Monthly Archives: February 2017

Labor and Slavery using Chinese (the case of the “coolies”)


Emanuel Pastreich

February 25, 2017

We are increasingly seeing a return to cruel and inhuman approach to human labor that produced industrial slavery in the 19th century. In effect, humans were used as a complement to the coal-driven engine for their physical strength at that time.We are seeing such actions taken regarding humans now tied to the computer-driven global economy.

The exploitation of Africans then is well known. That of Chinese, less so. This passage from the book “American Involvement in the Coolie Trade” is most revealing. Of course American companies are still involved in similar exploitation of Chinese workers today–even at the same time that China is presented as an enemy.

People seeking profit were able to do the most terrible things to other humans using the thinnest of arguments about how some humans where less equal than others, and they did it for centuries. I wanted to believe that humans have a strand of goodness in them that can be awakened when confronted with truth, but it turns out that such a process only works on rare occasions.

If we look at the slave trade, the British captured people and sent them over piled in boats knowing that half would die on the trip.But the profits were sufficient to do it for three hundred years.The move against slavery only emerged slowly and was only successful because the industrial revolution made slavery less profitable.

The passage below describes the guano caves where Chinese slave labor was forced to work. Guano is the piles of excrement of seabirds, seals or bats and has a high concentration of nitrogen and phosphates that make it a perfect fertilizer for intense farming. So also were Chinese drafted into the whaling industry which slaughtered whales to the edge of extinction in the pursuit of their oil which was used for lighting. That whale oil trade was the forerunner of the petroleum industry which continues to dominate our economy.

The irrational drive for profit at any cost, to the degree that it became obsessive, was the topic of Herman Meville’s novel Moby Dick. The captain of the boat Pequod in Moby Dick is the captain Ahab, who remarks,

“All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.”

The point of Ahab’s comment is that his drive to catch the whale, as part of an increasingly crazed consumer culture, is completely insane, but each and every step along the way seems quite logical, even coldly rational. No doubt the coolie trade was quite similar.

American Involvement in the Coolie Trade


Shih-shan H. Tsai

page 54

The treatment of the Chinese coolies on board ship was even more inhuman. The transport ships were usually badly equipped and overcrowded. Food was poor and sanitary facilities lacking. Brutal Treatment of the coolies was often reported. The American ship “Waverly” bound from Sawtow to Callao, Peru, with 450 coolies on board, was a good example. On October 27, 1855, while preparations were being made to buy the body of Mr. F.O. Wellman, the captain of the ship, at Carito, Philippines, the coolies believed that they had arrived at their destination. They wished to go on shore and attempted. to take possession of the boats in order to do so. The new captain, to prevent this, fired into them. The crew, fearing a revolt, armed themselves. The Chinese were, after a struggle, driven below and the hatches closed up, and “on opening them soem twelve or fourteen hours afterwards it was found that nearly three hundred of the unfortunate beings had perished by suffocation.”

Many coolies could not endure the treatment they recieved. Some of them committed suicide while the militant ones instigated mutinies. Many of the coolies stabbed themselves with pieces of wood, or hung themselves to the masts of guano ships, “while three hundred, in 1856, drowned themselves in the ocean during a single day off hte Guano Islands near the coast of Peru.” Mutinies frequently erupted when the coolies discovered they had been tricked into contract bondage.

Angry and desperate coolies butchered crew and officers, and often set fires aboard their ships in mid-passage. One case of mutiny that attracted the attention of the United States government occured aboard the American ship “Robert Brown,” sailing from Amoy in 1852. “Four hundred Chinese emigrants had been enticed aboard the vessel normally bound for San Francisco. When they discovered that they had been deceived and were being carried into contract service in another country, they mutinied and killed the officers.”: Afterwards, they testified in court that they had been promised four dollars a month as hired laborers and not as contract laborers.


What does Trump want?

