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Monday, May 17, 2004

Hankyoreh surveying the preference of social models

Update 2 (Wednesday, May 19)
It just now came to my mind that Hankyoreh had, besides slyly putting the attributes USA (Miguk) and Scandinavia/Northern Europe (Pukku) for the two systems contrasted in the survey, in fact compared oranges and apples. The liberal democracy, associated with USA in the survey, is a political system which also the North European/Scandinavian countries adhere to and in which the social democratic parties also operate. 사회민주당들은 자유민주주의에서 활동하는 정당들이며 결국 자유민주주의에서만 존재할 수 있는 정당들이다. Koreans talking about social democracy may be surprised that many Scandinavian social democrats, especially the late Olof Palme of Sweden, were very much influenced by the ideas of American democracy, albeit of Palme's later harsh criticism of USA.
Social democracy, as implied in the survey, is an economical model which has been practiced in Northern Europe, Sweden in the front (and our Finland following behind), but under liberal democracy.
Got to ask still that what the survey results would have been without the labels "American" and "Northern European" (Scandinavian).

Update (Tuesday, May 18 2004). The editorial board member Son Seok-chun (손석춘) has a column "Silent revolution" (Choyonghan hyôngmyông), which comments the survey results that I've quoted below. Perhaps I would've been disappointed if Son hadn't connected the survey results to the bad influence that the conservative (sorry, reactionary, sugu) press is having on the people, since this is Son's trademark, lecturing the unenlightened.
"사회민주주의는 개량주의라고 딱지 붙일 수도 있다" (Social democracy can also be labeled as reformism). Yes, that's what it is, and terms like "revolution" should be kept far from it, since it's the opposite of how social democracy has defined itself (at least since the appearance of revolutionary socialism).
I'd like to see Son cease using social democracy in the "media reform" campaign; as much as many of the media market characteristics that the media reformers crave for exist in Scandinavia, they are more results of the markets than "social democratic" market control. "But in Korea the newspaper owners are bad, while in the West they are good." Yeah, sure. (This last is not from Son but exaggeration of something I think I've read in an interview in Ohmynews.)
And Son should also not refer to social democracy as long as he is not willing to make a clear distance to the dictatorship of the DPRK. 사회민주주의를 운운하는 사람은 어느 핀란드 사민당 원로가 옛날에 이렇게 말했다는 것은 명심했으면 좋겠다. "사회민주주의에서 민주주의는 항상 사회주의를 앞선다". 이런 걸 손위원장도 인식했으면 좋겠다. 손 위원장이 추진하는 민족주의는 사회민주주의와는 먼 것이다. 사민당을 찍는 사람으로서 사실은 좀 기분 나쁘다, 솔직히 말하면.
Son of course doesn't mention the contradiction that the newspaper itself readily admits (see leader in Korean, in English), that people want things financed by the state but are not being ready to pay more taxes themselves. This shows that Koreans are not ready for any "social democratic welfare state". Taxation is an important part of the redistribution of wealth, and this Koreans don't want to do.

I'll repeat what I wrote already below: 사회민주주의는 뭔지 알기나 하나, does he know what he's talking about?




Hankyoreh has been polling Koreans on what kind of a society is desirable.
(I'm going to have to make this short as Grandfather Kwôn's stories for my dissertation are more pressing.)

"North European social democracy 45%"; this is the percentage of respondents favoring what we here have been more or less enjoying for decades (the length depending on the Northern European country). "US model liberal democracy" was favored by 39% of the respondents. We don't know how many alternatives were given in the survey, but looking at the figure, it seems as if there were only three.
(Let's not expect any social model with "USA" (Miguk) in it get many sympathy votes.)

Let me ask: 사회민주주의는 뭔지 알기나 하나, do they know what they are favoring?

"Social security favored over material abundance"; some mor cynical might say that dogs and cows are laughing at this survey result. (Let's note that I'm not ridiculing the preferences of the respondents, especially as one who has enjoyed much of what many Korean's here would seem to like to have. But it's the question of the relation between the citizen and the state, which disfavors implementation of this kind of policies, noticed also by Hankyoreh in the linked article below.)
"탁아·노후복지 재원 국가 부담" 77% - childcare, care of old, government financing 77%
"부자 세금 늘려 예산 확보" 90% 넘어 - 90% for more taxes for the rich
절반 이상 "시장경제 정부역할 확대" - more than half for increased gov't role in economy
해고 "규제를" 71% "자유롭게" 26% - layoff restriction 71%, freer layoff 26%
'재벌활동제한' 강화가 완화보다 높아 - more restrictions for chaebôls
And then comes the part of the survey which should surprise few: "Only 18% want to pay more taxes to finance social welfare". Nine out of 10 were of the opinion that the rich should pay more taxes, but less than one out of five was ready to increase one's own tax burden. 43% wanted the tax burden to decrease, and 37% were happy with the present level.

This is the actual legitimacy of the South Korean state in the eyes of the citizens as far as taking care of their money is concerned. Call us Northern Europeans dumb, but there's quite a large consensus that the tax money goes for the common good which is in the end advantageous for oneself, but for Korea I only need to recall the neighborhood shopkeepers' very negative attitude towards the national pension system which was implemented some years ago. (Another minor detail is what my Korean friend told of a so-called progressive lawyers' association in which she used to work: only one lawyer working in the association paid taxes properly.)

I remember it being told that some Finnish communists who had their feet mostfirmly off the ground used to talk that the state should pay the taxes.

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