The myth of the “Kim dynasty”: the reality of democracy in Juche Korea

Long live the 70th founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea! (poster released this year)

With the detente between the ROK (“South Korea”) and Juche Korea, officially called the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) or “North Korea” in the West, around the Winter Olympics in the ROK, tensions have been lessened on the Korean Peninsula. Such a reduction is a move toward peace in the region while the Orientalist bourgeois media and murderous empire continue to try to ratchet up tensions. With all of this, there are claims in this same media that Juche Korea has a “monarchy” with a “dynasty” headed by the Kim family or that it is a “dictatorship.” [1] While I addressed some of this in my previous post focusing on elections to the unicameral assembly of the country, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) or even my post about Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, I did not broach this issue entirely. In this post I aim to disprove these claims once and for all, showing that Juche Korea is a democratic state on the road to socialism, guided by the Juche ideology, a state which is neither a monarchy, a dictatorship, or has a dynasty.

Table of contents

  1. There is democracy not “autocracy”
  2. There is no “cult of personality”

There is democracy not “autocracy”

Make leaps and bounds in the flames of collectivist competition by which everyone helps and leads one another forward!

With bourgeois academics ringing their hands about “totalitarianism”the bourgeois media (ex: The EconomistCNN, HuffPostNew York Times, DW, UPI, Business Insider, ABC News, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, Reuters, Time, AP, Newsweek, CNBC, Time, and Fox “News”), white propaganda/anti-communist U$-run outlets (like VOA/Voice of America and RFA/Radio Free Asia) declaring there is a “Kim dynasty” led by a “royal family” which has ruled absolutely with an “iron fist” for “three generations” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un), it is worth looking at this subject more in-depth. After all, they call the country “one of the world’s most unpredictable and dangerous states,” claim it has a “personality cult” (discussed in the second section of this article), and treat the country like it is soap opera or “family psychodrama.” While they think the country could collapse any moment, some bourgeois media admit that “the world’s spy agencies” know little about “the inner workings of the Kim family” and one U$ intelligence official said candidly back in 2011 that “we simply do not know what goes on in North Korea, and anyone who claims otherwise is relying on that fact to make false claims.” [2] This was coupled with the reality that “the 1994 death of…Kim Il Sung” caught Western “intelligence agencies napping,” and an editorial in a trash English paper declaring that “there’s not much the United States can do to affect events inside North Korea.”

In order to show that the country has no dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or hereditary rule, it is important to define these words. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, mind you, is worth using here. This dictionary defines a dynasty as “a succession of rulers who are members of the same family,” something as hereditary when it is passed down from generation to generation or is ancestral. For the word monarchy, this dictionary says it is “rule by only one person” or “a government or state headed by a monarch; called absolute when there is no limit on the monarch’s power, constitutional when there is such a limitation.” It then defines the word monarch as “the single or sole ruler of the state” or the “hereditary ruler of the state.” As for the word dictatorship, it says that it is “absolute power or authority” or a state ruled by a dictator. The same dictionary defines a dictator as “a ruler with absolute power and authority, esp. one who exercises it tyrannically” and says the word “dictatorial” is the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The latter discussion of dictatorship will be noted more later in this section.

Some may say that the titles of Supreme Leader, leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), head of the military, and “eternal leader” of the country are “dominated” by the Kim family, “proving” that there is a monarchy or dynasty, with bourgeois Wikipedia even having a page on the latter, in Juche Korea. However, this is false. For one, if you look at other pages, even on Wikipedia, one will see that the “Heads of State,” “Heads of Government,” “Heads of Parliament,” and “Premiers of North Korea” are not part of this family. Additionally, the State Affairs Commission, Cabinet, Central Committee of the WPK, Politburo, and SPA all have multiple members apart from the family. I’ll also talk about this later as well. Furthermore, the surname of Kim is one of the most common on the Korean Peninsula (with the other two being Lee and Park), with not everyone of this surname “necessarily related genetically,” with 20% of Koreans having Kim as their surname. For example, there are “Kim families from the Kim-hae province, Kim families from the An-dong province and Kim families from the Kyongju province,” leading some to draw up and create stereotypes for Koreans. The naming system in Korea is different than elsewhere. Kim Jong-Un’s surname (or family name) is “Kim” but his given name is “Jong-Un” unlike naming conventions in the West where the last name of a person is their surname, like Barack Obama, with his surname is Obama and given name is Barack.

Some may dismiss this discussion of naming as nonsense. After all, the “hate-reader,” to take from the horrid commentary of Charlie “Chuckles” Davis of Telesur, may say, then why did the “leadership” of the country pass from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il, then to Kim Jong-Un? Well, Jason LaBouyer, writing in a former publication, Lodester, put out by the Korean Friendship Association (favorable to the current government of Juche Korea but not funded or supported by it), says that when it more accurately understood by those who recognize the Korean society [3], they see

…the people’s overwhelming support not only for their nation’s leadership, but for the philosophy of Juche socialism that has guided their economic and social development for over half a century. In other words, the Korean people’s dedication is not limited to Chairman Kim Jong Il, or to the late President Kim Il Sung, but to an entire ideology

LaBouyer seems to say that the WPK has earned the respect of the populace, because,” unlike its many fraternal parties around the world, it has chosen not to embrace market socialism.” So, basically, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il represent the Juche ideology as they embodied the ideology in their minds and actions which guided the nation, which does not make them “absolute rulers” as those crusty imperial propagandists want you to think. Instead, he writes, the WPK promotes an “economic program that retains full public ownership of the economy, putting people before profits.” This challenges certain “communists” who seem to ally with capitalist poles of power, he adds:

Challenging the many misperceptions and lies surrounding North Korea is seen as being too “risky” by these “communists,” who seek not to change the political establishment in their capitalist homelands, but to join it…To communists such as these, socialism still means social equality and collective prosperity, values held dear by Chairman Kim Jong Il and the late Kim Il Sung and revered by the Korean people for it. Together, our global KFA family will work to ensure that Korea’s people-centered socialist system remains alive and well for epochs to come

So, in sum, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are revered for their socialist ideals and maintaining the “people-centered socialist system” in Juche Korea.

An article by Bjornar Simonsen, adds one further aspect: that leaders like Kim Jong Il, for instances, are “captains” of the ship and the rest of the population part of the crew [4]:

Just like a ship needs a crew, so the DPRK needs the WPK. The crew is responsible for carrying out various duties given by the captain, and in such a way millions of members of the WPK work in all areas high and low, to make sure that the ship is clean, repaired and that everyone on board has everything he or she needs…Indeed, without the captain, the ship could go nowhere. And just like poetry, the guidance of Kim Jong Il is inspiring, beautiful, and eternal

However, this may exaggerate the role of individuals such as Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Il Sung. The socialist constitution of Juche Korea (the one in 2016), of which there is another version with a corrected Article 156 which accidentally had one line printed twice, makes this clear. In the preamble (dissected more in the second section of this article) it says that the country is “the socialist motherland of Juche” and thanks “great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il” for their ideas and leadership, saying that they are applied, adding that: Kim Il Sung was the founder of the country, “authored the immortal Juche idea, led the “Japanese revolutionary struggle,” laying the ” solid foundations for the building of an independent and sovereign State.” However, it seems to distance him from the “various stages of social revolution and construction work,” only saying he led these efforts, “elucidated the fundamental principles governing the building and activities of the State…and laid solid foundations for the prosperity” of the country. As for Kim Jong Il, it describes him as “a peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea who…strengthened and developed” the country, playing “the dignity and power of the nation on the highest ever plane,” further developing “the immortal Juche idea and Songun idea,” noting that he led the country through the period after the “collapse of the world socialist system,”developing the country into “a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power.” While saying that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are important in fighting or national reunification of Korea, clarifying the “basic ideals” of the country’s foreign policy, serving as “veteran world statesmen” (developing the “socialist movement and the non-aligned movement”), were “great revolutionaries,” and theoreticians who achieved much, they could not have done this without the people:

Regarding “The people are my God” as their maxim, Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il always mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics.

That doesn’t sound like a dynasty at all. After all, while the preamble says that the country will “uphold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the eternal leaders” it also says it will “carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion by defending and carrying forward their ideas and achievements” which is an ideology, not a person, as part of their “socialist constitution” which codifies “the Juche-oriented ideas of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on State building and their exploits in it,” with the constitution named after both of them. As such, the praise of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is meant to praise the Juche ideology and also serve as a sort of obituary of these individuals, reminding the populace of achievements while they guided the country, even through tough times. The newest constitution has new sections, due to the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011, but has some of the same ideas.

Let us usher in a golden age in building a thriving nation in this year when the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea is to be held! (2). Again, this shows how both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are a guiding force, but it does not make them “gods” or “deities” but rather those who have pushed forward socialist construction in the country.

Chapter 1 of the Constitution shows the democratic nature of the state. Article 1 describes the country as an “independent socialist State representing the interests of all the Korean people” while Article 2 says that the country “is a revolutionary State which has inherited the brilliant traditions” which were formed during the “glorious revolutionary struggle against the imperialist aggressors” and as part of the ongoing struggle to liberate the homeland while pushing forward “the freedom and well-being” of the Korean people. Article 3 adds to this, saying that the Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military-first) ideas are part of the state’s outlook to the world and helping the masses:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea and the Songun idea, a world outlook centred on people, a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses of the people.

Juche Korea goes further than the corrupted doctrine of “popular sovereignty” in the murderous empire, which, as Tracy Campbell in Deliver the Vote noted, which said that “rightful inhabitants of a territory” should decide “democratically” if they were to be “free” or “slave,” an idea which not only set no guidelines for an election on such an issue, but did not determine who could be residents, whether they would vote on the issue directly or indirectly or if new residents could come into the area and disrupt the vote, with more possibility of electoral fraud (a phenomenon throughout U$ history)! [5] Article 4 of the constitution says that the sovereignty of the country “resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people.” It further adds that working people, as a result, “exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

CommieDad adds more about such democratic participation, writing, in his post, about the full force of democracy in Juche Korea:

The DPRK has county, city, and provincial elections to the local people’s assemblies, as well as national elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly, their legislature. These are carried out every five years [actually every 4 years, but its 5 years for the SPA]. Candidates are chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK. Citizens run under these parties or they can run as independents…The fact that there is only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings…the masses advocate for themselves directly…The DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election…The elections are effectively a fail-safe against any corruption of the democratic process that occurs during the mass meetings

He further adds that “societies can only be considered democratic if the masses of people manage the economy as well as the political sphere.” Some aspects of the economy are explained in this post, but it will be fully explicated in an upcoming post on economy in Juche Korea. What Commie Dad says should be recognized: the state “constitutionally, represents the interests of the working people and thus has legally excluded exploiters and oppressors from formal representation” since the “political organs of class power have taken become explicitly proletarian organs of class power.” This is because

All Koreans over the age of 17 irrespective of race, religion, sex, creed etc. are able and encouraged to participate in the organs of state power…This is in sharp contrast to the relationship between capitalist politicians and citizens. In the capitalist countries, politicians are far removed from the people and have no idea what their struggles are like. In the DPRK, the opposite is true. Because the working class is the vast majority of the population of the DPRK…the management of the state by the working class means that the state is managed by the majority of the people.

He even talks about the Korean prison system, saying that many of the criminals have committed “minor crimes” with the aim to “rehabilitate and reeducate,” making it “far more humane, on principle, than the system in the United States” as it is “based on a people-centered philosophy which holds that criminality is not innate to humanity. This is strong evidence that the DPRK is a state of the majority, and thus democratic.” He also says that the grief over the death of Kim Il Sung, stems from the immense popular support he enjoyed as a leader, during and after the revolution,” not that he was a god, adding that Kim Il Sung was seen as “a highly able and dangerous guerilla leader” (even accepted by bourgeois scholars Bruce Cumings, Adrian Buzo, Michael E. Robinson, Son Oberdorfer, and Robert Carlin) by the Japanese, with the Korean guerillas receiving “little material help from the Soviets” and the Soviets  taking a “fairly hands-off approach to their occupation zone, allowing a coalition of nationalist and communist resistance fighters to run their own show.” After this, a “central government was formed, based on an interim People’s Committee led by Kim Il-sung” and he was not “handpicked by the Soviets” but rather “enjoyed considerable prestige and support as a result of his years as a guerilla leader and his commitment to national liberation” with the Soviets not trusting him, with the Soviets not sure about a violent reunification of the Korean Peninsula led by Juche Korea, as even bourgeois historian David Halberstam acknowledges in The Coldest  Winter (which is broadly anti-communist), with tensions between the Chinese and the Koreans, as the crossing of the 38th parallel by those from the North (in response to obvious aggression from the South) was seen as “just one more act in a long-term struggle on the part of the Korean people, part of an unfinished civil war.” It is worth pointing out in early June, Kim Il-sung called for an election across the Korean Peninsula in early August, and a “consultative conference” later that month, but the three diplomats from Juche Korea were rejected by U$ puppet Syngman Rhee “outright,” with Rhee expressing repeatedly his “desire to conquer the North” even to U$ diplomat John Foster Dulles! As was noted on pages 19, 38, and 40 of Kim Pyong Sik’s Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification, in 1950 “U.S. imperialism launched its armed aggression” against Juche Korea, leading to the (Great) Fatherland Liberation War. As one site, SparkNotes, says, Rhee had “so often talked about invading North Korea that US leaders feared giving him too much in the way of weapons” with Kim Il Sung saying, reportedly, that the ROK “dared to commit armed aggression…north of the 38th parallel” saying that “ROK forces on the Ongjin Peninsula attacked North Korea in the Haeju area” which bourgeois analysts claimed was “bogus” leading to claims, for years to come, that Juche Korea “invaded” the South. As one U$ Army publication admitted, “armed clashes between North and South Korea were common along the 38th Parallel” before June 25, 1950, the date of the supposed “invasion.” It seems evident that the first actions of the war were fighting around Ongjin, leading some scholars (like Bruce Cumings) to say the ROK fired first. This means the actions of Juche Korea would have been a response, a defensive measure. As a history of the war by Jim H. Kim notes, Kim Il Sung “sought permission to attack the South in case the North was attacked” with the war really starting “in 1945 when the U.S. suppressed the KPR government and imposed its military rule in the southern part of Korea” with killings of tens of thousands of Koreans on Cheji Island from 1948 to 1949, and major battles breaking out “between the North Korean (DPRK) and South Korean (ROK) armies along the 38th parallel line in 1949.” This meant that when “the armed clash broke out in June 1950, it was more or less a continuation of the past conflicts. It was certainly not a surprise attack” as Syngman Rhee was openly “preaching a military unification of Korea by attacking the North.”

After writing about how, in the aftermath of World War II, there was a “program of land reform” eight months into the occupation, that major industries, “most owned by the Japanese, were nationalized” by the victorious Korean revolutionaries in the north, he added that at the present

Citizens of the DPRK support Kim Il-sung because of his courageous defiance of U.S. domination, his commitment to the reunification and the real accomplishments of socialism…there were no mechanisms by which to force the Korean people to support Kim Il-Sung during his rule…Kim Il-sung’s DPRK was not a police state, but rather a democratic and socialist country waging a valiant war against imperialism. The Korean people were-and continue to be-unified in struggle and support their leaders on this basis…Bourgeois media continues to portray the DPRK as a totalitarian nightmare, populated exclusively by a pacified and frightened citizenry…The north Korean people have a far greater say in how their lives are structured than do citizens of even the most “democratic” capitalist countries. They are not forced to adhere to a Party Line handed down from on high, but rather are encouraged to participate in the running of society. The DPRK is an excellent example of socialism, which is focused on developing the working class-and humanity-to its full potential. It is only through socialism that we can realize our collective dream of a free and prosperous society. The DPRK is marching towards this dream, even in the face of unparalleled imperialist aggression. It is partly on this basis that we should pledge solidarity with the country. To reiterate the point I made in my last post, however, the DPRK should be supported regardless of whether it is itself socialist. It is standing against imperialism, which is the greatest enemy of socialism. Indirectly or directly, the DPRK works in the interests of socialism.

His words are proven for one, by Article 6, of the constitution, saying that organs of” State power at all levels, from the county People’s Assembly to the Supreme People’s Assembly,” are  elected on the “principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.” It is also buttressed by Article 7, saying that deputies of state power at all levels have “close ties with their constituents and are accountable to them for their work.” This accountability means that “electors may recall at any time the deputies they have elected if the latter lose the trust of the former.” This means that voters are able to recall a deputy, a power which isn’t even held in many (only some) municipal settings across the U$!

Let Us All Cast Yes Votes!

There are additional aspects. Article 5 says that all state organs in the country “are formed and function on the principle of democratic centralism.” This is an originally Marxist principle, showing the still-standing influence of Marxism-Leninism in the country incorporated in the ideology of Juche, which was first applied by the Bolsheviks. This principle balances democracy and centralism, as even acknowledged by Trotsky who detested the idea, with members taking part in “policy discussions and elections at all levels,” with those at all levels responsible to the populace and subject to their supervision, with a focus on unity. It was an idea explained by Lenin, who wrote to St. Petersburg Workers, in 1906, about this very principle:

There remains an important, serious and extremely responsible task: really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in Party organisation, to work tirelessly to make the local organisations the principal organisational units of the Party in fact, and not merely in name, and to see to it that all the higher-standing bodies are elected, accountable, and subject to recall. We must work hard to build up an organisation that will include all the class-conscious Social-Democratic workers, and will live its own independent political life. The autonomy of every Party organisation, which hitherto has been largely a dead letter, must become a reality. The fight for posts, fear of the other “faction”, must be eliminated. Let us have really united Party organisations, in which there will only be a purely ideological struggle between different trends of Social-Democratic thought. It will not be easy to achieve this; nor shall we achieve it at one stroke. But the road has been mapped out, the principles have been proclaimed, and we must now work for the complete and consistent putting into effect of this organisational ideal…If we have really and seriously decided to introduce democratic centralism in our Party, and if we have resolved to draw the masses of the workers into intelligent decision of Party questions, we must have these questions discussed in the press, at meetings, in circles and at group meetings. But in the united Party this ideological struggle must not split the organisations, must not hinder the unity of action of the proletariat. This is a new principle as yet in our Party life, and considerable effort will be needed to implement it properly.

This was echoed in 1921, when he wrote to the 10th Party Congress of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia that unity and cohesion of those in the ranks of the party, coupled with full trust among member of the party and work that “embodies the unity of will of the proletarian vanguard” are necessary because there are intensified waverings “of the petty bourgeois population in the country.” He added that it is important that “all class-conscious workers” realize the harmful nature of factionalism, the “appearance of groups with platforms of their own and with a will to close ranks to a certain extent and create their own group discipline,” since it leads to “less friendly work and to repeated and intensified attempts by enemies of the ruling party…to deepen the divisions and use them for purposes of counter-revolution.” He also said that this is important because the “enemies of the proletariat take advantage of all deviations from a strictly consistent communist line,” adding that “achieving unity of will of the proletarian vanguard as a basic condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat,” noting that verification of party decisions and efforts to correct “mistakes” should not be “submitted for discussion by groups formed on the basis of some ‘platform’ or other,” but rather ” be submitted for discussion by all party members.” It is with this that Lenin adds:

Every person who voices criticism must be mindful of the party’s situation, in the midst of enemy encirclement, and must also, through direct participation in Soviet and party work, strive in practice to correct the party’s mistakes…the party will continue tirelessly – constantly testing new methods – to use every means to combat bureaucratism, to expand democratism and initiative, and to seek out, expose, and expel those who have adhered to the party under false pretenses…in order to ensure strict discipline within the party and in all Soviet work, and to achieve maximum unity while eliminating all factionalism, the Congress gives the Central Committee full powers to apply all measures of party punishment up to and including expulsion.

This connects with the support for further party discipline as outlined by Kim Jong-Un in his New Years’ speech earlier this year.

Let us carry out the lifetime instructions of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il whatever the conditions without an inch of deflection and without a step of compromise!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, there are a number of articles proving that Commie Dad was right when he said there is “management of the state by the working class.” Article 8 declares that the country’s social system will be “people-centered” to such an extent that “working people are the masters of everything and everything in society serves them” while the state shall “defend the interests of the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people who have been freed from exploitation and oppression.” This would, allow, as the article delineates, workers to “become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights.” Article 9 expands on this. It says that that Juche Korea will “strive to achieve the complete victory of socialism in the northern half of Korea by strengthening the people’s power” while the country works to perform “ideological, technological and cultural” revolutions, pushing for reunification of the Korean Peninsula “on the principle of independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.” This is reinforced by Article 10, saying that the country is underpinned by the unity of the population “based on the worker-peasant alliance led by the working class,” adding that the state will work to “revolutionize all the members of society, and assimilate them to the working class by intensifying the ideological revolution,” and as such, turn the whole of society into a collective which is “united in a comradely way.” This would not be possible without the “leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea” as stated in Article 11, saying that the country shall conduct its activities under such leadership.

In order to have a state that serves the workers, Article 12 says that the state will adhere to “the class line” while strengthening the “dictatorship of the people’s democracy,” working to defend “the people’s power and socialist system against all subversive acts of hostile elements at home and abroad.” This “dictatorship of the people’s democracy” is just another way of asserting the long-held Marxist principle, again showing how Marxism has been embedded into Juche, advocating for a dictatorship of the proletariat (DoTP as some abbreviate it) or proletarian democracy. This principle, as I’ve noted on this blog previously, asserts that working class would decide “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done” with all positions of authority elected “solely by workers and subject to recall at any time” with Lenin adding that DoTP is not only “a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists” but is a change “in the democratic forms and institutions” and an “unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism…[a] decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state” which brings “the working people close to the machinery of government.” He also says that DoTP requires that “mass organizations of the working people” be in “constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state.”

This brings me to article 13. It says that the state itself shall implement the “mass line and apply the Chongsanri spirit and Chongsanri method to all its activities” meaning that, in their summary, “superiors assist their subordinates, mix with the masses to find solutions to problems and rouse them to conscious enthusiasm by giving precedence to political work, work with people.” The spirit and method of Chongsanri is undoubtedly embodied in the Chongsan-ri Cooperative Farm, as it is known as “the ideal model of DPRK farming technique,” being equipped with facilities like a “school and housing for all farmers.” Of course, this farm is shown to many visitors, with some, even with Orientalist views (also see here), saying that it does represent a typical farm in the country, with a surface-to-air unit nearby (why not? The country is still officially at war with the U$). [6] This then leads to the idea of the “mass line.” This derives from Mao Tse Tung, sometimes called Mao Zedong in the West, showing that Juche has Maoist elements in it, just as much as it has  straight Marxist, or even Leninist, ones. He talks about this term directly, when he spoke to the Shansi-Suiyuan Daily editorial staff on April 2, 1948:

For over twenty years our Party has carried on mass work every day, and for the past dozen years it has talked about the mass line every day. We have always maintained that the revolution must rely on the masses of the people, on everybody’s taking a hand, and have opposed relying merely on a few persons issuing orders. The mass line, however, is still not being thoroughly carried out in the work of some comrades; they still rely solely on a handful of people working in solitude. One reason is that, whatever they do, they are always reluctant to explain it to the people they lead and that they do not understand why or how to give play to the initiative and creative energy of those they lead. Subjectively, they too want everyone to take a hand in the work, but they do not let other people know what is to be done or how to do it. That being the case, how can everyone be expected to get moving and how can anything be done well? To solve this problem the basic thing is, of course, to carry out ideological education on the mass line, but at the same time we must teach these comrades many concrete methods of work.

From this, he seems to be saying that the “mass line” means that a revolution must rely on the masses of people, with the idea of ideological education of those in the masses, teaching them “concrete methods of work” tied into this conception. This links with his other quotes about the power of the people, in a page from the book, “Quotations from Mao Tse Tung,” commonly called the “Little Red Book” in the West. He argued that the masses should be listened to, that their problems should be “placed on our agenda” (January 1934), that the “masses are the real heroes” (Spring 1941), and advocating for taking the ideas of the “the masses and concentrate them,” then go back to the masses, persevering  in these ideas, working to “carry them through, so as to form correct ideas of leadership” (June 1943). He added that leading cadres should be constantly aware of “production by the masses, the interests of the masses, [and] the experiences and feelings of the masses” (November 1943), adding that there must be the “right task, policy and style of work” in order to conform with demands of the masses, strengthening “our ties with the masses,” but that the “wrong task, policy and style of work…[will] invariably alienate us from the masses” (April 1945). This leads to his further observation that no comrade should be “divorced from the masses” but should rather, “love the people and listen attentively to the voice of the masses” (April 1945), further observing that there would be adventurism if “we tried to go on the offensive when the masses are not yet awakened” (April 1948) and adds that in all mass movements there should be “a basic investigation and analysis of the number of active supporters, opponents and neutrals”  (March 1949). Beyond this, he added that the masses have boundless creative power” (1955) and have “a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism” (1955) which can be brought together by leaders, whom can unite the “small number of active elements” within the masses, consisting of three parts: “the relatively active, the intermediate and the relatively backward.” (June 1943) Most profound was his statement that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history” (April 1945), which the Koreans believe without a doubt, expressing that the people are “god” meaning that they are to be followed moving forward in the country’s socialist construction.

Hold fast to the standpoint of By Our Nation Itself, and respect and implement the declarations with sincerity!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, it is worth focusing on Articles 14 and 18. The first of these articles says that the state will “conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement” along with other “mass movements so as to accelerate the building of socialism to the maximum. The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement was originally proposed in 1973 as the Three Revolutions Team Movement, launched in late 1974, and further intensified in December 1975, with “large numbers of young people were sent to the countryside and to factories to boost production and introduce new methods and technologies” while bourgeois analysts claimed it was not successful and claim it has “lost any real importance” in recent years. [7] In November 1986, Kim Jong-Il talked about this very movement in a speech (mirrored by the Internet Archive and elsewhere online),speaking to loyal comrades at a national meeting of the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement’s Vanguard, talking about the movement’s accomplishments:

In 1975 our Party called on the people working in all the fields of the revolution and construction to launch this movement in order to ensure the success of the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions which had been proposed by the great leader Comrade Kim II Sung…the movement has spread rapidly across the country, drawing in all sectors and all units — factories and other enterprises, cooperative farms and scientific, cultural, educational and public health organizations…many units have won the Three-Revolution Red Flag, the ranks of flag-winners have increased, a system for guiding this movement has been established and a wealth of experience has been gained…people’s mode of thinking and manner of working have changed, the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses has become greater and the revolution and construction have made steady headway…the ideological revolution has been stepped up. As a result, the Party’s monolithic ideological system has become more firmly established in society, the loyalty of Party members and the working people to the Party and the leader has become more intense…the revolutionary transformation of Party members and the working people and their assimilation into the working class have been promoted. In consequence, the remnants of outdated ideas have been eliminated in the main and the revolutionary tone of life has been intensified…The technical revolution has been accelerated…so that the levels of mechanization and automation in production processes at factories and enterprises have been raised…The movement has given strong impetus to the cultural revolution, with the result that the cultural and technical levels of the working people have risen, progress has been made in making all the members of society intellectual and success has been achieved in making living and working conditions hygienic…On behalf of the Party Central Committee, I extend warm thanks to those attending this meeting, as well as to the standard-bearers of the three revolutions and the three revolution team members throughout the country who have displayed unfailing loyalty to the Party and the leader, worked hard to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement and contributed greatly to promoting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions and to accelerating  the process of modelling the whole society on the Juche idea…The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to accelerate the building of socialism and communism by conducting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions vigorously in keeping with the requirements for modelling the whole society on the Juche idea. In other words, the movement is a mass movement for the ideological transformation of all members of society into ardent communist revolutionaries, a mass technical innovation movement to equip the national economy with modem technology and a mass cultural re-education movement to raise the cultural and technical levels of all Party members and working people and provide them with comfortable living conditions…[it] is a high-level mass movement which has set a higher fighting goal for itself than any other mass movement and aims to reach it by organizing and mobilizing the entire Party and all the people…[is part of] the Juche idea that the popular masses are the masters of the revolution and construction and that they are the motive force of the revolution and construction, as well as on the revolutionary mass line of our Party…Intensifying the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is the requirement of our developing revolution for hastening the complete victory of socialism. Our revolution, through its advance under the leadership of the Party, has reached a high level in its efforts to achieve the complete victory of socialism…Stepping up this movement is also an essential requirement for achieving the ten long-term objectives of socialist economic construction in the 1980s…The most effective method of strengthening the revolutionary forces in the northern half of the country is to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour…In order to model the whole society on the Juche idea we must train all the members of society into true communists and transform all the areas of social life to meet the requirements of the Juche idea…The ideological revolution must be promoted vigorously in order to transform all the members of society into genuine communists…We must press ahead with the cultural revolution in order to eliminate every manner of cultural backwardness remaining from the old society and create a socialist and communist culture…since the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to attain high goals and carry out ambitious tasks, society should work more actively in this movement than in any other mass drive…In order to achieve the targets of the movement, a strong ideological campaign should be conducted. Only when we conduct an uncompromising ideological campaign by the methods of lightning operations, a concentrated offensive and finish-one -by-one tactics can we eliminate defeatism, self-protectionism, empiricism, self-centredness and all other outmoded ideas from the minds of people..It is of great significance in developing the movement in depth to review and assess properly the results of the efforts to attain targets…In order to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour, we must conduct it in close combination with other mass movements [including]…the campaign to follow the example of the unassuming heroes, the socialist emulation movement and the model machine movement…Therefore it is only when the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is conducted in close combination with all the other mass campaigns that it is possible to carry out the three revolutions more efficiently and display the validity of the movement to the full…the Three- Revolution Red Flag Movement can be successful only when Party organizations, working people’s organizations, three-revolution team members and the officials of administrative and economic organs are roused to action…the role of the working people’s organizations in the movement should be enhanced…[as should] the role of the three-revolution team members. They are the vanguard of the three revolutions and the hardcore of our Party…Administrative and economic officials in particular must be induced to perform their duties of supplying materials, giving technical guidance, organizing production and labour and providing the working people with supplies for their daily lives in a responsible manner, in keeping with the requirements of the Taean work system…[we must] make the movement the concern of the Party committee…[which] must plan and organize the work which is related to the movement and vigorously conduct the movement by mobilizing every department…I hold the firm belief that you will conduct the movement more vigorously in step with the developing revolution and thus make a fresh advance’ in carrying out the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions.

Then we get to Article 18. This says that the law of the country “reflects the wishes and interests of the working people and is a basic instrument for State administration.” It further says that respect, adherence, and execution of the law  “is the duty of all institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens.” In order to remove any errors or defects, one could say, the state dedicates itself, to perfecting “the system of socialist law and promote the socialist law-abiding life.”

Articles 15, 16, and 17 are also relevant. Article 15 says the country will “champion the democratic national rights of Koreans overseas and their rights recognized by international law as well as their interests” showing the solidarity with those outside the country. This is similar to Article 16, which says that the country will “guarantee the legal rights and interests of foreigners in its territory.” This is important if there is to be future investment in the country, one could say, but also to show that the country is not just about Koreans. Most importantly is Article 17, declaring that “independence, peace and friendship” are basic ideals of the country, noting that “political, economic and cultural relations” will be established “with all friendly countries, on the principles of complete equality, independence, mutual respect, non-interference” in the affairs of others and “mutual benefit.” Furthermore, the State will engage in proletarian internationalism, as one could put it, by promoting

unity with people all over the world who defend their independence, and resolutely support and encourage the struggles of all people who oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation.

Such support for national liberation struggles will be discussed at length in an upcoming post which is still in the works. A manifestation of unity with people around the world are “friendship societies,” which stand in solidarity with Juche Korea, and those studying the  Juche idea who have also organized themselves into societies.

It is worth pointing out the differences, in Chapter 1 alone, between the 1998 Kim Il Sung Constitution and 2016 “Nuclear” Constitution (which I call the “Constitution of DPRK post-2011″ in the PDF to not be confused with the 2012 constitution), which is officially called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution.” Most of the changes are minor, like changing “DPRK” to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or “SPA” to Supreme People’s Assembly, but others are worth noting:

  • The “Songun idea” (a military-first ideology) has been added as part of the guiding ideology of the state (Article 3)
  • The word “soldiers” has been added to those with which the sovereignty of the state resides showing the importance of the defense of the state from outside sources, to say the least (Article 4)
  • Soldiers are now included as among the working people, and the phrasing that such people are “freed from exploitation and oppression and become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights” has been added, the latter part to counter those horrid “human rights reports” by the U$ (Article 8)
  • Within the worker-peasant alliance in the country, such an alliance is led “by the working class.” rather than the working class only having a “leading role” (Article 10)
  • The “interests” of Koreans overseas is recognized as something the government will champion and advocate for (Article 15)
  • The state is still promoting unity with people across the world, but those who “defend their independence will get resolute support from the country, and the struggles of those who “oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight[ing] for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation” will be encouraged (Article 17)

This proves that Juche Korea is not somewhere that is static, with the 2012 Constitution removing the few references to “communism” that were in the 1998 Constitution (in Articles 29, 40), which was reaffirmed in the 2016 Constitution. However, all references to socialism and Marxist-inspired (or even Mao-inspired) concepts which are part of Juche, were retained. As such, it is worth discussing the rest of the constitution in this manner.

Let us consolidate our revolutionary government rock-solid!

In Chapter II of the Constitution, titled “The Economy,” there have been few changes in the overall organization of the economy, which relies on “socialist production relations,” a foundation of an “independent national economy” (Article 20) and has the means of production “owned by the State and social, cooperative organizations” (Article 21). Furthermore, as Article 21 outlines, the State’s property belongs to the populace, and there is, hence, “no limit to the property which the State can own” with the state protecting and developing State property, which “plays the leading role in the economic development of the country,” meaning that the state controls the commanding heights of the economy, which is a positive. Additionally, the property of social cooperative organizations is protected by the stat, with such organizations allowed to own land, farm machinery, ships, and “small and medium-sized factories and enterprises” (Article 22). This is connected with working to enhance the “ideological consciousness” of the peasantry, allow people’s property to be part of cooperative organizations, on an organic basis rather than a systematic one (as it was in the previous version of the constitution), and efforts to improving the management and guidance of “socialist cooperative economic system.” (Article 23). This is connected with the ultimate goal of transforming the property of such organizations “into the property of the people as a whole” on a basis of “voluntary will of all their members” which means it would be done on a democratic basis. Additionally, Juche Korea regards, in Article 25, improvement of “material and cultural standards” of the populace of supreme importance, with the increasing material wealth of the society, in which “taxes have been abolished,” is used entirely to promote the people’s well-being with the state providing all working people with “every condition for obtaining food, clothing and housing,” a progressive statement without question.

Then we get to Article 27. This says that a technological revolution is important to develop the socialist economy, with the state conducting all economic activities by giving primary preference to “technical development” while pushing ahead with “scientific and technological development” and technical renovation of the economy, promoting mass technical innovation so the working people can be freed from “difficult, tiresome labour” and to narrow the “distinctions between physical and mental labour,” which is also important. Such a support of the power of the proletariat is reinforced by Article 28 saying the state will industrialize and modernize agriculture through a “rural technical revolution” which improves the role of the country, with assistance and guidance to rural areas so that the “difference between town and countryside” and the class distinction “between workers and peasants” can be eliminated. It is this sentiment that Marx and Engels talked about in the Communist Manifesto, as they specifically advocates for the gradual abolishment of “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace.” This article also says that the state will build production facilities for cooperative farms “and modern farms in the countryside.” At the same time, the state renders labor of the working people “more joyful and worthwhile” so that people work with enthusiasm and express their creativity (Article 29). There are many other aspects of the State which favor the working class: an eight-hour working day, with the length of this day reduced for arduous or special types off work (Article 30), with working hours fully utilized through “proper organization of labor and enforcement of labor discipline”; prohibiting child labor with the minimum working age being 16 years (Article 31); having the State using its guidance wisely to help manage the “socialist economy” (Article 32); and having the Taean work system. The latter is described as a “socialist form of economic management” where the economy is operated on a scientific and rational basis on the basis of the efforts of those of the masses who are producers, connected with agricultural management conducted by “industrial methods” as a way for the state to direct and manage the economy, along with enforcing a self-accounting system in such economic management to meet the requirements of such a work system while making “proper use of such economic levers  as cost, price and profit” (Article 33).

There are other aspects which benefit the proletariat, and form the democratic basis of the country. For one, the country has a planned economy (Article 34) while the state will work to increase its “material accumulation and expand and develop socialist property” by having increased production and exercising “strict financial control in all spheres” (Article 35), and the state pursuing a “tariff policy” in order to protect the country’s “independent national economy” (Article 38) which is understandable. There have been some important changes, some for the better, others which are worrisome as they lead to further contradictions, you can say:

  • Private property was the “property meeting the simple and individual aims of the citizen” but is now “property owned and consumed by individual citizens.” (Article 24). This property is still derived from socialist distribution and from benefits from the state. While the income from “individual sideline activities” and from “legal economic activities” will be “private property,” kitchen gardens are not just limited to cooperative farmers anymore. The State still will protect such property, and the right to inherit it as well despite the fact that Marx and Engels specifically advocated against the right of inheritance in the Communist Manifesto and elsewhere.
  • Saying that the state is building a “socialist, independent national economy” instead of one that is just one that is “independent nationalist” (Article 26).
  • A new section was added in Article 34: “The State shall ensure a high rate of growth in production and a balanced development of the national economy by implementing unified and detailed planning.”
  • Enterprises, run by those from Juche Korea, are now allowed to be part of the country’s foreign trade (Article 36)
  • Minor changes, like “DPRK” to “country” but important changes from “contractual joint venture” to “contractual joint ventures,” “corporations” to “foreign corporations” and “special economic zone” to “special economic zones” which seem to be open to domestic enterprises, with the previous version seeming to make it seem like this would not be the case (Article 37). This means that there can be more than just one zone, heightening the country’s contradictions, even more than Article 36, without a doubt.

There are five other chapters of the Constitution: Chapter III (titled “Culture), Chapter IV (titled “National Defence”), Chapter V (titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”), Chapter VI (titled “State Organs” and has 7 sub-sections) and Chapter VII (titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital”). They will be discussed, in detail and with vigor, in the rest of this section of the article.

Let us prepare ourselves as genuine Kimilsungists-Kimjongilists!

Let’s start with Chapter III. Apart from promoting socialist culture as something that “contributes to improving the creative ability of working people” (Article 39), this chapter says that the country will carry out a “cultural revolution” (originally a Maoist idea) with an effort to train everyone in the populace to be “builders of socialism,” equipping them with a “profound knowledge of nature and society and a high level of culture and technology,” which would make the whole society “intellectual” (Article 40). It also says that such a socialist culture will be “people-oriented” and revolutionary, serving the working classes with the state opposing “the cultural infiltration of imperialism and any tendency to return to the past” with a protection of national cultural heritage, and developing such a culture “in keeping with the existing socialist situation” (Article 41). Again, this shows the fact that the society can be fluid and changing, not something that is static and dull as the Orientalist bourgeois media likes to paint it. Promotion of culture is connected with the State working toward establishing a “new socialist way of life in every sphere” while eliminating the way of “life inherited from the outmoded society” (Article 42) referring to the society under brutal Japanese occupation (1910-1945) undoubtedly. This chapter also says that the State shall embody the principles of “socialist pedagogy” (teaching) in order to raise the new generation to be not only “steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for society and the people,”  but to be those of the “Juche type” (in the 1998 Constitution it was “communist type”) who are “knowledgeable, morally sound and physically healthy” (Article 43). This is interconnected with the State’s efforts to:

  • give “precedence to public education and the training of cadres” for the nation as a whole, closely combining “general education with technological education, and education with productive labor” (Article 44)
  • develop a “universal compulsory twelve-year education” program in accordance with modern science, technology, and “practical requirements of socialist construction” (Article 45)
  • train “competent technicians and experts,” through the enhancement of the regular educational system, different forms of “studying while working” and improvement of the scientific and theoretical “levels of technological education” and education in basic and social sciences (Article 46).

There are further aspects showing the democratic nature of the state.  Not only is education to “all pupils and students” provided by the State “free of charge, and “grant allowances to students at universities and colleges” (Article 47), but the State works to strengthen social education with the provision of “all conditions for study” to the working people (Article 48). One major example of this in action is the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, which opened in April 1982, after it was constructed over a period of 21 months, available to all the citizens. This is connected to Article 49 which says that the State will pay for all children in creches (hospitals) and kindergartens while Article 50 says that Juche shall be established in scientific research. This will be accomplished, says the article, with the introduction of “advanced science and technology in every possible way” with the opening up of “new areas of science and technology” while raising the country’s “science and technology to the world level.” The latter article is connected with Article 51, which says that the state shall put forward a plan to “develop science and technology,” implemented through “strict discipline” while strengthening “creative cooperation among scientists, technicians and producers.” This is important for any society, but especially one on the road to socialism. This cooperation is manifested in Article 52 saying that “Juche-oriented, revolutionary art and literature,” which is socialist in content and national in form, will be developed by the State through the encouragement of “creative workers and artists to produce workers of high ideological and artistic value” (like Mansudae Art Studio). This is coupled with enlisting “broad sections of the masses in literary and artistic activities” and the provision, by the State as outlined in Article 53, of “sufficient modern cultural facilities” which meet the demands of people who want to improve themselves physically and mentally, so the working class can “enjoy a full socialist cultured, aesthetic life.” There are other efforts of the State to defend and develop the country’s culture: safeguarding the Korean language and developing it to meet “present-day needs” (Article 54) and preparing people for work and national defense through the popularization of sport and physical culture, making it part of their “daily regime” (or their daily lives) with the augmenting of sporting skills to meet the reality of the country and trend in “modern sporting skills” (Article 55). The State is also obligated to improve the health of working people through developing and consolidating the “system of universal free medical service” and improving the system of preventive medicine and “district doctor system” (Article 56). Finally, the State is also obligated to protect and promote the environment, preferring it over production, preventing environmental pollution, and working to provide the populace “with a hygienic living environment and working conditions,” meaning it has a pro-ecology stand (Article 57).

Looking at the 1998 Constitution and the one after 2016 makes it clear that there weren’t many changes, meaning that country is still moving forward in developing its socialist culture, building upon what they have and making it better.

From here is Chapter IV which focuses on National Defense. Article 58 says that the country is “shored up by the all-people, nationwide defence system,” while Article 60 says that the state will implement the line of “self-reliance defence” with the training of the army to be an army of cadres, modernizing the armed forces, arming of all the country’s people, fortifying the country, and equipping the “army and the people politically and ideologically,” which are basically the same in 1998 and 2016.

However, the other articles have changed:

  • For Article 59, DPRK is now Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Before the mission was to “safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution from aggression” but now the mission is to “defend the leadership of the revolution, to safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution” while implementing the “Songun-based revolutionary line.”
  • For Article 61, the 1998 version said that military and mass discipline in the armed forces will be strengthened, with the promotion of unity between offices and men, and the army and the people. The 2016 version talks about a “revolutionary command system and military climate” but the text remains the same otherwise.

These changes show that Juche Korea is adapting to its environment, with a focus more on defense of the country from imperialist attack than ever before, which is justified without a doubt, after the assault by the capitalist poles of the world since the demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Merciless retaliation!

The next section worth focusing on is Chapter V, titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”). Between the 1998 version and the 2016 version (the most recent), there have been few changes in this chapter. As such, in both versions, citizens, whose claim to citizenship is defined by a “law of nationality” and is under protection “regardless of domicile” (Article 62), have their rights and duties based on the collectivist principle of “one for all and all for one” (Article 63) with the state guaranteeing “genuine democratic rights and freedoms,” the citizens’ material and cultural well-being. Furthermore, their he “rights and freedoms of citizens” are amplified with the development and consolidation “of the socialist system” (Article 64). With this, citizens are able to:

  • “enjoy equal rights in all spheres of State and public activity” (Article 65)
  • “elect and be elected” once they have reached the “age of 17,” with this right available regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views or religious belief” (Article 66). This also applies to citizens who serve in the armed forces. Someone can only be disenfranchised by a “Court decision” or if they are “legally certified insane,” meaning that they do not have the right to “elect or be elected.” This broad description of universal suffrage is an undeniable expression of democracy, with those who are disabled helped to a great deal in Juche Korea, as I’ve seen in various news reports.
  • exercise their freedom of speech, press, assembly, demonstration and association, with the State guaranteeing conditions for the “free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations” (Article 67). As will be explained later, this is not conceived the same as bourgeois “free expression.”
  • exercise their “freedom of religious belief,” a right which includes the ability to construct religious buildings and hold religious ceremonies, but cannot be used as a reason to draw in “foreign forces,” harm the social order or the State (Article 68). Roland Boer, on Stalin’s Moustache, writes about this, reprinting a section from his new book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, noting that Kim Il Sung’s personal background was “the Reformed tradition [of Christianity] embodied in Presbyterianism” with Kim highlighting “progressive Christians” who advocated for Korean independence in his memoirs while he had a “continuing interest in religion and religious history” and that in 1981, a Reverend, Kim Song Rak, who visited Juche Korea, with Kim saying he should “pray before his meal” which surprised the reverend, as he had “not expected a communist leader to be concerned about prayer.” Boer adds that specifically for Juche Korea, “the state constructs churches for believers and provides them with accommodation” with a religious department within Kim Il Sung University, “affinity between some Christians in the south and communism,” and a decline of belief due to the destruction of all structures in the North during the Fatherland Liberation War, with a focus on “rebuilding the country” after the war, rather than rebuilding religious structures which had been destroyed.In another post on the subject, also coming from his book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, he writes that “local Chondoism (Ch’ŏndogyo) – or ‘Religion of the Heavenly Way’ – is recognised and favoured by the government” because it is “a very Korean form of revolutionary religion,” melds many different religious influences (“Daoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Roman Catholic influences) with those of a local variety, and more specifically was part of the anti-Japanese colonial struggle, with its connection with revolutionary struggle (then the Tonghak Revolution), a “precursor to the communist movement.” With all of this, Chondoism stayed a “northern Korean movement” primarily, with “almost 3 million adherents in the north and about 800 places of worship” with Chondoism “bequeathed to Korean culture a number of principles, with an explicit drive to social and religious equality,” which connects to ” Kim’s articulation of communism in terms of their common source,”  with his argument that “the people are God-heaven.” Kim also says that “Marx’s most well-known statement that religion is the opium of the people” is meant to warn against temptation of religious mirage, not opposing believers in general, saying that communists should welcome, join hands with patriotic religionists, saying that Marx’s idea is not “a universal formula that should be applied everywhere, but rather a guide for action that should be sensitive to the specific conditions and traditions of a situation.”
  • exercise their right to submit petitions and complaints, which the state is obligated to “investigate and deal with” in an impartial manner “as stipulated by law (Article 69). This is a change from the 1998 version, with the words “Complaints and petitions shall be…dealt with…within the period fixed by law” which has changed to “The State shall investigate and deal with complaints and petitions impartially as stipulated by law” which is even more democratic.
  • exercise their “right to work,” which is totally different than the anti-union “right to work” proposed in the U$, which means that all citizens who are able-bodied can choose occupations which are in “accordance with their wishes and skills,” and are, as a result, “provided with stable jobs and working conditions” (Article 70). Furthermore, citizens work according to their abilities and are paid “in accordance with the quantity and quality of their work.” The latter echoes what Marx wrote in Part 1 of his Critique of the Gotha Programme: “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
  • exercise the “right of relaxation” which is ensured by established working hours, provision of holidays, “paid leave, accommodation at health resorts and holiday homes” which are available “at State expense” and the “growing network of cultural facilities” (Article 71)
  • exercise the right to “free medical care” with all persons who cannot work anymore because of “old age, illness or physical disability along with “seniors and minors” who have no means to support themselves are “entitled to material assistance” (Article 72). This right of free medical care is ensured through an “expanding network of hospitals, sanatoria…medical institutions, State social insurance and other social security systems.”
  • exercise the “right to education” which is enshrined by an “advanced educational system” and by “educational measures enacted by the State for the benefit of the people” (Article 73)
  • engage in “scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” with the State granting benefits to “inventors and innovators” with the law of the country protecting “copyrights, inventions and patents” (Article 74). The newer Constitution added the word “inventions” as something the country would protect.
  • exercise their “freedom of residence and travel” (Article 75), an important right for a democratic society, further proving that no one is “keeping” those in Juche Korea there against their will. People can leave and return as they please.

There’s more. The State also guarantees the “inviolability of the person…the home, and privacy of correspondence” with citizens not placed under “control or arrest” or a person’s home not searched “without a legal warrant” (Article 79). Furthermore, revolutionary fighters, families of patriotic or revolutionary martyrs, families of soldiers who are “disabled on duty” and those who are in the People’s Army, enjoy “special protection of State and Society” (Article 76). Additionally, the right of asylum is provided to foreign nationals who are “persecuted for struggling for peace and democracy, national independence and socialism or for the freedom of scientific and cultural pursuits” (Article 80), showing the country stands for international solidarity.

Let us transform the equipment and production lines of light-industry factories into labour- and electricity-saving ones!

Juche Korea also grants rights to women, showing that it believes the liberation of women is part of the Korean revolution, which some could call “feminist” or at least “female empowerment.” This is through the declaration that women and men have equal rights and equal social status, with the state affording “special protection to mothers and children” with maternity leave, reduced working hours for those with several children, a “wide network of maternity hospitals…kindergartens” and other measures (Article 77). Anything that isn’t included there is encapsulated in the State being obligated to provide “all conditions for women to play their full roles in society,” like Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, who is a “serious politician in her own right.” This, is undeniably important. It is connected to Article 78 saying that “marriage and the family shall be protected by the State. The State pays great attention to consolidating the family, the basic unit of social life.” Whatever one might think, this doesn’t run afoul of Marx’s criticism of the bourgeois family, as such marriages and families are important for keeping the society together, especially when it is under imperialist assault.

As has been noted earlier, universal suffrage and the ability to be elected (noted in Article 66),  is provided to all above the age of 17, including those “in the armed forces,” except for those disenfranchised by a court, or those “legally certified insane.”This means that citizens of Juche Korea can be elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly, the “highest organ of State power in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and the “People’s Assembly of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), city (or district) or county,” which is “the local organ of State power,” central to the governmental system and democracy within the country as a whole.

In exchange for these broad fundamental rights, citizens have a number of duties, showing that the “free expression” cannot support capitalist aims to destroy the socialist system. For one, citizens are bound to safeguard “political and ideological unity and solidarity of the people” while cherishing their “organization and collective” by working in devoted manner “for the good of society and the people” (Article 81). Citizens are further required, as they would in any society, to strictly follow the state’s laws and socialist standards in life, while defending their “honour and dignity” as citizens of the country (Article 82).  Most importantly, citizens, whom have the noble duty and honor of work, shall “willingly and conscientiously participate in work and strictly observe labour discipline and working hours” (Article 83). The latter allows for effective socialist construction, and will work to take care of the property (which is “inviolable”) of social, cooperative organizations and the State with the combating of all “forms of misappropriation and waste” as they work to “manage the nation’s economy diligently as the masters” (Article 84). This again shows the democratic nature of the state, and that people manage the economy, a planned economy, with Juche Korea on the road to socialism. Finally, Article 85 says that citizens should “constantly increase their revolutionary vigilance” with fighting for the “security of the State” while Article 86 says that citizens shall “defend the country,” as national defense is the honor and “supreme duty” of citizens,” serving in the armed forces as “required by law.”

Self-reliance is Korea’s way of creation!

We then get to Chapter VI which is titled “State Organs” which has 8 sub-sections, which will show, once and for all, how the state is not a dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or has hereditary rule but is rather one that is democratic without question. The first sub-section  (section 1) focuses on the Supreme People’s Assembly, which is called SPA for the rest if this article. For one, the legislature is the “highest organ of state power” in the country (Article 87), not the “Kim family” as Orientalist bourgeois media and their allies would make you believe. Additionally, the SPA, which exercises “legislative power” (Article 88), has a Presidium who may “exercise legislative power” when the SPA is not in session and whom convenes the regular sessions once or twice a year, with extraordinary sessions held at their request or if one-third of the deputies request such a session (Article 92). In another element of democracy, the SPA requires a “quorum of at least two thirds” of the deputies in order to meet (Article 93) with the deputies elected “on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Article 89). This connects to Article 66, as noted earlier, that all citizens over the age of 17, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views…religious belief,” or if they are in the armed forces, can elect individuals or be elected, with disenfranchisement only occurring due to a Court decision or if someone is “legally certified insane.” Deputies, unlike those in the U$ House of Representatives who serve for two years and in the U$ Senate for six years, are elected for a “term of five years” with a new session the SPA elected according to the SPA Presidium’s decision, with the possible prolonging of the term of office of a SPA session if “unavoidable circumstances render an election impossible” (Article 90) like the gap between the SPA election in September 1948 and August 1957 because “the DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack” (referring to the Fatherland Liberation War), or between the 1990 election and July 1998, due to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, with the next elections in the country scheduled for 2019. In my article on elections in the country, specifically focused on the SPA, I added that

the SPA in the DPRK…[is] the “highest organ of State power” and is a representative organ which is formed “through an election conducted of the free will of the entire Korean people” and composed of deputies who are selected by “secret ballot on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage,” with the same principle applied to election of deputies “to local power organs such as provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies”….With only one registration and one ballot cast per voter, in elections that are announced 60 days before for the SPA and 30 days before for the ” provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies,” voters cast a ballot directly for a candidate for the deputy position…The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing the Constitution…the SPA has adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK…the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities…and approved by a “show of hands”…The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK…who then picks a number of other individuals….members on SPA committees and the head of the Administration Council (the Premier) are elected and accountable to the SPA….the SPA holds regular sessions to “discuss and solve problems” once or twice a year and extraordinary sessions when needed, with quorum of “more than a half the total number of deputies to meet” and laws adopted having immediate legal effect…SPA Committees, whose members  are elected among deputies according to the size of leadership, debate about draft laws and budget plans before deliberation by the whole body. However, they cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” [Such committees include the]…Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)…the Bills Committee [which] “deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA”…Budget Committees [which] “deliberates upon whether or not the settlement account and compilation of the State budget submitted for deliberation to the SPA conforms with the needs of People”…the Foreign Affairs Committee [which] “discusses the issues arising in foreign affairs, draws up and makes public the documents specifying the stands of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Committee”…the Reunification Policies Committee [which] “recommends the measures to be taken by the Supreme People’s Assembly in connection with the national reunification question to the Supreme People’s Assembly or the Standing Committee of the SPA”…[the] Standing Committee [which,] “when the SPA is not in session” [undertakes the work of the SPA committees when the SPA is not in session, with this committee working as]…a permanent body of the SPA…[a] permanent organ between sessions…[It is] composed of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, a secretary general and 15 members including the representatives of political parties and social organizations

In the same article, I noted that the SPA is “the highest national representative organ of the entire people” and that the ” election of a new SPA is held by a decision of the Standing Committee of the SPA prior to expiry of the term of office of the current SPA” with the Standing Committee helping “organize the next (or current) election of the SPA.”

As the highest organ of state power in Juche Korea, the SPA elects its Speaker and Deputy Speaker, with the speaker presiding over the legislative sessions each year (Article 94), with the SPA, in its first session, electing a Credentials Committee, and after hearing its report, adopts “a decision confirming the credentials of deputies” (Article 96), with various committees (as noted earlier) appointed by the legislature, including the vice-chair and chair of these committees, with these committees assisting the SPA in its work, while planning or deliberating “the State policy and bills,” taking measures for “their implementation,” with the committees working under the guidance of the SPA Presidim during “intervals between sessions” of the SPA (Article 98). In order to promote decorum, deputies to the SPA are “guaranteed inviolability,” meaning that no deputy may be “arrested or punished” without the legislature’s consent, or, when it is not in session with the “consent of the Presidium” unless “he or she is caught in the act” (Article 99) which is in broader terms in the 2016 Constitution than the one in 1998. With all this, it is worth saying that the SPA has a number of specific responsibilities as outlined in Article 97:

The Supreme People’s Assembly issues laws, ordinances and decisions. Laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly are adopted when more than half of the deputies attending signify approval by a show of hands. The Constitution is amended or supplemented with the approval of more than two-thirds of the total number of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly.

This is expanded from 1998, which only said the SPA could issue “laws and decisions.” Similarly, in the newest Constitution, deputies are allowed to present items to be considered, which wasn’t said explicitly in 1998, with the “Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the State Affairs Commission,” Presidium of the SPA, Cabinet, and Committees of the SPA also allowed to present “items to be considered” (Article 95). Last but not least are the authorities of the SPA, outlined in Article 91, to:

  • “amend or supplement the Constitution”
  • “adopt, amend or supplement laws”
  • “approve the major laws adopted by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session”
  • “establish the basic principles of the State’s domestic and foreign policies”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Vice-Chairmen and members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the Vice-Presidents, Honorary Vice-Presidents, Secretary and members of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Premier of the Cabinet…the President of the Central Court…the Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and members of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly”
  • “appoint the Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers [like those from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] and other members of the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Premier of the Cabinet”
  • “appoint or remove the Prosecutor General of the Central Public Prosecutors Office;
  • “deliberate and approve the State plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the State budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “hear a report on the work of the Cabinet and the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures”
  • “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly”
Celebration of the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea

Some of the legislative powers, like the ability to revise the constitution, adopt and revise laws, work on a state budget, appoint members of the cabinet (with the recommendation of the Cabinet premier) hear the report of the Cabinet’s work, ratify or nullify treaties, are common for parliaments and legislatures across the world. However, the above shows the SPA, which is the people’s legislature (hence the name “Supreme People’s Assembly”) is the highest element of power in Juche Korea as it can establish domestic and foreign policy, deliberate the State plan on the economy, appoint or remove the Prosecutor General, and most importantly, elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, President of the SPA Presidium, members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman, members of the SPA Presidium, the Cabinet Premier, President of the Central Court, and members “of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This makes all of these individuals accountable to the SPA, and more fundamentally accountable to the population at large, who have the right to elect and recall these members through their representatives. As RedBitsaccount noted rightly on the communist101 subreddit,

Every five years they have a general election for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), they also have city, provincial and county elections. The candidates are chosen prior to the election not by the Worker’s Party of Korea, but by mass meetings that are organized by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland (DFRF). The DFRF is composed by the WPK, the Chondoist and the Korean Social-Democratic Party. In these meetings, debates are held and attempts at consensus are made. Once the candidates have been chosen, their names are in the ballot box. For the SPA, they elect their deputies. After the election, the SPA goes to a meeting were they hold another internal election to elect the following: the President, the Prime-Minister and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and these all must be a elected Deputy to hold such a position. The President is responsible for signing treaties involving the DPRK and other countries, among other foreign matters; currently, this positions is held by Kim Yong Nam, and despite having the name ‘Kim’, he’s not related to Kim Jong Un. The Prime-Minister manages the ministries, that in turn manage internal affairs such as the economy. This position is held by Pak Jong Ju. Finally, the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission is the commander of the DPRK’s armed forces. This is the position that Kim Jong Un currently holds. The last election for the SPA’s deputies was in 2014. Contrary to popular belief, both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un (Kim Il Sung is the exception) rarely occupied positions such as the Prime-Minister or the President. Most of the times, they were the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and…received the title of ‘Supreme Commander’, which is more a ceremonial [title] than political one [by any stretch]

He further added that the Chairman is “responsible for things like declaring state of war or state of emergency, and all other things related to managing the armed forces in case of conflict” but that “legislation is not made by the Chairman, or any of the above. Its made by the SPA in joint sessions and voted by their 687 deputies.”

