“One thing today, another tomorrow”: the Julia Salazar Story

The following was reprinted from Dissident Voice. It is the second of the two-part article on the so-called “socialist” Julia Carmel Salazar. A version of this article before its editing by Dissident Voice will be published on the Internet Archive in a 15-page version and a 41-page version, the longest one, both of which should be processed at a later point. I have changed the link to part 1 to apply to the reprinted version on this blog, instead of the one in Dissident Voice. A Berniecrat who  is often critical of social democrats, although he is imperialistic, quoted a recent Intercept reporter finding that the rent strike happened in 2014 but not in Harlem even though Salazar claimed it was still part of Harlem. Still, it said 2013 elsewhere, so there are still problems with her personal narrative here.

In Part 2, I build upon what I talked about in Part 1, when I analyzed the candidacy of Julia Salazar, called Salazar in this article, what a “socialist” running on the “Democrat line” meant. In this article I focus on her life, not by telling it in minute detail but briefly looking at her background and pointing out inconsistencies. As Josh Varlin of the Trotskyist WSWS (World Socialist WebSite) even remarked very recently, “Salazar’s misrepresentation of her past is, however, politically significant” because “Salazar’s political evolution is far from run-of-the-mill” since she was “extremely active in right-wing politics until just before her entry into pseudo-left politics.”

On April 18, Salazar began her campaign for the New York State Senate, specifically for District 18 in North Brooklyn, announcing it at Bushwick’s Maria Hernandez Park, and recently winning the Democratic primary by a large margin, beating Martin Dilan, who was funded to the hilt by the real estate body. With this, she is virtually guaranteed a win in November because there is no Republican or Independent running against her. She defines herself on one of her twitter handles as a member of the New York City Democratic “Socialists” of America (DSA) chapter and UAW (their National Writers Union), with some supporters calling her a “community organizer.” Since then, some have raised questions about her identity and her “personal narrative,” as she has presented it in her campaign even though she has strongly declared she was not campaigning on identity. [1] She is like other millennials who fibbed parts of her past as Eve Fairbanks wrote in a recent BuzzFeed article.

The questions about Salazar begin with her origins. It is clear that she was born in Miami in December 1990, evidenced by the fact that her parents had paid for a second mortgage three years earlier. It is also clear that she grew up in a family which was politically conservative, with a Colombian-born father, Luis, a cargo pilot, and her New Jersey-born mother of Italian descent, Christine, a flight attendant. However, she could not get her story straight about her family: sometimes she called them secular, while other times she called them Catholic or partially Jewish. Nonetheless, it seems evident that at least part of her family was Catholic as she had admitted to a DSA podcast that she was baptized Catholic, growing up in South Florida.

The first part of her origin story is that she was a “proud” Columbia immigrant, as her campaign website and her Our Revolution bio once described her. This part of her story quickly ended, as she fell back to the claim that she was a “proud daughter of an immigrant father” or “a Colombian-American from an immigrant family.” [2] But this is definitely stretching the reality, as her father was a U$ citizen before she was born, putting into question that she immigrated to the U$ with her family “when she was very little,” and that her family moved to the U$ when she was a baby.

She already had admitted to the New York Times the deception behind calling herself an immigrant, saying: “I’m not an immigrant myself. Rather, I have always felt a deep connection to my father’s immigrant experience because of the time I spent without family in Colombia at such a young age. We were back and forth, literally, constantly. My earliest memories are of Colombia.” Salazar’s mother, born in 1957, does recall varied visits to Colombia, even stating that “the Colombian culture was a huge part of our family” while her slightly older brother, Alex, who is currently a mango farmer in Florida, confirmed “a pair of trips to Colombia” during “their childhood for short visits,” but said that “we weren’t an immigrant family. It was never something even considered.” With her father being Colombian-born, this would mean that she would be effectively half-Colombian, but considering that her mother was White, this proves false her assertion in 2017, before she became a candidate, that “my own immediate family are people of color who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia, and most of my family still lives there.”

This is even the case as she has said that she looks “practically identical” to her father and less like her white mother, but is sometimes “white-passing or perceived of as white by some.” While she may be right that “immigrant stories are rarely straightforward or unidirectional” and that she has “family in both countries, and I feel a part of both,” while she may be “referring to going there more than we went anywhere else” and she “embraced the Colombian culture,” according to her mother, this doesn’t account for her inconsistencies and distortions.  As such, her claims that she “never misrepresented my history, and attempts to construct a narrative where I was dishonest about my birthplace to reporters…are malicious and false” are faulty. This is not totally unprecedented: those who are second-generation (children of an immigrant or immigrants), see themselves as attached to the culture of their parent or parents’ birthplace, even if they aren’t born there.

Connected to her claimed immigrant identity was her claim that she was working-class. She had said that her mother “really struggled to support me and my brother financially as a single mother” and that  both of her parents “came from a working class background.” It is clear that she was largely raised by her mother, supporting her contention on that count. However, her brother, Alex, has said that their family was “middle class, or upper middle class” when living in Jupiter, a “small beach town” north of West Palm Beach, which Salazar has countered by saying that Alex’s memory on this subject was faulty. In contrast, Salazar’s mother said that while she and her children lived in a nice house, she sometimes financially struggled, especially after divorcing with her husband (when Salazar was six years old in 1996), with Luis, saying:

If I could make it look easy for my kids, I did. I thought that economic hardship was not a burden that kids that were going through a divorce needed to experience.

Beyond this, it is clear that Christine raised both Salazar and Alex, getting only a portion of her husband’s money “through alimony and child support,” growing up in a large house but at times “had to push hard to make ends meet.” Without even using the story in the Daily Mail, a horrid right-wing tabloid, which also seems to raise questions about her claims of a working-class background but just depends on her brother as a source, there are some indications that she is fibbing her story.

She admits that at times her parents collectively earned $100,000 in a year, although she has said this wasn’t always the case, with her brother saying, rightly, that you would have to “have a pretty wide definition of working class,” saying that they lived “a comfortable life.” Even if we accepted that she grew up working class,  her mother did not have a college degree for only two years after divorcing her husband, graduating with a degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Furthermore, let’s say we accept the contention of Salazar’s mother that Salazar is from the “you work your ass off class,” and that “she really wants to help others. The people of Brooklyn…if she gets elected, she will be their advocate,” it seems evident that she was more likely middle-class than working-class, especially since her mother was working-class but her father was solidly middle-class.

Additionally, she had a trust of $600,000, which some like Zionist Yair Rosenberg, have taken to indicate that Salazar was a trust-fund kid, because, when her father died in 2009 he left a “house and considerable retirement savings.” While she and her campaign have said that a relative manages the account and she has received nothing from the trust fund, it is hard to believe she has not been given at least something.

Apart from her claimed immigrant and working-class identity was her claim of Jewish ancestry. She has said that “my father was of Sephardic Jewish heritage,” that she had “some Jewish family,” and “a Sephardi surname.” But, even her mother, who is supportive of her daughter’s campaign, has said that neither her family nor her divorced husband’s family were Jewish, claimed to say that the latter family had a “Sephardic background” which Salazar had been curious about, adding that this is “where her interest stems from.” This interest reportedly began in 2009, when she was age 18, after graduating high school, when her father died of prostate cancer, with a funeral in a Catholic church in Ormond Beach, Florida, when she claims she began “exploring her Jewishness,” telling the New York Times that she was spurred to “search for meaning in my father’s death,” saying that “a lot of mysteries I wanted to solve,” focusing on her family history (on her father’s side), with claimed roots in the Sephardic (also Sephardi or Sephardim) “community expelled from medieval Spain” which converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition, with most of them settling in the Ottoman Empire and others immigrating to parts of Europe and the Americas. But her claim to Jewish ancestry is questionable.

A Colombian genealogist, Maria Emilia Naranjo Ramos, looked into the family history of Salazar, determining that her ancestors included a central banker, business people, and civic leaders, while being recognized throughout the “generations by their commitment and generosity towards their community,” serving as Catholic elites, which Salazar called “pretty cool.” [3] Furthermore, they have been “Catholic in their tradition and for many generations,” with no evidence, as of yet that they are “possibly Sephardic.”

As the Spectator, which is very critical of Salazar, has said, Salazar’s family “may well have descended from conversos, Sephardic Jews who retained some connection or awareness of their origins after forced conversion.” Salazar threw this all away by stating that “this genealogy does not make me Jewish,” putting into question if she was exploring “her Jewishness” or her “Jewish roots” after her father’s death or not. As such, her claim to Jewish ancestry is still a tall tale, as the only person who could have told her about it was her father, with her mother saying that: “she’s the one who sought out her family history…I believe that was a discussion that Julia had with him about the family history in Iberia. But he would always say that he was born and raised in Colombia but his family was Iberian.”

This connects to another part of her identity: her claim to the Jewish faith. She has told her fellow activists of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) that she was “a Jew of color…a Colombian American and…Jewish.” [4]

With this, her Jewish beliefs would fall within the category of the JFREJ’s description of “mixed-race Jews whose ancestors include many kinds of non-European peoples, and both white people and People of Color who have chosen (or whose parents, grandparents or ancestors have chosen) to become Jews through conversion,” with her declaring to be within the latter group. Some have focused on her tattoos with disdain, declaring she is “not” Jewish, stating that Leviticus 19:28 (with varied translations) says you cannot make gashes in your flesh “for the dead” or any “marks” on yourself. However, as Rabbi Evan Moffic wrote in HuffPost, in Judaism “there is no blanket prohibition on tattoos” and as a Jewish Reform website plainly states, “after the Holocaust, many in the Jewish community became even more opposed to tattoos…[but] in recent years, tattoos have become more common in the Jewish community…the Jewish community might still be divided over tattoos…we don’t exclude people in our communities from that care simply because of markings on the skin.”

As such, having a tattoo does not automatically exclude you from being Jewish. Whether she read a lot, reading the bible and apologetics and Torah, she had admitted that she didn’t have a “bat mitzvah, or a confirmation, or any of that sort of thing.” It would not be until 2012 or 2013 when she claimed to undergo a conversion to Judaism, with some saying she was a conservative Christian before then even though she talked about events at Hillel. Not only is the length of her Reform beit dein conversion  in question, with some courses saying it was two months and others saying five months, but she has no record of it and the person named Daniel Crane was not “an ordained rabbi, and therefore could not yet lead conversions while Salazar was a student,” putting her conversion into question.

In the end, as one recent article in New York magazine noted, she chose to “identify and live as a Jew in 21st-century New York City amid a rising population of adults with fractional Jewish ancestry,” finding a Jewish community in college, which is true despite the fact it is an open question, despite what her classmates said in the Forward, whether she converted at all! Benjamin “Ben” Norton, Salazar’s friend, may be right that “whether or not she converted late in life is irrelevant” and that “the people challenging her blood purity and tracking her family history are bigots.” Even so, this does not include well-intentioned criticism, which this article falls into or the genealogist who looked at her family history, at minimum.

