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(en) Russia, AIT: Korea: Interview with Anarchist Solidarity (ca, de, it, pt, tr) [machine translation]

Date Thu, 22 Sep 2022 08:08:50 +0300

Having learned that the book of the historian Vadim Damier "Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th century" is being translated into Korean, members of the Russian regional section of the International Workers' Association in the fall of 2021 interviewed the South Korean anarcho-communist organization "Anarchist Solidarity" about the modern anarchist movement in Korea ( Anarchist yondae). ---- Q: The most recent coherent information about anarchism in Korea was with the "Korean Anarchist Federation" in the 1980s and early 1990s. around Ha Ginak (Ha Ki-rak). It seems that he was more of a Proudhonist, a "market anarchist" by conviction. What was the fate of this federation? Did she break up? When and how?

Answer: The name of Professor Ha Ginak gives us ambivalent feelings. Professor Ha was one of the remnants of colonial-era anarchism that existed as one of the sectors of the national liberation movement. We are not sure that he was a Proudhonist, but undoubtedly he did a great job academically, writing several anarchist materials and translating anarchist classics such as Fields, Factories and Workshops by P. Kropotkin, A Brief History of Anarchism by M. Nettlau or "Anarchism" by J. Woodcock.

(The following are quotes from Ha Ginak:)

"We call a person who wants to be his own master a 'libertarian'. A person who seeks to control others with his authority or power is what we call an "authoritarian." These two types of people cannot bear each other. People who hate and reject authoritarianism and live in a libertarian way, we call "anarchists" (from the translation to the introduction to the book "Anarchism" by J. Woodcock).

" We are libertarians in control of ourselves. We must build a free society, coordinated by libertarians of their free will. (...) All people are equal in terms of sovereignty. We reject any political concept that divides people into two types: the ruler and the ruled ."

" We call for the reform of today's economic system, which turns the result of the labor of the majority into the wealth of the few. This means that we must return what the minority appropriated by exploiting the majority. (...) It has been proven that hierarchical bureaucracy is not suitable for efficient and rational control of industrial development. The local councils of producers, organized according to professions and enterprises, and the Central Council of Local Councils should assume the role of managing industry. (...) We demand the self-government of industry by the working masses ."

However, in stating this loudly, were the anarchists or Professor Ha trying to organize the working masses of post-colonial Korea? No. Did anarchists take part in the establishment of the Joseon nodong chehap cheongguk pyonggihwe (National Trade Union Council of Korea, 1945), which was the nationwide center of radical trade unions? No. It was the Marxists who took an active part in the creation of the council, achieved influence and made the "workers' movement" their own. The anarchists did nothing against it. They could neither build an alternative confederation nor become the "left" wing of the existing trade unions. Instead, they created the Donnim Nonondan (Independent Workers and Peasants' Party) political party. They joined the Daehan nocheon (Korea Confederation of National Independence Trade Unions), which was a right-wing trade union confederation under the auspices of the government,

Did the anarchists or Professor Ha take any part in the creation of militant unions in the 1970s and 1980s? No. We know that Ha and his followers participated in the international syndicalist conference that took place in Stockholm. But have they done anything "syndicalist"? No.

We believe that Professor Ha's life followed exactly the same path of the downfall of the Korean anarchist movement: neglect of the working class movement, neglect of the people's movement, collusion with the state, collusion with the spirit of nationalism, and so on. That's why what the Ha organization is today is exactly the same as the anarchist movement in Korea today.

Question: We have sketchy information about the activities of subcultural and punk anarchists in Korea in the early 2000s. In your interviews, you mention various strange and false "anarchists" that existed in the years leading up to the creation of your organization. What were these "groups" (if they had groups at all)? What they were doing?

Answer: The leading figures of the subcultural and punk anarchists of the early 2000s. were probably Cho Yakgol and his followers. They actively participated in the peace movement, environmental movements, movements in support of immigrants, etc. But it's hard to find out what they did after the 2010s. We know that Anarchist Summer is held every year. But this year it was not (possibly due to the pandemic).

Cho Yakgol wrote that there are three generations within the Korean anarchist movement: the 1st generation of the post-colonial national liberation movement, the 2nd generation is represented by the Korean Libertarian Federation or the Nation's Cultural Study, and the 3rd generation is themselves. However, we see three main weaknesses in their actions: 1) neglect of the class movement of the working people; 2) inability to organize, remaining an association of unorganized individuals; 3) lack of orientation towards the masses; orientation towards subcultural minorities. Therefore, mainly due to their inability to organize, there was another gap between "third generation anarchism" and today's anarchists. We cannot detect any continuity with the movements of earlier generations.

