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  지적 탐구 작업의 길잡이 - 시대적 대안을 찾아서 (2012/2/5)

지적 탐구 작업의 길잡이 - 시대적 대안을 찾아서


한국의 정치경제가 혼란 속에 있습니다.  기존 정치권이 국민들로부터 극도의 불신을 받아 생존이 위협에 처하자 스스로 다시 태어나고자 개혁의 몸부림을 치고 있습니다.  기성정치권 인사가 아니라 시민운동가가 시장에 당선되고 유력한 잠재적 대선후보자중 한사람이 정치와 거리가 멀었던 인사인 것도 기성 정치권에 대한 국민들의 불신을 드러내줍니다. 


그런데 이러한 한국의 기성 정치권의 위기는 그동안 이들이 의존했던 경제운용 철학의 한계에서 비롯됩니다.  1980년대 초부터 시작된 신자유주의적 시장만능주의 철학이 2008년 세계경제위기로 그 효용성을 다한 듯 보이기 때문입니다.  세계화 속에 진행된 빈부격차의 확대와 고용 없는 성장, 금융부문의 방만과 도덕적 해이 같은 문제들을 해결하는데 기존의 정치경제 철학에 기반 했던 제도와 정치세력들이 무능하다고 판단된 것입니다.


문제는 그럼 여기서 어디로 가야하느냐 하는 것입니다.  대안이 무엇인가 하는 것입니다.  대안적 정치경제 철학과 제도가 무엇이냐?  예를 들어 신자유주의가 아니라면, 하이에크도 케인즈도 아니라면, 어디로 가야하나?  새로운 패러다임을 어떻게 추구해야 할 것인가?  이런 근본적인 질문들이 나오고 있습니다.


새로운 대안을 찾는 작업은 지적(知的)인 창조 작업입니다.  그렇기에 기존의 사고와 그에 의존한 제도를 부정하는데서 출발해야합니다.  다시 말해 창조적이고 독창적인 사고가 필요합니다.  그래서 학생들에게 가르치면서 종종 독립적 사고의 중요성, 비판적 사고의 중요성을 이야기합니다.  그러나 학생들은 힘들어합니다.  도대체 어떻게 새로운 대안적 사고를 하란 말인가, 나는 아직 풋내기 대학생에 불과한데...


그런데 이러한 고민은 우리만의 고민이 아닌 듯합니다.  왜냐면 우리 한국사회가 당면한 과제는 세계화라는 맥락과 닿아있고 그래서 미국 같은 많은 서구 사회가 공유하고 있기 때문입니다.  내가 즐겨 읽는 뉴욕타임스 컬럼니스트 브룩스(David Brooks)의 다음 컬럼은 절절한 그의 고민인 동시에 지금 한국에 사는 젊은이들의 고민을 대변해주어서 참 공감이 갑니다.  그가 제시한 해법이 무엇인지 읽어보세요.  그리고 이 시대의 고민을 남의 이야기가 아니라 자기 것으로 삼고, 진지하게 고민하는 여러분 대학지성인의 지적 탐구여행의 길잡이로 삼아보세요. 


(푸른 하늘에 눈부신 태양과 인도양이 내려다보이는 발리 어느 호텔에서 오랜만의 망중한을 즐기면서, 2012년 2월 5일.)



The New York Times, February 2, 2012, p.7.


(http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/opinion/brooks-how-to-fight-the-man.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=How%20to%20fight%20the%20Man&st=cse)


February 2, 2012


How to Fight the Man
By DAVID BROOKS


A few weeks ago, a 22-year-old man named Jefferson Bethke produced a video called “Why I Hate
Religion, but Love Jesus.” The video shows Bethke standing in a courtyard rhyming about the purity of the teachings of Jesus and the hypocrisy of the church. Jesus preaches healing, surrender and
love, he argues, but religion is rigid, phony and stale. “Jesus came to abolish religion,” Bethke
insists. “Religion puts you in bondage, but Jesus sets you free.”


The video went viral. As of Thursday, it had acquired more than 18 million hits on YouTube. It
speaks for many young believers who feel close to God but not to the church. It represents the
passionate voice of those who think their institutions lack integrity - not just the religious ones, but
the political and corporate ones, too.


Right away, many older theologians began critiquing Bethke’s statements. A blogger named Kevin DeYoung pointed out, for example, that it is biblically inaccurate to say that Jesus hated religion. In
fact, Jesus preached a religious doctrine, prescribed rituals and worshiped in a temple.


Bethke responded in a way that was humble, earnest and gracious, and that generally spoke well of his character. He also basically folded.


“I wanted to say I really appreciate your article man,” Bethke wrote to DeYoung in an online
exchange. “It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100 percent.”


Bethke watched a panel discussion in which some theologians lamented young people’s disdain of
organized religion. “Right when I heard that,” he told The Christian Post, “it just convicted me, and God used it as one of those Spirit moments where it’s just, ‘Man, he’s right.’ I realized a lot of my
views and treatments of the church were not Scripture-based; they were very experience based.”


Bethke’s passionate polemic and subsequent retreat are symptomatic of a lot of the protest cries we hear these days. This seems to be a moment when many people ? in religion, economics and
politics are disgusted by current institutions, but then they are vague about what sorts of
institutions should replace them.


This seems to be a moment of fervent protest movements that are ultimately vague and ineffectual.


We can all theorize why the intense desire for change has so far produced relatively few coherent
recipes for change. Maybe people today are simply too deferential. Raised to get college
recommendations, maybe they lack the oppositional mentality necessary for revolt. Maybe
people are too distracted.


My own theory revolves around a single bad idea. For generations people have been told: Think for
yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s
probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive
and rigorous worldview.


If you go out there armed only with your own observations and sentiments, you will surely find
yourself on very weak ground. You’ll lack the arguments, convictions and the coherent view of
reality that you’ll need when challenged by a self-confident opposition. This is more or less what
happened to Jefferson Bethke.


The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t
think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought
that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.


The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism,
Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.


These belief systems helped people envision alternate realities. They helped people explain why the things society values are not the things that should be valued. They gave movements a set of
organizing principles. Joining a tradition doesn’t mean suppressing your individuality. Applying an
ancient tradition to a new situation is a creative, stimulating and empowering act. Without a
tradition, everything is impermanence and flux.


Most professors would like their students to be more rebellious and argumentative. But rebellion without a rigorous alternative vision is just a feeble spasm.


If I could offer advice to a young rebel, it would be to rummage the past for a body of thought that helps you understand and address the shortcomings you see. Give yourself a label. If your college hasn’t provided you with a good knowledge of countercultural viewpoints - ranging from Thoreau to
Maritain - then your college has failed you and you should try to remedy that ignorance.


Effective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings. It means replacing one set of
authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and
institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose.
They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change.



 


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