Thursday, July 28, 2005

Good capitalism?

Last night's Newsnight had a piece on how South Korea is becoming 'cool' on account of its cultural exports through music, fashion and film. Apparently Seoul is the place to go if you want to be with the in crowd in Asia.

What was interesting though was the explanation and analysis given for this transformation. Apparently after the financial crisis of the late 1990s the country was forced to 'modernise' by breaking down state-owned industries and laying off workers, fostering an environment for private sector entrepreneurialism and a consumer culture open to it. The underlying message then was that it was capitalism - of the free market variety as opposed to the old-fashioned state-directed form dominant in East Asia for the past half-century - which had spawned all this.

Which does beg the unasked - and unanswered - question: can a different form of social and economic organisation (alright, socialism) offer such 'dynamism' in the cultural sphere?

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