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[Opinion] The New Right’s Teaching Materials

Posted November. 09, 2005 03:02,   


Upon listening to the news about the collapse of now-defunct Soviet Union in 1991, Friedrich August von Hayek (1899 ~ 1992) said, “Well, I told you so.” In his book “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), he predicted the collapse of socialism. In the book, he wrote, “Socialism pursues suppression and equality as the status of a slave.” Ludwig von Mises (1881 ~ 1973), a teacher of Hayek, also became a public enemy of socialists due to his criticism of socialism’s contradiction in his book “Liberalism” (1972). Both of them advocated their belief in the market economy and free democracy during their lifetime.

Liberals, who opposed planned economy and government interference, have long been excluded from capitalism too, since Keynesian economics, which emphasizes the role of the government, prevailed. In the mid 1970s, stagflation, the combination of high inflation and a high unemployment rate, led to the perception that Keynesian economics was no longer valid, turning people’s attention to liberalism again. Hayek, a Nobel Prize winner, said in an interview in 1977, “The intellectual trend that favored socialism began to reverse. The change is apparent among young people.”

In recent years, a growing number of university students have made efforts to develop an accurate understanding of the value of the market economy and free democracy. This autumn, at universities such as Kyunghee and Ewha, student activists of New Right movement ran for the student presidency. They argued for respecting free market economy and criticizing human rights abuse in North Korea. Among their favorite books are “The Fatal Conceit” (Hayek), “Statecraft” (Margaret Thatcher), and “The Future of Freedom” (Fareed Zakaria). These books are about fallacy of socialism, freedom of business activities, small government, opening, and so on.

These days, leftist student activists are said to be reading sophisticated books such as “Capital beyond Capital” (Lee Jin-kyung). It is relieving to know that few students memorize like parrots the Pyongyang broadcast such as Jusapa, who advocated the Juche ideology of Kim Il Sung, did so in the past. Kim Jong-seok, professor of business management department at Hongik University, said, “People who are accustomed to fragmented and emotional thinking due to the Internet tend to fall into demagoguism. People who are able to contemplate things by reading many books will be able to understand the value of the market economy and free democracy.”

Rim Kyu-jin, Editorial Writer, mhjh22@donga.com