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“礼的传统与生态意识的新展望” 多维新闻

“礼的传统与生态意识的新展望”

2019 1 18

一明

可持续农业发展的关键:中国传统理念——礼

作为旨在构建人与人、机构与机构之间和谐关系的行为准则体系,中国传统文化中的“礼”具有十分深远的意义。所谓礼,从广义上讲指诸多礼节规矩,从狭义上讲则指生活中的各种礼仪(如婚丧嫁娶、祭祖祭天等)。不论从哪个角度来看,礼都曾是社会的基石,曾是确定家庭关系,促使一个家庭、一个社群、一个民族乃至一个国家的成员尽职尽责的原则。“礼”曾被视为“修身”(践行礼)、齐家(用礼仪来维系和谐的家庭关系)、治国(以“礼”的原则治理国家)和“平天下”(通过“礼”妥善地处理外交关系,实现世界和平)的中心要素。

在狭义框架内,古时的礼有向族长、君主、上天或神灵敬献食物、珍宝等供品或贡品的意思。当时它还是个人、家庭以及全体人类定期向供给自己食物的生态圈表达感恩之情的方式,因而一饮一食被赋予了深刻涵义,用餐之礼也被用于提醒人们农业的中心地位和生态系统的重要性。

“礼节”之“礼”确定了一系列综合性规则,通过强调日常生活中的道德责任规范人际交往行为、建立健康的社会秩序。一个家庭中长幼之间通过相互问候(从而令社会关系明确化直至为世人所承认)表现出的“礼貌”之“礼”拥有深刻的象征性价值与切实的道德力量。直接从祭典仪式衍生而出的“礼仪之礼”强调人与人之间的关系,保证每个人都被严严实实地笼罩在人造与自然事物的巨大层级网络中,没有人认为自己可以置身事外,就连皇帝也不例外。

这样,礼仪之礼增强了人们之间的平衡感,而这种平衡又同人类世界和自然领域之间的平衡息息相关。在现代化进程中,中国人深感获得了解放和自由,不必再遵循曾牢牢束缚自己手脚的繁文缛节,然而这同时也意味着他们剪断了自己与周围人、与自然世界之间的羁绊。其结果,是身处异化社会中的人们对同胞的剥削愈发残酷,自然环境遭到的破坏愈发严重。

尽管中国有过力图推翻对劳动阶层凶狠剥削的社会主义革命,然而支撑这场革命的马克思主义框架并未将人与自然环境的关系纳入其中。马克思主义思想对于阶级的理解对分析社会矛盾、从而推进改革大有帮助,但是因为改革往往是排山倒海式的,招致的反作用也极大,结果往往不可预测。德国的国家社会主义(希特勒是其中的关键人物)就是如此。由此看来,儒教的渐进改革自有其优越性。而且马克思主义没有意识到环境保护、生态农业等长期问题。

最近中国乃至全世界的贫富差距问题愈演愈烈,倘若孔子的门生看到了,恐怕也会忍不住扼腕叹息。还有,土壤、水资源与山区惨遭破坏,之所以会有这场悲剧,是因为礼文化反复强调的“天人合一”的和谐关系被腐蚀得千疮百孔。

“礼”这一观念并非儒家所独有。它在佛家、道家以及中东地区的萨满教都有深厚的根基,基督教和伊斯兰教义中也有它的影子。也许现代思想文化最大的瑕疵之一,便是缺少用来准确描述“礼”的语言。也就是说,尽管我们假装摆脱了旧时之礼的束缚,迈入了时兴自我表现、直来直往的现代社会,但其实仍无法僭越深深根植于人类文化中的“礼”。再者说,现代社会中也有许多潜移默化的“礼”(买流行的裤子给学校的朋友看的“礼”;买贵的车子表示社会成功的“礼”,还有购物、消费时要遵守的“礼”),只是人们没有视之为“礼”。同时,民众尚未发觉“礼”在团结人心、唤起环保意识、建立政治与精神共享体系等方面的重要作用。

儒家关于“礼”的传统思想——尤其在南宋朱熹(1130——1200)对礼学观点加以整理、规范,并将其与形而上学全面联系之后——为家庭、社群礼仪与国家礼制赋予了新的内涵。应当重视暗含于万物之中的形上秩序、生态系统和人类世界三者的关联,这种观点早就存在,但人们从未将其如此系统化地梳理整合。人类的一举一动与自然之间的关系顿然明朗,人类行为也有了理性参与的意味。

朱熹清晰地阐明了“礼”的重要意义,并将其与铺陈于每一种家庭礼仪背后的形上秩序直接结合在一起。

儒家礼学的巨大潜力在于,它强调个人与自然,食物消耗与对食物来源的认识,以及公民日常生活与整个生态系统之间的关系。倘若它能够得到重新诠释、为我们的时代所用,那么社会所面临的最为严峻的威胁之一——人们将盲目消费作为日常生活的重要一环——或许可以迎刃而解。

现代化、消费与和家庭礼仪:以韩国为例

二十二年前我与韩国妻子结婚时,发现她的家人在一丝不苟、井井有条地遵循儒家礼制,于秋收时分、春节以及先人忌日祭拜祖先。到时全家人都会从韩国各地甚至国外赶回老家,次次不落,不惜推掉其他事务,在汹涌车流中连坐几个小时。做哥哥的会精心摆放牲肉、栗子仁、柿子、苹果、酒和其他食品,布局及所用碗碟均十分讲究,以求与他们珍藏的典籍中的详细图谱相一致——图谱是直接根据《朱子家礼》中的说明而绘制的。当时我被她们家和睦的气氛与对传统的尊重而深深吸引,并为能够以新成员的身份参加祭祖而深感荣幸。

然而,几年之后,我妻子的家人似乎对祭祖仪式有所懈怠。她的哥哥们经常说自己工作太忙,来都不来;孩子们要么只顾跟朋友们出去玩,要么点卯应付一下,随后便冲出门去。自从我岳父去世后,就连桌上的供品也变得敷衍草率。布置供桌的,常常只有几个人,有时甚至只剩下了我自己。

恐怕我们的下一代再也不会履行儒家之礼——也许它会随我岳母这一代人的离世而失传。很难想象我们在诱惑性消费文化中长大的孩子会继承这一传统。这种损失不可小觑,但在越南、日本和中国,情况并没有什么不同。

这样的事情越来越多:年迈的父母被子女抛弃;年幼的孩子要么被父母丢弃,要么被置之不理。总体看来,儒家之礼的凋零不仅导致了中韩两国的社会转型——这种转变完全是恶性的,而且助长了自恋主义文化。这种文化只注重眼前、自我和表象,忽视未来的后果与内在价值。儒家之礼曾经是对连结人们的共同根基的恒久认可,是我们共有的道德义务的具体展现。它的意义绝不仅限于取悦祖先、为家人祈福。

对礼制最猛烈的冲击来自于商业广告。现代广告空洞无物、缺乏底线,从道德内容上讲简直与色情片别无二致,根本没有奉劝人们相互合作、关心弱势群体的作用。满足私欲被奉为理想,被用作哗众取宠、吊胃口、挑起脑干非理性本能的噱头。此类广告是对衣食乃至我们生活中万事万物之神圣性的亵渎,而儒家之礼强调社会成员之间的关系,反映了日常生活的精神层面,与之截然相反。

我们应当规劝人们珍惜每一粒米、每一滴水;劝诱民众像广告中说的那样暴饮暴食是蔑伦悖理的做法。气候正在恶化,我们的社会已经被肤浅的电视节目变成一片沙漠——俭以养德、尊农惜粮是儒家传统思想的精华,而这些节目却反其道而行之。

民众对核战争威胁、气候变化、财富向少数人手中迅速集中等危险问题视而不见,是新型反智文化蔓延的直接结果。我们不再运用严谨科学的方法去分析现代社会乃至我们的私人生活,而正是由于将我们连结在一起、将我们的行为连接至广大社会的礼之羁绊被切断,反智潮流才汹涌而至。

在中韩两国的传统思想中,教育民众、令其清心寡欲十分重要。如今接受过良好教育却沉迷于声色犬马的人太多太多,也许我们应当重新审视传统礼文化,不再将其看作意识形态的枷锁,而是把它当成督促我们对彼此践行承诺的道德法则。

食物、社会和环境

在古代,尤其在朱熹建立自己的礼学体系之后,从社会与环境两个角度来强调食物的价值便成为了礼文化的重要组成部分。肯定食物在生活中的重要性以及我们同祖先和自然的联系,可以提高我们的尊农意识,为日常饮食添加精神层面上的内涵——面对气候变化等环境问题,这一做法具有绝对意义。要解决这些问题,我们或许不必向西方发达国家求助,只需要细细研究儒家传统思想。

从这个角度来看,礼文化拥有无穷的潜力。儒家传统思想中的礼学观点认为日常物品——尤其是食物——具有神性内在。这一观点可以追溯至古时的一种信仰:食物等物品都有物质实体(因此食品可以滋养身处物质世界的我们)与超越物质的内在(因此用作祭品的食物可以供养祖先与神明)。后来该信仰被赋予了这样的内涵:用在祭祀仪式中的食物代表着对农业的重视、对产出食物的环境的珍视,以及对食物中超越物质之内在的认可。千百年来,人们也用祭祀活动来表示对令人类与农耕合而为一的生产过程的尊重。

在传统世界观中,人作为翻耕土地的农民和食物的受惠者而存在,死后又会被安葬于土地之下,最终任身体化作大地的一部分,参与生态循环过程——滋养了我们的食物会以这样的方式滋养我们子孙后代,因此说它是祖先的产物并不为过。

儒家礼学思想并没有明确提及上述过程,但这种对于人类同自然世界关系的理解只是浅浅地埋藏于表象之下。毕竟我们的祖先不仅将生命赐予我们、把农耕技艺传授给我们,还凭借自己的智慧,凭借自己身体化成的沃土创造了我们现有的环境。

世界的现状由以往的历史事件决定,人类后代的未来由我们今天的行动决定,在过去的几百年中,这一过程早就完全偏离了正确的方向,其结果是各种自毁式行为在人类社会层出不穷:人们大量使用塑料制品,食物被当作取乐和消遣的道具而非从中获得营养的资料。人类世界和自然世界被装有空调的钢筋水泥大厦分隔开来,导致人类完全脱离了自然界,且持有一种错误的观念:人应当凌驾于其他动物。上述过程已经被现代人遗忘,文化的连续性因此而遭到严重破坏,同时人们也对以下问题一无所知:食物来自何方、如何产出?上述因果相承的过程对我们的生活有何影响?生态系统的破坏及其对食物供给的影响如今已成为讨论的禁区,人们一直对其避而不谈。

人们在祭祖或祭天仪式结束后分享被撤下供桌的祭品——特别是粮食与农产品,这让祭祀仪式同时成为一场纪念活动,使人类体验得以同提供养分的食品直接发生关联,从而令土壤与食物、水与食物之间的密切互动得到确认。

用以明确人们的日常生活与他人、与大地之间存在何种关系的“礼”,其重要地位在十九世纪晚期——外来的现代化和工业化思想在中国扎根后——受到了猛烈冲击。儒家礼学被贬为阻碍中国快步迈入现代世界的落后文化与迷信糟粕。两代知识分子将清除封建社会的残余思想视为第一要务。在他们看来,祭祖祭天已不再是维系人与人、人与自然、人与农耕之间纽带的途径,而是工厂、火车、汽车、金融机构以及现代全球文化发展之路上的障碍。当时的人们有实现现代化的需要,而这一需要只有通过摆脱对他人和自然世界的依附才能满足。

我至今记得1983年在耶鲁大学上第一堂中国历史课的情形,那节课我听得很认真,学到了以下内容:很遗憾,故步自封的官僚将儒家治国理念与技术观奉为金科玉律,束缚了自己的手脚,阻碍了中国的现代化进程,令中国无法向以批量生产、蒸汽火车、大量工厂与城市扩张为标志的现代世界大步前进。老师还讲,当时正是因为思想落后,中国才被西方远远抛在了身后;也就是说,中国传统文化尽管辉煌灿烂,但也存在严重的缺陷,因此需要向西方借鉴某些重要原则——这是实现文化演进的必要前提。

然而,如今工厂、火车和汽车所使用的煤和汽油与日俱增,因而气候变化、经济与社会扭曲等问题正在我们面前肆虐,更不用提层出不穷的致命武器了。目睹这一切,我们是否还能接受上述论断?左翼和右翼的意识形态中,都能找到上述观点的影子——它深深地扎根于现代人的思想。但我们必须质问自己,时时处处关注环境,重视农业与粮食,要求建立以人为本、将道德原则摆在利益和生产规模之前的经济体系——这样的社会系统与令人和自然遭受持续性剥削的外来现代系统相比,孰优孰劣?

