Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Beef Is Almost Done...


Whoo hoo! The beef is now well-done, and I foresee this all being over within 4-6 weeks. I originally wrote my rationale as a comment on the Marmot's Hole, and I wonder how I'll do. I've been pretty good with predictions so far over the last couple of years:

Ah, as happens with protest movements, things are getting diffuse enough that this will mainstream away into meaninglessness. Just when this gets the largest and becomes akin to a festival (which is the feeling I got on the way home from work in Myeongdong today), that’s when the “movement” will fizzle into nothing.

As soon as people start demanding everything from impeachment to school reform to disabled people’s rights to anti-corruption campaigns (all valid causes, but…), people will realize that this isn’t going to help anything. And even if impeachment were possible in this case, it’s still not going to actually help.

Now that’s it’s bloomed and peaked, once people have had their fill of “the beauty of democracy” and pleasant walks down and around a closed off Kwanghwamun (and the police did such a good job today, and it was so well planned, it was like World Cup, but with the added excuse that it’s for a good cause.

I don’t know about other folks, but half of my office went down there to spectate tonight, it seemed, more than to actually participate. People were talking about how many people were going to be there and how this was a must-see event, more than anyone expressing any strong political desire. One co-worker was marveling at the efficacy of the container boxes that had been greased up to prevent people from climbing up. I also had to admit that this was pretty clever.

Once it’s bloomed to the point of spectacle, and if it’s true many of the people in the crowd say they actually WANT a free trade agreement, isn’t this all but over, even if the cows haven’t come home yet?

It’s Kwanghwamun circa April 2003. People are having their say, getting it out, venting, and getting ready to return to life as usual. I think this is a good sign. And I give this about another 4-6 weeks before the protests die down to the core anti-FTA folks, a few hundred at a time, at most.

That’s my bet. What do others think?

Now that's it's mainstreamed, and getting into CNN, the NYT, and the Washington Post, it's out there. People have had their say, and the party's going to be winding down soon. A few more fun rallies like these (the violent folks are actually being sidelined, and the police have planned far too well for them to be effective, and kudos for them for preventing clashes that will be damaging to both sides and further unnecessarily inflame tensions), a few more pleasant nights with samgyeopsal after the protest, and the numbers will die, and the tenor of the protests will get more radical again as mainstream people leave to go to work and worry about the many REAL problems with the economy and society that require real attention.

People are throwing all kinds of legitimate gripes into the mix, but these are the kinds of problems that don't get solve by demonstrations or candlelight vigils. And once the beef thing is put into perspective, and seen in context against the other things that are quite literally killing this economy and its growth, only a few shouting radicals will be left -- hehe, pun accidental but being "left" as intended -- just like in every other conflagration here.

I think now, people are having their say, and what started as decidedly more focused (albeit less reasonable) a set of demands has now expanded to include nearly everything. And once people vent it all out, this mass movement's over.

Ding dong, the bullshit's gonna end. Yet, I'm afraid we'll still be stuck with expensive beef for awhile. Oh, well.

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