[Editorial Note] The article was published in 2019 for the New Year. Moon Jae-in regime came away two years. It presents political situation analysis and the task of socialist’s struggle.
After local government elections in June last year, Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis began as its limits emerged earlier than originally expected. As Moon Jae-in regime promotes pro-Chaebol, pro-capitalist policies to stay away from the crisis, its crisis is being accelerated. Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis will become serious in 2019. Once the vulnerability of the regime is revealed, it will be even more amplified. In this article, I will look over Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis, which will become serious in 2019, and the response of socialist forces.
1. Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis to become serious
1) Moon Jae-in regime clearly shows their colors.
Moon Jae-in regime broke their pledge about the minimum wage and changed minimum wage law for the worse last year. And Moon Jae-in met Lee Jae-yong stealthily abroad, eased the regulation about the separation of banking and industrial capital on the pretext of reviving the economy. The government is planning to expand the flexible work system, which nullifies weekly 52 hours system, one after another. As we have seen, Moon Jae-in regime has shown their true color as the capitalist regime. As a result, Moon Jae-in regime’s approval rating plummeted to 40% from 80% in June. Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis is beginning, which is not long after the beginning of his regime.
2) The crisis of capitalism system will push Moon Jae-in regime into the more and more serious crisis.
Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis is still in its beginning stage. It will hence-forward become serious as the capitalist system’s crisis deepens and Moon Jae-in regime strengthens the pro-capitalist policy.
Ahead of 2019, the prospects for the capitalist system in the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Great Crisis are all pessimistic.
With the economies of Europe and Japan already beginning to slow down, the U.S. economy, which has been leading global economic growth, is also expected to peak sometime next year. Prices of raw materials have risen, but the overall slump in emerging economies is also expected due to financial market instability and worsening trade environment following the U.S. rate hike. Global economic growth is expected to fall from 3.8 percent this year to 3.5 percent next year. The downward trend of the economy is likely to last for two to three years as there is not enough momentum to bring about a rebound in the global economy. The global economy is expected to find it difficult to pull itself out of the 3 percent growth tunnel that has been in place since 2012.
The Korean economy is expected to wrap up last year’s temporary rebound and resume its medium-term downward flow. The economic growth rate is expected to fall from 3.1 percent last year to 2.8 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. Consumer price inflation is expected to stabilize in the mid-1 percent range next year due to weak demand. The trend of job slowdown is expected to continue in the long run as the low birthrate speeds up the pace of the decline in the productive population.
– LG Economic Research Institute, 「The domestic and global economic outlook for 2019」
The IMF’s global economic outlook, announced in October, is also pessimistic.
Global growth is expected to reach 3.7 percent for both of the two years for 2018-2019, 0.2 percent lower than April’s forecast. In the United States, the power is still strong because fiscal stimulus continues to increase, but the 2019 forecast was revised down due to recently announced trade measures, including $200 billion tariffs imposed on products made in China. As for the euro and Britain, growth projections have been revised downward following the stunning events that stifled activity in early 2018. …… China and many Asian economies are also expected to experience somewhat weaker growth in 2019 after recently announced trade measures.
– IMF, 「World Economic Outlook」
As the crisis of the capitalism system intensifies in the future, the domestic and global economic situation will get worse than it is now. As a result, the ‘reviving the economy’ ideology of chaebol and capital will intensify. And as it has been shown so far, Moon Jae-in regime will strengthen pro-chaebol, pro-capital policy in response to the offensives of the capitalists, saying that investment should be revitalized. But this is already happening. Moon Jae-in regime held the expanded economic ministers’ meeting on December 17, and let’s see an article announced after the meeting.
The government, through the ‘economic polices, 2019’ announced after National Economic Advisory Council and expanded economy ministers’ meeting presided over by the president in Cheong Wa Dae on December 17, said “we will enhance the economic vitality by fully mobilizing all policy tools, such as fiscal policy, financial policy, system improvement”.
The government, saying that the difficulties of public welfare such as employment and distribution are continuing, pointed out the deterioration of economic vitality due to sluggish investment, delays in industrial restructuring, faster pushing forward of some policies than market forecast, and progress in aging, as factors causing difficulties.
