Anarchy In the South Korea nowadays
One could hear the word Anarchy in the book or columns so in South Korea nowaday, but no one could not read it on the newspapers or broadcastings. Anarchism itself has existed since the Japanese ruling in the early of 20C to nowadays, in social movement and the field of school, but no one knows about the anarchism movement in nowadays except very few people. It is no wonder that even a person who is in the field of social movement do not know about the existence of anarchism movement nowadays. And this is my first discussion. Why they do not seen well in Korea? I've found some reasons about that, like "Anarchism movement nowadays is very small, and do not has systemized organization or action and so on, and so on. And there is no space for anarchism in radical movement in Korea." then I got another point to discuss. The second discussion of this article will be about the field of social movement in Korea, and the situation that does not allow anarchism as a radical movement.
This article will has three parts. First one, 'Anarchism itself' that will show about the anarchism itself, and second one, 'Korean Anarchism’, about the history. And the last part will shows the anarchism movement nowadays in Korea and take the discussions I mentioned before.
In fact, I was an anarchist for about 2 years (from the last year of high school until at the end of freshmen). I did some act with anarchist comrades, and after that time I do have some relationship with them. So my methodology is something like ethnography. Some problems about methodology are like this: There is no article or books on anarchism movement of South Korea nowadays. As I mentioned at the first of article, there are so many books about 'what is anarchism?' or 'Ways of anarchist' or so, but nothing written text exist about my subject. And my sub-subject, 'radical movement nowadays' also do not has proper text. However, I was an editorial staff of Magazine for 2.5 years and have some my own articles about that, so I'll use it.
2. Anarchism itself
「We are often reproached for accepting as a label this word anarchy, which
frightens many people so much. "Your ideas are excellent", we are told, "but
you must admit that the name of your party is an unfortunate choice. Anarchy
in common language is synonymous with disorder and chaos; the word brings to
mind the idea of interests clashing, of individuals struggling, which cannot
lead to the establishment of harmony".
So let us see what this order in which anarchy wishes to destroy.
Order today - what *they* mean by order - is nine-tenths of mankind working to provide luxury, pleasure and the satisfaction of the most disgusting passions for a handful of idlers.
Order is nine-tenths being deprived of everything which is a necessary condition for a decent life, for the reasonable development of intellectual faculties. To reduce nine-tenths of mankind to the state of beast of burden living from day to day, without ever daring to think of the pleasures provided for man by scientific study and artistic creation - that is order!
And disorder - what they call disorder?
It is the rising of the people against this shameful order, bursting their bonds, shattering their fetters and moving towards a better future. It is the most glorious deeds in the history of humanity.
It is the rebellion of thought on the eve of revolution; it is the upsetting of hypotheses sanctioned by unchanging centuries; it is the breaking of a flood of new ideas, or daring inventions, it is the solution of scientific problems.
The word anarchy, implying the negation of this order and invoking the memory of the finest moments in the lives of peoples - is it not well chosen for a party which is moving towards the conquest of a better future?」
This article of Peter Kropotkin shows the spirit of anarchism so well, but it is not appropriate to understand the whole trend of anarchism itself.
There is a saying in anarchism that 'If there are 100 anarchists, there will be 100 ways of anarchism.' It is not a systemized or well-organized ideology. The origin of word Anarchism will be a good reference to understand anarchism a little more: Anarchism is come from the word anarchy, and anarchy come from the Greek origin an-archos. A means 'nothing' and archos means 'ruling or ruler'.
So, we can easily imagine that 'anarchism' is an ideology that does not like ruling or ruler. Yes, it is. Anarchists want the society without ruling of oppressive power. And in modern society, the aspect of ruling institution is often 'State', so there are anti-state tendency in anarchism movement. They believe that people can control themselves without outer organized power (Old Traditions about virtue, or State power, or Religious power or so) because of 'Autonomy' that is inside all the individuals. State, like capital or religion, is an enemy for the autonomy. They exist only for the rulers.
There are many anarchism ideologists in the history. But not like other ideology, there is no father like Karl Marx in Marxism or so. Modernized thought about anarchism was shown up by William Godwin or Pierre Joseph Proudhon, as a kind of so-called 'utopian socialism'. From that utopian thinking with 'No god no master no private wealth no state' many ways of anarchism appears.
The word anarchy is some negative image about chaos, confusion, militant or so. But anarchism is a little different. Some anarchist are militant and seem a little chaotic like Proudhon, Bakunin, Daniel Con-bendit(leader of student movement group in 68 revolution), but others are not, like John Lennon or Sartre.
Noam Chomsky, a famous linguist, and anarchist said that "No one can monopolize the word anarchism" I agree with that. Anarchism is not a systemized ideology.
3. Korean Anarchism
Anarchism was accepted in Korea 1920'. Not just anarchism but also other radical ideologies like communism or radical nationalism were aroused in that time. Japanese were ruling Korean peninsular, and in 1919, the 3.1 movement was failed to its own purpose (to regain the sovereignty), resistance intellectual think that they need another tactics rather than any peaceful demonstration like 3.1 movement to regain the sovereignty. So, by the intellectual who were in Japan or china had accepted radical ideologies from the West, and they came Korea so intellectuals in Korea could accepted those thoughts.
As first, Anarchism was popular in the Korean intellectual society, rather than radical nationalism or communism. For them, communism is some kind of flunkeyism that follows the ideas of the West blindly. The communism of that time is from Soviet Union, and it said that 'workers of all country, unite!' under the red flag of the Soviet. And people who are under the Japanese ruling do not want to be under any flags, if it is red flags of the Soviet or the flags of U. S. or so. Koreans want their own community.