Some of the "false anarchists" we have mentioned are historically descended from "third generation anarchists" or from their remnants. If you are asking about what they "do", then we have nothing to say. I wouldn't use the word "do" when it comes to internet mumbling or twitter memes. If you are interested in the activities of "third generation anarchists", you can visit this page on the Internet http://anarclan.net/index.htm or this blog http://blog.jinbo.net/dopehead?page=3

Question: How and when did your organization start? Do you have a website, newspaper or magazine?

Answer: The original members of our organization met at the BLM protest in June 2020. Among them were one of the organizers of the militant union, a person who was previously active in the student movement, a university freshman who wanted to participate in social movements. After the protest, we remained in contact with each other and initiated the creation of a reader group, reading Bread and Freedom. The group has grown in size a bit.

In August 2020, far-right Christian fundamentalists staged a mass demonstration and covid spread. We found it necessary to criticize both the fascist demonstration and the government's suppression of people's freedom of speech. We also published on behalf of Anarchist Solidarity the text "And pigs have the freedom to grunt too" ( https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anarchist-solidarity-covid19 ).

We post a weekly roundup of news on our blog (blog.naver.com/anarchistleague) or facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/PeriodicTableNo.30 )

Question: It is more or less clear from your interviews what your organization does. As we understand, you attach great importance to work in the labor movement. Are you focusing on activities in existing unions or are you planning to create anarcho-syndicalist unions in the future?

Answer: First of all, we would like to explain the position of anarchism within the ranks of the Korean People's Movement as a prerequisite for our "plan". The popular movement in Korea is strong both quantitatively and qualitatively. There is a militant trade union with 1.2 million workers, not led by any political party. Before Korean society was affected by the pandemic, it was not unusual to see popular demonstrations or mass strikes.

However, anarchists never had a noteworthy position in the popular movement. It would be even better if the populace dismissed the anarchists as "ultra-left", "extremists", "individualists (egoists)", or at least as "dreamers". But within the ranks of the transformative popular movement, anarchism is considered "counter-revolutionary", "reactionary", or "right-wing". Even worse, given the history of the anarchist movement in Korea, this was not a misrepresentation or a lie.

The existing Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, KCTU, is the symbol, and the only symbol, of the transformative trade union movement. Anyone who wants to transform their lives through a union, or anyone who wants to fight for a change in working conditions, simply joins the KCTU.

These are the circumstances that we face: anarchism is not considered a means of transforming society, and there is only a militant, transformative independent trade union. Circumstances in Korea are historically similar to those of the early history of the French CGT, in terms of having a "politically neutral" union and compromises to protect the militant union movement from reformist, statist, authoritarian tendencies.

Therefore, we cannot "focus" on the creation of a new trade union based on anarcho-syndicalism or "plan" its creation. We may "dream" about it, but we believe that the "plan" should be a more concrete thing. We feel that "planning" or building an anarcho-syndicalist union would take 50 years.

We must focus on the task of promoting to the Korean people that anarchism can also be a movement to transform society. To achieve this concentration, we need to meet with the masses of the people. The people who are ready to listen to us are gathered in the existing independent confederation. Logically, we can find only one possible "plan" if we want to build a mass anarchist movement.

Question: How do you work in other social movements - environmental, anti-militarist, student, squatter?

Answer: We define ourselves as an organization that was born as a reaction to the previous "failures" of the Korean anarchist movement. Therefore, our organizational "priority" is given to the mass movement of the working class. We pay relatively little attention to the environmental, anti-war, and citizen movements, because previous anarchists (the "3rd generation") put all their efforts into them. So, since we are a newly formed organization and our organizational capacity is weak, we do not have the opportunity to actively participate in these movements. We limit ourselves to propaganda and support for the activists of these movements.

Moreover, the situation in these movements resembles the movement of the working class in Korea. The environmental movement is taken over by the reformist wing. The anti-war movement is dominated by left-wing nationalists (since the US army is based in Korea, the anti-war movement has an anti-imperialist (against US imperialism) and nationalist orientation. The housing movement has been taken over by the reformist wing of the nationalist left. With our limited resources, we have done everything in our power to speak loudly about the possibility of alternative environmental, anti-war and citizen movements.

Q: Are there other anarchist groups in Korea besides your organization?

Answer:We met several "anarchist groups", not in the "real world", but on social networks. There is an anarcho-feminist group called the Heungmyodang (Black Cat Society) but we have never met them in real life. There is an organization for transgender rights called the Sahwe Hyungmyeong Turensychendey Union (Transgender Social Revolutionary Union). We met one person who claimed to be one of the members of this union, but we never met them in their entirety. There is a loosely connected group that calls itself the "Anarchist Group". There is a group that calls itself Miradan Anarchist Moi (Anarchist Collective of Supporters of the Our Future Party) - as you can see from their name, these are parliamentary anarchists. We know that there is also Cho Yakgog and a few people around him who host the annual "Anarchist Summer". Well, we know

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