In Defence of the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’

The DPRK(or ‘North Korea’ as known in the west), and the Republic of Korea(known as South Korea) exist as two separate countries, but the Korean people meet all of the characteristic features of a single nation as defined by Joseph Stalin in his scientific Marxist theory ‘The National Question; “a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” Understanding that Korea is not two separate nations is essential when taking a more in-depth look at actions of the DPRK in the appropriate context.

Many people in the west recite anti-north Korea catechism; that the DPRK is a garrison state and the greatest threat to international peace – they do however admit that what they know about the country, apart from the nonsense dished up by the media, is fuzzy. But this has always been the case. In 1949, American journalist ‘Anna Louise Strong’ wrote that “there is little public knowledge about the country and most of the headlines distort rather than reveal the facts.” Kim Jong-il is regularly described as insane and hell-bent on the destruction of the US, although, no-one can back this up with any evidence. Are we expected to take the word of bankers, Investors and Imperialists alike? Some context is required..

Japan colonised Korea in 1910, and for the next 35 years Korea became a source of obscene levels of profit for Japanese industrialists and financiers, at the expense of much Korean bloodshed. Countless Koreans were forcibly shipped off to Japan as forced labourers or as sexual slaves known in Japan as “comfort women”. But Japan couldn’t plunder the peninsula alone, they done so with the help of wealthy Korean landowners and industrialists, who, found favour with the Japanese imperialists and coincidentally they would later find favour with the United States’ occupation government, a great deal of the landowners and industrialists inherited key positions in the South Korean regime, which was headed by the American appointed right-wing nationalist and western educated Syngman Rhee.

Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea came to an end in 1945, when it was driven out by the Korean resistance, one of the principal figures was the DPRK founder, Kim Il-sung. The entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war led to Japans eventual surrender contrary to the narrative peddled by the west, a phrase I’m sure you are greatly familiar with – ‘The bomb put an end to the second world war’ – not so. A great deal of Japanese troops simply weren’t stationed in the cities that the US had mercilessly bombed in the years leading to Japanese surrender. It’s worth noting that virtually no city was exempt of bombing raids. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were brutally slaughtered, and yet still the Japanese govt would not surrender. It was only with the mounting pressure of a Soviet invasion of Japanese mainland that would force Japan to reconsider their options, the Soviets had killed or captured some 700’000 Japanese soldiers in their liberation of Manchuria. If this comes as a surprise to the reader, there are many articles available with a basic search, and well worth looking into..

After Tokyo’s surrender, the US tried to assert control over Japan’s former colonial possessions, including Korea. Kim il-sung’s guerrilla movement was an independent force inspired by a desire to reclaim the Korean peninsula for Koreans, and was controlled by neither the Soviets nor the Chinese. The Korean guerrilla’s did retreat into Soviet territory in order to escape counter-insurgency units though received very little aid from the Soviet Union. Unlike the US in the South; which had imposed a military government and even repressed the People’s Committees, the Soviet Union took a fairly hands-off approach to the northern part of the Korean Peninsula even allowing a coalition of nationalist and communist resistance fighters to run their own show in the face of US imperialism.

The DPRK was proclaimed amidst the ‘Korean War’(’45-’53) on September 9, 1948, three weeks after the un-democratic ‘Republic’ of Korea was founded in the south. Unlike the Soviet Union; which had to go through a painstaking period of industrialisation in order to develop their economy; the Korean ‘People’s Committees’ expropriated the Japanese built factories, railways, public utilities and natural resource industries and run them for the benefit of all citizens, from the first day. In October 1948, the guerrilla’s liberated the town of Yosu, which sparked rebellions in other towns throughout the peninsula. A pro-guerrilla newspaper at the time had called for radical land redistribution and the removal of Japanese collaborators from official government positions, this was achieved.

Meanwhile, in the Southern region of Korea, the ‘National Security Law’ was used in order to round up hundreds of thousands of Koreans believed to have been sympathetic to the DPRK. It’s estimated that between 100-200’000 Koreans were massacred from 1945-1953. The following are massacres that include the killing of suspected communist sympathisers, unarmed civilians and many children under the age of 10 – ‘The Bodo league massacre’, ‘December massacre’, ‘Goyang Geumjeong cave massacre’ and the ‘Namyangju massacre’. The communist movement in Korea was always stronger in the south from the time of its foundation in Seoul in 1925. Although it has been banned since 1949 because of its popular mass support. The Americans couldn’t possibly allow the spread of Socialism in the South as this is their launch-point for potential future missile strikes against the DPRK and China.

Aside from the war years, the DPRK’s economy grew at a faster pace than that of the south(1940’s to the mid-60s). Che Guevara was highly impressed during his visit to Pyongyang in 1965, and he even declared the DPRK to be a model to which Cuba should aspire. By 1980, Pyongyang was one of the most efficient cities in Asia, Washington’s imposed pro-capitalist regime in the south looked on in disbelief. Seoul was teeming with homeless and bursting with sweatshops, and whilst in the North consumer goods were scarce, they were able to provide – “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; genuinely free housing, free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries…” By the way, that happens to be a quote from a CIA report on the DPRK, you can imagine this was written rather grudgingly.

