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[Opinion] Marxism 2008

Posted August. 11, 2008 06:49,   


A left-leaning group devoted to ending capitalism, Altogether, will hold “Marxism 2008” Thursday through Aug. 17 at Korea University in Seoul. Radical leftists from Korea and abroad have participated in the annual forum since 2001. This year’s guests will include Jonathan Neale, author and one of the organizers of this year’s anti-G8 summit protests in Genoa, and Marxist historian Ian Birchall. On top of its long-held themes such as socialism, capitalism and reasons to love North Korea and hate the United States, new topics have been added for discussion this year. They are mad cow disease, candlelight protests, anti-government movements and free trade agreements with Washington. The four-day event will be held under the title, “The Festival of Candlelight.”

Not surprisingly, Lee Kang-taek, producer of the KBS TV show “Faceless Fears, Mad Cow Disease,” Lee Yeong-ju, vice director of the Seoul branch of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, and Kang Ki-kab, floor leader of the progressive Democratic Labor Party, will deliver speeches at the event. Three representatives from the People’s Association for Measures against Mad Cow Disease, who are wanted by police and staging a sit-in protest at Jogye Temple in Seoul, will deliver speeches via the Internet. What is interesting, however, are strong protests from people calling themselves “untainted candlelight.” One comment on Altogether’s Web site says, “How can those who cannot let go of the ghost (Marxism) in this enlightened era dare to say such things about candlelight?” On the temple’s homepage, a posting also says, “It’s not a matter of religious tolerance because the temple is harboring criminal suspects. It must kick out the protesters.”

Altogether was formally known as International Socialists, but changed its name due to Korean society’s intolerance of the term “socialism.” The group is affiliated with the teachers’ union, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the labor party and runs a similar organization for teens. Altogether calls itself a professional propaganda group, distributing fliers and inflaming anti-government sentiment and the mad cow scare at candlelight rallies.

Criticism is growing over Altogether’s method of protest: a “bullhorn lady” makes inflammatory comments and gets other protesters to move forward while being shielded by a group of people. A Web posting warns against people who sneak away after trying to cause clashes between civilians and police. Korea should be aware of the attempts by radical leftists to relight the blown-out candle.

Editorial Writer Huh Moon-myeong (angelhuh@donga.com)