- Date published:
8:21 pm, January 31st, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war, democratic participation, poverty, workers' rights - Tags: campbell live, south korea
I don’t know a lot about South Korea, but I was under the impression it had a booming economy, was at the forefront of development of digital technologies, and had a pretty successful screen production industry.
So I was interested in a report I saw recently on Al Jazeera about a phenomena that developed from one student putting up a handwritten poster on his campus asking, “How are you all doing?” The report claimed that there were many social and economic problems in the country: growing income inequality gap, unfair employment legislation, and increasing numbers of people struggling in their daily lives. This sounded like a lot of the same problems as here in NZ.
The Guardian reported on the poster phenomena earlier in January.
How are you all doing nowadays?” The question has been bothering South Korea ever since early December when Ju Hyun-woo, an economics student at Korea University, put up a dazibao – a handwritten poster commonly used by opponents of the dictatorship in the 1980s, taking a cue from the propaganda messages that flourished in China under Chairman Mao.
Appealing to his generation, thought to be largely apolitical, Ju asked: “Is it OK for you to ignore social issues since it is not your business?”
He went on to mention a strike by Korail staff, who fear the national rail operator may be privatised, and the way the state has been operated since Conservative president Park Geun-hye was elected in December 2012.
The response to Ju’s initiative reflects the prevailing malaise in South Korea. On 1 January a man calling for Park’s resignation set himself on fire. He carried a banner that had the “How are you all doing nowadays?” slogan.
According to The Guardian article, it is runaway household debt that is creating a similar situation in the US as before the 2008, Global Economic Crisis. It’s interesting that in such a digital advanced country as South Korea, an old style analogue poster has ignited a kind of movement. Many others across the country others have made their own posters.
The Al Jazeera report talks of how the poster phenomena has spread across South Korea, covering a range of social issues from workers’ strikes and nuclear power, to allegations that an intelligence service tampered in the last general election. Protestor Ju Hyun-Woo explains that it’s easy to post something on social media, but it disappears from view really quickly. In contrast, a handwritten poster in a public space has sincerity.
The “simple” question, “How are you all doing?” seems to have struck a chord with many people, who also put up their own posters across the country, with their expressions of dissatisfaction. While the president was busy claiming increasing economic prosperity, many of the general population have not been feeling it. They are feeling things are wrong, and too many people are struggling. Sound familiar?
Social media has been added into the mix: the idea of the poster movement has partly gathered momentum from people taking photos of their handwritten posters, and posting them online.
I was reminded on the question: “How are you all doing?” by a segment on Campbell Live tonight. A woman, who claims her family is struggling to survive on low paid work, has written a letter to John Key.
Title of the segment: “Open letter to PM: ‘The new working poor’“.
Tired of having to constantly make ends meet, mother-of-two Samantha Anderson has penned an open letter to the Prime Minister.
Ms Anderson invited John Key and his family to come and live their lives for a month. As she describes it: the lives of ‘the new working poor’.
Around 20km from Westport, on the road to Granity, are a small cluster of houses which make up Birchville – the only place the Andersons could afford to buy a house.
Watch the video for Whena Owen’s full report on ‘the new working poor’.
Here and there, some people are taking it into their own hands and talking back to the spin about utopian “rock star economies”, and to tell about the struggles of those some people in government would rather not talk about..
Handwritten posters, letters written from one battler’s (family-based) point of view.
Way to go!
on and off the dole for the last 2 years – young family and mortgage to pay. casual jobs nothing full time. thats how im doing
Living in a shoebox. eating gruel. Eh we was lucky!
fisiani, if your situation changes (as situations are prone to do suddenly these days)
and you find yourself looking at your bills and looking at your wallet and looking at the chasm between, you can be assured your imagined kin, those masters of the market, will give you the same support as that given to those you get so much pleasure in ridiculing.
so wake up and stop being such a sanctimonious bore
People are hurting
New Zealand is in serious trouble
My offspring all work in Australia. They have survived and succeeded there because their parents did the same when young, and as a result have the contacts over there to help them get a start. at least there are actually jobs that not only pay a living wage in Aussie they have career paths and training attached as well. These are what is missing in NZ these days. Along with sucking all the training funding out of education , and gutting provincial polytechs the Natz have fucked the job market in NZ completely. So yeah we are entering the retirement phase without our family around us,.Skype is no substitute for family. And few young people return to NZ to raise their families like our generation did,because there is nothing here economically. That’s how we’re doing. Old cashed up and becoming the next generation of kiwis with a fragmented family. Sucks!
