[FOUNTAIN]Political Spring-CleaningThe ongoing political squabble between the older and the more junior group of Millennium Democratic Party lawmakers has been termed "rectification." An organization that is void of the cleansing effect of rectification is bound to go foul. By contrast, Communist and Fascist countries have used rectification as an excuse for the ruthless oppression of the people through endless power struggles and purges.
The system of impeachment of the Choson dynasty was unique as a system of rectification that for 500 years affected the continuation and development of the governing system and allowed its perpetuation.
Han Myeong-hoe was a strategist and an official who was instrumental in bringing King Sejo into power. He would then wield enormous political power through the reigns of Kings Yejong and Songjong. But during the days of Songjong alone he was impeached 107 times. During the same period Im Sa-hong, also an official in the king's court, was impeached 140 times and Yu Ja-gwang 56 times. Even against the background of a fierce power struggle between the progressive and the conservative factions of the time, to be impeached that many times was, to say the least, shameful. This system of impeachment acted in part to check particular officials from growing too powerful and to maintain the authority of the ruling faction.
Rectification is also associated with the reform of Mao Zedong. During his days in Yanan, Mao called for a redirection of the party's current. What followed was a movement for ideological reform through a realignment of academics, politics and culture with the ideals of Communism. The reform that started at the top would continue through the 1960s in five large-scale purges and went on to the great confusion that was called the Cultural Revolution. In the process, Mao would attain the status of a deity.
The Millennium Democratic Party held a workshop Thursday in Seoul. It will be interesting to see where the discussions that took place will take the party. The reform-minded junior lawmakers' demands for change were consistently met with responses that typically began, "The motive is honorable, but with respect to the ways and means many questions come up..." Those responses are reminiscent of Kim Jong-pil in 1979, then president of the Democratic Republican Party, who said in the wake of another party rectification, "The patriotic commitment is entirely clear, but it is the timing and the methodology that are questionable." Those involved should try to read the affair on the facts, not on the personalities on each side. To write off the affair as merely a domestic squabble would be worse than doing nothing at all.
The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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