This chart shows the centrality of the SPA to the governmental system of Juche Korea, focusing on Articles 87-168 (the other articles are noted elsewhere). The ability of the SPA to “hear a report on the work of the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures” is not included here, as “central bodies” is a broad term covering different institutions. The Chairman, the position which Kim Jong Un current holds, does not have the power of other institutions at all.

With that discussion, it brings us to Section 2 of Chapter 6, titled “the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The State Affairs Commission superseded the National Defence Commission, with Kim Il Sung (from 1972 to 1993) and Kim Jong Il (from 1993 to 2011) as chairmen of this commission, while Kim Jong Un was the First Chairman of the commission from 2012 to 2016, and has been chairman of the State Affairs Commission since 2016, with the new Constitution. As such, looking at this section is important to disprove the “autocratic” nature of Juche Korea claimed by some. Unlike Section 1, which had 13 articles dedicated to explaining the SPA, its duties, responsibilities, and role as the highest organ of state power, this section has only has six articles! The 1998 and 2016 versions have a number of similarities. In the 106 version, the chairman of the State Affairs Commission described as the “supreme leader” of the country (Article 100). Some may say this “proves” that the chairman runs the state, however, their term of office is the same as that of the SPA, meaning this person would have to be elected by the SPA every five years, meaning that if the SPA didn’t like the chairman, this person could be recalled, similar to what the 1998 version said (Article 101). In this position, not surprisingly, the the Chairman is Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces, commanding and directing all of the State’s armed forces, which is basically what was the case in 1998 (Article 102). Furthermore, this chairman can issue orders (Article 104) but is, as noted earlier, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 105), meaning that he (so far, but women could, under the constitution, hold this position) is accountable to the populace. There is only one article which outlines the seven “duties and authority,” allowing the Chairman to

  1. direct the overall affairs of the State;
  2. personally guide the work of the State Affairs Commission;
  3. appoint or remove key cadres of the State;
  4. ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries;
  5. exercise the right of granting special pardon;
  6. proclaim a state of emergency, a state of war and mobilization order within the country;
  7. organize and direct the National Defence Committee in wartime.

While the 1998 version said that the Chairman had the duty to guide armed forces, create institutions in the “defence sector,” appoint or remove “major military cadres,” create new military titles, and proclaim a state of war, with orders for mobilization, the powers which are shown above. However, the Chairman now has the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the state,” personally guide the work of the Commission, ratify or rescind major treaties, exercise the right of special pardon, proclaim a state of emergency, and organize and direct a National Defence Committee during wartime. Some may, falsely, interpret this as a dictatorship. However, points 2, and 6, 7, on the list above, are focused on the military. Point 5, also on the above list, is almost a ceremonial duty. Some may be reminded that the SPA has the power to “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and may say that the Chairman’s power (in point 4) to “ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries” invalidates such a power of the SPA. This is false. The Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is, if one interprets these two provisions, in response to the action of the SPA. He would not have the power to ratify or rescind such treaties if the SPA had not conducted action on these same documents, as he is accountable to the SPA, don’t forget.

Single-hearted unity is the great foundation and ever victorious weapon for the Juche revolution!

Then there’s point 3, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove key cadres of the State.” This mirrors the 1998 constitution, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove major military cadres.” Using the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, it means a member of a small unified political group or operational unit, “as of staff officers and key personnel.” This means that the Chairman cannot just remove any party member, but rather this would apply to key government officials, with his appointment of such officials undoubtedly needing some input from the SPA. Finally, there is point 1, saying that the Chairman has the power to “direct the overall affairs of the State.” Some may decry: this makes it a “dictatorship”! Again, this is wrong. The word “direct” is a late Middle English word which derives from the Latin word directus, which was the past participle of dirigere, meaning “arrange in direct lines” or “to guide.” [8] This word, once English started to mean “straighten”, or “guide” which synonyms like “manage, orchestrate, guide, control…oversee, supervise, guide…steer, orient, focus” with “obey” and “follow” as antonyms. From this, you can say that the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the State” means that the Chairman guides and orients the state and its actions in order to more forward the efforts of socialist reconstruction. Even so, this does not mean he is a dictator. In Latin, the term dictator meant a magistrate who was “appointed in times of crisis and given absolute authority” for a maximum six-month or one-year term, like Julius Caesar. [9] Under the Constitution, the Chairman does not have such “absolute authority” and, as noted so far, the State is not ruled by a “single or sole ruler” as it would be in a monarchy or by a person who wields “absolute power and authority,” engaging in the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The power and authority of the government lies with the SPA, not with the Chairman. In fact, you could call the Chairman a “ruler” using the same bourgeois dictionary, since he guides the country, but he does not have “supreme authority” with the title of “supreme leader” basically a ceremonial one, as he does not have absolute power in Juche Korea, not at all.

That brings us to Section 3 of Chapter 6, titled the “State Affairs Commission.” This cannot be compared to the 1998 Constitution because, at the time, this section did not exist. This body, which is headed by the Chairman, is considered “the supreme policy-oriented leadership body of State power” (Article 106) with its members being “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and members” (Article 107). The term of office for those on the commission is the same as that of the SPA: five years (Article 109), and while it can “issue decisions and directives” like the Chairman can issue orders (Article 110), it is, like all elected or appointed positions, within the government, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 111). The commission itself has only three duties and authorities, laid out in Article 109, even less than the Chairman:

  1. discuss and decide important policies of the State, including those for defence building;
  2. exercise supervision over the fulfilment of the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and take measures for their fulfilment;
  3. abrogate [repeal or annul] decisions and directives of State organs which run counter to the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission.

The above shows that the commission would “discuss and decide” important State policies, meaning that the commission would reach a judgment or determination on important State policies, but it does not say that this commission would implement them, as such policies would still need to be approved by the SPA. Additionally, these policies would likely be mostly relating to the military. The supervision of the Chairman’s orders and the decisions and directives of the commission, with efforts to execute such efforts, means that this body is an executive body in that it executes executive authorities. However, it is not implementing the laws of the SPA, but just those directives and decisions made by the commission and the Chairman’s orders. It is my thinking that the “National Defence Commission” was changed to the State Affairs Commission so that this commission wasn’t just focused on defense of the country, but was more broad, covering all state policy, allowing for more discussion and deliberation.

Another executive who is often ignored in the bourgeois media as they want to focus on the “supreme leader,” who has little power as discussed earlier and could be said to be a bit of a figurehead, is the SPA Presidium, which was mentioned briefly in an earlier point of this article. The current President of the Presidium is Kim Jong-nam.  The SPA Presidium is discussed in detail in section 4 of chapter 6, which has changed slightly from 1998. For one, the SPA Presidium is a body which is the “highest organ of State power” (Article 112) when the SPA is not in session, consisting of the “President, Vice-President, Secretary” and other members (Article 113). Additionally, this body, as stated in Article 114, may have a few “Honorary Vice-Presidents” who can be deputies in the SPA who have “participated in the work of State building” for some time and have “distinguished service” meaning that the term “honorary” is one that is ceremonial in nature. Those within this body have terms of office which are five years long, the same as the SPA, with the Presidium continuing its work “until a new Presidium is elected, even after the term of the Supreme People’s Assembly expires” (Article 115). While this government body, part of the SPA, can issue “decrees, decisions and directives” (Article 120) and even have “Committees to assist it in its work” (Article 121) it is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly”  (Article 122). In order to carry out these decisions, directives, and decrees, it convenes “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the plenary meetings consisting of members of the Presidium, and the meeting of the Permanent Committee consisting of only “the President, Vice-Presidents and Secretary” (Article 118). Furthermore, the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on important matters arising in fulfilling the duties of the Presidium and exercising its authority” while the Meeting of the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters entrusted to it by the Plenary Meeting” (Article 119), meaning that the Permanent Committee and Plenary Meeting are inter-dependent on each other.

Specific members of the Presidium have certain duties. The President organizes and guides the work of the governmental body, representing the State, receiving “credentials and letters of recall” from diplomatic representatives of foreign countries (Article 117). More broadly, the Presidium itself has 19 duties, outlined in Article 116, the last of which was new in the 2016 Constitution (not in the 1998 version).

Let officials make selfless-devoted efforts for the benefit of the people!

Point 1, of the Presidium’s list of duties, says that this governmental body has the important duty of convening “sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This is connected with Point 2,  the adoption and deliberation of new draft regulations, bills, amendments and supplements to current regulations and laws between each session of the SPA, working to obtain “approval of the next session of the Supreme People’s Assembly for major laws which are adopted and enforced.” The same is the case with point 3, the approval and deliberation of “the State plan for the development of the national economy, the State budget and plans for their adjustment which are raised “for unavoidable reasons in the intervals between sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” Almost like the Supreme Court in the U$, this body interprets the “Constitution as well as current laws and regulations” (point 4) but also works to make sure laws are observed “by the State organs and take relevant measures” as a result (point 5). This is further buttressed by the efforts the Presidium goes to work with the deputies and committees of the SPA (points 8 and 9). Apart from the formalities of issuing “decorations, medals, titles of honour and diplomatic ranks and confer decorations, medals and titles of honour” (point 16) and granting “general amnesties” (point 17), this governmental body can: set up or abolish cabinet ministries or commissions (point 10), and establish or alter administrative districts or units (point 18), appoint or remove members of committees of the Presidium itself (point 12). Related powers include the ability to elect or recall People’s Assessors and Judges of the Central Court (point 13), appoint or recall “diplomatic representatives to other countries” (point 15), and the removal or appointment of “Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers and other members of the Cabinet” the Premier of the Cabinet’s recommendation “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (point 11). Like the SPA and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the Presidium has powers when it comes to treaties. Specifically, it can “approve or nullify treaties concluded with other countries” (point 14). While the Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is in response to the action of the SPA, the Presidium’s power is the next step after the SPA’s action, which decides if treaties should be ratified or nullified.

The Presidium is more than just a legislative/executive body, but is also looks to make sure the laws of the country are aligned. This is through its power, in point 6, to “rescind the decisions and directives of State bodies which run counter to the Constitution, laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of local People’s Assemblies” which is almost like the U$ Supreme Court declaring laws unconstitutional, but more wide-reaching, as this is important to maintain the democratic nature of society and move forward on the road to socialism. Even so, this comparison is not meant to say that this governmental body has judicial powers, because it does not (the court system has those powers). Connected to this is the fact that the Presidium also serves as an election management body, by conducting “the election of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and organizing “the elections of deputies to the local People’s Assemblies” (point 7) which is, again, an important part of democracy in Juche Korea. Finally, the Presidium, which has electoral, legislative, and executive powers, also has a diplomatic role: it conducts “external activities including contacts with foreign parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations” (point 19).

We then get to section 5, of Chapter 6, titled “The Cabinet” which has been slightly changed over the years, with more clarification in the 2016 constitution. The Cabinet is fundamentally an executive and administrative body (Article 123) and consists of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers  and other members” with their term of office being five years, the same as the SPA (Article 124). This means that Chairman Kim Jong-Un is part of the cabinet, but not its head as will be explained in the next paragraph.

Certain members have specific duties. The Premier, who “organizes and guides the work of the cabinet” represents the government itself (Article 126). While Kim Il Sung was the premier of the cabinet from 1948 to 1972, no member of the Kim family has held the position since, with Pak Pong-ju as the current Premier, who “began his career as a manager of the Ryongchon Food Factory in Ryongchon County, North Pyongan.” He was premier from 2003 to 2007, after which he reportedly “fell out of favor,” replaced by Kim Yong Il (who became the new Premier) and became “instrumental in formulating and executing new economic laws promulgated in the summer of 2010 involving labor rights and the protection of SOEs and JVs in the DPRK” before starting his second term as Premier, which has lasted from 2013 to the present. Each Premier, who has been newly-elected, “takes an oath of allegiance on behalf of the members of the Cabinet at the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 132).

There are other powers of the Cabinet, which are important to the conducting of governmental duties. For one, the Cabinet can convene “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the former meetings consisting of all Cabinet members, and the latter only consisting of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers and other members of the Cabinet appointed by the Premier” (Article 127). More specifically, as Article 128 outlines,  the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on new and important administrative and economic matters” while the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting of the Cabinet” meaning that the Plenary Meeting and Permanent Committee are interdependent on each other (Article 128). In order to assist with its other work, the Cabinet may “have non-permanent committees” (Article 130), along with commissions and ministries (like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), serving as executive and administrative bodies, supervising and guiding work of “the sectors concerned” in a uniform way and under the Cabinet’s guidance (Articles 133 and 134). Apart from this, these ministries and commissions have their own powers: they can run “committee meetings and cadre meetings” with both of these meetings deliberating and deciding on measures to implement the “decisions and directives of the Cabinet and other important matters” (Article 135) and they can “issue directives” (Article 136)

The Cabinet, as a whole, can issue “decisions and directives” (in 1998 it only “adopted” decisions and directives) as stated in Article 129. This encompasses many areas, as outlined in Article 125. For one, the Cabinet can adopt measures to implement State policies and can also amend, adopt, or supplement “regulations on State administration” on the basis of the country’s laws and the constitution itself. Additionally, it can draft the State plan for the “development of the national economy” and adopt measures “measures to put it into effect” after this plan has been approved by the SPA, of course. The Cabinet also has the power to compile the State budget, and adopt measures to implement this budget after the SPA has approved the budget. On its own authority, the Cabinet can adopt measures to “strengthen the monetary and banking system,” inspect and control the “establishment of order in State administration” in order to ensure government efficiency. Also, this governmental body can abolish or establish organs, which includes “major administrative and economic bodies and enterprises” while can also “adopt measures for improving State administration bodies.” Complementing this, the Cabinet can adopt measures to maintain “public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations, and safeguard the rights of citizens.” More importantly, the Cabinet has the power to “organize and execute” the work of “industry, agriculture, construction, transport, post and  telecommunications, commerce, foreign trade, land administration, municipal administration,  education, science, culture, health service, physical culture and sport, labour administration,  protection of environment, [and] tourism” to name a few. It also serves as a check on any other governmental body by being able to “rescind the decisions and directives of administrative and economic bodies which run counter to the decisions and directives of the Cabinet.” The Cabinet also has the power to “conclude treaties with foreign countries and conduct external affairs” which, of course, still has to be deliberated by the SPA, approved by the Presidium, and ratified or rescinded by the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, following the actions of previous governmental bodies. This connects all these elements. Most importantly of all, the Cabinet has the power to “direct the work of the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet, organs directly under its authority and local People’s Committees.” This is an important part of the functioning of the governmental system and keeping other parts of democracy in Juche Korea aligned with each other.

Other powers of the cabinet are noted on the chart for the whole governmental system of Juche Korea.

With these powers, the Cabinet, like other parts of the government, is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly and to the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 131) meaning that it is accountable to the masses of Juche Korea.

The local People’s Assembly (Chapter 6, Section 6), which is talked about in Articles 137 to 144 of the Constitution, is another part of the democratic system in Juche Korea, with few changes between the 1998 and 2016 Constitutions. Not only are local People’s Assemblies on the level of a province or municipality, city or district, and county, making them the “local organ of State power” but they consist of “deputies elected on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Articles 137 & 138). Their terms of office are four years, are elected “according to the decision of the local People’s Committee at the corresponding level,” and when there are “unavoidable circumstances” which “render an election impossible,” the term of office of deputy of a local People’s Assembly is prolonged “until an election can be held” (Article 139). Like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly has “regular and extraordinary sessions” with regular sessions once or twice a year as convened by the “People’s Committee at the corresponding level” and extraordinary sessions “convened when the People’s Committee at the corresponding level deems them necessary” or at the request of a “minimum of one-third of the total number of deputies” (Article 141). Additionally, like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly “requires a quorum of at least two-thirds of the total number of deputies in order to meet” and elects a speaker (but not a Vice-Speaker) who presides over the assembly’s sessions (Articles 142 and 143). A local People’s Assembly can issue decisions (Article 144) on a number of issues. As outlined in Article 140, a local People’s Assembly can:

  • “deliberate and approve the local plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the local budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “adopt measures to observe State laws in the area concerned”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level”
  • “elect or recall the Judges and People’s Assessors of the Court at the corresponding level”
  • “rescind unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level and the People’s Assemblies and People’s Committees at lower levels”

As such, it is basically a SPA at the local level, showing that the masses have control of the State as a whole. This is because they can elect deputies to their local People’s Assembly and SPA, and be elected, allowing them to express themselves through the country’s political system, using it to improve their own means. As article 4 of the Constitution states, “the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people. The working people exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

Let us all vote for the candidates!

Over the years, there have been a number of local elections in Juche Korea. They started in November 1946 [10], always with full participation, with bourgeois sources claiming there was 100% approval rate for members, which is likely a distortion. If we take the latter into account, this would reflect what Commie Dad said (as quoted earlier in this article): that candidates on the ballot are “chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK” with citizens running under these parties or as independents, with the fact that there is “only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings.” Hence, as he wrote, “the masses advocate for themselves directly…[and] the DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election.” Since the elections in November 1946, there have been elections on the local level, for local committees and assemblies, expressing the wills of the masses, in February and March 1947, March 1949, November 1956, November 1959, 1963, November 1967, February 1975, March 1977, March 1981, 1983, 1985, November 1989, November 1993, March 1999, August 2003, July 2007, July 2011, and July 2015, with 774,598 individuals elected on the local level over those years! [11] The upcoming elections on the local level are to be next held in 2019. We can’t forget when the Washington Post published a map by the Electoral Integrity Project describing Juche Korea and Cuba as having “moderate quality elections,” the same category that the U$ was in!

Section 7, of Chapter 6, of the Constitution of Juche Korea, outlines the organization which oversees the local People’s Assembly: the local People’s Committee, with such committees overseeing local People’s Assemblies across the country. The same structures that were in place in 1998 are still in place in the 2016 Constitution. Such a committee, which is is located in a  province, municipality, city (or district) or county, “exercises the function of the local organ of State power when the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level is not in session and the administrative and executive organ of State power at the corresponding level” and consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members” with the term of office the “same as that of the corresponding People’s Assembly”: four years (Articles 145 & 146). It convenes Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee, the former of which consist of all of the committee’s members, and the latter which consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Secretary,” the Plenary Meetings deliberate and decide on “important matters arising in implementing its duties and exercising its authority” while the Meetings of the Permanent Committee deliberate and decide “on the matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting,” meaning that the two are interdependent (Articles 148 & 149). Such a committee may also “have non-permanent committees to assist it in its work” (Article 151).

As an institution which “issues decisions and directives” (Article 150), and is accountable to the “corresponding People’s Assembly” while being “subordinate to the People’s Committees at higher levels, the Cabinet and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 152) it is important to outline its duties and authorities. The latter are pointedly listed in Article 147:

  1. it can “convene sessions of the People’s Assembly” and organize “the election of deputies to the People’s Assembly” while working with “the deputies to the People’s Assembly”
  2. it organizes and carries out “all administrative affairs in the given area”
  3. drafts the “local plan for the development of the national economy and adopt measures to implement it” (local plan is approved by corresponding People’s Assembly)
  4. compiles “the local budget and adopt[s] measures for its implementation,” a budget which is approved by the corresponding People’s Assembly
  5. adopts “measures to maintain public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations and safeguard the rights of citizens in the given area”
  6. inspects and controls “the establishment of order in State administration in the given area”
  7. directs “the work of the People’s Committees at lower levels”
  8. rescinds “unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committees at lower levels, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of the People’s Assemblies at lower levels”
  9. implements “the decisions and directives of the corresponding local People’s Assembly and the People’s Committees at higher levels, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’ Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet and the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet”

So, the local People’s Committee is basically a Presidium on the local level, providing another check and balance in this system, unlike the U$ system which supposedly has such “checks and balances,” but this is just a way to cover up the reality: it is a plutocratic system which is and inherently unequal bourgeois democracy.

Let us defend our Party Central Committee unto death!

The final section of Chapter 6 is Section 8, titled “The Public Prosecutor and the Court.” It changed only slightly between the 1998 and 2016 versions. Prosecution and investigation carried out by the Central Prosecutors Office, Public Prosecutors of a province, municipality, city, district, or county, and the Special Public Prosecutors Office (Article 153), with the term of office of the Prosecutor General of the Central Prosecutors Office being five years long, the same as “that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 154). As a check on the power of public prosecutors, they can be “appointed or removed by the Central Public Prosecutors Office” (Article 155), and all “investigation and prosecution” is “conducted under the unified direction of the Central Public Prosecutors Office” with all Public Prosecutors Offices “subordinate to their higher offices and the Central Public Prosecutors Office,” another check (Article 157). Like other elements of government, the Central Public Prosecutors Office is accountable to the SPA and the Presidium of the SPA when the SPA is not in session, showing that the people have a check on the office itself (Article 158). Within Section 8, the functions of the Public Prosecutors Office is listed, in Article 156. Not only does this office work to “ensure the strict observance of State laws by institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens” but it also identifies and institutes “legal proceedings against criminals and offenders in order to protect the State power of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the socialist system, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the people’s lives and property.” More than the latter power, its power to

ensure that the decisions and directives of State bodies conform with the Constitution, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet

That brings us to the second half of section 8: Article 159-168 which focus on the country’s Central Court. This court is independent, but also works to administer justice, with “judicial proceedings are carried out in strict accordance with the law” (Article 166) and the Central Court serving as the “highest judicial organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (like the U$ Supreme Court) and supervising “the judicial activities of all the Courts” (Article 167). Furthermore, the Central Court is accountable to the SPA and the SPA Presidium “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 168). The term of office for the President of the Central Court being five years, “the same as that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 158). On the other hand, the term “of office of Judges and People’s Assessors of the Central Court, the Court (People’s Court) “of a province, municipality, City, District, or County, “is the same as that of the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level” or four years. Furthermore, justice is

administered by the Central Court, the Court of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), the City (or District) or County People’s Courts, and the Special Court. Verdicts are delivered in the name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In a check on the power of the courts, the judges and president “of the Special Court are appointed or removed by the Supreme Court” and the People’s Assessors “of the Special Court are elected by the soldiers of the unit concerned or by employees at their meetings” (Article 161). This is just another example of democracy in the system of Juche Korea, not a dictatorship by any stretch, except in the minds of those who hate the country with fury. We then get to Article 162. It says the the Central Court has the governmental function to protect, through its judicial procedures, “the State power and the socialist system established in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, and the lives and property of citizens,” ensure that all “institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens abide strictly by State laws and staunchly combat class enemies and all law-breakers” (maintain the  rule of law) and “give judgements and findings with regard to property and conduct notarial work” or work to certify or attest documents, take depositions or affidavits, as noted in the defintions of “notorial” and “notary public” within Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition).

Let us glorify the 65th founding anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a grand festival of victors! (2)

Finally, there is Chapter VII, titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital.” Between the 1998 and 2016 constitutions, there have been no changes other than “DPRK” changed to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: the national emblem of the country is still the same (Article 169), the national flag is the same (Article 170), the national flag is the same (Article 171), and the capital of Pyongyang is the same (Article 172). In the 1998 Constitution, the provisions for this section were Articles 163-166.

So far, we have talked about the 1998 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung Constitution”) which was adopted by the SPA on Sept 5, 1998 and the 2016 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” or the “nuclear” constitution). However, there have also been constitutions, which are not “political manifestos” as one bourgeois scholar claimed, in:

  • September 1948, the country’s first constitution. It was adopted after a “70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year,” with the first session of the unicameral SPA meeting that year, with 572 deputies,”representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” elected, with the Constitution adopted in early September, with “the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.”” This constitution was adopted when “a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, with people’s opinions taken into account.” It is also worth noting, as acknowledged by a bourgeous scholar who thinks Juche Korea is autocratic (they all think that), “the authority to adopt and amend the Constitution in DPRK has belonged the the Supreme People’s Assembly since the first North Korean Constitution,” with the 1948 Constitution modeled after the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union, sometimes called the “Stalin Constitution,” with this 1948 constitution being “ten chapters and 104 articles,” with the SPA modeled after the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, with some bourgeois scholars still saying it didn’t have “real power” as they always say about such states. [12] This Constitution says that “the state power of the D.P.R.K. belongs to the people” (Article 2), that “the land owned by the Japanese government and the Japanese nationals as well as  the Korean landlords is confiscated” (Article 6), that the “state encourages the development of the cooperative organizations of the people” (Article 9), establishes the Supreme People’s Assembly (Article 32) with deputies “elected at the ratio of one deputy for every 50,000 of the population” (Article 35) and the establishes “local organs of state power in provinces, cities, counties or city districts and ri, towns or workers’ settlements are the respective people’s assemblies” (Article 68), among other provisions. It s worth noting that for the U$, each representative, in the House, “represents” an average of “nearly 700,000” people, leading some to call for increase the number of representatives to 6,000 people in all, with the number of “representatives with full voting rights…435” a number set by law in 1913, with “the number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.” It is even worse for the Senate, as there are only 100 members. Combined together, that means 535 people are “representing” over 327.2 million people, which shows the inequity of this system.
  • December 1972, the “Juche Constitution.” Some say they were unable to find text of this constitution and others summarize it as having no preamble, and incorporating a number of “purely North Korean concepts” and is considered to be a “communist dictoatrship” with all power in the hands of the WPK and Kim Jong Il, while brushing aside the reality that the “Supreme People’s Assembly is the highest organ of State Power” with legislative power vested in this unicameral assembly and claiming that the head of the WPK approves all amendments, with the legislature’s role as a “formality” in common anti-communist thinking. [13] This constitution was important for introducing the concept of “chuch’e“/Juche and showed that  the country had gone beyond its socialist transformation of economic management and establishment of a socialist system since this draft was “put to debate two times in plenary meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party and at the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, and then it was submitted to the SPA, adopted finally (and unanimously) by the deputies on December 27, 1972. As a result, Korean people celebrate this day as Socialist Constitution Day every passing year.” This constitution also established “the positions of president and vice presidents and a super-cabinet called the Central People’s Committee (CPC).” Others said that it “combines socialism and nationalism to produce a document of fundamental law that is unusual, even compared to the Constitutions of other Marxian socialist states,” “private property was totally eliminated,” socialist construction was continued, and therewere other elements that were part of the “made-for-Korea socialist system.” [14]
  • 1992. It was adopted one year after the Koreans, “had a chance to vote for those on the local level…[with] 26,074 people were elected to local and provincial assemblies” and the “final demise of the Soviet Union on December 26.” This Constitution “has 171 articles and seven chapters (twenty-two more and four less, respectively, than the 1972 constitution)” with major changes  including “the elevation of chuch’e [Juche] at the expense of Marxism-Leninism, the removal of references to the expulsion of foreign troops, and the addition of articles encouraging joint ventures, guaranteeing the “legitimate rights and interests of foreigners” along with “establishing a framework for expanded ties with capitalist countries.” Additionally, “the eighteen articles of Chapter 1 deal with politics…In Chapter 2, economic affairs are codified…Culture, education, and public health are covered in Chapter 3…Chapter 5 extensively details the fundamental rights and duties of citizens….Chapter 6, entitled “State Institutions,” has eighty articles and eight sections–more sections than any other chapter….Chapter 7, which covers the national emblem, the flag, and capital, describes the first two items, designates P’yongyang as the capital, and names the national anthem. In a change from the previous constitution, the 1992 revision mandates that “the sacred mountain of the revolution”–Paektu-san–be added to the national emblem.” [15] This constitution also eliminated the “expression of Marxism-Leninism in conjuction with juche” and replaced it with the principle of juche itself, and there were efforts to encourage foreign investment in Juche Korea after the collapse of the “world socialist system” in 1991. This Constitution was also, “aimed at legalizing the achievements and experiences obtained in the past 20 years of revolution, and meeting the new demand for a completion of the Juche revolutionary cause.”
  • April 2009, the “Shogun Constitution,” as some call it, was adopted. This constitution dropped the use of the word “communism.” That year, “Koreans voted for candidates for the 12th SPA, with posters reminding the populace of the importance of voting, how it is a civic duty…324, of the 687 deputies in the legislature, were replaced. In the election…deputies were elected for five-year terms, including Kim Jong-Il, but not his son Kim Jong-Un,  [with]…the country rightly rejecting any push for “economic liberalisation” in the country, rolling back “moderate economic reforms instituted in 2002.”…numerous “technocrats and financial experts” were elected, 107 women were elected, Mr. Choe Thae Bok was elected as a speaker of the assembly, and Kim Jong-il as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission…107 deputies were women, 116 deputies were soldiers, 75 deputies were workers, and 69 deputies were farmers…apart from Kim Jong-Un given high state-level positions…there were revisions to the DPRK’s constitution, by removing the the word “communism” from the constitution, replacing it with the term “Songun” or socialism, while giving National Defense Commission (NDC) more governmental power…The new constitution, the Shogun Constitution, also asserts protections of human rights.”
  • May 2012 revision. That year, Kim Jong-Il “was named as “eternal chairman” of the National Defense Commission,” while Kim Jong-Un was “elected as the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, there were a number of “approved amendments to the country’s constitution”…When he was elected, at the fourth conference of the party in its history, as First Secretary of the WPK, fellow party members vowed to follow the ideas of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s leadership to develop their country, while they demonstrated “the revolutionary will of the people to accomplish the songun (military-first) revolutionary cause under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.” Broadly, “section 2 of Chapter 6 and Articles 91, 95 and 100-105, 107, 109, 116, 147 and 156 of the Constitution in line with the institution of the new post of first chairman of the NDC” (National Defense Commission) were revised…while some speculated on economic reforms related to this…In the most recent iteration of the Constitution (revised again in 2013 and 2016), still called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution,” it mentions that Kim Il Sung helped make the country a “nuclear state” and “unchallengable military power” in the preamble, with no other mention of it in the rest of the constitution whatsoever…On April 12, 2012,Kim Jong Un gave a rousing speech in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, which some thought was a call for the beginning of “China-style economic reform” in the DPRK…[saying that] “today we are standing at the watershed of history, when a new chuch’e century begins…The farsighted strategy of our revolution and ultimate victory lie here in directly proceeding along the path of independence, the path of military-first, and the path of socialism unfolded by the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il…It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people who are the best in the world — our people who have overcome all obstacles and ordeals to uphold the party faithfully — not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like…We will have to embark on the comprehensive construction of an economically powerful state by kindling more fiercely, the flames of the industrial revolution of the new century and the flames of South Hamgyong Province.” This constitution was later revised again in April 2013 by the SPA, as noted by Juche Korea.

By the way, if we take the estimate of the population of Juche Korea in July 2017 by the CIA World Factbook, of 25,248,140, that means that each of the 687 deputies represents an average of about 36,751 people, much lower than the 700,000 that U$ Representatives “represent” on average.

Such changes to the Constitution again shows that there is a democratic nature to Juche Korea without a doubt. Some may say that there has been a “hereditary” change of power from Kim Il Sung (1948-1994) to Kim Jong Il (1994-2011) and Kim Jong Un (2011-present). This does not realize that with Kim Il Sung as the person who led the Korean people in their struggle against Japanese colonialism, heading the Korean liberation struggle, it was no surprise he became and stayed as the leader of the country, a guiding force. The same can be said for Kim Jong Il, who was, like Kim Il Sung, a savvy politician, and was chosen to continue in Kim Il Sung’s footsteps, improving the Juche ideology, which he would be trusted to so since he was Kim Il Sung’s son. The same can be said for Kim Jong Un (Kim Jong Il’s son), who was age 29 in 2011, since I trust the records of Juche Korea more than that of the ROK or U$. This was much younger than when Kim Jong Il became chairman (at age 52 in 1994) or when Kim Il Sung became Premier (age 36 in 1948). This promises to bring new ideas and thoughts to Juche Korea, which the country needs in the ways ahead, with the Constitution already revised three times since then: in 2012, 2013, and 2016. After all, lets not forget that the SPA was the real center of power in Juche Korea, not the positions held by Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un. They are basically figureheads and a guiding force, with more on this subject explained in the next section, disproving the idea of a “cult of personality.” To conclude this, neither Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un had to be chosen or “destined” to be chosen. The SPA elected them, and did not recall them because their policies were seen as agreeable, since all of them advocated socialist construction in the country.  The same goes for their position as party leader of the WPK. There are other political parties in Juche Korea, and neither one of these Kims ended up leading them. So, all talk about it being the “Kim family” running the show is poppycock to say the least.

There is no “cult of personality”

Supreme leader Kim Jong Un, we will remain faithful to you to the last!

Anti-revisionist leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha declared in his political diary, in June 1977, that “genuine Marxist-Leninists” will agree that the “ideology is guiding the Korean Workers’ Party and the Communist Party of China…is revisionist” and added, later that month that “in Pyongyang, I believe that even Tito will be astonished at the proportions of the cult of his host [Kim Il Sung], which has reached a level unheard of anywhere else, either in past or present times, let alone in a country which calls itself socialist.” [16] Later on, that summer, he would further declare that “the leadership of the Communist Party of China has betrayed” the working people, and that “in Korea, too, we can say that the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party is wallowing in the same waters,” claiming that  Kim Il Sung was begging for aid from other countries, from states in the Eastern Bloc and “non-aligned” countries like Yugoslavia. As such, relations between People’s Korea and Albania were cold until Hoxha’s death in 1985.

The question thet comes out of of this is obvious: was Hoxha right? We know that Karl Marx had an adversionto the personality cult,” especially for himself. We also know while a “cult of personality” developed, by the 1930s, around Josef Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR, Stalin was strongly opposed to this, even saying in February 1938 that “I am absolutely against the publication of  “Stories of the childhood of Stalin”…the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental…The people make the heroes, thus reply the Bolsheviks to the Social-Revolutionaries. The book carries water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries. No matter which book it is that brings the water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries, this book is going to drown in our common, Bolshevik cause. I suggest we burn this book.” This belayed the claims of Nikita Khrushchev in his traitorious “secret speech,” in 1956, with the initiator of the “cult of personality” around Stalin being “Karl Radek, who pleaded guilty to treason at his public trial in 1937” and was pushed by Khrushchev in the 1930s, showing that Stalin was right that this “cult” was built up by his opponents. [17] Lest us forget that Khrushchev “tried to introduce elements of market economy and liberalisation” in the Soviet Union and coined horrid phrases such as “cult of personality” and “peaceful co-existence” the former would be used by anti-communists for years to come. After all, Khrushchev also coined the term “Stalinism” and called Stalin a “genius.” Later on, some said that Khrushchev’s charge of a  “cult of personality” ignored the “structures of Soviet society, the role of the Party, and all the other instances that Marxists should use to analyze a specific social formation and a specific situation.”

The talk about the “cult of personality” goes beyond Stalin and Marx, since Lenin disliked the idea as well.. Some claim that Mao Zedong has such a “cult” when this was not true since he “had led the way in dismantling what had become known as the cult of personality in 1970.” Others argued against the idea of the “cult of personality.” Some said that it could be avoided “only by the broadest active participation of the whole people in the transformed movement, e.g. after a revolution, in self-government and in national planning, while others said that “the cult of the individual is alien to the Marxist-Leninist concept of collective leadership” saying that the “presence of a powerful personality in the party…fosters the growth and the development of the cult of the individual centring round that personality, while the absence of any such personality leads to the formation of groups inside the party.” The latter writer said that “the loss of lives of innocent persons…does not by itself constitute the cult of the individual” and that a “man who suffers from a sense of inflated ego becomes vain and conceited and falls victim to the cult of the individual.” Then there was Amiri Baraka. He said that the charge of “cult of personality” was thrown against them from “the right” with fake revolutionaries using it, claiming that “Lenin and the Chinese are backing them up” while they forgot that “the Chinese were criticizing the anti-Stalinist revisionist Krushchevites who attacked Stalin with the cries of “cult of the individual” and “the cult of personality”.”

We emerged victorious under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung!

From here, it is worth defining the term “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual.” Bourgeois dictionaries claim it is when a public figure is “deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved” (merriam-webster.com), when there is “a cult promoting adulation of a living national leader or public figure” (dictionary.com), or a “deliberately cultivated adulation of a person, esp a political leader” (collinsdictionary.com). Others in bourgeois and related media claim it involves, a charismatic leader with a coherent media strategy and strong public image who embodies “the people but also stand[s] above them,” “images of top leaders…cultivated” by the Party, “general faith in the leader,” or the use of propaganda “and media tools excessively to create a strongly positive image of himself,” saying this applies to “leaders” ranging from Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama to the orange menace. [18] Of course, Kim Jong-Il is claimed to be part of such a “cult,” as is declared blatantly by bourgeois media like a BBC article in December 2011 titled “Delving into North Korea’s mystical cult of personality.”

With this, there is clearly no consensus, among the bourgeois critics, what the term, “cult of personality” means as many just spout it blindly and explain little. As user put it on /r/communism, “I feel like every leader has a cult of personality.” Others noted that Fidel Castro worked actively to counter it in Cuba by having no statues made of himself there. Some said that “while condemning chauvinistic nationalism, Lenin acknowledged working class patriotism…people are not abstractions, nor are their revolutionary movements. They come from somewhere, they have real accomplishments that involve particular parties and leaders. That movements so constituted acquire a face, and other icons isn’t something to be casually slighted – it’s part of being human…most especially when no one is pretending the classless society had been established.” Then there were those who said that “the Cult of Personality is incompatible with communism, in my opinion.” This connects to what Mao said in 1956, while criticizing Stalin (and revisionism): “the cult of the individual is a rotten carry-over from the long history of mankind. The cult of the individual is rooted not only in the exploiting classes but also in the small producers.” What J. Moufawad Paul wrote about the “cult of personality” or cult of the individual is helpful here:

…due to the fact that the theories that push revolutionary science further often require someone to write them down, to engage in polemics, and concretize an ideology, we often do tend to get caught up in erroneous and bourgeois ideas about individual brilliance. But the Lenins and Maos of the world are just living end-results of a longer process, the last links in an unrecognized revolutionary chain, able to finally provide a concrete analysis of concrete circumstances because they happen to be in the right social position at the right time. To imagine otherwise is to pretend that individual humans are outside of history, that there are such things as “philosopher-kings” or ubermenschen that stand above the herd…whenever we are faced with those individuals who possess the privilege to unify theoretical concepts and rise to positions of leadership…because we are conditioned to think that individuals and not collective people, make history, we often capitulate to greater or lesser degrees of individual worship…Even if we could argue that the adoption of these cults of personalities made sense…that does not mean they possessed any lasting benefit for the revolution…The cult of the individual often takes a more pernicious and sublimated form, pushed under appeals to collectivity and consensus; even in those groups that self-righteously lambast others for capitulation to a daddy figure there might still be a single individual whose word is doctrine, whose opinion matters more than others, and who treats collective organizing as nothing more than a reflection of his own ego

This connects to what was written by a critic in the 1960s: that party workers “maintain[ing] some formalities” along with “thunderous slogans eulogizing him” (Mao) which may appear to be “the cult of personality” but to inspire and involve the masses, then “these would remain as the general form of paying respect” and are necessary, with a revolution not able to be brought “about anywhere avoiding these formalities.” The writer then adds that “no individual, not even the leader, is considered infallible…any phenomenon, any entity, even thoughts and ideas, are not taken as absolute, rather they are considered changeable” which are the bases on “which the minimum level of consciousness of people should rest.”

Kim Il Sung Prize Winner Grand Mass Gymnastics And Artistic Performance (3)

Now, Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, defines a cult as a “devoted attachment to, or extravegent admiration for, a person, principle, or lifestyle,” or a “system of religious worship or ritual.” It also defines “worship” as a “reverence or devotion” for someone, an “extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind.” Some may say, immediately, that what is happening in Juche Korea qualifies, citing that horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim Dynasty” or another about the “cult of personality,” claiming that there are hundreds of statues of Kim Il Sung in Juche Korea. The best place to start are the Constitutions of Juche Korea over the years, specifically focusing on the preamble, which mentions the country’s previous leaders.

1998 Constitution is the first I can find which has a preamble (some say the 1972 Constitution has a preamble but this is clearly a lie). It calls Kim Il Sung a

  • “great leader”
  • comrade for applying the idea of Juche (and authoring it), leading the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche, founding “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” leading “various stages of social revolution and construction work” to improve the country, putting forward “the fundamental principles of  the building and activities of the State, established the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.

It then says that Kim Il Sung

always mixed with the people, devoted his whole life for them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics.

On top of that, this constitution calls Kim Il Sung

  • the “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification,” the latter which he pushed forward, and says he “clarified the basic ideals of the foreign policy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”
  • a “veteran statesman in the world” who worked to strengthen “the world peace and for friendship among the peoples and made an imperishable contribution to the cause of human independence.”
  • a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” and says that the ideas (and achievements) under his leadership “are the lasting treasures of the Korean revolution and the basic guarantee for the prosperity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people “will uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Republic and carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion” by defending and carrying forward his ideas, with the constitution called the “Kim Il Sung’s Constitution” as it codifies his “Juche-oriented ideas on and exploits in State building.” The 2009 Constitution says something similar, calling him a “great human being” rather than “great man” as the 1998 Constitution asserts.

Now, the word “great,” defined by the aforesaid mentioned bourgeois dictionary, means someone who is above ordinary or average, distinguished, showing “nobility of mind” and purpose. As for the word “genius,” this same dictionary defines it as a person with “great natural ability,” inventive ability, or particular character. Even if you accept all these words to apply to Kim Il Sung, saying he created the idea of Juche, founded Juche Korea, is a dedicated revolutionary, politician, and theoretician, it does not mean there is “devoted attachment” to him, overblown admiration, or even a “system of religious worship or ritual.” Kim Il Sung was the person there guiding the country through hard times, as the Korean people, with help from socialist nations, rebuilt Juche Korea in the aftermath of the Great Fatherland Liberation War. Additionally, it does not say he is flawless or that he does not engage in mistakes.

Then there’s the Constitution in 2013 and the one in 2016 (the most recent). The 2013 Constitution says that the country is place where the “ideas and leadership of the great leaders Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il are applied.” Like the 1998 and 2009 Constitutions, it describes Kim Il Sung as the

  • founder of Juche Korea
  • author of the Juche idea
  • organizer/leader of the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle,” along with other ideas stated in the 1998 and 2009 preambles,
  • calls “the father of socialist Korea.”

It then calls Kim Jong Il a

  • “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Juche Korea into “Kim Il Sung’s State” and developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun id ea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.”

It also says that Kim Jong Il, “in the face of the collapse of the world socialist system and the vicious offensive of the imperialist allied forces to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, “developed the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. It goes onto say that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il both

mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics

It goes on to call both of these individuals “great leaders…sun[s] of the nation and the lodestar of national reunification” who clarified the country’s foreign policy ideals, ensured that the “international prestige of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was exalted” and served as “veteran world statesmen,” while being “geniuses of ideology and theory, masters of the leadership art, ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commanders, great revolutionaries and statesmen, and great men.” It then says that the great ideas of “Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il and the great achievements made under their leadership” are lasting treatures of the Korean Revolution and will guarantees the country’s prosperity, with both buried in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun “in their lifetime appearance” which is a “grand monument to their immortality and a symbol of the dignity and eternal sanctuary of the entire Korean nation. It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people will “uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Comrade Kim Jong Il as the eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” carrying through the “revolutionary cause of Juch” by defending and carrying forward the achievements and ideas of their individuals, with the Constitution codifying “the Juche-oriented ideas” of both individuals “on State building and their exploits in it,” with the Constitution called “the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” in their honor. The 2016 Constitution does not seem to be changed.

Honour to great years

The preambles of th 1998, 2009, 2013, and 2016 engage in wording that bourgeois critics would likely say are signs of a “cult of personality.” However, the achievements of Kim Il Sung, whom is called a “great leader” or even an “eternal president” (a ceremonial title) seem widespread, but are actually limited:

  1. he is said to have authored the idea of Juche and applied it
  2. says he led the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche
  3. says he founded Juche Korea, leading efforts to improve the country in the years to come, establishing “the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.
  4. says he “devoted his whole life for them [the people] and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  5. says he is “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification” for his efforts on national reunification of the Korean Peninsula (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  6. Says he clarified the basic ideals of the country’s foreign policy
  7. says that he was a “veteran statesman” who worked to strengthen the world peace, friendship, and supported causes of independence (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  8. calls him a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)

The above does not exclude the work of other individuals or the populace in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle or afterwards. In fact, it implies that he wouldn’t be there without the masses, and does not say he set policy, only that he is a guiding force for future progress. That’s basically it. The same is the case for Kim Jong Il, whom it calls an “eternal chairman,” arguing that he is a “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Kim Il Sung’sideas, developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun idea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.” It also says that Kim Jong Il led the country through the years after “the collapse of the world socialist system” when he administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, developing “the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. Saying that both Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are “immortal” or “eternal” means that they live on, but more in their ideas than themselves as human beings. From this, one can recognize that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un are symbols, more than than anything else, of the ideology of Juche, which was informed by Marxism-Leninism if you go back in earlier constitutions of the country. Furthermore, if you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “List of leaders of North Korea” it is clear that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un were military commandaers (all three were Supreme Commanders of the KPA) but even more than that, all of them were party leaders, leading party organs like the Central Military Commission of the WPK as a Chairman or the Central Committee of the WPK as a Chairman (1949-1966, 2016-Present), General Secretary (1996-2011), or First Secretary (2012-2016). From 1972 to 1994, Kim Il Sung was the President of Juche Korea, but when he died in 1994, Kim Jong Il did not replace him as Kim Il Sung stayed as “eternal president.” After that point, Yang Hyong-sop was President of the SPA’s Presidium (1994-1998) and Kim Yong-nam, who has been the President since 1998. Even saying this, not only was Kim Tu-bong chairman of the WPK from 1946 to 1949, not a member of this “Kim family” but the Premiers of the Administration Council from 1972 to 1998 and Premiers of the Cabinet from 1998 to Present have not been either Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un, but rather other dedicated Korean comrades. If that isn’t enough, consider that the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, from 1948 to 1998, and the Chairman of the SPA, has never been held by any of the “three Kims” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un).

To say again, the “three Kims,” as I’ll call them here, are symbols more than anything. Sure, they can eliminate economic brureaucrats as Kim Jong Il did in 1998, but they do not have any power when it comes to Constitutional revisions, including the one in 1998 when removed the position of President, called Kim Il Sung “Eternal President,” reduced the amount of ownership while those of “private ownership…[and] those of social and cooperative organizations” were expanded, citizens freedom of travel is established, stengthens “individual economic entities,” and created the ground for creating a special economic zone.” [19] The same goes for Kim Jong Un and his New Year’s address, with mass rallies, arguing that “the DPRK will continue down the line of “Byungjin,” the parallel  “development of nuclear weapons and national economy as long as the nuclear threat posed by imperialists continues,” and declared that the county is a nuclear weapons state,” in January 2016 for example.

Some may still be throwing up their hands, saying the analysis so far is flawed.  They may point out that Kim Il Sung, born near Pyongyang in Mangyondae, joined the “Korean guerrilla resistance against the Japanese occupation in the 1930s,” after he was expelled from middle school for such activities, claim he was part of the Soviet army during WWII and was “installed” by the Soviets, talk about his children and wives and saythat he fashioned the national ideology of “juche”or “patriotic self-reliance.” [20] They may further declare that the Juche calendar “inaugurated in 1997, recalculated time from the year Kim Il-sung was said to have come to earth from heaven in 1912” (it didn’t “recalculate time” because publications of Juche Korea use the Georgian calendar and the Juche calendar together!). Furthermore, these individuals may say the same about Kim Jong Il, the son of Kim Il Sung, scowling at the idea that he was “born on Mount Paektu in a guerrilla base camp,” “raised by his mother and other women guerrillas,” says he supposedly had multiple wives, and was an “obsessive film buff” who had a “collection of more than 20,000 video tapes,” authoring a staggering number of books while he was at Kim Il Song University. [21] Finally, they may say that Kim Jong-Un, whose father was Kim Jong Il, with a brother named Kim Jong Chul, works “in the WKP propaganda department,” married Ri Sol-Ju in 2009 or 2010 and had a daughter named Ju-ae in 2012, that he “studied in Switzerland” with schoolmates describing him as a “good friend and very quiet, nice guy” with “childhood hagiography” and support of his government formalized by China after Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011. [22]

The greatest honour to our motherly Party!

Even if you say all of the above is true, it doesn’t many any of the “three Kims” gods or dieties. It makes them leaders, sure, but in terms of their actual governmental power, they are basically figureheads and symbols representing Juche (and more recently Songun). But, you could say that their responsibilities have increased over the years. This is obviously a way to make sure the State and socialist system doesn’t collapse due to imperialist attack. After all, as bourgeois media has stated [23]

  • the CIA attempted failed coups in 1991 and 1995, in both cases working with a “faction in the military…behind the uprising” as asserted by former CIA operative who had been stationed in the Korean Peninsula
  • there have been plans to set up a “government-in-exile” with defectors, especially with members of Kim family to “delegitimize” the government, with “connected” claims the government is “collapsing”!
  • there have been supposed efforts “closely monitor monuments and paintings” of the country from vandalism and what they claim are “purges” (whether this is true or not, it could indicate elements trying to bring down the socialist system)

As a last ditch attempt, they may claim there is a “Mount Baekdu bloodline” of the Kim family in Juche Korea, based on a claim in a ROK newspaper. If you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim dyansty (North Korea)” who find sources that mainly rely in Orientalist bourgeois media. One of those sources reprints the 1974 “Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System,” announced by Kim Il Sung that year but proposed by Kim Young Joo in 1967:

1. We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

2. We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung with all our loyalty.

3. We must make absolute the authority of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

4. We must make the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung[‘s] revolutionary ideology our faith and make his instructions our creed.

5. We must adhere strictly to the principle of unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions.

6. We must strengthen the entire partys ideology and willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

7. We must learn from the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and adopt the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style.

8. We must value the political life we were given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung, and loyally repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness with heightened political awareness and skill.

9. We must establish strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move as one under the one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

10.We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end.

Honoring and supporting his revolutionary ideology is not worship. Making the authority of Kim Il Sung “absolute” (meaning perfect, complete, whole or definite) does not mean it is all-encompassing. Making his ideology “our faith and make his instructions our creed” may sound like worship, but is actually just means they will follow his guidance. The same goes for the “unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions” as he is a symbol and guiding force, as I noted earlier. The strengthening of party ideology, “willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” is understandable because Kim Il Sung was the party leader! Getting to point 7, learning from Kim Il Sung, and adopting “the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style” is a move toward helping the masses. With the valuing of political life “given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and working to “repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness” with their “heightened political awareness and skill” means they are honoring his accomplishments. The establishment of “strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move” as one under the “one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” basically says that there should be political unity and society, with everyone working together for a common goal. Finally, passing down “the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end” means that the socialist achievements and gains so far under Kim Il Sung as a leader/guiding force, is an important goal for socialist construction going forward, without question. If what the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said, in November 2005, is right, that “Thank you, Father Kim Il Sung” is the “first phrase North Korean parents are instructed to teach to their children” it means that those in the population are remembering and honoring their past, with Kim Il Sung as an embodiment of that past.

World Congress On The Juche Idea

The expanded version, “Ten Great Principles of the Establishment of the Unitary Ideology System” is similar, honoring Kim Il Sung (ex: saying he is a “legendary hero” for which he is for leading the struggle to free the Korean people from brutal Japanese colonialism), while saying there should be unified ideology, a stronger party, and protect Kim Il Sung from attacks from revisionists. Some may say that the following words are are a manifestation of the “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual”:

Respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party…Respectfully manage and thoroughly protect the records and sites of revolutionary struggle and the revolutionary history of our Beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and the Party’s Unitary Ideology stronghold Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung and the Research Institute of Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s Revolutionary Thought…Our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s revolutionary thought and Juche ideology must be realized through our united belief and must be experienced in the flesh and bones of every person…Unconditionally accept, treat as a non-negotiable condition, and decide everything based upon our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions and in every act think only about the greatness of our Leader…Systematically and fully master the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s laborious works, guidelines and his splendid revolutionary history…Participate without absence in more than 2 hours of study groups, lectures and collective studies devoted to revolutionary ideas of Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…The system of delivering the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines must be thoroughly studied, and the Leader’s instructions and Party goals have to be communicated exactly…There must be a strict distinction between the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines and individual party executives instructions and it must be investigated if individual official’s instructions are matching the Leader’s ones…Fight with all one’s will against anti-Party and anti-revolutionary thinking trends that have its origin in capitalistic ideas, feudal Confucian ideas, revisionism, dogmatism, toadyism and are contrary to the revolutionary thought of the Great Leader KIM Il Sung…Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions must be viewed as a legal and supreme order and unconditionally realized without excuses or trivial reasons…Regard as a holy duty and supreme glory reducing the concerns of our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and fight for it with complete dedication…Fight against those who accept our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions only in letter and sabotage the implementation…At all localities and all guard posts, strengthen the solidarity of the ideological intellect of the columns through revolutionary struggle based on loyalty to the Great Leader…Resolutely struggle in opposition to anti-Party elements such as factionalism, regionalism, and nepotism that could destroy the uniform solidarity of the Party and never waver at the slightest hint of such menace to completely overcome it…Oppose senility and stagnation, indolence and slackening and remain awash with a flourishing fighting spirit and passion to always work militantly, and reject passivity and conservative tendencies and embark in all undertakings boldly and grandly…Consider political life as the first life, never bend one’s political beliefs and revolutionary integrity. Learn to throw away like bits of straw, one’s physical life for political life…Consciously participate in organizational life to standardize and normalize the undertakings and said life…Establish a strong revolutionary order and rules that organize and advance all  undertakings according to the Leader’s sole leadership system and handle policy questions solely through the teachings of the Great Leader and the conclusion of the Party…Accurately execute the decisions and orders of the Party and State to carry through the teachings of the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…Oppose and actively struggle against all kinds of behaviors by individual cadre which go against the principles such as the individual abuse of power or authority…Oppose and sharply struggle against the situation of leaking Party, State and military secrets…Do not connive towards the slightest phenomenon or element that depart from the Party’s sole leadership system, to the contrary, struggle against it.

Some of the above can easily be interpreted as saying that the ideology of Juche should affect all Koreans positively. It also says that these party cadres should be following Kim Il Sung’s advice for moving forward, which would make sense as he was the party leader of the WPK at the time and these principles were circulated around the party itself! The same can be said for the study of his work or efforts to make sure there is ideological unity and ideological loyality (especially to the socialist system) rather than ideological discord, as it is part of engaging “in the execution of the revolutionary task” and displaying “high political fervor” and elevating “the level of political theory and technical administration,” carrying through Kim Il Sung’s teachings. You could say that Kim Il Sung, or later Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were inspirational forces to such party cadres, as much as Huey Newton inspired Black Panthers. The last tenet says that

All Party members and workers may become like the Great Leader KIM Il Sung by firmly establishing the Party’s unitary ideology system and must complete the revolutionary accomplishment to the end, following the path pointed by the Great Leader.

This means that the “three Kims” are an inspiration and guide to follow, something to aspire to, meaning that they don’t “stand above” the masses, and you could even say, are part of the masses.

Heroic Korean People’s Army–80 Years

Some may use their eagle eyes focusing on the phrase that party cadres should “respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party.” This should be approached carefully. Let us remember, as noted earlier, worship can mean a “reverence or devotion” for someone. Importantly, reverence, a word that is similar to devotion, a synonym of honor. As noted by the 2nd Edition of Roget’s Super Thesaurus by Marc McCutcheon, the word honor also has a number of other synonyms:

  • respect
  • esteem
  • admiration
  • veneration
  • dignity
  • glory
  • deferences
  • homage
  • exaltation
  • recognition
  • approval

Taking what is above into account, it means that when they say “respectfully worship” they are talking about recognition, deference, respect, and honor, more than “worshipping” any of the “three Kims” as gods.

Furthermore, when one translates the English word “worship” to Korean, they get 경배하되 on one online translator, but if you translate it back, it is “the worship.” Other sites say it is 숭배. Most informative of all is Google Translate. It says the word worship is 예배 in Korean, but also says that it can be a verb, meaning, “adore, worship, praise” or which is 숭배하다 in Korean. From this, you could say that they are saying that the “sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party” should be praised, as someof these can’t be “worshipped” or “adored” since they aren’t trying to make Juche a religion but rather solidify it as an ideology. This is part of the reason that “access to independent news sources is extremely limited…[that] some schools and state institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet called Kwangmyong” if what the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) can be believed, because such access would lead to ideological poisoning. You could also say that the English translation of the document by an anti-Juche Korea group, a “human rights” group, could be off, so they may have translated the Korean word for “worship” as it served their purposes doing so.

With all of this, we can say that, respectfully, Enver Hoxha was wrong. Considering that Juche Korea did not ultimately side with China or the Soviets, instead willing to trade with both and non-aligned countries, this likely angered those like Hoxha who were trying to take more of a hardline. In the end, Hoxha failed in his attempt of anti-revisionism with the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, which had existed from 1946, continued after his death in 1985 but the following ruler, Ramiz Alia began to adopt revisionist policies with the Communists voted out in elections in 1992 and a new Constitution ratified in 1998 which abolished the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, creating a bourgeois “representative” system. While you could cry “revisionist” back in the Cold War, it is less and less possible to do now, because, at most, there are five existing socialist states: China (some debate this), Vietnam (some also debate this), Cuba, Juche Korea, and Laos (some debate this). Others may add Venezuela onto the list as a possible runner-up, even Bolivia or Syria (which we already explained on here is not a socialist state).

Finally, this brings us to what Andrei Lankov wrote last year. He writes that those in Juche Korea (he is specifically talking about the “three Kims”) are not “irrational” but are rather “the ultimate political survivors, hard-edged rationalists” who laughed at by those in the Eastern Bloc who were reportedly “mocked for clinging to their outdated personality cult and failed economics.” [24] Yet the country stayed together (unlike the Eastern Bloc countries who had fully accepted revisionism by then), taking lessons from the bloody overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011 to have a defensive nuclear program, seeing nuclear weapons as a “major guarantee of their security” especially since they remember, perhaps vividely that “back in 1956 China, together with Russia, supported a failed conspiracy aimed at removing Kim Il-sung, the current supreme leader’s grandfather, from power.” While Lankov calls for expandng “the sources of information available to the North Korean public” so as to expose them to capitalist thinking (which is what he truly wants), he concluded by writing “the Kim family might be rational, but so are the North Koreans themselves.” This is often not understood when people talk about Juche Korea.

In the end, there is no autocracy and no personality cult in Juche Korea. There is only a country on the road to socialism led by the ideology of Juche (along with the related ideology of Songun) and the might of the Korean masses. The country is undoubtedly  something we should celebrate for its accomplishments, while remaining critical of the contradictions the State has introduced since 1991, like special enterprise zones, which could bring in reactionary thoughts and conceptions.

