While a nation state protects its people from other nation states, what protects the people from their own nation state? In raising this question, I have in mind contemporary East Asian societies where rivalry among nation states is used to justify the peopleâ€™s sacrifices for the nation. I highlight the fact that the East Asian nation states have repressed the spontaneous creation of grassroots communities, and I argue that building small-scale self-help communities is the key for people to regain autonomy and cope with threats caused by national politics. I illustrate this with the case of the organic farming movement in South Korea. The practice of communal self-help in South Koreaâ€™s organic farming movement started in 1976 with the creation of ChÅngnonghoe, an association of â€œrighteous farmers.â€ Since its beginning under the military government of the 1970s, the organic farming movement has been an effort to seek rural autonomyâ€”an ideal conceived by Christian nationalists in the colonial period of the 1920s. The 1920s Christian nationalism combined with the Danish model of rural movement based on cooperatives and adult education provided the early organic farmers with an alternative path of modernisation to deviate from the governmentâ€™s state-oriented model. In this way, the movement aimed to create a communal space autonomous from the stateâ€™s rural control.
|Title of host publication||The Living Politics of Self-Help Movements in East Asia|
|Editors||T Cliff, T Morris-Suzuki & S Wei|
|Place of Publication||Singapore|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|