Many are breathing a sigh of relief this week because the Trump administration has taken a step to play down its escalation of tensions with China, and has even suggested it will have to accept the comprehensive agreement with Iran for the removal of sanctions and normalization of relations. But although we may not be facing the apocalypse this week, we should not consider that we are out of the wilderness.

The threat is not merely that Trump will start some other military conflict up elsewhere, but also that the very manner in which he governs will guarantee a systematic breakdown in the United States that will be a tremendous threat to the United States and to the world.
We first have to understand the breakdown in American politics and governance which led to Trump’s victory.

It is not the case that a madman suddenly and mysteriously took control of the United States. Rather the entire structure by which policy is made and implemented in the United States has become so decayed that anyone who showed sufficient audacity, and who actually wanted the position, could seize it. Policy making has been outsourced to private consulting firms and investment banks. Whereas half of the graduating class from Harvard Law School went to work in government back in the 1960s now it is closer to 5%. Government is increasingly administered by corporations and what government employees remain lack the self-confidence to resist increasingly barbaric politics.

Trump’s success in the 2016 election can be read like this: imagine you had a solemn cathedral built of solid stone and someone started running up and down the stairs pounding the walls with his fists. Everyone would take him for a madman and dismiss any possibility that he had any authority. But then, suddenly, his fists started going through the stone walls and the entire cathedral started to shake and crumble from his tiny blows. At that moment the madman takes on a magical power because he is able to tear apart institutions which were assumed to be solid. In fact, Trump’s political antics proved that the entire government in the United States has been reduced to a shell over the last twenty years of privatization and that it can be easily torn apart.

And tear apart is exactly what Trump intends to do. He and his people, like corporate raiders, intend to strip off all the assets from the United States for their own profit and leave behind a rotten carcass.
He has appointed a cabinet full of vultures and hyenas whose function is not to run the government, but rather to tear it apart. His chief adviser Steve Bannon has stated explicitly that he is like Lenin in his desire to destroy the state. But Bannon is just the tip of the iceberg. Secretary of Educatio Betsy Devos is dedicated to destroying public education, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier who is deep in the pocket of big oil, as is the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump could care less if he is impeached. His intention is to make as much of the commons into his private possession as quickly as possible.

The radical and rapid decay of the United States federal government has implications that go far beyond the challenges facing American citizens. As the American system falls apart, America’s problems are going to become the world’s problems.

“Seoul should be unpredictable” Febuary 20, 2017)

JoongAng Daily

“Seoul should be unpredictable”

Febuary 20, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich



The recent meeting between Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump was a farce. Both men were clearly complete strangers with no common interests other than to push for their own domestic agendas. Anyone watching their forced actions could see that it was a marriage of convenience.

Both politicians make good use of “political unpredictability.” Abe has abandoned Japan’s long commitment to peace as a goal and is moving quickly away from its social welfare system that was so impressive to us in the 1980s. Trump has not only abandoned the free trade stance which was the core of U.S. policy since the Second World War — without even bothering to ask Congress to pass the laws necessary, he is taking steps domestically, such as personal attacks on judges, that undermine the rule of law.

Of course, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and advanced missile technology is profoundly destabilizing and dangerous. Yet the odds of the North actually using nuclear weapons against the South or the United States is extremely low. Rather the risk is that continued development of nuclear weapons will set off an arms race in the region which will end up creating tensions not only with Pyongyang, but between all the nations of the region, and that process, unchecked, could end in nuclear war.

I would like to suggest that Seoul engage in its own version of “unpredictability” by doing something that no one ever guessed it would do: tell the truth.

Not only should Seoul state bluntly that the greatest danger of the North’s nuclear program is its risk of triggering an arms race. It should call on the United States to engage in serious negotiations with the North, China and Russia to create an environment in which we can reasonably expect that the North will first stop testing nuclear weapons and then take steps to eliminate those weapons. Read more of this post

“외교 혁신을 위한 자매학교 네트워크” (중앙일보 2017년 2월 18일 )


“외교 혁신을 위한 자매학교 네트워크”

2017년 2월 18일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬



일본 아베 신조(安倍晋三) 총리와 미국 도널드 트럼프 대통령의 최근 회동은 내게 아무런 인상도 남기지 않았다. 양국 정상들은 마치 서로 생판 모르는 사람들 같았다. 각자 추구하는 어젠다를 밀어붙이는 것 외에는 아무런 이익을 공유하지 않았다. 전형적인 동상이몽의 사례를 목격하는 것 같았다.

