Debate between Conservative and Progressive Activists

The 21st-Century World According to Progressives and Conservatives...
The 21st-Century Progressives and Conservatives as Envisioned by Korean Activists

    How will the 21st-century world shape up as envisioned by progressive and conservative activists in Korea? Would it be really possible for these two groups to cooperate and mold social consensus for a better future? Concerning the major issues facing Korean society, activists from both camps gathered to find ways to coexist and cooperate through social communication and productive competition and to grow together. Under the theme 21st Century Conservatives and Progressives as Envisioned by Korean Activists, KDF and Beautiful Companion 21, a meeting formed by civic group activists, held a debate in Seoul from August 17 to 18 in order to take a comprehensive look at the issues of community and individual. Having held a total of 9 conferences since 2009, a wide range of conservative and progressive civic group activists founded Beautiful Companion 21 with their agreement on civic activism in search of a mature cooperation in the 21st century. Before a full-fledged debate, Yu Young-rae, vice president of KDF, urged those in responsible positions to work together to find ways to sustain in a harmonious and unifying manner pluralistic aspects of Korean society that were developing intricately, widely, and diversely in each sector, pointing out that, since the Korean liberation, the future of the nation had been determined by the ideologies of foreign powers, rather than by the formation and implementation of home-grown strategies aimed at communal order in the Korean peninsula.

    The main issues of the debate, in which 9 conservative and progressive activists made presentations, encompassed the identity and objectives of progressives and conservatives, freedom and equality, and community and individual. In the program’s first part, titled “The 21st Century Progressives and Conservatives: Awareness, Value, or Attitude?,” discussions were focused on reflections on the past and current state of progressive and conservative activism and on the future directions of both camps. In addition, an argument was put forward that, at a time of global crisis in environment, energy, and peace, an attempt should be made to use a new term in tandem with the new ideas of post-anthropocentrism and post-developmentalism, getting away from the dichotomous use of the terms “conservative” and “progressive.” In the second part, “The 21st Century Community and Individual,” there were in-depth discussions on which of freedom, equality, and fraternity would be a value pivotal to forming community, the possibility of which has been threatened by globalization of capital. Lastly, in the third part, “Progressives and Conservatives: Camps or Spectrum?,” the participants were given free discussion time, during which they talked about ways of more mature cooperation through mutual communication and empathy among the so-called progressive, conservative and middle-of-the-road activists with each camp taking a political and ideological stance different from the others’.