Monday, June 18, 2007

Third zone or third way?

I don't normally reprint or link much to the IMF (no, I'm not talking about the International Metalworker's Federation), but there is a short article over there that I read which I found myself agreeing with in a very mild and mediocre way. The article, Korea: In Search of a New Compact, by Un-Chan Chung, Professor at Seoul National University's School of Economics, shows that some Korean economists themselves are no longer towing the line on free markets. I agree with two of his points, (1) that it important not to make a fetish of liberalization and (2) that economies need some form of regulation and promotion of social needs to grow.

However, Chung is not making a call for a new deal here (even though he does allude to social safety nets), much less does he seem in favor of any democratic socialist alternatives, but it is interesting to note the loss of confidence in free market ideology in recent years by economists, right-wing pundits (here I'm thinking of Fukuyama and not Chung whom seems more of a moderate, perhaps even mild Keynesian), and even CEO's, who have turned to concepts such as trust and social capital in order to explain some of the characteristics that make economies grow -- but by often approaching their solutions in fairly undemocratic and harmful methods (ill advised charity schemes, sloppy wars of intervention, corporate welfare). I think it is very interesting that there has been this turn to supposedly 'external' or social factors to see how markets work. Now if only they would turn to the politics of power and production in society for some deeper insight.

UPDATE: Well it seems that Chung Un Chan, is none other than the former Seoul National University president Chung Un Chan, who seemed prominent in these discussions of a new centrist or a 'third zone' candidate for president as an alternative between URI and the GNP that have been taking place more recently. Hence, from the lightness of his critique in the above article I suppose he isn't much different from other candidates in Uri, except for the fact that his isn't from Uri which was his appeal to begin with. Thus the difference between the liberal Uri, the third zone and perhaps 'the third way' are not so different, increasingly the upcoming election seems to be one between neo-liberalism hard (neo-con and old-con GNP) or soft (liberal DP and old Uri). Then again, then again, as examples of the variety of 'actually existing neoliberalism' might show us, these differences may have serious consequences both economically and geo-politically (to follow some of the logic in yesterday's post).


  1. Either way, anyway, we can expect more "free" trade agreements.

    With lubricant or without, either way ...

  2. I think, actually, in many cases neoliberalism done by the more neoliberal-left (Blair, Lula) has often been the most effective for dominant classes in general, rather than by the right who are often much more in it as a power game for sectoral interests. Hence, the Korean right's endorsement of policies like chaebol ownership of the banks which would probably lead to begger-thy-neighbour policies quite easily in a time of crisis or otherwise.

    Anyways, I'm curious what the feeling is on the ground these days about a possible strong showing by the KDLP. Before I left there was a lot of enthusiam for Shim Sang Jeong, but I've heard little since.