Fast forward to August 2009. She began attending Columbia University, after she had reportedly worked in the service industry for years, specifically at a grocery store, as a housecleaner, and as a barista, drinking “very hot coffee” on her short breaks.” She was also a registered Republican with conservative views, graduating Jupiter High School at the top of her class, but did not vote in the presidential election in 2008. Moving to New York City, Salazar would attend an Ivy League school, “an institution with an immense amount of wealth” as she would later describe it, where she would study history, psychology, and have a concentration in Jewish studies. Reportedly while in college she would work as “a nanny and house cleaner,” supporting herself through school, working for “30 hours a week…on the Upper West Side, using the income to pay rent and other expenses not covered by her scholarship” and financial aid, giving her “class consciousness.”

Her “political evolution” would be slow. During her campaign she would claim she was a “community organizer” in New York City for “nearly a decade” or have a “decade of experience as a local community organizer has brought her from the streets of Bushwick to the halls of Albany.” [5]

This raises a red flag of concern since it would mean, at most, she would have to be politically active since 2007 or 2008. If it was not exactly a decade, this would still be a problem as her right-wing phase of her life lasted until 2015 at least, evidenced by the fact that in 2010 she registered with the Independence Party of New York, supposedly mistakenly thinking she was an unaffiliated voter even though it is possible this wasn’t a mistake considering that the party is center-right and “populist, and began going to Hillel the same year, even going to Jewish services with friends. The following year, when she began to reside continuously in New York, she would be arrested on “allegations of fraudulently attempting to access the bank account of Kai Hernandez, a family friend and then-wife of baseball star Keith Hernandez,” a bizarre case which would drag on for four years, ending in 2017 with a settlement in Salazar’s favor, settling for $20,000 since the person she was suing was dying of cancer. More importantly, in 2011, she would begin to dip her toe into politics by starting a “Columbia United for Israel” chapter at Columbia that year which never became an official group because she wasn’t deeply invested in it and Columbia didn’t allow it, never moving beyond a relatively inactive Facebook group.

The following year, in 2012, she would become the President of a group fighting against reproductive rights on Columbia’s campus: Columbia Right to Life (CRL), possibly beginning to be sent emails from them in 2011. Specifically the group would fight to ensure that “a fund for abortion services would not be paid for by Columbia students,” and she would lead the Support for Pregnant Students Initiative, serving as the “public voice” of the group on campus, and be angry at the Columbia Spectator for “manipulating” the words of CRL members, showing their “bias.”  She would even, later that year, write in the Spectator an op-ed where she declared that “it is unacceptable for the University to provide support for students to have abortions while simultaneously failing to provide resources to accommodate those who keep their baby…With Columbia’s influence, we have the opportunity to help pregnant women, and thus live up to the progressive values of social justice, autonomy, and women’s health that we proclaim.”

There was understandable backlash, as her fellow students told her about abortion, changing her views after “honest conversation[s],” regretting the views she took then. Even so, despite her claim that the group didn’t have a significant impact, the fact is that she was positively described by Public Discourse the following year, when she ended her involvement, and the group seemed to somewhat achieve its goals.

In 2012, she was part of a Christian Zionist organization: Christians United for Israel (CUFI). She appeared on Glenn Beck’s show, The Blaze, and was in San Antonio for a summit of CUFI. Before she spoke, she smiled in disbelief at reported “anti-Israel” lyrics by a Palestinian rap group (singing in Arabic) and shook her head, shaking her head again in a similar manner when the other guest talked about Palestinian “hate speech” being an issue for Christians. About 4 minutes into the video, the segment in which Beck interviews her begins. She goes on a pro-Zionist screed, stating that “anti-Israeli” professors were in the “Middle Eastern, Asian Languages and Culture…using the classroom as their podium to spread lies about the state of Israel, to de-legitimize the state of Israel, and to spread propaganda to Columbia students” and declaring that CUFI’s goals were to “educate the community about the truth about Israel…Palestinian Authority….Hamas…[and] Ahmadinejad.”

She would later add on a DSA podcast that the “Glenn Beck appearance was concurrent with me first learning about what CUFI was,” and saying the interview was in January 2012 when “CUFI sponsored me to go to San Antonio for their conference,” with her being told an hour beforehand and she spoke on the show. In August of the same year, she met with IDF soldiers “patrolling the Israel-Lebanon border,” in a trip organized by CUFI, which reportedly did not establish a chapter at Columbia. On this trip her views of the murderous Zionist apartheid state, often called “Israel,” were reportedly changed, when she visited the West Bank and met with Palestinians there, even reportedly keeping in touch with a Palestinian in the U$ who had “grown up in West Bank and lived through the second intifada.” It is also worth noting that sometime during her time on campus she was part of a humanitarian imperialist organization: Amnesty International, claiming it did not mesh with “very hawkish views on foreign policy, social issues or on poverty,” which has some truth to it, but ignores the long-standing connection of Amnesty with the murderous empire.

It was the year following, in January, that she reportedly engaged in a rent strike. As she tells the story, after “shivering through a winter without heat,” she organized a rent strike among fellow tenants at her apartment building (reportedly in Harlem), run by a “notoriously abusive landlord” who neglected tenants, calling for the landlord to “make repairs and turn on the heat in the winter” and they won some concessions in a housing court, as a result. As such, the management company raised rents through the roof, leading Salazar to be displaced and say she began to think about systemically changing such problem. There have been some questions of whether the strike happened again which is complicated because the address where she lived may not be publicly available.

We do know that the same year, she would make a brief visit to Florida, and from then to 2017, considerable “documentary evidence, including tax and payroll records…reflect earnings in New York and are directed to her at residential addresses in New York, and including her residential leases, bank and health insurance records, rent and mover’s bills, and travel records.” Her testimony in the Dilan v. Salazar case was corroborated by a roommate who had lived with her “in various apartments in New York since September 2013 and that Salazar was never away for more than one or two weeks.” This is complicated by the fact that she told her friend Katie Helper in Teen Vogue that she organized the strike in early 2014 even though Gothamist clearly indicates it happened in 2013. Which is an open question whether the strike happened at all!

In the spring and fall semesters of 2013, her Zionist views would be reinforced. In the spring semester, she would help found the J Street U chapter at Columbia, clearly supporting the two-state solution and organizing meetings for the group, including opposing the idea of “Apartheid Week” regarding the Zionist state. [6]

In that same semester, she would also be fine with inviting liberal Zionists to campus, seemed to favor those from Peace Now and Haaretz and asked in one message: “is anyone else a little disturbed by the similarity between Palestinians referring to this as “Nakba” and its mockery (intentional or not) of the Jewish use of the word “Shoah” (both literally meaning “catastrophe”)? I find it to be a little too close for comfort.” By the fall semester, she would be the co-president of the chapter and a WZO (World Zionist Organization) campus fellow, who was, politically, a liberal Zionist who seemed to want a coordinated response to address SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) actions.

Near the end of that semester, she would meet David Keyes, now Netanyahu’s spokesperson to foreign media, then a “human rights activist,” a second time at a coffee shop, and, by her recollection, be physically assaulted by him in his apartment. Years later, in 2016, she would have a Facebook post about the incident, deleting it after the Times of Israel picked up on the story.  Regardless of Salazar’s other inconsistencies and distortions, it is wrong to think that she is lying on this topic either by engaging in victim-blaming or other efforts as a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter, Shayndi Rice, shared a similar story, and ten more women have come forward with similar stories.

The following year, in February 2014, she would write her second-op-ed in the Columbia Spectator, which described her as “a Columbia College senior majoring in Middle Eastern history and Jewish studies. She is a co-chair of J Street CU and a member of Columbia/Barnard Hillel.” This goes against what she told a DSA podcast: that she led the chapter “until the very beginning of 2014, January of 2014, which was when I disengaged for the group essentially over the question of BDS and support for BDS,” raising the question of when she left the group. In her op-ed, she would lend her support to the corrupted two-state solution, saying that “there is a growing constituency of us who refuse to tolerate the injustice of the status quo…Advocating for pragmatic solutions to these issues is imperative because they are an essential part of any two-state agreement. Through practicality, we can turn our frustration into strategic activism. We can lead our community to promote a just solution to the conflict, before peace escapes us.” This shows that she hadn’t abandoned her Zionism by then, and as the Gotham Gazette put it, she would join “the Israel/Palestine activism scene as a member of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace.”

Around the same time she also became involved with IfNotNow, a group that “wants American-Jewish institutions to become more aware of Israel’s occupation of territory Palestinians consider their homeland, while protesting the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict,” which she would criticize herself the following year. She also would write her first article for Mondoweiss, about being denied entry into the Zionist state and saying she “was raised with the delusion that Israel was a safe haven for me, perhaps even the only safe place for Jews” which Vox says implies she was raised as a Jewish child although she was not. By April 2014, she would be part of a debate on Columbia University about the “academic boycott of Israel.”

In May 2014, Salazar would leave Columbia University but would not graduate. This has led to some controversy because she said under oath in the Dilan v. Salazar that she graduated and her website seemed to imply this was the case, even seeming to imply graduation when she donated to the university in later years and on her academia.edu account, which shows her interests, with the same being the case for her Scribd or Quora accounts. As such, Citizens Union and the Brooklyn Young Democrats withdrew their endorsement of her as a candidate. As she tells the story, after college she went to Jacobin reading groups, with the first meeting about the Global South, and began reading Karl Marx, even though she has also said that she began reading Marx while in college. So, this is disputed.

The same goes for her identification as a socialist, telling a DSA podcast at one point that she was a socialist in 2013 and at another time that in 2014 she first identified as socialist. The following year, she would write another article for Mondoweiss, noting her presence in If Not Now, a group of U$ Jews organizing in Brooklyn and “seeking to protest Jewish communal organizations’ complicity in the violence” in Gaza by Zionist armies and opposing the “brutal” occupation of Palestine,” but also had strong criticism of the organization and of J Street, later partying with those like Max Blumenthal, Anya Parampil, Rania Khalek, Michael “Mike” Prysner, Nathaniel Wallace, and Jan Ritch-Frel and Michael Prysner, where they all watched the Democratic presidential debate. The latter basically rather shows her left-leaning views at the time, with the same applying to her friendship with Ben Norton, who is not as radical as one might think at the time.

By 2016, the year she would attend the Big Eddy Film Festival in Narrowsburg, New York, she would be in Nashua, New Hampshire “with her union, the United Automobile Workers,” which she is said to have organized for “during a contract dispute at Barnard College, on Election Day.” She said that it was also a get-out-the-vote campaign, adding that “collectively, we all felt certain that Hillary Clinton would win. When the results came in, it was really, really devastating…My heart hasn’t stopped racing since that moment, basically.” She later told the Gazette that “the Trump Administration has motivated more people, myself included, to shift our focus to trying to effect change as much as we possibly can at the city and state level, where we have more control, where we can effect change in a practical sense and also do harm reduction in response to federal policies across the board.”