Let us faithfully support our great Party by turning sorrow into strength and courage!

Notes

[1] Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Dan Blumenthal, “Kim Jong-un Must Go. It’s Time For A Korean Democratic Unification,” The Weekly Standard, Sept 13, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; “A who’s who of family members in the North Korean Kim family dynasty,” ABC News, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Doug Bandow, “The Complex Calculus of a North Korean Collapse,” The National Interest, Jan 9, 2014; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; David Reid, “The Kim Dynasty: North Korea’s Secretive Rulers,” CNBC, Feb 16, 2017; David Tormsen, “10 Lesser-Known Members Of The Kim Family Dynasty,” Listverse, Jul“Kim Dynasty,” Wall Street Journal, Dec 18, 2011; Jenny Lee, “Death of North Korea’s Onetime Heir Sheds Light on Secretive Kim Dynasty,” VOA, Feb 17, 2017; David Bandow, “Systematic Tyranny: How the Kim Dynasty Holds the North Korean People in Bondage,” CATO Institute (reprinted from Forbes), Aug 27, 2012, which extensively cites a report by Ken E. Gause, director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a wholly anti-DPRK group; Colin Alexander, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty is following the example of Joseph Stalin and the British Raj in India,” Quartz, Sept 25, 2017;  Colin Alexander, “A visit to Pyongyang: the Kim dynasty’s homage to Stalinism,” UPI, Sept 21, 2017; THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, “Kim Han Sol, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged nephew, tired of life on the run: Reports,” The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2017; David Hulme, “North Korea’s Kim Dynasty,” Vision, Summer 2007; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “How the Kim dynasty has shaped North Korea,” CNN, Apr 27, 2017; “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: A timeline of nuclear weapons,” Fox News, Jul 31, 2017; North Korean leader’s half brother killed in Malaysia: source,” Reuters, Feb 14, 2017; Danielle Demetriou, “Kim Jong-nam received ‘direct warning’ from North Korea after criticising regime of  half-brother Kim Jong-un,” The Telegraph, Feb 17, 2017; Yoo Gwan Hee, “he Life and Execution of Kim Hyun,” Daily NK, Aug 10, 2009; Chae Sang-Hun, “Following Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un Gets Title From University: Dr. Leader,” New York Times, Oct 25, 2013; Choes Sang-Hun and Martin Fackler, “North Korea’s Heir Apparent Remains a Mystery,” New York Times, Jun 14, 2009; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011; Avidan Milevsky, “Dynamics in the Kim Jong Family and North Korea’s Erratic Behavior,” HuffPost, Apr 12, 2013; Jethro Mullen, “Dennis Rodman tells of Korea basketball event, may have leaked Kim child’s name,” CNN, Sept 9, 2013; “Kim tells N Korean army to ready for combat,” Al Jazeera, Dec 25, 2013; “A dangerous succession gets under way in North Korea. Probably,” The Economist, Sept 23, 2010; “The Twisted Logic of the N.Korean Regime,” Chosun, Aug 13, 2013; Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68;  Annabelle Quince, “How myth and propaganda sustain the Kim dynasty,” Medium, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Amrutha Gayathri, “North Korea Ranks People Based On Loyalty To Kim Dynasty: Study,” International Business Times, Jun 6, 2017; Pepe Escobar, “The Kim dynasty’s satellite of love,” Al Jazeera, Apr 13, 2012; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; Bryce Wakefield, “Is Status Quo Destiny? China’s Interests in Post-Kim Dynasty Korea” (event, his writing is commentary accompanying it), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mar 24, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI (reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Rebecca Perring, “North Korea’s bloodline MAPPED OUT: Kim’s warmongering dynasty revealed,” Express, Nov 11, 2017.  Bluemental declares that “unconventional/covert warfare could be ramped up to undermine Kim’s legitimacy, and food can be dropped in to North Korea –all measures should be taken to show that Kim is not all-powerful.”

[2] Express-News editorial, “Don’t enable the Kim dynasty,” Dec 19, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI(reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011. Most hilarious of all are that the bourgeois analysts were dumbfounded when Juche Korea didn’t follow the path of China after Mao Zedong, which they had “expected” from Kim Jong-Un, who received a doctorate from a university in Kuala Lumpur, making him “Dr. Kim,” calling him a “strongman.” This raises the obvious question: why should we trust anything that these intelligence agencies say about Juche Korea at all! The reality is we shouldn’t one bit.

[3] Jason LaBouyer, “When friends become enemies: Understanding leftwing hostility to the DPRK,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), pp 7-9.

[4] Bjornar Simonsen, “Kim Jong Il is to Korea as a captain to a ship,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), p 10.

[5] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Tradition–1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), pp 32-33, 38, 41, 43.

[6] Also see these other photos of Juche Korea.

[7] James E. Hoare, “Three Revolutions Team Movement” (summary), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, reprinted from an edition of Hoare’s Historical Dictionary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published in July 2012, accessed Feb. 13, 2018. This movement is similar to the Chinese idea of “Three Red Banners” which was an effort calling on the Chinese people to help build a socialist state, with a line for socialist construction, the “Great Leap Forward” and communes of the populace, aiming for the Chinese to “go all out, aim high, and build socialism with greater, faster, better, and more economical results” with nearly all Chinese peasants organizing into communes, with all private property “taken for or contributed to the communes” with people eating “in communal dining halls” rather than by themselves.

[8] John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins: The History of More than 8,000 English Language Words (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990), p 173; The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (ed. Glynnis Chantrell, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp 151-152; Marc McCutcheon, Roget’s Super Theasurus (2nd Edition, Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998), p 173.

[9] Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome (New York: The New Press, 2003), p 163.

[10] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 930.

[11] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 126, 185,  930, 949; American University, Area handbook for Korea, Page 278; Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea: The movement (Ilchokak, Jan 1, 1972), 572;  Barry Gills (bourgeois academic), Korea versus Korea: A Case of Contested Legitimacy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 214; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1987-88, ed. J. Paxton, xxxviii; old KCNA articles (linked and cited here); “Report on Results of Local Elections in DPRK Released”. Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang, in English. 21 July 2015.

[12] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1290, 1291, 1292, 1293, 1294, 1295. The basic principles of the Constitution have stayed the same, even with the revisions in 1972 and 1998 after the 1948 revision,

[13] Robert L. Maddex, “North Korea,” Constitutions of the World (3rd Edition, CQ Press: Washington, D.C., 2008), pp 328, 329; Amarnath Amarasingam, “The Prophet Is Dead: Juche and the Future of North Korea,” HuffPost, Feb 18, 2012; Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018.

[14] “The 1972 Socialist Constitution of North Korea,”  11 Tex. Int’l L. J. 113 (1976), accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1295, 1297. Some (Dae-Kyu Yoon) claim that the 1972 Constitution has a preamble talking about Kim Il Sung’s contributions, except a book reprinting constitutions does not have  a preamble and the introduction of the Constitution does not mention it either, making this assertion questionable. Nothing about a preamble is noted here or here.

[15] Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1298, 1299, 1300.

[16] Enver Hoxha, Reflections on China II: Extracts from the Political Diary, Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania,” Tirana, 1979, pp 516, 517, 521, 547, 548, 549. This paragraph comes from one of my so-far successful edits of the Kim Il-sung page on Wikipedia to make it less bourgeois. Many of my other editrs I gave up on trying to implement because one administrator, named “Ivar the Boneful,” declared he was reverting “pro-North Korean propagandist edits” and a “series of blatantly pro-North Korean content removals and edits.” He further thought that I was a “one-user mission to remove negative information about North Korea from Wikipedia.” Yeah, why not! For now, the situation has calmed down, which is good as I’ll try to keep a low profile as write more posts on here than try to edit on there.

[17] James von Geldern, “Cult of Personality,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, accessed Feb 15, 2018; “Stalin’s Cult of Personality: Its Origins and Progression,” The York Historian, Sept 18, 2015; Bill Bland, “Stalin: The Myth and the Reality,” Oct 1999; Louis Althusser, “To My English Readers,” October 1967; Jeal-Paul Sartre, “Institutions:  Bureaucracy and the Cult of Personality,” from Critique of Dialectical Reason,  1960; Bill Bland, “Introduction from Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union,” Wembly, 1980; Louis Althusser, “Part Seven. Marxism and Humanism,” Cahiers de l’I.S.E.A., June 1964; Raya Dunayevskaya, “Where Is Russia Going?,” News & Letters, March 30, 1956; Shibdas Ghosh, “Soviet Military Intervention in Czechoslovakia and Revisionism,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Oct 1, 1968; Ubaldo Buttafava, “Stalin Today,” November 1994; Yenan Bookstore Collective, “A Polemic Against the Guardian’s Revisionism,” June 1976; Shibdas Ghosh, “An Appeal to the Leaders of the International Communist Movement,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Sept 1, 1963.

[18] Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality,” HuffPost, Jan 15, 2016; Pankaj Mishra, “This Poisonous Cult of Personality,” The New York Review of Books, Dec 1, 2017; Philip Wen and Christian Shepherd, “China cranks propaganda, Xi Jinping’s cult of personality into overdrive ahead of party congress,” Reuters, Oct 12, 2017; Robert Tracinski, “Donald Trump’s Paradoxical Cult of Personality,” The Federalist, Aug 11, 2015; Hannah Beech, “China’s Chairman Builds a Cult of Personality,” Time, Mar 31, 2016; Emily Cadei, “Cult of Personality: How Trump Uses the Playbook of Europe’s Far Right,” Newsweek, May 10, 2016; “PUTIN’S CULT OF PERSONALITY,” Free Russia, Aug 14, 2015; Conservapedia, “Cult of personality,” May 21, 2017; “Trump and His Cult of Personality,” Zero Hedge, Jan 27, 2017;  Jiayang Fan, Taisu Zhang, and Ying Zhu, “Behind the Personality Cult of Xi Jinping,” Foreign Policy, Mar 8, 2016; “Cult of Personality 101: The Arab Leader Name Game,” The News in Arabic, Jul 20, 2009; Reuters Staff, “No cult of personality around Xi, says top China party academic,” Reuters, Nov 6, 2017; Julian Ryall, “Analysis: North Korea’s bizarre personality cult and why it has worked – so far,” The Telegraph, Jan 31, 2011; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Stan Grant, “North Korea’s cult of personality surrounds Kim,” CNN, Aug 22, 2012; John Feffer, “Cult of Personality: On Dictators and Reformers,” Common Dreams, Jan 18, 2012; Andy Crush, “The DNC Flag Burner Is an American Hero and a Member of a Maoist Personality Cult,” Gawker, Jul 30, 2016.

[19] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1300, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304.

[20] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009.; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; Anthea Batsakis, “North Korea family tree: Who are the major players in the Kim Dynasty?,” Herald Sun, Sept 5, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Bertil Lintner, “North Korea: Myth Making, Dynastic Lies And Secrets,” Asia Pacific Media Services Limited (reprinted from Far Eastern Economic Review, July 10, 2003), accessed Feb 12, 2018; “Kim-Possible: The Final Days of the Kim Dynasty in Pyongyang,” Oct 13, 2014.

[21] “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Jong Il,” 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015;”North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013.

[22] Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Kim Jong-Un  “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013.

[23] Foster Klug, “NKorea explodes myth of unchallenged Kim dynasty,” Associated Press, Dec 16, 2013; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Julian Ryall, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty survived ‘series of coups’, says CIA agent,” The Telegraph, May 8, 2015; “N Korea defector: Kim Jong-un’s days are numbered,” Al Jazeera, Jan 25, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; Charlie Campbell, “Kim Jong Nam’s Murder Likely Means Dangerous Times Ahead for Members of North Korea’s Ruling Family,” Time, Mar 7, 2017.

[24] Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017.

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“Take your Thorazine”: The social democratic nature of Syria

This text comes from Venessa Beeley’s website “The Wall Will Fall.” The image comes from Diana Dayoub’s instagram page, seemingly a photograph of Syria. I say seemingly because in Instagram it does not say where the photo was taken.

In response to my recent post about the Democratic Party within the murderous empire, the so-called Marxist, Louis Proyect, declared in a comment: “Syria as a social democracy? You need to take your Thorazine.” Basically he was acting like I am out of my mind, in that he is implying I have schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder which is an discriminatory and ableist (and is also untrue) sentiment. This is not surprising because he has a deep-seated hatred for the duly-elected Syrian government, liking the “left” opposition to it, engaging in Orientalist propaganda. I included part of his comment in the title of this article to further poke at this fake Marxist who stands against everything that Marxism stands for. He’s basically a butt-hurt progressive who hates anti-imperialist governments, although he acts like he is radical (which is a lie). Anyway, Proyect was responding to my above linked post which I wrote that while Gowans thinks that Syria is socialist, but I think that, “from my research on the subject, that Syria is socially democratic…and with a vibrant democracy.” In August of last year I expanded on this topic, citing Gowans as a starting point for analysis:

…the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state…Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism…[with] Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah…since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria…Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy…In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances…still, they are affected by competition among capitalists…Iran, Syria, and Russia…each…has a national bourgeoisie.

I further added to this in other posts last year, writing that Bashar Al-Assad, and previous leaders since Syrian independence, were duly elected “by the people of Syria” with the empire scowling “at Syria since the 1960s. Furthermore, I added, in another post, that over 17.1 million are “living in the socially democratic and secular Syrian Arab Republic” with the government led by the “duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council” reaffirmed in elections in April 2016. This post aims to answer a simple question: Is Syria socially democratic and secular or it is socialist?

Table of contents for this article

  1. Defining terms
  2. Gowans argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?
  3. Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature
  4. Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections
  5. Resistance to imperialism and concluding words
  6. Notes

 

Defining terms

Mao Zedong studying the writings of comrade Josef Stalin in the Yenan base area during the Chinese Revolution as noted on a webpage titled “Marxism-Leninism Study Guide

In order to answer the question of whether Syria is socially democratic or secular, I first turned to the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA). The term “social-democracy” was originally used as an “extension of political democracy to the economic level, the elimination of capitalism and the institution of a broad based workers democracy.” However, with the failure of the  Second International “to rally the international working class” against World War I, “social-democracy split,” and by 1919 most supporters of the Communist International “called themselves “Communists”” with social-democracy becoming “largely synonymous with the pale reformism of these now established socialist parties, such as the German Social-Democrats and the British Labour Party.” As for the term democratic, MIA defines this as “a political system of rule by the majority” but adding that communism works to move beyond the “limited democracy found under capitalism” and the “repressive nature of bourgeois democracy” itself. As such, the idea of “proletarian democracy” was not only representative, but participatory by avoiding the form of democracy where “one class of people decide what should be done, while another class of people do it” with the working class deciding “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done”with all positions “of authority in Socialist society must be elected solely by workers and subject to recall at any time.” Ultimately this would be the realization of a “proletarian democracy,” a significant step toward the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship which would “yield to the majority of the working people” and be a stead defense against world capitalism. As Lenin described it, in 1919, a

Proletarian dictatorship [or dictatorship of the proletariat] is similar to dictatorship of other classes in that it arises out of the need, as every other dictatorship does, to forcibly suppresses the resistance of the class that is losing its political sway. The fundamental distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and a dictatorship of the other classes…consists in the fact that the dictatorship of landowners and bourgeoisie was a forcible suppression of the resistance offered by the vast majority of the population, namely, the working people. In contrast, proletarian dictatorship is a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists. It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in the democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism—the toiling classes…[giving] the vast majority of the population, greater practical opportunities for enjoying democratic rights and liberties than ever existed before, even approximately, in the best and the most democratic bourgeois republics…it is the people [who]…are now drawn into constant and unfailing, moreover, decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state…[with] a government of the workers [who are disinterested]…in the means of production being privately owned…the dictatorship of the proletariat [like the Soviet system]…is so organized as to bring the working people close to the machinery of government…[with the] combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organization of the state and…replacing territorial constituencies by production units—the factory…only the proletariat is in a position to unite and lead the scattered and backward sections of the working and exploited population…only the Soviet government of the state can really affect the immediate breakup and total destruction of the old, i.e., bourgeois, bureaucratic and judicial machinery, which has been…retained under capitalism even in the most democratic republics…proletarian, democracy [enlists]…the mass organizations of the working people in constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state, it immediately begins to prepare the complete withering away of any state…[we need to]…extend the organization of Soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers in the Army and the sailors in the Navy and also among farm laborers and poor peasants

Such a dictatorship of the proletariat, or what you could call proletarian democracy, would be part of an overall socialist system. Of course for the term “socialism” itself MIA has varying definitions, reflecting the debate on this term. There are words of August Bebel quoted in MIA’s definition, but it is better to use to definitions of Lenin and Marx & Engels as they are the principal Marxist theorists. Marx and Engels did not specifically define socialism in the Communist Manifesto but they talk about the “expanding union of the workers” with the need to “centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes” while he also wrote, powerfully, that “what the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” They called for the abolition “of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom” with the end of “bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom,” further noting that such freedom is “free trade, free selling and buying.” Furthermore, it was argued that private property for one-tenth of the population would be abolished, while allowing any person to “appropriate the products of society” but not having the power to “subjugate the labour of others.” This would further mean, they write, that the bourgeois family, where wives are “mere instrument[s] of production,” should be abolished (along with public and private prostitution), and rescue education “from the influence of the ruling class” while abolishing “countries and nationality” and saying that the “first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy” with the proletariat using its “political supremacy to wrest…all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State,” increasing total production as soon as possible. From there, while saying that measures will “be different in different countries,” Marx and Engels proposed “generally applicable” proposals:

  1. abolition of all land rents
  2. abolition of land as property
  3. a “heavy progressive or graduated income tax,”
  4. ending all “rights of inheritance”
  5. confiscating the property of “all emigrants and rebels”
  6. centralizing credit in the “hands of the state” with the creation of a national bank
  7. centralizing communication and transport in the state’s hands
  8. having “instruments of production” and factories owned by the state
  9. while cultivating wastelands and improving the soil
  10. having “equal liability of all to work”
  11. establishment of “industrial armies, especially for agriculture”
  12. combining “agriculture with manufacturing industries”
  13. gradually abolishing the “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace”
  14. free education of all in public schools
  15. abolishing “children’s factory labour in its present form”
  16. Combining “education with industrial production”

After that, Marx and Engels note that once “class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation” then public power will lose its political character, and that if the proletariat is compelled to make “itself the ruling class” it would sweep away “the old conditions of production…[and] the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally,” abolishing its supremacy as a class. This means, in their words, that in the place of “old bourgeois society” there would be “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Beyond this, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, in 1875, Marx wrote that “between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other” meaning that there is a “political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat” with which he talked about. Lenin was a bit more specific. He wrote in 1917, in chapter 2 of The State and Revolution, that during the period where a society is moving from capitalism to communism, there is unprecedentedly “violent class struggle” with which the state must “democratic in a new way” for those who are propertyless and the proletarian but “dictatorial in a new way” aimed against the bourgeoisie. He further added that such a “dictatorship of a single class is necessary…for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from…communism” and while this transition is bound to lead to “tremendous abundance and variety of political forms” the essence will be the dictatorship of the proletariat. In chapter 5, of the same book, he wrote more about this, saying that

The first phase of communism…cannot yet provide justice and equality [with] differences, and unjust differences…still persist[ing], but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production…and make them private property….the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism…[Marx] regards communism as something which develops out of capitalism…In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fully mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism…It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!…as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labor and wages, humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing further from formal equality to actual equality…By what stages, by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this supreme aim we do not and cannot know…only socialism will be the beginning of a rapid, genuine, truly mass forward movement, embracing first the majority and then the whole of the population, in all spheres of public and private life….Democracy…signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state…a degree of democracy implies overstepping the boundaries of bourgeois society and beginning its socialist reorganization. If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism cannot retain its hold….it is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution, in the work of keeping account of labor and products, by the armed workers, by the whole of the armed population…Accounting and control…is needed for the “smooth working”, for the proper functioning, of the first phase of communist society. All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state, which consists of the armed workers. All citizens becomes employees and workers of a single countrywide state “syndicate”…When the majority of the people begin independently and everywhere to keep such accounts and exercise such control over the capitalists…this control will really become universal, general, and popular…The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory, with equality of labor and pay…this “factory” discipline…will extend to the whole of society…[a] necessary step for thoroughly cleansing society of all the infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation…the more complete the democracy, the nearer the moment when it becomes unnecessary…[finally] the door will be thrown wide open for the transition from the first phase of communist society to its higher phase, and with it to the complete withering away of the state.

From this, you could say that Cuba and People’s Korea are in the first stage of communism, working to move forward to improve their existing socialism as they are limited through the continuance of international capitalism, meaning that they cannot be “mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism.” This generates the question: what should a socialist state be like within today’s world of global capitalism? Taking what Lenin said, above, to heart, he is arguing that a state would have some “unjust differences” but exploitation of one person by the other would be impossible with the means of production becoming “common property” while equality of “labor and wages” had be striven for, along with the “socialist reorganization” with workers controlling “production and distribution.” Additionally all citizens would become “hired employees of the state” with their control over society being “universal, general, and popular” with society itself becoming a “single office and a single factory” wherein all the “infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation” will be cleansed away. This is manifested in a dictatorship of the proletariat, as Lenin described it, or proletarian democracy as it is also called, would be suppress “the resistance of the exploiters” with such a state changing democratic institutions and forms but also extending “actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism” to new heights, giving them new “democratic rights and liberties” and decisive participation in the state’s administration itself while the old machinery of bourgeois, bureaucratic, and judicial character will be broken to pieces. Marx and Engels were arguing something similar, but partially different. He said that communism’s end goal is the abolition of bourgeois independence, bourgeois individuality, bourgeois freedom (free trade, free buying and selling), private property for the one-tenth of the population, the bourgeois family, countries, and nationalities. Such socialist states, as you could call them, were envisioned by Marx and Engels, would abolish land as property, all land rents, the “distinction between town and country” over time, child factory labor, and all inheritance rights. More positively, such a state would have a heavy progressive income tax, confiscate property of rebels and emigrants, have free education for all children in public schools, centralize credit in the state with a national bank, centralize communication, transport, factories, and other “instruments of production” while establishing “industrial armies” especially in agriculture, combine manufacturing and agriculture along with industrial production and education. They also called for “equal liability of all to work,” improving the soil, and cultivating wastelands. This is a lot to take in, but is worth discussing if this applies to Syria (and ultimately other countries) or not.

Gowan argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?

This map comes from page 148 of a Library of Congress report on Syria which is discussed later in this article.

Time and time again, Stephen Gowans, a leftist writer I profoundly respect (unlike that horrid individual, Louis Proyect), has said that the Syrian Arab Republic is socialist. In April of last year he wrote that the country had followed, since the 1960s, “an Arab socialist development path which is at odds with the global free enterprise project advanced by Washington on behalf of its Wall Street patron,” saying that the latter wants to “sweep away the Arab socialist impediments to the free enterprise, free trade, and free market capitalist nirvana.” Elsewhere he called Syria “pro-independence, secular, non-sectarian, [and] socialist-oriented,” citing a study by the Library of Congress along with statements by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation to support his intention that the country is socialist, in a long line of other countries. In other articles, Gowans writes that Syria has “a parliament” and is “anti-colonial and anti-imperialist” with parts of the state “remain committed to socialist goals.” Other than this, he argues that since Syria is governed by those who call themselves socialist, saying that the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party advocates for socialism, presiding over “the drafting of Syria’s constitutions, which mandate government ownership of the commanding heights of the economy and a significant role for government in the guidance of the economy” which he says is “socialism.” He adds that those in the West have “long complained about Damascus’s refusal to fully integrate into a US-led global neo-liberal economic order.” In an older post he admits, however that Afiz Assad, when he came to power in 1970, “tried to overcome the Sunni opposition by encouraging private enterprise and weakening the party’s commitment to socialism, and by opening space for Islam.” In the same post he writes that “Syria remains too much like the socialist state the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party founders envisaged for it, and too little like a platform for increasing the profits of overseas banks, investors and corporations” even as he says that “Ba’athists continue to obstinately hold on to elements of the party’s socialist program.” He also says that the Arab nationalists, “in power since 1963” represent “socialism, Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism.” Back in 2014, Gowans wrote that Syria is a state founded “on anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, Arab nationalism, and non-Marxist socialism” the latter being worrisome to say the least. However, in 2012, he wrote that Hafez Assad “minimized class warfare in favor of broadening his government’s base, trying to win over merchants, artisans, business people, and other opponents of the regime’s nationalizations and socialist measures,” calling the government a “secular Arab nationalist regime” instead of a socialist one. Gowans said that his personal “politics incline more to the left than the Ba’th could comfortably accommodate,” adding that the “Syrian state has been far more progressive than regressive.” As such, it seems that he only began to call Syria “socialist” in more recent years.  In October 2016 he made his most cogent argument that Syria was a “socialist” state, specifically an “Arab socialist” state, a definition which problematically divorces socialism and Marxism!:

Socialism can be defined in many ways, but if it is defined as public-ownership of the commanding heights of the economy accompanied by economic planning, then Syria under its 1973 and 2012 constitutions clearly meets the definition of socialism. However, the Syrian Arab Republic had never been a working-class socialist state, of the category Marxists would recognize. It was, instead, an Arab socialist state inspired by the goal of achieving Arab political independence and overcoming the legacy of the Arab nation’s underdevelopment…Marxist socialism concerned itself with the struggle between an exploiting owning class and exploited working class, while Arab socialism addressed the struggle between exploiting and exploited nations….Socialism was against the profit-making interests of US industrial and financial capital…The Ba’athist state had exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy…The Ba’athists regarded these measures as necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers…Washington…[wanted Syria to] serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly mattered in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership…the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, corporations, and investors…Assad underscored his allegiance to socialist values…[while] the constitution committed the state to progressive taxation…If Assad was a neo-liberal, he certainly was one of the world’s oddest devotees of the ideology.

His idea of “Arab Socialism” differs, in his mind, from what he has previously described as “social democracy.” He says that while “social democratic parties may self-consciously aim to represent the bottom 99 percent of society, they serve…the top one percent” and adds that the “party’s candidates and elected officials…are often willing to sacrifice principle for immediate electoral gain,” adding that “social democratic parties are dominated by a stratum whose direct personal interests are defined by the electoral successes of the party.” He further writes that “social democrats believe that it is possible to reform society in egalitarian directions within the context of capitalism…[and] working within the political institutions of capitalist society.” He ended by saying that while “social democratic parties espoused socialism as an objective, even if a very distant one, the socialism they espoused was to be achieved with the permission of capital on capital’s terms,” different from Soviet socialism, Cuban socialism, Korean socialism, East German socialism, or the ideas espoused by socialist figures like comrades Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin, which he has written about in the past.

To take his own words, he admits that Syria has never “been a working-class socialist state” but says it embodies “Arab socialism.” The question remains from this: is “Arab socialism” really a socialist program, if we define socialism as Marx & Engels and Lenin viewed it, as noted earlier in this article? Those on /r/communism, for example, argue that Arab socialism is inherently a bourgeois ideology, more of social democracy than real socialism, even as they played a somewhat progressive role in the Arab World. More specifically, Arab socialism is about nationalization (as Nasser did), and engaging in “state-sponsored economic development” which occurred in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, with a consensus, as noted by Oxford Reference, that the “most urgent national needs were independence and economic development,” adding that there were “land reforms” while the “banking, insurance, foreign trade, large industries, and large private and foreign-owned companies were all nationalized.” Additionally, such economic programs was “accompanied by expansion in social, welfare, health, and educational services.”

From this, we come back to social democracy once again. If we accept, as I believe we should and will argue further in the next section, that Syria is not a socialist state on Marxist terms, it is worth returning to what social democracy is after all. One writer, Bela Kun wrote in 1932 that social democracy says that “peaceful reformist work…would assure evolution into socialism” with the latter becoming “the cause of one class, of the working class” but collaboration of many classes, with Marxism serving as a source for slogans but no longer guide the ruling party’s policy. This writer further adds that there is a “defence of capitalist rationalisation” and the opposite of  “Marxian trade-union theory and practice” for example, supporting a “bourgeois dictatorship.” This is not the same as “revolutionary Social Democracy” embodied by the Bolsheviks which includes reforms, but also the policy of parties who work to engage in revolution to bring about proletarian democracy. Rather social democrats are “conductors of bourgeois influence” as Lenin described it, allying with bourgeois forces, focusing on nationalization, definitely not advocating for the “confiscation of all landed estates” which Lenin wrote about in 1911. These social democrats stand for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” the opposite of what the Bolsheviks did. Stalin further added that social democracy is characterized by “reformism and [an] anti-revolutionary character” with those of that ideology arguing that “the proletariat had to strive for was a peaceful path of transition from capitalism to socialism” with the time between capitalism and socialism when “capitalism will flourish and the proletariat languish in misery.”

Still, this does not fully define social democracy as a concept. Of course there are cookie-cutter definitions, as you could call them, from bourgeois dictionaries like Merriam-Webster calling it a movement which advocates for a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means” or a democratic “welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices,” and Encyclopaedia Britannica declaring that it is a “political ideology that originally advocated a peaceful evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes” becoming more moderate throughout the 20th century. The same can be said of dictionary.com which declared that social democracy is a “political ideology advocating a gradual transition to socialism or a modified form of socialism by and under democratic political processes” and Wikiquote saying it is a “political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote socialism within a democratic framework and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions,” among much more. The London-based social democrat publisher, Social Europe, attempted to define it as well, writing that “social-democracy is well known as a pragmatic political tendency…[with a] reputation…as a force for progressive change” even as they note that many social democrats talk about good capitalism and accept neoliberal dogma. They add poignantly that “social-democrats have always been reformists. Social-democracy is not about overthrowing existing structures in some kind of violent act of revolution,” further saying that “markets…need to be kept in their place,” meaning that capitalism should be regulated, and not removed.

From this, and what has been said previously, one can surmise that social democracy aims to reform society within capitalism with “peaceful reformist work,” is a bourgeois ideology connected to nationalization and social welfare programs, opposes Marxian theory at its core, stands for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” and is anti-revolutionary, advocating for a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, with markets still firmly in place. However, there is more to it than this. Any reforms based on social democracy itself is “bound to fail” since it does not address “capital and its accumulation to the few at the expense of the many.” Additionally, as Minqi Li writes in the Monthly Review, “social democratic capitalism” from the 1950s to 1973 “helped to alleviate the class conflicts and maintain a relatively high level of aggregate demand” bu that “inherent contradictions of capitalism” continued to develop, as institutions within such capitalism created new “conditions that increasingly undermined worldwide accumulation” while the balance of power “between capital and labor, and between the core and the periphery” led to a “worldwide decline of profitability.” Li adds that establishment of  “social democratic capitalism could not take place without at least a partial political victory of the working classes” while noting that “in a capitalist world economy with nation states, the competition between different capitalist states will prevent them from taking full account of environmental costs” meaning that social democratic capitalism will become “an “alternative” way towards global ecological catastrophe.” That isn’t good for anyone! Add to this that the so-called “Nordic system” which is lauded by supporters for “free and effective healthcare, education, transportation, and cleanliness” they are actually “rife with problems, and do not feature an ideal socio-economic system.” They additionally cannot “completely rid itself of socially conservative beliefs” until there is a ” full socio-economic transformation that involves the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, the central characteristic of capitalism.” That has not happened in Scandinavia and likely will not in the years to go. Even a Stalin-hating individual said that social democracy has “no ability to move in any direction” and wrote that “so-called state capitalism, all terminological quibbles aside, presented mankind with a glimpse of its potential, but could not escape the logic inherent in the accumulation of value.” Beyond this, super-profits taken from “the export of capital” allows for a “greater measure of social democracy at the centres of global capitalism”while capitalists “do not care as a class for social democratic reforms because these reforms get in the way of profit” with such reforms existing “because of working-class struggle and not because capitalists wanted to play nice.” Furthermore, social democracy is permitted because it was “forced into existence by concrete struggle and thus needed to be recognized” and the loss of “surplus [which] could be circumvented through the export of capital and super-exploitation elsewhere.

While the summation of social democracy and other aspects help define it in rough terms, what Stalin wrote in 1926 is helpful in defining it more fully. He wrote that (bolding is my emphasis), talking about ideological principles within the communist party and social-democratic parties:

Some might think that the Russians are excessively pugnacious, that they love debating and multiply differences, and that it is because of this that the development of their Party proceeds through the overcoming of inner Party contradictions. That is not true, comrades. It is not a matter of pugnacity, but of the existence of disagreements based on principle, which arise in the course of the Party’s development, in the course of the class struggle of the proletariat. The fact of the matter is that contradictions can be overcome only by means of a struggle for definite principles, for definite aims of the struggle, for definite methods of waging the struggle leading to the desired aim. One can, and should, agree to any compromise with dissenters in the Party on questions of current policy, on questions of a purely practical nature. But if these questions are connected with disagreements based on principle, no compromise, no “middle” line can save the situation. There can be no “middle” line in questions of principle. Either one set of principles or another must be made the basis of the Party’s work. A “middle” line in matters of principle is the “line” of stuffing people’s heads with rubbish, of glossing over disagreements, a “line” leading to the ideological degeneration of the Party, to the ideological death of the Party. How do the Social-Democratic parties of the West exist and develop nowadays? Have they inner-party contradictions, disagreements based on principle? Of course, they have. Do they disclose these contradictions and try to over come them honestly and openly in sight of the mass of the party membership? No, of course not. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to cover up and conceal these contradictions and disagreements. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to turn their conferences and congresses into an empty parade of ostensible well-being, assiduously covering up and slurring over internal disagreements. But nothing can come of this except stuffing people’s heads with rubbish and the ideological impoverishment of the party. This is one of the reasons for the decline of West-European Social-Democracy, which was once revolutionary, and is now reformist. We, however, cannot live and develop in that way, comrades. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is not our policy. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is the policy of decaying and degenerating parties. Such a policy cannot but lead to the conversion of the party into an empty bureaucratic apparatus, running idle and divorced from the masses of the workers. That path is not our path.

With all of this, one can define social democracy as a phenomenon primarily concentrated in the West which aims to reform capitalist society peacefully, using nationalization and social welfare programs as part of a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism with markets firmly in place, and being thoroughly anti-revolutionary by not engaging in a  necessary socio-economic transformation in society, with any reforms at all only possible through struggles of the proletariat. Furthermore, using the words of Stalin quoted above, one could add that social democracy does not have unification on matters of principle which leads to party to become an “empty bureaucratic apparatus” which is “divorced from the masses of workers.” Additionally, you could add, social democracy isn’t one bit about class struggle against the bourgeoisie!

With this, we can proceed to the next section of this article.

Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature

A map on page 134 of a Library of Congress report on Syria, discussed later in this section, showing that much of the country is arid.

Before moving onto the two sources which underpinned Gowans analysis that Syria is socialist, I looked at some other sources. Everyone seems to acknowledge the government has a strong hand in the economy which some call “state-capitalist” and others call “socialist,” possibly in their intentions, with some saying that the government engaged in neoliberal reforms in the 1990s and suppressed ” independent working-class organisation” while those more supportive say that the government of Syria is actively anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian, and should not be demonized. [1] Other sources seem to also agree that the state has a strong role in the economy. Some said that “Syria’s economy is essentially state-run, although it has remained partly private, as for example the retail trade businesses” with certain privatizations starting in 2000,private banking legalized in 2001, and “centralised and restrictive government control” leading to low “productivity” in the minds of capitalists, with others saying that the economy was diverse before the imperialist assault on Syria began, with the country, in 2013, “home to 11 private banks, three Islamic banks, and seven foreign banks.” [2] With such an assault, the country has become “lower middle income” and devastated by the state of war as forces tried to tear the country apart, as millions are displaced. A war economy was put in place after 2012, using the “hard currency reserves” of the Central Bank of Syria and allowing traders to run their own affairs and protect their own facilities, along with other arrangements, the government revived “state supermarkets” (started in the 1960s) and rolled back the “modest economic liberalization [which] began in 2005,” in attempt to “ease economic hardship for the poor and contain social unrest” along with not removing government petroleum and electricity subsidies, which Reuters called “socialist economic policies.” Such moves by the government echoed the  “nationalization measures of the 1960s” [3] under the Amin al-Hafiz (Syria’s first Ba’ath Party ruler) in Syria, which were followed by “a major industrial development program stressing heavy industry” in the 1970s. There is no doubt that before the assault, starting in 2011, “Syria’s economy was based on oil production, agriculture, industry and tourism,” where “many industries” were subsidized (even as of 2006), the former which was seemingly strengthened as the government attempts to restore order in the country. As Al Bawaba remarked in 2000, the Syrian “government still keeps intact many policies that protect home-grown industries at the expense of attracting foreign investment” such as “high tariffs and numerous import restrictions and limited access to capital for those in the private sector.”

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), part of the UN, wrote, within a 2003 publication titled “Syrian agriculture at the crossroads,” that the Syrian government in the 1970s re-defined “socialism” to mean increased industrial employment, role of the public sector, and “activation of the private sector, ” which was changed by the 1980s and 1990s to “state-led export promotion,” even putting forward some “structural adjustment” attempts at the time, aligning with those who said that the economy is “predominantly state-controlled” at the present. They added that

The economy of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) is currently under transition from one that has been largely centrally planned to one that is more liberal. The general objectives of policy have been and will remain the achievement of a sustainable level of economic abundance, social welfare, and equity…The economy is still characterized by a large but stagnant public sector, and a resilient but constrained private sector, a cumbersome regulatory regime, continuation of many state controls, and a complicated trade and exchange rate system…The financial system is dominated by public enterprises and serves primarily the public sector. Hence, one of the key requirements for private sector growth, namely the existence of financial services for the private sector, is largely missing in Syria. The current government strategy is favourable to the private sector, and to export promotion, but with the continued presence of a strong public sector.

Beyond this, the Heritage Foundation said in their page on Syria that “civil war has left Syria’s economy in ruins” with economic policy used to maintain the capacity of the Syrian military, adding with anger that Bashar Al-Assad “failed to deliver on promises to open the socialist economy,” that “functioning labor markets are…subject to heavy state interference and control” and that “despite the war, a number of foreign banks are in operation” with the Islamic banking group called Al Baraka becoming “the largest privately owned bank in the country” in 2016. [4] Similar comments to FAO’s assessment were made on the current page for Syria on the CIA World Factbook, declaring that before the current conflict, “Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies” but that “the economy remains highly regulated” with “foreign trade barriers” for example. Anger at sch regulation has manifested in Syria being “on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list’s inception in 1979” while the murderous empire has called for the removal of Assad despite the fact that Syria is a member of the IMF and World Bank along with being an observer to the World Trade Organization (WTO)!

Unlike Zimbabwe (which the IMF is giddy over as the counter-revolution continues), the last IMF “Article IV Executive Board Consultation” for Syria was back in January 2009, but it is worth excerpting from their reports in previous years:

“The Syrian authorities have been implementing gradual, but wide-ranging reforms. These reforms are motivated by the challenges posed by the decline in oil production and the strategy initiated in the early 2000s to transition toward a social market economy. The exchange rate has been effectively unified and restrictions on access to foreign exchange for current transactions appear to have been mostly eliminated. Private banks are now leading financial sector growth, and the Damascus stock exchange recently re-opened after being closed for 40 years…Some progress has been made in advancing structural reforms, including simplifying investment procedures, modernizing accounting standards, and streamlining the tax system…the authorities fully liberalized bank lending rates and rates on foreign currency deposits and loans. The share of private banks has grown considerably since they were first established in 2004…Directors recommended that the authorities reverse the recent introduction of customs duties that vary by country of origin, and address suspected unfair trade practices by other measures such as enhancing customs’ capacity to examine invoices through computerization and cross border cooperation.”- March 2010

“Relations with the EU have improved recently following the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lebanon. Subsequently, France, which currently chairs the EU, issued positive signals regarding the ratification of the association agreement with Syria…Private banks are well capitalized…The financial system is still dominated by state banks, which hold 80 percent of bank assets…advances have been made in trade liberalization by substantially reducing the tariff schedule. The export of strategic agricultural products, however, remains subject to government approval…The Syrian economy has enjoyed buoyant growth since it embarked on a liberalization program aimed at unleashing the economy’s growth potential and integrating into the world economy.”- February 2009

“Private investment has strengthened, reflecting an improved business climate, and exports have made strong gains, particularly in some Arab markets, reflecting higher demand and improved access under the Great[er] Arab Free Trade Area…Following the opening of the first three private banks in 2004, four more banks entered the market in the last two years, and several more banks are expected to start operations in 2007, including some Islamic financial institutions…Progress toward exchange rate unification and current account convertibility, investment facilitation under a more liberal investment regime, tax reform, trade and financial liberalization, and the on-going development of appropriate regulatory frameworks in key sectors have all contributed to improving the investment climate…The authorities did not exclude the possibility of raising civil servants wages, particularly in light of the start of the PPS reform…The development of a competitive banking sector is constrained by the slow progress in state banks’ restructuring…Further efforts on trade liberalization and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…further financial liberalization are necessary to close the reform-gap with other countries in the region and position Syria to take advantage of regional and global integration…Directors commended the authorities for the sustained, timely and significant fiscal adjustment and welcomed the lowering of corporate income taxes.”- August 2007

“The authorities were encouraged to see that the implementation of their broad-based reforms elicited a positive supply response. In their view, Syrian and other Arab investors felt that a point of no return in reform has been reached. Furthermore, they welcomed strong interest from domestic and foreign investors toward the newly opened banking and insurance sectors…The authorities’ strategy to develop the financial sector by opening it to private initiative was successful in attracting and expanding private banking activities…Trade liberalization, market deregulation, and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…The exchange system in Syria is characterized by multiple exchange rates and a foreign exchange market segmented into public and private sector pools. The private sector has almost no access to the official pool…[the directors say that] A bulge in labor market entrants will strain an already precarious unemployment situation and increase pressure to protect redundant labor in an overstaffed public sector…More broadly, Directors encouraged the authorities to press ahead with reforms aimed at scaling down the state’s involvement in the economy, improving governance, and fostering private-sector growth.”- August 2006

“The growth acceleration in the early 1990s had reflected rising oil production and an upsurge in private sector investment prompted by fiscal incentives and reforms to start the transition to a market economy…Fund policy recommendations were supportive of the authorities’ reform agenda aimed at furthering the transition to a market economy…prices have been largely liberalized, the trade and foreign exchange regimes have been simplified and liberalized, the tax system has been streamlined, and the private sector’s field of activity has been broadened…In particular, opening the insurance sector for private initiative is an important sign of the
commitment of the authorities to promoting the role of the private sector in the economy…Directors encouraged the authorities to envisage the privatization of selected enterprises.”- October 2005

This seems to say, obviously, that Syria has engaged in socially democratic measures as it earnestly went forward with “liberalization” of their economy while government control and nationalist measures were maintained to the annoyance of the IMF. As a recent article in Worker’s World, on the events in Tunisia, pointed out, the IMF “only gives loans with draconian conditions. The most common are cutbacks of social programs and raising taxes to cut budget deficits — in other words, harsh austerity.” It seems that the latter did not happen in Syria, but the government was moving toward a “market economy” until the direct imperial assault began in 2011, the so-called “civil war,” with some government control returning. Still, some measures of “liberalization” remained such as private banks some of which are concentrated on the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) along with other capitalist ventures. The companies on this exchange include:

There are many others whose sites were only in Arabic, and not English. Basically, these companies on the stock exchange are capitalists, and hence part of what you could call, accurately, an Arab bourgeoisie, some consisting bourgeoisie specific to the Arab Republic of Syria itself. If “nothing symbolizes capitalism like the New York Stock Exchange,” as one Forbes writer noted, then why can’t the same be said about the Damascus Securities Exchange? As Frederich Engels wrote in 1895, reviewing Marx’s work in Capital, “the position of the stock exchange in capitalist production” since the stock exchange “as it develops, tends to concentrate all production, industrial as well as agricultural, and all commerce…so that the stock exchange becomes the most prominent representative of capitalist production itself.” Of course, the DSE can’t completely represent this as it was launched in 2009, nine years ago, and only 23 companies are currently on the exchange which is minuscule compared to “more than 12,000 traded products” of the Intercontinental Exchange, commonly called the New York Stock Exchange, or the 1,124 companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Then there’s the Library of Congress country study which Gowans uses to say that Syria is socialist which was published in 1988. This goes beyond the claim that the economy of Syria is socialist, but it is worth summarizing within this section of the article. The study explains the history of Syria from its earliest days to 1987, when most of the research was done. In September 1961, there was a coup where Syria seceded from the United Arab Republic (UAR) which was meant to unite Egypt (then under Nasser) and Syria, with nationalization which had been implemented under the previous government removed, with another military coup by September of 1962, and by September 1963, Amid al Hafiz, a Ba’athist, became the leader, with power contested between the “centrist and leftist” elements within the Ba’athist Party, as factionalism continued. Under Hafiz, there was a move to restore nationalization and land reform measures removed after the September 1961 coup, radicalization of rhetoric along with support for Palestinian liberation, and continuing power struggles until 1970, as Hafiz Al-Assad became a more important figure. Then in November 1970, the latter Assad came to power in a coup which has often been called the “corrective movement,” while he was elected for a seven-year term in March 1971 by the populace. In the presidency of Hafiz, relations with the Soviet improved, a Progressive National Front was formed, and the government held off those who wanted to make Islam the state religion. An independent foreign policy course was plotted, there was a controversial Syrian intervention in Lebanon, the Ba’ath Party seemed to partially mass-based, and the “merits of socialism” were explored for Syria’s economy. With public unhappiness with the government at the time, an anti-corruption campaign was begun, and in February 1978, Hafiz was re-elected, facing opposition from Muslim groups (like the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Liberation Party), specifically those who detested the secular and nationalist nature of the state itself. The latter groups demanded bourgeois “freedoms” while engaging in violent, terrorist attacks against the government, with the government, by the early 1980s, basically declaring war on the Muslim Brotherhood, looking to uproot it from the country all together. As time went on, the Syrians relied heavily on the Soviets for re-supply of weapons, based in 1980 treaty, even as the latter refused to support the rightful Syrian effort to regain the Golan Heights from Zionists, and aligned itself with Iran as the Iran-Iraq War raged through the 1980s. By the later 1980s, there was “uncertainty” about the future of Syria.

It seems a bit problematic that Gowans cites this source to buttress his claim that Syria is socialist because this study was written in 1987! There is no doubt that Syria’s study is still diverse, as it was in 1987, but the so-called “Baathist policies of secularism and socialism” are not evident. Sure, the country is secular, but the policies were never really socialist despite what the study claims, even through it was anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist. There is also certainly still a youthful population. After all, as the study itself points out, in 1970, Hafiz “reversed or relaxed the more strident socialist economic measures” which had been instituted in 1963, leading to a new class of “entrepreneurs and businessmen who made their fortunes in real estate, importing, and construction.” That doesn’t sound very socialist, but rather constitutes the re-creation/reinforcement of the Syrian bourgeoisie, since the country, by the time the study was written, lacked a “true proletariat of wage-earning workers”! Still, education was, by the later 1980s, under close government supervision, starting from 1967 onward and free medical care even as private hospitals outnumbered state-run hospitals in the country.

We then get to the economy. In the mid-1960s, the “new socialist direction,” as the report called it, of the economic policy of Syria was clear considering nationalization of major industries and government-led land reform (land expropriated from large landowners) along with state-led large-scale projects. However, by the 1970s, the economy became more dependent on foreign aid from Arab countries and military aid from the Soviets, with the climate switching from “prosperity to austerity” in the 1980s, with slashing of public investments. This seems to question if the economy was even socialist at all as the study claims there was “socialist transformation” of the economy in the 1960s, with more state commitment to the economy in the 1970s and 1980s, before austerity kicked in. However, this isn’t the whole reality. Not even half of the workforce was employed by the state by 1983, with all college graduates not guaranteed a job, with many taking second jobs in the “private sector” and possible high unemployment as the 1980s went on. Even with a so-called “socialist economy” erected in the 1960s, this was liberalized by Hafiz in 1986, with the state moving away from the agricultural, retail trade, and light industry, leading to be controlled by capitalists, with income gaps beginning to widen. In order to defend the country, huge sums were spent on the military, with administration as a the second biggest area of government expenditures, with the rest relating to the economy (with varying “five-year-plans” over the years), with a very small amount for “social welfare” and “education and culture.” Add to this that by 1984, private farmers cultivated 74% of the country’s lands, and state farms, essentially, only cultivated 1%, again asking extensive the state’s involvement was in the economy, with farmer cooperatives existing, but not broadly successful with a faltering agricultural policy, while the West cried about “inefficiency” of public enterprises and there was effectively a central bank in Syria. Additionally, liberalization of the economy started in 1970 and again in 1986. At the same time, the Soviets and Romanians were active in developing the infrastructure of Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. There are other aspects noted in the study, of course, but there are not worth discussing here.

The study seems to imply that Syria is not only not “socialist” but has a working bourgeoisie, although they don’t call it this since the study is one assembled by bourgeois analysts, as one would expect. From this, it is worth turning to two documents: the 1973 constitution of Syria (with concessions made to placate the Islamic oppositional forces at the time), and the 2012 revision in order to placate the Syrian opposition. The first constitution, in 1973, declared that

The comprehensive Arab revolution is an existing and continuing necessity to achieve the Arab nation’s aspirations for unity, freedom, and socialism.  The revolution in the Syrian Arab region is part of the comprehensive Arab revolution…any danger to which any Arab country may be exposed on the part of imperialism and Zionism is at the same time a danger threatening the whole Arab nation…The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic, popular, socialist, and sovereign state.  No part of its territory can be ceded.  Syria is a member of the Union of the Arab Republics…Sovereignty is vested in the people, who exercise it in accordance with this Constitution…The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam…The leading party in the society and the state is the Socialist Arab Baath Party…People’s councils are establishments elected in a democratic way at which the citizens exercise their rights in administering the state and leading the society…The state is at the people’s service…The state economy is a planned socialist economy which seeks to end all forms of exploitation…Public ownership includes natural resources, public utilities, and nationalized installations and establishments, as well as installations and establishments set up by the state… Collective ownership includes the property belonging to popular and professional organizations and to production units, cooperatives, and other social establishments…individual ownership includes property belonging to individuals…The right of inheritance is guaranteed in accordance with the law…The educational and cultural system aims at creating a socialist nationalist Arab generation which is scientifically minded and attached to its history…Work is a right and duty of every citizen.  The state undertakes to provide work for all citizens…All citizens have the sacred duty to defend the homeland’s security, to respect its Constitution and socialist unionist system.

While some may be cheering, this does not put workers at the central mission of the state like Cuba. A translation from a Cuban government webpage (also here) gives a better translation than other versions. In the first article it calls Cuba is a “socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a unitary and democratic republic.” This is exactly the same as a translation made by the United Nations or summary of gender rights in Cuba by UN Women. In case the UN translation is moved to another link, the UN translation has been uploaded to this blog in order to promote more learning about Cuba. As one can clearly see, Syria was not, even in 1973, a truly and accurately socialist state. Rather it was a nationalist and socially democratic one which had a developed bourgeoisie which guarantees a right to inheritance, something which Marx and Engels were strongly opposed to, with Marx saying, in August 1869, that “the laws of inheritance are not the cause, but the effect, the juridical consequence of the existing economical organization of society, based upon private property in the means of production.”

We then get to the 2012 revision. All mentions of socialism have been completely omitted, as the state instead is portraying itself as democratic and secular (although the word secular is never mentioned in the whole constitution):

The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state with full sovereignty, indivisible, and may not waive any part of its territory, and is part of the Arab homeland…The religion of the President of the Republic is Islam; Islamic jurisprudence shall be a major source of legislation…The political system of the state shall be based on the principle of political pluralism, and exercising power democratically through the ballot box…Democratically elected councils at the national or local level shall be institutions through which citizens exercise their role in sovereignty, state-building and leading society…The national economy shall be based on the principle of developing public and private economic activity through economic and social plans aiming at increasing the national income, developing production, raising the individual’s living standards and creating jobs… Natural resources, facilities, institutions and public utilities shall be publicly owned, and the state shall invest and oversee their management for the benefit of all people…The law shall determine the maximum level of agricultural ownership and agricultural investment to ensure the protection of the farmer and the agricultural laborer from exploitation and to ensure increased production…Society in the Syrian Arab Republic shall be based on the basis of solidarity, symbiosis and respect for the principles of social justice, freedom, equality and maintenance of human dignity of every individual…The state shall guarantee every citizen and his family in cases of emergency, sickness, disability, orphan-hood and old age… The rule of law shall be the basis of governance in the state.

Perhaps some of the text from the 1973 version was kept, but only some aspects of nationalization  were kept in place as the state having a broad role in society, but not necessarily to benefit the proletariat but rather every class in society, which goes against established Marxist ideals. Instead, this constitution easily allows for capitalism to creep more into Syria through its tentacles of destruction and deception. [5]

The final indication is using reports in state media outlet, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) itself. Just like using the Zimbabwean party newspaper, The Herald, to recognize the counter-revolution going on there, one can use SANA in the same way to determine how “socialist” Syria is, if at all. One recent article talks about how the government will continue “providing the basic needs for citizens and improving their living conditions according to the available resources” with pushes by certain MPs to deal with “the issue of high prices,” reduce rationing of electricity, and reform the tax system, along with controlling expenditures of the government, along with other aspects like rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. With some of the latter measures clearly benefiting the bourgeoisie, the same can be said in a push to support “small, medium, and micro enterprises” which describe, without doubt, institutions of the bourgeoisie, specifically the petty bourgeoisie. In another recent article, it was noted that a social welfare center was opened in the countryside but it ended up being something done with the cooperation of the Greek Orthodox Church there, and mainly aimed at serving “displaced people and families affected by the crisis” of war in the country.

There were other indications of the true nature of the economy. In the realm of tourism, the Higher Council for Tourism said that it would provide “special advantages and incentives to the investors willing to set up tourist projects,” with the Prime Minister of the country adding that investors should “establish tourist projects for low-income people to boost popular tourism and give an image to the world about stability returned to the Syrian provinces due to the victories achieved by the Syrian Arab army.” The tone was expressed when the government participated in the 38th FITUR International Tourism Fair 2018 in Madrid, Spain, calling for “Spanish tourism companies to visit Syria, take a closer look at the situation in it,” worked to build a railway that would serve “passengers and businessmen” and looking to make the country attractive by encouraging “Arab and foreign businessmen to make more investments in Syria to contribute to the reconstruction stage.” You could say this is justified, considering that the government brought in “45 local, Arab and foreign companies” to talk about energy, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the  reconstruction of Syria. After all, the country wants to rebuild after years of war with an economy which is reportedly in good condition, and has put forward a “national development program” for Syria, during the reconstruction period, which builds institutions, fights against corruption, modernizes infrastructure, engages n “sustainable growth and development, social, educational and cultural development and the national dialogue.” Basically, the Syrian government is trying to draw in international capital to lead to its reconstruction. [6] However, this process shows that it is not “socialist” as Gowans claims. Rather it is socially democratic, as previously explained, secular, and it is nationalist. Even though the government seems to loosely base itself on Islam and the constitution doesn’t mention the word “secular,” it is worth calling Syria secular because for one, the country has no state religion. With secularism limited as Marx noted in “On the Jewish Question,” seeming to mean “non-religious,” the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (a bourgeois dictionary) concurs with this, defining the word “secular” as “not sacred or religious,” temporal or worldly, distinguished from “church and religion.”

With all this, we can say with certainty that Syria has a developed bourgeoisie. That doesn’t mean that the state cannot do good for the people of Syria, or even the proletariat, but rather that it is not socialist or on the road to socialism in any way, shape or form. With this, we can still defend the country from imperial lies and slander from the bourgeois media and comprador progressive media, like Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept. The official publication of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, said the same in an article, reprinted from the official Cuban outlet, Prensa Latina, in March of last year:

…Just six years after the beginning of a war that was imposed from abroad, and which has exacerbated the differences between those espousing diverse religious beliefs to an inhumane level, this nation presents a scene of enormous destruction amidst the quest to survive…Never before in the Arab and Muslim world had the destruction of a country been promoted in such a combined way, organized from the centers of the former colonial powers and the United States…The reality is neither civil war nor faith-based conflict, because the “card” at play in Syria is actually a dirty game which originated from a basic element: in 2009 when the government of Bashar al Assad vetoed a vast project promoted by Qatar…From that moment on, and planned in advance, petrodollars from the capitals of the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and Israel, played their part…Syria questioned the economic motives of Western powers, which was enough to serve as one of the objective bases for launching the overwhelming media attacks and war against this nation…In an explosion of generalized war, thousands of terrorists arrived in Syria, who, allied with national extremists, established points of attack that in the first years covered more than a dozen combat fronts throughout the Syrian territory…More than half a million dead and maimed, economic losses of $200 billion dollars and the obvious destruction of Syria’s entire infrastructure, make up a bleak but not insurmountable panorama. The media siege on this nation, a fierce commercial blockade and widespread terror over six years of an overwhelming imposed war, have not yet been able to annihilate the Syrian people.

There are further aspects. For one, the Syrian bourgeoisie, represented by the state, are willing to engage in ICT cooperation with Russian bourgeoisie, and have other agreements with the Russians (as noted here and here). One such agreement is about “cooperation in domain of public constructions and the implementation of housing projects.” I mention this because, as I’ve written on this blog before, you can say that Russia’s foreign policy is, to an extent, progressive and anti-imperialist, but Russia is without a doubt a capitalist state, with a bourgeoisie which has festered since 1991, at least, if not earlier when it developed more and more through the revisionist years of the Soviet Union (1954-1991). Syria’s government is smart enough to have strong relations with Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq, even working on creating an electricity network which connects Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Undoubtedly this will lead to further regional unity, which is good in an effort to resist imperialism. However, it also strengthens the bourgeoisie in Iran (which I recently wrote about) and Iraq. The same can be said about bringing in investors from Brazil, having economic cooperation with South Africa and China, oil production by Oman (noted here, here, and here), cooperation with Cuba, Belarus, India (see here and here), Sudan, People’s Korea, along with cooperation with other “friendly countries.” This goes back to my earlier point, that Syria is trying to bring in international capital as it looks to rebuild its country from the scourge of war which has ravaged the country since 2011. This is a noble goal, but some of those countries, like India (led by a fascist) and South Africa, at least, have established bourgeoisie, meaning that no holds are barred in dealing with other countries. This is further the case considering Syria’s dealings with Armenian businesspeople as noted in varying articles. Finally, there is the epitome of nationalism, which Frantz Fanon wrote about in The Wretched of the Earth: domestic production pushed by the bourgeoisie. In the case of Syria, this takes the form of “made in Syria” fairs/exhibitions, noted again, again, again, and again in SANA. It reminds me of the whole push for “made in the USA” products while corporations were actually moving their factories to places with cheap labor, although this is a bit different.

Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections

Originally posted on https://anti-imperialism.org/. This calls out the hypocrisy of the murderous empire calling for “human rights” in Syria.

