Saturday, 8 October 2011

They won't be the only ones


North Korean shelling of Yeongpyeong Island, November 23, 2010. Why are tensions rising in Korea?

There has been much talk about B.R. Myers’ book: The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves—and Why It Matters. Far from being communists, the North Koreans are, well, Nazis. And that matters a lot to us. Or so the book argues.

Actually, North Koreans see themselves pretty much the same way they saw themselves back in the 1950s. The most interesting change has been among Westerners—and Americans in particular. We no longer view ourselves as heirs of a specific ethnic and national tradition. Indeed, blood relationships scarcely matter at all in the West, except within the confines of the nuclear family—and even that last bastion has fallen for almost half of all adults. The market economy is becoming the sole organizing principle of our social life.

But perhaps it doesn’t really matter who has changed. What does matter is the fundamental difference in self-perception that has developed between them and us. And in recent years the difference seems to have been growing further. Concurrently, tensions have been rising on the Korean Peninsula. In 2009, a naval battle took place near the island of Daecheong. In March 2010, a North Korean submarine may have sunk the South Korean corvette Cheonan. On November 23, 2010, the North Koreans bombarded Yeongpyeong Island.

Are the two trends related? Yes, according to B.R. Myers, who concludes:


There is no easy solution to the North Korea problem, but to begin to solve it, we must realize that its behavior is aggressive, not provocative, and that its aggression is ideologically built in. Pyongyang is thus virtually predestined to push Seoul and Washington too far, thereby bringing about its own ruin. (Myers, 2010b)

It’s neither novel nor controversial to say that the Korean conflict is ideologically driven. What is new is the apparent ideological renewal of this conflict. After a lull of two decades—the “End of History”—we seem to be entering a new Cold War: post-nationalism versus nationalism, globalism versus localism, us versus them.

And the situation will probably get worse before it gets better.

Will South Korea abandon its Global Korea policy? Unlikely. This policy is backed by the local and international business community and by a broad cross-section of South Korean society. Opposition to it is disorganized, and it’s hard to see how opposition can organize within the current framework of “right” and “wrong.” Globalism is “right.” Ethnic nationalism is “wrong.” South Koreans can disagree over the ways and means of building a post-national society, but the actual goal is beyond criticism.

Needless to say, this push for post-nationalism is under way throughout the Western world. Is it going to stop? Unlikely, at least not in the near future. Will American policymakers try to call a halt in South Korea for purely pragmatic reasons, i.e., for the sake of world peace? Also unlikely. Given the reception of Myers’ book, they’ll see a golden opportunity to frame the Korean conflict in progressive terms—as a struggle to defend a modern, inclusive, and post-national society.

Will the North Koreans join us in embracing post-nationalism? Unlikely. They aren’t plugged into our current notions of right and wrong. They don’t watch American TV. Their students don’t go to American universities. They don’t have our pundits, experts, and policy wonks. They just aren’t exposed to our norms of correct thinking.

Will the North Korean regime fall? Unlikely. There’s no reason to believe it’s closer to collapse today than it was in the 1990s. Back then, the entire eastern bloc seemed to be disintegrating, and North Korea had to cope with a sudden loss of subsidies from the Soviet Union. As bad as things now are in North Korea, the situation is nowhere near as bad as it was back then. Just as importantly, its allies to the north—China and Russia—have likewise weathered the storm and are entering a period of renewed self-confidence.

All of this leads to two conclusions. First, the divide between them and us will continue to grow. There is no desire on either side for genuine rapprochement.

And the second conclusion? The North Korean leadership no longer sees the conquest of South Korea as a goal that can be pushed indefinitely into the future. It is something that must happen soon—before the demographic changes in the South become irreversible. Yes, war is coming. Soon.

In this, I claim no access to inside information. I simply know that the North Koreans care about their country and their people in a way that most of us no longer understand. To me, the eventual outcome seems inevitable.

By a strange quirk of fate the Korean Peninsula is once more becoming a fracture zone between two ways of viewing the world. And the Korean people will be the first victims.

But they won’t be the only ones.

References

Myers, B.R. (2010a). The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves—and Why It Matters, Brooklyn: Melville House.

Myers, B.R. (2010b). North Korea will never play nice, The New York Times – The Opinion Pages, November 24, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/opinion/25myers.html

19 comments:

Mark Wethman said...