무엇보다 이번 미•일 정상회담은 외교관들이 머리를 긁적이고 코를 움켜쥐게 만든 새로운 ‘정치적 예측 불가능성’의 사례였다. 양국 정상은 한국을 회담 의제로 삼지 않았다. 북한이 불러온 위기와 군사 동맹관계에도 불구하고 한국에는 현재 외교적 조정에 필요한 주한 미국대사도 일본대사도 없다. 이러한 상황은 한국에 모욕적이다. 다시는 이런 일이 벌어지도록 용인해서는 안 된다.

설사 미국 대통령이 한국의 정책을 개인적으로 싫어하더라도 미국의 동맹국인 한국을 북한 정책과 관련된 모든 발표에 공식적으로 포함시키는 게 그의 윤리적인 의무다.

개인적으로 나는 예측 불가능성이 프로 레슬링에는 꽤 도움이 되지만 외교 분야에서는 전혀 부적절하다고 생각한다.

나는 한국이 자신 있고 용감하게 한국이 창안한 버전의 ‘예측 불가능성’에 착수해야 한다고 제안한다. 한•미•일 관계를 강화하고 북한 문제 해결을 위한 핵심 파트너가 될 수밖에 없는 중국을 끌어들이기 위해서다.

의미 있는 외교 공간을 확보하기 위해서는 긴 리무진 차량 뒷좌석에 앉은 도도한 대사들보다 이들 나라의 초•중•고 학생들이 나서게 하는 게 낫다. 이들은 사실 우리의 미래가 아닌가.

나는 최근 서울에서 개최된 토론 행사에 참석하러 온 한•중•일 고등학생들에게 강연할 기회가 있었다.

학생들은 무척 인상적이었다. 그들은 자기 나라의 미래에 대해 정직하게 토론했으며 모두에게 보다 나은 미래를 상상하기 위해 힘을 모았다. 나는 외교관들이 그들처럼 혁신적으로 토론하고 창의적인 솔루션을 내놓는 것을 보지 못했다. Read more of this post

“세계를 위협하는 트럼프의 환경재앙” (다른 백년 2017년 2월 22일)

다른 백년

“세계를 위협하는 트럼프의 환경재앙”

2017년 2월 22일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬





최근 트럼프 행정부가 중국과의 긴장을 낮추는 조치를 취하고, 이란과는 제재 해제 및 관계정상화 합의를 이행할 것임을 밝히면서 많은 사람들이 안도하고 있다. 파국은 피했지만, 그렇다고 안심하긴 이르다.

트럼프는 또 다른 군사갈등을 일으킬 수도 있다. 또 그의 통치방식은 미국의 시스템을 파괴해 미국 뿐 아니라 세계에 큰 위협이 될 것이다.

우리는 먼저 트럼프의 승리를 가져온 미국 정치와 거버넌스의 몰락에 대해 이해할 필요가 있다. 그건 어떤 미치광이가 갑자기 미국을 장악한 것이 아니라, 미국에서 정책이 결정되고 집행되는 구조가 완전히 무너지면서 뻔뻔하게 공직을 원하는 사람이 나타난 경우이다.

철저히 민영화된 미국

미국의 정책결정은 민간컨설팅업체와 투자은행으로 넘어갔다. 1960년대에는 하버드 로스쿨 출신의 절반 이상이 정부로 갔지만, 지금은 그 비율이 5%에 불과하다. 정부는 점차 기업에 지배당하고 있고, 공무원들은 정치의 횡포에 저항할 정도의 자기 확신이 부족하다.