Syria’s location and its ties with Iran, and other countries which could be said to be part of an anti-imperialist front, are well-established. Of course, some on the Left have considered Assad, along with Gaddafi, horrid “dictators” with endorsements of the bourgeois Arab “revolution,” and saying that there is a “dictatorship” in Syria. If this wasn’t enough in that it easily meshes with propaganda emanating from the center of world imperialism, consider the PLP (Progressive Labor Party), the same organization calling People’s Korea a “fascist”/”puppet” monarchy of China which “easily meshes its Orientalist propaganda of the bourgeois media.” For Syria, they describe it as a “Russian-backed government” with benefits to Russian bosses who want to divide up Syria, accepting that Assad used chemical weapons (he didn’t), and elsewhere calling the government an “Iran-backed regime.” Apart from not being able to decide if the government is “backed” by Iran or Russia (which they think is “imperialist“), they claim that the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) (they do not specify what sect of the party) are “phony communists” and that the state doesn’t really care about the working class. They can’t seem to comprehend a Syria which is socially democratic and independent from Western influence even as it has a developed bourgeoisie. There have been elections in Syria, which all show the National Progressive Front (NPF) winning by a huge margin:

In 2016, the “National Unity alliance, supporting President al-Assad and his Baath Party, won 200 seats in the 250-member People’s Assembly. Many candidates reportedly focused on security issues. On 2 May, the President issued a decree naming winners of parliamentary elections. Elections did not take place in Raqa and Idlib provinces, which are controlled by the so-called Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front. Amid the violence, fewer Syrians registered to vote in 2016…[but] according to the Higher Judicial Committee for Elections, turnout in 2016 was 57.56%, up from 51.26 % in 2012.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 2012, “parliamentary elections took place in the context of open rebellion against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Major opposition parties boycotted the elections. The National Unity alliance, supporting the President and his Baath Party, took 183 of the 250 seats at stake. Most of the remaining seats went to independent pro-government candidates. The May 2012 elections followed a revision to the Constitution, adopted by referendum in February…Only 5.2 million of the 10.1 million eligible citizens registered to vote. 51.26 per cent of the registered voters actually took part, meaning that in total around a quarter of eligible citizens voted in the elections…Official results gave a large majority to the National Unity alliance.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The 22 April 2007 elections were the second to be held since President Bashar Assad assumed power in July 2000 following his father’s death a month earlier. President Assad pledged to modernize the country’s economy. ..Of the 250 seats just over two-thirds (170 seats) are reserved for the ruling National Progressive Front (NPF) coalition. Voters select one list from among a series of lists of parliamentary candidates. Two-thirds of the candidates on each list are from the NPF. The coalition comprising ten political parties was led by the Baath Party which itself is guaranteed 131 seats. The other 80 seats are allocated to independent candidates…Many candidates pledged to provide economic prosperity…Several anti-fraud measures were implemented for the first time. They included transparent ballot boxes and indelible ink to prevent multiple voting…approximately 56 per cent of the 7.8 million registered voters turned out at the polls. A total of 11 967 611 citizens were eligible to vote…The final results gave Syria’s ruling NPF 172 seats. The remainder went to independent candidates…On 11 May the People’s Assembly unanimously nominated Mr. Bashar Assad as the president of the country for a new seven-year term starting on 17 July 2007. The public referendum of 27 May approved this nomination by over 97 per cent of the votes.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“On 2 and 3 March 2003 Syrians voted to elect the first People’s Assembly since President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his late father President Hafez al-Assad in 2000. According to official records, some 5,000 candidates competed for the 250 seats in Parliament…Announcing the results, Interior Minister Ali Hamoud declared that candidates of the National Progressive Front had won 167 seats (the Front consists of the ruling Baath party and six smaller allies). The remaining 83 seats went to independents. Out of the 250 members, 178 were newcomers and 30 women.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“In the 1998 elections, 7364 candidates initially contested the 250 parliamentary seats. A total of 167 of these belonged to the National Progressive Front (NPF) – the seven-party governing coalition led by the Baath Party of President of the Republic Hafez al-Assad, which itself nominated 135 candidates; the NPF has been in power since being formed in 1972…On polling day, the electorate overwhelmingly backed the NPF candidates with over 66% of the popular vote, the remaining 83 seats (one-third of the overall membership) being won by independents, as before.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The election date was set by presidential decree on 24 July 1994, with candidatures to be submitted until 2 August. A total of 7,818 candidates contested the 250 People’s Council seats. A maximum of one-third of the Council seats were set aside for independent candidates as distinct from those of the ruling National Progressive Front (NFP). The NFP, headed by President of the Republic Hafiz Al-Assad, was formed in 1972…On polling day, the ruling Baath…once again emerged as the largest single party, with 135 seats, while independents captured 83. Of the total Council membership, 93 were incumbent Deputies. On 10 September 1994, President Al-Assad opened the newly elected Parliament’s first session. Mr. Abdel Qader Qaddoura was then re-elected as Council President.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“In the 1990 general elections, a record 2,657 candidates (including 116 women) vied for the 250 seats of the enlarged People’s Council. A maximum of one-third of the Council seats were set aside for independent candidates as distinct from those of the National Progressive Front (NPF)…On polling day, the ruling Baath…once again emerged as the largest single party, with 134 seats, while the independents’ total rose from 35 to 84. Of the total Council membership, 77 were incumbent Deputies. On 11 June, President Al-Assad opened the newly elected Parliament’s first session. Mr. Abdel Qader Qaddoura was then re-elected as Council President.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The Syrian Communist Party made a comeback and women more than doubled their number of seats as a result of the 1986 elections to the People’s Council. The ruling Baath party was the biggest winner, with a total of 129 seats in the 195-member Parliament. The Communists, who had no members in the previous legislature, won nine seats. There were a total of 88 newcomers to the Council.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1981, “the elections resulted in a victory for the National Progressive Front, which captured all 195 People’s Council seats. The Baath Arab Socialist Party of President of the Republic Hafez al-Assad won 60% of all seats. As opposed to the previous legislature, no independent candidates were successful”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1977, “party lists were presented by ruling Arab Socialist Renaissance (Booth) Party and those of four other leftist groups that together formed the National Progressive Front governing coalition of President Hafez al-Assad, in power since 1971…The voting results, as announced, showed that the Baath— which supports militant Arab unity — once again emerged as the single largest party and that the Front altogether won all but 36 seats, these being captured by Independents. The new Parliament held its first session on August 18.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1973, “the elections, in which 1656 candidates — 659 representing workers and farmers and 997 other social groups — contested the seats of the People’s Council, were the first since the Baath Party seized power in 1963…The Baath Party, which fielded roughly half of the candidates, and its allies — the Communist Party, the pro-Cairo Arab Socialist Union (ASU), the Arab Socialists and the Socialist Unionists — who ran on a unified ” national progressive ” ticket, succeeded in winning 10 of the country’s 15 governorates and about two-thirds of the parliamentary seats.”-INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

The SCP seems to recognize what the PLP cannot. The Syrian Communist Party (Unified), is one of the two communist parties in the country, and is also a member of the NPF, a coalition of “political parties in Syria that support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the current government and accept the leading role of the Arab Socialist Baath Party.” These 11 parties (Wikipedia claims there are 10 but is actually 11) are as follows: the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, Arab Socialist Union Party, Communist Party of Syria (Bakdash), National Vow Movement/National Covenant Party, Communist Party (Unified), Arab Democratic Union Party, Unionist Social Democratic Party, Socialist Unionist Party,Syrian National Social Party – Center, General Union of Trade Unions, and General Union of Peasants. As such, the Syrian Communist Party (Unified), which favored the perestroika in the Soviet Union, sees itself as part of a progressive front. In December 2016 they argued that

…Syria had to request help from the Russian Federation. Moscow provided Syria with the support it needed to resist this barbarous aggression. The Russian help confused the western government and the regional reactionary regimes of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia…Syria will continue her struggle in defense of the Syrian people and to free the whole Syrian soil from aggressors…International law does not allow any county to interfere in the internal affairs of any other country, which is what the terrorists and their supporters do in Syria. Demanding President Assad step down is an affair to be decided only by the Syrian people…it is the duty of all progressive forces of the world to supported the brave resistance of the Iraqi and Syrian peoples against the international terrorist aggressors…Syrians have proven, throughout years of imperialist aggression, their patriotism and determination to hold on to democratic, progressive and independent life. At the same time the Syrian people support the political solution of the crisis.

This statement was addressed to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties that year, to which the party has somewhat attended in the past. A few years back, in 2011, the same party criticized the consequences of “Syria’s turn toward a free market economy” and put forward, in working “with other Syrian parties, the Syrian national opposition forces, and various currents of civil society” a proposal for  “a conference for national dialogue.” This same party, or maybe the other one, demonstrated against deployment of 150 US troops in Syria over 2 years ago. We still know for sure that the Syrian Communist Party (Unified) met in the Damascus General Sports Federation building in 20102, discussing political, economic and social factors facing Syria, with the party Secretary-General, Hannin Nimr, asserting that “the Syrian people, who strive for a political solution, will continue using all means to fight terrorism and restore security to all Syrian areas” and saying that the main task at the present is “to defend the homeland and continue eliminating terrorism.”

In 1986, when the Syrian Communist Party split, there was another faction: Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) which opposed perestroika, different from other supposed communist groupings, like the National Committee for the Unity of Syrian Communists (NCUSC) which is also known as the Party of the Popular Will, and the Communist Labor Party. To give some background, some members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party met with members of the original Syrian Communist Party, founded in 1924, from 1966 to 1970, wanting to form a “vanguard party” with some taken in with “socialist ideas” they wanted to emulate Soviet and Chinese “policies in agriculture and defense.” However, also during this period, there was a “revisionist current within the Syrian Communist Party led by Riad al-Turk” which called for the “end to Soviet influence on party policy and a shift towards objectives and programmes better suited to the Syrian and Arab context,” and with this group holding a huge sway, Secretary-General of the party, Khalid Bakdash, became a “minority in the leadership ranks.” Bakdash had shown his dedication to fighting French imperialism with unity of the masses, telling the Comintern in 1935 that

the situation in Syria imposes heavy tasks and a great responsibility on our party. Syria, because of its location between Europe and Asia and on the Mediterranean, is a strategic center of fundamental importance for the entire system of French imperialism…French imperialism, understanding the importance of Syria, has unleashed a savage terror to destroy the revolutionary movement in the country and has directed its most cruel blows against the working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party, which was reduced to a deep state of illegality. After the armed insurrection of 1925 to 1927 in which for two years the Arab peasants, workers, and labourers showed how they are capable of fighting French imperialism…we are ready to unite our efforts with all those who want a free and independent Syria.

This leads to 1986, when over perestroika, these two trends in the Communist Party broke apart, forming Syrian Communist Party (Unified) and Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash), the latter opposing perestroika, if Wikipedia has merit and the former approving of it. Seemingly, Moscow supported the Bakdash faction at least for a time.

On the website of the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties there are forty statements of this Communist Party, from November of last year to November 2008, only some of which were translated into English. The most recent of those is from July of last year at the meeting of the central committee of the party in Damascus, saying that the situation internationally is becoming more dangerous with “contradictions between imperialist powers,” adding that as U$ imperialism is “considered the most aggressive power” with dangerous escalation toward People’s Korea, and strong “Zionist influence” within the current U$ administration, that Russia is being targeted by Western imperialism, rejecting Turkish aggression towards Syria, with “international colonialist and Zionist powers…conspiring to divide Syria.” They closed by saying that the situation in the country requires “a radical transformation in the socio-economic policy that strengthens the country’s immunity and meets the basic interests of the Syrian people,” saying this requires “a complete break with socio-economic trends of a liberal nature” such as laws undermining “public sector status…encouraging foreign investment in all areas” which will “weaken the working class,” and by, ultimately, “encouraging production and creating important resources in the hands of the state” along with a “favorable pricing policy in the purchase of crops should be adopted” as part of a “policy of state capitalism of a social nature.” This would mean, in their view, “support for industrial and crafts production,” supporting agricultural production, increasing the role of the state in ” internal trade,” reviving state establishments in “the field of foreign trade,” raising “salaries and wages to be compatible with rising prices,” and expanding “social support for the population systematically.” Beyond this, take an interview with Adel Omar, of the party’s foreign bureau. He told Socialist Unity that the party believes that

…the course of events in Syria is neither a revolution nor a civil war. It is very clear that what has been taking place in Syria has been in accordance with the imperialist plans…our people are resisting the imperialist forces together. It is true that the people of Syria have demands and needs that need to be met, but the way to achieve this is not through destroying everything that belongs to the state of Syria. At the moment, our country is under attack, and achieving unity among the people to defend our homeland is what needs to be done first. At this point, we think it is especially crucial for the government to respond to the demands and the needs of the people…When we evaluate the 10-year period before the aggression toward Syria, we see that the Syrian government made grave mistakes in the economic area. By choosing neoliberal economic policies, it opened the Syrian market to foreign imports, especially Turkish and Qatari products. As a result, hundreds of factories and workshops shut down and millions of workers lost their jobs. In fact, there was not a substantial change in these neoliberal policies when the imperialist intervention started. As the Syrian CP, we think that the adoption of these neoliberal economic policies was a fatal mistake. We believe that the solution needs to start by putting an end to these policies…It is important to realize that it is not only the Syrian army that is resisting against the imperialist-backed foreign forces. Ordinary Syrians are also fighting…it is critical that the government support the people through economic policies in order for the popular resistance to be able to survive. But, unfortunately, it is difficult to say that the government realizes this fact even now. They more or less continue with the neoliberal policies. As the Syrian CP, we believe the biggest risk factor for the Syrian resistance is the economy…We are going through a war that though difficult and serious at times cannot be taken lightly. But we are determined to continue with our struggle…As Syrian communists, the duty to struggle for our homeland lies first and foremost on our shoulders…When our situation in Syria is taken into account, I can say that we need an attitude of solidarity that is more than a “message of goodwill” by this or that party…in the struggle we are waging in Syria, we have been left alone. There are 22 Arab countries, and no events in solidarity with the Syrian people have been organized in the capitals of these countries…History shows us that struggles against imperialism and fascism increase the value and respectability of the communist parties in the eyes of the people. This was the case for the Soviets in their defense of the motherland, and the same in Greece or France. Communists were at the forefront, organizing the resistance of the people for the defense of their motherland. This is the case for us as well…the Syrian Communist Party is a strong organization with more than a quarter of a million members.

This shows that this party, which defines itself as the “conscious organized vanguard of the working class in Syria,” adopting the “teachings of Marxism-Leninism,” looking to unite and mobilize “all progressive forces for the final salvation of poverty and retardation and exploitation” is much more radical than Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash). Consistently this party has stood “with the Syrian people…against the Imperialist and Zionist plans and conspiracies that the Arabic reactionary regimes and imperialist allied countries in our region is participating in,” stood in solidarity with the South African Communist Party (SACP), and had a well-thought-out statement in 2011 on “unrest in some cities in Syria,” saying that there were reactionary forces at work but understanding the tensions. They added that the party’s central committee said that the “the trend toward economic liberalization, which has negatively impacted national production and the state of the toiling masses” should be reversed, restoring and strengthening “our food security, and industry under all forms of national ownership, with emphasis on maintaining and developing the public sector.” By 2014, the party called “on all patriots in Syria to defend the homeland, to protect national sovereignty, and to be on their guard against imperialist conspiracies and tricks” and closing by saying that “our defence of our homeland is first and above any consideration.”

Some, like Caleb T. Maupin in Mint Press News, argued that it is a positive that “Syria openly tolerates the existence of two strong Marxist-Leninist parties,” saying that  Syrian Communist Party (Unified) and the Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) openly “operate as part of the anti-imperialist coalition supporting the Baath Arab Socialist Party.” while communists “lead trade unions and community organizations in Damascus and other parts of the country.” That is a positive for sure, but it doesn’t make Syria socialist and it doesn’t mean the country doesn’t have a bourgeoisie as Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) clearly acknowledges. If there was a communist party in Syria comrades should ally with, I’d say Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) has a much more coherent analysis without a doubt and should be supported with solidarity, as should the Syrian proletariat.  Furthermore, I agree with Joma Sison of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that in the context of fighting against the murderous empire and Zionism, “the Assad government and the Syrian Arab Army have a sovereign, progressive and revolutionary cause against the US as No. 1 imperialist aggressor and its criminal accomplice Zionist Israel.” I also agree with his statement that whatever “is the social character of Russia now (even if monopoly capitalist), it is good strategy and tactics for Syria to use its alliance with Russia to counter and defeat the more aggressive imperialist power, US imperialism and its terrible sidekick Israel.” [7]

Resistance to imperialism and concluding words

The Revolutionary youth branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) created the above graphic in August 2013, an expression of genuine solidarity leading some to dub those with such a position “Assadists” which shows how little they understand about resistance to imperialism. Proyect is one of these people, disgustingly smearing the late dedicated journalist Robert Perry of Consortium News, for being an “Assadist propagandist” and only liking Perry before 2011, when he started challenging the narrative that Assad was a dictator, which makes Proyect swell up with anger, the same person who hates People’s Korea, and has intellectual foundation in Trotskyism (although he is not a Trotskyist now), showing that the origin of his deluded “leftist” commentary is in  anti-revolutionary thinking.

Resistance to imperialism by Syria has roots in its history. By 1516, Syrian had been taken over by the Turks with a feudal system kept in place, and claims to region by England and France in 18th century, while the Turks fought off Mamuluks in 1770s to preserve their colony. Before the Turks, Syria was considered part of the Persian empire! In the 1790s, Syria was one of the countries drawn into European conflicts with French bourgeoisie wanting control, leading to anger from the populace, constant Wahhabi raids in first decade of 19th century which ceased in 1811, anger at reforms by Turks in 1820s, and major disturbances until 1831, when Egyptian troops invaded. The following year the invading Egyptians took control, and even defeated the Turkish army at Tartus in 1833. By the 1870s, with Syria as a deeply important province of Ottoman Empire (root of the justified anger toward Erdogan), Arab nationalism began to develop there and in Lebanon. By World War I, Syria was taken over again, this time by the French, who used imperialism to push the Turks out of country. In the 1920s there was a war for liberation against French imperialism, which based “all its calculations on the suppression of proletarian revolutionary struggle in France and Europe by using its colonial workers as a reserve army of counter-revolution,” as the Fourth Congress of the Communist International said in 1922 and the Communists had a role in such liberation. In December 1925, when addressing the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U. (B), comrade Josef Stalin remarked that there was a “growth of the national-revolutionary movement in the colonies and the crisis in the world domination of imperialism in general” specifically mentioning the “war for liberation waged by Syria and Morocco against French imperialism” along with the “struggle for liberation waged by India and Egypt against British imperialism” and China’s “struggle for liberation against Anglo-Japanese-American imperialism,” along with the “growth of the working-class movement in India and China.” He concluded that this means that “the Great Powers are faced with the danger of losing their…colonies” with capitalism destabilized, with a “form of open war against imperialism” in places like “Morocco, Syria, [and] China.” This was further proven by a revolt in Syria, in 1926, some saying that “the revolt in Syria has reached alarming proportions” while the Comintern that year considered the revolt as one of the “series of revolutions and revolutionary actions on the Continent of Europe as well as in the colonial and semi-colonial countries.” The following year, comrade Stalin told the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B) that the intention of the British bourgeoisie, represented by Neville Chamberlain, was to “oust the French bourgeoisie from Syria” because from Syria it is “possible to do harm to Britain both in the area of the Suez Canal and in the area of Mesopotamia.”

Fast forward to World War II. In 1942, Churchill wrote to Stalin, saying he hoped to “assemble a considerable army in Syria drawn from our Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Armies, so as to go to help Turkey if either she were threatened or were willing to join us.” With the country controlled by nationalist but easily pliant governments of the Western bourgeoisie, for most of the time from 1945 to 1958, it is no surprise that the country signed The General Agreement On Tariffs And Trade or GATT in 1948, becoming a foundation of the postwar world capitalism. However, the country became more independent during its years as the Syrian Republic, with the U$ engaging in provocations in Syria in 1957 and Mao Zedong saying the same year that there should be solidarity with Syrian nation. In 1960, 8o Communist and Workers Parties made a statement in Moscow praising the “resolute stand of the Soviet Union, of the other socialist states and of all the peaceful forces put an end to the Anglo -Franco-Israeli intervention in Egypt, and averted a military invasion of Syria, Iraq and some other countries by the imperialists.” Six years later, there was a military coup in Syria, as previously mentioned in this article, which hurt Ba’ath Party in Iraq but conditions changed in 1968 with another military coup, which was seemingly U$-backed. By the 1970s, a full tank brigade from Cuba stood “guard between 1973 and 1975 alongside the Golan Heights, when this territory was unjustly seized from that country.” Cuba has, in the past two years, stood by Syria, shipping vaccines, is willing to have “bilateral relations based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, economic exchange and the defense of the sovereign principles of each nation,” said at the UN that “peace in Syria can only be achieved if the people’s right to self-determination is respected” while Fidel himself “strategically directed hundreds of thousands of Cuban combatants on international missions” in countries such as Syria, (also in Algeria, Angola, and Ethiopia to name a few). Additionally, Syria has stood with Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in June of 2016 expressing “their support for the independence and sovereignty of Puerto Rico,” undoubtedly angering the murderous empire while Syrian students have said that they respect the Cuban revolution, while it has pushed for the end of the blockade against Cuba, while medical students from Syria have come to Cuba. Additionally, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said that Venezuela stood in solidarity with “the Syrian people in the struggle against terrorism and against the most vile and cruel forms of warfare are admirable before the eyes of the world,” and solidarity again after a deadly strike by the murderous empire. Maduro himself warned against intervention by the murderous empire in Syria in 2013, with the government supplying Syria with oil in 2012, calls for the end to a “media war”on Syria in 2011, strengthening of agreements with Syrian businesses in 2010, and Hugo Chavez making a speech in 2009 in the Syrian province of Swaida, calling the Syrian people “architects of resistance” to imperialism, and saying that “we should fight to create consciousness that is free from imperialist doctrine…fight to defeat backwardness, poverty, misery…to convert our countries into true powers through the consciousness of the people.” Other than this, Assad and Chavez “created a $100 million bilateral development fund and discussed how to build more unity between Arab and Latin American peoples” in 2010, humanitarian aid sent to Syrian refugees in 2013, Venezuela taking in 20,000 Syrian refugees in 2015, Chavez laughing at the idea that Venezuelan  aircraft are shipping missile parts to Syria in 2008,and Assad and Chavez criticizing U$ involvement in the Middle East in 2006, to name a few instances.

Such solidarity of Venezuela with Libya, Iran, and Syria had Trotskyist Lance Selfa grumbling about Chavez supporting “dictators” or “despots,” and claiming there were “Arab revolutionaries.” Like always, the Trotskyists failed in their analysis. As Stalin noted in December 1927 when he called out the “Trotskyist opposition,” showing how they favored the bourgeoisie:

…I think the opposition does me honour by venting all its hatred against Stalin. That is as it should be. I think it would be strange and offensive if the opposition, which is trying to wreck the Party, were to praise Stalin, who is defending the fundamentals of the Leninist Party principle…The communist workers gave our oppositionists a good drubbing, such a drubbing indeed that the leaders of the opposition were compelled to flee from the battlefield…the opposition, in pursuing a splitting policy, organised an anti-Party, illegal printing press…the opposition, for the purpose of organising this printing press, entered into a bloc with bourgeois intellectuals, part of whom turned out to be in direct contact with counter-revolutionary conspirators…The opposition’s splitting activities lead it to linking up with bourgeois intellectuals, and the link with bourgeois intellectuals makes it easy for all sorts of counter-revolutionary elements to envelop it—that is the bitter truth…Its main sin is that it tried, is trying, and will go on trying to embellish Leninism with Trotskyism and to replace Leninism by Trotskyism…What is the chief aim of the present united bloc headed by Trotsky? It is little by little to switch the Party from the Leninist course to that of Trotskyism. That is the opposition’s main sin. But the Party wants to remain a Leninist party.

Add to this what the French Communist Party said in 1932, that workers are fooled by the Trotskyists who want to splinter the Communist movement, with even Josip Tito of Yugoslavia seeing Trotskyists as those clearing “the road for the fascist-imperialist bandits”! That shows this sentiment against Trotskyists was widespread. Others have said that the Trotskyists served Franco, which the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) claimed was disproved by its author George Soria but actually is talking about “the story surrounding the disappearance of Andrés Nin, the founder of the P.O.U.M., where he was freed from prison by fascist agents” with his words cited by MIA after Soria “became sympathetic to the Eurocommunism of the PCF.” Furthermore, as Harriet Parsons wrote in the Worker’s Herald in September 1980, “Trotskyists and Trotskyist organizations have a special place in the government’s arsenal for their role in stirring up counter-revolution and their activities as police agents.” As Moissaye J. Olgin wrote in 1935, basing his analysis on what Stalin had written about Trotskyism and in solidarity with the Soviet Union, “Trotskyism no more confines itself to “informing” the bourgeoisie” but has become “center and the rallying point for the enemies of the Soviet Union, of the proletarian revolution in capitalist countries, of the Communist International.”

Hostility by the murderous empire, which has “left a balance sheet of hundreds of thousands of deaths and enormous destruction” in Syria was expressed was as strong in 2003 as it was in 2014 and last year with the cruise missile attack by the orange menace. As Mexican-Argentine philosopher Enrique Dussel (who is not a Marxist but has put forward a philosophy of liberation along with other individuals) put it in October 2016 at the Eco-socialist School of Critical Decolonial Thought of Our America, “they [the murderous empire] go to Syria and they destroy it without even knowing where Syria is. They destroyed Aleppo without knowing anything about that place.”

Taking this all into account, one can, and should agree with Ramzi (Khaled Bakdash), who argued that “we must use the Leninist-Stalinist tactic of mobilising all possible forces…and using all our allies, however temporary and uncertain they may be,” arguing at the time against French imperialism and Zionist oppression but also saying that there will be “accommodation of the national reformist bourgeoisie with imperialism” and calling for Arabic unity with an “anti-imperialist popular front on the pan-Arab scale.”This is especially important considering the economic sanctions foisted on Syria with those fighting “against the Syrian government and army are a mixture of Syrian and foreign mercenaries from dozens of countries” with supplies, training, and weapons from “Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Israel, Turkey, NATO, and of course the United States,” with the latter winding down it seems, as Syria tries to rebuild from the destruction.

With Turkish aggression against Syria, bombing the U$ imperial pawns, the YPG and the so-called “revolutionary” Kurds, the country is under assault with destruction of houses and historic sites. Some have said that Russia, Syria, and Turkey are all on the same page, with the Turks trying to change the empire’s “end game” in Syria. Perhaps the Turks and Russians are on the same page, but there is no doubt that the Syrians are furious with the violation of their sovereignty while the Kurds are angry their imperial patrons aren’t protecting them (perhaps because the empire sees more value in an alliance with Turkey?). They detest the Kurds becoming a base for the murderous empire within their country. However, they do not want military invasion or covert action brought into their country by outside powers, especially by the Turks, which are strongly against the current Syrian government. Some, like celebrity left David Graeber, are ringing their hands about Turkey’s attack, calling it “pure imperialism” and claiming that the Kurds are still “revolutionary,” a laughable concept. Graeber may have a point about Turkey’s attack, as Erdogan is no friend to the proletariat of Turkey or of the world as a whole, but is a monster without question. Sure, he has ties to Russia, but this is because Turkish and Russian interests are interconnected, as the Turkish bourgeoisie and Russian bourgeoisie don’t mind being friends. Graeber’s hand-wringing is as bad as Marcel Cartier, writing in evidently anti-anti-imperialist site, The Region, reprinted in the so-called progressive “ZNet,” declaring that Rojava is a “beacon of stability in Syria” and is supposedly “progressive.” He goes further to claim laughably that the Kurds are not puppets but are engaged in a “real revolutionary process” and that the Syrians had “exhibited a considerable degree of colonialism as far as the Kurds are concerned”! Not only does he clearly understand what colonialism is, but his answer as a whole is absurd and laughable as the Kurds are helping the imperialists divide up Syria. Without a doubt, Cartier, like Graeber believes the lies that these Kurds are revolutionary, which anyone with sense has recognized by now. Even one subreddit I follow, leftvexillology, has a tag of “Fuck YPG!” due to such propaganda in absurd, laughable writings. Of course, there are some corners of the Left that still think this, like the goofs at Links International Journal of Socialism, Trotskyists, and deluded socialists in the Middle East. Perhaps the PSL’s Liberation News has a point in saying that “the U.S. government has absolutely no concern for the well being of the Kurdish people” and that “betrayal of its Kurdish allies by U.S. imperialism is certainly no small possibility. However, as I recently pointed out on Reddit,

….the Rojava/YPG/Kurdish Workers Party are pawns of U$ imperialists, as evidenced more and more under Trump than ever before, who has given all sorts of aid to them….we know the U$ imperialists want a “safe district” in the region as a base for their imperialism, so they can easily attack Syria (and by that thinking, undermine Iran). Not only does such a state clearly violate the sovereignty of Syria with their so-called “decentralized” government, creating an entity which will lead to regional chaos…The narrative spread by those who advocate for Rojava is utterly false, without question. Not only is the propaganda outlets of the murderous empire willing to listen and talk to them, but it easily fits with “Orientalist bourgeois propaganda” against Syria…Beyond this, is the reality that while “Western and even international “left”…declare that the Rojava Kurds are “revolutionary” or somehow “liberated” such perspectives are “an unfounded and dangerous form of international solidarity”…Rojava is an illegal entity without question…Hence we should pay less attention to Rojava except to counter imperial lies and fight the blood-sucking imperialists who want to divide and conquer Syria without a doubt.

As the murderous empire seems has “drawn Turkey deeper into the Syrian conflict by announcing a policy that threatens Turkey’s national security” by announcing the creation of “a 30,000-man Border Security Force (BSF) to occupy East Syria” on January 18 and  the start of so-called “Operation Olive Branch” two days later. In the article, Mike Whitney calls this a “gaffe” and a “provocation” which was uttered by oil man Tillerson who was “blinded by hubris.” He also said that time will tell if “Washington is following Erdogan’s orders or not” and claimed that “Putin gave Erdogan the green light to conduct “Operation Olive Branch” in order to pave the way for an eventual Syrian takeover of the Northwestern portion of the country up to the Turkish border” even though he admits that Erdogan has neo-Ottoman ambitions. Whitney closes by saying that the policy will remain the same as “Washington will persist in its effort to divide the country and remove Assad until an opposing force prevents it from doing so.” This seems to be faulty reasoning as the Turks do not seem to favor the current Syrian government so they wouldn’t just give the land over to the Syrians. Instead, it seems that Putin is serving nationalist interests of the Russian bourgeoisie rather than helping protect Syrian sovereignty which Turkey is clearly violating. Some may say that Syria is acquiescing to this by not “fighting back” against Turkey but it is likely that the current government does not want to be at war with Turkey or devote resources to defending such an area, looking to liberate other parts of the country from terrorist control instead, which is a wise use of resources.

In closing, there is no doubt that Syria is a nationalist, secular and socially democratic state. But, it is not socialist, as Gowans, most prominently of all, has argued. As I’ve noted in this article, Syria clearly has a bourgeoisie. This is evidently also the case in Iran and Zimbabwe as well, along with being likely the case in Belarus and some other progressive countries (not in Cuba and People’s Korea of course), which will be investigated at a later date. Knowing the real nature of these countries by using Marxist analysis is important in order for the populace to have an accurate analysis of the world at the present. As always, I look forward to your comments and further discussion on this subject.

Notes

[1] Ashley Smith, “Explaining the Syrian civil war,” International Socialist Review; Chris Lee, “Is Syria socialist?,” Green Left Weekly, Oct 22, 2003; Serge Jordan, “Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?,” Socialist World (Trotskyist), Feb 3, 2017; Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful,” FightBack! News, Sept 11, 2013; Budour Hassan, “Telling the stories of Syria’s masses,” Socialist Worker, Oct 3, 2013; Joseph Green, “Solidarity with the Syrian uprising and the Arab Spring!,” Communist Voice, Sept 2012; Alasdair Drysdale, “The Asad Regime and Its Troubles,” Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), November/December 1982.

[2] Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syria reverts to socialist economic policies to ease tension,” Reuters, Jul 4, 2012; Jamal Mahamid, “Syria’s frail economy, before and after the revolution,” Al Arabiya, Apr 1, 2013; Aron Lund, “The State of the Syrian Economy: An Expert Survey,” Carnegie Middle East Center, Dec 23, 2013; Hamoud Al-Mahmoud, “The War Economy in the Syrian Conflict: The Government’s Hands-Off Tactics,” Carnegie Middle East Center, Dec 15, 2015; Caroline Alexander and Donna Abu-Nasr, “How War Has Destroyed Syria’s Economy in Four Charts,” Bloomberg News, Jul 29, 2015; Elias al-Araj, “How the war on Syria left its mark on Lebanon’s economy,” Al Monitor, May 13, 2016;  Jihad Yazigi, “Syria’s war economy,” European Council on Foreign Relations, Apr 7, 2014;  Rim Turkmani, Ali A. K. Ali, Mary Kaldor, and Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, “Countering the logic of the war economy in Syria,” OpenDemocracy, Nov 19, 2015; Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syria’s economy heads into ruin: U.N. sponsored report,” Reuters, May 18, 2014; AFP, “Economic effect of Syrian war at $35bn: World Bank,” Middle East Eye, Feb 5, 2016; David Butler, “Syria’s Economy: Picking up the Pieces,” Chatham House, June 23, 2015.

[3] On April 18, 1964, the New York Times, in an article titled “Socialist Goals Pressed by Syria,” declared that “the Syrian Government na­tionalized three textile factories in the northern industrial town of Aleppo today and ordered worker management of all na­tionalized and state‐run eco­nomic establishments” with the latter “viewed as heralds of a Social­ist era in Syria under the Baath Socialist party” and seeking to “apply a brand of Socialism different from that of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of the United Arab Republic.” It also noted that “President Nasser’s So­cialism” was denounced by the Baath Socialist party, wanting to have “self­-management” by workers, expanding on nationalization of “all local and foreign banks.” Later on, there was a book by Ayman Al-Yassini titled “The socialist transformation of an underdeveloped country: Syria under the Arab Baath Socialist Party, 1963-1970,” Time magazine calling Syria “socialist” in 1967, as did Edward F. Sheehan in a January 1975 New York Times article titled “He Fears Russians More Than Israelis, Works With Kissinger.”

[4] “Syria,” 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation, accessed January 21, 2018; “Syria” (economy section), CIA’s The World Factbook, accessed January 21, 2018. There have been those like Martin Peretz of The New Republic declaring that “very few people…think of Russia and China as progressive countries,” that many “still think of Cuba as a progressive country,” with Venezuela, “Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua…express[ing] their solidarity for socialist Syria” which he considered a joke. People like this should be ridiculed and laughed at.

[5] One Trotskyist suggested that since “nationalisations received the overwhelming support of the working class in Syria” it is such nationalization and “division of the land,” which gained the government “support of the workers and peasants,” that the Ba’ath-led government was able to “maintain itself.” This argument may have some merit to it, although Trotskyists are often wrongheaded in their analysis without question.

[6] This is indicated further by other articles talking about industrial facilities, tire manufacturing, decreasing prices, a gas project, the industrial sector, importing of buses,
MPs and general budget (here and here), a fertilizer plant, monetary policy (here and here), exports (here, here, here, and here), an offshore limited liability corporation (LLC), a supposedly cooperative housing sector, agricultural production and investment, rural women’s products, investment in higher education, a shopping festival, reviving old markets, social affairs, economic diplomacy, investment budgets, budgets, nursery plantstons of wheat, a trade fair, raw materials, new gas wells, a state budget billpharmaceuticals, a goods exhibit, labor syndicates, a truck assembly plant, ports being re-opened, new projects, upgrade services, and cabinet work for 2018.

[7] Mike Whitney wrote in January 2016 that “Putin has no intention of getting “bogged down” in Syria for a decade or two. What he plans to do is to defeat the enemy and move on,” adding that “Russia plans to use its Kurdish allies in the YPG to seize a stretch of land along the Syrian side of the Turkish border to reestablish Syria’s territorial sovereignty” while noting that “Turkish President Erdogan has promised that if the YPG pursues that course, Turkey will invade, in which case, Putin will come to the defense of the Kurds.” The latter seems to have come true in the case of Operation Olive Branch as the Turks call it, despite its destruction. The former has also become true as the Russians are pulling back their involvement. Still there is, as another writer also noted in CounterPunch, an “ongoing campaign of demonization against the Russian leader” or Putin, with Avaaz portraying the Syrian government efforts to fight terrorists as “nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children” even though this is an utter lie since, as Whitney noted, in another article, “Russian air-strikes are going to be accompanied by a formidable mop-up operation that will overpower the jihadi groups on the ground” which isn’t recognized by the antiwar movement.

Kim Jong-Un, “Juche-oriented socialism,” and the DPRK in 2018

Photograph of Kim Jong Un Making His New Year Address​​, via dprktoday.com.

As you may know, Kim Jong-Un (called Kim in the rest of this article), the duly-elected chief of state of People’s Korea, or the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) gave a New Year’s address for Juche 107 (2018), on January 1, as he does every year. The bourgeois media, at least in the murderous empire, extracted only a certain number of elements from the speech, even though a rough translated version of the whole speech was available as of January 1st, only relying on a partial translation by the Associated Press. While PressTV, an Iranian state media outlet, and the RT, the Russian state outlet that liberals scream about, seemed to just take from Western media accounts, the bourgeois media was inherently imperialist in their “analysis” of the speech, as even the headlines show:

Dear America: Don’t fall for Pyongyang’s predictable, poisonous ploy (The Hill)

Kim Jong-un Goes Dapper, Updating His Style Along With His Arsenal (New York Times)

Kim Jong-un warns US in New Year’s Day speech, says he has ‘nuclear button’ on his desk (International Business Times UK)

North Korea’s Overture Raises Hopes, but Huge Obstacles Loom (New York Times)

Will nuclear North Korea survive 2018? (Chicago Tribune)

The first analysis I could find, of the Kim’s speech, came from NK News. Not surprisingly, like many of the “watchers” of People’s Korea, it was inherently imperialist. While noting that “Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech was broadcast on Korea Central television” and that the “New Year’s speech is an important ideological event in North Korea,” noting that it was “uncharacteristically focused on foreign policy” and that Kim Jong Un revived the tradition of a New  Years speech in 2013, it made silly comments:

…Kim Jong Un wore a different colored suit and tie compared to previous years, though there is nothing to suggest this was for any reason beyond stylistic preference.Secondly, his remarks were interrupted several times by nine second periods of applause [which they claimed was “generated”]…Kim Jong Un’s voice was noticeably raspier than unusual.

Who cares about this? This does not bode well for their supposed “analysis” as it shows they are anti-communist jerks. Furthermore, they claimed that “Kim Jong Un offered zero consequential policy suggestions towards outside leaders” and that Pyongyang can “in some ways afford to simply ignore the U.S. and get on with other matters,” acting like this speech stood on its own and wasn’t in a broader context. Again, this is pathetic reasoning. They further claimed that there is “always room” for a war with People’s Korea (no there isn’t!), that “Kim Jong Un continues to make due lip service to the state ideology” (not that he is a dedicated socialist), that  “the New Year speech has an atmosphere of confidence surrounding it” and claiming that “the speech was actually recorded before the conference” (which is again acting like the people are brainwashed which is ridiculous). Hence, NK News should be ridiculed and generally not trusted for news or “analysis” on People’s Korea.

With all of this, I decided to write my own analysis of the speech using media of People’s Korea and working to put Kim’s speech, which was summarized by KCNA on January 1 for the Korean masses, into context. KCNA and Rodong Sinmun printed official English translations of the speech. In this article, the transcript of the speech, which was printed in Rodong Sinmun one day after KCNA published it is used in this article since KCNA is not always easy to link to online for ways they set up the website. [1] If Rodong Sinumn doesn’t work, here is a PDF of the speech uploaded to this blog and on exploredprk.com.

 

Table of contents for this article

The “difficulties and trials” of 2017

“Hopes and expectations” for 2018

Beyond Kim’s New Year’s speech: challenges and struggles for the year ahead

 

The “difficulties and trials” of 2017

Right from the beginning of the speech, he addresses the difficult year of Juche 106 or 2017 for People’s Korea. He says that the country is “the road of achieving national prosperity, gaining great strength and wisdom” among a “great people” whom he calls “dauntless” even in the face of “manifold difficulties and trials” (murderous imperial sanctions) and that his heart swells “with the pride in waging the revolution shoulder to shoulder with a great people.” He adds that he extends “sincere thanks and New Year greetings to all the people and service personnel who won miraculous victories to be noteworthy in the national history of 5 000 years” while supporting the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) with “mind and purpose,” which buttressed its “determination on the road of arduous yet glorious struggle.”

What happened in 2017 is worth noting in the history books. Kim argues that 2017, was for People’s Korea, “a year of heroic struggle and great victory,” which served as a “milestone in the history of building a powerful socialist country with the spirit of self-reliance and self-development as the dynamic force.” What is specifically referring to is the fact that the murderous empire “and its vassal forces” tried to stifle and isolate People’s Korea, with the revolution facing “the harshest-ever challenges” with the WPK trusting the people of the country who defended the Party, “turning adversity and misfortune to good account and achieving brilliant successes on all the fronts where a powerful socialist country is being built.” Basically, People’s Korea perserved despite the attempts by imperialists to strangle it. More importantly, the country showed its “immutable faith and will to follow to the end the road of Juche-oriented socialism” with people firmly united behind the party and “socialist Korea” for one reason:

…the accomplishment of the great, historic cause of perfecting the national nuclear forces…in the past one year we conducted several rounds of its [the nuclear weapon’s] test launch, aimed at implementing the programme, safely and transparently, thus proving before the eyes of the world its definite success. By also conducting tests of various means of nuclear delivery and super-intense thermonuclear weapon, we attained our general orientation and strategic goal with success, and our Republic has at last come to possess a powerful and reliable war deterrent, which no force and nothing can reverse. Our country’s nuclear forces are capable of thwarting and countering any nuclear threats from the United States, and they constitute a powerful deterrent that prevents it from starting an adventurous war. In no way would the United States dare to ignite a war against me and our country. The whole of its mainland is within the range of our nuclear strike and the nuclear button is on my office desk all the time; the United States needs to be clearly aware that this is not merely a threat but a reality.

Basically, People’s Korea has a nuclear deterrent. This is meant to prevent the country from invasion by the murderous empire and its demented leader, the orange menace. There is a reason this is fundamentally important. As Deirdre Griswold writes in Worker’s World, the murderous empire has been “militarily occupying the southern half of Korea since 1945″ along  a push for sanctions that attempt to ” starve and freeze an entire country” which is cruel since the Korean People have to figure out “how to stave off hunger and frost during the coldest winter months.” Griswold adds that “people here [in the murderous empire] cannot imagine what it must have been like to build up an economy focused on meeting people’s needs when every single building higher than one story had been blasted to bits by U.S. planes during the Korean War” and that “every summer, fall, winter and spring, the U.S. holds war “games” in south Korea, practicing for the invasion of the north and the “decapitation”…of its leadership.” He also writes that when People’s Korea faced such “relentless aggression” Korean scientists created a “nuclear weapons and a missile system capable of delivering them to U.S. targets if they are attacked” and that this is vital because “People’s China and capitalist Russia,” as he calls them, the “world powers that are the DPRK’s two northern neighbors,” have agreed to UN sanctions. This means that these countries are voting in order to appease the imperialists which may “merely whet their appetite for more and more concessions” begging the question of when they will stand up for People’s Korea. As he puts forth in a rhetorical question, after saying that if China and Russia vetoes the resolution for sanctions they would have “risked incurring the wrath of the imperialists”:

But doesn’t going along with such a resolution incur even greater risk of emboldening the most aggressive forces among the imperialist policy makers, who want unchallenged domination over the world and see both China and to a lesser degree Russia as rivals?

After all, not only is the policy of the murderous empire to “destroy the socialist government of the DPRK and turn the northern half of Korea into a U.S. neocolony” but no administration of the empire has been “willing to sit down with representatives of the DPRK and negotiate an end to the state of war that has existed since 1950, despite many, many requests from the Koreans for such discussions and a peace treaty” meaning that an  “official state of war already exists.” I’ve already criticized the stance of China and Russia in the past, saying that

…the Chinese and Russian governments have some progressive foreign policy, especially when it comes to helping imperialist countries under attack… but since neither of these countries are socialist, they easily cut deals with Western capitalists to help their respective bourgeoisie. This is part of the reason why Russia and China have not stood behind the DPRK’s acts of self-defense against aggression by the murderous empire and its allies. Instead, if to “buy time” from the orange menace and/or to prevent nuclear contamination of their citizenry (in the case of China), they have held a moderating tone, supporting peaceful negotiation, condemning the DPRK’s actions, and supporting murderous sanctions, like the others on the UN Security Council. Where has the solidarity gone?…With the “zigzag approach” to the DPRK by the orange menace, Russia and China would benefit the world by defending the socialist state, but they have not done so, instead proposing the idea of a “freeze for freeze” which the US has rejected…As Gregory Elich recently put it, “unless China and Russia can find a way to oppose U.S. designs without becoming targets themselves, the North Korean people will stand alone and bear the burden of Trump’s malice”…Luckily, some have taken stands in favor of the DPRK that Russia and China have not.

While I am still developing my view on China, and am willing to consider differing opinions on the matter (so don’t get on my case about that), the fact remains that Russia and China have voted with the murderous empire on sanctions against People’s Korea. That is a matter of reality and fact.

Photo of Kim Jong Un with Participants in 8th Conference of Munitions Industry, via Rodong Sinmun on Dec 13, 2017.

Kim continues his speech by saying that the nuclear deterrent is the wish of “great leaders who devoted their lives to building the strongest national defence capability for reliably safeguarding our country’s sovereignty” referring to his father Kim Jong-Il, and his grandfather, the first leader of People’s Korea, Kim Il-Sung. The result of this deterrent is that People’s Korea, in his words, has created “a mighty sword for defending peace,” important since the Korea people have had to “tighten their belts for long years.” Additionally, he argues that such a deterrent proves the accuracy of the “Party’s line of simultaneously conducting economic construction and building up our nuclear forces and its idea of prioritizing science,” also called the byungjin parallel development strategy. [2] He adds that the achievements in 2017 open up “bright prospects for the building of a prosperous country and inspired our service personnel and people with confidence in sure victory.” He praises, as anyone should, the “heroic Korean people who, despite the difficult living conditions caused by life-threatening sanctions and blockade, have firmly trusted” the Party’s byungjin policy, and the “defence scientists and workers in the munitions industry ” who engaged in devoted efforts to create such a deterrent.

He notes the economic progress of People’s Korea. He argues that there has been “notable headway in carrying out the five-year strategy for national economic development” specifically in establishing the “Juche orientation in the metallurgical industry, an oxygen-blast furnace of our own style was built at the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex,” a place that will maintain “regular production of pig iron by relying on anthracite.” He adds that “prospects were opened up for consolidating the independent foundations of the chemical industry and attaining the five-year strategy’s goal for the output of chemical products.” This is perhaps why the working class or proletariat  of People’s Korea, which I’ll talk about later, was encouraged by Kim’s speech. Jon Kwang Jun, the department director of the Ministry of Electric Power Industry,was quoted as saying that the address served as a “militant banner that all the servicepersons and civilians should hold aloft this year marking the 70th anniversary of the DPRK,” adding that the country will “strive to increase the power production, further consolidating the achievements made in the field of electric power last year” and will work on “developing new power sources, put power generation at the existing medium and small-sized power stations on a normal footing” while waging a “vigorous struggle against the practices of wasting electric power.” Kim Hwang Ho, the department director of the Ministry of Metallurgical Industry was quoted as saying that “workers in the field of metallurgical industry are in high spirits” he said this is the case because “many metallurgical industrial establishments have made great achievements in putting their production processes on a Juche and modern basis with the spirit of self-reliance and self-development” and that in the coming year this will continue with a boost in the “production of iron and steel.”

Apart from those reactions, consider that in October of last year, a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK visited the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, learning about the “construction of oxygen heat blast furnace” and walking around the construction side, even having a “consultative meeting” to underline the need for the finishing of the construction of “an oxygen heat blast furnace and installing a large oxygen separator in its final stage” and setting other issues in iron production in the country. So this was project was seen as important to the leadership of People’s Korea. The same can be said about the “scientists, technicians, teachers, graduate students and the three-revolution team” at varying universities and complexes, with the latter attending national and scientific presentations held in August, with lectures on the “the theoretical basis of technological process of oxygen heat blast furnace and the trend of development of the carbon one chemistry and gasification industry.” Adding to this, there was another consultative meeting between Premier Pak Pong Ju, “workers, technicians and officials in the building of oxygen heat blast furnace” in June, and the Supreme People’s Assembly, the unicameral legislative body of People’s Korea, argued that “the completion of projects for the production of Juche iron should be pushed forward as a key task at the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex” along with metal factories taking “measures for the supply of raw materials, fuel and power and introduce advanced technology,” cutting the cost of production as much as possible to “attain the goal of iron and steel production.” Below is a photograph ofof workers at the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex in an article in Rodong Sinmun titled “DPRK Premier Inspects Steel Plants“:

Before going forward, it is worth noting that the creation of this blast heat oxygen furnace is a great accomplishment. Such furnaces, also called basic oxygen furnaces, are the “dominant steelmaking technology” in the world, with the method of steelmaking a way by which “both molten pig iron and steel scrap are converted into steel with the oxidizing action of oxygen blown into the melt under a basic slag.” Basically the furnace has a high output for pig iron, so it is relatively efficient. This is evident by the fact that so-called “Heats” of steel,” which range from “30 to 360 tons, can be produced in 30 to 45 minutes.” Now, I’m not sure about the emissions caused by this, but just looking at it on an economic standpoint, this is something to celebrate.

Kim goes on in his speech to talk about how “light-industry factories” in the “textile, footwear, knitwear and foodstuff” sectors have made efforts to modernize their technology and equipment. In the process, they have, in his words, “provided a guarantee for making the range of consumer goods varied and improving their quality.” This was acknowledged by Rodong Sinmun back in November, when the publication argues that workers and officials in the “light industrial sector should bring about radical upswing in production under the banner of self-reliance” and that such an upswing, possible through “increased production and innovations,” it not only “directly linked to the improvement of people’s standard of living” but is vital in “revitalizing the country’s overall economy.”  Additionally, the editorial at the time added  that when light industrial factories are in full operation, “people’s needs for material and cultural life with enough consumer goods and living necessities” can be successfully met.

The speech also says the same about the “machine-building industry,” arguing that it “creditably attained the Party’s goal for the production of new-type tractors and trucks.” As a result, it sped up “the Juche orientation and modernization of the national economy and the comprehensive mechanization of the rural economy.” If the presentations in the “field of machine-building industry” which was held on August 24 of last year “at the Taean Heavy Machine Complex,” bringing together “scientists, technicians, teachers, researchers” evidences anything, it is that there has been “scientific and technological achievements made in developing machine industry at a rapid pace and stepping up the modernization of machine factories.” At that conference, there has been talk about “solving scientific and technological problems arising in ensuring the production of quality machines and equipment of new types and improving their performance.”

Then there’s the agricultural sector. Kim argues that this sector actively introduced “scientific farming methods,” increased the ranks of “high-yield farms and workteams,” along with reaping “an unusually rich fruit harvest in spite of unfavourable climatic conditions.” As they say, you reap what you sow. People’s Korea has only recently, last month, had a ceremony which displayed the “new-type tractors and trucks” such as Chollima-804 tractors, Sungri trucks and Chungsong-122 tractors, in  Kim Il Sung Square, showing the “precious fruition of the spirit of self-reliance and self-development” with these vehicles welcomed along the streets by the citizenry. If you don’t believe me, just see the most striking picture, almost beautiful, from the article itself:

Could you ever imagine something like that in the murderous empire? Or even awards given to “officials, innovators, scientists and researchers who have worked feats in fruit growing” last year? Agriculture is important to People’s Korea, as it should be to any country working to be independent from imperialist domination, a demonstration of the “might of great army-people unity and the potential of the socialist independent economy” as Kim put it elsewhere in the speech.

Kim went on to talk about the building of the “magnificent Ryomyong Street and the large-scale livestock farming base” in Sepho, the “first stage of the forest restoration campaign.” He also said that “new model units emerged one after another” with a large number of “factories and enterprises fulfilled their quotas of the yearly national economic plan ahead of schedule.” Lest us forget that Ryomyong Street, honored in their ice sculpture festival, is the place that was built in the “standard of modern architectural street” and only in a “matter of nine months” with honorary titles given to 28 people and medals to 43,119 people who worked on the project! One article, back in April of last year, includes varied photos of the project  when “educators and researchers of Kim Il Sung University” and others who had been “evacuated began moving into new flats in Ryomyong Street” on April 17:

Kim also talked about scientific and cultural successes. He noted how scientists and technicians in the country solved problems that arose in “the building of a powerful socialist country” while they also “completed research projects in the cutting-edge field, thereby giving stimulus to economic development and the improvement of the people’s living standards.” At the 33rd Sci-Tech Festival of Kim Il Sung University,  which opened on December 19 of last year, there were ten panels on varying topics such as “basic science, elements and devices, electronics and automation, agriculture and bio-engineering and medicine.” Specifically there was “presentation and exhibition of sci-tech successes” along with a “exhibition contest among different units and exchange of new technologies,” with 310 “scientific research achievements” presented at the festival.

The same month, there were consultative meetings between DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju, the “workers, technicians and officials” at the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex, the February 8 Vinalon Complex, and the Ryongsong Machine Complex, which focused on bringing forward the “production of Juche fertilizer, vinalon and custom-built equipment,” along with more “scrupulously organizing business and enterprise management and pushing forward the work for putting production processes on a Juche and modern basis.” Additionally, emphasized was the “need to deepen scientific researches for establishing C1 chemical industry.” As a reminder, the C1 Chemical industry is an industry centered around C1 chemistry (starting back in May of last year at least), which is “based on synthesis gas, methane and carbon dioxide” and offers many “many routes to industrial chemicals.” It is also worth putting here another photograph, this one of the Amnokgang Tire Factory, helping to fulfill the WPK goal for 2017 for producing more tires, with Kim himself visiting the factory last month:

There were, as Kim noted, cultural influences well. These included the further improvement of the “socialist education system” in People’s Korea, upgrading of the “educational environment” and bettering of “medical service conditions.” In terms of the educational system, apart from the remodeling of “Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism Study Hall in Samjiyon County…as…the base for education in the Party’s monolithic ideology,” there was “an exhibition of educational scientific achievements” on Nov. 25-26 of last year with many textbooks and references featured, and the Third National Conference of Social Scientists at the “April 25 House of Culture”  in mid-November, discussing the ways to “make a fresh turn in the development of the social sciences” in the building of the socialist nation. Additionally, in 2017, a museum was built at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School measuring 3,500 square meters in floor space, displaying historic “relics and data on the activities of the peerlessly great persons who made an immortal history of education for the children of revolutionary martyrs with noble revolutionary sense of obligation and outlook on posterity.” It includes, specifically, the photos of “the great persons and art works on their images, the historic relics and data at the museum [that] are the most valuable treasure of the nation and precious revolutionary asset of Juche Korea.” I could go on with educational achievements, with programs such as agro-meterology popular, but I think what has been mentioned so far is sufficient.

Connected with educational achievement were the “artistic performance activities” created specifically to “infuse the whole country with revolutionary optimism and the militant spirit.” Just this year there has already been performances in celebration of the new year, with songs about “Korean-style socialism” and others which told about 2017, described as the “year of great victory and miracles that jolted the world with mightiness of Korea and its irresistible strength.” There has been been a celebration of schoolchildren  who extended greetings to Kim “in reflection of the best wishes of all the people and schoolchildren in the country.” Before that, in 2017 there has been:

  • “A congratulatory performance of the State Merited Chorus and the Moranbong Band…[with] epic and impressive depiction of the glorious path covered by the WPK”- Dec 29
  • “…colorful art performances at theatres in Pyongyang and provinces on Dec. 24 to mark the 26th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il’s assumption of the supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army…Circus and magic performances were given at the Pyongyang Circus Theater and the jugglery theatre of the National Acrobatic Troupe.”- Dec 24
  • “…an art performance in Hoeryong City of North Hamgyong Province…to celebrate the centenary of birth of the anti-Japanese war heroine Kim Jong Suk”- Dec 22 
  • “…a performance at the Thaesong Co-op Farm in Kangso District, Nampho City on Dec. 21 to celebrate the 26th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il’s assumption of supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army (KPA)…The performers sang high praises of the exploits of leader Kim Jong Il who defended Korean-style socialism under the banner of Songun and laid an eternal foundation for the final victory of the Juche revolution.”- Dec 21
  • “The State Merited Chorus, the Moranbong Band and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe gave a joint music and dance performance in Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6…At the turn of each number, audience mounted the stage to present bouquets to the performers while giving loud applauses to them”- report on Dec. 8
  • “The State Merited Chorus, the Moranbong Band and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe gave their premiere at the North Hwanghae Provincial Art Theatre on Nov. 30…The performance evoked lively response among the audience.”- Nov 30
  • “A revolutionary drama “A Letter from a Daughter” was staged in Sinuiju City, North Phyongan Province from Nov. 24 to 27. The drama deals with the matters of enlightening the popular masses and awakening them to consciousness and proves the truth of life that knowledge is power through jokes and laughs.”- Nov 29 report
  • “The State Merited Chorus, the Moranbong Band and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe gave their premiere in Nampho City. The performance was given to full house at the Nampho City Art Theater on Nov. 16…The performers made an artistic depiction of the exploits of the WPK which has successfully steered the revolution and construction, regarding it as its very principle to definitely prioritize the people and depend on their strength.”- Nov 16
  • “The State Merited Chorus, the Moranbong Band and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe gave their music and dance performance in Anju Theatre of South Phyongan Province on Nov. 2…The performers well represented the greatness of the WPK with profound artistic depiction…At the end of the performance the audience presented bouquets to the performers and congratulated them with warm applauses.”- Nov 4  
  • “The State Merited Chorus, the Moranbong Band and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe of the DPRK gave their music and dance performances in Kanggye City, Jagang Province from October 18 to 29…The performers sang loudly of the faith and will of the people in Jagang Province to remain faithful to respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and go along the road of the revolution to the last under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea…The audience expressed their excitement after enjoying the performances.”- Oct 31 report

And much more in the realm of performances.

“An art performance in Hoeryong City of North Hamgyong Province…to celebrate the centenary of birth of the anti-Japanese war heroine Kim Jong Suk.” Kim Jong Suk was the mother of Kim Il-Sung, the first leader of People’s Korea.

In his final summation of 2017, Kim noted that “our sportspeople won victories in different international competitions.” He is referring to, as a recent article in Rodong Sinmun pointed out, “produced champions in various events, including weightlifting, Taekwon-Do, marathon and diving” along with female footballers taking “the first place at the 2017 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship for the third time and had three consecutive wins at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship.” As such, the article said it was “the determination and will of all sports officials, players and coaches to produce more excellent results in international games in 2018.” When the footballers came back to People’s Korea in late December, “after winning the title of the 2017 EAFF E-1 Football Championship” in which they defeated “the teams of China, south Korea and Japan” they were greeted at “Pyongyang International Airport” with such sportspeople and their families warmly congratulating “the players and coaches with garlands and flowers.”

