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Title:No Circe with wicked charms: dialectical mediation of time in South Korea’s cultural formation in the 1980s
Author(s):Youn, Jungmo
Director of Research:Nerone, John
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nerone, John
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Christians, Clifford G; McChesney, Robert W; Meehan, Eileen
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Historical materialism
Cultural studies
South Korea in the 1980s
Abstract:This dissertation, from the perspective of Marx’s historical materialism, explores the dialectical mediation process of the South Korea’s cultural formation echoed with the peculiar historical modality of financialization in the 1980s. Taking the conception of time as the constitutive logic of the cultural formative process, my historiography, based on Marx’s method of inquiry called ‘rising from abstract to concrete’, describes the dynamics of the tendential forces which the Korean labor class formulated by the self-reflexive interpretation of their immediacy of lived experiences and mentality given by the changes of material conditions and how it organized a homogenous and dominant tendency of cultural interpretation by marginalizing subversive interpretations. As the rate of profit began to fall in advanced capitalist countries from the late 60s, the previous regime of accumulation needed to re-modulate its global production-relations. The U.S. as the key currency holder responded by the deregulation of banking capitals and the regulation of interest rates in domestic level and by ending one-sidedly the Bretton Woods system. These maneuvers accelerated the motion of advance capitals called financialization and took the historically contingent forms of banking capital on the surface. But, the financialization tended to depend on the velocity of the turnover of dual-accumulation mode and inevitably demanded to readjust the global circuit of capital and the hierarchy of division of labor in Asia. In the continuum from Nixon’s Guam doctrine followed by the Détente with China and the geo-political tension around Korea, the Reagan administration and Korea’s new military regime found the interface of their interests. By this detour to political realm, the Korean production relations was re-structured through the peculiar form of Korean financialization characterized as the repression of bank-capitals by the government and productive capitals which is traced back to its primitive accumulation period. In this course, Korean electronics industry began to grow attaining mirror-benefit from the competition between Japan and U.S. Color TV penetrated Korean households as one of representative white goods and underwent its cultural legitimation process based on the Korean’s immediate mentality and experience of family and previous uses of printed media. Meanwhile, the altered production relations from the early 1980s diversified the concrete labors accompanied with the change of wage-relations. Combined with the increased accessibility of finance commodities, the new class-experience enrooted capitalistic rationality into the everyday life of the Korean laboring classes. Korean laboring class internalized the logic of global financialization in everyday life by subjectively re-appropriating abstract time by a synchronized temporal form proposed by a new media, color TV. The Korean laboring classes subjectively re-appropriated abstract time as concrete temporalities: the past and future by nostalgia and imagination and the present by calculation and (self-)reification. Synchronized with capitalistic temporality, their rational synthesis inverted the conceptual relationship between labor-capital and it reinforced, was reinforced by, the self-affirmative substances embedded in the representation of the color TV, which became a popular media. An eccentric tendency of interpretation over their immediate class experience and mentality began to appear with the inner logic of self-negation as labor class by creating the Others within the same species of laboring classes. This tendency operated not only in the re-conception of family relation as an economic oneness with the previous axiological standards but also in the differences in the contingent historical forms of concrete labors. And it marginalized the counter tendencies in latency which retained the inevitable internal contradictions derived from the temporal discrepancy between the shared class experiences in present and the individualized expectation to be middle-class by accentuating the generality of the capitalistic logic of reification. The Korea’s leftwing camp, unlike their ad-hoc self-evaluations appropriating Gramsci’s war of position, committed critical strategic mistakes which can be characterized by missing the point of culminating point of attack, clinging the over-simplified problematic given by the peculiarity of Korea’s political history: ‘the abolition of military dictatorship equated with the emancipation from the capitalism’. Consequently, after the procedure of formal democracy yielded by the military dictatorship in 1987, the political strategies of the mainstream sect of Korean leftwing camp ended up in Xeno’s paradox which would perpetuate the defensive, without preparing to transit to war of maneuver in Gramsci’s sense. With the missed opportunity to actualize, or at least to organize, the latent counter tendencies into material political forces, the Korean laboring classes failed to be the labor class and remained hovering between a belief in current moving towards the political progression from Korean political dictatorship, and ‘longing to escape from the dangers of revolution back to the flesh pots of Egypt’. The dominant tendency of the multiple dialectical co-evolvements as the tendential vector began to confine the self-consciousness of Korean labor class in the general conception of bourgeois individual and to frame the emancipatory praxis only by self-affirmation as middle class through the evidential forms of consumption in present offered by the Korea’s economic prosperity and the expressive modality of the self-pity on the surface of the homogeneous universality of capitalistic salvation. And the producer of history armed only with self-victimization and the politics of consumption soon received the visit of the monstrosity of what they now called neo-liberal order in the 90s.
Issue Date:2017-12-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Jungmo Youn
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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