The same year she began working with the JFREJ “on anti-police brutality initiatives,” after seeing them at Black Lives Matter protests. [7] She would also write her third article for Mondoweiss, talking about a Black Lives Matter platform which called the Zionist state an apartheid entity oppressing Palestinians and the response by Jewish organizations to it, and would become “rank-and-file DSA member” in the summer.

The year after that, 2017, she would serve as the senior editor of a blog called Unruly: A Jews of Color, Sephardi & Mizrahi Caucus Blog and would be a full-time staff organizer in the JFREJ, while being a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and an active DSA member. In January of the same year, she attended the Women’s March in NYC, leading a “contingent of progressive Jewish marchers,” seeing the march as “as an opportunity to build our community’s unified resistance against Trump’s oppressive policy proposals” and saying that despite clumsy messaging, it was “a good-faith effort to do something here that will mark an historic defiance against the hate and discrimination that Trump represents.” She would not cancel, as revealed in the Dilan v. Salazar case, her Florida voting registration until July 2017, and then become a registered voter in New York.

Then, in 2018, this year, she would write an article in Jacobin about the NYPD’s police brutality, then started supporting and volunteering for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign. She would be convinced by some of her friends in the NYC-DSA, like Michael “Mike” Kinnucan (her deputy campaign manager), Nick Rizzo, and Bianca Cunningham, and maybe that assistant editor of Jacobin, Alex Press, who moved into the area in 2017. She would finalize her decision by March and begin running in April, with a kickoff the following month. Of these individuals, Rizzo was a major factor, described in April 2016 by Bedford & Bowery as a politician who “shares some concerns with the Brooklyn hipster constituency…and like many liberal-minded people of our generation, he also cares a great deal about issues of equality…and is frustrated with…the establishment.” He would call himself a “Bernie supporter” who barely saw “any possibility of Trump winning,” adding, worryingly, that: “…it’s actually better for all of us to have a functioning two-party system…Competition is essential for a democracy” and that he would vote for Hillary Clinton if she was the Democratic nominee and saying he was in favor of tipping. Since then, his views on Twitter, such as thinking that “Millennials” and Generation Z will bring “the change”, being dedicated Democrat and nationalist who seems to like assessments by Trotsky, shows that what he said in 2016 still matters.

Whether we believe Salazar or not, support or oppose her, her personal narrative, which was muddled by her inconsistencies and distortions, matters as she is a figure in the public eye, not only putting doubt on her ability to carry through for Brooklynites (as a “new hope”) in Albany but in the DSA itself. It is hard to see if she will be “an advocate for the underdog,” as her mother describes her. In the end, while thinking people should be critical of progressive icons like Salazar, any tendency to ally with reactionaries or promote their narratives to engage in such criticism undercuts any efforts to create a better world.


Notes

[1] If you would like the links to the tweets I am referring to, please email me.

[2] She explained this change to Stephen Miller of Fox News by saying that she does not “personally manage” her campaign website, blaming a staffer and lack of coordination on her “first-time team,” admitting to being “unknowingly unclear on this,” adding that her busy campaign was also to blame. How can you expect a well-organized and coordinated campaign if you are blaming your staff?

[3] This is where New York magazine gets into weird territory: they declare that because Salazar’s ancestors were elites in Colombia who had a role in public life, that this “legacy of financial well-being and achievement carried over from Colombia to Salazar’s early family life in Florida, where she was born” because…Salazar’s brother said so! This is pretty weak, since it is no guarantee that just because your ancestors are wealthy you will also be wealthy.

[4] The quote “lower my expectations” which is used in this article comes from this video. I did my best to transcribe the video:

I hope I am not alienating anyone but I am also not into vartora [?]. I’m not equipped to do that either. But, I am a Jew of color. Many people aren’t familiar with this term but I’m a Colombian-American and I’m also Jewish. And Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the movement that many of us are in has empowered me to say that proudly. Growing up I was told to lower my expectations by society. I immigrated to this country with my family when I was very little. In Colombia, my mom raised me as a single mother, she didn’t have a college degree. We really struggled. I started working in a grocery store when I was 14, I worked in the service industry from high school, and as a domestic worker in college. And it was that experience that while early on, you know [cuts off].”

[5] The full quote from her page is: “as a member of the Bushwick community, she has been a tireless advocate for her neighbors and fellow tenants. Julia’s decade of experience as a local community organizer has brought her from the streets of Bushwick to the halls of Albany. She has protested, picketed, lobbied, and organized to achieve a more just New York. From working with her neighbors to fight for their legal right to safe housing to demanding criminal justice reforms at the city and state levels, Julia has been at the forefront of campaigns for social justice in New York.”

[6] WZO, which was founded in 1897, wants to “serve as the umbrella organization for the Zionist movement” and be a “symbol and a founding institution of Zionist political thought and action.” It also pumps millions into new illegal settlements in the West Bank. In an article she co-wrote with Max Blumenthal, she would describe J Street, talking about “liberal pro-Israel students” in the organization, adding that “J Street U [is] the campus arm of the liberal pro-Israel organization, J Street.” J Street has directly attacked BDS and it also “rejects the return of Palestinians to lands and homes.”

[7] For the discussion of whether JFREJ is a Zionist organization, please email me. She may have also worked with CodePink as there is a page for a “Julia Carmel.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Significance of Julia Salazar running as a “Socialist” Democrat

The following was reprinted from Dissident Voice. It is the first of the two-part article on the so-called “socialist” Julia Carmel Salazar. A version of this article before its editing by Dissident Voice has been published on the Internet Archive.

On September 13, Julia Carmel Salazar won the Democratic primary against Martin Dilan, becoming the State Senate candidate for North Brooklyn’s District 18 (shaped like a praying mantis). Apart from the many dark times in her life, especially her right-wing period between 2008 and 2014, covered in Part 2 of this article, there are many other factors revolving around her role as a “socialist” of the NYC-DSA running in a Democratic primary. This article aims to talk about those factors and the significance of her candidacy, with her almost-assured victory in November, beyond Ben Beckett’s hot takes in Jacobin that her victory on September 13 “felt good” and that she was “attacked” in her supposed effort to build a “policy base that a new voter self-identity can be anchored in.”

With some media outlets calling her a “Latina democratic socialist” (Gothamist), “young and Latina, poised and progressive, and a democratic socialist” (New York Times), or a “Jewish Latina democratic socialist candidate” heading a “burgeoning progressive Jewish revolution” (Jewish Telegraph Agency) who sits among the “young progressive women” Michelle Goldberg recently wrote about in the New York Times, there are undoubtedly many articles about her positions. These media outlets see her as more than a “jumped-up nobody running for a state senate seat in Brooklyn,” allowing her campaign to become a runaway national story. She is described as a “socialist” (or as some call it “suddenly socialist”) and a DSA member, calling herself “an advocate, a tenant, a feminist, a democratic socialist, a union member.” [1]

She stands for universal rent control, tech-utopism, ending vacancy decontrol, abolishing ICE, single-payer healthcare usually described as Medicare For All, ending cash bail, fixing the subway system (and mass transit), ending “policies aimed at eliminating mass incarceration,” money for affordable housing, free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools, and immigrant rights, while favoring reproductive rights and unions. These are socially democratic positions which aren’t necessarily “socialist.” She also endorsed the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), which held by NYC-DSA, while criticizing the two-state solution. [2]

This position on Palestine is part of the reason for the negative articles in the Daily Mail, Forward, and the Tablet, most prominently, and was likely pushed by Zionist agents and perhaps the real estate industry, connected with her gender, as I have pointed on Twitter as a person who is critical of Salazar. Some, like Ryan Grim of the Intercept, Pierre Omidyar’s plaything, have said that after Salazar’s victory, “Big winners tonight appear to be: Tablet, Page Six and the Daily Mail, who get to keep writing about @SalazarSenate18 for the foreseeable future.” That has validity except it misses the significance of her candidacy.

As Salazar said at one point:

My vision is for a more caring society in which nobody is denied what they need to thrive based on income, on property, on capital. This is not what is going to happen the day I’m elected to the state Senate — that would be cool though. I’m realistic, but without that vision, this is pretty much a futile exercise.

This “cool” factor, where she says she would be “fine” if her victory led to “the end of capitalism” (which it obviously won’t), plays into the fact that her campaign headquarters in Bushwick sits near a “hipster” shop, with scores of volunteers (many of whom are DSA members) canvassing in “friendly political territory,” and receiving a huge amount of campaign donations after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another “socialist” running in the Democratic Party, endorsed her, while Radix Media printed her posters. As The Intercept even admitted: “Salazar’s road to Albany might be made easier by the same counterintuitive factor that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez to victory: gentrification,” with this being the case because “white transplants…tend to support Bernie Sanders-type universal programs.”

This reality was evident from The New Yorker’s photos of a victory party for Salazar on September 13 in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which included a smattering of people of color, but more white men and women than anything else. The New Yorker addressed this directly in their article, writing that “the crowd [there] whose arrival often heralds gentrification—the young bearded types at the party—had worked on the campaign…The hipsters who come to the neighborhood for the “right reasons,” as [Tasha] Van Auken [Salazar’s campaign manager] put it, are actually working to keep older residents safely in their homes.” At the same time a BuzzFeed article noted that the supporters of Salazar, “certainly the young, mostly white, recent college graduates who flooded her victory party…didn’t recognize, at least subconsciously, that this kind of thing is just way more common than we’d like to admit,” meaning they were more like Salazar than they would admit off the bat.

This connects to what her former opponent, Dilan, called her: a gentrifier who recently moved into the area even though she opposes gentrification and she has lived in the same apartment in Bushwick for years. As one strident critic of Salazar put it recently, the campaign’s winning strategy was to target a gentrifying district, then use the “DSA as footsoldiers to turn out the white voters.” This effort, which reportedly included knocking on 100,000 doors, was a success in getting her elected, allowing her to integrate even more people into the faltering Democratic Party, which would make the head of the party smile even as they grumble about her viewpoints.

It is evident that Salazar is trying to portray herself as “hip,” with some saying that she “transformed, seemingly overnight, from an extreme right-wing Republican Right-To-Life Zionist zealot to a trendy BernieCrat. She needs to offer a plausible account of how this happened.” This is evident from the fact that she may be vegan (or perhaps vegetarian), tweeted a quote from Howard Zinn, is blocked on Twitter by Rosanne Barr, she has been called a “tattoo-wearing socialist” for her tattoo of a “large black and white rose” near her left shoulder and another of plane on her right arm which The Nation calls “a memento of her father, whose death when she was 18 “shaped [her] life,”” the look of her campaign headquarters, being interviewed by those of Chapo Trap House (a “leftist” podcast which almost verges on being anti-communist), and her long hair. It is also expressed through her “hot takes” on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, legalizing marijuana, misogyny, libertarians, Tucker Carlson of Fox News, and protest chants. With this, it is no surprise that the UAW has called her a “UAW sibling.” Also her reported “faith in humanity based on…the observation and the belief that as humans we don’t just operate selfishly, you know, that we can actually be in solidarity with one another, and not just with our people,” as she noted in a DSA podcast, it is part of this portrayal as well.

