National Solidarity to Resist Global Capitalism

Advocates of transnational history and postnational history have dismissed nationalism’s great potential for resistance and solidarity, while the advocates of nationalism have stressed its effectiveness and the virtue of anti-imperialism or anti-capitalist globalism. Scholars and educators in nationalist historiography have stressed the necessity of distinguishing ‘statist nationalism/developmen- talist nationalism’ during the authoritarian regimes from ‘defensive nationalism’ against colonialism and imperialism (Park, 1999; Seo, 2005). They have argued that ‘statist nationalism’ promoted pro-Americanism and anti-communism, depressing democratic aspiration, while other forms of nationalism such as new nationalism in the late 1940s and minjung nationalism in the 1980s pursued external autonomy and democratic ideals of freedom and equality. However, they have been critical of ‘parochial nationalism’ and have suggested redefining the concepts of nation and nationalism to include different ethnic groups and races (Park, 1999; Seo, 2005). Chan-Seung Park (1999: 336), calling for ‘open nationalism which is racially and ethnically inclusive,’ has argued that ‘nationalism is still effective in defending the laborers who are vulnerable to neo-liberal capitalist globalization.’ He stated:

A call to abandon nationalism and embrace internationalism in today’s society is a call to disarm in the face of the globalization of capital and of American culture.

In order to stand up to the globalization of multinational capital, laborers and citizens need to globalize or at least regionalize, in short, to form what is called ‘internal solidarity.’ ... until the international solidarity of laborers, which can stand against capital in the future, can gain a certain amount of strength, we cannot give up the weapon of nationalism. (Park, 1999: 336)

Nationalism and national identity are viewed as a means to resist the overarching power of neo-liberalist global capitalism. Some postcolonial thinkers, for example, Jong-Sung Park (2006), also defend nationalism and nationalist historiography because nationalism addresses the ‘real’ problems of globalizing capitalism.

Neo-liberalist capitalism, which demands the flexibility of labor, facilitates global migration transcending national borders. South Korea is becoming a multicultural and multiethnic society, with a surge of immigration from Southeast and Northeast Asian countries. Considering this social change and paradigm shift, some historians are calling for postnationalism or transnationalism. However, historians in the nationalist paradigm are demanding the intensification of ‘national solidarity’ against neo-liberalist global capitalism but with the expanded concept of ‘nation.’ They criticize the postnationalists’ and transnationalists’ lack of political and practical implication for the globalization of capitalism (Na, 2009). Many scholars in history education have suggested that Korean history be taught in a way that students can appreciate multiple identities and historical pluralism and yet with national identity as the overarching identity (Bang, 2010; Kim, 2008). Few scholars in the field of history education would radically proclaim that Korean history should be abandoned or replaced with transnational or postnational history in school curriculum. Instead, scholars have asserted that students should have opportunities to view and analyze historical events and issues from comparative, interregional, and multidimensional perspectives (Bang, 2011; Kang, 2011).

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