But, but, but, the holy book says no rational business owner would neglect staff training and career paths. We just need more deregulation.
So yeah we are entering the retirement phase without our family around us,.Skype is no substitute for family.
We’ve done it the other way around. In the last decade of my working life and we’ve made the move and left the kids behind. For all the same reasons you outline.
Only downside is that the Abbot govt is dealing out all the same crap we’ve had in NZ for forty years. Yesterday we were treated to the Labour Minister openly demanding in the medua that employers stop giving workers pay rises and heavily implied that in order to compete with China that Aussie pay levels needed to fall to match.
Not that he was for an instant offering to lead by example.
I hope the unions in Australia sit up and push back hard, while they still can.
Nope – they are being kneecapped by various corruption allegations and investigations, particularly in the construction industry which has been a hot-bed of hard-ball on all sides for decades.
It’s just that suddenly it suits the govt to make a play of this. Was listening to some business association type label all unions as ‘industrial thugs’ that need to be stamped out on Thursday.
The car industry in being shut-down, local manufacturers like SPC are being shafted and Abbot is making a point of telling industry that they will be getting no support at all from his government unless they find ways to de-unionise and cut pay levels.
It’s not at all a hidden agenda; it’s right out in the open.
Well, that sucks real bad.
I also have family that have moved to Oz (siblings). Then their kids marry Ozzies and have the grandkids, so it’s unlikely they will ever come back.
I can understand the desire to get ahead and so the move to Oz. However within some circles, where sustainability and a resource depleted future are a given, I’m noticing families consolidating again, and within NZ. Often it’s parents shifting to be with their kids esp when the grandkids are on the horizon or on the way. Makes a huge amount of sense to me. Strong interdependent relationships will be key in the future, and functional extended families are one of the most stable ways of doing that.
When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, we had two sets of grandparents to help out. Most of my friends have raised their kids away from extended family, and that’s been very hard on them. That’s a result of both how the economy has been run (you have to move to get a job), and also where libertarian ethics have trumped community (what I want is more important than what we want). Another thing the neoliberal revolution has to answer for. Not sure where we go from here.
Right wingers in Australia are always more openly bellicose than their Kiwi equivalents. Look at the hounding they gave Gillard. I hope their antics will push the ALP to revisit its principles. I also hope the Australian people will dig their heels in. Historically, they are quicker to anger than Kiwis, and have a stronger sense of agency. They are not as willing as Kiwis to glumly accept that their concerns don’t count.
I heard NZ competition, presumably lower wages, being given as a reason for SPC to close down. No doubt part of Key’s great plan to advance this country (business) by offering up the sacrificial offering of low paid workers, which he will advance by limiting the amount of actual work carried out here, and importing lower paid workers from the Philippines.
We have already had someone on this blog extolling their value to him and running down the NZ workforce. The others are cheap and clean, while we don’t deserve or get work because we are not in sync with our low status. We haven’t accepted that we are not only to be poor, but we have to humble and discipline ourselves, work to exemplary standards, and know our place. This is not the recent nature of NZs, who are still she’ll be right exponents in the main even to the level of parliamentarians.
And today’s young workers just can’t afford in any way to become depressed and use unprescribed mood-altering medication, or live in a fool’s paradise that one day soon they’ll get a decent job and then knuckle down. The binge drinking-sleep in late syndrome might apply to the scions of the plutocrats, but even this is not sustainable for them. Is Cameron’
a sad example of this wormhole to adult life?
greywarbler – Australia (under the “Mad Monk”) has rejoined the “race to the bottom” for worker’s rights and the rights of the poor. They are talking up welfare reforms that go even further than what this crap government has thus far imposed on us:
“One of the big problems with the current welfare system, Mr Andrews said, is that payments such as Newstart are indexed at different rates to the pensions, such as the disability support pension (DSP). “That creates in some circumstances a perverse incentive for people to get onto the DSP,” Mr Andrews said. The Social Services Minister said previous governments had regarded the disability pension as “set-and-forget payments”, and this needed to change, he indicated.”