中国古代皇帝和朝鲜王朝的君王都会举行社稷礼。这种祭祀活动既强调了皇帝在开创太平盛世时至高无上的政治地位,又确认了生态系统对人类社会的极端重要性。社稷礼与百姓家中规格最高的祭祖祭天仪式相似。社礼旨在祈求土地神保佑土壤丰饶,让人民衣食无缺,以从根本上保证政治稳定、经济繁荣;稷礼旨在向谷神祈求五谷丰登,令庄稼不受病害、虫灾和旱情的侵扰。

这样的祭祀并不是迷信,而是土地、生长在土地上的庄稼与人类政治经济活动之间本质联系的表达,兼具政治内涵和精神力量——这并不是秘密。这种认知在人类居住地和自然世界之间建立了生态政治上的平衡,但自人类进入现代社会后,该平衡即被打破。现在中国的政党会议中仍有许多仪式,外国也有高官举办的集会,然而这些活动并不具备强调生物圈的重要性以及农业中心地位的意味。

我们的现代化项目并未考虑自然对人类社会的重要性,从而给现代社会招致了极为严重的后果。我们不再用象征性仪式来提醒人们自然和农业对他们的身心福祉有多么重要,提醒他们大地山河、一草一木与人类文明之间有千丝万缕的联系。人们所关心的“环境”不过是一个抽象概念,他们完全不考虑自己丢弃的塑料包装会对真正的环境造成何种影响。我们遭受着富有现代意义的画面和影像的轰炸:高速公路、摩天大厦、汽车、计算机和没有花草树木的风景。商界臆断植物——尤其是庄稼——可以在世界范围内交换、买卖,而不会给我们的文明带来任何影响,农业也被视作过时的落后产业。

然而任何文明都不应割舍土地种植这种生产方式,不该忘记为人们提供食物需要付出多少努力,否则便有沦为消费邪教、完全漠视未来生态环境的危险。那样的文明是极具威胁性和破坏性的。

宋代的儒家思想——尤其在经过朱熹的阐释之后——为社稷之礼和其他强调农业与环境对全民生活重要性的手段奠定了基础。朱熹关注自然世界中人类地位的形上意义,为把生态观念纳入儒家思想的知识与精神层面打下根基。从这个角度来讲,朱子礼学的意义要比佛学更为深远。

朱熹描绘出一套复杂的道德心理体系,该体系与礼仪之践行密不可分,且认为人类寻求启示的实践应当围绕着个人、社会与自然环境的关系而展开,正确认识自己处于其中的环境是自我修养与积极实践的重要目标。

宋朝儒家思想认为,我们如果能够直面本心,就会发现自己与自然亲密无间,因此我们必须对大自然抱有敬意。朱熹将这种心境称为“持敬”,并将其作为修心的重要条件。这种心境因遵守践行礼仪、关心他人、热爱自然等准则而生;这些准则在人们年幼时被学习牢记,在他们成年后被提升至更高的境界。获得持敬之心需要自律、沉思、正念,需要敞开心灵;修得仁心的最后一关便是让自己的本心与自然、与整个自然世界相连。

朱熹在《仁说》一文中表示,人类世界与其他事物的世界之间没有隔阂,二者存在体验和生存形式上的共性。朱熹对此做了如下解释:“彼谓「物我为一」者,可以见仁之无不爱矣,而非仁之所以为体之真也”。大彻大悟的人会觉得一草一木都可亲可敬。在朱熹看来,阻碍人们达到这种境界的,是人类的自私与傲慢,因此人们需要孜孜不倦,克己复礼。所谓“敬”,并不仅仅指敬天地,敬祖先,更指对自然怀有敬畏之心,对自己给自然造成的影响有深刻认识。

结语

近日联合国政府间气候变化专门委员会发布了一篇具有标志性的报告:“全球变暖1.5℃”(“Global Warming of 1.5 C”。比起众媒体轻描淡写的叙述,该报告就不久之后气候变化趋势的预测要骇人听闻得多。报告指出人类正在面临高碳经济的灾难性后果,同时对人们之前的“碳交易计划足以解决气候变化问题”这一想法予以明确否定。

报告并没有提及诸多专家做出的更为悲观的估计,但比其他主流报告都要中肯深刻。然而现代社会极力否认它的重要意义,并对关键问题避而不谈。我们面前的问题,既不是工厂与汽车的碳排放,也不是新兴技术的使用,而是对一种观念和心态的全盘接受:以商品消费的多寡来衡量人生体验意义的轻重。

现代社会中,这种观念浸染了多数人的想法,也在很大程度上决定了民众心中的头等大事。但以往的传统思想,尤其是儒家礼文化中将食物作为人与自然间羁绊的代表这一观念让我们有了其他的选择。虽说我们尚不清楚应当如何重新诠释儒家传统文化,使其为现代社会所用,为整个世界所用,但它拥有巨大的潜力,这一点毋庸置疑。毕竟朱熹的礼学著作在韩国备受青睐,因为它们强调的是普遍性而非特异性。这些著作使得明晓礼仪成为启蒙过程的重要一环,这个环节人人都可参与。

或者我们可以说,朱熹以极有说服力的方式把个体行为与普遍法则整合在一起,而这是今天的我们最迫切需要的。每个人的行动和选择都对保护环境有着至关重要的意义。我们可以从儒家传统文化中找到启示,采取全新的生活模式,以此来化解气候变化危机和食物危机。

“통일대박론, 일제 만주국 개발 방식…약탈적 경협을 넘어야” 경향신문 인터뷰

경향신문

인터뷰

“통일대박론, 일제 만주국 개발 방식…약탈적 경협을 넘어야”

2019년 1월 16일

이만열 이사장의 ‘제대로 된 북한 발전계획’

“북한을 통해 돈을 벌 수 있다는 담론은 문제가 심각하다고 봅니다. 또다른 통일대박론에 불과합니다. 경협의 이익은 남북 시민들에게 돌아가도록 해야 합니다.”

미국 하버드대 언어문화학 박사 출신으로 한국의 ‘선비정신’에 주목한 이만열 아시아인스티튜트 이사장(55·미국명 이매뉴얼 페스트라이시). 2017년 한국 국적까지 취득한 그가 최근 ‘제대로 된 북한 발전계획’이라는 화두를 던졌다.

이 이사장은 지난달 경향신문과 만나 “북한의 풍부한 광물 자원, 값싼 노동력을 활용해 빠른 부를 창출하려는 ‘약탈적인 경협’과는 다른 목소리를 내고 싶다”고 말했다. 정작 주민들이 아닌 외부 투자자들의 배만 불리는 방식으로 북한 개혁·개방이 이뤄져선 안 된다는 것이다.

특히 통일대박론의 뿌리를 일제의 만주국 개발에서 찾았다. 그는 “통일대박론은 당시 한국 부자들이 만주에 투자해 싼 노동력을 활용하고, 석탄 등 자원을 개발하면 일확천금을 얻을 수 있다는 만주개발론과 같은 맥락에 있다”며 “이에 ‘한반도 신경제’나 ‘동북아 경제공동체’ 주장은 이런 대박론부터 넘어야 한다”고 강조했다. 다음은 이 이사장과의 일문일답.


설명: https://imgnews.pstatic.net/image/032/2019/01/16/0002917312_001_20190116144459412.jpg?type=w430

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이만열 아시아인스티튜트 이사장이 지난달 20일 서울 중구 정동길에서 경향신문과 인터뷰하면서 포즈를 취하고 있다. 정지윤기자

– 북한 발전 계획에 관심을 가진 계기가 있나.

“2007년 한국에 온 뒤 북한 이야기는 안 했다. 북한 전문가가 많은 데다 저는 지식도 없어 남한 문제에만 집중했다. 그러나 최근 문재인 정부 들어 북한 자원개발, 값싼 노동력 활용 등을 통해 돈을 벌 수 있다는 담론은 문제가 심각하다고 본다. 다른 목소리가 별로 없다고 느껴 내가 목소리를 내야겠다고 생각했다. 남북이 같이 발전소를 짓는다는 아이디어도 나오는데 신재생에너지가 아니라 석탄화력발전소를 염두에 두는 것 같아 실망했다. 미세먼지가 이렇게 심각한 상황에서 석탄화력발전소 건설을 안 하겠다고 선언해야 한다.”

– 한반도신경제구상, 통일경제특구, 동북아 철도공동체 등 논의는 어떻게 보나.

“1970~1980년대 독재 시절이었지만 작은 가게를 하는 사람들은 자기 돈으로 운영을 할 수 있었다. 이제는 대형마트와 경쟁해야 하는 등 20년 전에 비해 독립적 경제력이 많이 떨어졌다. 북한까지 남한식으로 개발하면 안 된다. 남한의 상황도 심각한데 남한 제도를 북한에 도입한다는 것이 우려스럽다. 남북경협은 당연히 해야 하지만 대기업 중심이 아니라 남북 시민사회 간 협력 방식으로 가야 한다.” 

– 북한도 개혁·개방을 할 때 중국·베트남 모델처럼 외자 유치가 필요하지 않나.

“부분적으로 해외투자를 받을 수 있지만 해외자본에 의지하는 것은 반대다. 1960년대 한국은 해외자본에 의지하면 안 된다고 생각하고 해외투자를 엄격하게 관리한 게 도움이 됐다. 단기적 이익만 고려하는 기업의 투자는 한계가 있다.” 

– 문재인 정부는 대통령 직속 북방경제협력위원장에 권구훈 골드만삭스 전무를 위촉했다.

“객관적으로 한반도 발전을 분석해야 하는데 골드만삭스에 있기 때문에 객관성을 유지할 수 있을지 의문이다. 한국 언론에서 이 부분에 대한 비판이 많지 않아서 놀랐다. 남북경협의 청사진은 기업이 아니라 남한 시민, 전문가, 탈북자가 북한 시민과의 대화를 통해 만들어가야 한다.” 

– 문재인 정부도 북한 개혁·개방 시 경제적 이익이 크다고 강조한다.