2016년 대선에서 트럼프의 승리는 이렇게 비유할 수 있을 것이다. 여기 돌로 만든 성당이 있는데, 어떤 사람이 맨손으로 벽을 치면서 오르락내리락 거리기 시작했다. 모든 사람들이 그를 미치광이로 여기고, 그가 권력을 잡을 거라고 생각치 않았다. 그런데 갑자기 그가 맨주먹으로 벽을 뚫자 성당이 흔들리기 시작하더니 곧 무너졌다. 견고했던 성당이 갑자기 무너지자 그에게 마법과 같은 힘이 있다고 믿기 시작했다.

트럼프의 목적은 정부의 공식제도를 무너뜨리는 것이다. 그와 기업사냥꾼 출신 참모들은 사익을 위해 미국의 자산을 빼돌리고, 섞은 시체만을 남겨두려고 한다. 그는 내각에 정부 해체를 원하는 독수리와 하이에나들을 임명했다. 예컨대 트럼프의 수석전략가 베넌은 러시아혁명가 레닌처럼 정부를 무너뜨리려고 한다고 말했다. 이건 빙산의 일각이다.

데보스 교육부장관은 공교육을 파괴하려고 한다. 프루이트 환경청장은 정유회사에 깊이 연루돼 있고, 페리 에너지부장관, 틸러슨 국무장관처럼 기후변화를 부정한다.

이같은 미국 정부의 철저한 몰락은 미국 시민들 뿐 아니라 전 세계가 직면한 문제이다. Read more of this post

The function of Art in Korea

Art and culture in Korea tends to be a product for consumption, and increasingly a commodity. To have art on the wall is a way of showing others that one has more money, that one is more sophisticated, demonstrating that one is from a higher class. And sadly that culture, that art has been overwhelmingly Western because the West is assumed to be superior.

The problem is rather how does one establish a strong identity for Koreans? The solution is not a simple question of elementary school teachers telling students how great King Sejong was, or stressing how much feeling (정) Koreans have. The primary issue is rather for Koreans to see their culture, their art, as being something more than a commodity. Culture should not be something static, something that one “possesses” like bars of gold. Korean culture is not merely a collection of habits, ideas and patterns collected over 5000 years of history. That sort of culture is more the storage vault of an art museum.

The full range of that culture must be presented constantly for the present day, constantly reinterpreted for citizens of contemporary Korea. But making it modern does not mean making it into a commodity, something that can be sold to anyone. That sort of vivid reinterpretation of Korea’s past to meet the needs of the present is what is most sadly missing around us.

There are several ways to make Korean identity more vital. Let me provide one. If Koreans see that their lives are a model for what others do in other countries, that if Koreans care for the environment, are not wasteful and are not corrupt, that people in Vietnam, and Mongolia and Uzbekistan will see that model and emulate it (or vice versa will copy Korea’s worst habits). Then culture becomes something ethical, something bigger than just consuming for pleasure.

Korean cultural identity is what is produced in the process of applying the full range of Korea’s past to address the new challenges of the present day.

Being a Korean is the process of doing one’s best to find in the full complexity of culture and history parts that will make a better future. The sense of history, of mission, and of purpose can transform Korea and its identity. But it cannot be done by building big monuments to dead people. That past must be interpreted for the present, and above all for young people.


Multicultural Korea

Koreans must take control of their own historical and geographical narrative and create our own history by reading the past against the present, projecting the truths hidden in previous experience onto the challenges of the current day so as to help us to understand the complexity of past culture. But we must avoid falling back, out of laziness, on a simple form of cultural determination, or a racist or ethnic purity argument.

We live in an extremely uncertain time when economic disruptions are going to make people’s lives more stressful and more painful. There will be a profound need to belong to something, to find something simple that connects us all now that we have drifted so far apart. Without any doubt, arguments about how we are all one people, with one blood, will be immensely popular for many and there are already signs of an anti-foreigner mood in some places in Korea. Those trends are dangerous, if they are perhaps inevitable. But Korea is not in a position to accept such arguments, no matter how pleasing they may sound. Korea has an extremely low birth rate and will need the help of its increasing multi-ethnic citizenship.