As a result, measures to increase investment have been taken to highlight the direction of economic policy for next year. A case in point is that the government says it will start construction of a 6 trillion won corporate investment project at an early date, which has been blocked, by expediting administrative procedures and coordinating interests. It also proposed Hyundai’s plan to build a 105-story building and a cluster specialized in semiconductors as representative projects that should start in the first half. It will also push to revise related laws so that all public facilities can be promoted as private investment projects. For large-scale public investment projects, the government will also exempt preliminary feasibility studies and support the cost of launching the project.
“The emphasis on regulatory innovation and structural reform for economic vitality is a different point from the first economic team,” said Hong Nam-ki, deputy prime minister and minister of Strategy and Finance. “We will supplement the minimum wage and flexible work system that are at the center of the dispute, in consideration of market and public concerns.”
Someone pointed out that the government may be repeating the economic policies of the previous administration, which had pushed for revitalizing investment through solving the business problem. “The focus was on making tangible results through deregulation, moving away from the distribution center.”, “it eventually came to follow the previous policies when income-driven growth faced a backlash”, said Ha Joon-kyung, an economics professor at Hanyang University.
The Dec. 17 article in Kyunghyang Newspaper, 「”Economic vitality” rather than income growth…Moon government shifted weight」
In the end, the acceleration of the pro-chaebol and pro-capitalist policies of Moon Jae-in regime will add an additional blow that can not be tolerated anymore in the lives of the people who have already broken down. In proportion to this, the public anger with Moon Jae-in regime will rise in earnest and the crisis of Moon Jae-in regime will be in full swing.
2. The solution to the problems of people’s life is the first urgent task of the times.
Through the candlelight vigils in 2016-17, the people publicly declared that they could not tolerate the deterioration of their own life problems and demanded to solve this problem. Unlike the appearance, the first demand in candlelight vigils was the demand for solving the problems of the people’s lives, and the people made solving the problem of the people’s lives the first urgent task of the times.
Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the future direction of Korean society will be decided over who can solve this problem and how.
As the overall reactionary forces have already been insensitive to this problem since the early days of the candlelight vigil, they have fallen into the target of the struggle of people and have not yet realized the importance of this problem at all. So, without any consciousness of problem, they are repeating the same inertial attitude of the past, playing the role of a reactionary idiot. They have been constantly on the offensive toward the income-driven growth theory and the minimum wage of the Moon Jae-in regime in recent months. In this process, they think that they have gained a dominant position on the liberal regime, but this is only an anachronistic illusion. The people are angry with the Moon Jae-in regime, but not giving support to them. The intellectual and moral levels of those who shake old flags and set ‘marketism’, ‘investment activation’, and ‘corporate-friendly culture formation’ as the direction of the times are only proving that they are falling. Therefore, the attitude of the reactionary forces in relation to the future direction of Korean society is not even an object for serious consideration.
When their policies failed to achieve clear results and various indicators showed that the situation was worsening, Moon Jae-in regime and liberal forces began to panic with embarrassment. And they are giving up the existing insignificant measures and pulling them back. They are taking off their foot to the “chaebol favors” as shown in the December 17th measures, nullifying even the modest ” concessions” to the people. Though it has been repeated several times, given the nature of the liberal regime, the recent thinness and spineless attitude of the Moon Jae-in regime makes it impossible for viewers to hold laughing. This snobbish attitude is making the voices of anger even within the liberal forces.
“Progressive economist, Hongik University professor Jeon Seong-in criticized bitterly about the direction of economic policy next year which Moon Jae-in government announced.
He harshly criticized, saying “With such a reflection, we announced a new economic policy and came to power. But as soon as they did, they went away saying that ‘we just did once what we had said before. In fact, we have to make investments more active. You, chaebols, build your skyscrapers! then we’ll do everything you need for deregulation.’
He further pessimistically said that the policy trend is unlikely to change even during the remaining period of the Moon Jae-in government. “we can’t do it now because we have to vote,” he said. “I think it’s impossible (to go back to income-driven growth).”
Asked by the host whether he was “too critical and pessimistic,” he said, “I am personally really sorry. People say, ‘Go ahead with almost every policy. We’ll give you a push,’ and it’s really sad and miserable to see that the government, which was cheering with a 70 percent approval rating, wasted a year and a half in the end and suddenly turned around and fell to the abyss in six months despite winning such a landslide victory in the local elections,” he lamented.
– Dec. 18 article in Pressian, 「Jeon Seong-in “The Moon government’s economic policy, returns to ‘Lee-Myeong-Park-Geun-Hey Policy’ ”」.
