talk and discussion went fairly well, I think, and, when there’s time, I’ll try and write it all up as a post.
In the meantime I want to offer you a heartening quote I uncovered – as with so much else of value on Korea, from the Hankyoreh - during preparing for my talk. The background is appalling – a plan by the thugs in the GNP to remove the right of free assembly – but the admission itself is fabulous. Here’s ex-Prime Minister Han:
“The government intends to counter illegal strikes and violent demonstrations that could have negative effects on the nation’s economy. To reach the level of an advanced nation, it is necessary to correct the backwardness of our demonstration culture.”
A demonstration culture….what wouldn’t we all give to have one of those?
Right-wing fantasies aside, though, this is of course on a different order to preferring kimchi to marmite, sensible as that preference may be. A demonstration culture is built out of what EP Thompson calls the “moral culture” of the working class; it’s forged by organization, politics, ideas, traditions. Time for the rest of us to get busy.