The risks of war to the North Korean leadership and people are steep. Conquest by South Korea would result in the leaders losing their positions and possibly their lives, and the people being roped in to the same one-worldism that prevails in the south. Why would the leaders take such a huge risk unless they were fully confident of victory--which is difficult to believe given that South Korea has the US for a patron?

John said...

I presume by the title of this post "They won't be the only ones" you mean that the North Koreans aren't/won't be the only ones to hold more traditional national views in the "new Cold War" you envisage.

Do you have any countries, nations, states in mind?

You also seem to write off the West completely as far as traditional national views go and place and place it firmly within the post-national, globalist camp. That certainly is the case now and the position promoted by its elites, but there are elements within America and Europe that oppose post-nationalism and globalism. Don't you think the "new Cold War" will also be fought within the West, especially if there are economic problems, disruptions with the EU project, etc.?

And you suggest that the North Koreans won't push off war indefinitely due to demographic changes in the South. But even if they pushed off war into the future after the South has changed demographically, if they successfully took over the peninsula in the future, they could repopulate the southern part with North Koreans.

Any military conflict between the Koreas would quickly become a conflict between China and the US. But you've suggested before that China is somewhat moving or will move into the post-national, globalist camp.

J said...

I think North Korea's thinking is defensive, they are the last refuge of their pure race. They dont want to do anything with those impure metisse.

PRCalDude said...

By a strange quirk of fate the Korean Peninsula is once more becoming a fracture zone between two ways of viewing the world. And the Korean people will be the first victims.

But they won’t be the only ones.


I think he's referring to the irredentists moving to the US by the millions and turning it into Mexico. Midwesterners may also wake up and realize there is no point in joining the military to maintain American hegemony in a way that suits coastal elites who hate them. Repealing DADT will likely hasten that process.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed, blood relationships scarcely matter at all in the West, except within the confines of the nuclear family—and even that last bastion has fallen for almost half of all adults."

Gene-culture coevolution.

If the source of that change in the West has been mostly cultural pressure then if that cultural pressure declines things will bounce back to a more natural state.

If most of that cultural pressure expressed overseas comes from US hegemony then the collapse of US hegemony as a result of economic forces will see the decline of that cultural pressure and a similar - and imo much quicker - bounce-back to a more natural state.

It should be plain within 2-3 years if the US hegemony is going down so i think North Korea can just wait and see. If US hegemony does go down then South Korea and North Korea will move towards a rapprochement because of the threat from China.

Peter Frost said...

Mark,

If North Korea unilaterally invades the South, the Americans will move in and it will be game over. China will remain neutral if North Korea is clearly the aggressor.

But there are other scenarios. I will discuss them in my next post.

John,

I meant that the Korean people will not be the only victims.

The new Cold War will play out within parts of the West. As for the United States, I'm very skeptical. Part of the problem in the U.S. is that the term "nationalism" has been redefined as a series of "propositions" that anyone can adhere to (or claim to ahdere to). So you have a choice that really isn't a choice, i.e., between post-nationalism and propositional nationalism -- which is really the same thing.

Chinese policy-makers range from hardline nationalits to post-national globalists. Most can be called "moderate nationalists" i.e., they are wary of American intentions and want to maintain China's territorial integrity, but they are largely indifferent to cultural and demographic issues.

The North Koreans are not interested in ethnic cleansing. Contrary to what you might think, they do care about world opinion, if only because the "world" includes China and Third World countries that purchase North Korean arms.

Anon,

The North Koreans played "wait and see" after the last Korean War. They really believed that the Western bloc would soon collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

Well, it was the Eastern bloc that collapsed. Today, the North Koreans seem to be waiting for a certain set of circumstances, but those cirumstances don't include the collapse of the Western world.

Tod said...

There is a sexual selection angle to this.
"Pyongyang criticizes the intermarriage between South Koreans and foreigners, especially American foreigners"

Myers has a dog in the fight, he is married to a South Korean woman. Going by the talk on YouTube he argues that the Japanese colonialists co-opted Korea by implanting the idea of a pure race.Like the commenter said last week deep down S.Koreans don't like Americans scooping up their scarce females.

"In Korea in 1993 there were 115.6 boys born for each 100 girl babies. (The normal ratio is about 105 males to 100 females.) In 1995 only 47.9% of primary school children were female, which meant an extra 200,000 6-to-11-year-old boys. Local sources estimate that by 2010 there will be 128 men to every 100 women in the 27-to-30 year cohort.".

Myers is keeping a South Korean man from reproducing. So he rationalizes it by claiming that the South Koreans who object to 'yellow fever' are sympathizers of North Korea.

