21 August 2007

Pragmatism in South Korea

A former CEO of Hyundai, Lee Myung-bak, is now running for president of South Korea as a member of the Grand National Party.

Lee calls himself a pragmatist. Indeed, he uses the phrase "empirical pragmatist," which sounds a tad backwards to me, but that may be an artifact of translation. I prefer "pragmatic empiricism" when both terms are used, because pragmatism is a variant within the broader empirical camp.

Lee, at any rate, used "empirical pragmatism" as a label for his desire to get beyond ideologies, which he believes have simply blinded previous governments to the national interest. He also thinks the national interest is best served -- pragmatically advanced, by what he calls the "smart market economy," in which on the one hand competition, freedom and creativity are protected, and on the other hand stragglers are assisted.

I don't know South Korean politics well enough to comment, but I will say as a pragmatist I don't object to Lee's use of the term. In my own mind, as I have long contended, the fullest political expression of pragmatism is anarcho-capitalism. But ....

I recognize that the Republic of Korea is unlikely soil for anarcho-capitalism, largely because the notion of a free-market system for territorial defense leaves people queasy, and with Communism-induced famine so evident just to the north of an arbitrary line on a map, that queasiness is rather hard to overcome. So, pragmatically, I suspect Lee is going as far in what I regard as the rational direction as could be expected of him.

Iceland, after all, in the days sometimes evoked as an anarcho-cap model, or for that matter in all days since, has been ... well, an island. Not the southern half of a peninsula.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Very impressed with your knowledge in South Korean politics.
Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.