“박근혜식 통일대박론은 1935년 일제의 만주국하고 조선의 통일 정책에서 시작됐다고 본다. 만주국하고 조선은 하나라는 ‘조만일여(朝滿一如)’를 강조하며 일본이 통일을 시키려고 했다. 당시 한국인 부자들이 만주에서 투자해 싼 노동력을 활용하고, 석탄 등 자원을 개발하면 일확천금을 할 수 있다는 논리다. 조선총독부에서 이를 발표하고 신문 기사에도 나오고 했다. 실제로 남한 부자들은 그 당시 만주에서 돈을 벌었다. 거기에서 공장도 운영하고 개발했다. 하지만 평범한 만주 사람들 삶에는 전혀 관심 없었다. 만주 사람들과 교류하고 더 나은 사회 만들자는 차원이 아니었다. 남북경협의 경우 조만일여식 논리에서 벗어나 북한사회에서 무엇을 배울 수 있을지 고민해야 한다.”

– 통일대박론의 연원이 그렇다면 놀랍다.

“1965년 한·일 청구권 협정 체결 이전에 박정희가 비밀리에 일본에서 기시 노부스케 등을 만나 ‘우리가 만주에선 꿈을 이루지 못했지만 남한에서 다시 한번 해보자. 많이 도와달라’는 취지의 이야기를 했다. 노부스케도 이 이야기를 듣고 매우 반가워했다. 실제로 박정희식 경제개발 5개년 계획은 만주국 전략에 뿌리를 두고 있다. 시민 공동체를 고려하지 않는 만주개발론은 통일대박론과 본질적으로 유사하다.” (일본 아베 신조 총리의 외조부인 노부스케는 만주국에서 산업개발을 추진하고 A급 전범이지만 전후에 무죄로 풀려난 뒤 총리까지 오른 인물이다.)

– 문재인 정부가 이런 역사적 사실에서 얻어야 할 내용은 무엇인가. 

“조만일여, 통일대박론 같은 방식에서 벗어나야 한다. 빈곤한 북한 주민들에게 이익이 돌아가는 대신 국제 투자자들이 혜택을 보는 ‘약탈 경제’ 계획이 지양돼야 한다.”


설명: https://imgnews.pstatic.net/image/032/2019/01/16/0002917312_002_20190116144459444.jpg?type=w430

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이만열 아시아인스티튜트 이사장이 지난달 20일 서울 중구 정동길에서 경향신문과 인터뷰하면서 포즈를 취하고 있다. 정지윤기자

– 최근 탈북자들과 세미나도 했다고 들었다.

“독일이 통일될 때 문제가 적지 않았다. 동독에서 공동체, 공동농업, 예술활동이 많았지만 통일 이후 다 사라졌다고 한다. 동독에서 서독과 다른 패러다임의 가능성이 있었지만 사라진 것이다. 탈북자들도 공동체적 활동이 없어지고 모든 게 수익 위주로만 되는 사회라면 문제라고 했다.”

– 북한이 가야 할 제3의 길, 대안적 발전 모델은 무엇인가.

“지금 남한이 생각하는 경제는 일본식의 경제다. 성장을 위해선 어쩔 수 없다고 여기는 게 많다. 원래 경제란 표현은 ‘경세제민(經世濟民)’이란 유교사상에서 나온 게 아닌가. 돈을 좇기보다 윤리적 원칙에 따라 나라를 운영하고 시민을 살리자는 의미다. 수많은 한국인들은 경제 분야에서 잘 해 성과를 내고 기부하면 된다고 생각한다. 하지만 내가 생각하는 제3의 길은 협력적인 경제와 사회를 만들자는 것이다. 고유의 경제 공동체 의식과 마을 중심의 나눔 전통을 살리고 현재 전 세계적으로 부상하는 커먼스(Commons·공동체의 규칙에 따라 자원을 공동으로 이용·관리하는 것) 사상을 수용하면 된다.”

– 남북 협력도 이런 방식으로 가능한가.

“충분히 가능하다. 많은 사람이 토론하면 충분히 제3의 협력 방식을 찾을 수 있다고 본다. 사실 대북 제재는 어떻게 보면 북한이 아니라 다른 대안을 고민하는 시민사회에 대한 것이다. 남한 정치인, 경제인은 남북정상회담 수행원 자격으로 북한에 가기도 하는데 다른 협력을 구상하는 사람들은 가지 못한다. 또 일본, 미국, 중국, 남한의 자본은 철도·도로 등 인프라, 자원 개발 등에 대한 준비를 하고 있겠지만 우리는 그 내용이 뭔지, 맞는 방향인지에 대해 알 수가 없다.”

– 올해 상반기 ‘제대로 된 북한 발전계획’에 대한 책을 낸다고 들었다.

“올해 3월 출판을 목표로 하고 있다. 1935년 만주 상황과 현재 상황을 비교해보려고 한다. 그리고 중요한 지점이 빈부격차 문제다. 남북 모두 일반 시민들과 부자들의 격차가 커지고 있다. 미국의 1980년대 남부의 보수적인 주에선 노조를 말살하는 법률이 있었다. 이 법률의 최종 목표는 남부가 아니라 북부였다. 이것과 비슷하게 북한에 적용한 나쁜 정책을 남한에서 하려고 할 가능성이 있다. 증거는 없지만 남한 기업들은 북한에 투자할 때 남한을 생각하고 있을 것이다. 북한 노동자의 임금이 낮으니 남한의 최저임금도 내리자고 할 수도 있다. 북한의 잘못된 개발이 남한 시민에게도 영향을 주는 것이다.”

김지환 기자 baldkim@kyunghyang.com

“Inconvenient parallels between responses to the Holocaust and to climate change” Korea Times

Korea Times

“Inconvenient parallels between responses to the Holocaust and to climate change”

January 13, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

(with Alexander Krabbe

A comparison between the culture of denial and self-deception that swept Europe during the Holocaust and the disgraceful failure of so-called “advanced nations” to take even the most basic steps to address the catastrophe of climate change may strike readers as a painfully stretched analogy that undermines the authors’ credibility.

Sadly, the resistance to this analogy that we have encounterd suggests the depth of the denial of climate change that lurks among intellectuals, and extends to the entirety of the educated classes around the world. For, if truth be told, the consequences of global warming and the resulting accelerated climate change will be far deadlier for humanity than the Holocaust, leading to the deaths of hundreds of millions, or billions, as agriculture collapses in the face of spreading deserts and the oceans die as a result of warming waters and increasing acidity.

That we can read about this catastrophe in newspapers and refuse to end our thoughtless consumption of fossil fuels and our mindless plunge into a fantasy of immediate gratification without concern for future generations suggests nothing less than mass psychopathology.

The analogy to the Holocaust is imperfect and tentative, but it explains how a shadow has fallen between the knowledge of catastrophe and actual action. It offers precedents for the psychology of educated people who fall over backwards to deny an obvious disaster, who refuse to admit that their daily actions had anything to do with the radical crimes carried out in secret.

We can imagine a future date, if humanity manages to survive in some form, at which this brutal truth of how those with the learning to grasp the problem who pretended that they had nothing to do with this suicidal process will be forced out into the open and the public will be forced to take responsibility for the immensity of the crime that we have committed, and face the bitter fact that we betrayed future generations every time we drove to the market in a car or typed on a computer using energy generated by coal.

The denial of the Holocaust was not limited to the refusal of Germans to acknowledge the systematic rounding up of Jews (and other undesirables) for transport to concentration camps and on to death camps. The denial of this crime spread around the world, including all the nations of Europe. Educated people in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and elsewhere knew full well that Jews in their country, and elsewhere, were being rounded up and sent to their deaths. It was an open secret. There were a handful of people who pursued the issue, who looked at the facts (disappearing Jews, threats of violence and a rhetoric of annihilation) and were led inevitably to the unpleasant explanation for what was occurring.

Even intellectuals in the relatively free nations of the United States and the U.K. were swept up in the systematic denial of the reports of the Holocaust and those brave eye witnesses who testified as to what was happening were dismissed. Officially, the Allied governments claimed that did not learn about the Holocaust until the first liberations of concentration camps in 1944, but in fact they were fully aware of the number (in the millions) who were being killed by 1942 and deliberately avoided offering any assistance.

Moreover, in 1980 the American historian and journalist Walter Laqueur found out that the British had already cracked the encrypted code of the SS in 1941 and constantly listened to the radio traffic of the Nazis. In 1996 Richard Breitman published British listening records that included success reports from the German “SD-Einsatzgruppen” and police battalions, about the “extermination of the Jews” during the summer of 1941. There was no doubt as to what was happening.

Szmul Zygielbojm of the Polish government took tremendous personal risks in June 1942 to smuggle detailed reports about industrialized mass murder to London. Although the Daily Telegraph did mention his materials eventually, it was on page five of a six page newspaper (similar to the treatment that catastrophic climate change receives these days). Zygielbojm met with “indifference, disbelief or even suspicion,” eventually took his life after his wife and son were killed during the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.

Refugees trying to escape persecution, such as the passengers of the ship the German liner MS St. Louis that came to the U.S. in 1939 were turned back without any serious discussion of the reasons the passengers were fleeing. The U.S. even turned away 20,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany in much the way that refugees from climate change (whether in Central America or Syria, or Northern Africa) are turned back without a second thought from the U.S., Canada or Japan today.

The use of Jews as slave labor to aid the German economy (and the economies of other countries), the misuse of the property confiscated from Jews in Germany, and across Europe, profits generated through budgets related to the “Final Solution” project were deep secrets that had real financial benefits.

The point is not to berate the Europeans for what they did then, but rather to suggest that the mentality was strikingly similar to what we see today. Fossil fuels (petroleum and coal above all) are dirty and immoral sources of energy and wealth whose catastrophic implications for the environment have been carefully hidden from sight while the immediate consequences are disguised through misleading reports in the corporate media that understate their deadly implications.

The best and the brightest of so-called “advanced nations” have their fingers all over this crime, whether in the promotion of economic theories that ignore climate change and assume that growth and consumption are necessary, or policy reports that vastly understate the gravity of the situation, or media reports that fail to mention “climate change” when reporting massive hurricanes, forest fires or droughts.

The number of people who are dying now, and who will die in the future, are carefully guarded by these gatekeepers, much as the mass killings of Jews were hidden from the writings of professors, journalists and government officials in Paris and Budapest, in Berlin and Rome, during the 1940s. Similarly, today we see educated people distracted by trivialities like Trump’s temper tantrums, and unable to focus on the disaster that stares them in the face.

We created this cognitive dissidence and we are all guilty. The industry of death around us has been hidden with our permission and with our consent. Factories in China or Vietnam use coal that destroys the ecosystem and pollutes the local region so that rich nations can enjoy inexpensive products without having to consider the price paid by our precious Earth. We pat ourselves on the back for being environmentally friendly because we do not have the domestic pollution we had in the 1960s and 1970s. But the unspeakable damage to our shared ecosystem is the same, whether the factory is in downtown Paris, or in rural Myanmar.

How is such an approach different from the scheme whereby placing the death camps in Poland allowed all of Europe to enjoy a false sense of innocence? As the recent Hungarian movie “1945” (directed by Ferec Torok) shows, the confiscation of the possessions of Jews was a massive industry that was assiduously covered up by those involved. It was too easy to blame the entire project on a small group of SS officers.

The current project of death encompasses the production of petroleum, the entanglement of the U.S. dollar with the use of petroleum, and the creation of fraudulent mechanisms like “carbon trading” that distract us from the necessary steps such as banning the use of fossil fuels. The myth that market mechanisms can solve the problem is embraced by environmental groups that limit their discussions to the most superficial solutions.