Back to the post, Peter said "North Koreans seem to be waiting for a certain set of circumstances>

Economic ? Defaults are on the way according to Kyle Bass(from 3.00 on)

The Case for a Sovereign Debt Default in Japan.

S. Brady said...

Mr Frost,

In the west over the past few decades the changing demographics is evident for all to see. Taking this into account, the assumption is that people in general have become more tolerant of other ethnic groups. But is this actually the case? John Derbyshire, in his book 'We Are Doomed', ch. 2, thinks that 'something about modernity makes us willing to live among strangers'. He highlighted the case of the Germans in Romania. They virtually all left in the period after WW2 (from 800,000 to ~60,000 today).

The migration to Romania started 800 yrs ago, why didn't they start leaving during this time? I would have thought people were more ethnically conscious and less tolerant the further back in history you go, not the other way around. Or is this just an exception to a general trend? If people have become less tolerant of other ethnic groups within a race, why have they becomore tolerant of different races, even though the genetic/cultural differences are generally more pronounced?

John said...

I meant that the Korean people will not be the only victims.

Do you mean they won't be the only victims if there is another Korean war?

Part of the problem in the U.S. is that the term "nationalism" has been redefined as a series of "propositions" that anyone can adhere to (or claim to ahdere to). So you have a choice that really isn't a choice, i.e., between post-nationalism and propositional nationalism -- which is really the same thing.

This certainly is the mainstream elite discourse that's promoted. And you're right about this false "choice" between post-nationalism and propositional nationalism that's offered by the Left and Right, respectively.

But do you think this can hold up with the demographic changes underway and concomitant ethnic conflict, tension and possible balkanization? Overextended empires only seem to be held together by the threat of an "external enemy". Do you see this as one of the drivers of the "new Cold War" - the need for an external enemy to hold together disparate groups in post-national states that otherwise might balkanize?

The North Koreans are not interested in ethnic cleansing.

I didn't mean crude ethnic cleansing. It could involve gradually displacing the population over time or something.

If North Korea unilaterally invades the South, the Americans will move in and it will be game over. China will remain neutral if North Korea is clearly the aggressor.

I'm not sure China wouldn't intervene. North Korea has been a buffer for China against American troops, and I don't think they want to lose that buffer and have American troops and/or an American backed state right on their doorstep.

John said...

Today, the North Koreans seem to be waiting for a certain set of circumstances, but those cirumstances don't include the collapse of the Western world.

To take over the Korean peninsula? You yourself noted that any unilateral invasion would invite American retaliation which would mean the end of NK. What certain set of circumstances would prevent American retaliation? I think only a significant collapse in American hegemony could inhibit American retaliation. The troops are there and elsewhere in the Pacific, the plans are all there, etc.

They seem mostly interested in survival and trying to wait out and survive American hegemony, like many other states such as Russia, Iran, and nationalists in the West.

Tod said...

S. Brady, Derbyshire lived in China and is married to a Chinese woman. He's just like Myers - tendentiously suggesting that E. Asians have fascist tendencies.

John. Absolutely right China would not permit North Korea to be conquered by an US-SK counter invasion. But the US knows that from the last time, they wouldn't try it again. Furthermore, North Korea would have usable nukes before trying anything.

The British declassified the plans for their obsolete Magnox reactors and the North Koreans built one !

That suggests to me that North Korea lacks advanced technology. And they are half the size of the south.

They would need to run a series of huge maneuvers to cloak their preparations and stockpiling, Once the South was used to mobilizations, they'd do it for real. Even with the element of surprise they would need a period of very bad weather to stand any chance.

Anonymous said...

J: I think North Korea's thinking is defensive, they are the last refuge of their pure race. They dont want to do anything with those impure metisse.

The North’s delegation leader Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-chul started off an unfortunate thread by quipping, “Since the climate in the South is warmer, the farmers must be hard at work.” His South Korean counterpart Maj. Gen. Han Min-gu of the South replied, “The population of the farming communities is actually falling, and many bachelors from such areas marry women from Mongolia, Vietnam and the Philippines.”

Kim reportedly grimaced and snapped, “Our nation has always considered its pure lineage to be of great importance — I am concerned that our singularity will disappear.” Instead of contradicting him, the South Korean delegation said such dilution of the bloodline was “but a drop of ink in the Han River,” adding this would cause no problems “if we all live together.” But this failed to mollify the North Korean. “Since time immemorial, our nation has been a land of abundant beauty. Not even one drop of ink must be allowed to fall into the Han River,” Kim thundered.

