A bird’s wings don’t go to war

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A bird’s wings don’t go to war


“The vicissitudes of a person’s life are but one night’s dream,” lamented Zhou Yu when he was ill.

Zhuge Liang consoled, “It is difficult to predict the ways of the skies.”

He then provoked a southeast wind in the harsh winter when there normally was none. This is how the battle of the red cliffs of Cao Cao is said to have begun.

The Lushan Conference 51 years ago, officially the Eighth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, reminds us of the red cliffs.

Instead of calling down the wind, Mao Zedong used criticism of the Great Leap Forward by moderates to justify denouncing them as right-wing.

Peng Dehuai was dismissed for telling the truth, and Lin Biao made his own great leap forward. Yet the Lushan Conference was merely a preview.

The reform and opening that started at the 11th Third Central Committee in 1978 started the fundamental conflicts between left-wing and right-wing groups that would erupt tragically in 1989 at Tiananmen Square.

The friction between leftist and rightist groups still continues. The independence protests in Urumuqi, Xinjiang, on July 5 last year formed a turning point, when leftists started their latest offense.

One could call those who defend totalitarianism the “monopoly group” and the ruling forces represented by Prime Minister Hu Jintao, which is in favor of a “society of harmony,” the “harmony group.”

There are five key issues. The monopoly group focuses on class conflict, while the harmony group points out internal contradictions within people.

Second, the groups have different methods of solving these problems. The monopoly group favors control, while the harmony group favors constitutionalism and personal rights. Third is ideology.

The monopoly group stands by Marxism and Leninism, while the harmony group stands by rational verification of the truth.

Fourth, there is democratization within the party. The monopoly group supports the worship of state heroes.

The harmony group opposes this because they believe it goes against the interests of the people. The last point is economic system reform. The monopoly group places importance on the socialist economy, while the harmony group prioritizes productivity.

The local Seoul court has found Kang Ki-kab, chairman of the Democratic Labor Party, guilty of obstructing the public duties of the National Assembly, and this verdict has provoked a debate on left-wing bias.

The Grand National Party has brought up the possibility of judiciary reform. All eyes are on the court.

However, we need to avoid drastic measures. Left and right have similarities. Debates turn into war the moment one side is set up as a despot to overthrow. China has engaged in a left-right debate for over half a decade with no signs of settlement. A bird flies with both left and right wings, and they know it.

*The writer is the chief of an investigative reporting team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Jin Se-keun
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