Kim said that all of these successes in 2017 are possible because of the “triumph of the Juche-oriented revolutionary line” of the WPK, and a “precious fruition of the heroic struggle” by the populace, even in the face of “the sanctions-and-blockade moves the United States and its vassal forces perpetrated more viciously.” Hence he said that within this, relies the source of the Korean peoples’ “dignity and their great pride and self-confidence.” He then, again, extended “warm thanks” to the service personnel and populace who “victoriously advanced the cause of building a powerful socialist country, always sharing the destiny with the Party and braving all difficulties and trials on the eventful days of last year.” If service people means those in the KPA (Korean People’s Army), then this is a large number. In August, over 3.4 million people, many of whom were “party members, working youths, university students and senior middle schoolers” eagerly volunteered to “join or rejoin” the KPA, to turn out in “the sacred struggle of justice with their surging hatred against the U.S. imperialists” along with female employees at the Pyongyang Kim Jong Suk Textile Mill, students at universities, youth and students, even those at orphans’ secondary schools, vowing to “go to the military posts for defending the country.” The defense of the country and of Korean socialism is strong in People’s Korea without a doubt. There should be no question of that.

“Hopes and expectations” for 2018

Fireworks over Pyongyang on January 1st.

In the opening lines of his speech,Kim addresses “fellow countrymen and brave service personnel of the People’s Army” and “compatriots.” He goes on to recall “the proud achievements” People’s Korea performed in 2017 “through our diligent and worthwhile labour and sincere efforts and by the sweat of our brow,” and that, in speaking on behalf of the populace, “we are all seeing in the new year 2018 with fresh hopes and expectations.” He goes on to continue with pleasantries, wishing families across People’s Korea “good health, happiness, success and prosperity” and wishing that the “beautiful dreams of all our people, including the hopes of our children in the new year, would come true.” He also, greets the “compatriots in the south and abroad who are fighting for the reunification of the country” and to the “progressive peoples and other friends across the world who opposed war of aggression and gave firm solidarity to our cause of justice.” Such “progressive peoples” include those such as the Worker’s World Party, Party of Socialism and Liberation, and other groups (and comrades from one side of the world to the other) standing by People’s Korea in 2017 (and 2018).

What are the hopes and expectations Kim sees for 2018? The rest of the speech sheds a light on what Kim sees for the new year.

After noting that 2018 will mark the “70th anniversary” of the founding of People’s Korea, he said that the coming year will be marked by further establishing “a strategic state recognized by the world” as the Korean people who see the “status of their socialist country” with dignity, following the “greatest patriotic legacy of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” as he put it. In order for this to happen, he argued that People’s Korea needs to continue to “make constant innovations and continued progress” through the “tradition of heroic struggle and collective innovation.” This would build off the “historic victory in the building of the DPRK’s nuclear forces as a springboard for fresh progress” with a ” revolutionary general offensive.” For Kim, this means an “all-people general offensive” by working people, officials, and Party members, to “frustrate the challenges of the hostile forces who are making last-ditch efforts and raise the overall strength of our Republic to a new stage of development” with newfound “socialist construction” in the year to come.

More specifically this includes “reenergizing the overall economic front” by continuing the “five-year strategy for national economic development” which started in 2015, and enhancing the “the independence and Juche character of the national economy.” This would be done by improving the standard of living of the populace, which was “required by the revolutionary counterstrategy put forward by the Second Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Party.” Various article say the the strategy was to push for a “bold and strenuous offensive and advance the socialist cause of Juche without an inch of deflection” and bring “about a new upsurge in the building of a powerful socialist nation.” It also seems to call for further developing “friendly and cooperative relations with foreign parties in the common struggle for opposing imperialism and defending socialism,” continuing the “strict monolithic leadership system of the Party” in order to “consolidate the single-minded unity of the revolutionary ranks.”

However, the African Committee for Friendship and Solidarity with the Korean People (ACFSKP) noted the specific strategy put forward. [3] As such, it is worth taking a look at a summary of this strategy in a document issued by the ACFSKP on October 9, 2017, as asserted by Kim himself. He said that there needs to be a “perfect independent economic structure of the country” with solid foundations, a strengthened country in order to “decisively frustrate the reckless nuclear war provocation and sinister sanctions” and have “single-minded unity” of the Party and state in order to make “the revolutionary climate of devotedly serving the people prevail throughout the Party.” He also called for “thoroughly implementing the Party’s line of simultaneously developing the two fronts” or the byungjin policy, as was mentioned earlier in this article, having a “fresh upswing in the building of a socialist economic power” with new science and technology, enhance the “militant function” of the Party, and moving forward with the revolutionary cause of Juche, as he put it. In the past year this has already been fulfilled in part with the test-fire of an ICBM called Hwasong-14 in July, with another later that month, guidance that Kim gave to “nuclear weaponization,” for one, launching of another missile in February. Secondly, the People’s Army was bolstered, while he called for further ideological work when speaking to the WPK’s 8th Conference of Ideological Workers, and working to make sure the population in versed science and technology through

First, a universal 12-year compulsory education is now in force in the country…Second, a well-regulated study-while-you-work system is established. The system consists of distance education given by regular institutions of tertiary education and factory, farm and fishermen’s colleges in various parts of the country…Third, social educational establishments are well furnished. All organs including factories and farms have sci-tech
learning spaces, and Mirae digital libraries are set up in every province, city and county, so that everyone can learn the latest knowledge of science and technology to their heart’s content…The greatest guarantee for ensuring that all the people are well-versed in science and technology in the DPRK is the policy of prioritizing science and technology enforced by the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and the national leader.

Back to Kim’s speech.  He embodies the strategy he laid out last year by saying that efforts on consolidating the “independence and Juche character of the national economy” and improve “the people’s standard of living” through the following:

  1. maintenance and reinforcement of electric power industry with new “self-supporting power generation bases…new power sources,” increased thermal power generation, make electric power more efficient and self-sufficient
  2. improve the metallurgical industry through iron- and steel-making technologies, increase capacity of iron production, raise the quality of metallic materials, ensure the “preferential, planned and timely supply of electricity,” and other needs for the metallurgical industry
  3. step up the “establishment of the C1 chemical industry” for the chemical industry while pushing forward projects “for catalyst production base and phosphatic fertilizer factory” while perfecting the “sodium carbonate production line”
  4. Modernizing the Kumsong Tractor Factory, Sungni Motor Complex and other factories to allow the machine-building industry to “develop and produce world-level machinery” for People’s Korea.
  5. improving the effectiveness of rail transportation, and coal and mineral production
  6. the rail transport sector making the best use of “existing transport capacity” by making existing (and new) “transport organization and control” more rational, scientific, and maintain discipline and order on railways in order to “ensure an accident-free, on-schedule rail traffic”
  7. light-industry factories transforming their “equipment and production lines into labour- and electricity-saving ones” while supplying and producing “more diversified and quality consumer goods” with raw materials and other goods from inside the country, with sub-divisions in the country developing “the local economy in a characteristic way by relying on their own raw material resources”
  8. Have an upswing in the agricultural and fishing industry by introducing “seeds of superior strains, high-yield farming methods” and have “high-performance farm machines” in order to have scientific and technological farming to fulfill existing production, boost production of “livestock products, fruits, greenhouse vegetables and mushrooms” and enhance “ship building and repair capacities” along with other scientific endeavors
  9. service personnel and people joining in efforts to “complete the construction of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area in the shortest period of time” while pushing ahead with construction projects such as the “renovation of Samjiyon County…construction of the Tanchon Power Station and the second-stage waterway project of South Hwanghae Province”
  10. managing and properly protecting forests created in the restoration campaign, coupled with improved “technical conditions” on roads, “river improvement on a regular basis,” and work to protect the environment of People’s Korea “in a scientific and responsible manner.”
  11. the scientific research sector  solving the “scientific and technological problems” arising in establishing “Juche-oriented production lines,” production of materials domestically, and “perfecting the structure of the self-supporting economy”
  12. enduring that every economic sector and unit makes a “contribution to achieving production growth” with the “dissemination of science and technology and waging a brisk technological innovation drive.

The country is proud already of its achievements in the areas of electric power, “metallurgical and chemical industries” with the releasing of stamps last year calling on the acceleration of “the victorious advance of socialism with the great spirit of self-reliance and self-development as the dynamic force.” What Kim is calling for has been emphasized by Rodong Sinmun in the past, calling, in January 2016, for the “electric-power, coal-mining and metallurgical industries…rail transport sector…crop farming, animal husbandry and fishing sectors and light industry and construction sectors” to dramatically advance. What he is saying also seems to say that People’s Korea is working to becoming more and more self-sufficient so sanctions, approved by the Chinese and Russians along with Western imperialists despite the occasional objections by the Russians, are not as effective. This also makes a joke of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) declaring that socialism “failed” in People’s Korea, which the PLP considers a “fascist” state propped up by China, a “puppet” monarchy as they call it elsewhere. There is no doubt that such a viewpoint is divorced from the reality of the country. It is not, as they claim, a “state capitalist regime” and Kim is not an “unpredictable” politician, and neither is Vladimir Putin.Kim is a statesman who cares about the workers of Korea, without a doubt, and was democratically put into his current position which has been noted on this blog in the past.

Furthermore, the economy of People’s Korea is socialist, even if it doesn’t line up with the high standards of the PLP, which easily meshes its Orientalist propaganda of the bourgeois media, or as they call it the “bosses’ media.” Not only has the country worked to make its chemical industry more independent, but there have been varying “scientific and technological achievements made in developing and using natural energy” which are being developed by the scientific community in the country. Through all of this, the orange menace and Western imperialism has been thoroughly resisted. What else can you ask for? Perhaps you could say that People’s Korea made “concessions” to China with certain special development zones, however, the socialist system in Korea has been maintained, and it continues to be a democratic country.

Photograph of a rally on September 23 of last year, where varying national institutions met at the People’s Palace of Culture, calling for “final victory through all-out charge in showdown with the U.S.”

Beyond this, in the past year, there have been directed efforts by scientists and technicians into the latest scientific field, “including information technology and nano technology” with great success. This has been coupled with success in “breeding high-yield varieties of crops,” developing new “botanical agrochemicals,” developing new methods for treating cancer and other “nervous diseases.”

After outlining areas of improvement for People’s Korea in the new year, Kim argued that every sector and unit of the economy should use ” their own technical forces and economic potential to the maximum” in order to increase production. This would be connected with giving science and technology precedence in order to “make innovations in economic planning and guidance,” helping make the economy more self-sufficient. This goal could be achieved, he argued, by having a “realistic operational plan to carry out the national economic plan for this year” to be implemented “responsibly and persistently.” Such measures would be taken “by the state to ensure that the socialist system” which has “responsible business operation” is proven in enterprises, cooperatives, and factories.

Following this is, as he argued, a need for a comprehensive development of socialist culture. This includes strengthening ranks of teachers, improving methods and content of education, apply “the people-oriented character in public health service” and boost the production “of medical equipment and appliances and different kinds of medicines.” Kim is already realizing this for this year by visiting a newly-remodeled teachers college, founded in 1968, arguing that “education is a patriotic work of lasting significance” and adding that teachers “should dedicate their ardent patriotism and pure conscience to the educational work” without a doubt.

He also argued that the socialist culture of People’s Korea could be improved through brisk “mass-based sporting activities,” creating new sporting tactics and techniques, producing “artistic and literary masterpieces” showing the struggle of the populace, and “beautiful and sublime features proper to human beings” in order to effectively “crush the bourgeois reactionary culture by dint of our revolutionary socialist art and literature.” Already dotting the country are “monumental structures associated with the exploits of young people” such as the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station, Youth Hero Motorway, and Northern Railways. With the new year starting, sportspersons in the DPRK said they were determined to win, expanding on victories in the area of sports last year, with hopes for “more excellent results in international games in 2018.”

Finally, in terms of culture, Kim said that “moral discipline throughout society” should be strengthened, as to ensure that “socialist way of life” is established with the elimination of “all kinds of non-socialist practices.” This would, as he argued, ensure that the people  “lead a revolutionary and cultured life.” This seems to imply that imperialists are trying to poison the minds of the Korean people with capitalistic propaganda. This would not be a surprise in the slightest. Consider a recent article in Explore DPRK telling the difference between the social system of the murderous empire and People’s Korea:

Good rearing of a child is very important for a family because it is related with the future of the family, and equally important is for a nation to bring up youths because it affects its destiny…while the young people in capitalist countries are pushed to the extremities of the society to become victims of the social evils, those in socialist Korea are held as treasures and pride of the nation enjoying a superb prestige. The typical example is the case of builders of the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station. The young people there waged an indomitable struggle determined to fulfill the order of the respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in the severe cold of -30℃…a change is to be made to the concept, knowing and witnessing the wonderful realities of Korea where the youth problem was successfully solved and the country is pushed forward by the vigor of the youth. Korea renowned as a youth power, it shows a clear-cut difference between socialism and capitalism the international community is realizing acutely through the solution of the youth problem.

In order to ensure this is all possible, of course, there would need to be, as Kim argued, further consolidation of the “self-reliant defence capability” of People’s Korea by perfecting the “regular revolutionary armed force” with intensive combat training, and other methods. As for the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, he said that such forces should “detect and frustrate the schemes by undesirable and hostile elements in time” while the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and Young Red Guards should enhance their “combat capability” through intensive political and combat training.

Furthermore, he added, the country will continue to push forward the byungjin policy, following the policy set forward last year that the country’s military industries will work to “develop and manufacture powerful strategic weapons and military hardware of our style,” perfect their style of construction, and defend the Korean revolution. While this is happening, he said that nuclear weapons research sector and rocket industry in People’s Korea should “mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles” since the country should be “ready for immediate nuclear counterattack to cope with the enemy’s manoeuvres for a nuclear war” in any instance. Some commentaries took pause at this aspect of the speech, but those individuals do not recognize the power of the nuclear deterrent in defending People’s Korea.

While military defenses against imperialists must be strengthened, Kim said that “political and ideological might” is even more important, as it helps maintain the socialist country, connected with the rallying the party more stringently on an “organizational and ideological basis” with the establishment of “a thoroughgoing revolutionary climate within the Party” in order to enhance the “fighting efficiency” of the Party and its  “leadership role in the overall revolution and construction.” From here, he laid out considerations for ideology in the new year:

All Party organizations should never tolerate all shades of heterogeneous ideas and double standards of discipline that run counter to the Party’s ideology…The whole Party should launch an intense struggle to establish a revolutionary climate within the Party with the main emphasis put on rooting out the abuse of Party authority, bureaucratism and other outdated methods and style of work…Party organizations should intensify Party guidance to ensure that the work of their respective sectors and units is always conducted in conformity with the ideas and intentions of the Party and the requirements of its policies…We should rally all the service personnel and people firmly behind the Party ideologically and volitionally so that they…fight with devotion for the victory of the socialist cause. Party and working people’s organizations and government organs should orient and subordinate all their undertakings to strengthening the single-hearted unity….Party and working people’s organizations should ensure that all the working people cherish patriotism in their hearts and bring about collective innovations one after another in the great campaign to create the Mallima speed with the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and science and technology as the dynamic force.

With such imperialist assault on People’s Korea, it seems wise to increase and strengthen party discipline. That will allow the country to function even through the dark days of the orange menace, even worse than the days of the Black face of the murderous empire, Obama himself.  After all, the Human Rights Foundation just last year, smuggled USB-sticks “through towns on China’s border with North Korea and sold in the flourishing black market for goods and information,” continuing their balloon “drops of pamphlets, TV shows, books and movies over a course of several years” with such “soft power illusions of American normality, freedom and prosperity are confidence tricks” but also a threat to the socialist state. Such improvement of ideology was stressed late last year when Kim gave a speech to the 5th Conference of WPK Cell Chairpersons, summarized by Rodong Sinmun, noting that he called for the WPK to “strengthen the Party cells is a main link in the chain efforts for consolidating the mass foundation of the Party” with an emphasis on the work make “all party members of the cells to be steadfast revolutionaries,” along with strenghen “self-criticism and criticism among the party members” in order to counter “unsound practices.” He also said that when socialist culture and art in People’s Korea “prevails over the corrupt bourgeois reactionary culture” the populace should not “harbor illusions about the enemies’ culture” instead working to “prevent ideological and cultural poisoning by the imperialists.”

Photo of “Inter-Korean high-level talks..at the “house of peace” in the south side portion of Panmunjom” on January 9th, as noted in a Rodong Sinmun article.

It is then, in the speech, that Kim talked about re-starting re-unification talks with People’s Korea. He noted that Korean people worked to “hasten national reunification in keeping with the aspirations and demands of the nation” and added that even with the “fascist rule and confrontation with fellow countrymen” nothing changed in relations with “south Korea” (Republic of Korea or ROK) which such authorities siding the the murderous empire, bringing “bilateral relations to a fix that can be hardly resolved.” As such, he called for improving relations with ROK in order to “improve the frozen inter-Korean relations and glorify this meaningful year as an eventful one noteworthy in the history of the nation” not only by easing the military tension on the Korean peninsula, desisting in anything that “might aggravate the situation” with both North and South engaging in efforts to reduce tensions. Kim further added that “south Korean authorities” should discontinue “all the nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces” and should refrain “from any acts of bringing in nuclear armaments and aggressive forces from the United States.” Adding to this, he said that a climate which is favorable “for national reconciliation and reunification should be established.” As such, such relations is important for all Koreans, with necessary “bilateral contact, travel, cooperation and exchange on a broad scale to remove mutual misunderstanding and distrust” between North and South, with Kim saying that they “open our doors to anyone from south Korea, including the ruling party and opposition parties, organizations and individual personages of all backgrounds, for dialogue, contact and travel,” adding that “the authorities of the north and the south should raise the banner of national independence” with such inter-Korean relations not disturbed by imperialist, adding that People’s Korea is “willing to dispatch our delegation and adopt other necessary measures” and saying that he extends “warm New Year greetings once again to all Korean compatriots at home and abroad.”

It is this, which drew the most praise from foreign leaders for his speech. [4] There have been, as all those who have been following news know, talks between People’s Korea and the ROK, high-level talks which change the dynamics of the situation on the Korean Peninsula for the better. With such talks at the Peace House in the truce village of Panmunjom, those in People’s Korea have been wary of the efforts by the “south Korean authorities” to curry favor with the murderous empire, calling for the latter authorities stopping joint military drills with the murderous empire, and saying that inter-Korean talks are an internal matter with which should not be interfered by the murderous empire. More recent articles also said that the orange menace’s bluff of having a “bigger” nuclear button is seen “by the DPRK as just a spasm of a lunatic frightened by the might of Juche Korea and a bark of a rabid dog” with the menace showing the “desperate mental state of a loser who failed to check the vigorous advance of the army and people of the DPRK.” Furthermore, such threats by the orange menace “are designed to send a warning to any country that poses a challenge to American global hegemony” with the Chinese leadership, for example “clearly concerned at the danger of war…but also reluctant to provoke a crisis in North Korea that could be used to install a pro-US regime in Pyongyang.”

Kim ended his speech by saying that the “international situation” in People’s Korea was proof that the WPK and state were correct in “confronting the imperialist forces of aggression who are attempting to wreck global peace and security.” I wrote about that exactly on this blog last year in noting about the murderous sanctions hoisted on the country, for example. He also noted how People’s Korea is a “responsible, peace-loving nuclear power” which will not use nuclear weapons if “hostile forces of aggression violate its sovereignty and interests” and neither will it “threaten any other country or region by means of nuclear weapons” but will rather “resolutely respond to acts of wrecking peace and security on the Korean peninsula” as part of efforts to “just and peaceful new world.” As he wrapped up, Kim said that “2018 will be recorded as another year of victory for our people” a year that the cause of People’s Korea “is ever-victorious,” that the government of the country and WPK will not cease to “struggle and advance until achieving the final victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche.” In his last words, of the speech that day, he said that “let us all march forward dynamically towards fresh victory of the revolution by displaying the unyielding mettle of heroic Korea under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea.”

Beyond Kim’s New Year’s speech: challenges and struggles for the year ahead

Comes from KCNA article on January 1 titled “New Year Address Encouraging Working People.” This shows Korean people watching Kim Jong Un’s speech if I’m not mistaken.

From here, it is worth going beyond the speech and talking about what is in store for People’s Korea in the year to come. Already this year there are plans afoot for People’s Korea to overcome “new international sanctions…by developing its agricultural sector in 2018” along with sectors of the economy launching an “increased production drive at the beginning of the New Year” such as the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, Pukchang Thermal Power Complex, Chollima Steel Complex, Hwanghae Iron and Steel Complex, Tokchon Area Coal-mining Complex, and Sangwon Cement Complex, among others, all increasing production and becoming more efficient as the year goes on, as noted jubilantly by Pyongyang Times on January 3rd of this year. Undoubtedly the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Site Souvenir Factory in People’s Korea, a light industrial factory which “produces different shapes and colors of zippers and melamine resin goods and souvenirs,” will continue to produce quality consumer goods and increase its efficiency in this year. The same can be said about the “material and technical foundation of the railways this year” which improved last year with “3 times more concrete sleepers” and a yearly plan for changing rails, which is connected with introducing “the computer-controlled interlocking system into railway stations along the Hyesan-Samjiyon broad-gauge railway,” and having an “ultrasonic detector…to ensure the promptness and safety of railway transportation.”

In terms of negotiations between People’s Korea and the ROK, supported by countries such as Russia, there has been a plan to jointly train athletes for the upcoming Olympic games in Seoul, and a push by the ROK to have regular talks with People’s Korea. Since the latter has been dedicated to re-unification of the Korean Peninsula, “a consistent policy of the DPRK since 1972, based on the two Koreas achieving reunification without outside interference and a bicameral system,” they would eagerly support such an initiative. Such a dedication to re-unification was also expressed on January 1st when the Central Committee of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front (AINDF) wrote Kim, talking about the achievements in the past year saying they “strikingly manifested the validity of the DPRK’s idea and line on independent reunification and their justice and vitality.”

The dedication of People’s Korea to re-unification is clear.  The Panmunjom communication channel between the north and south” was re-opened on January 3rd of this year “to ensure smooth discussion with the south side of the issues related to the delegation dispatch and holding of talks.” Of course, conservatives in ROK are angry about athletes of both Koreas marching together at the Olympics under a united flag, with negotiations about People’s Korea’s participation going on at the present. [5] This is absurd since “the people of the DPRK want nothing more than peace” as one analyst recently put it. Adding to this, as Brian Becker of the Answer Coalition recently said, the “US doesn’t want North Korea to be reaching out and speaking in a way that would build peace and promote unity between the two Koreas” which is manifested by the ROK meeting with the murderous empire to counter the “threat” of People’s Korea Such meetings are followed by bourgeois media declaring that People’s Korea will have a military parade on the eve of the Olympics, trying to break apart the current talks, with the “scream of terror of a loser” (the murderous empire) whose policies have strengthened the alliance between China and Russia, with some bourgeois analysts advocating for a change in policy to exploit People’s Korea looking to move away from China, turning it into an advantage for empire, reshaping “Northeast Asia to preserve American hegemony there.” [6] Of course, this is something that no one in their right mind would want. As Roland Boer of Stalin’s Mustache wrote recently, not only do the recent negotiations “signal that President Moon Jae-in actually has some spine” while Kim Jong-un had a “carefully worded and sober new year’s proposal for talks,” adding that “USA is abandoning Asia, so they [Asian countries] will forge on ahead without it.”

Even Tulsi Gabbard, a war veteran and progressive who wants an improved U$-relationship with Indian fascist President Narenda Modi, criticized the view broadly held in bourgeois politics about People’s Korea, said that the murderous empire should have talked with the former without preconditions, instead of pushing for regime change. She met with Bashar Al-Assad and his wife Asma last year (a total of 2 and half hours), along with other elements of Syrian society, when she traveled with a board member of AACCESS-Ohio, a community-based non-profit “working torwards meeting the [Arab Americans’] community’s economic, social, and cultural needs.” Such support for talks is also help by a Reuters columnist, John Glaser, who pointed out “diplomatic options are readily available” since Americans involved in “low-level discussions with North Korea have repeatedly said Pyongyang is willing to negotiate” and the conservative South China Morning Post, which endorsed the chance for “dialogue between the two Koreas” even as they continued to ring their hands about People’s Korea’s “threats.” [7] Interestingly, even Trump agreed to “suspend joint military drills with South Korea during next month’s Winter Olympics” which was, of course, interpreted by bourgeois media, which treats People’s Korea as an “exotic place” like Reuters’ recent portal of “news” about the country, as “going soft” on People’s Korea, an anti-communist trope used to advocate for more military spending.

In the coming year, the question remains if China and Russia will “prevent this catastrophe” by voting against sanctions. If they continue their appeasement of the murderous empire there is no doubt there will be continued improvements for disabled people in the country, for which last year “3 600 historical terms, sign words and descriptive vocabularies” were reviewed, boosted production at the Pyongyang Children’s Foodstuff Factory, increased quality of foodstuff produced by the Unha Taesong Foodstuff Factory, efforts to improve the life of women in the country, and efforts to speed up scientific and technological development, which progressed with leaps and bounds last year. Perhaps the intranet of People’s Korea will also be improved, as it seems relatively advanced as even the bourgeois analysts of 38 North seem to accept. Even the Orientalist “NK News” noted that the country is domestically producing curved-screen LCD TVs” in Pyongyang’s  Potonggang factory, along with “TVs, laptops, and desktop computers,” although they cited “experts” like Choi Kyung-cheol (previously employed by the fascist ROK government), and Martyn Williams (who obviously holds typical Western bias against People’s Korea even endorsing the humanitarian imperialists of HRW), to act like the Koreans are lying, with the associations of the authors seeming to making their analysis obviously something that shouldn’t be trusted. The same can be said about Reuters’ site about Wonson (a tourist area in People’s Korea) or their “report” on the  “adoration” of Kim by the Korean people. Again, this, along with stories about “a barter economy” and “informal markets” in the country, or that Kim loosened “the rules on private trade,” by relying on defectors (and anti-DPRK websites like “Daily NK”) for information about the country, which are notoriously wrong time and time again, putting claims in the article into question. [8] What is the reality is that People’s Korea is rightly rejecting the meeting (as did the Chinese) led by the murderous empire in Vancouver of 20 countries (ROK, Canada, U$, Australia, Belgium, Columbia, Denmark, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and the UK)  while both Koreas will have a united hockey team in the upcoming Olympics. The latter is positive news, as are the economic achievements of People’s Korea last year:

…the Korean people have made proud achievements in the building of an economic giant…Despite vicious sanctions of the US imperialists and their followers the officials and workers in different units of the national economy fully displayed the might of self-development and made a great success in putting the production processes on a Juche-oriented and modern basis…The officials and workers of the Samchon Catfish Farm [photograph in article] have completed a huge modernization project of its compound covering tens of thousand square metres in a short span of time…Cutting-edge technology has been introduced and the intelligent, IT-based and digitized computer integrated manufacturing system [has been] established in conformity with the demand of the era of knowledge-based economy…various efficacious feed additives have been developed and a swelling feed production process built…The Ryuwon Footwear Factory [photograph in article] has been wonderfully rebuilt into a model unit and standard factory in the field of footwear industry, making a great contribution to the development of light industry of the country…The factory has manufactured and installed modern equipment including shoemaking line by itself…The Sungni Motor Complex [photograph in article] has carried out with success the new-type lorry production task given by the WPK…The Amnokgang Tyre Factory has also played a big role in putting the large vehicle production…The officials and workers of the factory have built a new large tyre [British variation of tire] production process depending on domestic equipment, not on imported one, in a short period and successfully made new-type large tyres

What if there is a war? This would be an utter calamity, going beyond the U$’S mission to the UN calling People’s Korea “North Korea” in their Orientalist fashion and demonization of People’s Korea, which rarely recognizes that “the US had nuclear weapons in South Korea from the late 1950’s until 1991″! One article in Global Research Centre said that the only consequence of a war by the murderous empire would be the death of “South Korean-based compatriots as “collateral damage”,” saying that if one accepted that the “the US would quickly emerge as militarily victorious in this conflict…almost all of North Korea’s territory could be rendered inhospitable” with “Seoul and even Tokyo..wiped out if Pyongyang is successful in nuking them in its final moments,” with all of this restoring “the US to its immediate post-World War II “glorious” position in recapturing the majority of the global economy.” However, this is faulty reasoning. Bourgeois media has predicted that one million would die if the war doesn’t become nuclear, with a 4-6 month conflict estimated by the Pentagon itself, and over $1 trillion in “property damage,” a huge economic cost, along with “weeks, if not months, to sort out the logistics” for supposed battlefield success in People’s Korea. [9]This is heightened by, as a recent article pointed out, that fact that those in the murderous empire have “nuclear-phobia” as they thought a “meteor…from the sky between Ohio and Michigan with a great bang, brightening the sky” on January 16 was “a nuclear bomb flown from north Korea” with the same being the case for the false “ballistic missile threat” in Hawaii on January 13.

Such a war would also be physically devastating to those living across the Korean Peninsula. There is no guarantee that the murderous empire would be successful, in fact they could lose militarily, just like they did in Vietnam (although Chomsky has a valid point about victory of the empire there), with the ” worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes” as “Mad Dog” Mattis admitted last year. Even with all of this, the late Fidel Castro put it best in April 2013:

…the gravity of…the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet. This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war…In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that. It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid…If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them…Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet…The duty of avoiding war is also his [Obama’s but now Trump’s] and that of the people of the United States.

There is no doubt, as a recent article pointed out, “the world will not be saved by bourgeois creativity” but will rather be “saved by communism and socialism, which can effectively organize even the most meager of material conditions into something that can provide for whole countries and the whole world” since “bourgeois creativity cannot solve the problems of bourgeois distribution.” People’s Korea is a manifestation of this. The state-owned media outlets of Rodong Sinmun, KCNA, DPRK Today, and the related Explore DPRK. As the “youth vanguard and women’s union officials and members” met recently to “vow to carry through the tasks set forth by respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address,” showing that the population of People’s Korea is one that understands the necessity of maintaining the socialist state. I end with the best photograph I could find, in the New Year, which humanizes the Korean people apart from rallies for unity or meetings in Pyongyang and elsewhere, showing the hard-working dedication of the Korean people to building their socialist state:

Workers at the Chollima Steel Complex​ on January 3rd. Other pictures

 

 

Notes

[1] For the KNCA version, see “Kim Jong Un Makes New Year Address” published on Jan 1, 2018, with the transcript of his speech.

[2] Globalsecurity.org, which takes an undeniably anti-communist tone, notes that this strategy was adopted in March 2013, “during a plenary session of the Party Central Committee (PCC)” meaning that there would be: a deepened development of the policy of “economic and national defense capability” worked on by his predecessors; a guideline for the construction of the nation where the populace can “enjoy the wealth and splendor of socialism” through a stronger “defensive capacity and focusing on economic construction”; advancing the construction of “a socialist strong and prosperous nation and Korean unification”; recognizing the belief and will of the WPK to accomplish the “revolutionary cause of Juche through a path of self-reliance, military-first, and socialism”; a guideline to “maximize the efficiency of economic development and strengthen national defense” depending on the state of affairs; a way to promote “economic construction and raise living standards of the people while strengthening national defense capabilities” without increasing the military budget, and a guideline to “solving energy problems” based on an “independent nuclear energy industry” while nuclear weapons capabilities are strengthened. In sum, it is the “simultaneous development of its economy and nuclear weapons program” which is connected with its “military-first approach to domestic and foreign affairs” called songun.

[3] In November, this organization re-posted the summary of the Second Plenum of Seventh WPK Central Committee by KCNA with this strategy. The earlier version is used in this article.

[4] In contrast to this, the bourgeois analysts of 38 North sneered, saying that the speech is mainly aimed at the people of the country, with their “doubts are in place regarding the sincerity of these offers” saying it would “naive not to expect side conditions that are potentially unacceptable to South Korea and/or the United States during negotiations over North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics.” However, they admitted that “South Korea has already agreed to meet the North Korean side in Panmunjom next week; the progress of this dialogue will be crucial.” The same tone was taken in another 38 North commentary which asserted that the opening of the “inter-Korean communication channel…is very serious” making it clear that “Kim Jong Un is all in, fully and personally committed to following through on the proposal to the South in his New Year’s address.” Yet another article from the same outlet claimed that “Kim went surprisingly easy on the United States” and adding that “there also seems to be an effort to continue economic policy innovations Kim has implemented since coming to power.”

[5] Stephanie Nebehay, “North Korea Olympic officials in Switzerland ahead of IOC talks,” Reuters, Jan 18, 2018.

[6] Josh Smith, “North Korea may hold military parade on eve of Olympics, analysts say,” Reuters, Jan 19, 2018.

[7] John Glaser, “Commentary: There’s still time for diplomacy in Korea,” Reuters, Jan 4, 2018; , “Trump agrees to halt U.S.-South Korea drills during Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,” NBC News, Jan 4, 2018; By John Haltiwanger, “Is Trump Going Soft on North Korea? President Says No Military Drills With South Korea During Winter Olympics,” Newsweek, Jan 4, 2018.

[8] James Pearson and Seung-Woo Yeom, “Fake meat and free markets ease North Koreans’ hunger,” Reuters, Nov 3, 2017; Stephanie Nebehay, “North Korea rejects sanctions talk, ready for ‘successful’ Olympics: diplomat,” Reuters, Jan 17, 2018; Hyonhee Shin, and Christine Kim, “Koreas to form unified ice hockey team, march together in Olympics,” Reuters, Jan 17, 2018; Reuters Staff, “China says Canada meeting on North Korea showed ‘Cold War’ mentality,” Reuters, Jan 17, 2018; Reuters Staff, “North Korea says IOC is considering South Korea’s proposal for united women’s hockey team: Yonhap,” Reuters, Jan 12, 2018.

[9] Bill Bowell, “What War With North Korea Looks Like,” Newsweek, Apr 25, 2017; Brad Lennon, “Why it could take months for the US to get ready for war with North Korea,” CNN, Aug 10, 2017; Sofia Lotto Persio, “Will the U.S. Go to War With North Korea? Expert Estimates 50/50 Chance of Conflict in 2018,” Newsweek, Nov 9, 2017; Robin Wright, “What Would War with North Korea Look Like?,” The New Yorker, Sept 6, 2017; Barry R. Posen, “The Price of War With North Korea,” New York Times (opinion), Dec 6, 2017; Kathryn Watson, “War with North Korea would be “catastrophic,” Defense Secretary Mattis says,” CBS News, May 28, 2017; Julian Ryall, “How war with North Korea could start and what it would look like,” The Telegraph, Nov 29, 2017;

A profile of the Zimbabwean Communist Party

There have been varied musings on radical subreddits, like /r/communism on the Zimbabwean Communist Party (ZCP), in recent days. Some have said that the party is “not significant and had no role in the land reform and subsequent turn against imperialism” and that the “reactionary nature of this event [the coup, an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF] is clear.” Others have said that “the ZCP ally themselves with the ANC” and some added that “our Zimbabwean comrades are not well versed in the National situation of SA, and by extension the correct or incorrectness of their communist party.” Some have also noted that “this party has only been functioning for 6 months.” This article aims to summarize what we now know about the ZCP.

The Secretary of the party was part of the MDC?

An article on Bulawayo 24 notes that “Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena based in South Africa has resigned from the MDC…after the formation of their new political party Zimbabwe Communist Party in which he is now the secretary general.” It quotes a Facebook post, this past May, where he explained himself:

As l sat on the bus from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, l wrote my resignation letter to the MDC Secretary General informing her of my decision to resign my membership of the MDC. I had joined the MDC in September 1999 when it was officially launched at Rufaro stadium. Before then, we worked hard with the likes of Cde Austin Moyo, Dr Morgan Sebele, Cde Danisa Zulu , Cde Linda Mthimkhulu , Dr Lawrence Mbobo (who then decided not to join the MDC) towards the formation of the MDC. I had joined the MDC , a year after l was recruited into Communism by the then SACP [South African Communist Party] spokesman Cde Mazibuko K Jaha and Cde Molly Dlamini (a trade unionist and a Communist). During my years in the MDC, l worked closely with comrades from the Keep Left, the likes of Cde Trevor Ngwane, Prof Patrick Bond, Cde Claire and others. We used to invite Prof Welshman Ncube in our Keep Left meetings but over the years, l was drawn closer to the SACP, attending its political study groups , Communist University. When we went to the MDC congress in 2006, we had to reclaim our movement as Pan Africanist in character, when the congress was held under the theme, ‘My Zimbabwe, My Pride , Our Heritage’. Unfortunately, our then President Prof Arthur Mutambara failed to articulate our political message to an extent that, we were not understood and were labeled stooges of Zanu (PF). This misunderstanding cost us the support from the working class who had to stick with MDC-T. After the 2013 elections, it became clear to me that, for us to win both the urban and rural electorate and expose Zanu (PF) for what it is, was to challenge it ideologically. This would have required us to transform the MDC into a socialist movement or a political movement biased to the left. Given that the MDC is home to various class interests and it had to stick to Social Democracy, some of us started to work towards the formation of the vanguard of the working class in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Communist Party was officially launched on the 3rd May 2017 and l was left with no option but to resign my membership of the MDC. I have no hard feelings towards the leadership and the entire membership of the MDC. In fact, l respect the political leadership of Prof Welshman Ncube, an organic intellectual in his own right. Normally, when people resign from parties, they tend to trade insults and make all manner of accusations. With me, it is different. If the MDC allowed dual membership like the ANC/SACP, l would have resigned from my position in the MDC and remained a card carrying member.”

This  is already worrisome.  I say this because the MDC is clearly the Western puppet opposition which anyone with half a brain would realize. He is almost acting like the MDC is a leftist force instead of just being a force of Western imperialism! This is not good. He is acting like there are “good” people in the MDC which is laughable.

Not much can be found on the people he mentions other than that one works for the revenue authority in Zimbabwe, another as a medical doctor, one as a civil engineer, one at the Health Wellness Institute, two who are is a spokespeople for SACP, a self-declared socialist in South Africa, a current President of one of the MDC factions, the horrible anti-Mugabe “scholar,” and more. This further seems to indicate that this party, which seems to have its main roots in South Africa, has some fundamental issues, especially with its conversations with those who hate Mugabe or are part of the puppet opposition in Zimbabwe! This does not portend well at all.

The ZCP, Mugabe, and the Zanu-PF

It is already clear that the ZCP endorsed the “military takeover in the country” of Zimbabwe. They argued that

the politico-military action taken by the Zimbabwe National Army is the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.

The Party also called for a “transitional arrangement that would ensure a peaceful, free and fair election” within a “reasonable time frame” and indicated they would be “willing to engage with a new government once it’s in place to establish areas of mutual concern and possible agreement in the interest of taking the country forward.”

These views already seem to be in line with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF and their Western sycophants who have been blabbing about “Mugabe the dictator” (or “Mugabe the homophobe”) for years. Why would anyone endorse this coup which has led to, basically a “counter-revolution” in Zimbabwe?

In this past year, the ZCP has called Mugabe and Jacob Zuma dictators, saying the former sold off the country while also declaring that there is “economic damage caused by Zanu PF’s warring factions.” This aligns with their view that Mugabe lost the chance to help Zimbabwe’s economy. They even said that Grace Mugabe has a problem with managing her anger. Even with this, the party has said they will not “even want to contest this year’s elections” but instead want more public engagement in the country apparently.

This already makes me a bit nervous from a radical standpoint. The party says they are a “class movement, a case of a three pronged struggle against imperialism, dictatorship and national bourgeoisie” making them a “Marxist -Leninist political organization whose ideology will run on scientific socialism,” adding that “we seek to embark on an exercise of genuine nation building since our people have been divided into ethnic enclaves since attaining independence. The regime has failed to resolve ethnic divisions in our society.” Other articles quote them as saying that they are “going to encourage productive capitalism and take the economy to the people” and aimed to form “a vanguard party that will see the working people of Zimbabwe, especially the poor, having their share in the country’s wealth,” influencing policy decisions “that would be beneficial to the working poor,” while criticizing “opposition” parties. It has also been noted that the party is basically a “group of committed people who are politically active in other organisation that also include the so called opposition parties.” One document, earlier this year, outlines their views to an extent:

…We are encouraging others to join our ranks. This will help in strengthening the Africa Left. Our main aim is to promote democratic principles in our region guided by Marxist-Leninist philosophy…The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening…We must then comrades, find a solution to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and the region. It cannot be correct that the South African economy can develop when surrounded by poor nations..As the ZCP, we are calling for a National Economic Dialogue to find a solution to our economic challenges…This National Economic Dialogue must be attended by the ruling party, the opposition parties, liberation movements from the SADC region, trade unions, informal sector organisations, progressive civil society organisations, faith based organisations, rural based formations, youth and women formations…As Communists, we want an economy that is free both from imperialist influence and from looting by parasites…The alternative to the capitalist system is socialism. Socialism will never be achieved unless we build peoples power in our communities and at the work place.

While you could say this rhetoric is encouraging, their lack of understanding of the power relations with the United States as the head honcho of world imperialism, working with European imperialisms, especially that of the British, shows that their viewpoints have fundamental problems to say the least. Could it be said that they are just an organization to distract the Zimbabwean proletariat? Perhaps it can. Having revolutionary forces work together is a good idea but I’m not sure they are a revolutionary force, especially when they endorse the idea of “productive capitalism” at the present! The Zanu-PF are socially democratic, as it currently stands, and support a bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe, but how the ZCP any better? They seem to be woefully misinformed with fundamental falsehoods.

Looking at the ZCP’s Facebook page and a conclusion

Their page tells a bit about their positions. They declare that “Prof Jonathan Moyo…should be clasified as a terrorist,” say that they are “extremely overwhelmed with great joy upon learning that Mr Mugabe has tendered his resignation letter today” even as they “appreciate his contribution and achievements for his 37 years of reign,” and argue that “Mugabe must step down with immediate effect,” adding that they need to show their “anger over Mugabe’s four decades of gross misrule. No to Mugabeism of our state.” Other posts said that “the ZCP party,its ex[ec]utive council,the membership and its affiliate organisation are proud and satisfied by the conduct of the country’s military at a time Zimbabwe was sliding into chaos.” One final post said that the “ZCP’s Executive council has yesterday taken off from the Airport to China” in order to “attend the Congress of the CPC where the interim leadership will engage their CPC counterparts to take some notes on how we can hold our own elective Congress back home.”

Using this and what is currently known, it is hard to trust the ZCP. Perhaps they can pull off something and change their reputation but this seems unlikely at the present.

Is Dennis Rodman a comrade?: A study of “basketball diplomacy” and DPRK solidarity

From Rodman’s recent visit to the DPRK, he gave them Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal

Editor’s note: This piece was, four days after it was published here, published on anti-imperialism.org in an earlier format. I have also changed all the words of “baseball” to “basketball” as the editors there pointed out, something I wouldn’t have caught despite reading the piece over. The version below adds some content but the two versions are relatively similar and I stand by both articles. The one paragraph about anti-imperialism.org has been eliminated, as it has been published there now. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hasty!

Every day, the people of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), derisively called “North Korea” in the West, is threatened or under attack. This was most recently on display in a hateful, bigoted, reactionary, and generally awful speech, to the UN General Assembly by Trump (called the orange menace in the rest of this article), accusing the DPRK of mass human rights violations, and threatening the world while he threatened the country and its leadership, which called “a band of criminals,” by declaring that in purported “self-defense,” the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” and offensively calling Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man,” a name due more to the orange menace’s obsessions than the Elton John song of the same name.If that isn’t enough, Muslim ban 3.0 includes the DPRK and Venezuela on the list, along with six other countries (Iran, Somalia, Chad, Libya, Syria, and Yemen), with increased restrictions on those from Venezuela and Iran specifically, which are predominantly Muslim.

The speech (similar to what Obama would have said), in which the orange menace outlined his “axis of evil” (DPRK, Iran, Syria, Cuba (implied), and Venezuela), was panned by drone-loving imperialist Dianne Feinstein, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Larry Wilkerson (in a sense), Richard Haass of the elitist Council of Foreign Relations, Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Daniel Larison in The American Conservative, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani who described the orange menace as a “rogue newcomer…to the world of politics,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, and Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, along with worries from the elected leaders of Britain and France. [1] However, it was embraced by the hard-core Zionist President of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared that he had “never heard a bolder or more courageous speech” in 30 years, conservative commentator Katie Pavilich who said that “it’s a new rhetorical day at the U.N. The next step is action toward real change and results,” and CIA propagandist David Ignatius who called the speech “conventional” even as he describes the orange menace as the “Great Disrupter.” Also, Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Bret Baier of “Fox News,” former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, the orange menace’s cheerleader in the UK, Nigel Farage, Ivanka Trump, and North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham, praised the speech, a typical show of support. After all, the speech was reportedly written by an ally of white nationalism, Stephen Miller, making sense it would get “cheers from the president’s xenophobic base.” All of this makes it no surprise that the envoy to the DPRK left “the room before Trump took to the podium and made more threats against Pyongyang,” since the orange menace rejected the possibility of an “Iran-style deal” with the DPRK, even supported by one GOP representative. Lest us forget, however, that both parties in the US “support militarism” because they “support the interests of the oligarchy” which is interested in “maintaining the empire.” Kim Jong-Un responded to Trump’s diatribe in a statement that the co-editor of Dissident Voice (usually anti-imperialist and strongly alternative to the bourgeois media) Kim Peterson grumbled about as “raising” tensions. The statement, which was carried in a KCNA article on September 22nd titled “Statement of Chairman of State Affairs Commission of DPRK” and referenced in another titled “Kim Jong Un Makes Statement” is strongly anti-imperialist and shows how the DPRK is standing up to US aggression:

The speech made by the U.S. Chief Executive in his maiden appearance on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.  A certain degree of my guess was that he would make stereo-typed, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s largest official diplomatic stage.  But, far from making somewhat plausible remarks that can be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder. I would like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.  The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty reconsider discretion and composure.  His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign. After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of the military forces of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.  His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last. Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness taking a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history. Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say. As a man representing the DPRK and upon the dignity and honor of my state and people and upon all my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of supreme command of the U.S. pay dearly for his rude nonsense calling for totally destroying the DPRK.  This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump. I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected from us when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the old lunatic of America with fire.

Dennis Rodman, a Black retired NBA star and “washed-up celebrity” by bourgeois media standards is sometimes at the brunt of attacks on the DPRK. Rabid nationalists who concoct and engage in these attacks have no life other than attacking anyone who “dishonors” the murderous empire like a pack of wild, rabid dogs foaming at the mouth, waiting for “the kill.”

In order to analyze if Dennis Rodman (called Rodman in the rest of this piece) is a “comrade” and/or define his role in concern to DPRK-US relations, it is worth explaining a bit about his life, political leanings, and past statements (and trips to) on the DPRK and its socialist leadership.

Rodman’s political views, life, and “basketball diplomacy”

The picture of Rodman and Kim Jong-Un the imperial apologists often use.

At age 3, Rodman was abandoned by his father, Philander Rodman Jr., who ran off with a “military chaplain’s daughter.” Since then, Rodman’s father has become the parents of 28 siblings (from four wives) and lives in the Philippines, proud of Rodman although he has slamming his father before for personal benefit, distorting the reality. [2] Due to his father’s abandonment, he lived with a white family in Oklahoma and, more recently, called his father a “friend.” As his “status” increased due to his sports career, and even after his retirement from the NBA, the family in Oklahoma felt that they had “lost a son” as he started “drinking hard and partying.” [3] His time in the NBA began in 1986 and ended in 2000, playing on Detroit, San Antonio, and Chicago teams. While this got him the nickname, “the worm,” he was remembered more for: calling out another all-star player Larry Birth, by saying he only had a lot of publicity because of his white skin, kicking a “cameraman in the groin” in 1997, having a rocky relationship with popstar Madonna, and general moodiness. [4] Apart from the police being called to Rodman’s house for loud parties 70 times between 2000 and 2006, having a flamboyant personality, to say the least, he has a varied “rap sheet,” which is common among such superstars, to be “cool.” These included accusations of felony burglary, assault (he pleaded guilty to “spousal battery” in 2004), sexual harassment, and was a raging alcoholic. [5] For this, he was in and out of rehab for years, booted for restaurants for his drunken behavior and “wild ways.” This included drinking heavily in the mostly “dry” DPRK, and general drunk driving. In my recent article about DPRK’s healthcare system, I pointed out that almost 79% of the population abstains from drinking, with stronger alcohol consumption among males than females, among those who drink. To top it off, Rodman even released his own vodka brand, and is as much a brand as the orange menace or even Naomi Klein.

Politically, Rodman leaned, not surprisingly, to “the right.” Apart from advocating for a Black pope at the Vatican, he stripped naked for an anti-fur campaign by the PR-savvy animal welfare group, PETA, and endorsed the orange menace for President in 2015. [6] Lest us forget that the Vatican, the mainstay of the Catholic Church, has cooperated with Nazi Germany’s butchers, purged Jews from their ranks, sometimes endorsed the fake doctrine of “creationism” rather than the evolving scientific theory of evolution, bestowed sanctity on “right-wing” religionists, suppressing liberation theology in favor of terror and destruction, and opposed abortion. They have also opposed stem cell research, divorce, and gay rights, all while sex predators lurk throughout the church hierarchy from the top to the bottom. [7] As for Rodman, he called the orange menace a “great friend for years” and said that “we don’t need a politician for president, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump,” not recognizing government and capitalist combines function differently. He also defended the horrid Hulk Hogan as “not” racist despite Hogan plainly saying the n-word and being generally a horrible person, for example, saying that those suffering from Hurricane Irma (in the US) are “crybabies.”

This puts Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy,” as he calls it, into context. In 2013, when he said he would go “anywhere’ he was needed, it was reported that Kim Jong-Un, who only become First Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea, marshal, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission the previous year, had told him the DPRK “doesn’t want to go to war with America” but only wanted to “talk basketball with Obama.” [8] At the same time, he said Kim Jong-Un should do him a “solid” and release Kenneth Bae. Hence, he positioned himself almost an unofficial ambassador trying to break ice between “hostile countries.” [9] Earlier that year, his trip to the DPRK questioned how much a neutral observer he was, after all. The trip was the brain child of Shaun Smith at VICE, who saw the DPRK as a “bizarre place.” This is in-keeping with their bigoted content, blasting onto TV and websites for their millions within their white hipster/dudebro audience, which has amplified white power in part by giving white nationalists, like Christopher Cantwell and Weev, a platform, and is generally imperialist in character, even as some could say it has “good people” on its staff, whoever they are. [10] While Rodman famously (in the minds of arch-imperialists) called Kim Jong-Un his “friend for life” and said he was a “friend [of]…the DPRK people,” the fact that the trip was filmed by VICE for a capitalistic, orientalist purpose questions his intentions. This is especially the case considering that he worked for the orange menace, then heading “the Celebrity Apprentice,” afterward, who called Rodman’s trip that year “smart,” which could be seen as an endorsement although he called the country the “last place on Earth I [would] want to go to” in May 2014. [11]

Rodman’s jingoistic feelings were evident, much more than Mohammad Ali who didn’t want to criticize US imperialism or be “misquoted” in the bourgeois media in his trip to the DPRK in 1995. Rodman declared that “it’s all very anti-American. North Korean kids are fed anti-American propaganda” since their birth. [12] Such statements raise red flags about if Rodman is even a comrade at all. Someone who believes in solidarity against imperialism would never, if they were earnest in their beliefs, say something as orientalist and jingoistic as Rodman, instead asserting that politicians of all levels in the DPRK are elected by the populace. His words are racist (yes, Black people CAN say things that are racist to those races they are “above” or are perceived to be “above” of). To use the words of Satre, racism is a form of violence that is self-justifying since it is “violence presenting itself as induced violence, counter-violence and legitimate defence” and is based in making individuals (in this case Koreans living in the DPRK) “sub-human.”

Later that year, Rodman displayed his “basketball diplomacy” once again. He called Kim Jong-Un a “good guy” who wants “to change” the DPRK, with Rodman hoping he could change Obama’s mind in favor of diplomacy rather than imperial aggression. [13] Playing on the idea of nuclear families, deeply rooted in the beliefs of traditionalists of the U.S., Rodman declared that Kim Jong-Un was a “good dad and has a beautiful family” after meeting his wife Ri Sol-Ju, and their newborn Ju-ae. As he continued to push the “sports angle” in the DPRK, sometimes journalists tagged along, but not when he sung the happy birthday song to Kim Jong-Un, angering U.S. imperialists to no end. [14] The following year, 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department reportedly investigated whether Rodman’s thousands of dollars in luxury gifts to the DPRK violated murderous sanctions. At the same time, the idea of a Hollywood movie on Rodman’s “relationship” with Kim Jong-Un was floated but seemed to die a quick death. [15]

Fast forward three years. A few months ago, in June 2017, Rodman said he wanted to bring sports to the DPRK, and nothing else, with some speculating if the orange menace was somehow behind the meeting. [16] This speculation is not completely unsubstantiated because Rodman is a “mutual acquaintance” of Trump and Kim Jong-Un. More significantly was what Rodman gave to Kim Jong-Un and his family: the orange menace’s The Art of the Deal, soap, Where’s Waldo? books, and autographed jerseys. [17] While the giving of soaps and other products might be harmless, and are mostly for Ju-ae one could presume, the gifting of The Art of the Deal, ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz, could be a book that, may, inform Kim Jong Un’s strategy in dealing with threats from the murderous empire. The ideas expressed in the book are that you either dominate or submit, you create or exploit fear or you succumb to it, with every encounter seen as a content to be the winner, and the conception of “immediate self-interest.” [18] While the description of the book so far shows that it could, for Kim Jong-Un and the DPRK’s leadership, give them insights into the orange menace’s “management style” (if he has one), there are further elements which would more likely be used by the DPRK: making “deals,” some of which are “great,” and having many options available, using available “leverage.” If giving the DPRK the orange menace’s book is somehow a secret strategy to make the country more capitalistic and individualistic, which isn’t beyond belief, then it didn’t work at all.

Back to Rodman. Near the end of June, he said he was glad that the young White college student Otto Frederick Warmbier, a jingoistic disrupter, was released. On the other side of the token, he bellowed that the country is more “modernized” now, with people not seeing the “good side” of the DPRK with Kim Jong-Un as a “friendly guy.” [19] In keeping with his idea of “neutrality,” he said that Kim Jong-Un and the orange menace need an open dialogue. Just last month he expanded on these remarks. He was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying that the DPRK was becoming a “24th century country” with a “homemade feel” for everything, and how his status as a “famous athlete” meant nothing there. [20] This is by far, the most positive thing he has said about the DPRK. In the interview quoted by the New York Daily News, in the literal magazine for wealth, Du Jour, Rodman described the DPRK’s people as taking pride in “simple things” (similar to what was recently said in PressTV) and people living through Kim Jong-Un, looking up to him. [21] Again, like his other statement, this was not “noble” as most of what he said (apart from the possibly orientalist statement about people living through Kim Jong-Un) has been said and recognized, mainly by those in solidarity with the DPRK, for many years. Adding to this, his seemingly “comradely” statement was thrown into question with his “clarification” earlier this month. He told a British TV show that he hardly ever talks politics with Kim Jong-Un, calling himself an “ambassador for sports” and declaring that he doesn’t love Kim Jong-Un but wants to “straighten things out for everyone to get along together.” [22] While this seems to be positive, let us consider that he still admires the orange menace despite the fact he admits that the orange menace can be a “little bit crazy sometimes.”

Ultimately, Rodman seems more like a partisan of the orange menace than a neutral observer or unofficial ambassador. While he is written five basically auto-biographical books (three in the 1990s), he is no scholar. It is too much of a stretch for Rodman to be “Comradman” by any measure. What has been explained so far makes clear his life story, political beliefs, and views on the DPRK (mostly on Kim Jong-Un). It is a possibility, which should not be discounted, that his visits to the DPRK are supported covertly by more “moderate” elements in the US foreign policy establishment since diplomacy for the murderous empire is imperialistic in nature no matter what way you spin in. As Satya Vatti wrote, generally the US capitalist class prefers “moderate bourgeois elements” even as it, in desperation or seeing a good opportunity, relies on “far-right, fascist forces,” like in Ukraine, to accomplish their objectives. [23] Rodman is fundamentally a “moderate bourgeois element” to put it plainly. There are, additionally, a number of aspects that throw into question the thought of Rodman even being a comrade. If he was in solidarity with the socialist state, he would support the launch of two missiles “over Japan” (not really in realistic terms) as a show of force against blood-thirsty imperialists. He would also publicly oppose US efforts to strangle the country such as proposed fuel cutoffs, asset freezes, and threat of total annihilation, instead supporting more than a “dialogue” but immediate and direct talks between the US and DPRK, which the US has clearly rejected for imperialistic reasons. [24] Rodman is not the same side as Bruce W. Bennett of Rand Corp, the CIA, or Seth Rogan who wanted to hurt the DPRK with their box office bomb, “The Interview.” But, he also is not supportive of the DPRK’s nuclear tests and by extension exposing nuclear tests by the murderous empire, which are much more dangerous to the idea of a peaceful world free of exploitation. [25] Along with that, a comrade would oppose harsh sanctions on the DPRK and possibly be for a freeze-to-freeze in which the ROK (Republic of Korea or “South Korea”) and U.S. military would limit or end huge exercises in military aggression in exchange for the DPRK’s nuclear program ending. This is just a small list of what make one a comrade in solidarity with the DPRK. There is no set list but these basics follow along with established radical and communist principles. Rodman is not a hater of U.S. imperialism, like the Black Panther Party which allied themselves with the DPRK, or an “aficionado of U.S. popular culture” as Kim Jong-Un is, but he is a “washed-up celebrity” who sees himself as “neutral.” Most likely, he is being used to create a wedge in U.S. policy. Hence, his “basketball diplomacy” is not necessarily a “success” but is rather something that is easily exploited.

For the DPRK, they may not mind meeting with Rodman because they see it as a way to open up diplomatic relations with the US. While Rodman is clearly on the right-wing, he is much more level-headed than anyone currently in power, so in that sense those in the DPRK leadership don’t mind talking to him. But, if he rarely talks about politics, it could just be to show that the DPRK is welcoming to non-white and oppressed peoples. Whatever the reason, the capitalist ideals of Rodman are not brushing off on the DPRK. Not one bit. Nope.

The Russians and Chinese

President Xi Jinping of China (left) and President Vladimir Putin of Russia (right) in 2014

There is always talk about the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on subreddits like /r/communism, but also broadly in radical circles. The Chinese and Russian governments have some progressive foreign policy, especially when it comes to helping imperialist countries under attack like assisting Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe for example. But, since neither of these countries are socialist, they easily cut deals with Western capitalists to help their respective bourgeoisie. This is part of the reason why Russia and China have not stood behind the DPRK’s acts of self-defense against aggression by the murderous empire and its allies. Instead, if to “buy time” from the orange menace and/or to prevent nuclear contamination of their citizenry (in the case of China), they have held a moderating tone, supporting peaceful negotiation, condemning the DPRK’s actions, and supporting murderous sanctions, like the others on the UN Security Council. [26] Where has the solidarity gone? Perhaps it is past viewpoints of the leadership of the DPRK, if this has any validity at all, are also a sticking point for China, even though China is bound to protect the DPRK if it is attacked. With the “zigzag approach” to the DPRK by the orange menace, Russia and China would benefit the world by defending the socialist state, but they have not done so, instead proposing the idea of a “freeze for freeze” which the US has rejected, as noted earlier. [27] As Gregory Elich recently put it, “unless China and Russia can find a way to oppose U.S. designs without becoming targets themselves, the North Korean people will stand alone and bear the burden of Trump’s malice.” Recently, according to some reports, food exports from China to the DPRK surged showing that the Chinese are playing an interesting game.

