Asia's Unknown Uprisings Volume 1: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century
by George Katsiaficas
One of the things that surprised me about the wave of radical theory that accompanied the arc of popular struggle running from Tunis through Cairo and on to Madison and NYC was that no one seemed to be mentioning George Katsiaficas, and his concept of the Eros Effect: for years, he has consistently and creatively excavated the history of revolutions from below, naming by Eros---in a nod to his mentor Herbert Marcuse---that contagious logic of popular power that overturns decades of repression in hours, spontaneously builds new socieities founded in love and mutual aid, and jumps like a wildfire across the global and historical imagination.
For the past decade or so, Katsiaficas has been at work on what's likely to be his most important work: a recovery, for the English speaking world, of the tremendous social movements that have been sweeping East Asia: this is a necessary corrective, since few people have even heard of the most famous moments of this recent history: there's so much talk about North Korean dictatorship---but our abysmally complicit media frames rarely acknowledge the long and sordid history of authoritarian rule in South Korea propped up by the United States.
The resistance in South Korea deserves to be legendary (and making it so is the task of Katsiaficas' first volume): do you know about Gwangju for instance? A commune in 1980 South Korea's sixth largest society, taken over by its citizens---who when faced with state repression built from scratch in a few days a popular army, and who were brutally supressed with hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of casualties when the state retook the city at gunpoint?
We've been waiting for this book for years---not to mention the still forthcoming the second volume, which expands the focus from the Korean pennisula to study popular revolts across the region, promises even more gamechanging revolutionary history.