She also has garnered an unusual constituency for a politician which is “emerging as a force in electoral politics…because of the growing political threat against their industry”: prostitutes, whom many outlets like to call “sex workers” claiming that they are just like other workers, by supporting the decriminalization of prostitution and attending “sex worker advocacy meetings.” The Intercept even did a whole article on the subject, declaring that she is “shaping her policy by consulting the sex work community, is one of the first candidates to definitively support those workers, including by proposing concrete steps toward decriminalization. In that article, she told the reporter that “sex workers are workers and they deserve to be treated with dignity, including protections and decent working conditions, rather than the abuse and criminalization that they currently face. I’m dedicated to defending workers’ rights, reforming our criminal justice system and ending exploitation, and we know that criminalization puts everyone in sex work at risk rather than protecting them.” As a result, she stands against those feminists who are rightly critical of prostitution and rather with the so-called “sex worker lobby” which is probably the lobby for the sex industry.

This would be the case because those glad with Salazar’s position include Melissa Gira Grant (who doesn’t “acknowledge the issue of masculine social dominance” on her book on “sex work”) and the Red Umbrella Project (part of a group that is a front for pimps). Grant was so glad with Salazar’s position that she wrote an article in The Appeal, a project of Tides Advocacy (formerly the Advocacy Fund), which is an affiliate of the Tides Foundation, a major funder of bourgeois environmental groups, like 350.org, with Warren Buffet’s NoVo Foundation as one of the biggest funders of Tides. In her article, Grant declared, not surprisingly, that Salazar’s campaign has “provided a platform for sex workers to do some of that educational work [on prostitution], while offering a template for how the decriminalization fight could play out in other cities and states,” adding, in a joyful manner, that “her support for sex workers’ rights is unusual for a person running for office.”

As Matthew Maavak has written, “a civilization where women and children are sexually commoditized is one in terminal decline,” a thought which is connected to what Tanner Stenning has written: “if we’re to proceed in defending sex workers, let’s start by acknowledging at least this much: likeliest the vast majority would not choose sex work were the circumstances different.” This is further informed by what has been written in Feminist Current: that “prostitution endlessly erects the very patriarchal divisions between women that it allegedly destroys…As long as prostitution exists women and men will never be free from patriarchy,” that “under the narrative of “sex work” there can be no vulnerable person,” and that “pro-sex trade voices are…ubiquitous” to such an extent that the New York Times has done articles on the subject. The same publication also talked about the gentrification of prostitution, murders of prostitutes in New Zealand where prostitution has been decriminalized, certain people discounting rape of prostitutes, and trying to de-platform Chris Hedges for taking a strong anti-prostitution stand in his Truthdig columns.

While prostitutes have flocked to Salazar’s campaign, Trotskyists have endorsed her, with Socialist Alternative declaring that her campaign’s door knocking “is seen by many workers and youth as an important vehicle to fight back,” but adding that “many DSA members want to build mass movements outside the electoral arena…a broader struggle to transform the party,” while adding that “it’s essentially impossible to rip the Democratic Party as a whole from its corporate leadership. To win far-reaching change a new mass workers party will be needed.” Still, they support Salazar, saying her efforts are positive and are “generating support for many important issues that won’t be won without struggle…A Salazar victory will be a…clear indication of the growing momentum for socialist ideas.” Not so sure about that.

Additionally, the Brooklyn branch of the ISO (International Socialist Organization), a Trotskyist organization, also issued their support for Salazar, declaring their full support of her from “a nightmarish series of attacks…[a] steady and vicious smear campaign drummed up by both liberal and right-wing media outlets” and urging those “progressive allies who continue to dissect Salazar’s background…to [not] equivocate, but to stand firmly on the side of solidarity, so that one of our own does not pay such a high price for standing up for all of us.” Apparently standing on the side of solidarity means to mimic her followers by not questioning her. Even Niles Niemuth of the Trotskyist Socialist Equality Party, a candidate in Michigan, was quoted in the party’s website, the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) as saying that:

The DSA, which is a faction of the Democratic Party, not an independent party, promotes the fiction that the interests of workers can be secured without a frontal attack on the domination and wealth of the corporate and financial elite. It advances the lie that workers can win their rights through the instrument of the Democratic Party—a right wing, pro-capitalist party.

On that point he may be right although Trotskyists have a distorted worldview which benefits the global bourgeoisie. Salazar may  use words like capitalism and capital, while calling herself a socialist and declaring that her campaign was something “revolutionary,” but she also has a progressive feel, with her website saying: “Julia is the leader we need to make New York City a safer, more just, more welcoming place for everyone” and saying that the “abolition of private property” is not “realistic.” While she seemed to differentiate “democratic socialism” and “progressivism,” in an interview for Jacobin, saying the former means “to have a vision of a world where everyone is taken care of….a society in which people are valued over profit, in which everyone has access to the things they need not just for basic survival but to thrive” and that the latter might “advocate for forcing landlords to do necessary repairs on buildings,” her talk on the campaign trail, saying she speaks for the Latinx community, drawing strength from “the long history of Jewish social justice and Latinx social justice organizing” wants to make New York a “progressive beacon” or that she wants a “true blue New York,” that she is part of a “movement” winning over the “machine,” tells a different story.

It is doubtful that her ideas will “bring us closer to a truly socialist economic system,” as she claimed her campaign was part of, since, as In These Times writes, “democratic socialism itself has always been a heterodox term, encompassing everyone from ideological Trotskyists to New Deal Democrats.” They also note that “DSA isn’t keen to enforce a strict definition of “democratic socialism,”” possibly meaning everything from “taking public goods like healthcare off the private market…to worker-ownership of the means of production.” The DSA, with a chapter in NYC, also doesn’t want to play as a “spoiler in general elections” but would rather endorse “the most progressive candidates from other parties in primaries, while also running their own, further-to-the-left candidates in local Democratic races that are safely progressive.” Salazar can warn of ideas “becoming diluted when they leave the Left and enter the mainstream, province of politicians and political expediency,”  and even admit that “the two-party system de facto disenfranchises people, and I can’t see the Democratic Party ultimately being a vessel for the democratic socialist revolution, so it would be silly and shortsighted for democratic socialists to put a lot of effort and resources into that project.”

Still, she says that “it would be great if we could all avoid the Democratic Party line…but if I were to try to do that in this district, I highly doubt people would notice much less vote for a third-party candidate in the general election.” Yet wanting to be part of a “progressive wave,” being a person supposedly with “class politics and a materialist analysis,” will not get her the “socialist movement” that she claims she is part of. This is because she cannot be for a Bernie-style “political revolution” while being a “fiery progressive” who is still socialist and is building a “movement.” Talking in Bernie-like language will just end up with her followers, after her victory, being swallowed into the Democratic Party. This is evident by the fact that there is a fundraiser for her on Act Blue, which calls Salazar “a dedicated community leader running in the Democratic primary for New York State Senate…committed to running a campaign by and for the people, sustained by grassroots donations from supporters like you,” a Democratic PAC which is independent of the Democratic Party and is part of “blue” Democratic brand. This is even the case if the words were written by her campaign, as they also publicized their efforts as “all grassroots.” It is also doubtful that while her victory will make her supporters gleeful, it will not be a “victory for workers” as she declared in her victory speech on the night of September 13.

The numerous individuals and groups who have endorsed her seem to question how grassroots her campaign was, especially considering the number of out-of-state donors (35% of her donor base). Her website lists Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilman Jumaane Williams, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Working Families, New York Communities for Change, DSA, CWA, CODEPINK, Make the Road Action, Citizen Acton of New York, New York State Immigrant Action Fund, Carlina Rivera campaign, OUR Revolution, NYC DSA, NYC Kids PAC, New King Democrats, Brooklyn Progressive Action Network, New York Progressive Action Network, New York Professional Nurses Union, The Jewish Vote, Amplify Her, Streets PAC, Grassroots Action New York, Women of Color for Progress, UAW, and The People for Bernie as endorsing her campaign. Even, the Zionist Tablet has written that “Salazar’s election [victory] would be a breakthrough for the city’s Jewish left: proof that their institutions can become a pathway to formal political power, that anti-Zionist Jews can win high-profile elections, and that big things are possible when communities grow ravenous for some kind of change.”

She has also been supported by those from the ACLU, progressive “socialist” Lee J. Carter, Insurrection magazine (which she once published for in an article about virtual reality), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Bhaskar Sunkara, the editor of socially-democratic Jacobin, progressive” Democrats like Cynthia Nixon and Zephyr Teachout, along with the typical support from Berniecrats and DSA people, Democratic honchos, uptight White liberals in suits and “socialists” like Benjamin Norton. Most worrisome is that Linda Sarsour is an active supporter of her (and Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign as well) campaign. Sarsour is a Berniecrat once recognized as a “champion of change” by Obama’s admin, along with also smearing Syria’s government, calling for that government’s overthrow and saying it is oppressing Syrians. Sarsour also defended head-chopping Saudis (even if she doesn’t “support” them), acts like she critical of the Zionist state but made sure there were no BDS or anti-Zionist signs at the Women’s March in DC, and supports the Zionist state’s existence, making it clear she is not really what she claims to be. [3]

With all the distortions of Salazar’s personal message caused by her inconsistency, some progressives who would be prone to support her ideas have decided to not do so, like Dave Weigel. The Salazar campaign’s “voter protection teams” won’t protect them from this form of defection, with the same applying to their get-out-the-vote efforts, with the former organized perhaps because of expected voter suppression in the district which happened on September 13.

Before her victory, one article in Vox stated that “if she wins, it’ll be more evidence that socialists in general and the DSA in particular are forces to be reckoned within the Democratic Party. If she loses — well, then the DSA will be the socialists who couldn’t even win an election in Bushwick.” Her campaign positions were clear in a smoothly-made campaign ad (the production and creation which may have violated FEC regulations) by Means Production, an entertainment company, which is less than three minutes long. It includes a Reaganesque refrain that it is “morning again in Brooklyn” (repeated three times in the video) while the video itself, worryingly, declares her campaign will deliver “moral clarity” (or “common sense” as it is put elsewhere) but not “radical ideas.” Salazar herself also only gives unnamed “corporations” & the “real estate body” as the problem without even uttering the word capitalism in the video itself!

Wanting a “more caring society” does not make you socialist either, not because of some non-existent “purity test” but rather that any progressive could say the same exact thing. As one person in Left Voice asked:

Why couldn’t someone like Julia Salazar run as a socialist, putting the hundreds of DSA members who are canvassing into dialogue with those who are disillusioned with the two-party system? Why can’t the anti-establishment feeling be put in the service of joining a movement against the parties that have sold out the working class and oppressed them again and again? She may not win the election, but the DSA will have spread socialist ideas and about working class independence from capitalists. And besides, it’s not unheard of for an independent socialist to win an election.