It is proved very quickly that Moon Jae-in regime can not realize the urgent task of the times because of the thinness, the spineless attitude and the incompetence added to the class attributes of Moon Jae-in regime. As a result, the people’s disappointment and anger with the Moon Jae-in regime will also rise rapidly. The reality of Korean society in these times shows that socialist forces are only forces in Korean society that can fight at the forefront of the people demanding the solution of the problem of life of the people. This is what I have already stated in the article in the previous issue, “Two Truths to Be Emphasized at the Turning point of History”, and I think it would be better to quote the original text rather than write a new one by changing some expressions.
The problems of the present people’s lives are mostly problems made by the capitalism system, so the solution of this problem is possible only through the struggle with capitalism. This is why we consistently argue that the main discourse and debate in Korean society should be made around ‘capitalism’. In this sense, the only forces that can form a confrontation with Moon Jae-in’s regime in the future, and struggle and develop are the socialist forces that put anti-capitalistism on the banner.
The people’s disappointment and anger with the Moon Jae-in regime will be intensified in earnest. Socialist forces should act as alternative forces of Moon Jae-in regime by expressing the disappointment and anger of the people more consciously and fighting with the people at the forefront. If someone stay in the old inertia and repeat the existing ‘progressive’ activities without clarifying the anti-capitalist political stance, the people will judge and treat this ‘progressive’ force as a bundle with the Moon Jae-in regime. Even though it is an early embryo form, let’s look forward to the future and form a structure of liberalism versus socialism with anti-capitalist politics!
3. The response of socialist forces
In 2019, when the crisis of Moon Jae-in regime is expected to deepen rapidly, socialist forces should respond with more tension. Also, regarding the ‘old progressive’ forces like the Justice Party who stay in the old structure of the past and has become liberal in fact, we should abandon the fictional idea of “we” and treat them as liberal forces and publicly expose their ‘progressive fraud’. On this basis, socialist forces should practice the following.
1) we strengthen the capacity of socialist forces and form an anti-capitalist struggle front.
① We strengthen socialist propaganda and propagation activities.
Recently, socialist propaganda education activities are on the trend of being activated. We expand socialist basic education activities among activists and advanced workers. We strengthen the propaganda activities for new socialism that reflects the lessons derived from the failure of real socialism and socialist alternatives for women and ecological problems. We fight for a popular socialist learning movement to take place in 2019.
② We form the capacity for building a socialist party.
We set 2019 as a new starting point for the socialist party building movement and form the capacity to building a socialist party. It is like having no content to worry about the alternative after Moon Jae-in regime without building a socialist party. We struggle to secure more concrete party-building prospects.
③ We form the socialist ranks.
Even before the party building, we form socialist ranks with anti-capitalist and socialism on the banner. To put out the banner of only anti-capitalist at the turning point of history is to reveal that socialist forces as political forces do not have clear political direction and lack determination. We form socialist ranks with not only anti-capitalism but also socialism on the banner and develop political activities.
④ We do activities for acquiring the working masses under the banner of socialism.
For the same reason, we gain the support of the working masses for the socialist ranks by acting under the banner of socialism. We do activities for acquiring support among the working masses with political content.
2) We actively struggle for abolishing the National Security Law
As many times stressed, Korean society is entering a historical stage where capitalism is a problem and tens of millions of workers and people are forced to live a painful life. Meanwhile, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a historical point of dismantling the old system of the past and moving on to a new stage. Despite the reality, the NSL still exists, suppressing workers and the people, and blocking socialist activities. Despite the appearance of Moon Jae-in regime, the abolition of the NSL is not being even discussed. Socialist forces should take the lead in breaking this stagnant state. In 2019, socialist forces should struggle for abolishing the National Security Law to open the door for the struggle to expand democracy.
The 2019 situation will give a challenging task to the socialist forces regardless of the degree of preparation of the socialist forces. As the limitations and incompetence of Moon Jae-in liberal regime are exposed, Moon Jae-in regime’s crisis will become full-fledged, and as Moon Jae-in regime becomes explicitly pro-chaebol and pro-capitalist, the lives of workers and the people will become even worse. Workers and the people’s expectations will turn into disappointment and anger, and workers and the people will struggle to solve the problems of life. In this situation, the only forces in Korean society to present the future development direction of Korean society and to fight are the socialist forces. Even if the level of preparation is insufficient, the socialist forces should not avoid the tasks raised to them, but take them as their own tasks and fight. In this process, socialist forces will be able to strengthen their capabilities and advance with the people.