[VIEWPOINT]Get rid of the greasy-faced onesAs soon as Choe Byung-yul was elected the new leader of the Grand National Party, a trial awaited him. Some reform-minded lawmakers within his party are ready to leave. Mr. Choe is asking them to stay, promising them that he will reform the party. In order for the Grand National Party to genuinely reform, I believe that he should let them go.
Since the time of Chun Doo Hwan’s Democratic Justice Party, a predecessor of the Grand National Party, conservative parties have asked a few token liberals to join them. The tradition went on through the time of the integration of three parties, again in the Kim Young-sam administration and again in actions by Lee Hoi-chang, the former leader of the Grand National Party. But these liberals have now become cantankerous, and have been voicing opinions counter to the fundamentals of the party line.
Why did the conservative parties have to include liberals as well? The logic, supposedly, was that the party should represent all people in society to be a truly national party. But the real reason was that the conservative parties had a feeling of inferiority.
The core of that inferiority complex was a lack of morality. Before the Kim Dae-jung administration, the leading parties in Korea were all conservative groups. The situation was not ripe for competition between liberal and conservative forces. As they continued to pass the presidency down from one conservative to the next, the parties became corrupt. For that reason, conservatism in Korea came to be considered identical with corruption. In contrast, the liberal forces had no chance to be corrupt. Therefore, Koreans perceived conservatives as immoral but progressives as moral. By inviting in a few liberals, the conservative parties wanted to give themselves some protective moral coloration.
Is a conservative, then, really an immoral force and a liberal a moral man? Of course not. Whether the party is moral or immoral depends on the individual members. Conservatives can be corrupt and so can progressives. Recall the Kim Dae-jung administration. Many of its members have been shown to be corrupt if they had proclaimed reforms as if they had a patent right to the slogan.
Perhaps in terms of social policies, liberals do seem more moral. Conservatism is based on individualism. Therefore, losers in the market economy, which assumes competition between individuals, consider conservatism harsh and immoral. In contrast, they regard liberal politicians as much more ethical and moral. How nice it sounds when liberals claim that they can make everyone, including the losers, live happily, but that is not the way the world works. The fall of socialism proved as much. the terms conservative and liberal are used to describe a political philosophy, not whether its adherents are crooks or not.
The Grand National Party can be morally conservative. It should not try to appear moral by awkwardly including progressives in its party to trade on their image. Conservatives do not rely on others or blame others. They lead their lives and assume responsibility for their own actions, so they must work hard to be successful. Furthermore, conservatives take care of others as well as themselves when they are able. This produces warmth and such warmth makes conservatism survive. On the contrary, liberalism puts community before individuals. Because progressives emphasize the responsibility of the community, this inevitably leads to moral hazards for individuals, who begin to expect the government or their union to assume responsibility for them. Liberal politicians thrive on this culture of dependency.
The Grand National Party should stand on its own morality after letting the liberal lawmakers go. The party should reform itself based on clean conservatism. It should send away from the party along with the liberals thr following types of lawmakers: greasy-faced politicians who illegally accumulated wealth, brazen-faced politicians who survived the shifts of political power and politicians who flatter the powerful but reign over the weak. People mistake them for conservative politicians anyway.
To replace them, the party should recruit new faces. It should select those who have a thorough sense of responsibility for themselves, who work hard and who are fair, ethical, and warm-hearted.
The Grand National Party should not try to straddle the fence between conservative and liberal. Our society is already divided into two. Now the party has to make its philosophy clear and compete with other parties as to which is most qualified to lead our country.
* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk