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A Study on the Elite Intellectuals' Understanding of Democracy in 1950s

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2008, (89), pp.215-256
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

byoung joo hwang 1

1국사편찬위원회

Accredited

ABSTRACT

ROK had experienced nation-building under the strong influence of USA and world system in 1950s. The nation-building process is companied with the political struggles which may contain civil war. And it need to the social, cultural integration of the nation. Generally, nationalism and democracy have played an important role in the nation-building process of bourgeois nation state. In 1950s, democracy had a critical position in the topography of political discourse, and it had became the dominant discourse in Korea. The role of democracy in Korea was expanded from ruling discourse to resistant one. It was influenced by the enlargement of education system, but it must be noted that it was effective to be combined with the discursive practice of intellectuals. Cho Byung-ok and Yu Chin-oh were typical elite intellectuals of Korea in 1950s. There are many differences in between them. But they were similar to recognition of democracy. All of them emphasized the absolute universality of democracy, and imitated concept of liberal democracy which was made in the west. The peculiarities of their cognition of democracy is as follows. First, all of them believed in the modern view of human being of the west and America, and insisted that democratic political process is possible with the rational act of the reasonable subject which is hypothesis of the modern political philosophy of the west. It meant that backward Korea must follow the democracy of advanced country. Because of they understood the democracy with advanced-backward composition, it was inevitable that they had the strong complex to the west, modernity and advanced countries. Second, they understood democracy on condition anti-communism. To them, America is the supreme symbol of modern rationalism, whereas communism is the typical anti democracy ideology which is premodern, brutal and anti-humanity. Therefore democracy was not positive but passive political discourse. Third, there are strong elitism, emphasis on the leading, enlightenment and education for mass, in their cognition of democracy. They did not think over the democracy based on mass political action and people's direct democracy. In short, they transformed the democratic principle of rule by majority into the elite oligarchy by representative system. Therefore democracy was to be formalized. Fourth, they contributed the conversion of democracy into the resistance discourse. In this process, however, important thing was not elite intellectuals but the direct action of the people which utilized their discussive practice as a condition.

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