Not sure why she didn’t go that route. Doesn’t seem right, as it would be better to build structures independent of the Democratic Party instead. Some may have a point that the DSA is currently being opportunist by allowing her in their ranks or claiming she is spouting a form of Zionism like Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, but there is more happening than that.

On a connected note, it is worth discussing the NYC-DSA. It is a chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a group declaring on its homepage that “working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few” but then just fights for “reforms that empower working people,” including decreasing the “influence of money in politics…empower[ing] ordinary people in workplaces and the economy [and] restructur[ing]…gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable,” followed by a broad “commitment to democracy.”  This may sound nice, but their “free, democratic and humane society” includes a humane international social order based both on democratic planning and market mechanisms” which sounds horrifying because the latter element means such a society would have capitalist elements!

On another page they declare that “the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few which changes in government and economic structures,” adding that they do not want “all-powerful government bureaucracy” and claiming that “worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives” would allow social ownership, while also favoring “as much decentralization as possible.” So, they aren’t bringing on the Soviet Union, even though they favor central-planning, which they also just call “democratic planning” which would include, you guessed it, “market mechanisms are needed to determine the demand for many consumer goods.”

The group then goes into the land of anti-communism, declaring that “socialists have been among the harshest critics of authoritarian Communist states,” even saying that they “applaud the democratic revolutions that have transformed the former Communist bloc,” despite the fact the countries are now worse off, and claiming they are also against “ethnic rivalries and/or new forms of authoritarianism.” Even worse, they favor government regulation, tax incentives, and unions to “control” corporations, while favoring a “combination of social, economic, and moral incentives will motivate people to work,” and using social democratic efforts in Sweden, Canada, France, the U$,and Nicaragua, as “examples” going forward! After they say that the DSA “must work towards reforms that can withstand the power of multinationals and global banks, and we must fight for a world order that is not controlled by bankers and bosses,” they support fighting within the Democratic Party, writing: “…many of us have been active in the Democratic Party. We work with those movements to strengthen the party’s left wing…The process and structure of American elections seriously hurts third party efforts…We hope that at some point in the future, in coalition with our allies, an alternative national party will be viable. For now, we will continue to support progressives who have a real chance at winning elections, which usually means left-wing Democrats.” What a disgusting set of words!

Finally, there is the page about their history, written by Joseph M. Schwartz (active in the DSA since the beginning), proclaiming that they “made an ethical contribution to the broader American Left by being one of the few radical organizations born out of a merger rather than a split.” It also says that they “helped popularize the vision of an ecumenical, multi-tendency socialist organization, an ethos that enabled it to recently incorporate many thousands of new members, mostly out of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign,” even welcoming those who “believe in the possibility of independent electoral work inside or outside the Democratic Party ballot line.” This history shows that in 1972 their predecessor, with Michael Harrington (who believed that the Left could take over the Democratic Party) as a major figure, supported those in the ““new politics” left-liberals in the McGovern wing of the Democrats,” while in the later 1970s they supported a progressive “Democratic Agenda,” building progressive Democratic coalitions in the 1980s, founding the DSA in 1982.

The history then complained that “the collapse of communism in 1989 proved less of an immediate boon to democratic socialists than many of us had hoped. Those who had suffered in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union did not embrace socialism with a human face, but rushed headlong into the embrace of a mythic, free market capitalism.” They thought they would benefit from that? Jeez, they do not understand capitalism or the problem with the Soviet Union’s dissolution, which can be grasped even by those critical of the country, especially after 1956 when it entered its revisionist period.

The history continues on, saying that the group then called for a single-payer healthcare system in the early 1990s to counter the Clinton health plan, opposed Clinton’s welfare reform, opposed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars early on, called for a “truly progressive tax system” in the early 2000s, joining the Occupy movement from day one, supporting Black Lives Matter, “and fighting against mass incarceration and for equitable urban public education” in more recent years. As an obvious tie into the Democratic Party, the history recalled “DSA’s decision in late 2014 to make its number one priority the movement to support Bernie Sanders running for president. DSA took the position that for maximum exposure and effectiveness, Sanders should not only run, but should run in the Democratic primaries,” even as they admitted that “Bernie’s New Deal or social democratic program did not fulfill the socialist aim of establishing worker and social ownership of the economy” but it apparently seemed “sufficiently radical and inspiring.”

And now they boast that they are “the largest socialist organization in the United States since the Communist Party before its implosion in 1956 after the [false and traitorous] Khrushchev revelations about Stalin” and then declare that “we also are committed to working in coalition with forces that oppose both right-wing rule and the dominant national corporate wing of the Democrats. We want to continue Sanders’ “political revolution” by broadening out that political trend to include a stronger base within the labor movement and, most importantly, among progressive organizations rooted in communities of color. If we take up those challenges, DSA may be able to sustain the most important socialist presence in U.S. politics since the Debsian Socialist era of 1900 to 1920.”

Once again, this positioning makes them the perfect sheepdogs for the Democratic Party, clearly as social democrats not as socialists which they call themselves, while they could very easily be using that same energy on building independent structures! Then, again, this is unlikely to happen as no Marxist theory is even mentioned on any of these pages at all, showing superficiality of their ideas. [4]

With this, we get back to NYC-DSA. It is currently an entirely member funded group that is run by more than 3,500 members, saying on its homepage that they are “socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships,” adding that they want to “work together to develop a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for achieving a transition to democratic socialism in America,” calling for people to help them build a better world. Another page on their website declares their further aims:

a society free of all oppression with a democratically-run, ecologically-sustainable economy…Our goal is a socialist world….A transformation on this scale will require socialist parties and powerful social movements. The goal of NYC-DSA is to move us closer to achieving this transformation…Campaigns for reforms that would improve working-class and oppressed people’s lives are key to our ability to organize this base…ultimately it will take a political revolution and massive social transformations to make the lasting changes we are fighting for…Socialists have learned through decades of fighting for reforms that the capitalist system serves the interests of the ruling class. It is designed to meet their needs and insulate their power from threats from below. Our strategy therefore is different from the liberal one. We work to organize millions of people into democratically-led movements that take militant action against bosses and politicians…We believe that the fundamental transformations we are seeking are in the broad interests of all working-class and oppressed people, and our work is focused on organizing among this base…We must pressure Democrats to obstruct Trump’s agenda. Mass demonstrations against Trump’s actions will also be a regular feature of the next few years…The prospects for winning reforms in the interest of working-class and oppressed people at the city-level would seem to be more promising…the city Democratic Party is divided into three factions, undermining its ability to pass progressive reforms…Because the mayoral and other citywide elections this year appear to be uncompetitive and none of the candidates present a strong progressive vision for the city, we should not take a position on these races. This frees us up to focus our electoral work on a few key City Council races. In general, after full discussion, we will support the most viable progressive candidate who will use their office as a ‘bully pulpit’ to help build social movements in NYC. We will especially look to find candidates willing to run as democratic socialists…It is critical that all of this work is done with an eye towards building an electoral apparatus — which includes fundraising, canvassing, research, and volunteers — independent of the Democratic Party and corporate money….As NYC-DSA we also call on the National Convention of DSA to vote to disaffiliate from the Socialist International (SI). The SI is not helping to build an international socialist movement — its member parties work around the world to roll back welfare states and impose austerity.

While this is a bit better than the DSA, it still falls into using the “Democratic Party line,” as Salazar called it. To recall what Salazar herself said, quoted earlier in this article: “the two-party system de facto disenfranchises people, and I can’t see the Democratic Party ultimately being a vessel for the democratic socialist revolution, so it would be silly and shortsighted for democratic socialists to put a lot of effort and resources into that project.” We then can recall what Jimmy Dore, a progressive comedian who recently declared that “if they play the national anthem at work & make you stand and salute, that’s not patriotism, that’s fascism. That’s what they do in North Korea” (which you could call liberal fascism) and who doesn’t like corporatists but voted for Obama twice (which is a conundrum), said about the Democrats (as he does often). He argued that they caused the repeal of Glass-Steagall, crash of the economy, banks to get bigger, cops to crack heads at Occupy protests, not stop unions from being taken away from teachers in Wisconsin, joined with the current U$ president and McConnell to fast-track lifetime appointments of judges, worked with GOP to deregulate Wall Street again and have the biggest Pentagon budget in U$ history (717 billion dollars), take fossil fuel money, and have a new DNC rule that to run as a candidate in the Democratic Party, head of DNC gets to decide whether the candidate is sufficiently loyal to the party.

He also said that Democrats have been in decline for decades, that superdelegates are still there but just don’t vote for the President in the first-round, that many people associate with Democrats because they are an “inferior good” and that there is “no way they will allow progressives to take over the party.” But ultimately Jimmy Dore and his guests stuck with the Democrats, while one admitted that progressive victories could be sapping energy that could be used to create a new political party, but another said” right now that is not an option,” echoing what Salazar said. It is this defeatist attitude which is part of the problem.

Ultimately there is one major problem with Salazar’s candidacy, as is the case with Ocasio-Cortez.  It sucks grassroots energy into electoral politics like a vacuum cleaner bringing in loads of dust. [5] The same could even be said of Kshama Sawant in Seattle, running as part of the Trotskyist Socialist Alternative grouping.

Specifically in the case of Salazar, Ocasio-Cortez, and many others, their energy would be sucked into the Democratic Party. Even Socialist Alternative, which endorsed Salazar, admitted this, declaring that “it’s essentially impossible to rip the Democratic Party as a whole from its corporate leadership. To win far-reaching change a new mass workers party will be needed.” This seems to be embodied within the Party of Communists – USA (PCUSA), which declares that “the Republican and Democratic Parties represent and work for the basic interests of capital, the large stock-holders of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler…The PCUSA proposes a realistic policy that is neither sectarian nor set in stone nor just latches on to the Democratic Machine.”

As such, it is clear that DSA does not fulfill this goal. Rather, they are sending more people to their spiritual deaths, not through spending “more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift” as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it in 1967, as they will be swallowed into the Democratic machine just like that Futurama episode where a beast takes in people’s life essence, expanding its ego to absurdist proportions. Some can try to be “super” progressive within the Democratic Party, but eventually those people will crack sooner or later like Ocasio-Cortez did when she could not explain what the “occupation of Palestine” meant, later declaring that “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist. I’m a proponent of the two state solution. For me, this is not a referendum on the state of Israel.”

No matter what happens to Salazar ultimately, whether she wins in November or not, her candidacy serves an ultimate purpose to the corporatist leadership of the Democratic Party: it keeps the party alive and breathing, allowing it to support rampant imperialism, the actions of the current U$ administration, and continue to shaft the proletariat, among reinforcing efforts to enact their capitalist ideology. As such, while one could, without much thought, praise Salazar for her reformist ideas, there should be a more determined effort to create structures and institutions which exist outside the two-party system, allowing for a focus on more productive endeavors than just participating in elections.