Even more grotesque is the transformation of the military in the U.S. (and elsewhere) into a massive consumer of petroleum and massive producer of carbon emissions that devotes its work to promoting wars to secure only more petroleum and natural gas, and thereby to create petroleum wealth for a select few. The generals embrace the mission of “security” while ignoring the real security threat of climate change. The scale of the horror is so great that many prefer to simply play stupid and let the insane project proceed unimpaired.

Today we deny the deaths of millions in wars over oil and the death of tens of millions as the consequence of climate change globally.

We can understand the mass pathology behind the killing of the Jews, or the embrace of fossil fuels, through a comparison with incest. Incest, sexual relations between close family members, is ethically offensive and disruptive behavior in our society. It results in tremendous psychological damage for victims (and at some level all family members involved are victims) that last for a lifetime.

There is a disturbing pattern in incest. Although disputes between family members about money or power often spill out into the open where they can be addressed by the family as a whole, and can be resolved, incest is often swept under the rug. Families try to maintain a semblance of normality for years, or even for decades, pretending that the unspeakable relationship does not exist. The same behavior is true for other forms of child abuse.

Similarly, when addressing the denial of climate change, we must confront the capacity of humans to embrace false narratives at the family level, the national level and the global level that spare them the pain of facing the truth and taking responsibility. We must recognize the ability of humans to deny the truth despite the tremendous damage that such action causes them over the long-term.

Such was most the mentality of thoughtful people in Prague, in Budapest or in Warsaw who felt comfortable sitting at cafes sipping their favorite drinks, reading intellectually complex novels and discussing the weather, or enjoyed the latest movies with friends while avoiding any mention of the mysterious disappearance of Jews from their neighborhood. They even struggled to block out the memories of evictions and roundups they had witnessed.

Of course the Gestapo and other fascist groups were so dangerous that silence was demanded. Yet the totalitarian system could never have been established if citizens had not practiced psychological denial for long enough to allow totalitarian rule to take root. The willingness of educated Germans to ignore the Nazi Party’s actions from 1933 on allowed that organization to establish a system that would eventually make criticism impossible.

Eventually those who tried to help Jews, homosexuals, dissidents, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, POWs, critical authors, Sinti and Romanies were charged with crimes that demanded immediate and brutal punishment.

Although the Trump administration has made climate change a topic that government officials are not allowed to discuss, let alone respond to, discussing the topic is not illegal yet. Nevertheless, the brutal suppression of the protests against the Keystone SL tar sands pipeline last year, including ridiculously long prison sentences, suggests that it is entirely possible that the debate on climate itself will be criminalized in the years ahead, forcing us to make even more difficult decisions at even greater sacrifice.

We who fight for climate justice must recognize that we may not have much time before not only is radical climate change unavoidable, but also before the discussion of the topic is made impossible. Creating a sustainable future may require profound sacrifice and moral courage that goes beyond any “carbon trading” schemes that have been floated by multinational investment banks.

Climate change is already killing millions around the world, and will kill hundreds of millions in the years ahead. Yet the vast majority of the well-off (and well-off means those who make more than $US40,000 a year) are indifferent to the relationship between their overheated homes, their minivans, their imported cheap products, or their offices with ridiculously high ceilings in the lobbies and glass and steel exteriors that require vast amounts of energy to keep at a comfortable temperature, and climate change. They do not see, or they do not want to see, a link between the hurricanes devastating the coasts, the spreading deserts, the increases in forest fires, and their own daily actions.

In a grotesque burlesque that has become commonplace, we remark to each other as a greeting that the weather is so cold. Yet we are fully aware that today’s winters are so warm that flowers continue to bloom into December, and beyond. We intentionally wear heavy jackets when we go out, willing to put up with the inconvenience because the ritual somehow reassures us that the climate has not changed at all.

The painful pursuit of truth

There were brave men and women who risked their lives, and often more importantly, their relations with their own families and friends, to get the truth out about the Holocaust. More often than not their stories were dismissed as exaggerations. It was assumed that the unfortunate deaths of a few Jews were being exaggerated into a fantastic mass murder. The arguments for dismissing their stories (and such arguments are made even today) were based on the assumption that the fascists could not possibly have engaged in something so terrible and that the populations of Europe could not possibly have allowed something on that scale to happen. In effect, the scale of the crime made the task easier, not harder.

The psychology we see today regarding climate change is identical. The reports produced by scientists based on the scientific method that speak of massive destruction are dismissed or ignored because they are Pollyannish. The rosy predictions made by politicians, television personalities, columnists and businessmen, constructed from self-interest, ego and primitive denial are embraced by many as a precious salve for their deeply troubled collective conscience.

The scale of the catastrophe, which threatens humanity with extinction, is so large that those who embrace the culture of denial find it easy to dismiss. But there is no scientific basis for such dismissal. If anything, multiple mass extinctions from prehistoric times suggest that such scenarios are all too possible. That bitter reality is detailed in Elizabeth Kolbert’s book “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (2014). Certainly the current massive die-out of insects, amphibians, and reptiles indicate that the process of extinction is inexorably working its way up the food chain towards us.

It is no longer a secret that a small group of billionaires are making a fortune off of encouraging waste among the population and forcing us to be dependent on fossil fuels, often using taxpayers’ money to subsidize this addiction to a dangerous energy source. They are fully aware of the crime that they are engaged in and they are informed about the coming catastrophe. Yet they march forward towards mass destruction, much as the leaders of the Third Reich did when they started their invasions of Eastern Europe and Russia, knowingly launching a catastrophe that destroyed them as well.

Just as a small group of intellectuals, such as Austrian-German Orientalist Adolf Wahrmund (1827-1913), pushed fake science about Jewish inferiority in Europe from the late 19th century, and tried to convince French and Germans that the contradictions of capitalism could be traced back to racial characteristics of Jews, a circle of fraudulent “experts” have made a fortune from paybacks from fossil fuel industry to push their denial of, or understatement of, climate change.

These professional deniers and scientists for hire such as Fred Seitz, Robert Jastrow (founder of the notorious George C. Marshall Institute) and William Nierenberg pawn off fake science using glossy brochures and fancy PPT presentations with the criminal intention of misleading the public about a national security crisis. The process is immoral and illegal, but even today is described in the media as merely matter of differing opinion ― much as rabid anti-Semitism was treated in Europe from the late 19th century.

Today’s professors, lawyers, doctors or businessmen and reporters contribute to the promotion of a fossil fuel-based economic system that defines the economy in terms of consumption and waste. They are amply rewarded for their work, through consulting contracts, through their connections to corporations pushing automobiles or fossil fuels, or through other financial links. They shamelessly discuss economics while ignoring the impact of wasteful energy consumption on the environment and they promote “free trade” while ignoring the tremendous emissions that result from the transportation of products across the world by container ships. This shameless work forms a perfect parallel to the pseudo-science of racial inferiority promoted by anthropologists and physiologists in pre-war Europe like Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927) who provided Hitler with his roadmap for systematic “scientific” attacks on Jews.

The Washington Post reported in November 2017, that the U.S. became the biggest polluter per capita in the world and that it has the most climate change deniers of any country. Such an extreme situation could not have been reached without the massive collaboration of countless American intellectuals in this institutionalized death march.

Some intellectuals have written books about the magnitude of climate change that receive attention in the mainstream media. For example, Naomi Klein has written, and spoken, in a persuasive and blunt manner about the scale of the threat to humanity, saying that the Earth is “fucked” by the false promise of perennial growth on a planet with limited resources. Her “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” published in 2014, is a rare example of a widely read book that suggests that the economic and ideological assumptions of our society will be fatal.

So also Clive Hamilton, an Australian professor who is a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of his country, published a powerful critique of flawed economic policies “Growth Fetish” in 2003, and the trenchant “Requiem for a Species” in 2010. Hamilton suggests that even the experts behind the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have vastly underestimated the dangers ahead because of economic and political pressures.

But most climate change discourse has been laughable and pathetic. The most representative artifacts of this culture of understatement are former Vice President Al Gore’s two inconvenient movies: “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) and “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (2017). Both films are more a promotion of Al Gore than a serious effort to address the threat of climate change. The saccharine narratives assume unwarranted optimism that multinational corporations that pursue profit can solve this catastrophe if only upper middle-class citizens raise their awareness of climate change. The movie avoids any consideration of serious actions such as the categorical prohibition of the use of fossil fuels, or even heavy taxing of pollution.

The road forward

2018 was a turning point in the modern Holocaust of climate change. The vastly increased warming of the North Pole led to a smaller difference in temperature relative to the equator, which disrupted the Northern Hemisphere’s jet stream. The result has been reduced air circulation at the altitude of nine to 12 kilometers with the consequence of minimal seasonal variations around the world. The resulting extreme rainfall in Italy, the unprecedented drought in Germany, the massive fires in California and Greece show that extreme climate is a reality, but governments, and their citizens are incapable of articulating responses on the appropriate scale.

Most of us lack the bravery, and the intellectual clarity, necessary to face the ugly truth of climate change and its roots in our culture and habits. We have externalized the problem and therefore are unable to move to the next step of changing our behavior so as to make progress.

There is still hope. We see a rising awareness of climate change around the world that makes an honest discussion about the scale of the threat possible. But we cannot allow half-truths and rosy projections to delude us. The struggle ahead will be profound and disorienting. We will have to challenge the consumption-based economics that underpins every aspect of our current ideology. The circumstances may be entirely different, but a moral bravery on a par with that which was required to confront the Holocaust will be demanded of us if we wish to find a solution.

“没有智能手机的中国” 多维新闻

多维新闻

“没有智能手机的中国”

2018年12月 11日

 貝一明                    

“想象一下没有智能手机的中国是什么样子。”

我每每向中国朋友提出这样的建议,他们总会天马行空地畅想一番——他们以为我接下来要描述的,是一个个未来派的”智能化城市”:市民不再使用智能手机,因为所需信息可以被投射到他们的眼镜或者视网膜上——通过植入式芯片直接传送到大脑也有可能。

但我的话并没有言外之意——我所指的,就是一个不存在智能手机的中国。毕竟中国的历史有几千年之久;在没有智能手机的时代,这个国家也创造过伟大的艺术与文学成就,建立过极为复杂的治国理政体系。

我们的大脑和社交活动正不断地被手机所取代,导致我们的生活氛围每况愈下:民众迷失了方向,不再把自己视作某群体之中的一员;众多家庭中,那个由金属和玻璃制成的怪异小盒子放出的虚假影像蛊惑了父母和子女,使他们彼此渐行渐远。

地铁上的乘客既不思索社会问题,也不考虑是否挤到了身边的人,几乎人人都沉迷于手机,渐渐地失去了为别人着想的能力。

他们要么沉浸在手游中,要么飞快地阅览着一幅幅巧克力蛋糕、拿铁咖啡以及时装美鞋图片,要么目不转睛地看着搞笑短视频。

就连用手机阅读严谨调查报告的人都寥寥无几,更不用说专心看书以求了解重要时事的读者了。至于中国要如何应对气候变化以及中、美、俄三方之间的核武竞赛乃至核战争等问题,人们几乎谈都不谈。许多媒体报道已经沦为某种毫无深度的娱乐形式,而仅仅二三十年前还存于人们心中的一丝不苟的责任感已然无迹可寻。

全球经济形势正在飞速变化,其影响不可小觑。然而只有那些全心全意关注这一过程的人才能对其有所了解。

上述现象所导致的一大后果,就是全社会的政治意识水平与公众对共同目标的投入程度急剧下滑。我仍然记得二十世纪八十年代有人说过,中国应当停止极度政治化进程,但如今我们尚未触及另外一个极端。

恐怕智能手机和广泛传播、令人冲动浮躁、心猿意马的社交媒体正在这场悲剧中起重要作用。

对于目标明确、价值观端正的人来讲,社交媒体具有积极意义,但要以明确何为使用、何为滥用为前提。

智能手机究竟有何用处?有人说它们可以使我们的生活更加便捷,让我们获得无穷无尽的资讯。IT专家也在不断编制手机程序,让它们拥有更多功能,能够更好地满足我们的需要,使我们的生活更为舒适。

然而尼古拉斯•卡尔(Nicholas Carr)在《浅薄:互联网如何毒化了我们的大脑》(The Shallows: Whatthe Internet is Doing to our Brains)一书中指出,大量科学研究结果表明,互联网以及智能手机会”毒化”我们的大脑:它们刺激神经元持续不断地做出迅速反应,同时削弱使用者沉思与专注的能力。

长此以往,这些高科技产物会造就这样的民众:对迫在眉睫的危机无知无觉,无法——甚至不愿意——提出、采取解决方案。我们原本期望他们就国家的未来积极展开讨论,可他们却沉溺于声色世界无法自拔——在他们眼中,就连政治事件也可以拿来娱乐。

如果我们因为大脑被智能手机毒化而沉迷于一时之快,丧失了深入思考、全面理解人类社会复杂性的能力,我们将何去何从?