Socialism in the DPRK

Trotskyite factions have never led the masses in revolution precisely because they understand socialism and revolution in ultra-leftist utopian terms. Trots don’t believe that the DPRK is a socialist country, why? Because the Workers Party of Korea doesn’t measure up to their abstract, and dogmatic, catechism of Marx that uses his call for communists to ‘win the battle for democracy’. The Trotskyite armchair revolutionaries complain that socialism is a society in which workers control the means of production, but their idealism clouds them from recognising that a revolutionary society such as the DPRK, has already achieved that end. Funnily enough the Trotskyite ‘International Socialist Organisation’ or ISO for short, regard the DPRK’s achievements as “remarkable”. What more then do the ultra-leftists wish to see in the face of US and South Korean Imperialist, economic sanctions?

The DPRK continues to face great problems in socialist construction, but most of these problems stem from unfavourable external conditions and imperialist aggression. Marxist-Leninists must study the short-comings of the DPRK, but we must also praise the outstanding gains accomplished by the Korean revolution. Before 1945, it was inconceivable for the uneducated peasantry to become leading officials or officers in the army. But in the DPRK such careers became normal. Inter-class marriages became common, and educational access was opened up for all sections of society. With regards to the important question of land reform – the Workers Party underwent a steady process of converting private land ownership into co-operative organisations. In 1953, only 1.2% of peasant households were organised as co-operatives. By August 1958, 100% of peasant households were converted into co-operatives. Ultra-left-communists, Trotskyites, and raging anti-communists claim that collectivisation caused great famines, however, collectivisation in the DPRK did not result in any famine or mass starvation. In-fact, at no point did the agricultural output decrease; contrary to such an audacious claim, the process of collectivisation was actually accompanied by a steady increase in production. A leading economist in the late 70’s ‘Ellen Brun’, cited statistics on food production, showing a sharp increase from about 2.9 million tons in 1956 to 3.8 million tons in 1960.

Drawing from the Marxist-Leninist ‘mass line’ – which is the organising method that involves the masses in the process of economic development and socialist construction – the Workers Party implemented the Daean work system in December 1961. In the DPRK, workers have full input and supremacy in production and interact dialectically with the state to plan and carry out collectivist production on behalf of the whole Korean people. However, Korean Juche socialism – the DPRK’s self-reliance ideology adopted during the ‘Sino-Soviet Split’ – suffered a major setback in 1991 with the revisionist dismantling of the Soviet Union and most of the socialist bloc, which disrupted trade relations. Resilient as ever, the DPRK survived despite facing famine due to economic sanctions, and blocked access to international trade by Western imperialist powers. Much to the frustration of the US and its imperialist allies in the region – who believed the North Korean ‘experiment’ would be finished for by 2002 – the DPRK stabilised and remains committed to genuine workers democracy that serves as an example for Communists and Socialists world-wide, even if those Ultra-leftists don’t wish to hear it.

On the question of the DPRK’s Nuclear defence system, I pose a rhetorical question to the reader: Have the United States ever launched an invasion of a state that yields Nuclear weapons? We can only laugh at the hypocrisy of the US, who arrogantly sit on a stock-pile of weapons, and assert that the DPRK have no right to defend themselves against an aggressor no better than the Japanese Imperialists who colonised Korea in 1910. Consistent interference by the US and Japan will not bring peace, unity or stability to the people of Korea. It is the task of the Korean people, both north and south, to solve their differences and to unite if they desire to do so. This can be achieved only with the removal of all foreign forces and nuclear weapons from the south. The Korean people, need the support and solidarity of all progressives to put an end the partition and control by the United States and its running dogs and to allow Koreans to decide for themselves the future direction of their country. The DPRK is one of the last remaining countries where workers genuinely control society collectively as a class. As one of the few socialist countries to have survived the dismantling of the USSR, Marxist-Leninists must study and learn from the resilience of the Korean people.

One Korea!

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The Question of an Independent Scotland & The Scot-Left Distortion of Marxism

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“To belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.”

The decline of British imperialism, combined with the continuing decline of the working-class movement, has over the past twenty or thirty so years brought the national question to the fore. This is not the first time in history that such a period of reaction and decline has brought about a total lack of faith in the collective strength and revolutionary potential of the British working-class. Such a lack of faith has brought sections of the British proletariat, particularly in Scotland, to shelter under a national tent. There are, of course, certain individuals as well as organisations, who call themselves ‘Socialists’ and, yes, even ‘Communists’, who have not been immune from the inherently divisive and creeping nationalism. In relation to this, I will at a later point, touch on John Maclean(once dubbed ‘The Scottish Lenin’), his background, and his unfortunate capitulation to Bourgeois nationalism.

