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[Opinion] The New Right

Posted April. 10, 2005 23:23,   


Recently, “new-right” organizations are springing up. “New right” means by its name that despite succeeding the conservative right, new-right ideologues intend to renew themselves.

There are two reasons behind the emergence of these groups. One is that after the Participatory Government’s inauguration, Korea has been too left leaning and, consequently, the people are worriedly doubtful of their ideological path. The other is that there is a self-examining atmosphere that Korea’s right wing has been misbehaving with all their corruption and irregularities.

In European nations, after the industrialization in the 19th century, the right and the left showed one of the fiercest forms of confrontation. Then, in economically hard times, the right tended to take control, but in fairly prosperous times, the left usually took charge. Principles of competition, efficiency and market economy championed by the right can help economic growth. However, the same principles give rise to inequality and people living on the margins of society, disenchanting the masses. In fact, the new right argues for a welfare state which builds on democracy and the market economy towards an advanced country and, at the same time, cares for the less privileged. At the moment, the emergence of the new right has positive implications.

Since the establishment of the dictatorship in 1961, for nearly 40 years, Koreans have put economic development in the very first row of their agenda. In the process, the right has risen to power. On the other side, those who have been marginalized have had to cling to left-leaning alternatives.

Over the last 40 years, student, labor and the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union movements have steadily gained competence and experience, finally resulting in the birth of the Participatory Government.

Yet, the left-leaning alternatives are not the ultimate way Korea needs to follow, which is evident in the case of the failure of communism. Nevertheless, for the time being, the parties that derive help from young voters brainwashed with left-leaning thought and regionalism are likely to stay in power. If Korea is to become a fully advanced state, it should correct its people’s way of thinking. A “campaign of readjusting the public’s mentality” may be a task for the new right. But the campaign will require quite an amount of time for effectiveness and much effort to reach out to the general public. If anyone clumsily attempts to politicize this new-right trend in the hope of winning the next presidential election, his or her campaign will have a high likelihood of failure.

Na Seong-lin, Guest editorial writer, Professor of Economics at Hanyang University, hwalin@hanyang.ac.kr