[VIEWPOINT]Daring to debate dogmaThe word “dogma” was originally a religious word. It means a truth acknowledged by the church as being a revelation of God. Therefore, dogma cannot become a subject of criticism or debate within the church. One cannot even dare to question it logically or ask for proof of it. Dogma comes from the authority of the church. Objecting to dogma is not possible without denying the authority of the church.
However, once dogma goes out of the frame of religion, its meaning becomes crooked. According to the dictionary, dogma means an arbitrary belief or doctrine. It is an opinion or statement that claims something is right without any logical explanation or strict process of academic verification. A dogma is a theory that claims it is right despite many people suspecting its verification. A dogma tries not to acknowledge its error even when there is evidence that proves it is wrong.
Logical reasoning and rational debates are not possible in a society where dogma is rampant. Instigators who put forth dogma try to swing public opinion in their favor with complicated rhetoric that provokes the emotions of the public. Those who stand on the opposite side of dogma or raise questions on it are condemned as public enemies. Suspicious statements are accepted as a matter of fact and clear faults are buried under the surface.
The recent economic policies of the Blue House and the government make me wonder whether our country is drowning in a sea of dogma. This is because we put rational debates and logical judgments aside, while depending on one-sided claims and public opinion. The real estate policy is a good example. The real estate policy started by pounding down the housing prices of Seoul’s Gangnam area, or districts south of the Han River, has now become a sacred thing that no one should dare to question. Government officials busily echo the beliefs of the president who leads the policy from the forefront.
President Roh Moo-hyun claims that he will discard authoritarianism, but no economic advisers and officials, who specialize in economic affairs, dare to oppose him or present a different opinion because of the confidence and the authority of the president. Putting aside a debate on whether the goal of the policy was justifiable or an evaluation of the validity of the policy, the government pushes ahead with related plans one-sidedly.
The government then promoted a publicity campaign enthusiastically aimed at the public, mobilizing a huge budget and all government organizations. In fact, the officials who participated in establishing the draft plan for the real estate policy were rewarded with medals and presidential commendations even before the plan started to operate. When things go this far, it can be said that the real estate policy has reached the level of dogma. Once the president says something is right, it stays right even if the sky breaks in two.
The same goes for the debate on the issue of financial expansion. President Roh bluntly said last year that he “would not pledge a small government.” He said he would enlarge the size of the government but make it the most efficient administration also. However, the necessity and efficiency of a large government have not been verified, and the people never agreed to have a big government either. The ill effects of big governments can be found rather easily throughout history.
Nevertheless, the president and the government assume an unconcerned air. They increase the number of government officials and the size of budgets, and claim without remorse that more money must be collected in taxes to fill the gaps. They pay no attention to people’s concerns and worries over a bigger tax burden. Detailed debates are needed on where and how money will be spent on welfare but the government says that expanding expenditure on welfare is already an established fact and that the only problem is raising money. Omitting any fundamental debate, the “big government” theory has now been established as dogma of the present government.
However, aside from other issues, economic problems can not be solved with dogma. The people will have to pay the price of driving policies through dogma and egotism.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jong-soo