Monday, July 28, 2008

Anti-American 'Beef' Protests Continue

Anti-American Beef Protest
Typical Photo from June Protests
Still Applicable Today
(Image from Brisbane Times)

The Korean 'left' still has a beef with American beef . . . or seems to.

Robert Koehler -- aka "The Marmot" at that online center of expat scuttlebutt The Marmot's 'Watering' Hole -- informs us that Scott Burgeson attended Saturday night's anti-beef protest, which has morphed into a "peaceful defense of South Korean democracy against the Lee Myung-bak dictatorship" (to borrow Robert's ironic manner of expression).

The Reaganite libertarian Robert Koehler and the postmodern leftist Scott Burgeson have rarely agreed on Korean issues but seem to find themselves in surprised agreement on the beef protests. Robert directs us to this post by Scott (aka known as Wang Baeksu [= "King White Hands," or King of the Slackers]), which reveals this about the protest in downtown Seoul:
At around 8pm, about 1,000 protesters had occupied the main intersection at Chonggak so that no cars could go through. After a while, the police opened the street (Chongno) by marching in a forward straight line, but with restraint and without hitting anyone that I could see. For some reason, after about 30 minutes the police decided to retreat, and one large line of police started retreating towards Ch'onggyech'on. Thus, they had left the entire intersection of Chonggak open again to the protesters, without arresting anyone or anything.

As the police were retreating, many protesters started charging at them and actually hitting them with their fists. There was the usual media frenzy, of course, flashes everywhere and whatnot. The most hilarious part was that the protesters were actually shrieking "Violent police!" as they were hitting the police! I thought this was just absurdly ironic and nothing else until I saw that one slight young policeman had been knocked unconscious by the protesters and had to be carried to the sidewalk and laid down. He was out for a while and eventually regained consciousness (volunteer protest medics and other police were attending to him), but couldn't stand up, so after waiting about 15 minutes an ambulance finally came and took him away.

Of course, none of the usual suspects were there to document all this, like Hankyoreh, MBC or KBS. I asked several protesters why they were complaining about the violent police when they were hitting police first, and they all whined, "The police started it!" like third graders. Remember: THE POLICE WERE RETREATING when this poor young guy was KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS!
I couldn't figure out an easy way to leave a message at Scott's website, so I posted a comment at Robert's site:
At Berkeley during protests in the early 80s against apartheid, the hardcore left used to stand at the back of protesting crowds and hurl rocks over the heads of the other protesters to hit the police.


Why, to foment revolution, of course.
My Berkeley friend Scott Corey, who wrote his thesis on political violence, had watched this sort of behavior on the part of the radical, hardcore left in Berkeley.

Similarly, when we doctoral students were protesting UC Berkeley's decision to rename Teaching Assistants as Graduate Student Employees -- for we were the TAs who would lose bargaining power through that name change -- I listened to one of our organizers complain about the hardcore left trying to infiltrate our ranks and incite violence.

My conclusion was that the radical left's main goal was to exacerbate divisions in society in the interest of class warfare, a point implied in an earlier post of mine, "Lying for the truth," for I quote there from Stephen Koch's long essay, "Lying for the truth: M├╝nzenberg & the Comintern" (The New Criterion, Volume 12, Number 3, November 1993), who says this about the Communist protests 'defending' the two Italian-born American workers and anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti:
The Communist goal was never to save the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti. Acquittal would have dissolved the whole political point. Katherine Anne Porter, like hundreds of writers and artists of the time, participated in the Boston deathwatch. She reports an exchange with the Comintern agent who was her group leader, Rosa Baron, "a dry, fanatical little woman who wore thick-lensed spectacles over her accusing eyes, a born whiphand, who talked an almost impenetrable jargon of party dogma . . . . I remarked . . . that even then, at that late time, I still hoped the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti could be saved . . . . 'Saved' she said, ringing a change on her favorite answer to political illiteracy, 'who wants them saved? What earthly good would they do us alive?'"
In response to what I'd read, I commented:
Ms. Baron's remark is either the profound cynicism of the nihilist or the deep conviction of the true believer that every deception is permitted in pressing forward toward the utopian 'truth' . . . and maybe both at once.
This same attitude seems to characterize the hardcore Korean left as well.

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At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every "movement" needs its' martyrs.


At 7:25 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The blood of martyrs waters seeds of revolution.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And serves to properly rile up Berkeley's Teaching Assistants.

Was your personal revolutionary experience successful? Did you wear a beret?


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

We were ultimately successful on apartheid but ever unsuccessful on the TAships.

That latter was no revolutionary protest anyway but an effort to retain privilege . . . deserved privilege, of course.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Bohemian in Korea said...

I'm going to go a lil' off center here but I think it's Germaine to the spirit of this post.

One of my 'heroes' is Ben Franklin and he has oft been quoted as saying 'neither borrower or a lender be' it seems simple but I really think it pertains to what is happening.

The dynamics are the same...when you borrow you put yourself in a position to be judged. Even if you are best friends the debt puts a negative aspect on the relationship.

Couple the feeling with the natural Korean feeling of Haan and you have disaster.

As much as I care for my Korean friends most of this vintage "kaa kaa" is pure BS.

We as expats see it but how many peoples in the USA will know why this is a Korean National debate not a judgment of American society?

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

BoHinK, these protests certainly do have their Korean flavor -- the extreme nationalism so at odds with the Left in the West, the bitter-han-driven oversensitiveness to perceived slights, that sort of thing -- but these radical-left protesters in Korea share with the Western radical Left a dialectical vision of 'progress' through conflict.

The hardcore Left everywhere takes what might be a valid, Hegelian description of development through conflict of thesis and antithesis and transforms it into a presciptive exhortation.


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