Luckily, some have taken stands in favor of the DPRK that Russia and China have not. Satya Vatti, in Liberation News, pointed out that striking at the roots of white supremacy means that we need to fight U.S. imperialism, the warfare state, and for states under attack by imperialists. [28] Additionally, the Workers World Party recently congratulated Kim Jong-Un, the people of Korea, and the Workers Party of Korea or WPK for “courage and honesty in standing up to U.S. imperialism.” There were also gatherings of those opposed to such imperialism in Rochester, NY and Baltimore, MD recently. [29]

There is more to say than this short section, but this is meant as a starting point on this topic since the Russian and Chinese governments are both not socialist. The capitalist roaders, as Mao Zedong described them, have taken power and hold of the Communist Party of China, basically “bourgeoisie inside the party” as some describe it, meaning that there should be struggle inside and outside the Communist Party of China as it currently stands. Russia, unlike China, has no Communist Party leading it, but rather a nationalist party that is opposed to US imperialism since they cannot enter into the club of imperialists as the Western capitalist centers of power would find it utterly odious. As one article put it recently, US policy toward Russia has remained unchanged because US imperial policy is “driven by Wall Street’s drive for profits, not the good or bad wishes of individual politicians.”

Once again, there is more to say on this topic as I have not fully explored my argument on this issue, but it is still in progress.

Steps forward and concluding thoughts

These photos come from a Sept. 22 article in KCNA. [30]
Rodman has the right idea that the “good side” of the DPRK is not talked about, but its more than that. There is a whole media campaign to demonize the socialist state. Even a recent issue of the “respected” partially bourgeois Smithsonian magazine has photographs from Pyongyang showing industrialization, newly-built high-rises, morning commuters on tram buses, a deep metro center, reading rooms in the People’s Study House (in the central library of Pyongyang), people watching videos at a sci-tech center, and an amusement park called the “Youth Fun Fair” to name a few. [31] While the photographer, a Brit named Tariq Zaidi, clearly has internalized Orientalist values, he still said that the county is “a scenic beautiful country….the cleanest you will ever visit with…hospitable people who will go out of their way to help you.” Stories like this pale in comparison to the “amazing infrastructure, free housing and medical care, impressive agriculture and green energy,” along with bustling cities, touted rightly by Eva Bartlett. This is the side of the DPRK which should be widely shared, not the distorted, “hellish” “stories” from the humanitarian imperialist spinsters at Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International, along with varying bourgeois NGOs often called out by Wrong Kind of Green, accompanied by those within the bourgeois media (and U.S. government).

It is hard to counter every piece of imperialist propaganda about the DPRK but its possible to show what it’s really like to the best of our collective abilities. We don’t need Russian smugglers, DPRK defectors, or anyone else to “save” the country. [32] Regardless of what the smarmy “North Korea watchers” (i.e. North Korea Economy Watch and 38 North), talking heads, or any other individual with an orientalist mindset says, the leadership of the DPRK is “understandable and rational,” having nukes to only be used in self-defense if the U.S. attacks, not having a “first strike” policy like the murderous empire. Like all oppressed people, they can choose how they will struggle or do what is “best suited for their conditions.” [33]

The existence of the DPRK is a breath of fresh air. It shows that a “greater collective human spirit” and more satisfaction can come from socialism than capitalism, that they are becoming a “powerful socialist nation” which is steadfast in their “independent spirit.” [34] They do not want war. While bourgeois experts bemoan the travel ban of US citizens to the DPRK, as it will be harder to subvert socialist society there, perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity for more self-development as Trumpian racism and “economic nationalism” embodies the murderous empire. [35] Why not counter the demonization, begun with an illegal war in 1950 (and even earlier since the DPRK’s formation in 1948) which destroyed much of the country, with continued strengthening of universal and state-funded education, a strong healthcare system, and expanding alliances internationally from a few African countries to the whole continent? Those decisions are ultimately up to the people of the DPRK and their elected leadership.

I end with a quote from self-declared Black nationalist Robert F. Williams before his escape from the spotlight after returning to the U.S. in 1971, from exile. Many of the words of his 1964 speech, reprinted in his publication, The Crusader, still ring true today. The DPRK has developed, as they describe it, a hydrogen bomb which should be seen as a necessity under current conditions, celebrated as an achievement by an oppressed people, by people of color. Williams said, in part, words which are optimistic but are worth recalling:

“…We, the captive people of the free world of racist America, support the right of all oppressed people to meet violence with violence. We resolutely support the right of all people to self determination…the U.S. Government has sunken to the level of devil of the world…the anti-racist, anti-imperialist forces of the socialist camp are growing more powerful everyday…We believe in the right of armed struggle. We believe in the people’s right to defend themselves…We proudly hail the nuclear achievements of the staunch defenders of the oppressed, our Chinese brothers, in developing weapons for self-defense against nuclear intimidation by the racist USA. Our people, who have for many generations been defenseless victims of monopolized white supremacy terror, consider the Chinese bomb, a people’s bomb, a freedom bomb of the oppressed.”

Notes

[1] Robin Wright, “Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.,” The New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2017; Margaret Talev and Nick Wadhams, “Trump Bluntly Threatens to Wipe Out North Korea in UN Debut,” Bloomberg News, Sept. 19, 2017; David Rothkopf, “Trump’s first speech to the United Nations was a disastrous, nationalistic flop,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta, “Trump Soft-Soaps the U.N. Of Course, It Was Only Day 1. . .,” New York Times, Sept. 18, 2017; David Ignatius, “The most surprising thing about Trump’s U.N. speech,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; AAP, “’Shameless and ignorant’: World stunned after Trump’s fiery speech,” SBS, Sept. 19, 2017; Jeffrey Rodack, “Conservatives Welcome Trump’s ‘Blunt’ Speech to the UN,” Newsmax, Sept. 19, 2017; Abbie Bennett, “Franklin Graham says Trump’s speech was ‘one of the best ever’ at the UN,” The News & Observer, Sept. 19, 2017; Joseph D. Lyons, “Ivanka Praises Trump’s UNGA Speech Despite Criticism From Everyone Else,” Bustle, Sept. 19, 2017. Some, like George Eaton of The New Statesman, even argued that “Trump’s words merely provide further justification for its nuclear weapons programme,” while they predictably followed the bourgeois media in condemning the country’s government, a point which has validity. Recently, a British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, quoted a reported “defector” from the DPRK, Hee Yeon Lim, to tell a wild story of executions, sex slavery, luxury, bribery, privilege, and torture, which undoubtedly a total lie, appended with the call for nuclear weapons to be brought back to south Korea!

[2] Jet Magazine, “Dennis Rodman’s dad had 27 kids and runs bar in the Philippines,” Sept. 23, 1996; Kurt Hean, “Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings,” NBC Sports, Aug. 15, 2011; AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012.

[3] AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012; Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013.

[4] Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; NBA profile, “Dennis Rodman,” accessed Sept. 14, 2017; Mike Puma, “Rodman, King or Queen of Rebounds?,” ESPN.com, Feb. 21, 2006.

[5] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; Dave Hannigan, “The top 10 Dennis Rodman moments,” The Times, Jan. 8, 2006; Espn.com, “Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin into Hall,” Apr. 5, 2011; Jeanette Settembre, “Former NBA star Dennis Rodman to launch his own Bad Boy vodka brand,” New York Daily News, Jul. 12, 2013; Megan Masters and Aly Weisman, “Dennis Rodman Rebounds Back to Rehab,” E! News, May 3, 2009; Steve Forrest, “Dennis Rodman checks into alcohol rehab after N. Korea trip,” CNN, Jan. 19, 2014; Stephen Smith, “Dennis Rodman in debt, faces possible jail time,” CBS News, Mar. 28, 2012; TMZ, “Boozy Dennis Rodman Booted from Restaurant,” Jan. 10, 2010; CBS News/AP, “Rodman pleads guilty to DUI,” CBS News, Jul. 28, 2000; Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman arrested in L.A.,” Reuters, May 1, 2008; AP, “Police arrest Rodman after report of dispute at hotel,” May 1, 2008; People Staff, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest in domestic assault,” People magazine, Jun 25, 2008; AP, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest to DUI,” USA Today, Apr. 21, 2004; James Queally, “Dennis Rodman facing criminal charges in July hit-and run, prosecutors say,” LA Times, Nov. 21, 2016

[6] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; WEMM, “Rodman to strip for PETA,” Contactmusic.com, Dec. 22, 2004; Pay Owen, “Dennis Rodman at the Vatican: ‘I want to be anywhere in the world I’m needed,’” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2013; Sophie Tatum, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” CNN, Jul. 24, 2015; Adam B. Lerner, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” July 24, 2015.

[7] Michael Parenti, God and His Demons (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), 60-62, 77, 95, 131-132, 135, 139, 143, 147.

[8] Kranz Lidz, “Dennis Rodman,” Sports Illustrated, Jul. 8, 2013.

[9] David K. Li, “Dennis Rodman’s ranting saved me from North Korean gulag,” NY Post, May 2, 2016. Bae later claimed that Rodman’s drunken ranting had brought international attention to his plight, leading to his release back into the world of Western capitalism.

[10] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; Alan Dulz, “Dennis Rodman to North Korea: ‘I come in peace,’” CNN, Feb. 27, 2013; Johee Cho, “Rodman worms his way into Kim Jong Un meeting,” ABC News, Feb. 28, 2013; Justin Rocket Silverman, “Vice finale tracks Rodman’s strange days in North Korea,” New York Daily News, May 21, 2013.

[11] Politico, “Donald Trump praises ‘smart’ Dennis Rodman North Korea trip,” Mar. 4, 2013.

[12] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; IBT staff report, “Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un chat courtside at Pyongyang Basketball Game,” International Business Times, Feb. 28, 2013; ROK Drop, “Ric Flair Describes How Muhammad Ali Told Off North Korean Officials,” Jun 8, 2016; Austin Ramzy, “Muhammad Ali in Pyongyang: A Little Less Love than Rodman,” Time magazine, Mar. 3, 2013; Ronald Kirk, “Muhammad Ali At N. Korea Sports Festival — Unlike Rodman, He Spurned Regime,” Forbes, Jun 4, 2016.

[13] Josh Lewis, “North Korea: Reality vs. the world according to Dennis Rodman,” CNN, Sept. 10, 2013; James Pearson and Megha Rajagopolan, “Rodman returns to Pyongyang but says won’t bring back jailed American,” Reuters, Sept. 2, 2013; Caitlin McDewitt, “Rodman; Kim Jong Un is ‘a good dad,’” Politico, Sept. 9, 2013; Evan McMurry, “Dennis Rodman to train North Korean Olympic Basketball Team,” Medialite, Sept. 9, 2013; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017.

[14] AFP, “Rodman heading back to N Korea to Train Basketball Team,” Newsmax, Dec. 4, 2013; RTE, “Dennis Rodman Departs for North Korea for basketball exhibitions,” Jan. 6, 2014; Kurt Helin, “Dennis Rodman still planning exhibition game in North Korea with former NBA players,” NBC Sports, Nov. 22, 2013; News Desk 2, “Dennis Rodman announces basketball diplomacy for upcoming games in North Korea,” the Florida News Journal, Jan. 6, 2014; AP, “Dennis Rodman: ‘I had been been drinking,’” ESPN, Jan. 9, 2014; “Today FM’s Matt Cooper is in North Korea with Dennis Rodman,” thejournal.ie, Jan. 6, 2014.

[15] Fox News, “Feds reportedly investigating Rodman for violating sanctions against N. Korea,” Jan. 25, 2014; Hugh Armitage, “Kim Jong-Un, Dennis Rodman film planned by Ride Alans director Tim Story,” Digital Spy, Feb. 24, 2014; Tatlana Siegel, “Dennis Rodman North Korea Mission to Become Fox Movie (Exclusive),” The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 23, 2014.

[16] Matt Rivers, Will Ripley, and Joshua Berlinger, “Dennis Rodman hopes to ‘something pretty positive’ in North Korea,” CNN, Jun. 13, 2017; Anna Fifield, “Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. Was he sent by Trump?,” Washington Post, Jun 13, 2017.

[17] AFP and staff writers, “Dennis Rodman gives North Korean minister a copy of Donald Trump’s the Art of the Deal,” news.com.au, Jun 10, 2017.

[18] Tony Schwartz, “I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past,” Washington Post, May 16, 2017; Jeremy Greenfield, “10 Things You Learn Reading Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal,’” The Street, Sept. 16, 2015; Josh Barra, “10 things I learned about Donald Trump in ‘The Art of the Deal,’” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2015; Richard Feloni, “Donald Trump’s core business philosophy from his best-selling 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’” Business Insider, Jun 6, 2015.

[19] Catherine Thorbecke, “Dennis Rodman speaks out about his visit to North Korea,” ABC News, Jun 23, 2017.

[20] New York Daily News, “Dennis Rodman praises Kim Jong Un for modernizing North Korea,” Aug. 30, 2017.

[21] DuJour magazine, “Candid moments with Dennis Rodman,” Fall 2017 edition, p. 58. He also says that citizens kind and live lives through Kim Jong-Un; Eric Wilson, “Us Weekly, for a Lot Fewer of Us,” New York Times, Aug. 8, 2012; Jane L. Levere, “Two Luxury Names Expand Collaboration,” New York Times, Aug. 11, 2014; Katja Presnal, “Lifestyle: New Luxury Lifestyle Magazine DuJour,” Skimbaco, Sept. 9, 2012; Robert Channick, “DuJour magazine on the menu for those with the most money in Chicago, U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 10, 2012.

[22] Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman talks of skiing friendship with Kim Jong Un,” Reuters, Sept. 6, 2017.

[23] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[24] Michael Ellemean, “North Korea’s Hwasong-12 Launch: A Disturbing Development,” 38 North, Aug. 30, 2017; “DPRK Nuclear Weapons Institute on Successful test of H-Bomb for ICBM,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept. 4, 2017; David F. Sanger and Cahoe Sang-Hun, “U.S. Urges Fuel Cutoff for North Korea, Saying It’s ‘Begging For War,’” NY Times, Sept. 4, 2017; BBC News, “North Korea crisis: US seeks Kim Jong-Un asset freeze,” Sept. 7, 2017; Al Jazeera, “US: N Korea to be ‘destroyed’ if behaviour continues,” Sept. 18, 2017; Jon Schwartz, “North Korea says it might negotiate on nuclear weapons. But the Washington Post isn’t reporting that,” The Intercept, Sept. 25, 2017; “U.S. dismisses immediate talks with N. Korea,” Yonhap News, Sept. 6, 2017; David Tweed, “Trump’s olive branch to North Korean opens slim path to talks,” Bloomberg Politics, Aug. 23, 2017.

[25] Tom Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogan, and the CIA secretly planned to force regime change in North Korea,” Alternet, Sept. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “North Korea conducts most powerful nuclear test yet,” Sept. 3, 2017; NNSA, “B61-12 continues to meet qualification test schedule,” Aug. 2017; RT, “US holds 2nd test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bombs,” Aug. 29, 2017; Binoy Kampmark, “Unnerving the Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test,” Sept. 4, 2017; AP, “The latest: Haley: US to push for more North Korea sanctions,” Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2017; Moon of Alabama, “Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How to End That,” Apr. 14, 2017; Robert Ramptor and David Brunnstram, “Trump says tougher steps needed on North Korea after new U.N. sanctions,” Reuters, Sept. 11, 2017.

[26] “China rejects possibility of military intervention in North Korea,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; “Russian envoy warns any slip-up on Korean peninsula may lead to military outbreak,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; Zachary Cohen and Richard Roth, “US passes fresh sanctions on North Korea,” CNN, Sept. 12, 2017.

[27] Anne Gearar, “Trump’s zigzagging approach to North Korea veers toward military options,” Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2017; “Sanctions Against North Korea a Dangerous Dead-End,” The Real News, Sept. 6, 2017.

[28] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[29] Workers World Party, “WWP congratulates DPRK for its courage,” Workers World, Sept 12, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Rochester, N.Y., anti-war groups say no to U.S. threats and sanctions against DPRK,” Workers World, Sept. 11, 2017; David Card, “New war threats against North Korea,” Workers World, Aug. 31, 2017.

[30] The article says the following: “The Moranbong Band, the State Merited Chorus and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe Music and dance performances gave a music and dance performance in Wonsan City from September 13 to 21. The numbers of the performance included male solo and chorus “Song Dedicated to the Motherly Party”, light music “Pyongyang Is Best”, orchestra and male chorus “We’ll Travel One Road Forever”, dance “Dash toward Future” and tap dance “Young Days”. The performers sang high praises of the dynamic spirit of socialist Korea dashing ahead like the wind toward the final victory at the speed of Mallima despite all sorts of difficulties and trials of history, rallied close around respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The artistes of the Moranbong Band in light music and serial songs “Oh Party, It’s Thanks to Your Care,” female solo “We Call You Father,” female chorus “Fatherland and I,” etc. impressively represented the profound trust and gratitude of the army and people to the Workers’ Party of Korea which made a history of great changes under the banner of independence, Songun and socialism, winning great victories. Those of the State Merited Chorus in male solo and chorus “Korea, Forward under the Line of Simultaneously Developing the Two Fronts” and male trio and chorus “Only along the Road of Socialism,” strikingly showed the rock-firm faith and will of the Korean army and people to dynamically advance along the road of simultaneous development of the two fronts under the leadership of the great Party and attain the final victory of socialism. The Wangjaesan Art Troupe presented lively dynamic dances showing the stirring reality of the DPRK where the people are working great innovations in building a socialist power while resolutely foiling the U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces’ unprecedented sanctions and pressure. The performance deeply impressed the audiences.”

[31] Lorraine Bussaneault, “The view from Pyongyang: An Exclusive Look at the World’s Most Secretive Nation,” Smithsonian magazine, Sept. 6, 2017.

[32] Pepe Escobar, “North Korea: Fire, Fury and Fear,” Global Research, Aug. 10, 2017; Tania Branigan, “Hope, Pride, Fear: How North Koreans feel about their homeland,” The Guardian, Aug. 10, 2017; The Moscow Times, “North Korea Receiving Russian Supplies Despite Sanctions—Reports,” Sept. 12, 2017.

[33] Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Editor, “Self defense and the DPRK,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Ri Hak Nam, “DPRK is certain to win Thanks to Peerlessly Great Man,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 12, 2017.

[34] Kang Choi Su, “No Force on Earth Can Block Advance of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 22, 2017; Jo Hak Chai, “WPK’s Line of Simultaneously Developing Two Fronts Is Eternal Banner of Peace and Prosperity,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 19, 2017; Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017.

[35] Robert Rennebohm, “Understanding North Korea,” Global Research, Aug. 21, 2017; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017; Samuel Romani, “North Korea’s African Allies,” The Diplomat, July. 4, 2016; Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “North Korea: Their Health System Sucks, Do They Have Schools and Hospitals…In America We’ve Got Medicare…,” Global Research, Aug. 16, 2017; Brian Wilson, “Korea and the ‘Axis of Evil,’” Global Research, Apr 27, 2002; Doug Palmer, Megan Cassella, and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump mulling withdrawal from Korea trade deal,” Politico, Sept. 2, 2017; Yonhap, “Trump says to weigh withdrawal from S. Korea trade deal,” The Korean Herald, Sept. 3, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “Commentary: The downside of banning Americans from North Korea,” Reuters, Aug. 31, 2017; Felicity Arbuthnot, “North Korea an Aggressor? A Reality Check,” Dissident Voice, Aug. 24, 2017.

“Something which most other developing countries would envy”: The DPRK’s healthcare system

Medical workers brainstorm at the South Hamgyong Provincial People’s Hospital. Courtesy of The Pyongyang Times.

Since June 19, the bourgeois media has been brimming with reports of the death of 22-year-old White college student from Cincinnati, Ohio, Otto Frederick Warmbier. While the family was happy to hear that their son was released from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), they were the ones that fueled the media firestorm. Warmbier’s father claimed that the DPRK had “murdered” their son, who had died in a coma possibly from an infection or blood clot, leading to anger in subsequent days from unhinged Trump and “reserved” Tillerson, leading to a new “wedge” between the US and the DPRK. [1] As some media reported, the DPRK may have released him in hopes of making a deal with Trump. Of course, the orange menace, the fascist in a suit, didn’t want to make a deal, only knowing his “negotiation” tactics from his days as a ruthless real estate magnate and his overrated “Celebrity Apprentice” show on NBC. As the days went out, the bourgeois media, in another rash of imperial propaganda, cited varied “experts” who said they were “baffled” with the DPRK’s behavior, with John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Mike Turner following suit, and the anti-DPRK columnists coming out of the ground like moles, claiming that the DPRK “murdered” Warmbier, even though he seems to have sought regime change in the country. [2] Even the Republic of Korea (ROK), often called “South Korea” in the West, joined in the criticism. Furthermore, any future tours to the DPRK by Young Pioneer Tours has ended, with a possible ban of US tourism to the country floated. The former should be no big loss because the company seems very Orientalist while the latter is just meant to reinforce the empire’s perceptions on the US populace. [3]

On Otto Warmbier

The murderous empire won’t rest, from its proposed hideous sanctions to condemning the DPRK’s government as brutal and “oppressive.” Tillerson said that much in his remarks on June 19 on Warmbier: “we hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.” Later in this article, I’ll get the subject of whether his imprisonment is “unjust” which I do not think it is. There are three US citizens imprisoned in the DPRK. One of them, a businessperson named Kim Dong Chul admitted to CNN that he spied on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” in 2015, saying that they “asked me to help destroy the (North Korean) system and spread propaganda against the government,” starting his spy work in April 2013, including bribing residents who would gather “important materials,” which he smuggled south or into China. [4] The other two were an academic named Kim Sang-duk or Tony Kim who committed “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country” which was not related to his teaching, and Kim Hak-song, “a man who was doing business in relation to the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.” As for Warmbier, a student of Virginia University, he was encouraged to rip down a patriotic banner in a restricted area of the hotel by a member of Friendship United Methodist Church, a secretive university organization, and even the CIA, which some scowled at as only an “accusation.” Truthfully, on January 26, DPRK’s government arrested him for perpetrating a hostile act against the country “after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.” [5] He further admitted this about less than months later. He told, to the Supreme Court of the DPRK, the nature of his crime and asked for forgiveness (across the bourgeois media are video clips of him crying):

On December 29, 2015, I entered the DPRK as a tourist. On January 1, 2016, I committed severe crimes against the DPRK. The task was given to me by the Friendship United Methodist Church. At the encouragement of the Z Society and the connivance of the United States Administration, I came to commit this task. The aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people.This was a very foolish aim…Sharon Webb…deaconess in the Friendship United Methodist Church…said that communist nations rally around political slogans. She asked me to take an important political slogan from North Korea to be hung in her church as a “trophy”. She continued to say that by taking this slogan, we would harm the unity and motivation of the North Korean people and show this country an insult from the West…She offered me a used car worth $10,000 if I was successful. And she said if I was detained and not returned, her church would pay $200,000 to my mother in a way of charitable donations. Since my family is suffering from very severe financial difficulties, I started to consider this as my only golden opportunity to earn money…He said my plan of action would certainly help the Z Society’s goal of spreading “freedom” and eliminating “tyranny”. He said if I was successful, he promised me that he would help me become a member in the Z Society. [6]

The same day, the state media of the DPRK reported that those attending the trial were citizens from “different walks of life” and after his “written indictment confirming his crimes was submitted” the “court sentenced him to fifteen years of hard labor” for violating article 60 of the DPRK’s criminal code. After looking at varied sources (here, here, and here) one English translation of the criminal code, [7] stated the following about article 60, which concerns terrorism:

A person who kills, abducts or injures cadres or people with anti-state purposes shall be punished by reform through labour for more than five years. In cases where the person commits a grave offence, he or she shall be punished by life-term reform through labour or the death penalty, and confiscation of property.

In this case, it was a “grave offence.”

Fast forward to the aftermath of Warmbier’s death. The US doctors have belayed propaganda claims, saying that Warmbier was NOT tortured or abused (as his family falsely claims), but that “beyond minor skin blemishes consistent with medical care they found no evidence of fractures or trauma to his body” with the DPRK sending medical records back with him! [8] If they really had tortured him, which they didn’t, they wouldn’t even send any records. Another article says that there is no evidence Warmbier was injured with the MRI scan showing brain damage and that “the medical team at Cincinnati got some medical records from the North Koreans and they said the records show Warmbier has been in this condition since April of last year” but that there is no evidence “of broken bones or other physical abuse, and scans of his head and neck looked normal, except for the damage to his brain.” [9]

Of course, the DPRK released him “according to a humanitarian judgment of the DPRK’s Central Court” on June 13, 2017. [10] In days that followed, with the propaganda about his condition, the DPRK showed they were in the right. The Foreign Ministry said that the US administration is engaging in an ” anti-DPRK smear campaign by abusing the humanitarian measure taken by the DPRK” and said that “Warmbier is clearly a criminal sentenced to reform through labor in accordance with the DPRK law” and that he confessed on February 29, 2016 “in tears that he had committed hostile act against the DPRK,” with the US making “every frantic effort to disparage the prestige of the dignified DPRK and stifle it while imposing heinous sanctions.” [11] They also noted that US doctors argued that Warmbier was provided with medical treatment in the DPRK, with his death a mystery, questioning why the Obama administration never “made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis.” This is worth noting since they “had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state” but provided him necessary medical care anyway. [12]

With Warmbier’s family interestingly declining an autopsy of their son, which will allow rumors to continue, those at least partially (or more fully) sympathetic to the DPRK have not been united. One site, called “Young DRPK watchers” has two opinions on this subject. [13] One says that “Otto Warmbier’s situation arose from neglect and medical incompetence, [rather] than abuse” with American prisoners not “physically harmed at all and are also fed well” and that the DPRK’s medical system is divided into levels for the privileged and everyone else (internalizing imperial propaganda by saying this), concluding that Warmbier “may have fell into the coma as a consequence of an unknown medical condition” with neglect by the DPRK. The other, by the same author, admitting that Warmbier is a victim but is also “an inflated symbol of American privilege.” Both of these opinions are better than that in the bourgeois, they fall into the category of concessions which Vngiapaganda warned about in a post almost a year ago. The same is the case in an article on Stop Imperialism on Warmbier’s death. It accepts ths possibility that the DPRK murdered him, which is giving in too much to the bourgeois media narrative. All in all, these opinions are better than the seething Chinese netizens which seem be in up in arms about the DPRK, which is unfortunate to say the least.

DRPK’s healthcare and medical system

Korean doctor in Pyongyang talking about new medical system in 2013.

With the death of Warmbier,the bourgeois media, capitalists, and their lackeys, along with those not adequately informed by the subject (the US public in general) is acting like the DPRK has a medical system that resembles people conducting voodoo (or their perception of people doing this) to “cure people” or wish them “ill.” I’m specifically thinking of those curses conducted by voodoo practitioner, Minerva, in the Hollyweird box office “bomb” titled Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the book of the same name. It seemed to be the best example of this mentality which could come to mind, with people acting like the DPRK are in the “dark ages” of medicine and have some archaic medical system.

The propaganda about the DPRK’s health system is nothing new. The Daily NK (an anti-DPRK outlet),  the Los Angeles Times, BBC News, The Week, The Telegraph, NY Daily News have declared that the DPRK doesn’t care about healthcare and has a shotty (or “horrifying”) system, which some even thought was on the “brink of collapse.” [14] Much of this imperial propaganda, only some of the publications named above, with some within medical journals as well, was fed by an Amnesty report in 2010 titled “North Korea: The crumbling state of health care in North Korea.” As the report admitted, they conducted interviews “with North Koreans who have settled abroad” since the DPRK (rightly) has not let these humanitarian imperialists into their country, making the report pure propaganda. [15] Luckily, some on the international level know the report is BS. As the bourgeois media reported, the World Health Organization said that Amnesty’s report was based on a small sample of people of those who left the country, with WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood saying “all the facts are from people who aren’t in the country. There’s no science in the research,” not mentioning recent improvements to healthcare in the country, even as he made the concession that Amnesty’s accounts could be “credible” (they aren’t by definition) while saying that Amnesty is not “taking into account some of the things that are happening today” in terms of healthcare in the DPRK. [16]

Numerous anti-DPRK accounts even admit the advantages of the DPRK’s system. In words criticizing the medical system in the country, one student doctor, had to “grudgingly” admit that the country has well-trained dentists and has a stress on exercise, among other aspects. [17] Even the Library of Congress in their broadly “anti-communist” report on the DPRK, written in 2008, had to admit this. He said that medical care is provided free of charge, that physical exercise is a major focus, and that there are nationwide medical check ups, especially at routine places like schools, factories, offices, and farms. Furthermore, they added that people receive a lifetime health card, the government has been aggressive attacking of diseases that cause epidemics (they say with spraying of DDT and other chemicals), and a high number of physicians and hospitals per capita, one of the highest in the world. [18] They add that more than 75% in the medical profession are women, with most hospitals as general hospitals, many clustered around Pyongyang, and no smoking in hospitals. Even with the supposed drawbacks, like shortages in medicines (because of sanctions), claims of variation in medical care, and economic problems weakened medical system [19], among others, the pages note that there has been a dramatic improvement in life longevity in the country ravaged by famine caused by Western imperial sanctions. Perhaps such “criticisms” shouldn’t be a surprise since most of chapter, which this information is within in, based on declassified CIA report. Even so, it is impressive that the CIA is even admitting the success of socialism in the DPRK and benefiting the Korean people.

Commie Dad’s writing on this topic, within an article about the DPRK’s centrally-planned economy, is worth noting. He notes how UN sanctions prevented a pharmaceutical company “from importing the chemicals it needed for a healthcare project in the DPRK countryside” and that the DPRK “still guarantees universal healthcare to its people,” which the US hasn’t done, a fact even acknowledged by anti-DPRK author Barbara Demick and a CIA report which acknowledges DPRK’s achievements in “free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” [20] He adds that the remarkable public healthcare system of the DPRK, providing ” unconditional universal coverage for citizens”continues to perform well, citing the words of Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director-General, calling the country’s healthcare system “something which most other developing countries would envy,” pointing out that the “DPRK has no lack of doctors and nurses,” further praising their system for its “very elaborate health infrastructure, starting from the central to the provincial to the district level.” This quote about envy is used in the title of this article, which also notes the country’s comprehensive healthcare, saying that authorities recognize malnutrition is a problem but it is less of an issue than in the past, and the quality of their healthcare system. [21] Of course, the reactionaries are seething at this pronouncement. A Heritage Foundation fellow claimed WHO was “defend[ing] the North Korean government,” citing the horrid Amnesty report and US State Department, along with varied bourgeois media, while American Thinker was shocked at her “praise” of what they called a “totalitarian and rogue nuclear-armed police state.” [22] The only country that falls into that category is the United States (and its client states in the Mideast, along with Western European capitalist states), not the DPRK. These reactionaries would find friends in the US State Department, which warns US citizens to not go into DPRK hospitals…because then they will learn that the system is excellent? [23]

While, in the murderous empire, the GOP fights to pass a healthcare bill that would “increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million” by 2026 and the Dems fight to keep their insurance-friendly “Obamacare,” the DPRK already has universal healthcare. As I noted in my previous post about the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and democracy within the DPRK, this unicameral legislative body has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” [24] The DPRK not only provides rights and duties of citizens “based on the collectivist principle,” but they have the right to “right to education and free medical care and freedom of scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” along with equal rights for men and women. Furthermore, in January 1947, the DPRK enforced “free medical care for workers, office workers and their dependents” with universal free medical care enforced since January 1953, and complete  “universal free medical care” since February 1960, meaning that the state totally bears “the expenses of medical checkups and treatment, bed and board in hospitals, medicines, and even travel costs to and from sanatoria.” This commitment is manifested not only by the type of care the citizens receive but through the establishment of Pyongyang Medical University, the top medical school in the country which was founded in 1948 “when the Department of Medical Science at Kim Il Sung University became an independent university.” [26]

The achievements of this Korean healthcare system are widely acknowledged. While one Cornell medical student (who talked with “the chair of Pyongyang Medical College’s Department of Neurosurgery for 90 minutes”) grumbled that the free medical system comes with “many costs of personal freedom” (his Western bourgeois concept of freedom) with government permission required, and physicians not more highly paid than others, if we are to believe him on that aspect, did admit the following:

“[The medical students] smiled and very proudly told me that the government sends students to college for free – and that is consistent with the medical system, that it’s also free. Even intensive surgeries do not cost a penny…Everything I saw was very unique. Exploring the city [Pyongyang] was unreal. All buildings were beautiful and big – often with posters of the two great leaders in front, which gave off a little eerie feeling. American media give the idea that North Korea is constantly brewing with missiles, focusing on the unreasonable rulers…but the everyday life of North Koreans, at least in the capital, nearly mirrors ours. It was an incredible privilege to meet North Koreans and hear their sentiments, to physically see the land – and in that I realized that they were my fellow people, that we speak the same language, love our families and are all humans. Understanding is the first key to any peace and compromise.”

The WHO notes that the country has a life expectancy of 67 years, or over 70 years if you are relying on the CIA World Factbook, which is impressive. Other data shows that while 3.7% of population drinks, mostly among men over 15 and not women, 78.9% abstain from drinking, with recorded alcohol consumption is steady over time, not increasing since the 1960s significantly. [27] Furthermore, while tobacco usage is strong among males, with almost half of males, smoking, smoke-free legislation affecting hospitals, non-university educational facilities, and public transit. There is also strong tobacco cessation support, partial funding of tobacco cessation, warning on tobacco packages, no tobacco vending machines.

An event takes place at the People’s Palace of Culture on World No Tobacco Day. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

This is manifested by the fact that late last month, at the People’s Palace of Culture, the country honored World No Tobacco Day. During that day, as the Pyongyang Times reported, officials of the country’s Public Health Ministry, resident diplomatic missions, and international health organizations, talked about how tobacco is a threat to development.The Vice-Director of the Public Health Ministry, Choe Suk Hyon, was quoted as saying that they made achievements in tobacco control the previous year, saying the following:

“What is important in tobacco control is to conduct large scale educational campaigns to publicize the negative impact of smoking on the health and socio-economic life. And we should strengthen scientific research on smoking cessation products which help quit smoking.”

Others, like the representative of the WHO to the DPRK, praised the Korean females in the country for being at the “vanguard of no-smoking campaign” but still wanted them to help their “fathers, husbands, boyfriends and sons to quit smoking if they are smokers” and noted that there is a “newly-revised tobacco control law of the DPRK” with no-smoking “information activities were conducted at the central and provincial hygienic information halls and medical institutions across the country.” While the US has developed strong anti-smoking measures as well, there is still a formidable tobacco industry in the United States, something the DPRK doesn’t have.

Apart from strong tobacco control, low alcohol consumption, and general healthcare in the country, there are a number of other accomplishments. For one, infant mortality declined from 1990s to present (same with people with tuberculosis), there has been a relatively steady amount in people with HIV/ AIDS (the country is likely an “AIDS free zone” by now), and immunization for DTP3 among children under 1 almost 100%. Furthermore, maternal death rate has also dramatically declined, less stunting of children than on the past, strong antenatal care, 100% of births attended by skilled health personnel, and broad measles immunization. If that isn’t enough, there almost complete treatment for tuberculosis, obesity is not a major cause for death (like in the US) but rather it is raised blood pressure among those in their twenties, and much of the population is using improved water and sanitation, to name a few. [28] Other WHO reports show that the population receives Vitamin A supplements to counter some deficiencies, and that the under five mortality rate has been dropping rapidly.

In one medical article apart from the others, there is some praise of the DPRK. In an article that is broadly against the country, the medical researchers must admit that “the burden of mortality due to communicable diseases and malnutrition in North Korea is relatively low in terms of both quantity, expressed in the death rate, and quality,” that tuberculosis’s “mortality rates have declined continuously in the past 15 years.” In one article of a “country study” of the DPRK, it is noted that back in 1938-40 life expectancy was only 38 years old, while it was “70.9 years for males and 77.3 years for females” by 1986, with infant mortality declining, a ” substantial increase in the number of hospitals and clinics, hospital beds, physicians, and other health-care personnel since the 1950s,” growing from 285 in 1955 to 2,401 in 1986, with specialized hospitals, “including those devoted to treating tuberculosis, hepatitis, and mental illness, are generally found in large cities,” and preventive medicine a major focus. Adding to this, a public health law was passed in April 1980 saying that the “State regards it as a main duty in its activity to take measures to prevent the people from being afflicted by disease and directs efforts first and foremost to prophylaxis in public health work” while medical examinations are “required twice a year, and complete records are kept at local hospitals” with a high value afforded on “traditional herbal medicine” and physical education an important part of public health with people “encouraged to take part in recreational sports activities such as running, gymnastics, volleyball, ice skating, and traditional Korean games” along with “group gymnastic exercises.”

There are further aspects worth noting. For one, even with the “development of informal health-care practices” in the country since the 1990s, this sector has actually contributed to the “formal socialist health-care system.” In 2007, the DPRK spent 3.02% of its GDP on health expenditures. In 2013, the DPRK spent 38.8% of their budget that year on “health, education, sport, music, art and culture” with an increase of 2.2% for healthcare spending.It is also worth noting that even the World Food Programme must admit that most households aren’t food insecure (see page 33 of this PDF), belaying claims of “famine” in the country.

Recent developments

Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

There have been numerous developments of the DPRK’s socialist healthcare system in recent years. In 2010, with the help of WHO, the country launched a “medical video conference network Tuesday aimed at giving smaller, rural hospitals access to specialists in the capital Pyongyang.” [29] Three years later, the DPRK developed a  “clinical medicine information service system” which contained “details on 12,000 pharmaceuticals and 154,000 kinds of medicines from more than 50 countries” as Voice of Korea, a state media outlet, noted.

There are other aspects worth noting. While the DPRK has requested medical aid from the UN (since they are under harsh sanctions), they have still made strides. [30] Last year, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology noted that it was testing a 3D printer for use in medical settings, with likely some progress made. This month The Pyongyang Times reported that a two-storey new people’s hospital opened in Tongsinhung-ri with “over  10 rooms for special treatment and sophisticated homemade medical and experimental apparatuses” and is part of “the telemedicine system whereby it is connected to such central hospitals…[and] linked online to provincial, city and county hospitals.” [31] It was also noted that using this system, the “latest medical science and technology are disseminated and training courses are given by medical workers at central hospitals,” with increased abilities, with telemedicine,”in raising their abilities as well as in treating patients.” Less than a week ago, Kim Jung Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, inspected the newly built Dental Care Supplies Factory, which has a floor space of 12,720 square metres, with the factory able to “turn out annually tens of millions of tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash and a variety of dental care supplies.” [32] In that visit he noted that “the Party [WPK] and government are taking full responsibility for the people’s lives and health and that such socialist healthcare is one and only in the world,” adding that factories like this are “needed to ensure the people lead a worthwhile life enjoying themselves the benefits of socialist healthcare.”

Like Cuba, which sends doctors abroad, the DPRK also sends doctors abroad for humanitarian reasons. Even those with anti-DPRK beliefs have to admit this. In July of last year, the DPRK’s ambassador, Jang Myong Ho, visited the al-Assad University Hospital in Damascus, affirming the country’s readiness to support and aid Syria’s health sector, hailing the medical services provided by the hospital, saying that Syrian government had a “just health policy and commitment to provide free treatment to all citizens despite the difficult economic conditions under the current crisis.” He also added that this anniversary of 50 years diplomatic and friendly bilateral relations between the DPRK and Syria is “historical and exemplary,” noting that these relations have been “developed and enhanced” over the years.

With all of this, perhaps it is no surprise that the proposed sanctions would have targeted the healthcare system of the DPRK and their socialist economy also, of course. As I noted in my post on these sanctions,

[while] these sanctions show that the imperial monitoring of “the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea” shall not apply to those vessels or planes which “import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea,” the fact that there would be monitoring by the US Navy (and Air Force?) is undoubtedly an act of war…Section 104(a), part of an anti-DPRK sanctions law which went into effect last year, mentioned in the above quote as part of the imperial monitoring, shows these efforts are aimed at the DPRK’s socialist, centrally-planned economy

Concluding words

At the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability. Courtesy of Imgur, assembled in an album and posted on /r/communism by yours truly.

The healthcare system of the DPRK should be celebrated as an achievement of socialism, not something to ridicule. While the bourgeois media focus on the country’s “problems” there is no doubt that they don’t want people to know of these successes. With the ROK having one of the “world’s highest suicide rates, having overtaken that of Japan” and the leading “cause of death is cancer, followed by cerebrovascular and heart disease” even with their “universal health insurance system that is compulsory and covers employees and their relatives (National Health Insurance, NHI),” there are high doctor consulting fees, and “long waiting lines for treatment and high costs.” The DPRK doesn’t have those issues and doesn’t work with the US to streamline their system to help the Western capitalist class. There are many other resources I could have consulted to finish up this article. [33] As good comrades, we should stand in solidarity with the DPRK against the clear imperialist aggressors. Anyone who doesn’t do so is not only not a real comrade, but they also are not a communist in name or action.

The life within the DPRK and the country’s policies are not what the West says it is. The country has stood by those fighting for national liberation, has a developed socialistic democracy, and has celebrated the International Day of Persons With Disabilities in 2015, and in years afterward (and before). The country has worked with the UNDP to increase its food security and food production.

Some say that the country became “revisionist” after 1972. Those issues will be addressed in another post when I look at all countries which are called “revisionist.” Here is not the place for that. Rather, it is better to let people make up their own minds about the DPRK. This can come through reading a number of books, or looking at other resources. [34] If a war with the DPRK occurs, started by the unhinged fascist, Trump, who can be easily swayed, we should be prepared to support it even if all many of those in our host country (especially if you live in the West) support the war with a fervor. Not standing by the DPRK and against war would show the weakness of “the Left” and prove the capitalists had “won,” something that none of us want.

Notes

[1] Samuel Smith, “22-Y-O American Otto Warmbier Dies After Spending 17 Months in North Korean Prison,” Christian Post, June 19, 2017; Stacey Leasca, “Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the American student’s capture and release in North Korea,” Mic.com, June 19, 2017; Shreesha Gosh, “Donald Trump Says Otto Warmbier Death Caused By North Korea’s ‘Brutal Regime’,” International Business Times, June 20, 2017; Josh Lederman and Matthew Pennington, “Efforts of one U.S. official bring Otto Warmbier home,” AP, June 18, 2017; David Choi, “‘No words were spoken’ — Otto Warmbier’s roommate in North Korea describes the day Warmbier was arrested,” Business Insider, June 19, 2017; Andy Sharp, “Student’s Death Puts Trump Back to Square One on North Korea,” Bloomberg News, June 20, 2017; Maggie Fox, “What Killed Otto Warmbier? Maybe an Infection or Blood Clot,” NBC News, June 20, 2017; Patrick Grafton Green, “Who is Otto Warmbier? Why did North Korea imprison him? How did he die? All we know on late American student,” Evening Standard, June 20, 2017; Otto Warmbier dies days after release from North Korean detention,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Choe Sang-Hun, “Otto Warmbier’s Death a New Wedge Between U.S. and North Korea,” New York Times, June 20, 2017. Months of diplomacy for this release seemed to fade into the background.

[2] Fuster Kung, “Death of American detained in North Korea baffles experts,” AP, June 20, 2017, reprinted in the Washington Post; CNN Wire, “John McCain: North Korea ‘murdered’ former detainee Otto Warmbier,” NBC 4, June 20, 2017; Fred Haitt, “Remind me again why we ignore the thousands languishing in North Korea’s concentration camps?,” National Post, June 19, 2017, reprinted from the Washington Post; Christian Caryl, “The North Koreans treated Otto Warmbier like one of their own,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Gordon D. Chang, “State-Sanctioned Murder: North Korea Killed Otto Warmbier,” The Daily Beast, June 19, 2017; Danika Fears, “North Korea kills American student,” New York Post, June 19, 2017; Cortney O’Brien, “Rubio Minces No Words: Warmbier Was ‘Murdered’,” TownHall, June 19, 2017; Patrick Maguire, “Otto Warmbier’s death reminds us of North Korea’s brutality,” New Statesman,  June 2017; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Claims Otto Warmbier Sought Regime Change,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2017; Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman, “Otto Warmbier’s death after release from North Korean detention brings sympathy, anger,” Dayton Daily News, June 19, 2017; CBS News, “S. Korean leader says N. Korea bears “heavy responsibility” for Otto Warmbier’s death,” June 23, 2017.

[3] Bill Chappell, “Tour Company Used By Otto Warmbier Will Stop Taking Americans To North Korea,” NPR News, June 20, 2017; Andreas Litmer, “Warmbier death: Will people still travel to North Korea?,” BBC News, June 20, 2017; Charlie Chappell, “Otto Warmbier’s Death May Spell the End of American Tourism to North Korea. Sadly, That’s About It,” Time.com, June 22, 2017; Neil Connor, “Otto Warmbier’s travel agency stops taking American tourists to North Korea after ‘risk became too high’,” The Telegraph, June 20, 2017; Adly Choi, “Inside the Sketchy Travel Company That Took Otto Warmbier to North Korea,” Nextshark, June 23, 2017. The father of Warmbier did make an honest perception of the horridness of this company even though it has anti-DPRK diatribes within it: “This Chinese company has slick ads on the internet, claiming no American ever gets detained…They lure Americans. And that’s what happened to my son. He was trying to leave the country and he was taken hostage. They advertise it as the safest tour ever. But they provide fodder for the North Koreans. They took him hostage. And the outcome is self-evident.”

[4] Tim Schwarz, Will Ripley, and James Griffiths, “Exclusive: North Korea reveals alleged U.S. prisoner to CNN in Pyongyang,” CNN, Jan. 11, 2016; Taehoon Lee, “North Korea detains fourth US citizen,” CNN, May 8, 2017; BBC News, “North Korean university names detained US citizen,” Apr. 24, 2017; Tom Cleary, “Tony Kim aka Kim Sang-Duk: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, May 1, 2017; Anna Fifield, “North Korea detains American at airport,” Washington Post, Apr. 23, 2017; KCNA, “Relevant Institution of DPRK Detains American Citizen Jin Xue Song,” May 7, 2017; James Pearson, “North Korea detains third U.S. citizen,” Reuters, Apr. 23, 2017. On May 7th, KCNA said “a relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Jin Xue Song [Kim Hak-song] on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspicion of his hostile acts against it. He had worked for operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A relevant institution is now conducting detailed investigation into his crime.” Currently there are FOUR detained foreign nationals in DPRK, if Wikipedia is right.

[5] Kathy L. Gilbert, “North Korea releases comatose Otto Warmbier,” United Methodist News Service, June 15, 2017; Pyongyang Times, “American Arrested for His Hostile Act against DPRK,” Jan. 23, 2016.

[6] Pyongyang Times, “American Arrestee Interviewed,” Pyongyang Times, March 1, 2016; Pyongyang Times, “American Student Sentenced to 15 Years of Hard Labor in DPRK,” Pyongyang Times, Mar. 16, 2016.

[7] This English translation is very close to another I found from WIPO records.

[8] Jason Hanna, Joshua Berlinger, and Emanuella Grinberg, “Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has severe brain injury,” CNN, June 16, 2017.

[9] Maggie Fox, “Otto Warmbier Has Extensive Brain Damage, Doctors Say,” NBC News, June 16, 2017.

[10] “American citizen released,” Pyongyang Times, June 16, 2017.

[11] KCNA, “DPRK FM Spokesman Accuses U.S. of Slandering Humanitarian Measure,” June 23, 2017.

[12] KCNA, “DPRK bashing by the US and s. Korea prompts firestorm of protest,” Pyongyang Times, June 25, 2017.

[13] Jonathan Allen, “Otto Warmbier’s family declines autopsy for US student released by North Korea,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “An objective assessment of Warmbier’s fate: Challenging U.S mythologies,” June 20, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “Otto Warmbier as a symbol of American Privilege,” June 18, 2017.

[14] Daily NK, “The dire reality of “universal health care” in North Korea,” June 2, 2015; Barbara Demick, “North Korea’s healthcare is a horror, report says,” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2010; Caroline Gluck, “N Korea healthcare ‘near collapse’,” BBC News, Nov. 20, 2001; The Week Staff, “North Korea’s ‘horrifying’ health care system,” The Week, July 19, 2010; The Telegraph, “North Korea’s health system ‘on its knees’,” July 15, 2010; Laura Oneale, “North Korea’s Health Dilemma,” June 22, 2013; Freekorea.us, “A guerrilla health care system for North Korea’s poor,” Sept. 28, 2015; Radio Free Asia, “North Korean Health Care ‘Fails’,” July 20, 2010; Sean Alfano, “North Korea’s health care horror, doctors sometimes perform amputations without anesthesia: report,” NY Daily News, July 15, 2010.

[15] I’m not even going to link this horrible report, just the title page if those who are skeptical want to “prove” that I’m right, which would be utterly obnoxious. If you want to read hideous, digusting, orientalist propaganda and fill your mind with lies, go right ahead, but you’ll be no comrade of him.

[16] BBC News, “Aid agencies row over North Korea health care system,” July 16, 2010.

[17] Josiah Cha, “‘Every patient had malnutrition’ – on a medical mission in North Korea,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2015. I think this is the same medical mission.

[18] See pages 126, 127, 128, 129, 130.

[19] As CNN (“Red Cross: North Korea medical system near collapse,” Nov. 6, 1997) and hateful “North Korea watchers” (Liberty in North Korea, “SONGBUN | Social Class in a Socialist Paradise,” June 25, 2012) admit, if you read between the lines, capitalism almost caused the DPRK’s healthcare system to collapse in the 1990s.

[20] The report also acknowledges the achievement in “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; [and] genuinely free housing.”

[21] Jonathan Lynn, “North Korea has plenty of doctors: WHO,” Reuters, Apr. 30, 2010.

[22] Brett Schaefer, “United Nations Defends North Korean Health Care System,” The Daily Signal, July 22, 2010; Sierra Rayne, “WHO’s Delusions on North Korea’s Health Care System,” American Thinker, July 24, 2013.

[23] In their travel guidelines for the DPRK, it almost sounds Orientalist, implying that US hospitals are wonderful, shining, and happy compared to those in the DPRK: “Medical facilities in the DPRK lack resources and electricity. Medical personnel have inadequate or outdated skills. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. Avoid surgery. If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance.”

[25] They have also “adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.””

[26] The ROK claims that chemical weapons were developed here, but it undoubtedly a total lie.

[27] 95% of those who drink, drink spirits. There is also strong alcohol consumption by males, more than among females.

[28] This information also says that stroke leading cause of death, with probability of dying highest among men over 70, low in all other categories. It also says that people under age 5 mostly die of prematurity and other causes, that over 60% of population in urban areas, and that life expectancy varies depending on age. It is also worth noting that 16.3% of parliament is composed of women.

[29] Sangwoon Won, “North Korea launches medical videoconference network with help of WHO,” Associated Press, 2010. Reprinted on http://www.wellness.com/.

[30] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea requests medical aid from U.N. agencies,” UPI, July 6, 2015. There are also claims they were trying to learn from China about AIDs.

[31] Han Ryo Gyong, “Rural hospital benefits from telemedicine,” Pyongyang Times, June 24, 2017.

[32] Pyongyang Times, “Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory,” June 20, 2017; Rodong Sinmun, “Kim Jong Un Inspects New Dental Sanitary Goods Factory,” June 20, 2017.

[33] See data here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (likely on archive.org), and this book.

[34] See here for the following books: “Revolution and Socialist Construction in Korea: Selected Writings of Kim Il Sung“; “Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification“; “The Historical Experience of the Agrarian Reform in Our Country“; “North Korean Journey: The Revolution Against Colonialism“; “Modern History of Korea.” Bruce Cummings is no help here. Neither is this article. As for “Jaka Parker” I haven’t watched any videos to have a viewpoint one way or the other.

“Until imperialism is defeated in the region”: The Kurds and the Syrian Arab Republic

Overlay of oil/gas pipelines with Rojava territory. I created this for one of the articles on Rojava I wrote, posting it on Imgur. I am sharing here since I feel it is relevant to this topic. As I said in my article, this map overlay “shows that oil and natural gas pipelines snake through it [Rojava], including one north from Aleppo, and others going through the heart of the territory in Northeast Syria where there is also a concentration of oil and gas fields.”
Recently, I read an article in Worker’s World by an author called Damien or “D. Angelpoulos,” a man who may be a student at a Michigan University. For reasons not yet known, it was deleted (also see here). Regardless, I feel it is only a fair to address his article after writing a two-part series on Dissident Voice about Rojava. The first part, titled “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava” focused on the broad contours of the supposed “state” while the second one, titled the “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics” focused on how this entity is illegal and had illegitimate sovereignty under existing law. Each of those pieces will be quoted and summarized below.

Responding to Mr. Angelpoulos’s article

Mr. Angelpoulos has a very different, while informed, perspective than yours truly. He writes that..

For the past six years, the United States, Israel, NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have waged an unrelenting proxy war against the sovereign, secular state of Syria. The U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, called “moderate rebels” in the corporate-owned media, fights openly alongside forces backed by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These forces, really mercenaries or contras, which include the Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaida in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and others, are largely constituted of foreign fighters.

While this is undoubtedly true, it is more than just the Free Syrian Army or FSA. As I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics,” herein called “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” there is a new “rebel” group in town: the Free Idlib Army or the FIA, a part of the FSA:

…the Free Idlib Army (FIA), [is] a division of the FSA which would theoretically fight “jihadist groups and pro-government forces in [the] northwestern Idlib province” even as it faces likely targeting from such “al-Qaida-linked factions,” even though it has coordinated with them before. The FIA entity, consisting of 30,000 to 35,000 people, is undoubtedly, as one analyst put it, “100 percent an American project,” with weaponry, financial aid, and more, funneled through Müşterek Operasyon Merkezi (MOM), an operations center based in Turkey, operated by the CIA with the supervision of the Turks.

I do not know why Mr. Angelpoulos did not mention this in his article. He almost seems to play the clickbait tab, saying that the “anti-imperialist left” of which he does not define is missing out on “one front in this proxy war” omitting it from their analyses of the situation:

Since last August [2016], the U.S. has been engaged in Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, claiming this is an attempt to “liberate” Raqqa, the proclaimed capital of the Islamic State…The U.S. has aided the Turkish-led operation in an alliance with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

For one, this is confusing way of wording it, since Operation Euphrates Shield is actually a name for the Turkish military invasion of the sovereign Syrian state, not a US-led operation. However, articles from the “Turkish military intervention in Syria” Wikipedia page, only a good starting point on this subject, not a good source in general, indicate that the US has provided air support for Turkish military operations (and in general), but seemed to halt such support in November of last year. Furthermore, there are reports that the operation has “ended” which he also doesn’t say.

The SDF’s largest fighting force is the YPG…The YPG is allied with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and both are allied with the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long fight for self-determination of the Kurdish region inside Turkish boundaries against the brutally oppressive Turkish state.

This is partially deceptive. Although I admit that I do not know everything about this conflict, I think it is worth pointing out that while the PKK has been involved in a decades-long fight within Turkish in which they have been brutally attacked by the Turkish state, they dropped their demand for an independent Kurdistan when Abdullah Öcalan, the “Wizard-of-Oz” of Rojava, was arrested. Furthermore, lest us forget, as I noted in “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava,” called “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” in the rest of this article, the YPG and SDF were helped by US airpower in their efforts to seize control of about 26,000 sq km of Syria, including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” which basically constitutes Rojava.

In a sign of the contradictions inherent in U.S. imperialist policy toward Syria, on April 25 Turkish planes attacked units of the YPG in northern Syria, killing as many as 70 fighters. While U.S. diplomats said they raised concerns with NATO-ally Turkey regarding this strike, nothing concrete was done to stop future Turkish attacks against Kurdish fighters. (Reuters, April 25) This is one example in Washington’s long history of apparently backing one oppressed people and then turning on them.

You could call this an imperialist contradiction. However, but I would also say it fits with the imperial divide-and-rule tactics to break up the Syrian Arab Republic and nearby “hostile” states so they can ruled effectively to benefit Western capitalists. So, in many senses it isn’t as much as a contradiction as you might think, since the Turks AND and these Kurdish fighters are assisting Western imperialist objectives.

Many progressive people see the YPG, which is mostly made up of Kurdish fighters but includes other ethnic minorities as well as Western “foreign volunteers,” as representing the just struggle for Kurdish national liberation. Organized along democratic principles without a vertical chain of command, the forces of the YPG and their movement in northern Syria claim to model their “non-state” on anarchist, eco-socialist principles. The YPJ, the Women’s Protection Units, provide an active leadership role for women in their struggle.

I think that “progressive people” who see the YPG as representing a “just struggle for Kurdish liberation” and as organized “along democratic principles” is typical of the Western and some across the international left. However, as I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” the “state” itself is ILLEGAL. Not only does its creation clearly violate the Syrian Constitution, tearing at the national fabric of unity, but it violates the UN Charter. Hence, it is an illegal entity with illegitimate sovereignty. As I said throughout my series on this topic, Rojava would not exist if it was not for intervention of Western capitalist powers.

The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation of 30 million to 35 million people. They are the world’s largest nation without a state. Most live in the contiguous, underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries and speak their own language. About 14.5 million to 16 million Kurds live in Turkey, 6 million in Iran and 5 million to 6 million in Iraq. The 1.5 million to 2 million Kurds in Syria are the smallest grouping of this nation.

The estimates of how many Kurds there are worldwide vary. The Kurdish Project, a rabidly pro-Kurd website, claims there are 30 million within the ethnic community whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica says it could be as low as 25 million and Cultural Survival says it is 18 million. So, for him to say that they are the world’s largest group of people who is stateless seems questionable if best. This puts his other claims of population figures into question. As I noted in “A Liberated Area in the Middle East,” some have said that there are 4.6 million people within the illegal entity of Rojava. I am aware that the UN Charter talks about self-determination and that the principle, as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is that all peoples “have the right of self-determination” and the ability to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Some would say that Rojava falls under their requirements, which could be interpreted in an anti-imperialist manner. However, I would argue that just because people have that right, which the good “Kurds” have shown they have exercised, does NOT mean they have to use that right. In this case, the right should be waived and not enforced as that would mean, ultimately, victory for the sneering imperialists. Furthermore, it is worth noting that “self-determination is limited by conditions on territorial integrity” as an anti-Soviet bourgeois scholar even admitted (also see here).

