South Korea has arrested all of its living ex-Presidents. It’s possible
In the spirit of kumbaya capitulation, Biden’s administration is unlikely to really prosecute Trump. This is a bad idea. Americans have seen years of obvious corruption, and they’re going to see him getting away with it. This sends a message. This changes your country. Either Trump is corrupt or America is. That’s what’s on the line.
Americans are unused to prosecuting Presidents, but it really can be done. South Korea does it all the time. Out of 12 Presidents total, four have been convicted, a full 33%. All four living ex-Presidents have been convicted. You can do this America. Just follow the true leader of the free world, the Republic of Korea.
The Korean Example
Two years ago, former President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years for what would be a dull September in Trumpland. She and one dodgy associate funneled $72 million into foundations, among other things. They were both convicted and sent to jail.
Also in 2018, former President Lee Myung-bak was convicted for bribery and embezzlement. In 1996, Presidents Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan were convicted for bribery, coup’ing and deploying troops on civilians (sound familiar?). They, however, were pardoned. But even there, the message was sent. When they claimed they couldn’t pay the fines, people saw paintings and porcelain being hauled out of their houses.
You could say this shows that Korea is corrupt. I think it shows the opposite. Every nation is corrupt. Power corrupts, that’s what it says on the tin. If you’re not convicting 33% of your Presidents you’re doing it wrong.
In life you often get as much shit as you put up with. It’s the same with politics. If you put up with corrupt politicians you get more corrupt politicians. In fact, the same ones will keep coming back.
Korea has seen some crazy corruption, which continues to this day. But they also resist. And they keep resisting. This to me is the political lesson. Koreans lived under military dictatorship, capitalist exploitation and now the allure of comfort (for some), but they keep pushing. They keep resisting.
In fact, despite their Public Prosector’s office taking more scalps than Donald Trump Jr kills endangered species, it wasn’t enough. In 2017 Moon Jae-In ran on creating a Corruption Investigation Office for High Ranking Officials (CIO), which also does what it says on the tin. It’s geared to bring even more accountability to what already seems like an accountable system. Moon Jae-In has expended huge amounts of political capital on this.
Koreans have lived through far more entrenched corruption than most of us have seen and they didn’t give up. They prosecuted Presidents in the 90s, they prosecuted them now, they’re holding powerful people accountable and making their people more powerful. That, to me, is the lesson. Illegitimi non carborundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible or dangerous to prosecute a President. Look to the leader of the free world. They’re better for it.
The American Shambles
America, on the other hand, is a police state for the poor and a nanny state for the rich. If a poor child commits the slightest infraction, they’ll end up in the carceral state forever. If a rich man commits the wildest crime, they’ll never get in. You get a few ceremonial convictions, but those are hard fought paper-cuts. House arrest. Pardon. Time served.
As Lawrence says in Westworld, “There’s no such thing as fair here. In Pariah, justice ain’t just blind, she’s crooked. Bitch’s scales are always tipped. If you don’t see how, well, that’s ’cause they’re tipped against you.”
The height of American power is akin to joining a crime family. You’re a made man. As Henry Hill says in Goodfellas, “It means that nobody can fuck around with you. It also means you could fuck around with anybody just as long as they aren’t also a member. It’s like a license to steal. It’s a license to do anything.”
What did the Democratic House impeach Trump for? It wasn’t for any one of his high crimes and misdemeanors. It was for fucking with Biden via Ukraine. It was for fucking with another made man.
This is of course not unique to America, such is power. Power is just domesticated corruption. That’s all it is. It started when the first ape took the best fruit, and said the tree told him to. And that it was for everyone’s good. There are obviously good uses for power, but misunderstanding that its natural state is corruption leads to all manner of misunderstandings.
Like cockroaches in the house or termites in the wood, you can’t just let it go. Otherwise the jungle takes over. Even though corruption — like cockroaches — keeps coming back, you have to keep fighting. Spray it, keep cleaning, keep smashing it, whatever it takes. That’s the difference between a decent state and a state of nature.
America is, of course, not a decent state. America’s founding fathers were the Philly Mob, later muscled out by the Virginia Mafia. Only land-owning white men (6% of the population) had power, including the power to rape and enslave. Americans don’t understand this, but it’s a fact. Your founding fathers didn’t give you universal suffrage. Black people did, in 1965. What you got in 1776 was Mafia rule, a local white gang that broke away from the British Mafia. They just didn’t want to pay taxes or play by anyone else’s rules. And they still don’t. Now they’re called Republicans.
The difference is not so much where the two countries started. It’s where they’re ending up. And that’s all based on choices. How they deal (or don’t) with their past.
Modern Korea was founded as a military dictatorship (with plenty of US help). It grew with rampant corruption among the chaebols (industrial conglomerates).
However, for whatever reason, Koreans fought corruption whereas Americans just bought it as the American Dream. It’s hilarious when western commentators call Koreans an obedient people, with high social cohesion. I mean, yeah, they queue for the metro, but they regularly co-heave their leaders into jail. If anything, it’s Americans that are the obedient culture because they put up with so much shit.
Democrats are a masterclass in this.
Joe Biden is reportedly telling advisers that he wants to “move on.” In short, he wants to just walk around the most steaming pile of shit ever left on the White House floor. But it doesn’t work like that. The public has SEEN Trump’s corruption. The money walked in under a TRUMP sign. He illegally campaigned in the White House, it was all in plain sight. People will also see how Biden deals with this.
People don’t read the laws, they watch what the laws do. Either the laws stop corruption or corruption becomes the (unwritten) law.
That is why you cannot move on from this. You have to deal with it. You have to change direction, because your country is going the wrong way. You need to stop, look at where you’re going, and turn around. If you don’t treat corruption as a crime then it’s not a crime.
If the powerful get charged, it means the people are in charge, and that’s a good thing for democracy.
Either Trump is corrupt or America is. It’s that simple. This is the greatest task in front of Biden’s Justice Department, to account for all the bribery, the coup’ing, the deploying troops on civilians in the way that Korea has, or just slide further into corrupt American complacency. Either you account for his crimes or nothing counts. Either you fight corruption, or corruption wins. But don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible, or impractical, or to just let it go.
Take it from the leader of the free world, South Korea. You can arrest a President. Hell, you can arrest all of them. I’m not saying America can or will do this, but it can be done.
A lot of the background here comes from the Blue Roof Newsletter. I read Korean news to just experience a world where everything isn’t completely stupid all the time and I highly recommend their detailed and contextual take on it.