Have we not heard something like this before???
Sadly, like in the UK and in New Zealand, the Australian Labor Party paved the way for all this!!! Just look at this:
Extract: “The Budget contains a number of measures that aim to bring about change in the personal behaviour of welfare recipients. This reflects the growing emphasis by the Government on addressing what it describes as the ‘corrosive’ effects of welfare. That is, the idea that while welfare is necessary for the alleviation of disadvantage it also has a role in maintaining or possibly even causing disadvantage.
During the 2010 election campaign, Labor’s main welfare policy committed a re-elected Gillard Government to the task of modernising Australia’s welfare system through ‘creating opportunity’ and ‘requiring responsibility’. The policy referred to the need ‘to spread the dignity and purpose of work, end the corrosive aimlessness of welfare and bring more Australians into mainstream economic and social life’.”
And this is happening under equally ideologically influenced health and medical professional organisations, and their educational faculties, all having adopted much of what UK Professor Mansel Aylward, his selected few (but very influential) like-minded peers, and various obedient and “converted” professional followers (or “lackeys”) like MSD’s Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, Dr David Beaumont (formerly ATOS, UK), preach, and who are all now being engaged in ADVISING governments!!!
See my earlier comments re the ‘Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ statements, and their AFOEM’s statements on the “health benefits of work”:
Like with the extremely powerful mining lobby (and their media lackeys), now having achieved that over a million tons of dirty, polluted waste from coal mining will be dumped near the Great Barrier Reef, the medical insurance corporates, and corporate friendly governments, have achieved that even the supposedly “science based” and “independent” medical profession is being manipulated into cooperating to achieving ideologically and cost driven policy outcomes!
I am afraid the FIGHT has just begun, and if people do not bloody wake up and take a firm and forceful stand against all this, we will have the society that George Orwell described, yes even worse. A new class struggle is declared, by the top third, buying the consent of the middle third, to enslave the bottom third.
It’s actually a new class struggle led by those in the top 5%
Who then co-opt those in the next 10% or so.
The middle third of society have been casualties in this almost as much as the bottom third.
It’s distraction and diversion; you have to remember that the power elite in the USA never see or deal with poor people, ever. This live in what is essentially a separate country to everyone else i.e. Richistan. It is a country with its own laws and rules, and where there is literally no poverty, just the relative poor of multi-millionaires worth under $10M.
“It’s actually a new class struggle led by those in the top 5%
Who then co-opt those in the next 10% or so.”
Yes, you may be closer to the percentages of those actually being the wealthy and powerful, and those who are directly involved in the suppression and manipulating of the rest of society, but I was suggesting that there are sadly too many in the upper part of the middle class, who tend to feel they belong to the top and elite of society, given their privileged education, professional expertise, business acumen, their personal social backgrounds and so forth.
I was including that upper bracket of what we still call “middle class”, and the rest of the middle class would make up the middle third of the population, while the bottom third would be working poor, the “precariat”, beneficiaries and those living under bridges and in parks.
There is also sufficient research showing, that about 80 per cent of humans tend to be followers, tend to adjust to any given circumstances, and even act contrary to their own conscience, just to ensure their “security” in employment or whatever social status, which explains why changed behaviour can be enforced by “leaders” (incl. wealthy, core stake-holding elites, governments, and so), no matter whether it is justified or not.
It may be likened to the “herd instinct” we are all prone to follow in varying degrees. Clearly there is this reality of disproportionate power in the hands of few, that is being exerted over the rest. To challenge this state of affairs requires a lot of effort, skill and the power of convincing and influencing. There we are back to political action and activism.
People like to see strong leadership and principles/values not just vocalised but also put into deft action.