And radical nationalism had the answer about the 'own community', but there is no answer about the proletarians. There was a need to make equal community, but in radical nationalism there was no answer about that. So people at that time preferred anarchism, that had an answer for their own community, and also an answer for their equality.
But things had been changed during 1920's. Anarchists were pure on their political practice, so their groups were so smaller than communists and nationalists. And those both groups had a little relationship between each other, but nothing relations were between anarchists and those two groups.
By propagandas and organizing strikes or do some terrorism, communist group and nationalist group got the power of resistance movement during 1920's, and the anarchists were isolated in the movement group. At the beginning of 1930's anarchist group were almost perished. And after 1930's, all movemenst were perished by the greater oppression of Japanese ruling.
And about national restoration of Korea, those two groups returned successfully but anarchist didn't return. Some were returned but they had no power on the people, so they perished again. During Korean war, some anarchists and international communists were with radical nationalistic communists groups of the North Korea, and after the war they purged.
It is the brief history of Korean anarchist group.
4. Anarchism nowadays and discussion.
And at the beginning of 21 century, anarchist returns. Before that time after the war, some people existed who said themselves as 'anarchist', but there were no political movements that can be easily found. But those guys at the beginning of 21's, they made some obvious movement. They made a group named 'anarclan', stands for anarchist clan, and some people were come together, and made some movement.
The people in there were so various. Someone was a farmer who farmed organic vegetable, and someone is a 70-years old man who was once a communist during and after the Korean war. And there were some angry teenagers against society. Someone was exhausted herself in student movement and came there to find alternative movement that would not exhaust her. A preacher-wannabe was there too, and a worker of a trade union was also there. there were also some foreigners include a leftist journalist from German. About 2000 year when I joined there, about 20 peoples are working.
There is no leader, because that is an anarchist group. But there was a man who is the actual leader of the group, using his pen name 'Dopehead Zo'. He does not reveal his real name or his life before he became anarchist. He always said about himself like: 'I'm Dopehead Zo. And it is my identity. Do not ask something private'.
They do so many acts, but it is hard to say that 'Anarchist in Korea do some act like this, like this, like that.' because they acted autonomously, without using the name of anarclan or under the flags of anarclan. Some people in there did make some act, and that's all.
And the movement by the member-also it is hard to say about the membership. It is an anarchist group of liberation, there is no concept about 'being member' or so-was so progressive and all-round. Lenin-based student movement group named JHH started the Conscription Objecter by the will(CO) movement at 2003. And anarchist did it from 2000. Alternative sanitary napkin making was started at the beginning of 21’s (bloodsister solidarity), and feminist groups were taught by those anarchist about making napkin. Free Palestine movement in Korea was also started by anarclan member. They were so progressive in making agenda. And they did almost all field of social movement in Korea, from internet censorship to Immigrant workers, to anti-WTO movement, to anti-Iraq war movement, anti-SaemanKum development, anti-U.S. base and so on.
But people in Korea do not know the anarchist in Korea so well. Any people will know the name and what they do on Hanchongryun(Student Association League) or MinjuNochong(Democratic Trade Union), or so, but they do not know even the name of anarchist group. Why this situation appears?
The very easy answer for this question is like that: they have so small power and organization. It is right. They are small, by the same reason of first anarchist group in Korea. They are very pure on movement, and they do not allow any systemized organization or collective power, or secret plans that can be only acceptable in the core member. Even they do not think that 'Our members should come together in a demonstration.' Rather they think 'If a member feels that this demonstration important, then he/she will come. But if not, there is no right for me to assert him/her to join the demonstration'
It is the first discussion of this article. And I think, there is not only this reason in the depression of anarchism movement nowadays. The deep problem about anarchism is the conflict between NL/PD in radical movement that was historically consisted from 1920’s. NL, stands for National Liberation, focusing on the radical nationalism, do not agree with PD. PD, stands for People Democracy, focusing on the direct democracy and working class, also do not like NL. And the field of Korean radical movement is filled with those NL/PD group. It is not just the matter of movement nowadays, but the problems from the very beginning of Korean radical movement under Japanese ruling. It is so deep-rooted problems and there is no space for newbie. If a movement is radical, it should choose to become the member of NL or PD. But anarchists do not agree with both. They can not agree with the concept 'nationalism' with NL's, because anarchism should be international and more focusing on class problems rather than nationalism. And they also can not agree with PD's. PD think that organized groups and trained revolutionary are needed to change the society, but anarchist do not agree on that. Anarchist can not agree with both, and neither they can not be a fabianist because they are radical in the very beginning of its ideology.
So, in conclusion, I'm pessimistic about the expansion of anarchism movement. And not just anarchism movement, but other 'radical' movements like radical feminism or radical ecology also will not success in Korea, because the field of radical movement is so fixed.
But anarchism itself will still meaningful in the field of movement, because it does not have power-relation with fixed radical movement, so they have full of creativeness. And by their light size, they can flexible about social problems and make rapid movement about that.
www.spunk.org : anarchist internet library
: to explain anarchism itself, and quote 「On order」 by Peter Kropotkin
www.anarclan.net : anarchist group of Korea
: to explain whole work of Korean anarchist nowadays
『East-Asian Anarchism : the history of revolution』 by Jo, se-hyun. Bookworld
: to explain the history of Korean anarchism
『Old tradition and Complex examination』 by Lee, je-won. Ihoo
: to explain the history of Korean radical movement.