Notes

[1] Salazar defines socialism as about “fighting to build a society in which everybody can live in dignity and have the resources to live as equitably as possible [and to have] the resources that we need not only to survive but to thrive in our society. It’s about empowering workers as far as my own theory of change…empowering the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our society.” She then told Teen Vogue that “being a democratic socialist means fighting to build a society in which everyone is cared for and has the resources that we need to not only to survive but to thrive in our society. It means that everybody will truly have autonomy and control over their own destinies. I think that part of the vision of fighting for a society in which everyone is able to thrive and has control of their own destiny means acknowledging gender inequality and patriarchy in our society. It requires working to dismantle patriarchy and to counteract gender inequality and fight for a society in which women and gender nonconforming people are no longer oppressed systemically.”

While that is nice, it doesn’t really sound “socialist” to me. The fourth edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it on page 1360 as “any of the various theories or systems of ownership and operation of the means of production by society or the community sharing the work and products” and as “the stage in society, in Marxist doctrine, coming between the capitalist stage and the communist age, in which private ownership of the means of production and distribution have been eliminated.” The first definition is the one I’d like to focus on, rather than the second one as the U$ is still strongly in a capitalist society despite the goofs that say it is “post-capitalist.” Nothing about building a fairer society, which Salazar says she is for, is about moving toward society or the community owning the means of production. Cuba and the DPRK, arguably, rather than the revisionist triad (Laos, Vietnam, and China), fall within the second stage, but how much they do this is obviously up for debate.

[2] When interviewed on a DSA podcast, Salazar seemed to differentiate the societies of the U$ and the Zionist state, saying that “I think that both American and Israeli society are in crisis as a result of hyper-militarization of our societies, and our law enforcement, our government institutions that are ostensibly supposed to protect us. The effects are obviously felt vastly disproportionately by one part of population. And obviously in the US, it’s disproportionately affecting Black Americans and people of color, but most obviously Black Americans, and we know it’s rooted in a hideous legacy of slavery. Whereas in Israel and Palestine, it’s rooted in a history of inequality that’s been there since the establishment of the state. I see it as a product of having a hyper-militarized police force in a society that has been and often still is taught a pretty racist narrative.” While that has validity, the history of inequality has been there since the founding of the U$. This is a statement which is ignorant without question, not realizing the parallels between the two countries and the racist, sexist, and classist history of the U$ since its founding, as a state, in 1783 and as an independent entity in 1776.

[3] See more of Sarsour’s tweets on “Syria,” “Israel,” “Zionist,” “Palestine,” “apartheid,” “Saudi Arabia,” with tweets on the Saudis acting like she is critical when she has defended them in the past.

[4] Some have argued that the DSA wants socialism but that “trying to transform the imperialist core through electoral means reflects a lack of theoretical understanding of what building socialism necessarily entails,” adding that the “lack of emphasis on decolonizing (which necessitates the complete destruction of the settler colonial state) shows little practical understanding of what socialism would look like once that building process kicks off.” That opinion has validity, although it still doesn’t seem that they want socialism, but rather want a form of social democracy instead!

[5] One Princeton historian, Matt Karp, who is friends with Salazar, wrote that “if there was anything individually notable about Julia’s run for office, it was the idea that an ordinary person could pick up the mantle to run for state senate, not based on a claim of spectacular virtue, but a commitment to represent the needs and values of the people in her district. Now we see what happens when an ordinary person — bound to the ordinary extraordinary complexities of a life lived outside the confines of a resume — challenges the power of a political elite.” While that has its validity, it also poses her as some progressive shining star on a hill, something she is definitely not, and ignores the real problem with her candidacy is not her personal story or her ideas, but what it means for the political landscape and the faltering Democratic Party, with the same applying to other progressives who run on the Democratic Party line to try and push the party “to the Left,” a task which is an utter waste of time.

The specter of DPRK-U$ detente and what it means for the world

Kim and the orange menace shake hands at the June 12th Singapore summit.

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org, with changes of some links to this blog and text itself for reasons of smoothness.

Last month, I wrote a criticism, on this very website [anti-imperialism.org], of the orange menace’s letter which canceled one-on-one talks with Kim Jong Un, the DPRK’s elected leader, whom has held the ceremonial title of “supreme leader,” and commander of the Korean People’s Army, since December 2011. [1] Since then, the letter has become old hat, with the one-on-one talks on June 12 at a hotel located on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. Perhaps, the letter from the orange menace was a warning shot across the bow, supposed to say who was in “control.” With the summit, Pence, Bolton, and others within the U$ government which didn’t want the summit, were marginalized. The giddy liberals, like Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson or former CIA director John Brennan were likely annoyed, as were those on news stations like MSNBC, unable to contain their hatred for the people of the DPRK, especially for Kim himself, calling him a “murderous dictator” who had “gulags” time and time again. As I wrote last month, “Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.” As Amber B. recently wrote [on anti-imperialism.org], criticizing the left-opposition of the orange menace by groups such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and Refuse Fascism, instead of focusing on the orange menace, only a figurehead of the moment, as the primary enemy, it is better to “highlight the innumerable ways his administration works in perfect continuity with amerikan imperialism in general,” while understanding his peculiarities, but not giving them primary importance. With this, the following article aims to highlight the anger from sectors of the bourgeoisie on the summit, the results of the summit itself, how it fits into the broader framework of U$ imperialism, and what it means for the world as a whole.

In order to highlight the reactions and results of the summit, it is best to reprint the joint statement by Kim and the orange menace which was posted on the websites of Explore DPRK and Rodong Sinmun. The statement which was released on June 12 is as follows:

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, held the first historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump state the following:

1. The DPRK and the United States commit to establish new DPRK-U.S. relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The DPRK and the United States will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The DPRK and the United States commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the DPRK-U.S. summit, the first in history, was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for opening of a new future, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The DPRK and the United States commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the DPRK-U.S. summit.

Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America have committed to cooperate for the development of new DPRK- U.S. relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

One can say it is positive that both sides agree on establishing new relations which will contribute to “peace and prosperity,” build a “lasting and robust peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, and will work together to recover POW/MIA remains. The same can be said for implementing the summit’s outcomes, and planned cooperation tied with “the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.” The DPRK itself is compelled by the agreement to work for “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and reaffirm the ROK-DPRK Panmunjom Declaration, while the U$ is committed “to provide security guarantees to the DPRK.” Still, it is going too far to say that this is a “pretty comprehensive document” as the orange menace declared recently. Rather, it is much more moderate, even if we take Kim’s words that the past will be left behind and that the “world will see a major change.” It is also an agreement which is  supported by 51% of those in the U$, a strong showing of the populace for peace.

Recent developments have raised questions about the specter of detente, with papers like the New York Times declaring that the DPRK “ruined” negotiations and The Atlantic declaring that the road for denuclearization will not be an easy one. [2] Basically, the DPRK is asking for concessions from U$ imperialists in exchange for denuclearization, criticizing unilateral and irreversible denuclearization pushed by Pompeo (and neo-cons) most recently in his meeting with high-level DPRK officials, such as key Workers’ Party of Korea official Kim Yong Chol, whom have called for a phased approach toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula rather than “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” (CVID) demanded quickly by the U$. As such, the DPRK said the talks with Pompeo, whom declared that both sides had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” were regrettable, while Chol said that “the more you [Pompeo] come, more trust we can build between one another.” This could indicate differences within the DPRK’s leadership on how the U$ should be approached.

The full statement from the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 7 showed the rightful criticism of the U$. It says that while they expected “that the U.S. side would bring itself with a constructive proposal which would help build up trust true to the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” with the DPRK putting forward “constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement,” including putting in place “multilateral exchanges for improved relations between the DPRK and the U.S., making public a declaration on the end of war first on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement to build a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, dismantling the test ground of high thrust engine to make a physical verification of the suspension of ICBM production as part of denuclearization steps and making an earliest start of the working-level talks for recovering POW/MIA remains.” Kim even wrote the orange menace a personal letter out of respect. However, the U$ imperialists demanded that the DPRK comply with the demand for unilateral denuclearization which “run[s] counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks,” never mentioning the issue of “establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war,” instead saying they would backtrack on ending “the status of war under certain conditions and excuses”! This seems to follow efforts of previous administrations, with the suspension of the war games something that could be reversed. The foreign ministry adds that the DPRK was naive to think that the U$ would “come with a constructive proposal which accords with the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” and notes that while the DPRK in the last few months “displayed maximum patience,” watching the U$ and initiating many “good-will steps,” this was misunderstood by the U$. They further commented that such imperialists are “fatally mistaken” if they think that “the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience” the imperialists’ demands. The statement closes by saying that “the U.S. should make a serious consideration of whether the toleration of the headwind against the wills of the two top leaders would meet the aspirations and expectations of the world people as well as the interests of its country.” So, the negotiations and burgeoning detente will continue, but tensions are rising to the surface, even if the orange menace really does give Kim a CD with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” as some bourgeois media are alleging.

Since the summit: the U$ and DPRK’s response

What has happened since the summit is important to recall. Positively, the U$ ended military drills, also called “war games,” with the ROK, with the orange menace rightly calling them “inappropriate” and “provocative” while even floating the withdrawal of U$ troops from the ROK. However, this could be part of his strategy to make a mark globally, or to force concessions out of Japan and ROK through his measures. [3] At the same time, military drills could even be “used again to threaten Pyongyang once it doesn’t proceed with the denuclearization as Washington wants” as the Global Times posited. This is no surprise however, because there is a clear trend of imperial arrogance under the current administration, exemplified most poignantly by Nikki Haley in response to social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders, telling him that “it is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America. The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world.”

The U$ imperialists have been holding a tenacious line. Hawkish John Bolton declared that discussions between the DPRK and U$ (including Mike Pompeo) would continue, putting the onus on the DPRK, saying that denuclearization can happen within a year (or even 2 ½ years), with an undefined program with “asks” mentioned by Bolton and unnamed U$ officials, perhaps numbering as many as 47 as TASS reported recently. [4] The orange menace claimed this would include consultations with the ROK, Japan, and China. At the same time, there are some talk of a second summit between Kim and the orange menace, possibly at the UN General Assembly’s annual session beginning in September, even though there are efforts to put stumbling blocks in place. Of course, people like Pence claim that the “success of this summit and the progress that we’ve made is a direct result of President Trump’s steadfast leadership, and the courage of one American family” referring to Otto Warmbier’s family. The orange menace unconsciously, since he is a political amateur, as the Koreans said at the past, has disrupted, in another attempt to put his “mark” on history, the imperial Orientalist narrative on the DPRK by saying that people in the country “love” Kim with a “fervor,” and that the people in the country are hard-working and industrious. He also said that “I believe it’s a rough situation over there [in the DPRK]. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.” [5] Even with this, the imperial hostility toward the DPRK continues.