Mr. Angelpoulos goes on to say that

During the Kurdish people’s fight for liberation from Turkey, Washington has supplied arms, logistical and satellite assistance, and political support for the Turkish ruling classes against the PKK, which the U.S. labels as “terrorist.” Yet in Syria, Washington has a cynical, opportunistic alliance with the YPG, using those forces to accomplish its aims of destroying the Syrian state. At times, the Syrian Democratic Forces/YPG have coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against IS and other mercenary armies. However, SDF/YPG now operate in coordination with the U.S. military. Despite the SDF/YPG’s progressive principles and organizational structure, the Pentagon’s aim is to have it function as an effective proxy for the U.S. geopolitical goal of dismantling the Syrian state.

There is no doubt that the US has allied with the Turks to suppress the Kurds in the past. I think he is right that the YPG, along with other “good” (by Western standards) Kurds, unlike the “bad” (by Western standards) pro-Syrian government Kurds, as I note in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” is serving as an US proxy force. However, I think he is giving the SDF and YPG too much credit.

It is not obvious what aggression the U.S. plans next for Syria after its deadly April 6 strike on the Sharyat airfield and the May 18 bombing of a Syrian government convoy. If Washington significantly steps up direct U.S. intervention, it will expect cooperation from the SDF in providing ground forces. The Pentagon has already been able to build two air bases in northeastern Syria in the past few months.

It is a good point that U.S. plans for Syria after the April 6 act of aggression and imperial show of force, are not clear. However, as I see it, that attack was a turning point. It meant that US foreign policy was basically being handed over to the Pentagon carte blanche, without restriction. Instead of colluding with the imperialists like Obama, Trump seems to be willing to let them do whatever they want.

Since last year, the U.S. has been sending special forces troops to northern Syria. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated since the U.S. sent several hundred more ground troops to Syria in the beginning of March, “All foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders.” Assad, who is constantly demonized in the U.S. corporate media, is the democratically elected leader of the people of Syria.

On this count, Mr. Angelpoulos is right. As I said in the opening of “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” currently over 17.1 million living in the socially democratic and secular  Syrian Arab Republic which is “ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations” the government led by the duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syria’s parliament, reaffirmed in April 2016 elections by the Syrian people. It is recently that Trump dealt such Syrians “a blow” by directly supporting the “good” Kurds.

The YPG has been bolstered not only by U.S. special forces but also by foreign volunteers including people from the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries. Among them is Brace Belden, who had a Rolling Stone magazine centerfold feature on his role and inspired an upcoming Hollywood film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the “punk florist-turned-revolutionary.” Another volunteer is Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli woman and former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, and the first foreign volunteer in the Women’s Protection Units. These individuals violate Syrian sovereignty and package the  U.S. invasion of Syria as a progressive, “socialist” struggle against Islamic state fascism.

This is undoubtedly true. In “A Liberated Area of the Middle East” I noted how that fact that the YPG were US proxy forces dismayed “two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia”.” If you were going to fight at all in Syria, why not fight on behalf of the Syrian state. To fight on behalf of the YPG and the “good” Kurds is a violent act aimed at the Syrian proletariat and makes those that engage in such acts clear and blatant class traitors. There is no question about this. Such people undoubtedly violate Syrian sovereignty as well, there is no question.

The Rand Corporation think tank has drawn up various “peace plans” throughout the war, detailing the U.S. and its allies’ latest plans for the partition of Syria. The most recent, dated this year, projects large swathes of Kurdish-administered territory extending about halfway to Raqqa in the south and almost to Manbij in the west, as well as a corner encompassing Azaz in northwestern Syria. Buffering these zones are “proposed international administration” zones, code words for NATO occupation and Turkish-controlled areas. Notably, these “Kurdish zones” in northeastern Syria encompass much of the country’s greatest natural wealth, including its largest oil reserves.

I would not be surprised by the fact that Rand would engage in such politicking and call for the break-up of the country. After some searching, I found the report (I think) referenced here, and is one of RAND’s “scenarios” on what could happen:

In Syria, a peace process has resulted in recognized “zones of control” divided among the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the regime, and the opposition…After the zones are announced, a wave of internal displacement further consolidates Kurdish populations in the PYD zone of control; minorities including ‘Alawis, Christians, and Druze in the regime zone of control; and Sunni Arabs in the opposition zone of control. Mixed towns and border areas where the zones abut are the sites of particular ethnosectarian bloodletting. Even in microstates too small to partition, Sunni and Shi‘a self-segregate by neighborhood, with Manama and Kuwait City, particularly, divided between heavily Sunni and heavily Shi‘a neighborhoods…On the one hand, less interaction between sects decreases the daily incidence of conflict. On the other hand, the segregation of communities deepens prejudices, foreshadowing a brewing conflict

Hence, this does not seem to be what they are advocating, but it is a proposal they have under advisement to say the least. Another report actually seems to advocate intervention in the region, showing that the “good” Kurds can (and should stay) allies for the murderous empire:

…Located almost entirely in the north of the country, Syrian Kurds have a longstanding history of opposition to the Assad regime…Syrian Kurds are pressing forward against IS with U.S. military support, and their surging confidence led them to claim an independent state in the northwest…the most effective Kurdish forces engaged with IS…[are more] effective at offensive operations and, ostensibly, more useful for postconflict stability…the extreme violence of the Syrian war has made reconciliation with al-Assad all but impossible…this option seeks to protect Sunni, Kurdish, and other non-Alawi Syrians; create safe spaces for the return of refugees; and establish alternative governance in non-Alawi areas. Military force, including ground forces, may be used to expel GoS military forces from southern Syria and to expel IS from urban area. All military activities will focus on the reduction of the IS threat and the creation of safe zones for Syrian civilians. In the medium term, the United States and the coalition will invest in repatriation and reconstruction activities within these safe zones, focusing on the eventual development of legitimate local and regional governance. These efforts will be leverage to press Russia to negotiate and help remove Bashar al-Assad from power, while retaining Russian and many Iranian equities in Syria…To defeat IS and prevent its return, the United States will have to help mitigate or resolve all the major issues currently destabilizing Iraq. This means that the United States will have to remain heavily engaged in Iraq for many years, perhaps decades, just as it has remained engaged in Korea after the mid-20th century Korean War and in Kosovo more than two decades after U.S.-led coalition intervention there…this plan would…[include] a national program to recognize the bravery of Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurdish militia fighters… the incorporation of Kurdish paramilitary units into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]…As Iraq stabilizes, it will become far more attractive to regional states as a safe investment for both private and capital wealth funds…the United States could ignore the civil war and focus on the tactical defeat of IS, leveraging Kurdish; Arab; and, if necessary, American and coalition military forces to expel the group from Raqqa and render it incapable of international terror attacks…All efforts should be made to keep the Kurds within a legitimate Syrian state, at least until Syria is fully stabilized…Ideally, Turkey will be a signatory to the Syria agreement and will accept the incorporation of YPG and other groups into the Syrian armed services in exchange for reduced Kurdish independence in the north

Not only does this raise the idea of creating zones for certain ethnicities so they can be easily controlled by the West within Syria, but it would mean, if implemented, a stronger military presence in Iraq (and in Syria undoubtedly), accompanying the overthrow of the duly elected Syrian government with the installation of a “friendly” government. Then after all of that, the US would use the Kurds as imperialist enforcers! Additionally, as a result, the US could easily accept the creation of a Kurdish state by this logic, as the above quote makes clear. This is a terrifying prospect because such a state and these machinations would lead to more chaos and destruction in the Mideast.

If the U.S. aids the SDF to annex northeastern Syria, this will not lead to any meaningful form of Kurdish independence. Rather, it will mean the Kurdish forces will be subordinate to and will collaborate with the U.S., much as the Kurdish regime does inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. will destroy what remains of Syria and purge any progressive forces in the Kurdish movement.

While I could see this as a possibility, based on the RAND report quoted above, a Kurdish state could be created, but it would be subservient to US imperialism. If what he says occurred, there is no doubt that Syria would be destroyed and any progressives in the Kurdish movement could be purged, although the latter may not matter as long as such progressives are willing to bow to their new masters in Washington. More worrying is the fact that Trump seems to be taking DIRECTLY out of the RAND playbook by sending arms and equipment to the “good” Syrians:

Washington has found an effective partner in the mixed Kurdish and Sunni Arab Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), which is dominated by a Syrian Kurdish faction closely linked to a violent separatist movement in Turkey in conflict with the Turkish state. This force has isolated Raqqa and is poised for an assault on the city, but lacks the weaponry that may be necessary for success. Turkey is strongly opposed to any further extension of Kurdish control within Syria and equally opposed to any American effort to arm the SDF. Washington must therefore choose whether to ignore Turkish objections and arm the SDF, seek direct Turkish army participation in the assault as a substitute, or add some American units to the assault force. Waiting for the Turkish army and its Syrian allies to arrive will require postponing the operation several months, with an uncertain end result. Arming the Kurdish‑dominated SDF and introducing additional American forces into Syria,beyond the special operations troops already there, may be the fastest and surest way of retaking Raqqa and other Islamic State territory…Employing Kurdish led forces to liberate Raqqa requires the United States to convincingly assure Turkey that Kurds will not occupy this region once it has been cleared of the Islamic State. This will in turn require some clear understanding between Washington and the Syrian Kurdish authorities. It also requires the availability of some alternative hold force. Once Raqqa and the surrounding region have been cleared, the United States will need to help that hold force resist attacks from residual Islamic State fighters, other violent extremist groups, and the regime…We suggest Washington should offer to place Raqqa, once liberated, under some form of international administration

Once again, these Kurds would be serving Western imperialism, and Raqqa would be in the hand of gleeful imperialists. There is no doubt about that.

At this point, Washington sees the claims to a separate Kurdish region based out of northern Syria as fitting its goal of dividing Syria. With the Syrian state under siege, the attempt to create a Kurdish “autonomous” zone under U.S. guidance is in direct contradiction to the preservation of Syrian sovereignty in defense against imperialism. The U.S. has made this abundantly clear, saying that it plans to station its forces in Syria even once IS has been eliminated.

He is right about that. Creating a Kurdish region that is “autonomous” would clearly violate Syrian sovereignty. But it also would serve the interests of imperialist destruction. Hence, it could be a precursor to further US presence in the county.

Moreover, all of these events obscure the fact that the Syrian government and Kurdish groups have negotiated greater autonomy for the latter on their own terms before. If there is to be any change in the relationship between the Syrian state and its Kurdish inhabitants, it is clear that this change cannot be imposed by the imperialist powers. The U.S., NATO and their allies should have no say in this history.

In this case, I think he is exaggerating the relations between the “good” Kurds and Syrian government. Such relations seem to include possibly partial recognition, but also have been in question since the Syrian government may see such groups as imperial proxies. They likely prefer the “bad” Kurds better, those groups that want to work with the Syrian government, not against it. I definitely agree with the sentiment that there should be non-interference in Syria, which means no meddling by the US imperialists.

The imperialists in the U.S. and elsewhere have planned a grim end for Syria: the destruction of the sovereign secular state in favor of Balkanized ethnic enclaves in the manner of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and any other state that has defied destruction and imperialist plundering since the fall of the Soviet Union. This includes the current aggression against Syria, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I understand his viewpoint here, but I would not say that Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia are Balkanized ethnic enclaves. In fact, the US imperialists failed in that endeavor in Iraq, and likely in Libya which is in the midst of the bloody civil war, from what I can tell. However, it is true that this measure did happen in Yugoslavia, a place where the most of the inhabitants of this former system of federalism “seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own” with a few exceptions. Hence, in that case, US imperialism did not succeed either. But, undoubtedly this idea is carried over to Venezuela (which Trump wants to “fix,” whatever that means) and the DPRK as well, which is troubling and should be stopped at all costs.

There can be no genuine liberation for any peoples — Arab, Kurdish or otherwise — until imperialism is defeated in the region and the right of self-determination is fully realized and respected. Anti-war and other activists in the U.S. and NATO states must stand in full solidarity with the right of all nations to develop their collective livelihood, culture and economy without interference from imperialists. Hands off Syria! All mercenaries out of Syria! Uphold self-determination!

Again, he is correct. Defeating imperialism in the Middle East is needed for genuine liberation of any people to occur. As I noted in a footnote of “The Illegal Entity of Rojava,” if circumstances were different, with the “good” Kurds asking “for direct support from Russia, China, and the Syrian government, instead going directly to grinning Western imperialists, then I would be inclined to engage in international solidarity with them.” I still stand by that claim. I would add Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe (which is facing its threats of violence against the elected government coming from the US-backed opposition) to the list of nations under attack as well, along with others that could easily be added to the list.

Further comments on the “notion of American empire” (a.k.a. the murderous empire)

“The action of U.S. warplanes bombing a Syrian government military convoy near the town of al-Tanf on May 18 marks a sharp escalation of the U.S. campaign to overthrow the elected Syrian government and to dismember the country. It must be protested by all who oppose U.S. imperialism’s aggression. With bloody irony, the Pentagon claimed it attacked the Syrian government convoy because the Syrian trucks had entered “an established ‘de-confliction zone’.”The convoy had moved within 18 miles of a U.S. military base…The Pentagon set up this base without permission by the Syrian government…The Russian government called the U.S. attack a breach of Syrian sovereignty. The air attack took place as President Donald Trump left the U.S. to visit Saudi Arabia…The U.S. bombing also comes just after an agreement creating “de-escalation” zones in Syria was signed by Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria and non-al-Qaida groups that operate in Syria…The U.S. bombing was clearly designed to torpedo this agreement. Its goal is to re-enforce U.S.-defined “safe zones”…partition Syria and overturn the Bashar al-Assad government.”- Workers World Party, May 22.

While some telling the Kurds what they should focus on, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, head of the DIA, is declaring that “Kurdish independence is on a trajectory where it is probably not if but when. And it will complicate the situation unless there’s an agreement in Baghdad,” showing that the imperialists are accepting the “inevitable.” Furthermore, are the stories about how the US-Turkey relationship could be permanently damaged if the “good” Kurds stay in Raqqa while the US gives the “good” Kurds armored vehicles, arms, “machinery, equipment, supplies” along with, as NPR even admitting, in their pro-military manner: “more American troops to head into Syria – maybe a couple of hundred” who are trainers along with “maintenance people to help with these armored vehicles” which would be there along with “some American troops close to the front lines in Syria, special operations forces like Green Berets and Navy SEALs, helping these local forces.”

Hence, the destruction of Syria will continue full force. I stand by what I said at the end “The illegal entity” about possible next steps for everyone reading the article:

…the next steps forward are up to everyone out there reading this and…the international “left[,]” which needs to get its act together with a strong message of international solidarity with governments (and peoples, but not the “good” Kurds) under attack, not division on countries such as Syria.

Hence, there needs to be a united front. After all, Trump is unpredictable in many ways, which some may say is positive but actually bodes badly in trying to counter US imperialism as it is hard to predict what will happen next. This reality of Trump was noted in a fawning Time magazine cover story. This piece said that Trump is not only tuning out “bad news about himself” but he “comes to office with no well-formed ideology,” which sounds a bit like Obama and the “blank screen.” The article further claims that he has “an evolving understanding of history and government” which is clear from his comments about Andrew Jackson ending the Civil War, and uses “his business acumen to help is more fervent supporters” while he is “extremely confident in his own judgment.” The article also notes that Trump has a social media director, Dan Scavino, formerly the general manager of Trump’s Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and that his “willingness to fight is unabated and unfiltered.”

Beyond that, the recent visit to Saudi Arabia seems to indicate that the US has its sights set on the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the Parliament Speaker of Iran, Ali Larijani, argued “it was both interesting and unbelievable to hear that the US President clearly announced the volume of cash he had received in order to make the visit” which seems to be true since he was not only there for US imperialism but to benefit his cronies (also see here) a sort of “foreign triumph” as he faces the never-ending “Russia conspiracy” the Democrats are using to push him out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him. I say this even as I dislike Trump very much and feel he is an utter monster. Still, I don’t believe the claims of a such a conspiracy in the slightest. It is all a smokescreen to me even if questions about his stability in the future. Focusing on such a conspiracy distracts from the damage Trump and his loyal minions are doing to public lands, education, public assistance, and worldwide imperial aggression of course, while supporting increased police brutality at home. As for the journey to Saudi Arabia, it is part of a plan to create an “Arab NATO” which is an idea that threatens the region, which would cause increased instability since the Saudis sponsor many of the Islamic reactionary groups within the region. Clearly, this an anti-Iran move, anger at their measures to mitigate US imperialism.

The looming threat of war against Iran seems to be occurring at the same time the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) seems to be winning on the battlefield, implying that Washington wants to stop such successes. As Al-Jaafari put it, their goal is to combat terrorism, but “state terrorism is being practiced against Syria” with violations of international humanitarian law. I could go on, but the reality is that the Russian and Syrian government forces are the only ones earnestly fighting terrorists. The US and their international coalition which killed 255 civilians last month as the worthless piece of junk, the Syrian Observatory for “Human Rights” (SOHR) which is an imperialist, anti-Syrian government outlet, claimed. The Syrian government is even moving its planes back to the airfield the US bombed in April, showing that the US show of force was worthless and pathetic. At the same time, the Russians seem to be willing to weaken the Syrian state and benefit the “good” Kurds possibly because they have a capitalist class as well and see something positive in the “good” Kurds. This is happening at the same time that the US slaps more sanctions on the Syrian government and by extension the Syrian people as a whole.

The Syrian government (and people) will continue to be in a precarious situation until the end of the conflict and withdrawal of Western imperialism from the region. The best we can do is pledge solidarity with those fighting the mercenaries of imperial conquest, not only Daesh but the “rebel” forces and “good” Kurds, and all of those standing against global capitalism, even with our respective critiques.

A bunch of baloney: The Trump-Russia “connection”

A scene from “Two Bad Neighbors” (S7E13), a Simpsons episode where Homer fights with George H.W. Bush after Bart accidentally destroys his novel and Bush spanks him

Two nights ago, 60 Minutes came on at 7:00. They claimed they had an “exclusive” interview with James Comey, the FBI Director and long-time bureaucrat. It cast Comey as a nice, well-spoken person, not a showboater as Trump has called him. Hence, it was, like pieces they have done on Apple, drones, and many other subjects, a puff piece. Since May 9, bourgeois liberals and progressives have been waiving their hands, which has even been joined by “progressive” media like The Real News, putting out three stories trying to attest that Mr. Comey was fired because of (1) Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, (2) considering the hypothetical of such interference while claiming there is financial ties between Trump and Russia, (3) and acting the Trump-Russia connection is real. Of all the media, not Democracy Now or any of the other left-leaning media was of note, but rather Liberation News, a publication of the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) had the best perspective on the topic. Brian Becker, the coordinator of ANSWER, noted how the Democratic Party and liberal organizations closed ranks in their call for a “special prosecutor to “protect our democracy” from the Russian menace” and held up Mr. Comey as “the martyred champion” just like 60 Minutes. He goes on to say, rightly, that it is ridiculous to think that Mr. Comey was “the one person who had the goods on Russia” with his firing ending the investigation, that Clinton blamed Comey and the Russians for her defeat, not the arcane Electoral College, that “the Watergate investigation was based on an actual criminal act” unlike this “connection,” and that none of the allegations have been proven. Mr. Becker interestingly noted that not only did the FBI tell the DNC that its “email servers had been compromised by “Russian hackers”” but Crowdstrike, was allowed by the FBI, even though it was “a privately owned Democratic Party-aligned cybersecurity firm,” to provide supposed evidence Russians did it, which is suspect since “CrowdStrike is owned by Dmitri Alperovitch, who is Russian and a virulent opponent of Putin.”

Previously I’ve written about the supposed “connection” between Trump and Russia. I’ve argued that the Trump Administration was making Russophobic moves, continuing the same policies of the Obama “era,” while also hoping that a pro-Russia approach by such an administration could reduce conflict, and saying that there should be solidarity with those countries under attack by US imperialism and against Trumpian fascism instead of getting “caught up in the supposed Trump-Russia “connection.”” Before that, I said that Trump was considering Russia as a partner against terrorism even as he proposed more imperialism to “solve” the problems in the world but warned that tensions with Russia will continue while pointing out Obama’s hawkishness when it came to Russia (and to the rest of the world) with Clinton undoubtedly doing the same, since she likely would have “started WWIII with bombing Russian troops in Syria.” Four months ago, I summed up the whole hullabaloo around this issue, writing (links have been removed for easier reading):

…the anti-Russian campaign [is being] pushed by the Democratic Party, certain Republicans, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with internal (FBI) and external (CIA) police of the empire, and “left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn Greenwald, and other “respected”  publications like Mother Jones…a possible conflict within the administration is brewing about the threat of Russia as some want to take more of a defiant stance and others want to be more cordial…there doesn’t need to be a protest against rapprochement with Russia, but instead against a reactionary Russophobic position by Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the like…[we must] organize to stop the “orange menace” not because of his supposed “friendly” nature with Russia, but for the fascism he will bring to the homefront, imperialist destruction that will rein down on the peoples of Korea, Syria, China, and Iran, and unwavering support for the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

I still stand by this same viewpoint, but I went through a Wikipedia article titled “Russian interference in the 2016 United States election” so you don’t have to, and what I found confirmed by perceptions. As a disclaimer, this article is NOT pro-Trump in any way, shape or form, but only shows the Trump-Russia “connection” as fraudulent based on analysis of existing articles written on the subject and that such bourgeois media that wrote these articles should generally not be trusted.

Muddying through Wikipedia

There is no doubt that like Google, Wikipedia is fundamentally bourgeois, even with the “non-profit” status of the Wikimedia Foundation will controls the site. I say this even as a person who has edited numerous Wikipedia articles myself in hopes to countering bourgeois distortions. The following is a list of sources, with articles in the footnotes, that have been cited as “proof” that there is a Russia connection:

  • Unnamed “U.S. officials,” current and former, always ranging in number, sometimes “senior” and have “access to information,” sometimes in the White House. [1]
  • Unnamed “Western intelligence” officials, either in U.S. or foreign intelligence. [2]
  • Information or reports “obtained by a Western intelligence service” that only the media can see, like a secret CIA assessment. [3]
  • Obama administration officials (prior to November 8 election), including Ben Rhodes, Josh Earnest, and President Obama himself [4]
  • Christopher Steele dossier on Trump-Russia “connections,” with documents that haven’t been verified but may have been used as a “roadmap” for investigation by the FBI, who was open to paying him for the information, among other aspects [5]
  • Crowdstrike, the pro-Dem firm run by an anti-Putin individual contracted by the DNC to investigate the hack, blamed the Russians [6]
  • “Guccifer 2.0,” the Romanian hacker who claims he gave docs to Wikileaks even though this has not been confirmed, to whom Roger Stone claims he talked to and has a “backchannel” to Assange, both of which can’t be proven. [7]
  • “suspicious” supposedly “pro-Russia” actions by DCLeaks and Wikileaks or weak supposition [8]
  • DHS, DNI, and private security companies “conclusions,” with specific reference to a  14-page document by CIA, DNI, and FBI, had “high confidence” in Russian involvement, a report commissioned by Obama, even though the Intelligence Community Assessment or ICA was drafted by the CIA, FBI, and NSA, relies on “reporting” of varied sources and “multiple corroborating sources,” their “assessment” based on how they see Russian behavior, claims that Putin and Russian government had preference for Trump over Clinton, claim Moscow used disclosed documents, accessing DNC databases, because RT, other Russia state outlets, was critical of Clinton (that means they swung the election for Trump?), criticizing US shortcomings in civil liberties and democracy using an open source report published in 2012, criticizing US (means that RT is somehow pro-Trump?), RT hosts criticize fracking (so they serve Russian interests?), they even admit near the end of the report that even as RT has more YouTube views and subscribers, CNN has the most Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and Facebook likes of the bourgeois news organizations they list (Al Jazeera English, BBC News World, along with RT), admit at the end that even an assessment of “high confidence” could “be wrong” with the assessment not necessarily a “fact or certainty” [9] Later, these same agencies, CIA, FBI, and NSA stood by their previous assessment, of course.
  • Claims of Russian business ties with Newsweek even admitting that they can’t find any illegal action, and noting there are business ties across the world [10]
  • Claims Putin “praised” Trump, even though he didn’t. [11] Further articles showed that Putin just called Trump a colorful figure or flamboyant, but did NOT call him a genius or any of the other “praise” he supposedly gave.
  • Pending investigations by FBI, NSA, CIA, DOJ, FINCEN (Treasury Dept), and ODNI reps; also some individual agencies are sometimes cited. [12]
  • Max Boot, Clinton campaign, a lawsuit by Bayrock, Toronto Life magazine, news media itself (WashPO and Bloomberg), claimed “Russian trolls,” FBI insiders, and magical “experts” [13]
  • Joint ODNI-DHS statement even admitting that they are only “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” and they only “believe” top Russian officials involved; also Clapper, the DNI, but not “17 agencies” agreeing as some claimed. [14]
  • Private security companies ThreatConnect (likely US military/intelligence contractor), Symantec which received a license from the US military in 2005, FireEye run by a former Pentagon officer, and Dell-owned Secureworks which maintains “close ties to various public and private organizations involved in information security” such as the federal government, intelligence and military sectors [15]
  • Unnamed US, European, and Arab officials [16]

Apart from these piss-poor “sources” of collusion, there are confirmed meetings between Trump Administration officials and the Russians, but every administration, even through the Cold War has met with the Russians, and as some US diplomats admitted, including Clinton ally Michael Morrell, this is not a crime as even James Clapper said at one point. [17] Then there’s Michael Flynn. There is no doubt he was paid by RT for three talks, but so has Ron Paul and other US political personalities they’ve had on their show, so how does this show that the Russians “rigged” the election? [18] The truth is it doesn’t do this at all. Perhaps its better to focus on the fact that he was a registered foreign agent for Turkey, that he was the board member of the pro-drone group (Drone Aviation Holding Corp) for which he gained $24,000, consultant for the hawkish Center for a New American Security, among much more that would make him chummy with the capitalist class. All of this has led to some thinking that the Pentagon is right but that Russian media “lies,” claims that the Russians hacked the Trump campaign too but didn’t release information (disproving the whole collusion), as the Russians note that they also spoke with Clinton advisers, and Putin said that the Democrats should get over their loss in November (they should). [19] As a result of the determination that Russia was “behind” the hacking, a number of events went into motion. The FBI spied on Carter Page for at least 90 days, and Trump conceded Russia role sort of but also didn’t, later decrying a “witch hunt” by the Democrats. [20]

Of course, the FBI and intelligence establishment, along with the lackey bourgeois media are wrong. Still, Clinton strongly believes in Russia role as do some former Intel chiefs and Evan McMillian (former CIA) but RNC doesn’t and neither does David Nunes. The media are so caught up in this, they were angry about publication of official photos, with the Russian Foreign Ministry saying that if they hadn’t published pictures from the meeting, the photos would have leaked, which is probably correct.

With such a predictable propaganda assault by the bourgeois media and Russophobes within the military and intelligence establishments, US public opinion reflects this reality. 51-56% of the public, depending on the poll, believes in such interference, with at minimum, 39% opposing this viewpoint. [21] Furthermore, over 60% of those living in the US have said that they are “concerned” about ties to Russia. Some may say these viewpoints are residual effects of the Cold War, with strongly rooted in anti-communism of that time. However, it is more likely that even with waning popularity of bourgeois media in the United States many still rely on it for news and viewpoints that are critical of US empire are marginalized. It may also have to do with uber-nationalism of Americans, many of whom may not trust Trump and see him as a shyster. The real explanation here is not known.

Trump’s tweets and other commentary

Some may say cite Trump’s tweets as “evidence” of the collusion. A search through his tweets for the word “Russia” shows that this is faulty. Looking through tweets from 2011 to 2016 shows that he is more uber-nationalist, jingoist to use the right word, than having any sort of favoritism toward Russia. [22]

The tweets this year, after his election, which are displayed in the search, are worth focusing on here. They range from Trump declaring that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi met with the Russians, basically saying that meeting with the Russians is normal, calling these Dems “hypocrites,” while again blaming Obama, even claiming he colluded with Russia (no proof of that). He goes on to say that the “so-called Russia story” is (1) “fake news,” (2) claims that there is a magical deal the Clintons made with Russia over uranium which is somehow connected to John Podesta somehow, (3) that the “Trump Russia story is a hoax,” and (4) calls the Russia-Trump connection “phony.” He then said that “things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia” with everyone eventually coming to their “senses,” that the story about Trump’s connection to Russia is an excuse used by Democrats, that Democrat “dealings with Russia” are not investigated by the media, that Clapper noted that there is no collusion between Trump and Russia, asks if Obama was too “soft” on Russia (implying he would be more hardline), and says that the Russians might be laughing at the whole story. Most strikingly is a tweet on May 8, in which he declares “the Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

Then there are two tweets the bourgeois media claims are “evidence” that Trump gave classified information to the Russians. In them, Trump says that it is “absolute right” to share facts with them which pertain to “terrorism and airline flight safety” which he says he is doing not only for “humanitarian reasons” but because he wants “Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.” I don’t see how this “proves” that classified information was shared. Just because Trump says he shared information, who is to say this is classified information? Also, who is to say that these tweets aren’t just part of Trump’s bravado and he’s making the whole thing up?

Five days before this, Trump, in an interview with NBC News, declared the following:

“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Predictably, PolitiFact showed its Russophobia in response. They said that the FBI and intelligence community have “credible evidence” and that Democrats weren’t behind it, cites magical “evidence” in assessments, shows even Federation of American Scientists believes in collision, and also cites Comey and Clapper. As noted earlier in this article, this is utter baloney. While I think there is validity to his statement that the “Russia thing with Trump” is made-up, it is more than just the Democrats. The military and intelligence establishments of the United States, the Democrats, numerous Republicans, other Western intelligence services, and capitalist governments across the “West” have a coordinated Russophobic propaganda offensive. This goes back to 2014 at least, when the “crisis” in Ukraine begun with a coup in the country by Nazi and reactionary forces, seemingly assisted by the CIA and US intelligence in general. In fact, such Russophobia goes back further, perhaps all the way to 1917 when the Soviet Union was founded, but it was a different strain back then, with a lapse in that strain after the demise of the USSR in 1991, and picking up again in 2000 with Vladimir Putin coming to the helm of the independent capitalist Russian state.

The staff of the PSL’s Liberation News put it best, even better than Mike Whitney, as they centered it in an anti-capitalist context.It is worth quoting what they said in part:

“Clinton’s leaked emails have never been conclusively linked to Russia, or to the Russian government. Nor was the leak that novel — the whole game of modern electoral politics is to dig up dirt which compromises one’s opponent…It is likely that Gen. Mike Flynn, then the incoming national security chief, came to some understanding in December with the Russian ambassador about the easing of sanctions. Again, the people who think that this is exceptional — as if presidential campaigns and incoming administrations do not start striking deals before they formally take over — have serious delusions about the workings of politics. What was exceptional was that Flynn lied about it to his own superiors…Most of the Trump team’s purported “collusion” with Russia amounts to rather standard contacts with a foreign government. Trump was open throughout the campaign that he wanted to reorient U.S. policy towards Russia — which would indeed have signified a seismic shift in geopolitics, and would have had dramatic ramifications on crisis flashpoints such as Syria and Ukraine. In this context is it really surprising that his subordinates and team would have developed Russian contacts and back-channels? Why is every conversation with a Russian suddenly proof of foreign control?…the Russia realignment died almost as soon as Trump came into office — CIA-CNN-DNC pressure campaign after the election made sure of that. The administration changed its tone and then doubled down on the new Cold War when it bombed Syria in March [he means April]…But as a political card, the Russia connection remains particularly convenient to the DNC and its associated liberal organizations such as MoveOn. It taps into a long-held and well-indoctrinated prejudice — fear of Russians — while directing the struggle against Trump into channels they can more easily control: investigative committees, special prosecutors, and made-for-tv intrigue…The Russia card gives the Democratic leadership a strategy to weaken or potentially bring down Trump — as their base wants — without actually meeting the demands from below to move the party in a more left-wing, progressive direction.”

A conclusion

It’s hard to know the reason for Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey on May 9, one week ago. Perhaps it was because Marylander Rod J. Rosenstein, who only became Deputy Attorney General on April 26 after near unanimous approval of the US Senate, had convinced Attorney General Jeff Sessions that through revealing the investigation of Killary before the election, he had weakened the “public confidence in the FBI.” [23] Mr. Rosenstein said such in his letter recommending the firing of Mr. Comey, writing in part:

“Over the past year, however, the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage…I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken….The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution…When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information….former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties…concluded that the Director violated his obligation to “preserve, protect and defend” the traditions of the Department and the FBI…Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly…The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong…the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.” [24]

Taking this letter into account, one could almost say that the removal of Mr. Comey was in a sense, a PR move to improve the “reputation” of the FBI, which would appeal to the law-and-order approach of Mr. “expand the drug war” Sessions and Trump himself. This would also explain the timing of the letter. While Trump has supposedly said that the “Russia investigation” was on his mind when he fired Mr. Comey, the decision to fire was likely about improving the FBI’s “image” among the populace as a “nonpartisan” agency although it has never been non-political in any way. I could see how firing Mr. Comey damages Mr. Rosenstein’s “independence,” but I would be wary of calling him a “lackey” of Trump just yet.

With pending investigations in the House and Senate, the “Trump-Russia connection” seems destined to continue as a “legitimate” topic for the rest of this year, maybe for his whole first term. In the meantime, Trump’s EPA has greenlighted a gold mine in Alaska despite the environmental effects, the Trump State Department cited the discredited Amnesty report to smear Syrian government for its “brutality” (which has been rightly dismissed by the Syrian government), the Trump Pentagon continues to kill Syrian civilians every day, and most startlingly, and Trump’s plan to review protections on 27 national monuments could very well open up “more than 2.7 million acres of iconic US landscape” through extraction of oil, coal, and natural gas.

But, instead, say the hard-nosed bourgeois liberals and progressives, let’s all dance around with glee, allying with the US intelligence and military establishments, and impeach Trump for his “traitorous” action of talking with the Russians, who they think, based on the propaganda from the bourgeois media, rigged the election for Trump. Nothing could be more ridiculous. There is no doubt that the Electoral College is an institution which supported slavery, racism, bigotry, and exploitation, while muting popular movements. However, as it stands now, this means that by the existing laws, based in the “supreme” law of the land, the US Constitution, Trump was elected legally. This was not only because Killary didn’t care about the white section of the working class but due to her crass elitism like calling all of Trump’s supporters “the basket of deplorables…[they are] racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it,” a faux pas as bad as Mitt Romney’s remarks in which he said that 47% of the populace will vote for the populace and are entitled, people who “pay no income tax,” whom Romney doesn’t care about at all.

The talk of Trump-Russia “collusion” will go on, but as reasonable people we must be above this, rejecting such narratives and work with those affected by Trumpian fascism Lest us not be dupes of the bourgeois media as many bourgeois liberals and progressives already are, trapping many publications in self-made deception, while the capitalist class laughs in glee as they continue to destroy the work, crushing resistance wherever it can be found, and by whatever means at their disposal.

Notes

[1] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; AP, “Trump transition raised flags about Flynn Russia contacts,” May 5, 2017; Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Washington Post, May 15, 2017; William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden, “U.S. Officials: Putin Personally Involved in U.S. Election Hack,” NBC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016; Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, and Elise Labbott, “Intel analysis shows Putin approved election hacking,” CNN, Dec. 16, 2016; , “Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election – documents,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Jack Stubbs and Denis Pinchuk, “Russia denies Reuters report think tank drew up plan to sway U.S. election,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Ken Dilanian and William M. Arkin, “Blackwater Founder Repped Trump at Secret Meeting Overseas: Sources,” NBC News, Apr. 3, 2017; Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” CNN, Jan. 12, 2017; Washington Newsroom of Reuters, “U.S. intel report identifies Russians who gave emails to WikiLeaks -officials,” Reuters, Jan. 6, 2017; Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” New York Times, Feb. 14, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Michael S. Schmidt, “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking,” New York Times, Mar. 1, 2017.

[2] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; CBS News, “More details on U.S. probe of Russian hacking of DNC,” YouTube, Dec. 14, 2016; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and James Gordon Meek, “Officials: Master Spy Vladimir Putin Now Directly Linked to US Hacking,” ABC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Ali Watkins, “Intel Officials Believe Russia Spreads Fake News,” BuzzFeed, Nov. 30, 2016; Ken Dilanian, “Official: Flynn Discussed Sanctions With Russians Before Taking Office,” NBC News, Feb. 10, 2017; Spencer Ackerman, “Intelligence figures fear Trump reprisals over assessment of Russia election role,” The Guardian, Dec. 11, 2016; Shane Harris, “Donald Trump Fuels Rift With CIA Over Russian Hack,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 11, 2016; Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, and Nick Hopkins, “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” The Guardian, Apr. 13, 2017.

[3] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House,” Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2016.

[4] Euan McKirdy, “WikiLeaks’ Assange: Russia didn’t give us emails,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2017; Fox News, “Obama says US needs to respond to Russian cyberattacks — ‘and we will’,” Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016.

[5] Adam Goldman, “Russian Spies Tried to Recruit Carter Page Before He Advised Trump,” New York Times, Apr. 4, 2017; Scott Shane, “What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier,” New York Times, Jan. 11, 2017; Julie Pace, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met with Russian spy in 2013,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 3, 2017; Ali Watkins, “A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy,” BuzzFeed, Apr. 3, 2017; David Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” Mother Jones, Oct. 31, 2016; Tom Hamburger and Rosalind D. Helderman, “FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier,” Washington Post, Feb. 28, 2017; BBC News, “Meeting the man behind the Trump memos,” Jan. 14, 2017; Rosie Gray, “‘It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump’,” The Atlantic, Jan. 10, 2017; Natasha Bertrand, “The FBI is reportedly using the explosive Trump-Russia dossier as a ‘roadmap’ for its investigation,” Business Insider, Mar. 30, 2017; Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Manu Raju, “FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation,” CNN, Apr. 18, 2017.

[6] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Dmitri Alpervitch, “Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee,” Crowdstrike, Jun. 15, 2016.

[7] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Trump adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017; Chas Danner, “Trump Adviser Roger Stone Admits Messaging With Alleged DNC Hacker,” New York magazine, Mar. 11, 2017; Martin Matishak, “Roger Stone takes center stage as Congress lines up Russia probe witnesses,” Politico, Mar. 20, 2017; Maggie Haberman, “Roger Stone, the ‘Trickster’ on Trump’s Side, Is Under F.B.I. Scrutiny,” New York Times, Mar. 21, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Adviser Had Twitter Contact With Figure Tied to Russians,” New York Times, Mar. 11, 2017.

[8] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016.

[9] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “ODNI Statement on Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” IC On the Record (tumblr), Jan. 6, 2017; Bryon Tau, “Trump’s top intelligence officials accept conclusion that Russia hacked election,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2017; New York Times, “Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking,” Jan. 6, 2017.

[10] Kurt Eichenwald, “How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security,” Newsweek, Sept. 14, 2016; Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016.

[11] Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016; Jeremy Diamond and Greg Botelho, “Putin praises ‘bright and talented’ Trump,” CNN, Dec. 17, 2015.

[12] Ken Dilanian, Robert Windrem, William M. Arkin, and Tom Winter, “FBI Making Inquiry Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager’s Foreign Ties,” NBC News, Nov. 1, 2016; Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, “FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump,” McClatchy, Jan. 18, 2017; Zeeshan Aleem, “6 different agencies have come together to investigate Trump’s possible Russia ties,” Vox, Jan. 21, 2017; Stephen Collinson, “FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017.

[13] Jeff Nesbit, “Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia,” Time, Aug. 15, 2016; Rachel Roberts, “Donald Trump fired James Comey because ‘he refused to end Russia investigation’, say multiple FBI insiders,” Independent, May 11, 2017; Leo Benedictus, “Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges,” The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2016; Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts, and JM Berger, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy,” War on the Rocks, Nov. 6, 2016; Jill Dougherty, “The reality behind Russia’s fake news,” CNN, Dec. 2, 2016; Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2016 (the infamous story in which they promoted PropOrNot, which STILL hasn’t been deleted).

[14] DHS and Director of National Intelligence, “Joint DHS and ODNI Election Security Statement,” Oct. 7, 2016; Spencer Ackerman and Sam Thielman, “US officially accuses Russia of hacking DNC and interfering with election,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2016; Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjan, and Philip Rucker, “Top U.S. intelligence official: Russia meddled in election by hacking, spreading of propaganda,” Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2017; Fred Flitz, “Was Friday’s declassified report claiming Russian hacking of the 2016 election rigged?,” Fox News opinion, Jan. 7, 2017; Tessa Stuart, “A Who’s Who of the Trump Campaign’s Russia Connections,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 2, 2017.

[15] ThreatConnect, “Does a BEAR Leak in the Woods?,” Aug. 12, 2016; Kevin Poulsen, “How the U.S. Hobbled Its Hacking Case Against Russia and Enabled Truthers,” The Daily Beast, Jan. 6, 2017; SecureWorks, “Threat Group-4127 Targets Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign,” Jun. 16, 2016.

[16] Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017.

[17]Michael S. Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, and Matt Apuzzo, “Kushner and Flynn Met With Russian Envoy in December, White House Says,” New York Times, Mar. 2, 2017; Mark Landler and Eric Lichtblau, “Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Inquiry,” Mar. 2, 2017; Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg, “Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms,” New York Times, Apr. 6, 2017; Jonathan Easley, “Diplomats warn of Russia hysteria,” The Hill, Mar. 11, 2017; Ken Dilanian, “Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion,” NBC News, Mar. 16, 2017; NBC Meet the Press, “Full Clapper: ‘No Evidence’ of Collusion Between Trump and Russia,” 2016?; Todd Shepard, “James Clapper: Still no evidence of any Russian collusion with Trump campaign,” Washington Times, May 8, 2017; Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose,” Washington Post, Mar. 1, 2017; Julie Pace, “Senate committee calls on former Trump adviser Carter Page in Russia investigation,” Associated Press, Mar. 6, 2017; Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017; David Ignatius, “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?,” Washington Post opinion, Jan. 12, 2017; Marshall Cohen and Eli Watkins, “Who is Carter Page?,” CNN, Mar. 4, 2017.

[18] Michael Isikoff, “Moscow paid $45,000 for Flynn’s 2015 talk, documents show,” Yahoo News, Mar. 16, 2017; Lachlan Markay, “Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Payments From Russian Propaganda Network,” The Daily Beast, Apr. 1, 2017.

[19] Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd, “How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too),” The Daily Beast, Aug. 6, 2016; Carl Schreck, “FBI Director: No Evidence Russia Successfully Hacked Trump Campaign,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty (US government propaganda outlet), Jan. 10, 2017; David Filipov, “Putin to Democratic Party: You lost, get over it,” Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016; Olivia Beavers, “Kremlin spokesman: Russian ambassador met with advisers to Clinton campaign too,” The Hill, Mar. 12, 2017.

[20] Julie Hirschfield Davis and Maggie Haberman, “Donald Trump Concedes Russia’s Interference in Election,” Jan. 11, 2017; Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett, and Adam Entous, “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page,” Washington Post, Apr. 11, 2017; Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann, “Trump Cries ‘Witch Hunt’ as Russia Questions Pile Up,” NBC News, Mar. 3, 2017.

[21] Gregory Holyk, “Republicans and Democrats split over Russia probes: Poll,” ABC News, Apr. 26, 2017; Steven Shepard, “Russia investigations a ‘witch hunt’? Not according to polls,” Politico, Mar. 3, 2017; Reid J. Epstein, “About Half of Americans Think Russia Interfered With Election Through Hacking, Poll Finds,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2017; Quinnipac University Poll, “American Voters Back Sanctions For Russian Hacking, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Israel, Palestinians Not Sincere About Peace, Voters Say,” Jan. 13, 2017.

[22] In 2011 and 2012, Trump was still a real estate developer and ravenous capitalist. He displayed his unbridled nationalism by declaring Obama weak for not getting the Chinese and Russians to agree on sanctions, while also saying that Obama’s plan to get Russia to “stand up” to Iran has failed, making America a “laughingstock.” He later called Obama weak (again) and showed his affinity with Mitt Romney. The following year, he took a hardline stand in support of an US nuclear deterrent (against Russia), slammed Snowden first as a “traitor” and then as a pawn of the Russians, saying that Russians are “embarrassing” the US, among much more. Trump also said that the Russians are “laughing” at the US, that Snowden is a traitor (and another time), that Russia doesn’t “respect” the US, that Putin is “laughing at Obama,” and that Snowden is a Russian agent (again here). He also claims he spoke with the LGBT community in Russia, that it doesn’t make sense to go in Syria with military force, that the Russians are “better prepared” for war than the US, and that OPEC, China, and Russia are “laughing” at the US (variant of this here). That’s not all. He also said that Obama’s Syria conflict could become a “worldwide conflict,” promoted the Miss Universe pageant in Russia (also see here), that US looks “worse” to Russia than before, that Russian and Chinese leaders are “smarter” than those in the US, that the war in Iraq is “stupid,” that Russia may have driven the US into a “deeper mess,” and that the US looks “weak.” He goes on to say later that the US must be “smart and strategic” when it comes to Russia, mocks Obamacare (also see here),  Russia beat the US in Olympics, which is another “embarrassment,” Russia laughing at the US yet again, that Putin is much more popular than Obama, that Russia should be watched, Putin and Russia have more leadership than Obama, and calls Snowden a piece of “human garbage” who should be brought back to stand trial. He later tweets about Russian moves in Ukraine, a China-Russia oil deal, the country seeming “weaker” in comparison to Russia, joking about Obama’s “trade” with Russia, China and Russia not helping fighting ISIS which angers him (also see here), and slamming Jeb Bush (also see here). Later years, in 2014 and 2015 he says that the US needs “great leadership,” that Russia isn’t a regional power, that China and Russia are “smart” unlike US leaders, Russia and the world “respecting” the US because of Trump (oh really), slamming the Iran deal as helping Russia. There are the tweets that some would say are “pro-Russia.” With his bravedo, Trump claimed, before he was elected/selected via the Electoral College in November 2016, that (1) “Putin likes me,” (2) he has “ZERO investments in Russia,” (3) says that Putin called him a genius (he didn’t), and (4) said that if any country had the deleted emails of Killary, including the Russians, they should leak them. Yet, this is countered by the fact that he criticized Russia for its occupation of Crimea (which was done by referendum, which he doesn’t believe), blaming Obama, and condemning Russia’s nuclear capabilities, to give a few examples.

[23] Charlie Savage, “Deputy Attorney General’s Memo Breaks Down Case Against Comey,” New York Times, May 9, 2017; David Leonhardt, “Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test,” New York Times, May 10, 2017; Doyle McManus, “All eyes in Washington are on Rod Rosenstein. Does he have what it takes to investigate Trump?,” LA Times, May 10, 2017; Pamela Brown and Eric Lichtblau, “Rod Rosenstein: Trump’s unlikely hatchet man,” CNN, May 10, 2017; Steve Reilly, “Rosenstein: ‘Prosecutor’s prosecutor’ at center of Comey firestorm,” USA Today, May 10, 2017; Benjamin Wittes, “Et Tu Rod? Why The Deputy Attorney General Must Resign,” LawFare, May 12, 2017; Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sari Horwitz, and Robert Costa, “Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey,” Washington Post, May 10, 2017 (claims to tell the “story” of the behind-the-scenes of the Comey firing).

[24] BBC News, “Rod Rosenstein’s letter recommending Comey be fired,” May 10, 2017.

“The most heinous act against humanity”: new imperial sanctions on the DPRK

Five ports in China and Russia which would be monitored/”inspected” by the US as part of the recently-passed sanctions. Map was created in Google Earth.

On the heels of Trump’s aggressive posture toward the DPRK, threatening them with military action (and with diplomatic isolation) if they don’t remove their nuclear weapons, which are their main form of self-defense against the imperial beast, the US House of Representatives in a 419-1 vote passed new round of new sanctions against the DPRK, with only GOP Representative Thomas Massie voting against it, and 10 others not voting. As to date, Mr. Massie has not explained his reasons for voting against this legislation, which is currently being considered by the Senate’s Committee of Foreign Relations. Regardless, this legislation is a direct attack upon the DPRK, trying to coax it to surrender to US imperialists. This article aims to show how that is the case.

DPRK and Russia respond to the law with strong criticism

Yesterday, the Supreme People’s Assembly, the duly-elected unicameral parliament of the DPRK, sent a letter of protest to the US House, condemning the new sanctions. As PressTV describes it, showing that the Iranians undoubtedly feel similar about the legislation, the law targets the DPRK’s “exports and shipping industry” with the new sanctions banning “ships owned or hired by North Korea from operating in US waters or docking at US ports,” prohibiting “products originating from North Korea…from entering the United States,” and requiring Trump to report to the Congress within 90 of the legislation on whether the DPRK “has retreated on its activities or should be reinstated on the government’s list of “state sponsors of terror”” which, if put in place, would “trigger even more sanctions.” The KCNA, in an article titled “DPRK SPA Foreign Affairs Committee’s Letter of Protest to U.S. House of Representatives” reprinted the message of the SPA’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the subject:

The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK avails itself of this opportunity to strongly condemn and resolutely reject the “North Korea Interdiction & Modernization of Sanctions Act” (H.R. 1644) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed on May 4, 2017, and extends this letter of protest. The passage of the above legislation amounts to the most heinous act against humanity that not only infringes upon the sacred sovereignty of the DPRK as well as its people’s rights to existence but also arbitrarily violates universal principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries which run through the United Nations Charter and international laws. That the U.S. House of Representatives passed the above legislation speaks volumes about the ignorance of U.S. politicians who know nothing about the root cause of the long-standing hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and the essence of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula; it is yet another product of hostile policy towards the DPRK. The hostile policy and acts of the United States of America targeting the DPRK – including but not limited to the abovementioned legislation – run counter to the efforts aimed at ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula; it will only further handicap the USA in its attempt to resolve the nuclear issue. If what the U.S. House of Representatives really wants is peace and security on the Korean peninsula and resolution of the nuclear issue, it would do well to delve into more relevant issues such as the establishment of lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, enactment of laws aimed at putting an end to the hostile relations between the DPRK and the USA, etc. There’s no denying that the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development. The consequences will be dire if the U.S. House of Representatives, obsessed with inherent sense of disapproval towards the DPRK, misjudges the DPRK’s determination and capabilities and continues to meddle in other’s internal affairs and bring pressure to bear on another country by invoking its domestic laws. The U.S. House of Representatives should think twice. As the U.S. House of Representatives enacts more and more of these reckless hostile laws, the DPRK’s efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrents will gather greater pace, beyond anyone’s imagination. The DPRK will keep a watchful eye on the next moves of the USA and continue to take legitimate actions for self-defense to counter the hostile policy of the USA towards the DPRK. The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK takes this opportunity to reiterate its position that the U.S. House of Representatives must have [a] correct understanding of the essence of the current situation and make rational moves as regards the issue of the Korean peninsula.

The arguments that the law infringes on DPRK sovereignty, violates “principles of sovereign equality and non-interference” and tries to deny “the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development,” among others in the above quote are completely valid. Similarly, within Russia, the reactions to the law have been broadly negative and rightfully so. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house Committee for International Relations within the Russian Duma, argues that realization of this bill “includes a proposed force scenario in which the US Navy would conduct compulsory inspections of all ships. Such a scenario is simply unthinkable because it means a declaration of war.” In another translation of the same quote, Mr. Kosachev is more reserved, hoping that the bill is not implemented because it if it is, it “envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships” which he argues is “beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war.” Other high-ranking Russian officials felt the same way. Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, was more specific, saying what was important was “the list of nations where US congressmen want to have special control over sea ports” which he notes includes ports within  Russia, China, Iran and Syria, showing that “the United States is again trying to expand its jurisdiction all over the globe.” He added that doing this is almost telling “Russia, China, Iran and Syria that these nations are suspects in crime, which is nonsense, according to international law.” Finally there was Andrey Krasov, the other deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, saying that “the US administration will receive a symmetrical adequate response to any unfriendly steps toward Russia and our allies. In any case, no US ship will enter our waters.”

The law itself

Looking at the text of the law, it is clear that concerns of the DPRK and Russian governments are well founded. The section 104 of the law that talks about imperialist monitoring shows this to be the case:

(a) REPORT REQUIRED.—

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, and annually thereafter for 5 years, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report—

A) identifying the operators of foreign sea ports and airports that have knowingly—

‘‘(i) failed to implement or enforce regulations to inspect ships, aircraft, cargo, or conveyances in transit to or from North Korea, as required by applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘‘(ii) facilitated the transfer, trans-shipment, or conveyance of significant types or quantities of cargo, vessels, or aircraft owned or controlled by persons designated under applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions; or

‘‘(iii) facilitated any of the activities described in section 104(a)

“(b) SPECIFIC FINDINGS.—

Each report required under subsection (a) shall include specific findings with respect to the following ports and airports:

‘‘(1) The ports of Dandong, Dalian, and any other port in the People’s Republic of China that the President deems appropriate.

‘‘(2) The ports of Abadan, Bandar-e-Abbas, Chabahar, Bandar-e-Khomeini, Bushehr Port, Asaluyeh Port, Kish, Kharg Island, Bandar-e-Lenge, and Khorramshahr, and Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, in the Islamic Republic of Iran

‘‘(3) The ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok, in the Russian Federation.

‘‘(4) The ports of Latakia, Banias, and Tartous, and Damascus International Airport, in the Syrian Arab Republic.

‘‘(c) ENHANCED SECURITY TARGETING REQUIREMENTS.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary of Homeland Security may, using the Automated Targeting System operated by the National Targeting Center of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, require enhanced screening procedures to determine whether physical inspections are warranted of any cargo bound for or landed in the United States that—

‘‘(A) has been transported through a sea port or airport the operator of which has been identified by the President in accordance with subsection (a)(1) as having repeatedly failed to comply with applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘(2) EXCEPTION FOR FOOD, MEDICINE, AND HUMANITARIAN SHIPMENTS

—Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any vessel, aircraft, or conveyance that has entered the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea, or landed in any of the sea ports or airports of North Korea, exclusively for the purposes described in section 208(b)(3)(B), or to import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea to meet the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people.

‘(d) SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE

—A vessel, aircraft, or conveyance used to facilitate any of the activities described in section 104(a) under the jurisdiction of the United States may be seized and forfeited under [certain laws]

While these sanctions show that the imperial monitoring of “the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea” shall not apply to those vessels or planes which “import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea,” the fact that there would be monitoring by the US Navy (and Air Force?) is undoubtedly an act of war.

Ports within Iran and Syria that will be subject to imperial monitoring and inspection. Map was created with Google Earth, with titles of countries added in a photo editing software.

Section 104(a), part of an anti-DPRK sanctions law which went into effect last year,  mentioned in the above quote as part of the imperial monitoring, shows these efforts are aimed at the DPRK’s socialist, centrally-planned economy. An excerpt from this section shows this is the case, saying that President shall designate, except under certain circumstances [1], any person who he determines “knowingly, directly or indirectly”  imported, exported, or re-exported the following to the DPRK:

  • “any goods, services, or technology” which could be used for “weapons of mass destruction [WMD] or delivery systems”
  • luxury goods
  • “a significant amount of precious metal, graphite, raw or semi-finished metals or aluminum, steel, coal, or software” which can be used in “industrial processes directly related to weapons of mass destruction” or for the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), the Korean armed forces, “internal security, or intelligence activities, or the operation and maintenance of political prison camps”
  • “any arms or related materiel”

This isn’t all. Also, any person engages in the following can be sanctioned as well:

  • provides training or other services for such “WMDs”
  • engages in “significant financial transactions” relating to the creation or use of such “WMDs”
  • facilitates or engages in DPRK “censorship”
  • responsible for purported “serious human rights abuses” by the government
  • money laundering to support the government
  • “the counterfeiting of goods or currency” by the government
  • “bulk cash smuggling” by the government
  • narcotics trafficking that supports the government
  • “significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against foreign persons, governments, or other entities” on behalf of the government

Considering that the country’s industries focus on military products, building of machines, mining of coal, iron ore, and numerous other “precious metals,” along with food processing and tourism, while importing “metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments)…and fishery products” if the CIA World Factbook is to be given any credibility on this matter [2], these sanctions are not “targeted” but are rather meant to strike a dagger in the DPRK’s economy. Furthermore, these sanctions strike at the “socialist motherland” as a whole by attempting to stop any measures of self-defense (restricting arms transfers, cyber-defense, necessary censorship), or further development (stopping importation of purported “luxury goods”). This is followed by with the common slurs against the DPRK, including its purported “serious human rights abuses,” and other “new” ones including money laundering, counterfeit “goods or currency,” “cash smuggling” and narcotics trafficking by (or supporting) the DPRK’s duly elected government.

The use of narcotics as a slur against governments declared “communist” by imperial elites is nothing new. In his book, Strength of the Wolf, Douglas Valentine writes that while there were Chinese gangs in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, with the profits from opium allowing Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist government/KMT (Kuomintang of China) to survive, working directly with the drug traffickers, the New York Times alleged that Arnold Rothenstein used some of his drug money to finance “communist-sponsored strikes” in New York City’s garment district, the first time in US history that “politicians and policemen were linked with Bolsheviks and drug traffickers.” [3] That’s not all. He added that Chiang’s government, which came to power violently in 1927, which depended on drug smuggling profits, had created an “opium monopoly”/syndicate and paid for individuals to serve as part of their Communist suppression unit, such as Du Yue-sheng. [4] Adding to this, Henry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, was unwilling to acknowledge this reality. As it was evident that the Chinese Communists were engaged in “anti-narcotics activities,” not the Nationalists, Mr. Anslinger dismissed this, continuing to seek evidence that “would link the Communist Chinese to drug rings in Japan, Korea, and China” although no such evidence existed, with later anti-China propaganda asserting that all of the “illicit dope” that reached Japan came from Communist China or People’s Republic of China (PRC) while the US backed the Nationalists. [5] Anslinger made these claims even though he knew they weren’t true as part of a smear campaign against the PRC as the CIA and other entities worked with the KMT in their drug smuggling operations.

Getting back to the law, other provisions show the sanctions are even more extensive section 105, prohibits DPRK vessels (or vessels of any of the DPRK’s allies, like Russia, China, Syria, or any country not complying with sanctions on the DRPK) from entering or operating in “the navigable waters of the United States” and section 106 requires a report on the “coordination” between Iran and the DPRK. Adding to this, section 107 puts in place a report delineating if UN Security Council Resolutions are being followed by other countries, section 108 denies financial messaging services to the DPRK, and sections 201 and 202 put sanctions on the DPRK for “human rights violations.” If that isn’t enough, section 203 rewards informants who allow them to implement murderous sanctions, section 204 declares the DPRK as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and section 103 broadens an arms embargo on the country. Finally, section 102 limits financial interactions with the DPRK, section 101 modifies and expands sanctions on the Korean populace of the DPRK. [6]

The illegality of anti-Korean sanctions

Recently, in a post criticizing Trump’s imperialist act of aggression against Syria, Stephen Gowans wrote that some say that military strike was illegal because it did not have UN Security Council approval and it “represented an unauthorized act of war,” only unilaterally ordered by the White House. However, he says that such discussion of illegality is “academic” because the United States has “amassed a sizable record of crimes in Syria…[including the] intrusion of US military personnel on Syrian soil” which is an act of war. Hence, he concludes that since the US is “at liberty to violate international law with impunity” as an imperial monster, with “no higher authority capable of enforcing international law through the threat of a force” greater than the Pentagon, and that, as a result, expecting the US to “yield to international law is naïve and therefore any discussion of whether this or that act of the United States violates international law is a discussion of no consequence.” While I agree that holding the US accountable for violating international law is near impossible, I do think it is important to highlight if acts are illegal or not, as it shows the corrupted nature of the murderous empire. So, that’s where I disagree with Gowans.

