Learning to let off some steam

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Learning to let off some steam


There are many different definitions of politics. Personally, I approve of the definition in Park Dong-un’s “Art of Administration” that politics is a struggle between the privileged and disaffected classes over the system of government. The history of politics is a record of discord and compromise between the favored class and the estranged class. How the favored class manages and resolves the dissatisfaction of the estranged class determines the success and failure of politics. The fate of the administration and the country also depends on it.

Historically, Britain has proposed the model for successful politics. The aristocrats of Britain, or the high class, displayed the incredible genius of making concessions for the pressure from below. The aristocrats had the wisdom to let the “steam” out, opening the lid of the kettle slightly to let it escape from the boiling water. That way, Britain could prevent bloody revolutions and maintain the system and privilege of the monarchy. Charles I was the only exception and was executed.

A hard branch may snap, but a flexible one bends. The British used flexible tactics in order to maintain and protect its system. The favored class of Britain was always ready to retreat strategically in order to avoid exhausting battles of class struggle.

They also displayed an outstanding technique for “assimilation” to embrace the estranged class. When promoting talents from the estranged class, the aristocrats made gentlemanly considerations to save their faces. It was fundamentally different from the “Dracula-style” assimilation of abusing human weakness and including selected members of the estranged class into a corrupt power system. The Parliamentary politics of Britain based on flexibility and gentry became the groundwork of the “empire on which the sun never sets.”

The ruling Grand National Party and the Lee Myung-bak administration are sinking simultaneously. If they had the flexibility to release the steam on time and valued the causes over their interests, they could have saved themselves from the crisis. Only taking a step back at the most critical moment is a proof of cowardliness and lack of principle. Untimely retreat only urges the moment of collapse. It is a natural consequence for the shallow minds with no honor or moderation.

According to Han Feizi, the six tactics that prevent a country from failure are observance of the law, appropriate rewards and punishments, wisdom and concentration, education of talents, integration of the people and reinforcement of defense.

If President Lee or the ruling GNP followed this advice, they would not be criticized for favoritism and corruption. The country is divided and troubled with discord. If the Grand National Party remains intact and the administration does not fail, it would be rather strange.

Not anyone can become a politician. Only those who know honor and moderation are up to the task. Someone who has learned philosophy through experience can become a true politician. Do Park Geun-hye and Ahn Cheol-soo know what life really means?

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Bae Myung-bok
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