It is good to see the orange menace admitting that calling Kim “rocket man” was foolish. However, disgustingly he claimed it was part of his strategy to “earn” Kim’s “respect”! This seems like a horrible strategy which was not worth the cost! Detente could have been started much earlier. The current imperial strategy however is a bit confused as the orange menace extended the “national emergency” for the DPRK for another year, saying it constitutes an “extraordinary threat” to the U$, allowing economic sanctions to remain in place! Further disjunction is evidenced by the orange menace’s claims that he had “good chemistry” with Kim, who he called a “very smart guy,” “tough guy,” “great negotiator,” and “very talented” as one of very few to run a “tough country,” but nodded to the Orientalists by saying that Kim has engaged in “very bad things” even as he said that “so have a lot of other people that have done some really bad things.” This is another crack in the imperialist narrative. Let us be clear that Kim outmaneuvered the orange menace, who depends on advisers like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, while Kim serves as the guiding force of the DPRK, far from what those in the West call a “dictator” with venom on their lips. The orange menace is falling on his own sword by playing up the summit’s results. Of course, no one would even dream of considering denuclearization of the U$!

Since the summit, Kim and the DPRK leadership has taken a strong stand. If Bolton is to be believed, Kim told the orange menace on June 12 that he was different than Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. [6] While some say that the exact details of what the orange menace and Kim talked about is not known, Rodong Sinmun described the meeting as an “epoch-making meeting…[with] a candid exchange of views on the practical issues of weighty significance in putting an end to the decades-long hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S.” It also says there was “a comprehensive and in-depth discussion over the issues of establishing new DPRK-U.S. relations and building a permanent and durable peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula at the talks” with Kim praising “the president’s will and enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations, away from the hostility-woven past…[and that] the two countries should commit themselves to refraining from antagonizing each other out of mutual understanding, and take legal and institutional steps to guarantee it.” Additionally, “Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time and Trump invited Kim…to visit the U.S.” This having been the case, people have sent Kim congratulatory letters, while he has met with Xi Jinping, who represents the Chinese revisionists, and with Moon Jae-in, negotiating to have continued reunions of families separated by the Korean War, leading even a common revisionist, Roland Boer, to float the idea of Nobel Prize for Kim and Moon. There have also been meetings between high-ranking DPRK and ROK generals. Most importantly for the Korean people is Kim’s public appearance at a Sinuiju province cosmetics factory in which he said “it is important to completely eliminate manual labor and modernize production processes,” by bringing in automation. [7] He also said he “always hoped for a visit to the cosmetic factory in Sinuiju…They are famous for producing cosmetics with a spring scent,” and was also “proud of the factory’s production levels, but encouraged workers to continue excelling” as one article noted. We can debate automation of the workforce, but Kim clearly cares about his people while the orange menace does not care one bit, a fact the DPRK is undoubtedly aware of.

Then we get to claims of increased nuclear production in the DPRK’s facility in Yongbyon from 5-6 unnamed “U.S. officials,” a supposed report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and most “strongly” from commercial satellite imagery, displayed by anti-DPRK “watcher” website, 38 North, a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center, whose “partners” include many foundations and imperial groups. The center is also, as it should be noted, funded by the capitalist governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, UK, and U$, along with various private individuals, corporations, and foundations. [8] The imagery used by 38 North comes from a Pleiades satellite run by the French subsidiary of Airbus Defense and Space, called Airbus DS Geo SA, a global business which bills itself as an “international pioneer in Earth observation services.” As it turns out, Airbus Defense and Space is a subsidiary of the aerospace company, Airbus, over a quarter of which is owned by the capitalist French, Spanish, and German governments, according to page 108 of the organization’s most recent annual report. That doesn’t sound like an unbiased source at all! I am reminded of a recent article by Melinda Laituri in The Conversation, where she writes that

Satellite images…are captured through remote sensing technologies…without physical contact or firsthand experience. Algorithms refine these data to describe places and phenomena on the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere…I think it’s important for people to understand the limitations of this technology, lest they misunderstand what they see…But there are some caveats that anyone working with satellite images – or viewing them – should consider. Satellite images are only as good as their resolution. The smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image. But even high-resolution images need to be validated on the ground to ensure the trustworthiness of the interpretation. Should we question the images we see? Whose view of the world are we seeing? One example of the misuse of remotely sensed data was in 2003, when satellite images were[falsely] used as evidence of sites of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq…processing satellite images is computationally intensive. At best, satellite images are interpretations of conditions on Earth – a “snapshot” derived from algorithms that calculate how the raw data are defined and visualized. This has created a “black box,” making it difficult to know when or why the algorithm gets it wrong…Through platforms like Google Earth and Earth Explorer, satellite images are increasingly available to not only researchers and scientists, but to people around the world…maps derived from satellite images are constructed by those who may not be very familiar with the site. Mappers have an important responsibility when representing other people’s places. Maps derived from satellite images without local context – like street names or information about vegetation types – tell incomplete stories. Building footprints can be digitized, but only locals can identify the purpose of that building. Imaginary lines, like country boundaries, don’t show up on remotely sensed images. As satellite images become more ubiquitous, we should reflect on where they come from, how they are created, and the purpose for their use.

Keeping that at mind, we should not, for one second, accept the claims made by the DNI, unnamed U$ officials, and even the interpretation of satellite imagery at face value. As Stephen Lendman, who I’ve cited before, writes, even 38 North can’t confirm if the work it says occurred, “continued after the June 12 Kim/Trump summit” after the summit or not! So, this makes their article totally worthless, a piece of junk which should be incinerated in the closest furnace, without polluting the air of course.

Capitalism coming to the DPRK?

There are signs of possible shifts. Kim met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on June 11, saying he would “learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future,” adding that issues of bilateral relations and increased “wide-ranging exchange and cooperation” was encouraged, while Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singaporean Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung went to the DPRK. This raises the question: is capitalism coming to the DPRK as part of the detente with U$ imperialists?

We know that a four-minute short, created by the National Security Council, was shown to Kim, along with the capitalist media later on, with a voice over thundering that “Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity. A new story. A new beginning. Out of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny.” [9] This video “shows scenes of high-tech societies and everyday America, contrasted with images of traditional and contemporary Korean life, spliced with shots of rockets and North Korean militarism” as one bourgeois news outlet puts it. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which is not anti-imperialist in the slightest, describes it, the video serves “as a kind of hyper-capitalist real estate pitch, complete with beachfront property and speedboats and babies.” There’s also the fact that the orange menace, who says the video was shown in English and Korean, claims it was “loved” by Kim and eight Korean representatives. If he and other top DPRK officials liked the video, which we can’t be completely sure about unless we take the word of the orange menace at face value, it is somewhat worrisome considering the capitalist nature. Even so, it wouldn’t mean that the country is moving in a capitalist direction. In fact, it could mean they see it more broadly without abandoning the country’s social model.

At the same time, it is significant that the foreign affairs minister of Singapore, Vivian Balakrishnan, was impressed with what he saw in the DPRK on his visit. As he recounted:

…I come back very impressed…my views have also altered based on what I saw, heard, and (after I had) spoken to people. Clearly, the government has been hard at work all these decades to upgrade their infrastructure. I also got to experience the rugged, disciplined, determined, self-reliant society. They know they have had enormous challenges for well-nigh a century in North Korea. But they are proud of themselves and of their identity, and I can see there is that determination to move on, get ahead and to progress. So the society itself is a very impressive society and a city in its own right. Despite these maximal sanctions, what you have is a society that has continued to invest itself and continuously trying to upgrade people and their skills and the services they provide to their citizens. Now, can you imagine if peace finally comes, and North Korea is allowed to open up to the world and gain access to technology, capability, skills and markets. I think the sky is the limit for their people. If a breakthrough is achieved during the summit in Singapore, if peace comes, there will be a bountiful harvest. Primarily of course, with the Korean peninsula but also the rest of us, including Singapore as well. [10]

The question remains: who will collect this “bountiful harvest”? Will it be the Korean people or capitalists, Chinese, ROK, Japanese, Singaporean, and U$, spreading their wings and planting themselves in the North? If the latter is the case, then it will be a sad day for the forces fighting global imperialism. If the former occurs, which is something all those who care about justice should push for, then this would be a great relief for Korean people. We already know that 80% of ROK trading companies want to take part in development projects in the DPRK after international sanctions are lifted and are asking for better cross-border exchange. [11] Additionally, the national assembly of the ROK has seen an “increase in the number of bill proposals by legislators pushing to bolster economic exchanges with North Korea,” with many focused on inter-Korean railways and other economic exchanges. We also know that the U$ may be interested in negotiations with the DPRK because of large “deposits of rare earth elements (REEs)…potentially worth billions of US dollars” at a time that the DPRK “may be on the cusp of being integrated into a vast supply chain via an Iron Silk Road, with the Russia-China strategic partnership simultaneously investing in railways, pipelines and ports in parallel to North-South Korean special economic zones (SEZs), Chinese-style” as Pepe Escobar, favorable to Chinese revisionism, wrote recently. Furthermore, the orange menace and certain U$ imperialists want the summit in order to further “U.S. capitalist interests in Asia.”

It also seems that the DPRK is preparing itself even more for the world spotlight. One traveler from New Zealand, calling himself Indigo Traveller Nick, described Pyongyang as “impeccably clean,” thanks to efforts by locals, with grand metro stops, a fascinating but brutal war museum about the Korean war, feeling invisible as a foreigner, and having relative freedom for footage except for taking images of statues of current or former leaders. [12] He also claimed that those in rural regions of the country “looked like they walked straight out from a 1940s film,” reminiscent of the Soviet Union. He ended by calling it the “most unique and fascinating country” he had ever visited. On a related noted, the country is also connected culturally and linguistically to the south, with both countries sharing the same unofficial national anthem, “Our Wish is Reunification.” At the same time, a 42-minute video of the summit and visit of Kim and other top DPRK officials to Singapore was proudly broadcast on Korean Central Television (KCTV), including a “glittering Singapore skyline,” with Kim approving of Singapore as “clean and beautiful.” This would seem at least somewhat worrisome since Singapore is, as the bourgeois media has argued, a “prosperous capitalist nation,” only being “prosperous” for the capitalists.

The Russians are key in future developments in the DPRK, since they play a part in the search for a solution to the woes of the Korean Peninsula. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov is noted as saying in mid-June that they “seek economic cooperation with South Korea, which is our second largest trading partner in Asia after China,” while there would be high-level talks later in the month, focusing on “further development of Russia-South Korea relations in political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres.” [13] This is connected with the idea, posed by ROK president Moon Jae-in, that there be a Trans Korean Maine Line which can be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which can benefit both Koreas and Russia, connected with having a gas pipeline from Russia connecting the two Koreas, along with electric lines as well, possibly even connecting with Japan. Moon also said, elsewhere that the DPRK can be part of negotiations with Russia “after permanent peace is established in the region.” An outlet of the Vietnamese revisionists, VN Express, reported on the topic as well, noting that between the ROK and Russia, there was hope “that reduced tensions with Pyongyang will open up opportunities for economic and infrastructure projects that would directly link South Korea with Russia through North Korea” with an area of common interest being “railway projects,” with current development “of a railway link between the Russian eastern border town of Khasan and the North Korean port of Rajin.” The DPRK clearly realizes the value of Russia as well, with Kim touring a military site in a Russian-made Lada Priora, a car produced by a large automaker in Russia, AvtoVAZ, which is majority-owned by the French car company, Renault.

