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Forums Focus on Sustainable Development

Posted January. 23, 2006 03:24,   


The Good Policy Forum and the New Hope Forum, two new progressive groups that call for “sustainable progress” and a “third way for Korea,” made their debut on January 17 and 20, respectively.

The groups say their goal is to become a new social force that differs from the current democratic government forces by pursuing social integration and growth at the same time.

Korea University professor Lim Hyeok-baek and Kyungpook University professor Kim Hyung-ki are the co-chairs of the Good Policy Forum. They, along with 100 other center- and center-left leaning scholars, are the group’s founders.

They declared in their group’s founding statement, “We want to pursue an alternative development model beyond social democracy and neo-liberalism, based on the reflection that the existing progressive forces are failing because they are not economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.”

Their basic idea is to solve the problems of monopoly and bi-polarization, which are market economy dysfunctions, through increased control of the nation and civil society while making full use of the dynamic powers of the market economy.

“We will focus our research on policies rather than ideologies. We plan to hold policy forums at the regional level in 16 cities and districts in order to induce policy competition between the ruling and the opposition party,” said Lim.

A total of 70 labor and civilian activists participated in the New Hope Forum. This forum emphasizes providing realistic alternative policies to everyday lives.

“The policies of the ruling party, which is made up of activists, have failed to provide a breakthrough on current issues such as the bi-polarization of Korean society. We will not only provide realistic alternatives by keeping a critical eye on the government but also carry out volunteer activities,” forum participants said.

Some experts are welcoming the emergence of the new progressive groups. But others are skeptical of their goals of “promoting sustainable development that does not marginalize the socially vulnerable.”

“The core values of progressivism are distribution and equality. The new groups are promoting moderate progressivism, however, emphasizing growth and development. Their norms are correct; the key is how much progress they can actually make,” said Yonsei University professor Kim Ho-ki.

“The Korea Tripartite Commission was launched with the aim of socially integrating the labor-management relationship. It failed,” said the third way and social compromise are not an easy task,” said Hanshin University professor Roh Joong-ki. “Some characterize the new groups as part of a ‘new left,’ as opposed to part of a ‘new right,’ which criticizes neo-conservatives and distinguishes themselves from the existing conservatives.

The groups do not agree with their categorization as part of a “new left,” however.

“‘New left’ refers to a specific leftist movement that appeared in Western Europe in the 60s. Therefore, it is not an appropriate descriptor of the Good Policy Forum,” said Kim Hyung- ki, Good Policy Forum co-chair.

“‘New Right’ is not much different from old conservative policies. So we cannot categorize ourselves as part of a ‘new left,’” said Oh Se-je, Chairman of the management committee of the New Hope Forum.

“From a broad perspective, it is feasible to call the new groups a ‘new left.’ Meaningful discussion will be made only when there is policy competition between the new left groups and the existing groups,” said Kim.