毕竟这场由智能手机主导的游戏,其主旨是消费而非理解;至于智慧,更被抛到了九霄云外。

中国的空气污染情况比较严重。一方面,人们对廉价能源与产品的需求导致了对环境的破坏;另一方面,大家又对真正的污染源视若无睹。面对这种情况,公众十分被动,同时也无法辨别其中的复杂因素,这实在令人担忧。

也就是说,在智能手机社会中,我们将所见所闻分解成独立的元素——比如脸书上的帖文,却没有培养自己的宏观视角,去掌握身边复杂潮流的来龙去脉。

那一个个富有刺激性的故事与画面酷似一朵朵饱含蜜汁的鲜花,而我们就像在花丛中穿梭的蝴蝶一般,在文字与图像中徘徊。读完各种网文之后,我们只是隐隐约约地觉得这个世界似乎不对头,但并不清楚问题出在哪里、与我们的行为有什么关系,也拿不出行之有效的解决方案。

我们需要问一问,那些改变了我们对世界看法的高科技产物,其使用是否应当受到限制;那些令人们脱离邻里同事间关于改进社会的讨论、丧失对长期问题的批判意识的产品,是否应当受到慎重的控制。

倘若我们有理由相信科技能够影响政治进程的核心,那么我们就不能放任自己受这种观念的诱惑:那些高科技产物是”现代”的象征。

如果我们失去了独立思考的能力,无法了解社会、经济与文化随时间推移而发生的复杂变化,民主便无法立足。

如果智能手机令我们失去了自主思考的能力,不论它们能带来多少便利,我们都会慢慢滑入噩梦世界,却可能对这一切无所察觉。

“스마트폰 없는 한국” 중앙일보

중앙일보

“스마트폰 없는 한국”

2018년 12월 7일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

스마트폰이 없는 한국을 상상해 보자는 제안을 할 때마다 한국인들은 내게 무슨 엉뚱한 소리냐는 표정을 지으며 그 이유를 묻는다. 그들은 내가 안경이나 망막에 정보를 투사하거나 전자 칩으로 두뇌에 정보를 직접 전달해 스마트폰을 사용하지 않아도 되는 더 첨단화된 ‘스마트 도시’를 떠올리면서 그런 제안을 하는 것으로 생각하기도 한다. 하지만 내가 제안하는 ‘스마트폰 없는 한국’의 의미는 글자 그대로다. 지금과 같은 스마트폰의 사용은 없어지거나 반드시 변해야 한다.

지하철을 탈 때마다 거의 모든 사람이 스마트폰에 빠져있는 광경을 본다. 한국인들은 주변 사람과 ‘절연’된 상태로 있고 싶어하는 듯하다. 게임에 몰입하거나 초콜릿 케이크나 유행하는 옷이 등장하는 사진들을 빠르게 넘긴다. 동영상을 보는 이도 많다. 우리 시대의 심각한 문제를 다룬 책을 읽는 사람은 찾기 어렵다.

그들은 한국이 기후변화 위기와 미국•러시아•중국 사이의 핵무기 경쟁이나 핵전쟁 위험에 대응하는 방법에 관해 관심을 보이지 않는다. 대부분의 언론 보도는 엔터테인먼트 콘텐트처럼 취급되거나 지나치게 단순화돼 있다. 최근 국회에 계류 중인 법안의 내용은 말할 것도 없고, 현재의 복잡한 지정학적 문제를 알려는 노력도 좀처럼 하지 않는다.

한국의 대기환경을 일례로 보자. 나는 한국인들이 자신들과 밀접하게 관련된 이 문제의 원인을 규명하지 못하는 모습을 보면서 충격과 고통을 느낀다. 심지어 고등교육을 받은 사람조차 한국과 중국의 미세 먼지 배출에 대한 정확한 원인을 모르거나, 한국과 중국의 산업 규제 완화에 대해 소비자로서 무엇을 해야 할지 신중하게 생각하지 않는 것 같다. 다시 말해서 사회적 현상이 마치 페이스북에 게시하는 ‘잡글’처럼 개별 요소로 분해돼 복잡한 현상을 분석하는 능력이 머릿속에서 형성되지 않는 것으로 느껴진다.

스마트폰이 한국인의 두뇌와 사회를 장악해 불길한 방향으로 계속 나아간다면 한국에는 공동체의 목표에 대한 헌신적 삶과 정치적 인식은 쇠퇴해 사라져 버릴 것이다. 그 징후는 이미 나타나고 있다. 충동적이고 불분명한 응답을 장려하는 소셜미디어의 확산과 함께 스마트폰이 이 비극에서 중요한 역할을 하는 것이 두렵다.

스마트폰이 미래 사회에 끼치는 역할에 대한 분석은 다양하다. 많은 전문가가 스마트폰이 우리 삶을 더욱 편리하게 만들고 무한한 양의 정보에 접근하는 것을 가능하게 한다고 한다. 우리가 필요로 하는 것에 잘 대응하게 해 삶을 보다 편안하게 한다는 것이다. 스마트폰은 민주주의의 확장에도 기여한다. 2010년 아랍권에서 일어난 ‘재스민 혁명’은 스마트폰이 대중에게 선사한 ‘정보의 민주화’가 촉발했다고 볼 수 있다. 최근 한국에서 일어난 ‘촛불혁명’도 비슷한 흐름 중 하나다.

그러나 핵심은 ‘정보의 양’이 아니라 ‘정보의 질’이다. 스마트폰을 통해 확산하는 정보가 질적으로 과연 우수하다고 볼 수 있는가. 현재 한국의 기성세대는 스마트폰 없이도 대학 내에서만큼은 민주주의를 꽃피웠던 청년들이다. 그들은 어쩌면 스마트폰이 주는 정보를 비판적으로 사용할 줄 아는 마지막 세대가 될지도 모른다. 정부의 무능을 밝히는 ‘스마트 촛불’은 미래엔 기대하기 어려울 수도 있다.

잡지 ‘하버드 비즈니스 리뷰’ 편집장이었던 니컬러스 카의 저서 『생각하지 않는 사람들』은 인터넷과 스마트폰이 우리의 뇌를 재프로그래밍하고 신경계의 빠른 반응을 부추기지만, 사색과 깊은 사고를 어렵게 만드는 패턴에 뇌가 익숙해지게 한다는 과학적 증거를 제시한다. ‘생각하지 않는 사람들’은 사회의 임박한 위기를 파악하거나 해결책을 제시할 수 없는 시민들이다. 그들이 주류가 돼 사회를 운영하게 된다면 한국은 점점 더 악몽의 세계에 빠지게 될 것이다.

우리는 과즙이 가득한 한 꽃에서 다른 꽃으로 옮겨가는 나비처럼 하나의 자극적 이야기에서 다음 이야기로 흘러가는 일상을 살고 있다. 우리는 무엇인가 잘못되었지만 정확한 문제가 무엇이고, 그것이 우리의 행동과 어떤 식으로 관련이 있으며, 어떻게 이를 해결할 것인가에 대한 계획 없이 그저 막연한 의식을 가진 채 ‘읽기’에서 멀어지고 있다. 이 때문에 우리의 세상 인식 방법을 바꿀 수 있는 특정 기술이 민주적 과정에 어떤 영향을 미치는지 따지고, 그 분석에 따라 그 기술 확산 문제를 어떻게 통제할지도 생각해 봐야 한다. 민주주의는 복잡한 사회•경제•정치적 변화들을 이해하는 능력조차 없이 소셜미디어에서 최신 유행의 상품을 고르는 것처럼 이뤄지는 투표로는 발전할 수 없다.

“Korea without smartphones”

Korea Times

“Korea without smartphones”

December 2, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Imagine Korea withoutsmartphones.

When I make this suggestion, the response I receive from Koreans is one of intense fascination. But the assumption they make is that I am going to describe a futuristic “smart city” in which we no longer will use smart phones because information will be projected on to our eyeglasses, or our retinas, or perhaps relayed directly to our brain via an implanted chip. 

But I mean exactly what I say. The unrelenting takeover ofour brains and of our society by the smartphone is taking an ominous turn. 

Each day I watch almost every person on the subway lost in their smartphones, and increasingly lacking empathy for those around them as a result. They are mesmerized by video games; they flip quickly past photographs of chocolate cakes and cafe lattes, or fashionable dresses and shoes, or watch humorous short videos. 

Few are reading careful investigative reporting, let alone books, that address the serious issues of our time. Nor are they debating with each other about how Korea will respond to the crisis of climate change, the risk of a nuclear arms race (or nuclear war) between the United States, Russia and China. Most media reporting is being dumbed down, treated as a form of entertainment, not a duty to inform the public. 

Few people are sufficiently focused these days even to comprehend the complex geopolitical issues of the day, let alone the content of the bills pending in the National Assembly. 

We are watching a precipitous decline in political awareness and of commitment to common goals in South Korea. And I fear that the smartphone, along with the spread of a social media that encourages impulsive and unfocused responses, is playing a significant role in this tragedy. 

What do those smartphones do? We are told that smartphones make our lives more convenient and give us access to infinite amounts of information. IT experts are programming smartphones to be even more responsive to our needs and to offer even more features to make our lives more comfortable.

But Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows: What the internet is Doing to our Brains” presents extensive scientific evidence that the internet as a whole, and smartphones in particular, are in fact reprogramming our brains, encouraging the neurons to develop lasting patterns for firing that encourages quick responses but that make contemplation and deep thought difficult. 

Over time, we are creating a citizenship through that technology that is incapable of grasping an impending crisis and unable or unwilling to propose and implement solutions. 

If smartphones are reprogramming our brains so that we are drawn to immediate gratification, but lose our capacity for deeper contemplation, for achieving an integrated understanding of the complexity of human society, and of nature, what will become of us?

But consumption, not understanding, let alone wisdom, is the name of the game for smartphones. 

In the case of the worsening quality of the air in Korea, I observe a disturbing passivity, and also a painful failure of citizens to identify the complex factors involved. Even highly educated people seem not to have thought carefully about the exact factors behind the emissions of fine dust in Korea, and in China, and how that pollution is linked to the deregulation of industry, or to their behavior as consumers. 

