firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Leftist Reform Act Threatening Individual Rights
December 10th is Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day. In order to better understand the purport of the day, the term "Universal" should be translated as "General" rather than "World." As many as 29 articles of the 30-article declaration begin with "All human beings", "Everyone" or "No one." Those terms are to clarify that there should be universalism or generality, beyond gender, age, religion, nationality, culture, occupation and social state, in freedom and human rights.
There are two concepts in contrast to the universalism. One is relativism, which has its main point that it is justified to compromise individual freedom or rights in favor of identity of community or public good in some cultures. The other is socialism that urges that all individual freedom and rights should be sacrificed in favor of social-class concerns without exception.
Human rights, in line with Liberal Democracy
Freedom is human nature, something that human beings are born with. Therefore, it should be universal. It did not originate from Western culture nor from Christianity. Since any culture or society hardly lasts very long while suppressing human nature, old absolute regimes in history all collapsed. Even modern cultural relativism and socialism cannot be exceptions to this destiny.
Freedom consists of a social environment, which is prerequisite to achieving human biological desires including existence and reproduction, cultural desires including the pursuit of beauty, social desires including preeminence, and the individual competence required to satisfy these desires.
Given that these desires all belong to individuals, freedom should be based on individualism. Each individual should be valued, as seen in the sad but positive lyric of Gangwondo Arirang, "Just as treasures in mountains are fruits, so a human treasure is only me."
This individual freedom brings individuals pursuing similar things into conflicts with each other. Thomas Hobbes, a British philosopher in the 17th century, believed that these conflicts would give rise to "war of all against all" by all means, and urged that autocracy thoroughly suppressing individual freedom is required to maintain peaceful order.
However, history has proved that his point was too negative. People have realized the fact "My freedom is valuable, and so is that of others'" through the course of human history. In this sense, Western culture could first establish peace and order as a liberal civic society, and their peace and order brought unprecedented prosperity to whole human history.
John Locke believed in "small government" under the control of laws, and asserted that each individual has a right to have his own life, properties and freedom protected from other individuals, societies and nations. He also regarded life and freedom as personal property.
In the 19th century, J. S. Mill declared the so-called "Harm Principle" that everyone has own right to do anything at his will as long as not doing harm to others. From the perspective of Locke, '"harm" referred to infringement on things that belong to others (life, property or freedom).
Rights or human rights may be not given by nature or God. Once people promise that "mine is mine, yours is yours and his is his," individuals do not invade others' boundaries as long as they are not invaded by others. In other words, human rights are nothing more than individual freedom that can be gained only when everyone mutually observes the Harm Principle in a strict manner.
Yet, Confucius already asserted the Harm Principle as the highest morality in his Confucianism as early as 2,500 years ago. He called it "Humanity." He and his disciples repeatedly said "Humanity is that you do not let others suffer what you do not want to suffer" in the Analects of Confucius. This "Humanity Principle" advocated by Confucius translates into modern individual freedom, and lies in line with Mill's Harm Principle.
Scottish Enlightenment philosophers in the 18th century made clear that the role of a nation should be confined to protecting freedom of citizens. They did not indulge in anarchism since they believed that a nation is the only executor of laws to protect freedom of citizens from outlaws at home and abroad.
Only nations where laws are enacted in accordance with Mill's Harm Principle and people are governed by the laws should be called liberal democracies. In this sense, the Harm Principle can be identified with principles of liberal democracy. Human rights and liberal democracy therefore have many points in common.
Equal Democracy, a Real Enemy of Liberal Democracy
There are two forms of political power that threaten to destroy today's liberal democracy. One is to limit the freedom of the people in order to protect the despotism of a nation or a ruler, which can be called authoritarianism. The other is to invade the freedom of other groups in favor of a certain group, which can be called totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism includes Hitler's Nazism which persecuted Jews under the pretext of Aryan nationalism, Stalinism which developed cruel autocracy in the name of socialism, populism in South America which takes advantage of exclusive equality in accordance with the Core-Periphery theory, and North Korea's military-centered Juche idea that mixes military adventurism, nationalism and socialism.
Authoritarianism predominated over South Korea since independence from Japan until the end of the Cheon Du-hwan regime. Then, politics fortunately broke away from authoritarianism for some time, but soon, things were getting worse in earnest since the rise of Kim Yeong-sam's populism. The Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyeon regimes have been built based on those who kept the "Juche Idea" at their core. It would be safe to call them leftist equality populists who favor North Korea.
Although South Korea barely succeeded in breaking away from its authoritarian era, it is unfortunately rapidly running towards totalitarianism. Totalitarianism will suppress people several times more cruelly than authoritarianism. It has the property of using the term 'democracy' and supporting equality as its standard. Totalitarians attack the previous authoritarianism while hiding their totalitarianism-oriented attribute behind that standard.