Peter Frost said...

Anon,

Post-nationalism dominates the legitimate political spectrum in the United States, and to a lesser extent in all other Western countries.

Yes, there is growing opposition to post-nationalism in the blogosphere, e.g., Steve Sailer, but it is not validated by the formal culture of TV, newspapers, radio, major book publishers, etc. For example, it's difficult to reference Steve Sailer because, officially, he's not supposed to exist.

Eventually, the logjam will break. The "non-culture" will invade the formal culture (to use Lotman's terminology). But it's hard to say when that will happen. For now, we have to work within the current parameters of legitimate discourse, and those parameters leave very little room for real choice.

In a word, corporate America has bought up both the "Right" and the "Left." In the past, this sort of thing happened only in poor, illiterate countries. Now it's happening throughout the West.

On another point, if the North Koreans invade the south unilaterally, it would be difficult for the Chinese to help them out. The Chinese would probably help out the Americans in exchange for having a say in the final settlement.

The situation changes of course if the Americans invade North Korea with only a weak justification. In that case, the Chinese would react angrily, fearing that Tibet would be next.

Anonymous said...

In a word, corporate America has bought up both the "Right" and the "Left."

C'mon Peter. You're from Quebec. You know what the suppression of nationalism in the West has been caused by. "Par l'argent puis des votes ethniques, essentiellement."

Anonymous said...

But if you forget about Korea and the still somewhat ethnic states of Europe, what exactly would be the normative "university" to contrast to "diversity" in any of the countries founded by the English, and originally populated by Brits, their slaves, the natives, and then already quite old waves of migration from Europe and Asia? Some fixed proportion of breeds? Some generic white, definable (and willing to be generic white) only within wider diversity? As non-NAM as possible? And without a quasi-normative university defined, what exactly are we talking about? Will any discussion not be as vague and off point as the mushiest "internationalism"? Also, what about the biology of nationalism vs internationalism? If one proposes any certain non-diversity based on intergroup statistics with respect to any normative scale, wont those most willing to value themselves by group membership tend to fall on the left of the bell curve? And will not their empowerment then be contrary to the very value of the group (as valued by any normative scale allowing for comparisons, and not by arbitrarily valuing the group in itself, which allows for valuing any group by the same token, which will bring us back to arbitrary nationalism with dumb fans)? Just saying... (also, I only recently found this really interesting blog, and commented also on the blue-eye impossibility and latitude vs brain size entries. I hope anybody finding my comment interesting would also like reading my comments there. I really wonder if others have considered the points I make, and have any answers by themselves or others to suggest)

pedislet said...

As recently as 2000 China and the US exchanged thinly veiled nuclear threats over Taiwan Here

Anonymous said...

We're talking about biology. Not the absurd liberal notion that "non-diversity" is based on arbitrary definitions and associations that can be chosen like t-shirts. People tend to associate according to racial and ethnic background. Mixed environments are mainly due to political, social, economic pressure and promoted by parties that benefit from herding others into mixed environments. They are not even evolutionarily stable environments that will persist. They will break apart, one group will consume or replace the others, they will all be consumed into a panmixia, etc.

You can discover it experimentally. Freedom of association followed by border controls. "Discussion" tends to get derailed by idiots and manipulated towards certain ends by the self-interested. Eschewing experimentation and engaging in endless argumentation over definitions is like medieval scholastic theology that never goes anywhere. Use the scientific method.

And the idea that nationalists "tend to fall on the left of the bell curve" and that nationalism is "arbitrary" and involves "dumb fans" is just another absurd liberal calumny.

The decline of nationalism and rise of globalism and globalist panmixia has been tremendously dysgenic in terms of IQ.

Peter Frost said...

Anon,

Yes, nationalism is a social construct, but social constructs are not made out of thin air. They correspond, albeit imperfectly, to the real world. They are the means by which we operationalize our behavior in that real world.

That being said, I don't like nationalism. It was the first step towards globalism. A century or so ago, nationalists were mainly concerned about eliminating dialectal and subcultural differences, in order to create a strong (and large) nation state.

But words are words. If nationalism means anti-globalism, I can live with it.

Anonymous said...

So how do we stop globalism?

It seems that American military power and its global empire of bases undergirds globalism.

Do you think globalism won't be stopped unless America collapses or its military suffers a major defeat?