That is to say those phenomena in society have been broken down into discrete elements, like postings on Facebook, and that no overarching vision of complex trends is ever formed in the mind. 

We float from one stimulating story to the next, like a butterfly flitting from one nectar-laden flower to another. We come away from our online readings with a vague sense that something is wrong, but with no deep understanding of what exactly the problem is, how it relates to our actions, and no game plan for how to solve it. 

There is a powerful argument to be made that certain technologies that can alter how we perceive the world should be limited in their use if there is reason to believe they affect the core of the democratic process. Democracy is not about voting so much as the ability to understand complex changes in society, in the economy and in politics over time. 

Without such an ability to think for ourselves, we will slip into an increasingly nightmare world, although we may never notice what happened.

“NK sanctions: Green light for profit seekers and red light for concerned citizens” Korea Times

Korea Times

“NK sanctions: Green light for profit seekers and red light for concerned citizens”

December 1, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Although the newspapers give us wall-to-wall reports about the tight economic sanctions that North Korea is subject to, sanctions meant to bring it to its knees and make it give up its nuclear weapons program forever, we also observe a steady flow of articles about meetings between government officials, Korean corporations and North Korean officials to discuss investment, infrastructure and other business opportunities. The Japanese and Chinese media have also offered occasional references to such confidential business negotiations.

Then the North Koreans came to South Korea to check out Pangyo’s Techno Valley on November 14 for a special tour of its facilities. That program was obviously only part of a larger program of negotiations and discussions for North Korea’s development.

So what is the point of those “crippling” economic sanctions that limit all interactions with North Korea? Well, it appears as if the sanctions are intended to block the participation of little people in the dialogue with North Korea that is obviously advancing quickly. We have lots of discussions with major corporations and North Korean officials. But we do not have Korean environmental groups, or other NGOs concerned with the environmental impact of the projects being discussed, travelling to North Korea. In fact, we do not even have a discussion in the Korean press about the criteria by which it is determined who is subject to the sanctions, and who is not.

Let us focus in on one important shift in South Korean policy toward North Korea that may have tremendous significance.

When President Moon Jae-in recently shook up his economic team, supposedly to make it more “market friendly,” he appointed, on November 7, Goldman Sachs economic analyst Kwon Goo-hoon as chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, a position with the rank of minister. Kwon had previously been based in Hong Kong.

The official story is that President Moon was moved by Kwon’s talk on KBS about the Fourth Industrial Revolution entitled “Brilliant Insights reaching out 10,000 miles” and then personally decided to appoint him.

The most serious problem, buried by much of the press, is the fact that Kwon will keep his position as an analyst at Goldman Sachs while serving as chairman for this committee. The conflict of interest is blatant, as Goldman Sachs could potentially stand to make billions of dollars from speculation in North Korean development, and other economic interactions of South Korea with Russia and China related to the work of the committee. That would be truer if it has access to juicy information that is not shared with others because of the so-called “economic sanctions.”

The previous chairman of this critical committee for coordinating North Korean policy for government and industry, together with China, Russia and other nations, was the National Assemblyman Song Young-gil, who stepped down in July. Song has had a long and deep interest in North Korea dating back to his undergraduate days, and he was fully qualified, with no conflict of interest, to serve as chairman.

When it came to finding a replacement, there were plenty of government officials, politicians and academics who could easily have replaced Song.

The official statement from the Blue House regarding the reasons for Kwon’s appointment reads:

“In response to the movement of relations with the North into a period of action, Mr. Kwon was most appropriate because of his work with international organizations and investment institutions.”

In a sense, his blatant conflict of interest is presented as his strongest point. Perhaps if you are working with the allegedly corrupt Trump administration there is some truth to that statement.

We can infer something about what Kwon’s role may be from an article that appeared in the Financial Times on November 4.

The opening sentence of the Financial Times article says it all:

“South Korea has named a senior Goldman Sachs economist to help bolster economic ties with North Korea amid growing signs of discord between Seoul and Washington over how to deal with Pyongyang.”

The poorly formed sentence speaks volumes. The author is trying to explain how the decision was made without giving away the story ― he fails of course, and spills the beans.

What does Goldman Sachs have to offer that will “bolster economic ties” with North Korea? Certainly someone who spent the past few years in Hong Kong handling portfolios for a global firm that will try to squeeze money out of anything, from the destruction of rainforests and mining of low-grade coal, to investments in factories around the world that employ people under miserable conditions ― a firm that devotes itself to casino speculation in currencies and in commodities and has no expertise on North Korea as it is lived by North Koreans. More importantly, he has been trained not to care about people or about the long-term of a country.

Goldman Sachs has no interest in educating North Koreans about climate change, in advocating for the right of North Koreans to organize labor unions, or to drink safe water, or ensuring that they will have pensions and excellent medical care.

Kwon will be deeply involved in plans for North Korea’s development but has the wrong motivations and the wrong training to do what needs to be done.

The Goldman Sachs connection is helpful to the Blue House in that it can be used as a conduit in making a deal with the vultures surrounding Donald Trump. Perhaps the relationship will give some financial benefits to some in Seoul when Wall Street carves up North Korea Iraq-style. Certainly Kwon has an acute sense of what those around Trump actually want.

The Financial Times goes on the explain that “Seoul is pushing for greater economic engagement, while Washington has maintained a hard line on enforcing sanctions in an effort to spur the denuclearization of North Korea.” Maybe. But we have not seen a ghost of a trace of efforts to promote denuclearization by Trump and associates.

If Trump was interested in reducing the threat of war in Northeast Asia, he would push the United States to adopt a no “first strike” policy for nuclear weapons and he would honor and expand existing treaties.

The article cites a Blue House official, spokesman Yoon Young-chan stating why Kwon is so qualified,

“(Kwon) is going to provide us with new insight and imagination to create the new growth engine of our economy by pushing ahead with northern economic co-operation, such as energy links and the development of a northern sea route.”

Let us parse this cryptic statement. How might it be that the Goldman Sachs analyst imagines Seoul will create a “new growth engine” through “northern economic co-operation,” “energy links” and “northern sea route?”

The vague term “new growth engine” refers to the false assumption that the speculative activities of investment banks will create real jobs for ordinary people. The incentive for such banks is to drive down wages, not raise them, and they are attracted to North Korea in that its wages are lower, not because of any potential it has to develop its potential or increase its standard of living. The only way to improve the situation in North Korea is to severely limit the actions of foreign banks (much as Park Chung-hee did in the 1960s and 1970s) and build up domestic expertise.

“Energy links” refers to money to be made by investment banks by pumping oil and gas through pipes from Russia, over North Korea, and on into South Korea, and perhaps beyond. The investment banks are deeply concerned with this pipeline. They want to make sure that the operation of the pipeline is private, and it is not cooperative, or run by the government. They want the discussions about who will own and run the pipeline to be opaque and the profits to be made to be kept out of the public record.

Needless to say, there is no discussion in the media about the catastrophic impact of oil, coal and natural gas on the climate regionally and globally. “Energy links” may also refer to strip mining North Korea for coal. One thing is for sure, Goldman Sachs is never going to suggest that the coal should be left in the ground, or the use of fossil fuels be quickly reduced to zero to avoid catastrophic climate change.

There are multiple interpretations possible for the expression “northern sea route,” but most likely it refers to the current bid to make money off of the melting of the Arctic by establishing new sea routes to Europe to the north of Russia, thus further damaging the ecosystem, releasing more emissions and of course making money for a handful of people.

But the kicker in the article is this line, “Amid sluggish growth at home, Seoul has increasingly looked to North Korea, with its untapped markets, substantial mineral deposits and inordinately cheap workforce.” That is to say that the creation of a destructive consumption economy in North Korea, and the construction of highways and apartment buildings will make some people quick cash, even if that process is ultimately destructive to the culture and society of North Korea.

There is a great attraction for some in that coal, iron and rare-earth metals can be mined in North Korea without concern for environmental impact, or for the rights of labor, or concern about where the profits go. What do you think the priority will be for a Goldman Sachs economist?

I find the term “inordinately cheap workforce” to be inordinately offensive. North Korea is attractive to Kwon and his friends because it offers laborers who have a good work ethic and will accept low salaries so they can be used as a substitute for laborers in Vietnam, or Myanmar, or China. The concern is 1000 percent about overseas profits and zero percent about North Koreans.

If anything, investment banks would like to use North Korea as a lever to drive down labor costs in South Korea and perhaps as a hammer to crush South Korean labor unions in the same way that American banks financed right-to-work factories in the South as a means of breaking the power of unions in the North.

What exactly is Goldman Sachs best known for? One of its greatest recent achievements was its work in Greece, where it engineered a program in 2015 that hid the true debt that the country took on and doubled the amount before producing a financial crisis that leveled the country. Goldman Sachs promoted the predatory lending in the United States that brought on the subprime crisis and destroyed many middle-income families in that country, and around the world. Goldman Sachs also lobbied for government policies that cut essential services to ordinary citizens and took advantage of tax dollars to generate private profit.

Goldman Sachs is expert at exploiting local residents to create profits for its clients overseas and engaging in open deceptions about the impact of the policies it pushes. Any careful analysis of its credentials would suggest that its former employees, let alone current employees, should be banned permanently from government work.

Of course, the claim that someone with a Goldman Sachs background could be helpful for resolving problems with the Trump administration is entirely appropriate. The Trump administration is dominated by members of this Goldman Sachs to a degree never seen in American history. The “vampire squid” that makes a profit through parasitic economic leveraging produced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had run various hedge funds and then gutted Sears for personal profit, before taking on the U.S. economy.

The short-sighted, profit-driven view of North Korea is not limited to the supercomputers calculating profits at Goldman Sachs. The National Land Forum on “Land use and infrastructure in an age of North-South Economic Cooperation” that was held on November 19 featured presentations by four professors, all experts in construction and development, who gave their perspectives on the potential of North Korea. The underlying assumption behind all four presentations was that the massive industrialization of South Korea, its tremendous dependency on imports of petroleum, coal and foodstuffs, the development of a consumption society that encourages waste and alienation, and a ruthlessly competitive culture were positive developments that should be introduced into North Korea quickly.

Two talks described North Korea as a “blue ocean” for building infrastructure that would revive the construction industry where some once imagined under President Lee Myung-bak that they would make a fortune in the Middle East and Central Asia.

There was no discussion in any of the talks about educating North Koreans, about training North Koreans to conduct environmental impact studies, about renewable energy, or about the impact of climate change on North Korea. Nor was the need to restore lost soil in North Korea touched on, or the need for reforestation.

Professor Choi Ki-ju of Ajoo University mentioned a fascinating statistic in his presentation. He noted that domestic transportation in North Korea is 86 percent rail, 12 percent highways and roads and 2 percent waterways. South Korea is, according to him, the reverse, with about 85 percent of transportation carried on by highways and roads.

But the implication of his talk was that North Korea should start building freeways and filling them with automobiles that release deadly emissions. The conclusion should have been that South Korea should adopt the healthier ratio that North Korea has kept since before highways were introduced en masse by Park Chung-hee as part of his development scheme.

North Korea does offer tremendous opportunities for South Korea, but the focus on development must change. We need to spend more time thinking about how individuals, families and local communities can work together with North Koreans to build new systems for education, for culture and for public service. A healthy integration will take place between individuals over years. It cannot possibly be achieved by those who calculate short-term profits. Moreover, climate change has altered the entire game so that ideas about development, even from recent history, no longer apply. Anyone who is accustomed to thinking only in terms of profit does not have much of a role in North Korea at this critical moment.

