[FOUNTAIN]The specter and reality of socialism

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[FOUNTAIN]The specter and reality of socialism

“The Communist Manifesto,” which opens with “A specter is haunting Europe ― the specter of communism” and ends with “Workers of the world, unite!” was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848. The European establishment at that time feared the communist ideology that was spreading like a specter. Communism decreed that the working class bring down the capitalist bourgeoisie through a violent proletarian revolution.
In his book, Mr. Marx wanted to give substance to that ideology. The fathers of communism urged the working class to move from pure ideology and establish a party organization. Some 150 years later, communism became bankrupt with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But those who inherited Marxist concepts have continued to experiment with “democratic socialism,” attempts to realize socialist ideals in a democracy.
The Democratic Labor Party is a Korean version of a democratic socialism experiment. The party boasts 54,000 members. Until now, the left in Korea has been more of a concept than substance.
But the left has successfully joined the political establishment of the National Assembly. Koreans need to break away from a common misconception that the Democratic Labor Party is a pro-Kim Jong-il party that is directly and indirectly backed by the Workers’ Party of North Korea. Instead, it seeks its role model in the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
But even the Democratic Labor Party’s insiders were carried away by ideology. The party platform states that “Foreign powers, especially the United States, have divided the Korean Peninsula and taken away liberty and democracy from the masses.” It also includes such clauses as “The political establishment of Korea is a loyal agent of domestic and foreign capital” and “The Democratic Labor Party would establish a self-reliant democratic government of the workers and populace and abolish all laws and regulations of the state organization that suppress the people.”
The party largely looks at the state as the capitalists’ apparatus to exploit the workers. Apparently, it lacks a sense of reality. We are living in an age of “business states,” in which a country will be weeded out without constant efforts to develop growth engines. This kind of party platform could be a burden when the time comes for the Democratic Labor Party to take power.


by Chun Young-gi

The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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