That’s what the Left has to deliver to the bottom 50%. At the moment a lot of people still feel like they are not being listened to, and not understood, by those who play in the Thorndon Bubble.
Thanks I will read those links later. The corrosive effects of welfare. That is the sort of thing they would say in the Depression. It is strange when times are good and so is the economy, it’s the wealthy who are the bright stars who made it all happen. When times are hard, it’s the poor who have dragged the country down and dug the hole it wallows in. And that could be partly true, if there is a hole, the wealthy would never get their hands calloused digging it.
The difficulty is that everything is so cruisy for the wealthy. They are in the same position now as the old slavers. They had this very efficient trade route that made a big rakeoff on each leg. But they couldn’t afford to look closely at their business concepts, with the real higher standards that ‘civilised people from the European countries’ would be expected to attain. In fact they wailed that if slavery were stopped the economy would fail.
It’s really bad when bad things are allowed to get entrenched. And there was so much racism. King Leopold of Belgium in the Congo, the Dutch in the Spice Islands, the Spanish and Portugese in lots of places etc. The wealthy countries are getting to that mindset now. The British-English connections are seemingly into it. And as I wrote earlier the young here seem to have no higher vision than to get the latest gee-gaw of technology, and ever more money.
We must try to get a change of government, and present the parliament with mirrors that show their true selves and the nation’s good points which are valuable and need encouragement as well as protection.
That’s precisely what we are, people.
Accept it or fight.
The power of a single poster . . . hmmm.
Yes. Indeed. But also it’s instructive to consider what gave that poster so much power. It was handwritten in a country that is very digitally sophisticated and connected. It delivered a message with a very clear hook” “How are you all doing nowadays?”. This hook unites all the posters that followed, no matter what the political issues or personal experiences they referred to.
It was in a context where there is a traditional style of posters that are handwritten.
And the hook addressed everyone personally and asked for a response – thus drawing in large numbers of people and spurring them into poster action.
Very nicely thank you , I cant complain at all.
Apart from the low IQ, that is.
And lack of social intelligence.
And amoral narrow self interest
I imagine you’ll find yourself suddenly able to complain following one or two general elections.
I’m doing as well as can be expected. Professionally, very well mainly because I’m in Australia. Health-wise, probably the same either side of the ditch. Personally, well I’m lucky in love and my grandkids are great. I’d like our country to be doing a lot better and will do what I can to make that happen. That starts with getting rid of the NAct regime, which has to be the worst government we’ve ever had. What the hell happened to us that so many people worship a moderately successful casino gambler who can’t string a sentence together and wants nothing more than to please Uncle Sam? I’m OK, but we need to get back on track.
Wait for the Asian economic boom to slow soon and for the credit fed growth in Mainland China to burst like a bubble. That is when the shit will truly hit the fan! Farmers in NZ may then have to drain their milk into the rivers, as nobody can buy it. The underdeveloped economy will not offer enough other activity to make a living from, and a difficult period may set in, causing massive unemployment.
As for the richer getting richer and the poor getting poorer and the middle class breaking up into pieces, and many becoming working poor or struggling to survive, this is indeed a rather global development and trend.
The woman from the West Coast, who was presented on Campbell Live and described how she and her family struggle, she was doing a great job highlighting how hundreds of thousands struggle in NZ.
I was impressed that TV3 and Campbell Live broadcast this, and I hope there will be more of this.
With the situation so many face here in NZ, especially the working poor and those struggling on hard to get benefits, I would really have expected more to go and protest. Sadly too many seem to be lacking the courage, and rather resign to their dreadful circumstances being things they cannot change. So many are also isolated, and the social fabric here in Auckland is very loose now.
Take a stand, please!
While I agree with most of what you say, xtasy, there could well be factors other than “lack of courage” and “being resigned to their dreadful circumstances” that prevent the poor from publicly protesting.
Knowing how to, for one – perhaps having poor health is another – literally not having the money to get from A to B to do anything – being hounded by WINZ if they’re “job hunting” – the list is endless.
Don’t blame the poor. It is those of us who are able to do something who must take up the fight on their behalf.