Meditation on John Brown

Meditation on John Brown and his Provisional Constitution and Ordinances 

Emanuel Pastreich

November 28, 2018

John Brown (1800-1859)

Opening of the “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances”

1858

“Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence. Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decision of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions.”

Emanuel Pastreich

November, 2018

“Whereas the use of fossil fuels,throughout their entire existence in the United States,is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its elites against the great majority of citizens, creating conditions of perpetual imprisonment in a catastrophic system of consumption and of pollution of the environment that will render the Earth uninhabitable,leading to absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decisions of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights in the face of multinational corporations pushing fossil fuels, we, bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions as we free ourselves from the death march of a fossil fuel driven economy.”

“基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?” 多维新闻

多维新闻

“基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?”

2018年11月24日

贝一明

当前时代,紧张态势升级,国际冲突愈演愈烈。2018年11月,习近平与已过鲐背之年的美国前国务卿亨利•基辛格会面在北京,就此背景下的中美关系问题展开讨论。作为美国人,我认为这并非应时对景之举。把亨利•基辛格当作中国的朋友,这种做法不仅会给中国造成极大损失,而且令身在美国、真正对中国有所了解的专家学者们欲言又止。

 “基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?”

许多中国人认为,亨利•基辛格和尼克松总统是推动中美关系正常化的带头人物,且在华府中的一个对中国关照有加的团体中,此二人为核心。诚然,基辛格发表过许多关于中国的文章,不过毫无疑问,其中有相当数量是由他人代笔的。他的《论中国》(On China)一书倍受青睐,表明即使是美国对中国极为肤浅的了解,也足以使这样的书籍大受欢迎。我强打精神读了读这本书,放下它时心中只有这样的感觉:该书充斥着对基辛格的溢美之词和对于此人同重要人物会谈场面的描写;至于对中国文化与历史的理解,作者一字未提。

更重要的是,当基辛格与尼克松致力于中美关系正常化时,主要是希望在美国资本与中国廉价劳动力之间架起桥梁。他们并没有开拓沟通渠道,令两国个体和民众得以就构建更加美好的世界一事进行深刻对话。

没错,基辛格想要的是自身与中国之间的积极对话,而不是中美两国之间的探讨交流。他当然不希望自己组织的会议上出现熟知毛泽东哲学,或是中国唐宋时期优良治国传统的美国人。

如果说基辛格曾经付出过努力,那么他尽力去做的,是使真正了解中国的中国专家与其他美国人难以对政策施加任何影响。

我们不能忘记提拔了亨利•基辛格的理查德•尼克松总统是如何上位的。当时,谁想靠近中国和前苏联,尼克松就把谁妖魔化,并因此而博得名声。他称研究中国的专家为”卖国贼”和”间谍”,不遗余力地将其清除出政府与学术界。那些主张同中国合作、对社会主义观念表示理解的美国人,也被他抨击为”危险的共产主义者”。

他的中国之行,以及与毛泽东主席的会谈,不过是旨在瓦解苏联、利用中国廉价劳动力的策略之一。他所做的一切,根本不是出于对中国的关心。

基辛格既说不出一个中国词语,也对中国历史一无所知。吊诡的是,某些中国人却认为,由一个认不出、写不了中国字的人来担当”中国专家”实属正常。实际上,近些年来在美国有很多这样不会说中国话的”中国专家”,而且中国人也不对他们做语言和文化了解程度上的硬性要求。

有一件事也许不为众多中国人所知。生于伊利诺伊州的阿德莱•斯蒂文森独具慧眼、博文广识,曾作为民主党代表竞选总统,而他当时的对手是德怀特•艾森豪威尔。早在二十世纪五十年代,他便公开主张将中美关系正常化。他仅仅是一个代表,在他背后,还有很多与尼克松和基辛格截然不同、早就了解中国对美国和整个世界有多重要的人。

基辛格对美国外交政策的主导地位,与美国战略与国际研究中心(CSIS)极具危险性的堕落不可分割——他将这一美国智库用作跳板,登上了中国专家之位。

CSIS曾是极具价值的国际关系信息来源,然而在过去的几年里,它所发布的内容,质量大不如前。

CSIS已经成为美国外交、安全等国家职能私有化的中央舞台。处理美国与他国之间的关系这一任务,之前是交给由公民税款支持的政府官员去做,如今却要由营利性企业来提供资金,而随后签订下的各种协议也被转交给了了无才识的高官。

十年前,就连美国政策的批评人士——比如我——都会被邀请至CSIS研讨会发言。那时的CSIS并不是一个完全开放的机构,但仍为富有意义的讨论敞开了方便之门。如今,时移世易,集结在他们的研讨会中的,大多是鼓动同中国或俄罗斯开战的乌合之众。

以往鼓励畅所欲言的CSIS,其平衡有赖于美国外交政策上两块磁石的相吸相斥。

居于CSIS一角的是亨利•基辛格,他通过将美国外交与安全政策私有化而攫取暴利,同时将该机构用作通道,为自己的公司——基辛格事务(Kissinger  Associates)——吸收订单。

但另一方有吉米•卡特总统的前顾问兹比格涅夫•布热津斯基坐镇。他认为自己不单单是求财之人,而是学者,是公仆。当然,布热津斯基并不贫穷,而且参加过许多从道义上讲有问题的活动,但他秉持公共服务信念。

有些人认为美国在阿富汗一败涂地,布热津斯基是始作俑者,还认为他是冥顽不灵、为增加军费而抓住一切机会给前苏联搅局的冷战斗士。我之前撰文为布热津斯基辩护时,遭到了他们的猛烈抨击。

他们的对布热津斯基的评价堪称准确。然而我身在华府时,对他产生了不一样的看法。我看到他为支持对抗政治恶霸的勇士而劳心劳力,听到他在布什总统任期将满时慷慨陈词,声讨鼓动同伊朗开战的好战分子,这对避免燃起战火起到了至关重要的作用。

我曾多次把自己认为对美国举足轻重的事写在信件和电子邮件中发给他,几乎每次都能收到他的详细回复。他对待工作一丝不苟,并没有因为我不是富豪、跟各大智库和各级政府毫无瓜葛而对我置之不理。

2017年布热津斯基病逝后,各个国家项目对源于军事承包商和外国政府的资金愈发依赖——军事承包商希望煽动冲突,而外国政府想要为自己受益而扭曲美国的政策。CSIS已然沦为政治咨询公司,企业只要付钱就能从那里拿到看似公正客观的报告,以保护自身利益。的确,CSIS从一开始就同公众之间存在利益冲突,不过现在情况更加糟糕。

关于美国政策的辩论更像是一场酒吧里的斗殴。起初人人都摩拳擦掌、跃跃欲试,可几分钟后,”战场”上只剩下穷凶极恶的混混。

这种在外交政策上将知识分子边缘化的做法,与联邦政府上下政策的军事化有直接关系。美国对中东、中亚和拉美的外交政策军事化这一趋势已延续许久。众所周知,美国驻中东主要国家的大使只能谈谈宴会上的虾是煮是炸,真正的决策者是幕后的各位将军。

现在我们看到,美国的军事化已经深入骨髓——特朗普内阁乃至联邦政府中的前军官人数已达到前所未有的程度。新上任的联邦监狱局局长就是曾经担任陆军将领的马克•因奇(Mark Inch)。

事情还不止于此。去年十一月,海军陆战队上将约翰•艾伦(John Allen)被委任为布鲁金斯学会主席。该学会为美国一流智库,曾由博学多问、雷厉风行的非军方人士斯特罗布•塔尔博特(Strobe Talbott)领导——不论各位是否赞同他的看法,此人的优点都无法抹杀;而其前任是才华横溢的外交官迈克尔•阿玛科斯特(Michael Armacost)。

美国政府的体制的基础已腐朽不堪,各个派系(如FBI与CIA,白人民族主义者与全球主义者)之间剑拔弩张,因此像布热津斯基一样的知识分子或许在短期内很难得到重用、发挥影响力。

“The ‘crimes” of BTS” Korea Times

Korea Times

 “The ‘crimes’ of BTS and the hidden issues behind reparations”

November 24, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

The November tour of Japan planned for rising Korean boy band BTS displayed the potential to become a massive commercial and economic success that would go beyond even Psy’s “Gangnam Style” in Japan, and around the world.

The popularity of BTS with young Japanese also had the potential to move relations between the two countries beyond the obsession with history issues and to create a new cultural circulation between ordinary citizens.

After all, BTS had been featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s international edition on October 11 with the provocative headline “How BTS Is Taking Over the World.” That widely read article included a moving video relating how BTS emphasized ethical issues, as seen in their talk at the United Nations in September.

Band member Kim Nam-joon talked at the U.N. about the alienation felt by young people, suggesting they could move forward if they loved themselves and embraced a positive attitude toward the world. This reference to the song and video by BTS “Love Yourself” suggested a way out of the passivity and alienation that overshadows youth.

The Time Magazine article also included a comparison with The Beatles, noting BTS was the first Korean band to sell out a whole stadium in the United States and that they did not need to redo all their songs in English.

BTS had managed to weave together a deep sympathy for the plight of young people in an increasingly ruthless and uncaring economic system together with the dance moves and tear-jerking lyrics that young people can relate to. Others had made such arguments to youth. But their messages were lost on youth who are accustomed to responding to YouTube performances, not lectures and sermons.

Suddenly, on November 8, TV Asahi announced that the live performance of BTS on its popular program “Music Station” the following day had been cancelled. The Japanese media was filled with reports of other cancelations and for a few days it appeared as if Japan had been swept by an anti-Korean wave that endangered the entire tour.

The newspapers in Japan and Korea were full of superficial reports that described cultural and diplomatic “spats” between the peoples of the two countries. The actions of TV Asahi, a for-profit media corporation that obviously took a big financial risk by canceling the broadcast the day before, suggest that something bigger was going on.

Before looking at the mainstream explanation for the cancelations, let us consider the critical events that proceeded TV Asahi’s decision and their implications.

First and foremost, TV Asahi’s decision suddenly to cancel the performance was a violation of contract law. A formal contract for the performance had been signed. But TV Asahi felt free to renege on it, even though BTS honored its side. The only excuse given was that one member of the band had worn a T-shirt a year ago that was judged by TV Asahi to be offensive.

Such actions by a corporation are egregious, but they have much in common with the blatant violations of the rule of law we are witnessing in Trumpian America.

The position of TV Asahi that it could decide on its own that BTS’s actions were offensive and that it could violate a legal contract with impunity is best understood in the context of the new interpretation of economic sanctions advanced by the Trump administration as a means to advance the interests of corporations through economic warfare.

The campaigns against Iran, Russia, Turkey and North Korea under Trump have made such economic sanctions into a weapon for sale to multinational corporations to pursue their own interests. This use of economic sanctions makes a complete mockery of not only international law and contract law, but also of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and trade agreements.

In the case of North Korea and Iran, “economic sanctions” have nothing to do with stopping the spread of nuclear weapons through international agreements (the Trump administration shows deep contempt for non-proliferation treaties) or about ending human rights violations (something that the Trump administration encourages at home and abroad). Rather, economic sanctions serve two critical purposes. They increase pressure on the country targeted so that in negotiations that country will be forced to accept a raw deal to avoid the pain created by economic sanctions.

Economic sanctions also give certain corporations with close ties to the government to have the right to engage in the secret negotiations about economic relations with the country that is subject to sanctions, while NGOs, experts and smaller businesses are completely blocked out.