For now, let us turn to ‘The Question of Scottish Independence’, specifically to a quite frankly, outrageous theory peddled by the former; (pre-’89) SSP(Scottish Socialist Party), a theory still maintained by many on the Scot-Left to this day – ‘Scotland is a colony’. Protagonists of this theory assert that Scotland was not only a nation prior to the Union of Scotland and England in 1707, but incorporated into England as an oppressed nation – which it has allegedly maintained since. The falsity of this nationalist myth was exposed incredibly well by Neil Davidson, in his book ‘Origins of Scottish Nationalism’(which is well worth reading). The problem with such an analysis is that far from being a victim of oppression/any form of colonialism or indeed Imperialism, Scotland was, an integral part of the British state, a significant component of it. An example? Let’s take a brief look at British Imperialism in India and to be more specific Scottish involvement – By the mid-eighteenth century around 60% of British imports came from India. A small number of merchant agencies controlled this trade and at their peak in 1803, of the 23 agencies based in Calcutta, the 6 most important were dominated by Scots. In Bombay, where trade was controlled by an even fewer number of privileged agencies(five), three of these were Scottish. In 1772, one in nine of the East India Company’s civil servants, one in eleven of its soldiers, and, one in three of its officers were Scottish. In the eyes of Scottish nationalists, Scotland suffocates under the embrace of the British(or as they would have it ‘English’) state and its ruling institutions. They wait for its moment of freedom assuring us the break up of Britain is ‘inevitable’. Scotland, under the assertion that it is a colony, has been likened to nations such as Algeria, Congo, Vietnam, India and China – countries that fought for independence against various European colonial and imperialist powers. Yet, through such obviously fraudulent devices, the SNP, along with their left-wing and liberal boot-lickers see equivalence to the national movements of colonial peoples. Whatever the ideologues may say, it was not English capitalism that was solely responsible for as Davidson put it: “the bleaching of bones of countless Bengalis in the sun”, but British capitalism, of which the Scots we’re an integral part, playing a leading role in fact. To put into perspective, the shameful and the sheer brutality of British imperialism during its colonisation of India, I have provided this quotation by James Callender, a radical Scot prominent during the 1780’s and 1790’s –

“In Bengal only, we destroyed and expelled within the short period of six years, no less than five millions of industrious and harmless people; and as we have been sovereigns in that country for about thirty-five years, it may be reasonably computed that we have strewn the plains of Indostan with fifteen or twenty millions of carcasses. The persons positively destroyed must, in whole, have exceeded twenty millions …. These victims have been sacrificed to the balance of power, and the balance of trade, the honour of the British flag …”

 
Frankly, left to its own devices and having not joined the union, Scotland most probably would have remained under the tyranny of Feudal lords for a longer period of time. Prior to 1707, Scotland had one of the lowest levels of capitalist development in Europe, Sir James Stewart in 1767, likened Scotland in 1707 to fourteenth century Europe. This sounds laughable, though certainly in the 17th century this would have been the case. Unity with England overthrew absolutism, installed bourgeois liberty, and set upon the path of capitalist development, which proved irresistibly beneficial to the rising bourgeoisie in Scotland. In around 1745, Scotland underwent a massive economic boom and an unrivalled industrial revolution.

John Maclean, was without a doubt, a class fighter and revolutionary socialist. He was also Bolshevik consul in Scotland for a period, and played an outstanding role in promoting Marxism before and after the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’ in Russia. Lenin had held Maclean in high regard calling him one of the “heroic forerunners” of the Communist International, and yet, Maclean made an important mistake. His error, was to succumb to the pressures of Scottish nationalism. Maclean had refused to join the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain(now CPB), and instead advocated for a Scottish Communist Party. This failed to materialise and so he turned towards the notion of a Scottish Workers’ Republic and the establishment of the Scottish Workers’ Republican Party. “The Social Revolution is possible sooner in Scotland than in England…” – with this statement, Maclean deviated from the long-held position of Marxists that if there were to be a Socialist revolution in Britain, it would come as a result of class unity between the working classes of Scotland, England and Wales, Maclean’s distortion was derided by Lenin and incredibly even by Trotsky as fundamentally false.

Our role as ‘Marxists’ or ‘Marxist-Leninists’ is not to emulate Maclean’s mistakes, but to learn from them and inoculate the working class against impatience and short-cuts to Socialism that could lead the movement into the swamp of nationalism. The tone emanating from the leadership of the SSP and various activists within RISE(whom the SSP have entered into a left alliance with) today is “the Scottish working class”, “redistribute Scotland’s wealth”, “interests of Scottish workers”, etc. This emphasis and slant represents a capitulation to bourgeois nationalism – despite their lip service to internationalism. They have succumbed to ‘left reformism’ and seek solutions for the Scottish workers within the confines of capitalism. They either deliberately conceal their nationalism behind socialist phraseology or have forgotten that the only way forward for the working class in Scotland, as in England and Wales, is to forge the maximum unity of the class around socialist transformation of society. Marxists must always set out to uphold the common interests of the workers of Britain, Europe and indeed at an international level. We must forge a common struggle against the Scottish, English and Welsh capitalists enemies. The economies of Scotland, England and Wales are indissolubly linked, separation would bring about a certain disaster and the working class always pays the heaviest price.
“If there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory…it is impossible to lead the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.”

 

Stefan/@Gulagtearoom