JK – It is not so much “blaming” the poor, as I am one of them myself, believe it or not.
Also have I joined others and also taken action myself, to picket, protest and more. What I am doing here is mostly intended to raise awareness.
I have had many discussions with affected, and have also made heaps of information available. Doing that, I have come across unbelievably many cases of resignation, of questioning what difference this or that would make, and too much acceptance of fate. Then there are also many seeking distractions of whatever kind, rather than join others and take action.
There are many reasons, and you mention some of them. I understand all that, as I have been unable to go to many activities myself, due to lack of money for transport to distant places. But in all honesty, there are also very many affected, who turn away once they see that activists come with a political message.
That is why many traditional activist groups are struggling. Poor and people on benefits may want activists focus more on the direct issues and challenges, rather than be told that they should take on a certain political mindset or follow a certain “left” or whatever direction.
The least people can do is inform themselves, and while some do this, I am afraid that it is just some, and not necessarily that many.
But this can only be seen as a challenge, for those like us to try even harder, to do more, and to perhaps lead by example.
Thanks and best wishes …
“But this can only be seen as a challenge, for those like us to try even harder, to do more, and to perhaps lead by example”.
xtasy you always demonstrate great knowledge of the systems holding us back and spell out in detail how it is being done, especially WINZ. You are being proactive by sharing your knowledge. By doing that, you ARE leading by example.
“You are being proactive by sharing your knowledge. By doing that, you ARE leading by example.”
I admit that at times I am struggling with doing that, but thank you.
Kia Ora and Kia Kaha
It seems as I mingle with others at public events, that many young adults are quite loose, ‘Not to worry eh!’ being a their back-up response to life in general. They look sour, they look overweight, they open the doors of the highsided SUV and the kids spill out and the little ones run away unsupervised. They stroll to the attraction, and take photos, they stroll on and call out to their children to follow, small to larger. They don’t seem happy, enthusiastic, involved in anything.
How can such withdrawn, isolated, unsociable people be motivated to do anything for the good of their country and others, including themselves? If they are to be brought on board a Labour platform, every policy discussed must have an example of how it will advantage the individual and the couple who still act as self-seeking individuals, even when they are a family.
I hadn’t really realised anything was amiss in the lives of ordinary South Koreans, probably because I know so little about the country but then one day in my inbox was a notice from LabourStart.org about the Railway Workers strike that got my attention, and it was huge:
“…………………………… involving hundreds of thousands of people on the last weekend of 2013”
What timing then, for the “How are you all doing?” campaign. What a mass fight back from the Korean people (the strike was over privatisation of the railways), and what an excellent way of getting ordinary people involved – simply by asking their stories and them writing those stories on posters. Something for us to think about here in NZ? A more analogue approach to getting things done, such as Dunedin Standardista’s have done, they are now communicating IRL! Don’t forget the value of your security in discussing ideas offline in our GCSB + TICS Act’s world we live in too!
Are we becoming too reliant on social media? It certainly is essential for today’s activist and all those who are interested in advancing democratic society but are we abandoning effective traditional methods of information sharing such as the poster I wonder. It’s working for the Koreans eh?
(Incidentally one tool that People’s Power Ohariu use is the placard. Topical Dunne related events are stenciled on to placards and placed in strategic areas around the suburbs of the Ohariu electorate. They are critical of Dunnes actions but they are also fun and a bit cheeky)
And yes, Samantha Anderson on Campbell Live last night was awesome. High time Key was given a direct challenge the very people he mistakenly thinks he represents. Would be good to see how that one pans out.
Rosie, one of the problems of a poster campaign, specially where a public space is being used is the rate of ‘cover-up’ that occurs,
From personal experience in the early 1990’s i used a series of photo-copiers and later gestetners,(think that’s how it’s spelt), to produce 1000’s of anti-benefit cuts posters which were a lot of fun and obviously an embarrassment to the Government,
i had basically a free run with my bucket of paste for a month and then noticed that wherever i went around the City my posters were being quickly postered over with those promoting local bands…
I’ve still got some large posters of Ruthanasia and a lot of little Olivers standing besides a big cauldron and the wee people are handing back their plates to go in the pot. It’s headed Black Sunday or something. Very good by one of the newspaper cartoonists I think.