The Abe administration finds the abandonment of international law, and of diplomacy, by the Trump administration intriguing. Economic sanctions could be a new tool for Japan to use to get what it wants without going through pesky processes like the WTO, which require transparency and accountability.

The cancellation of the BTS appearance can be interpreted as a trial balloon for a new kind of mini-economic sanctions that could be applied even against economic rivals like South Korea that are not branded as threats by the United States. The Abe administration was trying out this suspension of due process to see if it could create an environment in which powerful political figures dictate economic or trade relations without any means of appeal. Perhaps this action was a trial balloon for a new approach to economics better suited to the super-rich who are frustrated by the regulations made by bureaucrats and other little people.

So what was it that prompted the Abe administration to pursue this strategy against South Korea, and specifically BTS?

The answer is not hard to find.

The South Korean Supreme Court issued a ruling on Oct. 30 ordering Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation to pay 100 million won ($88,000) to four Koreans who were forcibly made to work under hazardous conditions in its factories during the Second World War. Several other similar cases are pending that could result in even larger demands for reparations. If the flood gates are opened, thousands of Koreans may seek billions of dollars in compensation from Japanese corporations over the months and years ahead.

This ruling is the first concrete award of damages since the Supreme Court recognized in 2012 the rights of victims to file for compensation against Japanese companies during wartime.

The granting of such compensation may not seem that remarkable. After all, the crimes of the Japanese government during the Pacific War have been extensively documented. But this ruling represents a historic shift in how the suffering of Koreans before 1945 is treated and a breakdown of the consensus that has been in place for the past 60 years that limited how the issue could be discussed and addressed.

The Japanese government claims that all reparations from Japan to South Korea have been paid in full, in accord with the 1965 normalization treaty (Treaty on Basic Relations). That treaty, signed by Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and South Korean President Park Chong-hee, stipulated that $300 million in economic aid, $500 million in favorable loans and some technology transfer from Japan would settle all claims of Koreans against the Japanese government, against Japanese corporations and against Japanese individuals, forever.

The recent ruling is a major risk to the conservatives around Abe, particularly those who have large holdings of stock in conglomerates. They worry that the future debate on compensation will cease to be presented as the fuzzy resentment of the Japanese people by the Koreans.

Such vague ideas of Korean emotions about Japan have aided corporations by keeping public attention focused on intangible bad feelings between the peoples that can never be resolved.

But this ruling is not vague at all, and it is not anti-Japanese. It focuses on the specific actions of two corporations, corporations that have deep pockets and which were liable by international standards for damages. The discussion is no longer about Korean pride now, but rather about corporate liability.

The risks of this ruling for wealthy stockholders in Japan are immense. It is not an issue that matters so much for ordinary Japanese. But powerful forces want the man in the street in Japan to think that somehow the ruling is an affront to all Japanese. 

Aso Taro, finance minister in the Abe cabinet and arch-conservative, is outspoken on the issue of reparations. Aso comes from a family that made a fortune from mining in Manchuria that was undertaken by Koreans (and other peoples) ― many forced laborers ― none of them provided with appropriate safety equipment in the dangerous mines. Aso Taro’s father, Aso Takakichi, was the owner of the Aso Cement Company that profited from the exploitation of forced labor and low-wage labor.

Aso and his friends have been counting on the basic treaty of 1965 to block all demands for compensation. The Japanese government, and Japanese corporations that influence it, have consistently responded to demands for compensation by stating that all compensation issues for the government and for corporations alike were settled by the treaty.

The treaty also dictates that no compensation for damages from before the 1911 annexation will be allowed either, blocking the way for claims concerning the manner by which Japanese corporations illegally seized land and resources in Korea at the end of the Joseon Dynasty and illegally (by Joseon Dynasty law) set up banks and railroads, and bribed Korean government officials.

Of course all that was a very long time ago. But let us not kid ourselves here. There are plenty of precedents for successful lawsuits for compensation for wrongs from 100 years ago. What has altered is the consensus held over the past 60 years that these topics are off limits for demands. I personally think that the irrational assumption that the 1965 treaty ended all possibilities for claims against Japanese companies for damages during the Second World War derives from a series of post-war U.S.-Japan-Korea agreements that remain classified to this date.

But there is more to the story. Although the media presents the court ruling as one favorable to Koreans and unfavorable to Japanese, such an interpretation is dishonest. First and foremost, Koreans, that is to say the people who inhabited the region previously controlled by the Joseon Dynasty, were designated as citizens of the Japanese empire by the Japanese government. They were not legally Koreans during the period in question. Although the status of their citizenship was not the same as citizens of Japan in terms of their ability to advance in government and to own property and businesses (with some important exceptions), they were considered to be Japanese until the Japanese government unilaterally declared them to be Koreans in 1945 without any legal process.

In a sense, when the Japanese government stripped Koreans of their citizenship and refused to give them any pensions or medical or legal aid, it was acting on behalf of Japanese corporations that wanted to cut their liabilities for their actions.

But if the demands for compensation increase, the process will quickly become an issue within Japan itself. After all, there are many Koreans living in Japan who were also stripped of their citizenship in the Japanese Empire in 1945 and who have not had the right to demand compensation.

For that matter, the Japanese government has blocked efforts of Japanese to seek compensation for damages from Japanese corporations for their actions during the Pacific War. If Koreans start getting compensation, there is a risk that Japanese also will start to make such demands. The expert on colonial-era forced labor William Underwood told me that it has been impossible so far for Japanese nationals to sue Japanese companies for conscription either because all Japanese were subject to national conscription from 1939. All that could change and that the myth that reparations are an emotional dispute between the Korean and Japanese peoples will crumble.

But why was the ruling on compensation made at this particular moment? After all, the forced labor issue has not drawn much attention in the Korean mainstream media. The overwhelming focus in the Korean media has been on a handful of surviving “comfort women,” women forced to perform sexual services for the Japanese military during the Second World War.

Perhaps there is something else going on behind the scenes concerning reparations.

We know from various leaks in the media that the Japanese government and Japanese corporations are engaged in negotiations with North Korea behind the scenes concerning the normalization of relations and future economic relations. Most likely those negotiations concern future contracts for the building of infrastructure, the rights to mine and exploit minerals in North Korea and permission for Japanese corporations to build and run factories in North Korea. All of these fields of activity are potentially extremely profitable for Japanese corporations, if destructive for North Koreans.

One topic that certainly came up in those secret negotiations is reparations for the war-time sufferings of Koreans who live in North Korea. The Japanese government never recognized the government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea after the war, and it has never paid any reparations similar to the deal that the Republic of Korea received in 1965. North Korean negotiators know history well and they understand how Japanese politics works. They are probably demanding top dollar for compensation for sufferings and making it the condition for access to the North Korean economy.

The Abe administration most likely wants to make an agreement with North Korea in secret that is similar to the 1965 treaty and that offers a lump sum to be paid to Kim Jong-un and others, along with some technology transfer and some investment opportunities. Considering that North Korea has consistently demanded reparations for damages caused by colonialism, whereas South Korea accepted a less confrontational “economic cooperation” paradigm, North Korea may reach a far more comprehensive agreement for reparations with Japan that South Korea made in 1965 ― even if the details are kept secret.

If North Korea gets a better deal than South Korea on reparations, the entire can of worms that Japanese conservatives thought they had sealed away forever in 1965 could be opened up again. The negotiations about reparations taking place Pyongyang may have forced Seoul to open the way for individual claims against Japanese corporations, and that move could lead to numerous demands from North Korea, South Korea, China, and even within Japan itself.

T-shirts and hats with skulls

Now let us look at the sudden cancelation of BTS’s performance on TV Asahi and how that tale was related in the media in South Korea and in Japan.

The cancelation was presented as an expression of Japanese anger against the cultural insensitivity of Koreans for Japanese suffering in the Second World War.

On October 26, the newspaper Tokyo Sports condemned BTS member Jimin for an “anti-Japanese act” because he was filmed in a YouTube documentary a year ago wearing a T-shirt on Korean Independence Day that featured a photograph of a mushroom cloud in the upper right-hand corner. This shirt was assumed to be anti-Japanese and this offensive behavior by a Korean boy band was quickly picked up by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean group that then wrote multiple posts about BTS and staged an anti-Korean demonstration dedicated to this T-shirt. A series of other popular entertainment figures subsequently made comments about the T-shirt in question.

It was then that Asahi suddenly cancelled BTS’s performance on its show “Music Station.” NHK and Fuji TV also stated that they would cancel broadcasts of BTS.

The T-shirt, worn on liberation day, features the words “Patriotism, our history, liberation, Korea” repeatedly and shows the atomic bomb to the right. Personally, I think it is inappropriate to link the image of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Japan with the fight for liberation in Korea, but among T-shirts related to Korean liberation that I have seen, this one is relatively tame. I doubt anyone would have found the shirt offensive unless they were told to see it as such.

Perhaps Jimin did not think all that seriously about what the mushroom cloud on the T-shirt signified. But the criticisms in the Japanese media said nothing about the need to increase the understanding of history of young people ― a problem that is at least as serious in Japan as it is in Korea.

Perhaps the T-shirt suggests that the actions of Japan in the Second World War were sufficiently evil as to warrant the use of atomic weapons. Such an opinion is deeply problematic in my opinion, but it is widespread in the older generation in South Korea and the United States. But it is far from clear that the T-shirt had that significance for Jimin. If we want to know what young Koreans think the significance of the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. was, we should ask them directly. TV Asahi never did so.

Other interpretations of the T-shirt are quite possible. Perhaps it was intended to be ambiguous. The T-shirt can be interpreted as a condemnation of the Pacific War as a whole, or even as a tribute to the large number of Koreans who were also killed by the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ― many of whom were there because they were brought as forced labor.

The other offense of BTS that was raised in the Japanese and international press was the photograph of a one of its members posing with a military hat that features the skull insignia of the SS in one of a series of photographs.

This photograph was also condemned in the media almost immediately after the “controversy” about the atomic bomb. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles condemned BTS for “mocking the past” and went on to say that: “It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the U.N., owes the people of Japan and the victims of Nazism an apology.” Rabbi Cooper had nothing to say about the praise of finance minister Aso Taro for Hitler, or the popularity of Nazi images in Japanese popular culture, or the broad reception of anti-Semitic writings in Japan that go far beyond anything to be found in South Korea.

There is absolutely no evidence that BTS has an anti-Semitic agenda. But the members were clearly, and offensively, ignorant of the Holocaust and insensitive to the feelings of those who suffered.

Their actions were wrong and they apologized. But such use of images of Nazi origin in Japan, or elsewhere, are extremely common. And many so-called conservatives in the United States and Europe have displayed a deep fascination with the Nazi movement.

I played cowboys and Indians as a little boy in the Mid West. One team played the Caucasian “cowboys” who chased the native American “Indians.” I did not know that I was indulging in a celebration of the genocide of the native Americans in the 19th century ― although that interpretation is not inaccurate.

The show must go on

BTS made an extensive apology for the various offenses and the tour went forward as planned. Although threats of violence and online criticisms continued in Japan, including a bomb threat in Nagoya, the BTS concert at Tokyo Dome brought in over 50,000 fans, and an anti-Korean demonstration of two people.

BTS is not made up of professors of history. I wish that there was not such a strong anti-intellectual trend in contemporary society, but we cannot blame that on BTS. Nevertheless, the band’s songs suggest a sophisticated sensitivity to the condition of youth that might still help Koreans and Japanese to love themselves, and each other.