The "equal democracy" that they advocate has become the biggest real enemy of liberal democracy in South Korea today. They blame the advocates of liberal democracy for siding with or benefiting from the previous authoritarianism. However, this makes no sense. Since the previous authoritarianism was less cruel in suppressing freedom than the recent totalitarianism, parts of it could remain and even prosper to some extent, to become today's liberalism and free market system.
Leftist Reform Act Suppressing Freedom and Human Rights
It will be more clearly seen how and which tool is used to suppress public freedom by the current equal democratic regime in South Korea, if one takes freedom, human rights and the Harm Principle as a reagent.
The Anti-Prostitution Special Act began to take effect in last September. As women who had indulged in prostitution strongly protested that the government denied them their occupation, a lawyer ridiculed them by saying "Do you mean that the government should close its eyes to those who make their living through theft?"
However, prostitution is differing from theft in that it does not put anyone's life, property or freedom at risk. In other words, theft is different from prostitution because it does harm to others' right to property. It should be considered before anything else that no one has the right to convict innocent people who never do harm to others, merely for the sake of the morality of those who regard prostitution as immoral.
Another case: a university professor once compared the National Security Law and opponents against its abolition to the Jewish laws that brought Jesus to death, and the conservatives supporting them, respectively. The point that the National Security Law should be abolished only because it was maliciously utilized by military governments in South Korea is like that the university that the professor works for should be shut down or he himself should be fired only because one of his students committed a crime.
The National Security Law in South Korea only takes aims to keep the Kim Jeong-il regime from overturning the liberal democratic regime in South Korea. In addition, this big goal has been sufficiently attained so far thanks to that law. Liberal democracy is the only regime in history to protect the freedom of all religions. The Kim Jeong-il regime takes suppressing all religions as one of its missions. It is Kim Jeong-il that should be compared to Bilatos, the Roman viceroy who killed Jesus. The so-called 'reformists' who side with him in implicit or explicit manner, should be compared to Pharisees.
The Amendment to the Private School Act and Periodicals Act are publicly aimed at trampling on rights to property and freedom, among the three rights initiated by Locke. The government is about to increase its powers over all educational institutes and newspapers, for the reason that they have "public interests." Individual rights should not infringe on in favor of public interests by any means, according to the principle of liberal democracy and human rights.
Freedom of education and the press are individual rights, and thus cannot be compromised for public interests. As for freedom of education, freedom of both the educator and educatee should be guaranteed. The two freedoms are a matter of choice. Educational institutes can select the teachers that they prefer. Teachers can choose institutes that they want to work for, and can select educational subjects and contents they want to teach to students.
As for the educatee, parents or students should be able to choose a school that they want, and schools should be able to select the students they think are desirable. This is all about freedom of education. Besides, if the educational institute is privately owned, the government cannot infringe on the right of property by any means.
Amendment to the Periodicals Act related to freedom of speech is an extremely serious threat that can eradicate the entire basis of liberal democracy. Freedom of speech is the last stronghold with which people can protect their life, property and freedom from the violent entity of the nation-state. Those who want to differentiate the main point of assertion and report from the existing press can easily make their own press in this information age.
In spite of these alternatives, and although the current anti-liberal democratic leftist power is successfully realizing them, the government is trying to suppress the existing press, which is a malicious conspiracy to eradicate all of its opponents and to put the press under their own control. It is like letting others suffer what I do not want to suffer. Although the private press outlets should be respected as private property, the government is trying to cover them with "public interests" that it really made up for its own interests.
If there is a law that aims to punish those who sided with Japan during the Japanese Colonial Era, the law will be meaningless since there are only a few living to be subject to the law. That is an attempt to put history before laws, which is similar to that Don Quixote attacked a windmill regarding it as an evil giant. He even imagined a neighbor's maid as Princess Dulcinea out of his beautification delusion. The Princess Dulcinea that the past-related law advocates have an illusory love for must be Kim Il-seong, although it is never known whether "his career as an anti-Japan militant during the Japanese Colonial Era" is true or not.
Some show a bit of a negative viewpoint that enactment and abolition of these laws is a part of the plot and stage properties of a long play entitled "Inter-Korea Summit Talks and the Federation Unification System" However, this can be disregarded for the time being. Only looking from a realistic perspective, the leftist power in South Korea is destroying the foundation of liberal democracy on a gradual basis. It is putting spurs to its project to infringe on the people's life, property and freedom, and moving against individual rights of freedom, or true human rights.
Kang Wee-seok (Poet and Economic Critic)