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[Opinion] A Noiseless Revolution

Posted December. 20, 2005 08:23,   


Do you remember the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, and the Lemon Revolution? They are the democratic movements which started in Georgia two years ago, in the Ukraine in 2004, and in Kyrgyzstan in March 2005 when Georgia president Mikhael Saakashvili already appointed his close acquaintance as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, bringing the law on his side.

Ukraine suffered through corruption and internal conflict before the revolution and reorganized its cabinet. Kyrgyzstan’s unstable political situation has become an example to its neighbor, Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s citizens decided that “abundance is better than democracy” and gave their president of 14 years another seven years.

Why did the loud revolution die down? The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pointed to political competition and the rule of law as problems. Without an institution to eradicate incompetent politicians and corrupt personnel, the systems are the same.

Another important issue is the economy. If the economy is not revived, the people’s support quickly dissolves. Hungary, Slovakia, Poland increased investments and created new jobs by dramatically opening the economy. These countries are speeding toward an era of prosperity, even without a revolution.

The second largest economy, Japan, suffered a downfall during the past 15 years. But now it seems they have succeeded in a noiseless revolution. Children’s products sell well, as do women’s products and pet products. They say if men’s products start selling well, then the economy will revive. Men’s clothes are selling well as well. This is the result of the highest R&D expenditures in the world, and the eradication of political economics during the “lost 10 years.” England’s Economist called it a “stealthy revolution.”

Japan had once had tried to revive the economy with large public expenditures during the 1990s. They refused to make the necessary changes such as competition, deregulation, and a flexible labor market, and thus suffered for a long time. As the joke goes, “Chinese students studying in Japan do not associate with Japanese students because they are afraid of learning Communism from the Japanese.” This tells us that the main task is to eradicate deep-rooted financial socialism. Korea is following in the footsteps of the Soviet Union’s failed revolution and Japan’s failed economic revolution.

Kim Sun-duk, yuri@donga.com