This horrible law violates many international agreements, showing that the law, in and of itself, is illegal. While the legal status of blockades is murky, there is no doubt that this law violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact which basically bans war “as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another,” the UN Charter which requires all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against other member states while preserving state sovereignty, even as it has not acceded to the 1952 International Convention for the unification of certain rules relating to Arrest of Sea-going Ships or the 1999 replacement, both of which Syria is a party to. Even more, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the DPRK has seemingly withdrawn, prohibits “any propaganda for war” which this law has engaged in, even if you take into account the typical imperial reservations by the US Congress. Inspection and monitoring required by this act would undoubtedly violate the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation which prohibits individuals from unlawfully and intentionally seizing and taking control of “a ship by force or threat thereof or any other form of intimidation; or…[destroying] a ship or [causing] damage to a ship or to its cargo which is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship.” Since the DPRK, Iran, Russia, Syria, and China, all of which acceded to the previous convention, just like the United States, are serious about defending themselves from outside threats, there is no doubt they will defend themselves, meaning that US actions to take commercial vessels will become an act of war since those ships cannot, by any means, be considered warships.

There are many more treaties I could consider here in this section, but I do not wish to do that at this time. [7] There is no doubt that the use of force against a state would be illegal as any act of war or forceful action has to be approved by the UN Security Council but also violates the US Constitution which requires that war can only be declared by Congress, with this law basically giving that power to the President, once again. I know that citing the US Constitution may seem like a bourgeois approach, but it is only used here to show that the law is illegal in many forms. Hence, it isn’t worth going through every single international law since the US will likely never be held to account for it.

A conclusion

With all of these approaches, it is evident that the DPRK was right to say the law is “the most heinous act against humanity” and the Russians to call it “simply unthinkable” as it will lead to a declaration of war with further ban on US ships entering sovereign Russian waters. After all, as the murderous empire, the US has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which has been ratified by the Russians and Chinese while the DRPK and Iran have signed the agreement, with the Syrians neither signing or ratifying it. Hence, the US may feel it has the “right” to enter the sovereign waters of Russia, China, Syria, and Iran so they can suffocate the DPRK’s socialist government, making in “bow” in submission.

The DPRK is stuck in a difficult situation. Recently, the DPRK has foiled an attempted joint CIA-South Korean IS (Intelligence Service) attempt to assassinate Kim Jong Un. The Ministry of State Security of the DPRK said on May 5 that both forces “hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK…[using] biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance,” handing the perpetrator, part of a terrorist group that was within the country, $20,000 to commit the act. [8] This shows that the DPRK’s efforts at self-defense on its islands, with its power stations, and continuing to build their form of socialism based on the masses, connected with the idea of Juche while standing up to the US imperialists with “deterrence for self-defence.” These ideals are, in a sense, echoed by the 25% of Russians who believe that nuclear weapons can be a “deterrent for the most aggressive forces in the world” with the “fear of mutually assured destruction encourages peaceful conflict resolution” and honored even by the Zimbabwean state paper, The Herald. If this isn’t enough, just like Syria, to an extent, the DPRK, is surrounded by enemies (Japan, South Korea, and the ever-present United States). However, they are buoyed by the anti-THAAD protests in South Korea even as the South Korean government (not the one that was recently elected) has liked the US missile “shield” program in the past, even as there are daily protests against it “by villagers in Seongju and Gimcheon.” But the DPRK should rest assured even though the US and S. Korean forces still need to properly understand the will of DPRK that Cuba and Syria have pledged their solidarity with them. Even though this solidarity will not, by itself, stop the Pentagon from leading 300,000 troops in a rehearsal for military invasion and “decapitation” of the regime, assisted by, of course, the South Korean government, but it is an important part of an anti-imperialist alliance against US (and Western) imperialist actions which aim to undermine “unfriendly” governments, even if they differ in ideology.

Recently, Trump, the purveyor of “gunboat diplomacy,” says he is willing to talk with Kim Jong Un. However, this requires that the DPRK has to surrender to US imperialism, a sentiment reinforced by a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Anthony Ruggiero, who declared that Trump should only meet with Kim Jong Un if the DPRK surrenders its nuclear weapons, close its supposed “prison camps,” and not “threatening” the US, saying it should bow before US, which is equally unacceptable. It is worth pointing out that many of those living in the US have internalized anti-communist and imperial values. For one, 68% of the US feels it “is important that the U.S. be No. 1 in the world militarily,” 86% of the populace has unfavorable views of the DPRK, with “Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq” also in the same category. With this chauvinism of US populace, it should come as no surprise that 65% of the US are concerned about the DPRK with nuclear weapons, with 78%, in Pew’s results, having an “unfavorable view” of the country.

Despite the recent spat between the state media of the DPRK and Chinese media over the justified nuclear and missile program of the DPRK, it seems evident that the “strong bond between the two countries” will stay in place. [9] Hence, this “expected” victory for the US imperialists will not happen as the imperial threats continue from the “World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser.” After all, the US hopes they will remove the DPRK’s “nuclear deterrence for self-defence” is not going to happen. With the socialist power of the DPRK pushed along by the WPK, even under current conditions, this can resist the hardline positions of the US State Department, with Mark Toner showing that he is one of the many faces of imperialism by saying that “our conviction that we need to apply greater pressure on North Korea to get it to comply to international concerns. There are a number of options…isolation, diplomatic isolation being another one.”

Adding to this, it is troubling that China agreed to “suspend all coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year” in order to curry favor of the US, to appease it. After all, as some recently pointed out, if China brought the DPRK economy to its knees, US imperialism would win. With the WPK having the determination to not “yield to the war threats being hurled right now by the criminal agents of U.S. imperialism” with every right to self-defense, including against the “biggest nuclear weapons state in the world,” the United States, will China hold its ground? Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator, addressed this in an April 18 post in Liberation News, a PSL publication, writing that China has the message from Trump that it must either break from the DPRK or “apply immense pressure on it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile tests” or else Trump will engage in an “another round of unilateral military action on China’s border.” Mr. Becker goes on to say that Trump has borrowed “a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook” with his military action against muting “his ruling class critics,” with the Chinese leadership stunned, thinking that “unless the DPRK backs down from further expected weapons tests” there will be war. He adds that in the past the DPRK has offered to suspend its nuclear tests if the US cancels it “massive, annual military exercises that simulate the destruction of the North” but the Obama and Trump Administrations have rejected this, even as the DPRK mainly seeks a “peace treaty with the United States to formally end the Korean War that began nearly 70 years ago.” He further writes that if there is military action and the DPRK responds, this could “lead to another and possibly greater catastrophe” with the Chinese media insisting that “the DPRK not proceed with its expected missile tests,” sharply demanding that it cancel its upcoming weapons tests, and a Global Times editorial announcing that “China is ready to cut off oil exports to North Korea whose economy has stabilized in recent years.” The end of the article is worth repeating and relevant, even now, almost a month after the piece was written:

Today, the danger of igniting regional and global confrontation is real. China and Russia are backpedaling, hoping that their prudence, or possible appeasement, will deter or deflect the danger. Their position is understandable given the level of risk. But appeasement, as we know from history, poses its own risks in the face of bullying and aggression. Appeasing the bully, the aggressor, invites more not less aggression.

 

Mr. Becker makes a valid point. Any concessions to the US imperialists should be strongly criticized and not accepted, even if those concessions are by Russia and China, both of which are capitalist in their own ways, perhaps Russia more than China. As the CIA creates the Korea Mission Center to “purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” and watch the country like a persistent hawk, complains about the DPRK going to the Belt and Road Forum, the “existential threat” of the DPRK (in the strange mind of CIA chief Mike Pompeo) is being closely scrutinized, like always, by the imperialists. [10] With accusations abound by the DPRK throughout the bourgeois media, the socialist nation can only use its own wit and existing alliances in case of an imperial attack. If war under unpredictable Trump occurs, we should stand beside the DPRK in solidarity even if the war is popular within the United States, any Western country, and especially within those countries in the global periphery.

Notes

[1] If he grants a humanitarian waiver, there are activities relating to “identifying or recovering the remains” of past POWs taken during the Great Fatherland Liberation War (“Korean War”) from 1950-1953, complying with the agreement on the UN headquarters or Convention on Consular Relations, or allowing “financial services” by a non-DPRK foreign financial entity as part of a waiver.

[2] The CIA World Factbook lists the following as the country’s industries: “military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism.” It also says the country exports “minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products” while importing “petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain” with their biggest trade partner (76.4% from China, 5.5% from the Republic of the Congo).

[3] Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (New York: Verso Books, 2004), 8, 10-11.

[4] Ibid, 12-14, 17, 37-38, 47.

[5] Ibid, 68-70, 72, 77-78, 102, 133, 195, 235, 273, 309, 392.

[6] There are numerous other miscellaneous provisions manifested in sections 1-3, 301-304.

[7] See Wikipedia pages “list of treaties,” “list of international declarations,” “law of war” and the ICRC’s “Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries” page along with the Wikipedia category “Treaties adopted by United Nations General Assembly resolutions.” While Wikipedia is never source that should be cited in general, these links are a good starting point, which is why they are included here.

[8] KCNA, “DPRK Warns U.S., S. Korean Intelligence Agencies of Merciless Punishment: Ministry of State Security,” May 5, 2017; KCNA, “Statement of DPRK Central Public Prosecutors Office,” May 12, 2017; KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Gives Briefing on Situation,” May 11, 2017; North Korea wants South’s spy chief extradited over alleged Kim plot,” CNN, May 12, 2017.

[9] A DPRK (North Korean) view on the current situation as noted in a BBC interview. On May 3, 2017, KCNA released an article titled “Commentary on DPRK-China Relations” which was reprinted in Rodong Sinmun under the title “Reckless Remarks Undermining DPRK-China Relations Should Be Stopped,” by Kim Chol, a Vice Minister in the Korean Army, the same person who the bourgeois media claimed falsely was executed by mortal bombardment even though Foreign Policy said it was pure speculation. His article says the following:

The People’s Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S. Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to “the security in the northeastern region of China” by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and “offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets” in the region. Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China. The newspapers, even claiming China holds the initiative in handling the DPRK-China relations, made no scruple of letting out a string of provocative remarks urging the DPRK to choose one among such options if it doesn’t want military confrontation with China–“whether to face protracted isolation or to preserve national security by making a U-turn” and whether to break Sino-DPRK friendship or to dismantle its nukes. This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship. China is hyping up “damage caused by the DPRK’s nuclear tests” in its three northeastern provinces. This only reveals the ulterior purpose sought by it, being displeased with the DPRK’s rapid development of nukes. As far as “violation of national interests” oft-repeated by politicians and media persons of China is concerned, it is just the issue that the DPRK should rather talk much about. It is just the DPRK whose strategic interests have been repeatedly violated due to insincerity and betrayal on the part of its partner, not China at all. Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China. China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. Some ignorant politicians and media persons of China daringly assert that the traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship were in line with the interests of each county in the past. They are advised to clearly understand the essence of history before opening their mouth. Their call for not only slapping stricter sanctions but also not ruling out a military intervention if the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear program is no more than an extremely ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism that not only the strategic interests but also the dignity and vital rights of the DPRK should be sacrificed for the interests of China. One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now. China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience but make proper strategic option, facing up to the situation. China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations.

A Global Times piece DIRECTLY responds, saying that the above piece is just a “stronger disgruntling” but not mentioning China’s support for UN sanctions “against North Korea” or Pyongyang’s next step, with the editorial board claiming that the editorial is “nothing more than a hyper-aggressive piece completely filled with nationalistic passion” and claims that the DPRK does not understand “Beijing’s deep concern for the potential risks posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear tests to people living in northeastern China.” Adding to this is evidence that the Mr. Chol was onto something when he said that “the People’s Daily and the Global Times…have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China.” The Global Times carried many commentaries to this effect in recent days: “Is China-North Korea friendship treaty outdated?” (May 3), “China, US share goal of halting North Korean nuclear tests” (May 2), “Is breakthrough likely on NK nuke issue?” (May 1), and “Pyongyang’s failed missile test adds to Korean Peninsula tensions” (April 29). The People’s Daily has done the same thing, running similar pieces: “Responsible actions needed to ensure peace of Korean Peninsula: People’s Daily” (May 2), “Commentary: the Korean Peninsula is not the Middle East” (April 28), “US, DPRK must hold talks before it’s too late” (April 18), and “Can Korean Peninsula go from geopolitical flashpoint to stable place of peace?” (Feb. 17). Also see this article in Sina English: “China calls for end to provocations on NK issue.”

[10] Joseph Hincks, “CIA Sets Up a Mission Center to Address North Korea Threat,” The CIA has just set up a unit to deal with North Korea,” CNN,  May 11, 2017; Ben Blanchard and John Ruwitch, “Exclusive: U.S. complains to China about North Korea’s attendance at Silk Road summit,” Reuters, May 12, 2017; Matthew Pennington, “North Korea poses ‘existential’ threat, U.S. intel chief warns,” Associated Press, May 11, 2017.

“Slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”: an imperialist act of aggression

One of the victims of the imperialist US airstrike. Courtesy of SANA.

The Syrian Arab Republic is under attack! Yesterday afternoon, two US destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base, in Homs Province, with the US government claiming, falsely, that this was where a chemical weapons attack had been initiated. [1] This strike, deemed a “vital national security interest” by the Trumpster himself, rests on the idea, reminiscent of Bush’s attacks on the Republic of Iraq in 2003. The  top echelons of the war machine once again claim that “there can be no dispute” that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, and that there is a “high level of confidence” of Syrian involvement, with the US striking the air base’s logistics. [2] At the same time, oil man Tillerson has reversed his more reasonable position that BasharAl-Assad’s “long-term status” should be determined by the Syrian populace to calling for outright regime change. More dangerously was not Trump’s predictable argument that past approaches to Assad “failed very dramatically” or that Trump is contradicting himself by opposing Obama’s war in 2013 and now authorizing similar action, but that Russians were at the air base hit by US missiles! [3] This portends that there will be a wider war. This is hinted by a number of facts.  For one, 900 marines, Army Rangers, and other troops are currently in Syria, which may include or add to the 279 Military and Civilian Personnel who are currently in Syria. [4] It is not known whether they were participate in this war or not. Regardless, Trump is a clear warmonger, engaging the same strike plan Obama readied in 2013, building on the imperialist Obama legacy of eight years.

While I am aware that this war is a distraction from Trump’s fascist agenda to cut down funding for social services, support police murders, greenlight pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, among many others, that trample on the rights of indigenous people, and many other horrors, I do think this deserves some treatment so this war can be effectively written about, the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives can be exposed, and an anti-imperialist strategy forward to oppose a war that the capitalist class is giddy about can be proposed.

The reasons for war

Like in Bosnia (1999), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and many actions since, this war has a humanitarian reason behind it. While this military action is hypocritical since the US coalition killed more civilians than Russia or ISIS (called Daesh in the rest of this post) last month, that the amount of explosives in Syria and Iraq will take 40-50 years to clean up, and that this missile strike is one of the many US military forays in the 21st century, with this one putting the US in a proxy battle with Russia’s military, the Pentagon doesn’t seem to care about these consequences. [5] On April 4, the Trumpster declared that the “chemical attack in Syria” was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” saying that the actions by the “Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” claiming that Obama’s administration “did nothing” (not true), and going on to say that the US “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” While this is typical imperialist boilerplate, it should be debunked right here and now.

While the narrative pushed by the Western capitalist government and compliant media claim that Syria is responsible for the attack on Apr 4 in Idlib, indications seem to say this isn’t the case. Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) showed itself to be an organ of imperialism when it declared that “the Syrian regime [needed] to stop using the war machinery, torture and killings against its own people.” Apart from the rush to judgment in this case, the Russian narrative that the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) bombed a terrorist stockpile with chemical weapons, which they didn’t know were in there, seems compelling and credible. [6] This is made further ridiculous by the fact that Syria has already destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile and even if they did, they wouldn’t use them. They have done so in compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is still investigating the attack as I write this. Recently, Russia stood up for Syria in the UN Security Council by stopping a Western-backed resolution on the chemical weapons attack which presumes that the “guilty” party (who they peg as Syria) cannot be allowed to be innocent, leaving countries like Iran to call for disarmament of all terrorist groups in the country, something the West won’t dare to say.

By April 6, the foundation was set for war. When asked about military action in Syria, Trump gave no specifics to the compliant media, only saying that “what Assad did is terrible…what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes,” indicated that he may talk to Russia in the future about it, and declared that “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Such vagueness was in line with the new Pentagon position to not reveal how many troops are fighting Daesh, with 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, as of June of last year, the latest numbers. It also is reminiscent of Trump’s “secret plan” to defeat Daesh that he “didn’t want to reveal” during the presidential campaign.

In his speech later that day at his lush resort in Mar-A-Lago, a show of how he is a fascist capitalist, Trump showed that he is a murderous imperialist just like the presidents before him. He called Bashar al-Assad a “dictator,” saying that he was responsible for killing “lives of helpless men, women, and children” and declaring that he ordered “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched” which he said was a “vital national security interest” of the US, along with declaring that Syria used “banned chemical weapons,” violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, that previous attempts to change “Assad’s behavior have all failed,” and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.” It is this speech that the title of this article comes from, although I twisted his phrase to use it in an anti-imperialist manner rather than an imperialist one. He ended with a typical religious message, claiming ridiculously that as “long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” Anyone with sense knows this is an utter lie, that the US empire is a ravenous, blood-sucking beast.

Later that day, oil man Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and war criminal McMaster, the National Security Advisor, gave a wide-ranging press conference. Tillerson spoke to the media, knowing that they were not adversarial, declaring that there had been two “chemical attacks” carried out by the Syrian govt. on Mar. 25 and 30th, saying that the US government had a “very high level of confidence” this was the case, sounding eerily like the arguments for the Iraq invasion in 2003, part of the first thirty year war on the country (1991-2011). He went on to blame Russia for being responsible for not following UN resolutions, claimed laughably that Assad is “normalizing the use of chemical weapons” (no, the Western-backed terrorists are), arguing that the strike was  “proportional…against this heinous act,” said that the US government did not have any “discussions or prior contacts” prior to the attack with Moscow or Putin, saying that the US operated under “military de-confliction agreements in place with the Russian military.” If this wasn’t enough, he went on to expect that the Kurds and Turks would applaud the action while Bashar al-Assad and Russia, would oppose it, saying that the US wants to “stabilize areas in the south of Syria…Restore them to local governance,” use the Geneva Process to “resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure,” and push out Assad, and said out right that “our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.” This is just imperialist rhetoric, but it could indicate a broader war in the future. McMaster, also the NSA Director, had a lot to say as well. He noted that the attack had been two days of planning, repeating that the US had a “very high degree of confidence precisely where the location originated, and…the sort of chemicals that were used in the attack” thanks to the intelligence community, going on to give a vague story of “three options” available to Trump, but no specifics, and claiming that “the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons we think beyond this particular airfield,” when those committing mass murder is really the murderous US empire. McMaster went on to say that “this was not a small strike,” claimed widely that there had been “50 chemical attacks previously, post-2013, when the U.N. resolution went into effect,” saying that this was “entirely a U.S. operation” did not have “Russian permission” (why would it?)

So apart from the imperial lies and distortions, it is important to recognize the consequences of this murderous action by the Trump administration.

The consequences of international murder

As the Russia hacking narrative seems to fade away into the wind or at least will be pushed away by war, people are suffering from US military aggression in Syria. Before getting to that, it must be recognized that this came at a time that US military aggression in Yemen is increasing, with a US-made famine, a new US drone policy has been declared, more money has been set aside for war, and the SAA is advancing in its fight against Daesh, with the liberation of Aleppo most notably, as the US engages in varied war crimes. [7] So, this was comes at an opportune time. With low approval ratings of Trump’s presidency from Gallup and Pew Research Center, among others, reported relatively recently, the war provides a way for Trump to take advantage of the rally ’round the flag effect to boost his approval rating. Also, it is undoubtedly a distraction, like all wars are, and a way to flex US muscles.

Each of 59 the 2,900 pound Tomahawk missiles, hit “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at the Al-Shayrat Air Base, as the Pentagon claimed, backed up what they implied was “actionable intelligence.” [8] Early indications are that six to nine people, including four children and three SAA soldiers, were killed, with the Syrian media now saying that 20 were injured and one killed, but there is no doubt that this strike makes the US partner of the Western-backed (and Gulf-backed) terrorists within Syria, with unfounded claims by “experts” in the Western bourgeois media. [9] There are questions whether most of the missiles were shot down, but indications seem to say this was not the case. What is clear is that the air base attacked by US missiles had 45 airplane hangers, which were very fortified, reportedly used by Russian jet fighters, along with helicopter gunships, all to fight the terrorists within the country, Daesh and its affiliates. [10] Global Security described more of what the base had:

“…military ammunition and equipment warehouses…fuel materials storage…In 2015, Russia expanded the runways to accommodate Russian aircraft. The forces of the 50th Air Brigade, in particular the 677th and 685th squadrons of the Su-22M3/M4 fighter bombers and the 675th squadron of the MiG-23ML/MLD fighter jets, were based there. Some of the MiG-23s had not moved for many years and obviously were in a state of incapacity. Taking into account losses for previous years, probably, there could be about one and a half dozen of the combat-ready Su-22s at the airbase at the moment of the missile strike…In February of 2016, the Russian military doubled the number of attack helicopters stationed at Shayrat…Russia’s 120th Artillery Brigade with six 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzers was deployed at a Syrian Arab Army base to the south of the airbase. There are reports that the Russians also allowed Iranian Air Force squadrons to utilize the facilities.”

In sum, apart from the smoke and broken fences, the damage was extensive: “runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars” were destroyed, as Russian air defense systems ‘did not act as the Tomahawk cruise missiles flew past them.” One assessment said that “some 20 Syrian waplanes have been destroyed by US cruise missiles.” ISi, a satellite imagery company, said on a webpage which is sadly only available through Google cache, the following:

“…the total of 44 targets [were] hit. Several targets may have hit twice…An in-depth examination of the damage to the objectives shows that 13 double hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) got 23 hits. 5 workshops got hit.  The workshops are not necessarily related to WMD, but to aircraft and their ability to do maintenance and fly…Ten ammunition storages got hit. Seven fuel reservoirs of the AFB got hit at two sites with eight hits total. Two locations remain untouched. One SA6 Battery utterly destroyed along with its radars and control systems. In total, five SA6 Battery elements hit…The results show that the target hits were accurate and that the Tomahawks have been used effectively against quality targets. Although 58 missiles hit the base, it seems that the overall damage to the base is limited because the warhead of the Tomahawk is not considered large”

To get to the point, the base that was bounded was used to fight Daesh, so it only an unsurprising coincidence that ISIS would attack the airbase AFTER the missile attack (also see here). Its almost like they knew it was going to happen. So in that way, the US attack, which is aggression and an act of war, seems aimed at stalling the Syrian anti-terrorism effort.

Other consequences are as dire. Attempts to keep in place the UN ceasefire, will be harder than ever. Also, relations between the United States and Russia will become more frayed. With Russia suspending a 2015 agreement of military cooperation with US, condemning US military strike as “aggression against a sovereign government,” there were also claims that the US-Russia communication line was cut, although this was just rumors and untrue since the US contacted the Russians before the missile strikes. [11] Beyond this, Russia has pledged itself to shore up Syria’s air defenses, gave its military bases enhanced air cover, and sent a warship bound for Syria’s port of Tartus. The US, with this aggression, is dangerously close to a military clash with the Russian military, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, saying that the strikes were “one step away from military clashes with Russia. President Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. This step by Washington will inflict
major damage on U.S.-Russia ties.” [12] The Russian Foreign Ministry put out an even broader statement condemning the attacks:

“The United States conducted strikes against Syrian government troops in the early hours of April 7, using chemical weapons attacks in Idlib Province as a pretext. The US opted for a show of force, for military action against a country fighting international terrorism without taking the trouble to get the facts straight. It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and  threatens international security. The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. Actions undertaken by the US today  inflict further damage to the Russia-US relations. Russia has expressed on numerous occasions that it was ready to  cooperate on resolving the most urgent issues the world is facing today, and that fighting international terrorism  was a top priority. However, we will never agree to unsanctioned action against the legitimate Syrian government  that has been waging an uncompromising war on international terrorism for a long time. Seeking to justify military  action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts. This was the conclusion reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Over the recent years this organisation inspected almost all the facilities linked or possibly linked to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. As for Idlib, the terrorists operating there used to produce toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq. These manufacturing facilities were put out of operation in a military operation carried out by the Syrian air force. The US pretends that it does not understand obvious things, turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, officially confirmed by Baghdad. The US refuses to believe the evidence provided by certified documents confirming the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. In doing so, the US is abetting international terrorism and making it stronger. New WMD attacks can be expected. There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul,  where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster. It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force. Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US. We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.”

With the UN Security Council meeting on the missile strike, which I’ll discuss in the next section, there is no doubt that this war will not get any easier, even with Mossad supporting US imperialism with their false claim that Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack, and Russia standing by Syria. [13]

The condemnations and international reaction

First and foremost, the Syrian government rightly condemned this imperial act of aggression. The People’s Council, or what is called the “People’s Assembly” in Syrian state media, with Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas as its speaker, condemned the missile strikes, saying that “this blatant aggression came in defense of the collapsed terrorist organizations and in an attempt to revive them since that Israel failed to carry out this mission before…This new US aggression…reveals again the falsity of the US allegations on combating ISIS terrorist organization.” Additionally, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, criticized the action as contradictory, the Syrian military said that the attack makes the US partners of Daesh, and duly elected President Bashar al-Assad argued that the attack was “an unjust and arrogant aggression…an outrageous act that clarifies in conclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.” Syria was not alone in this condemnation, with many countries showing their solidarity.

Iran and Russia were the main countries that condemned the attack. For Iran, they argued that US strikes were unwise, dangerous, destructive, and violate international law with one Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, saying that it is an “utter lie” Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack and “anti-US” slogans shouted at Friday prayers. [14] For Iran, the attack is worrisome because the possibility of a war with Iran looms larger than ever. The US is, as Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, put it, the US is “fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria.”

As for Russia, as previously discussed, condemned the attacks as aggression, saying that they will help bolster Syrian military defenses. Before April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov argued that

“It has come down to us that we do not cover the regime, but that we are in the country at the invitation of a legitimate government and that we are conducting an anti-terrorist operation there. Therefore, if there is a national point of view, it should remain within the national framework, and not be presented as truth in absolute authority…We will review the information, but we do not forget that on April 5, 2003, preparing the ground for the war in Iraq, General Powell, then the US Secretary of State waved a test tube with anthrax. Speaking of intelligence about the…types of WMD which in Iraq have never been found…They are trying through their project to gain access throughout Syria. This is unclear, because the investigation must be conducted at the crime scene.”

The embattled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela showed their solidarity. Their Ministry of the People’s Power for External Relations issued a similar, statement, actually talking about US imperialism unlike the Russians:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the unilateral attack, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, perpetrated by the United States of America against the Syrian Arab Republic, by launching missiles at the Syrian air base Ash Shairat in the Province of Homs, yesterday. Venezuela points out that neither the United Nations nor the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet reported the results of their investigation into the chemical weapons incident on 4 April Resulted in a tragic loss of 86 deaths and dozens of injuries. The Venezuelan Government condemns the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by any country, person or entity, in any part of the world, whatever the circumstances and the reasons. It is deeply concerned that imperial factors justify and legitimize military interventions by endorsing actions by terrorist and extremist groups to the Syrian government through false positives. This attack has also allowed the logistical reconstruction of the terrorist groups, who then attacked the Syrian national army. The US attack on the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes an aggression to the sovereignty of this country and violates the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, such as the principle of territorial integrity, self-determination of peoples, non-interference in matters States and sovereign equality. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its deep friendship with the sister Syrian Arab Republic, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), and reaffirms its commitment to all political and diplomatic efforts for the sake of peace. Syria, respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Likely, the DPRK will soon voice their solidarity as well after Syria opposed imperial machinations in the Korean Peninsula aimed against Iran and because of the cordial relations between the two country, along with their brotherly solidarity.

At the U.N. Security Council’s Meeting on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria today, streamed live by C-SPAN, numerous member states spoke out against imperial aggression. Bolivia’s representative gave an impassioned speech to UN Security Council, saying, while holding up a picture of Colin Powell, that

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about…I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States…affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found… never were they found”

As for Russia, they opposed war, as did Senegal, although the latter’s reasoning was weak, sounding like an imperial puppet state. As for Kazakhstan they supports negotiations, doesn’t want ceasefire to go away and opposes war, saying
sovereignty of states must be respected, and said that OPCW is working with Syrian govt., Ethiopia said that if situation worsens the Syrian state could collapse,
terrorists win, we need to be wise now, and have good statesmanship. UK, France, Sweden and Ukraine’s representatives supported the airstrikes, even though the Swedish ambassador wounded if the US strike follows international law. Then there was horrid Nikki Haley, who happened to be the chair of this meeting of the UN Security Council, for some reason. She claimed widely that the Syrian government has murdered hundreds of thousands, said it is “beyond a doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, claimed that US “destroyed the airfield.” She went on to say that that the Syrian government engaged in “crimes against humanity,” that Iranian andRussian governments have a major responsibility for attack, and that US doesn’t want to strengthen Assad but this will lead to “more murder.” Her charges went further, declaring thar Russia is lying about chemical weapons, that US strikes are “measured” but they are “prepared to do more” and they want a “political process” to push Assad out. The Syrian representative arguably had one of the best speeches apart from the one by Bolivia’s representative. He argued that the US engaged in a “barbaric act of aggression,”leading many to be injured and wide-ranging damage, that the US has used false pretexts of chemical weapons, the very same pretext used by terrorists and their supporters in the West. He went on to say that Syria does not have chemical weapons and has not used them, that terrorists had chemical stockpiles, that the illegal American aggression violates UN charter, and that this is a grave extrapolation which came out of US covert assistance to opposition groups. He went further to say that the US has become
a partner of terrorists, trying to weaken SAA and its allies, with this action saving Al-Nusra after grave damage by SAA,and that the US,UK, and France, are spreading the same sorts of lies they used to attack Iraq. He ended by mentioning the Colin Powell speech, saying that US is using fabricated information for attack, saying that US wants to target states and assert their hegemony across the world, that the West haven’t cared about human rights for years, want hegemony and control of resources, and that this military action will lead to more chaos and threatens peace and security in the region. Right after this, Russia’s representative was recognized once again, saying that it is not right for other countries to insult Russia, like Nikki Haley. It was right after that the meeting is adjourned, with no more speakers.

With this open meeting showing broad opposition to US action, except from a few countries, who were US allies. This was bolstered by the fact that today, Moscow and Beijing proposed that “a United Nations panel investigating chemical weapons
use in Syria be extended to Iraq,” which was rejected by the UK, of course. For its part, China called for a UN investigation of the chemical weapons attacks on multiple occasions. These countries were not alone in their condemnations.

Numerous international organizations showed their solidarity. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, said that they support any Syrian response to the US aggression. Hezbollah, also called the Lebanese Resistance, argued that the US missile strikes were a continuation of aggressive policy toward Syria “in the service of the Zionist entity and to achieve its ambitions in the region” and that it is a “stupid action by the Trump
administration will mark the beginning of a major and dangerous tension in the region and increase the complexity of the situation around the world.” The Syrian Communist Party- Bakdash, had one of the strongest statements against the imperial aggression:

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law…This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general…America is the largest international terrorist in the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs. The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

This was followed by a statement by the party’s Secretary General, Ammar Bakdash, toto Damascus Radio, saying the following, in part, in much stronger words:

“What happened today is a continuation of the American aggression on our country. This attack on a military base of the Syrian army is a continuation of the American aggression…This aggression proves once again what we have already pointed out that the main enemy of our people is American imperialism and its ally in the Zionist-Israeli region…America once again proves that it is the world’s greatest terrorist. It practices State terrorism against all the peoples of the world in accordance with its expansionist colonial interests…America has a consistent expansionist policy throughout the world, especially in our region, and all the disasters that have been taking place in the region and the tragedies that our people have been living for more than six years are mainly due to the policy of American imperialism. Our main enemy is America, which has never disappeared from the scene…Therefore, anyone who thinks that America can have a positive role in terms of the peace process in Syria, is also important, this is the catch of the wind, and the void of falsehoods. America is in its interest to subjugate the peoples of the region to its full dominion by setting up its chief agent, Zionist Israel, as an agent for this region.”

The Communist Party of Italy also condemned the attacks in similar terms, saying that Trump has “declared war…against a country already destroyed by a violent imperialist war by the US and NATO,” saying (translation of this one is not exact) that “the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be political suicide” and that the

“US military attack against Syria is nothing but an extension of the long and strategic imperialist attack against the entire Middle East region, horrendous and bloody attack that continues, unpunished for decades and has already seen complete destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with hundreds of thousands of dead and missing, of entire peoples thrown into despair and hunger, destruction of entire nations…it is equally clear that the US and NATO, and believe they have done the dirty work in Iraq and in Libya…it must be remembered how, with a fierce apology and cynical, the US and NATO attacked Syria in 2011: then, a vast arc of forces…(USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK) invested politically and economically in the construction of “social movement orange” against Assad and even more invested in the construction of ” Free Syrian Army ‘against Assad, “Free Army” of 100,000 men who joined in the military struggle against the legitimate Syrian government, the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front and the militia of the Caliphate…now that Assad, backed by Putin’s Russia, fought back and defeated on the field is the ‘ “Free Army” imperialist that the Caliphate…the US attack again…Trump “promises” war everywhere. The danger of imperialist world war…it really is time that the communist forces, leftist, democratic, pacifist all, come back, joined in the field, to fight and to reconstruct what is missing too long: a struggle and mass movement against the war. Against the imperialist policies against rearmament and the exit from NATO…THE PCI is in the field, it will be in every street, to struggle and to build the broadest unity against the war.”

The National Secretariat of the same Communist Party said something similar. They strongly condemned the war, saying that is no evidence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, saying it “would be a political suicide for the Syrian government,” that Trump has “threatened war against North Korea, he has threatened China. Now he has launched an attack on Syria.”  They further argued that

“A new wind of World War II threatens the world, driven by US imperialism. The struggle for peace is the first task of the communist forces, leftist, democratic. You need to rebuild a mass movement against the war, is now closer than ever. The PCI is in the field and calls on all progressive forces and anti-war unity.”

Within the United States, the Workers World Party (WWP), Answer Coalition, and the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) professed their solidarity with the Syrian state and against US imperialism. The WWP argued that the US government reversed its position, with warmongers in Washington and their allies blaming the Syrian government for chemical attacks, saying that imperialist politicians, pro-war forces, and bourgeois press “reeked of another U.S. invasion and wider war,” saying that a similar pretext was used in Vietnam in 1964 and Iraq in 2003. The statement goes on to say that Trump “transformed before our eyes into the Clinton interventionist,” that the US stance reeks of hypocrisy. They further said that

“What smelled familiar about this lie wasn’t just the record of past wars. In 2012, Obama drew what he called a red line in Syria, the Damascus government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Syria possessed chemical weapons as a deterrent to Israeli nuclear weapons…Obama’s statement encouraged the proliferation of chemical weapons among the reactionary contra forces…in 2013 a chemical weapons attack struck the Damascus suburb of Ghouta…Obama threatened a “no-fly zone”…The corporate media marched lockstep with the Pentagon…Russia negotiated the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons to appease the Western war appetite, a process overseen by international observers. The Syrian state no longer has any chemical weapons, yet the media nearly four years later continue to mimic the Pentagon’s argument, as if this had never happened…With Islamic State on its last legs, it became clear that the U.S. role on the ground in Syria would evolve…Those who mistakenly believed Trump would be  anti-intervention may find this change shocking. Those who understand the nature of U.S. imperialism knew it was inevitable….Often, the U.S.-led coalition struck Syrian soldiers, paving the way for IS advances…Syria today stands at the front line, defending itself against a massive imperialist assault. It is the last truly independent Arab state. For six years, Syrians have faced a multifaceted fight to the death against dozens of countries, yet they and their allies are closer to victory than ever before…It is the duty of those living in the belly of the beast, in the U.S., to unequivocally demand imperialist forces leave Syria. We have to combat bourgeois propaganda until our vocal cords are worn…The liberation of the workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S. is dependent on our ability to unite our struggles with the independence struggles of oppressed nations.”

The Answer Coalition and PSL had similar statements. The Answer Coalition declared that Trump’s administration is “waging a new war of aggression in the Middle East,” noted that Killary Clinton “emerged back into the public spotlight to demand that Trump carry out military strikes against Syria,” and that US “imperialist military actions  [are] against an independent, sovereign Middle Eastern government” under the pretext of “protecting civilians from weapons of mass destruction,” bombing the “secular government of Bashar al-Assad at the moment that the Syrian national army was defeating al-Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist armed organizations.” They go on to say that “every person in the United States should assume that the U.S. government, the Pentagon, and the CIA are lying when they seek to justify this new military aggression” and that these “military strikes…pose a grave danger of escalating into a regional or even global confrontation” since the Syrian government “has the support of Russia and Iran” and they called for anti-war protests across the country. The PSL reposted the same statement and it was also promoted by World Can’t Wait. Then there is the World Peace Council which denounced the imperial action, saying

“The World Peace Council denounces and condemns the recent missile attacks of the USA against Syrian targets on 6th April,as an act of further escalation of the imperialist intervention in Syria and the region, based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun town near Idleb by the Syrian army, a crime with suspicious motives. The US bombing of Syria constitutes not only the violation of the principles of the UN Charter but is also the continuation of the US policies of the previous US administrations, now by the Trump administration…The WPC expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people and the peoples of the region for their rights to determine freely and without any foreign interference their fortunes. We denounce also the hyprocrisy and double moral of the imperialists, who support and/or carry out attacks on peoples and nations, driving hundreds of thousands to become refugees, and at the same time “shed tears” about the displaced people who run away for their lives. The WPC calls upon its members and friends to condemn the imperialist interventions and plans in the region and to express their solidarity with the peoples in need.”

Bourgeois progressives and libertarians also opposed the war. The socially democratic Green Party of the United States, condemned the attack, only for the reasons of not having congressional approval, international support, while Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party went further, saying that the “U.S. has no moral right to wage war on Syria.” Then, there was the people of CodePink. Medea Benjamin, of the latter organization, and Ann Wright, said that in 2013, “four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria,” said that “the U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire,” and cited the Iraq War as an example. Of course, neither the Green Party peoples, Benjamin, or Wright declared their solidarity with the government of Syria or mentioned the word imperialism. This was reflected in the fact that CodePink blared out that there should not be a war in Syria, that war is not the answer, that there is congressional authorization, and rejecting US escalation, showing that they have a bourgeois analysis. The same goes for Katrina vandenHeuvel of The Nation‏, who only said there is no “military solution” to the “crisis” in Syria, Rep. Ted Lieu who opposes US war in Syria but has no solidarity, or libertarian Senator Rand Paul who condemns what happened in Syria and says that intervention in Syria will not make the US safer, that there needs to be congressional authorization. Even Ben Norton and Max Bluementhal teamed up to write an antiwar article which says “U.S. intervention would be the last hope for Syrian rebels, and a shot in the arm to al-Qaeda, which has grown to record size thanks to America’s military meddling across the Middle East” but barely mentions the words “Russia” and “Assad,” never using the word imperialist or capitalist.

Worst of all are the statements of bourgeois progressive groups. CREDO, Peace Action, Win Without war and MoveOn put out a joint statement saying that the attack was  unilateral, reckless, and without an “apparent plan for what comes next and with no legal authorization,” saying that “this was an illegal act of war, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law” and saying that “Trump cannot bomb his way to peace,” adding that Trump should “be leading the world in a diplomatic effort to end the war, increasing American support for humanitarian assistance, and welcoming Syrian refugees to the safety of America.” As I have discussed before on this blog, diplomacy of the United States is a form of imperialism. Then there’s Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs for Peace Action, who argued that “only a political solution can end the carnage in Syria” and that if we go too far, the US would “risk retaliation against U.S. troops stationed in Syria, and could dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and Iran,” adding that “Congress has not authorized the use of military force against the Assad government, which should be a prerequisite to any military action.” [15] These pathetic, milquetoast statements will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, Martin’s statement is basically an imperialist one, worrying about risks to US footsoldiers of imperialism! These bourgeois progressives are clearly, and likely will never be, comrades of the Syrian people. They are as bad as the dumb liberals who are still complaining about Russian involvement, saying that “Assad is a butcher” (progressive talk radio host Sam Seder), which just leads to more war. Even Democracy Now! is entertaining the notion that Trump’s attack “could” violate international law, not saying it DOES violate international law. Even British politician Nigel Farage, formerly of the fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and self-declared Trump supporter said that Assad is secular and that “previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” with the same in this case.

We then get to the people who support the war. Clearly, the Democrats want more war with pathetic words from people like Rania Khalek which do not inspire confidence. More directly, US Senators Mitch McConnell, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain applauded the action, Barbara Lee called for a vote, like Nancy Pelosi, Seth Moulton and Steve Russell, former vets, only are concerned because there is “no plan” presented yet. [16] Beyond this, NATO’s Secretary General, Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Carl Bildt of Sweden, Donald Tusk of EU Commission, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, and the governments of the UK, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, France, Britain (also see here) Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia, support the attack while the UN Secretary General, who caved to Israeli and US demands recently, tried to take a middle position. They were joined by Shlomo Bolt of Syrian-American Council who said that says Trump made “right decision” to go to war, horrid Erdogan of Turkey, who clearly wants more war, the Democratic “Socialists” of America clearly as anyone can see, and last, but not least, Bernie Sanders, an imperialist worth despising. Of course, the big capitalist enterprise of Rayethon supports the war since their stock is rising as a result of the use of their Tomahawk missiles in the strike, as does the Syrian National Coalition and the neoliberal NDP (National Democratic Party) in Canada with its weak response, as does the oil companies with oil prices rising since the attack. [17] Even Chomsky continued his imperialist run, declaring that “the Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”

Then there’s the bourgeois media. Some, of course, went further, saying that Trump is taking a “stand for humanity,” while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who earns $10 million a year, said that he was wowed by the “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments,” which some were angry about ONLY because Rachel “Madcow” Maddow wasn’t allowed to give her warmonger speech, saying that MSNBC was being sexist. [18] It really is a silly complaint not because the allegation of sexism is wrong but because the imperial warmongering would have delivered either way. If that wasn’t enough as the US beats drums for WWIII with its illegal missile strike, the bourgeois media in the US was gushing for war, from CNN to the New York Times, with Fareed Zakeria even saying that air strike made Trump a “president,” and beyond, along with opinions saying that there cannot be any peace under Assad, that Trump should “commit” to Syria, and that we shouldn’t be shocked by chemical weapons in Syria. [19]

A conclusion

There is no doubt that wars have been escalating under Trump’s watch, even with Steve Bannon seemingly out of the picture, and that this war should be opposed. Speaking of Bannon, it seemed like suspicious timing that ONE DAY before the military strike McMaster replaced Bannon on the National Security Council.  Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of CounterPunch agrees with me on that point, while seeming to not side with the Syrian or Russian governments, a weird sort of middle position:

“I don’t know who was behind the grisly chemical attack in the northern Syrian city of Khan Shaikhoun…Obama…made the right call in 2013, when he rejected the demands of many in his inner circle and in Congress to escalate the US intervention in Syria…All of the incentives for launching this attack favor those who want the Syrian war prolonged and the Assad regime overthrown. And it seems to have worked…Trump…swiftly followed suit, mumbling his own fatwa against the Assad regime a few hours before those missiles hit Homs…So mission accomplished for the neocons and the Hillaroids…Little Marco Rubio said Congress would be “open to ground troops” in Syria and the New York Times’ Lt. Gen. (honorary) Nicholas Kristof advised that it was “Trump is right to make Syria pay a price for war crimes, and taking out airfields is the best approach.”…A few hours before Trump fired his volley of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Force Base, Hillary Clinton…advised Trump to “take out Assad’s airfields”…Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon…went into a rage and threatened to quit after getting 86’d off of the National Security Council, but stayed after Trump assured him he can continue to attend meetings…Bannon needed to be evicted from NSC before the Syrian airstrikes could be launched.”

Other than what St. Clair says, we should recognize that for one, the Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, welcomes the senseless missile strike, which may just “reinforce the balance of power between the combating factions rather than lead to a turning point,” even though it is evident that that the Trump policy is now regime change by military action. [20] It is interesting that Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said the country is “concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria.” Of course the bourgeois media declares that Syrians are “split” over the US missile strike, with the narrative that those in rebel-held regions supporting the strike, and those in government-held regions think differently, although there is no doubt broader opposition than their claims. [21] There will be even more opposition since it seems evident that only ground forces in Syria itself can topple the duly-elected government of Bashar al-Assad and the National Progressive Front.

For any of those who said that Trump would be non-interventionist because of his campaign promises and not understanding how he took a more pro-military position as the campaign progressed forward, like the often cited and anti-leftist analysis from the libertarians at antiwar.com, Zero Hedge, or anywhere else, they were completely wrong.  Even as the Syrian government is open into international inquiries of the chemical  attacks, the future of the war seems bleak, with more money going to war, and the Senate not coming out of recess to vote on Syria war. [22] But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the socially democratic, secular state of Syria against the imperialist monster which threatens to tear the country apart.

With the slim, but affirmed victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno, there is still hope on the horizon. There is a possibility for opposing “limited action,” an imperialist war, in Syria, and we don’t have to listen to the propagandists like Avaaz who declare that “some have gone so far as to suggest that the Syrian Army did not actually drop the Sarin gas. This is such a far-fetched claim I can only assume they have been captured by Russian propaganda media,” or the bourgeois media who reprints commentaries by US generals about what is “happening” in Syria. There is no doubt that Trump angered his base, those who voted for him originally, while an approval rating bump is in question.

As radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, communists, or what have you, the first step as of now is to protest this horrid imperialist war which will benefit the capitalist class, causing them to smile in glee. This strike, I feel, is only the beginning of something greater, which was hinted at by Tillerson and Haley in recent days. This will again support terrorist propaganda that the “Christian nation” of the United States is bombing a “Muslim” nation in Syria. I don’t want to say it will lead to blowback, which is a distorted version of what former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson declares in his many books about US empire since he is talking about foreign response to covert actions, not overt actions like military strikes, but also because I think the idea of blowback seems to bring with it, at least how it is commonly interpreted, a sort of Orientalism. I have credit my fellow comrade, Karen (kazahann) with that insight, which I’ve built upon here.

I don’t see this as a one-off strike which will go away. While we can stay critical of independent capitalist Russia, as William Blum has called it, we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian state and the proletariat therein as the PSL, WWP, Answer Coalition, and Communist parties, among others, of the world have done. As most of the readers who encounter this post likely live in the core, we must do what we can to stop the imperialist beast. What that entails is up to personal discretion. But, a powerful peace movement would be a welcome addition to what currently exists now. As critics and those trying to spread our ideas to the masses, we must counter the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives, exposing their milquetoast ideas as garbage, showing that there are better ideas to move the world forward. I would have provided a more through analysis here of Syria, its history, politics and whatnot, but do to certain complications, I cannot do that at this time, but promise that such a post may come in the future. For all of those comrades out there who stand against this hideous war and those living in Syria especially, I stand with you.

UPDATE:

There are numerous statements and sayings that I missed in working through this article. Just today, the DPRK’s state media released a statement saying that Kim Jong Un, chairman received a reply from Bashar Al-Assad two days ago, thanking the former for “his kind congratulations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party” and expressed thanks for him “having appreciated the role of the Party guiding the Syrian Arab people in the struggle to meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world’s terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail.” [23] The statement also said the relations between the two countries should stay strong. There was also, as international media reported that the DPRK said that “the U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this,” even though the KCNA did not report ANY articles with such words. There was then, the stories that the US wants more intervention in Syria, just like I had said yesterday, that no proof of chemical weapons use from the Syrian airfield has been presented. Apart from statements by other groups, a study guide of articles on the Syrian conflict has been assembled by a fellow comrade.

Now, for the statements of differing groups. I start with the statement of the American Party of Labor which was issued yesterday:

“The American Party of Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack of April 6, 2017 of the United States Navy against a Syrian airbase…this attack is clearly an effort to bolster the hegemony of the United States in the midst of Trump’s own catastrophic incompetence and a myriad of evolving geopolitical environments…Trump has openly vilified refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, showing that his administration and its supporters have little care or respect for the lives of oppressed people except when it is politically expedient. Both Trump and his administration are but the newest faces in the evolution of American imperialism…this attack by the U.S. is not done for the sake of humanity or any ethical principle. The U.S. has been sinking its teeth into Syria for years now…The pronounced ethics of the imperialist state are nothing more than a sham. This attack also demonstrates the strengthening of the international antagonisms between the imperialist powers…The threats of war are now being expressed more openly than ever. Imperialism sees war as a solution to the economic crisis and stagnation…There is an increasing risk that regional wars instigated by the imperialist powers, particularly the USA, may escalate to world war. This attack is another blatant example of “humanitarian” imperialism and has grave consequences for the peoples of the world…The American Party of Labor…condemns in the strongest terms the neo-fascist Trump regime, its warmongering and militaristic aggression, and its violation of the sovereignty of Syria.”

Of course, the Trotskyists had to get their foot in the door too, with their group, In Defence of Marxism (part of the International Marxist Tendency). They condemned the attacks but said, almost parroting imperialist propaganda, that “…the Assad regime is fully capable at carrying out such an attack…It has the upper hand in the civil war, thanks to Russia’s backing,” and going to claim that the “Russians and the Syrians were bombing Aleppo” without saying that this was part of the liberation of Aleppo! Even if you said their statement was partially anti-imperialist, they said that the war is a plan to “divide the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and to prepare to negotiate the future of Assad,” even as they said that “there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime or in the dirty games of Russia in Syria,” although this is ridiculous especially when it comes to the Syrian government, and they add that “the only real solution is a clear independent class position…we cannot give any support to the competitors of our own imperialists, to Putin, Assad or the Mullahs in Iran.” Such absurdist reasoning shows why for one Trotskyists cannot be trusted and two that they are not believing in international solidarity.

BAYAN-USA, a progressive Filipino organization, used some of the same rhetoric as the Trotskyists but also took a more principled position:

“President Trump’s decision to launch 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian Air force base in Homs province was not driven by his humanitarian desires to help the Syrian people against the Assad regime…the US war in Syria will never resolve the problems in the country and will only create more chaos, destruction, and death. The proxy war in Syria can seem very complicated, but underneath all the political rhetoric of good versus evil…thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed and thousands having to flee their home country as refugees is due to US monopoly capitalist interest…The root of all US wars of aggression lies in imperialist geopolitical interest to expand its hegemony over land, natural resources, trade routes, consumer markets for US surplus products and cheap labor markets…Both the Trump and Assad regimes are using the same exact rhetoric of “Fighting the War on Terror” as their reasoning behind their attacks on the Syrian people, but we must uncover the truth behind their interest in this war which is economic power in a centrally located oil rich region of the world…We demand an end to US warmongering and intervention for the sake of humanity. We call on all peoples of the world to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and their rights to self-determination for their own country.”

In news beyond this, CNN spouted imperialist propaganda about “another” chemical weapons attack, citing unnamed activists (like we should trust that), the US engaged in an airstrike supposedly aimed against Daesh but actually killing 13 Syrians when it hit an internet cafe, along with protests outside US embassy in Turkey, UN Office in Syria, followed by condemnation from Turkey’s Patriotic Party. [24] Beyond this, while the Saudis praised the attack, Western moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it, while Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the “US’s open aggression against Syria.” There’s also the reported news that the SAA attacked a a U.S. recon aircraft in Northern Syria.

I think that’s all for updates for now. More may be added in the future.

Notes

[1] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017; Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[2] Ibid; Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017; Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017.

[3] Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” and Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”.”

[4] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017. Also see the recent data (Dec. 2016) from the DMDC for the data on the 279 military and civilian personnel in Syria

[5] Rachel Roberts, “US-led coalition killed more Syrian civilians than Isis or Russia in March, figures show,” The Independent, Apr. 3, 2017; Edith M. Lederer, “UN: 40-50 years needed to clear weapons in Iraq and Syria,” ABC News (originally an AP story), Apr. 4, 2017; Josh Lederman, “Syria Strikes Add to List of 21st Century US Military Forays,” Bloomberg News (originally an AP story), Apr. 6, 2017. The missile strike in Syria adds to the list of US military forays in Afghanistan (started 2001), Iraq (started 2003), Libya (2011, recent years), drone wars (esp. 2009-2014), and ISIS (2014 onward).

[6] Darius Shahtahmasebi, “What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Yesterday’s Chemical Attack in Syria,” The Anti Media, Apr. 5, 2017; Scott Horton, “4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative,” The Libertarian Institute; Paul Antonopoulos, “Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack,” Information Clearing House, Apr. 4, 2017; Curt Mills, “Was Assad Behind the Idlib Chemical Massacre?,” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 6, 2017; Sarah D., “‘Shame on you!’ Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Syrian attacks rings hollow,” Twitchy, Apr. 5, 2017; From “ashamed” to a defense of Assad: Republican lawmakers offer varied reactions to recent chemical attack in Syria,” Salon, Apr. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “Syria denies using chemical weapons in Idlib,” Al Jazeera, Apr. 6, 2017; “US Syria Strike Was Illegal, No Matter Who Carried Out Gas Attack,” The Real News, Apr. 7, 2017; Phyllis Bennis, “Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead,” The Real News, Apr. 2017; Vijay Prashad, “Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria?,” AlterNet, Apr. 5, 2017. Basically, Tulsi Gabbard and Thomas Massie were wary of making conclusions yet, with people claiming they are “Assad apologists” as a result.

[7] For more information, and other related articles, see: PressTV, “Syria launches counterattack near capital after militant incursion,” Mar. 21, 2017; PressTV, “Syrian forces retake Damascus areas from militants,” Mar. 20, 2017; PressTV, “Iran commander: US will regret any adventurism,” Apr. 3, 2017; PressTV, “Russia: US covering up Daesh crimes in Iraq’s Mosul,” Apr. 2, 2017; Prensa Latina, “Syria, six years of manufactured war,” Granma, Mar. 30, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “U.S. war crimes escalate in Syria, Iraq,” Worker’s World, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Iran urges ‘war crime’ hearing into US killings in Mosul,” Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “UN deeply concerned over US-led airstrikes on Mosul,” Mar. 25, 2017; PressTV, “Over 230 killed under rubble after ‘US-led raid’ in Mosul,” Mar. 24, 2017; Julie Ray and Neli Esipova, “Economic Problems, Corruption Fail to Dent Putin’s Image,” Gallup, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Trump hails US troops in Iraq despite deadly Mosul raid,” Mar. 29, 2017; BBC, “Mosul battle: US ‘may be responsible’ for civilian deaths,” Mar. 28, 2017; OIC, “OIC Regrets Casualties among Citizens in Mosul,” Mar. 27, 2017; PressTV, “Daesh shelling, US airstrikes raise Syria dam breach fears,” Mar. 29, 2017; PressTV, “Russian general criticizes US-led coalition’s bombing of Syria dam,” Mar. 28, 2017; Mike Whitney, “Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below,” CounterPunch, Mar. 28, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Hands off Syria!,” Workers World, Mar. 26, 2017; Carl Lewis, “Gov’t squeezes workers, bloats Pentagon,” Workers World, Mar. 22, 2017.

[8] Pentagon, “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria,” Apr. 6, 2017; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, “Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria as ‘significant blow’ to relationship,” Chicago Tribune (originally AP article), Apr. 7, 2017.

[9] What you need to know about US strike on Syrian air base,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; CNNWire, “At least 6 killed in Syria: Russia calls U.S. military strike an ‘act of aggression’,” Fox8, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria attack: US ‘deliberately avoided bombing sarin stockpile at Assad airbase’ during Trump air strikes,” The Independent, Apr. 7, 2017; Holly Williams, “Russia, Syria’s explanation for chemical attack countered by experts,” CBS News, Apr. 6, 2017; Raja Abdulrahim, “Rebels Hail U.S. Strike, Syria Says 16 Killed,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas likely weapon used in Idlib as experts say Russian claims ‘don’t add up’,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017. In the latter article, Dearden cites the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, Hasan Haj Ali; a research fellow at Chatham House and former member of NATO, Beyza Unal; a volunteer with the traitorous White Helmets, Hamid Kutini; analyst at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and bourgeois “expert”, Hassan Elbahtimy; and a citizen journalist and Reuters photographer, Ammar Abdullah, as “experts.” Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also mentioned, but no specific person is quoted. Clearly, their “experts” are total crap. Lest us forget that Jan. 2013 article in the horrid Daily Mail, which has now been deleted, which said that the US planned to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on Assad. Did that happen in this case? Its hard to know.

[10] Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova, “Russia’s military presence in Syria is as ‘powerful’ as ever,” Reuters, Apr. 15, 2016; Tom Parfitt, “Russia sends MORE jets to Syria in bid to wipe out evil ISIS as Putin builds ANOTHER base,” Express Newspapers, Dec. 1, 2015; Reuters, “Syrian Observatory: Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province,” Dec. 3, 2015; Now News, “Russia plans new Syria airbase: report,” Nov. 30, 2015.

[11] David Filpov, Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement, Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2017; BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017. This article also says that Syria used to have an effective air defense system but it has been weakened by civil war and that the fact that there are Russian surface-to-air systems makes airstrikes by US warplanes unlikely and cruise missile strikes continuing as a possibility.

[12] Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “U.S. strikes on Syria came close
to clash with Russia: Medvedev,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[13] Associated Press, “The Latest: US calls for transparency in UN Syria summit,” Apr. 7, 2017; Bethan McKernan, “Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun approved by ‘highest levels’ of Assad regime, Israel’s Mossad finds,” The Independent, Apr. 6, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “World powers clash with Russia at UN over Syria suspected chemical attack,” Apr. 2017; Thomson Reuters, “Russia stands by Syria at UN over chemical weapons attack,” Apr. 5, 2017.

[14] Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017.

[15] Congress wants a say on Syria strategy, split on timing, what to do,” Kaine: ‘No legal justification’ for Syria strike,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; Deirdre Shesgreen, Nicole Gaudiano, and Bill Theobald, “Syria strikes draw Capitol Hill support, calls for greater congressional role,” USA Today, Apr. 7, 2017; Leah Barkoukis, “Even Schumer, Pelosi Applaud US Airstrikes in Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Courtney O’Brien, “Pelosi Demands Immediate Debate on AUMF for Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Syria Attack Launched Without Congressional