Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 09:05:31 -0500
Reply-To: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: hkhoo <heiko@EASYNET.CO.UK>
Subject: Re: on Korea

[On Korean labor and political representation]

By Heiko Khoo, 26 November 1997

Dear all,

I wish to make a number of observations in relation to the discussion on the nature of the Korean Labour Movement and political representation.

The question of whether the movement has a Social-Democratic orientation is important in this respect. For decades the anti-Capitalist left attempted to create revolutionary parties which would have no truck with reformism, not one succeeded. Not because anti-capitalism is wrong but because consciousness does not leap to creating a mass workers party with revolutionary conclusions. This is almost self evident in the Korean context.

Given the proximity of North Korea the development of consciousness is bound to be connected to this. Many South Korean students have a nationalist orientation with a confused mixture of Socialist ideas. No doubt similar ideas exist in the workers movement. The key issues I feel will be: the ability of the workers movement in South Korea to develop a program for worker control and public ownership of the 30 largest companies, and the development of a program that encompasses the reunification of Korea.

This is an extremely complex question, which will decide events in South Korea, a series of demands which can span the workers of both Koreas is needed. These must include democratic rights, workers control, housing, employment, travel and the free moveme nt of labour, the military, and public ownership.

If we are realistic we must expect the Korean question to emerge as a central issue in the near future. Demands which span the two regions of Korea will be difficult to formulate. The aim should be to develop the outline of a plan for both Koreas in which

workers control and public ownership are the core. The Trade Unions should attempt to organise in Both Koreas. There are many ways of doing this inspite of the dictatorships.

However in winning such demands a series of intermediate demands and actions are necessary. These will include many of the Social-Democratic demands developed in the Unions over the last years. To reject as Social Democratic the electroal movement is a mi stake, the key is not is the program Social Democratic but who supports it, what is progressive and what regressive, how do you strengthen the progressive and increase the power of the Workers movement?

Perhaps some comrades can let us know the ideas being discussed in the Korean movement in relation to reunification.

best regards

Heiko Khoo