There is simply no way for Korea to turn to such an isolationist xenophobic culture. What we need, rather, to expand Korean culture to include people from other nations, to make the traditions of Korea universal 보편적 and accessible. Korean identity must evolve and expand to include those newcomers and in that process of changing will Korean identity be produced.

Park Geun-hye’s role?

The scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil and Chung Yoo-ra suggests the terrible consequences of a hidden bias towards women even in an age where women play a critical role in Korean society.In the case of Park Geunhye, if we can believe the reports, she spent an enormous amount of time on her appearances, trying to conform to demands that she be attractive. She could not formulate policy for herself, although obviously intelligent and well educated, and was reduced to a tool of older men who used her and then threw her away. I think that it is entirely appropriate to perceive Park Geun-hye at an irresponsible person who engaged in illegal actions for her narrow benefit but also, at the same time, as a women victimized by a culture that made her value conforming to a certain image of femininity more important than doing her job.

But the more disturbing part of the story is the fairy tale aspect of the denouement  . The story told in the media, liberal and conservative, is one of three women, Park Geunhye, Choi Soon-sil and Jung Yoo-ra who engage in terrible corruption that puts the nation at risk. They three of them, and their actions, are described in far greater detail than anyone else. But this story line sounds like it came out of a Confucian history book. The standard approach from ancient times was to try to blame the corruption of men on women. Yang Guifei of China’s Tang Dynasty  is the best example, the woman who was blamed for the corruption of the Yang family which led to a popular uprising—even though she herself did not have much to do with the corruption. And yet the most progressive people buy into this story. And this story keeps us from investigating more deeply into who actually got the money and how it was distributed. It also keeps us from thinking more deeply about what it is in the system and its organization that encourages such corruption.

“촛불을 든 한국의 젊은이들에” TBS



2017년 2월 14일

색다른 시선 김종배입니다

김종배 및 이만열

“촛불을 든 한국의 젊은이들에”  

존F 케네디 대통령은 언론의 역할 에 대 하여 한말



존F 케네디 대통령의 1961년 4월27일 기자회견 장소 뉴욕 월도프 아스토리얼 호텔



논쟁이나 비판없이는 어떤 행정부, 어떤 나라도 성공할 수 없고, 어떤 공화국도 살아 남을 수 없다. 아테네 법조인 솔론이 어떤 시민에게든 논쟁을 제한하는 것을 범죄로 보는 법령을 공포한 이유다. 그래서 우리 언론이 수정 헌법 제 1 조(헌법에 의해 특별히 보호받는 미국 내 유일한 비즈니스)에 따라 보호 받는 본질적인 이유는 사소하고 감성적인 것을 강조하거나 단순히 즐겁고 웃기게 해주거나 그저 “필요한 것을 대중에게 주기” 위해서가 아니다. 헌법이 언론을 보호하는 이유는 언론이 사실이나 진실을 알리고, 깨우쳐 주며, 진실을 잘 반영하고, 위험과 기회를 분명히 기술하고, 위기와 선택을 지적해주고, 여론을 선도하고 조성하며, 때로는 분노 여론을 만들기 때문이다. 이는 해외뉴스가 더 이상 먼 나라 얘기가 아니라 자기 주변 지역과 밀접하기 때문에 뉴스의 범위를 넓히고 심층 분석해야 함을 의미한다. 또 뉴스를 잘 전달하는 것 못지 않게 뉴스의 가독성을 높이는 것에 더 많은 주의를 기울여야 함을 의미한다. 결국 무릇 정부는 대외적으로 국가안보에 미칠 수 있는 최소한의 영향을 제외하고는 가능한 한 모든 정보를 국민에게 제공할 의무를 부여 받아야 한다는 점을 의미하는 것이다.