Sadly there was No Alternative to those benefit cuts. They fixed the fiscal crisis and paved the way for prosperity.
What a load of shit SSLands, it paved the way for another 100,000 on the dole and the billion dollars taken from beneficiaries was the catalyst to an ongoing recession,
There is always an alternative such as taxing wankers like you to pay for the mess your version of capitalism wreaks across the world,
In conclusion, you have nothing to add except ‘wing-nut’ bullshit why not piss off and commune with ‘wail-oil’ i am sure the pair of you will have mutual respect after all it is obvious that you both are capable of both sucking and swallowing…
You sound as if you are in the fantasy land of Wizard of Oz following the yellow brick road that ‘paves the way to prosperity’. Whose? Presumably you have some or you wouldn’t be so complacent.
You aren’t Dorothy, not the brave lion, not the scarecrow who wanted to be stronger and better, nor the tin man who wanted a heart. You must be the evil witch. Away with you, back to your own castle of doom.
I’ve cheered up your day haven’t I. You’re one of those superior types who come here for a laugh and a sneer, thinking that you are all-knowing and dispensing pieces of your wisdom.
“Sadly there was No Alternative to those benefit cuts.”
No alternative to taking money from the bottom of the heap? From the poorest people in society, who have the least wiggle-room in their budget, to whom even a small cut has real, tangible, and serious effects?
I can think of one alternative just off the top of my head.
Fantastic effort bad!
I might have seen some of your posters back in the day! I wasn’t living in Wgtn at that point but used to visit and that time was the dawning of my political awakening. I remember reading info on posters that I knew nothing about previously – so thank you for your contribution to the education of people!
The rate of cover up is a problem though. I wonder if there are semi permanent solutions to postering, ie, keeping a message visible during it’s relevancy?
Perhaps there needs to be a posters battle. Have a group ‘Friends of the Post’ and keep an eye on them whether on a post, wall, wherever they can legally go of course!
The interesting thing Rosie is that when i took the time to check out who it was exactly that was postering over my little efforts as fast as i could put them up i found someone who to a certain extent appeared to be a fellow traveler in the anti-government movement in Wellington at the time,
Being paid to,or, postering over my efforts as an act of jealousy were the two conclusions i came to when i considered His behavior, as an act of Utu i co-opted quite a crowd to attend a meeting of an organization that He held a high office in and we simply voted the prick out, a just reward for His efforts no matter what the motivation was…
(Incidentally one tool that People’s Power Ohariu use is the placard. Topical Dunne related events are stenciled on to placards and placed in strategic areas around the suburbs of the Ohariu electorate. They are critical of Dunnes actions but they are also fun and a bit cheeky)
Excellent, Rosie. One of the ways to by-pass the slick, PR driven corporate MSM.
I think with the South Korean posters, one of the key elements is that they are handwritten – it provides a real person individual response. I always like the hand made, handwritten placards at demos for the same reason.
The open letter to the PM on Campbell Live does something similar, because the person behind the letter, and her home location are identitified. Maybe lots of handwritten placards and posters around NZ, in public places, would help to get the message across the reality of many people’s lives in the era of the “rockstar” economy.
And I was thinking maybe some handwritten postcards and letters to the PM and other party leaders?
I also like the handwritten, handmade placards at demo’s. They convey a personal investment in the statement and some how carry a little more meaning. Always nice to look at Frank MacSkasy’s photo’s of demo’s to see all the neat placards.
I wonder how many other people do write to the PM with their issues, as Samantha has done. Her letter was succinct I thought. I’m sure he couldn’t care less and it could even be entertainment for him but when it gets media attention he and the nat machine must squirm, just a little.
I guess this is where a facebook sort of campaign would come into it. Folks writing hand written notes to the PM about how their lives are so not “rockstar” and then posting them on line for all to see. Copies could be pasted together on board and displayed some where publicly. I don’t know.
A people centred and people led fight back is critical this year. Stuff those lying media B******’s !