China, which is revisionist and connected to global capitalism, has a similarly strong role in the events in the country itself. There are indications that any transformation in the DPRK will be based on what has happened in China since 1978, not on what has happened in the U$, engaging in economic reconstruction with any capitalistic opening limited to SEZs. [14] The Chinese state media claims that the DPRK’s cosmetic industry will gain from capitalistic Chinese investment, building upon existing connections to Chinese cyberspace. With all of this, the DPRK’s leadership increased the country’s ties with China, with the Chinese hosting a banquet for Kim on June 19, with talks in the following days, returning after the talks, on June 21. Interestingly, he visited, with his wife Ri Sol Ju, “the Beijing Municipal Track Traffic Control Centre,” learning the details and asking pointed questions, adding that “he admires at the high-level automation and good combined control system of the centre, he hoped that the centre would further develop into a world-level traffic control centre and make greater progress.”

There have also been rumblings about the “erasing” of anti-imperialist propaganda in the DPRK, which claims it was “replaced” by other propaganda celebrating Korean unification and not as critical of the U$. [15] A tour manager of Young Pioneer Tours named Rowan Beard, Peter Ward of NKNews, and a researcher at the ROK’s Korea Institute for National Unification named Hong Min, along with some other so-called “experts” said this was the case. Additionally, AP reported that the annual anti-imperialist rally to mark the start of the Korean War, or the Great Fatherland Liberation War, is not occurring this year. Of course, this is reporting on the outside, looking in, so what they are saying is likely distorted. It is clear that Rodong Sinmun is still celebrating the “socialist public health system in the DPRK,” writing on June 25th that this system is “symbolic of the advantages of Korean-style socialism centered on the popular masses, where the working masses are masters of everything and everything in society serves them.”

Clearly, the stage is set for some sort of capitalist opening in the DPRK. There are already some SEZs and other market mechanisms, as allowed by the country’s constitution, but these seem to be limited within the country itself. It is not known how much the country will “open” up, but if it is as much as China, this could be deleterious to the Korean people in the North by hurting any efforts for socialist construction in the country. Whatever is in store in the months and years to come, Russia, China, and the ROK will be key players, as will the DPRK. Perhaps Japan will be part of the equation, as will the U$, but the result of the detente will determine what the role of U$ imperialists will be going forward. The DPRK could also follow the model of Vietnam, which those like Pompeo hope for, as he recently said in Hanoi that “I say all of that because it’s important, but I hope that the United States, that one day we can share the same relationship with North Korea [that we have with Vietnam].” He added at a press conference in Japan that “in light of the once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership we have with Vietnam today, I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un. President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours if you’ll seize the moment. The miracle could be yours. The choice now lies with North Korea and its people.” Whether that comes to pass, the fact is that the DPRK will adapt to the new surroundings, as has done since September 9, 1948, when the country was founded, with its efforts to play the Soviets and the Chinese off each other, especially after the 1960s, until the end of the Cold War in 1991, leading to some criticism from certain parts of the world.

The warmongers continue their assault: liberals and corporate media

While the orange menace rattles on about “fake news” from NBC and CNN, saying that there should be “negotiating in good faith” by both sides, with war and “potential nuclear catastrophe” involving the DPRK averted, he poses himself as a “courageous” individual for making “peace.” At the same time, Bruce Cumings, a liberal bourgeois historian, has said that this summit “frees Trump from Washington establishment thinking, and create[s] a real possibility of peace in Korea.” Not everyone sees it that way: liberals and much of the corporate media is opposed to detente between the DPRK and the U$ since they want the detente to fail.

This attitude is evident without question. On June 12, Ankit Panda of The Daily Beast declared that during the meeting Kim “got the better end of the bargain” and that the DPRK gained an “important propaganda coup.” [16] The same day, The Guardian blared that Kim “won” the summit, gaining “bolstered status and diplomatic leverage,” even saying that the war games were positive! Others, like William Rivers Pitt of Truthout, went into the bizarre, calling Kim a “dangerous menace” who was a “fascist” like the orange menace! This wasn’t much of a surprise considering that others like Tony Schwartz (former ghostwriter for the orange menace) and Rebecca Gordon of TomDispatch fell in line, saying that the orange menace was moving closer to “enemies” of the empire. They “proved” this by citing the orange menace’s comments that Kim is a “tough guy” who is “smart” and a “great negotiator,” while saying, some time ago, in response to typical bourgeois criticism of Putin, “what do you think, our country’s so innocent?” The latter statement alludes to imperial violence since 1776 while such violence continues unimpeded! By contrast, progressive “luminary” Amy Goodman was more positive on the summit, saying that there should be unification behind “peace movements that are driving this diplomatic opening.” The same was the case for Tom Shorrock, who called Kim a “dictator,” who was also positive, especially criticizing corporate pundits.

A number of radical and alternative commentators exposed the true nature of the warmongers. Some wrote that the summit was “filled with the sorts of reality-television antics we’ve come to expect from the U.S. leader,” but also said that those Democrats who were Clintonites or Obamaesque, “struggled hard to express principled disagreements with the White House over a rapprochement with Pyongyang,” using a “laundry-list cliché of complaints,” with the orange menace “incapable of doing any good unless he’s applying a language of pressure, sanctions and veiled threats using acceptable language.” Even the Greanville Post, an alternative media outlet which is favorable to revisionism, pointed out that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, the U$ House Minority Leader, did not like the moderate concessions by the orange menace to Kim, wanting more brinkmanship, not wanting a “genuine and durable peace” on the Korean Peninsula. The union-funded publication, In These Times, said something similar, noting that Koreans were optimistic about the summit, while those like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, liberal cesspool Vox, Hallie Jackson of MSNBC, and King Russophobe Adam Schiff, among other establishment liberals, as some call them, were up in arms, with even social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders praising the summit! This was not unusual. The bourgeois media made the faulty assumption for weeks leading up to the summit (and since) that “North Korea cannot live without nuclear weapons” and do not take one second to “understand North Korea’s strategy in regard to nuclear weapons,” not recognizing that the DPRK was ready and willing to negotiate openly with the U$ back in 2013, but the U$ refused to negotiate. This same media seemed to be more concerned about Kim than the orange menace, which has thousands more weapons possibly at his (and his government’s) disposal, 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads on ICBMs and 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in Europe, a much greater threat to the world as a whole. After all, while the orange menace is the person followed by the “football”, the imperialists have granted themselves all “rights” to use nuclear weapons as they see fit. Such warmongers easily align with the military contractors whose stocks took a dive as Kim and the orange menace signed an agreement on June 12, as their dreams of “yet another catastrophic U.S.-led military conflict” seem to have faded away.

Black Agenda Report was spot on in their criticism of such warmongers. Margaret Kimberley said that the Democrats “are left with nothing except attacking Trump from the right” because they fundamentally “like war, interventions and United States hegemony” as “true believers in imperialism.” They are not at all, as she notes, progressive, instead supporting “America’s professed right to invade and intervene in the affairs of countries all over the world,” upholding the U$ as the global police force, not supporting any “sovereignty and equality among nations.” Ajamu Baraka similarly wrote about how any move “toward normalizing relations between the United States and North Korea” was derided by Democrats, along with others from NPR, MSNBC, and CNN, who do not realize that this process, is, for the Korean people, about de-colonization. He also said that ultimately the orange menace will fall in line and misread the Koreans since “peace, de-colonization and national reconciliation for Korea are counter to U.S. interests,” meaning that there must be a demand upon the empire to get out of Korea, supporting a process to make that occur. Of course, the Democrats who stake out “a position to the right of John Bolton on the summit” cannot be trusted to make this happen, with even the Poor People’s Campaign, launched in May 2018, having little to say on the topic. In contrast, the newfangled Black Alliance for Peace has adopted the strong position of: “not one drop of blood from the working class and poor to defend the interests of the capitalist oligarchy.”

This leads to a further conclusion: that the “Democratic Party establishment and its media surrogates,” which some claim are MSNBC and CNN, are not part of the “Left” anymore. After all, these forces have called for increased pressure on Russia and the DPRK while they support a full-fledged proxy conflict in Syria and the murderous Zionist apartheid state, making common cause with neo-cons, the military establishment and multinational capitalist combines. This is part of what Amber B. described on this website [anti-imperialism.org] back in June: that Democrats are intensifying their rightward shift “in the midst of a new looming crisis in imperialism, critiquing Trump for overseeing a declining u.$. empire, de-escalation with N. Korea, an Assad victory in Syria, and defeat on virtually every front of soft power available to the u.$.” This is connected to a new predicament and threat of inter-imperialist war, necessitating greater unity among revolutionary forces in order to defeat “the u.$. in all conflicts and colonial holdings, in and outside north amerika, and ultimately of taking power.” Such unity requires, as Amber B. noted correctly, that the direction of U$ imperialism belongs to a greater authority: “the whole constellation of relations of moribund imperialism, settler and neo-colonialism, and inter-imperialist rivalry.” This means that “unless and until the u.$. state is overthrown, its ruling classes suppressed, its sovereignty over captive nations ended, then amerikan imperialism will continue, till total victory or total ruin, no matter who is in power.” Looking at the changes of power since 2000, from Clinton to Bush II in 2000, from Bush II to Obama in 2008, from Obama to the orange menace in 2016, as a small example, there has been imperial continuity manifested in the Afghanistan war, extraordinary rendition of any suspected “wrongdoer,” the developed mass surveillance system, the dungeons of mass incarceration, maintaining the Guantanamo Naval Base, and the overall warfare readiness of the empire, with interspersed wars, terroristic drone strikes, expanding bases, and covert (and overt) activity.

What does the summit mean for the world?

On June 12, in the flurry of news on the topic, the New York Times took a typical Orientalist perspective but still admitted that “for the first time since 1953, the door has been opened to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” But there is more than just a door that has been opened. A whole new opportunity and paradigm is possible, with those such as Kim, very-popular ROK president Moon Jae-In, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, key players in such negotiations, which can be said to be part of “serious peace talks,” with ending the state of war giving the Korean people “space they need to deal with their own division,” leading to future democratic change. Even the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union praised the summit, saying it signals “a new era in which peace on the Korean Peninsula is possible” while they worried that the agreement was not concrete enough, saying that the conclusion “peace treaty by all relevant sides and a non-aggression pact between the U.S. and North Korea are needed as steps towards creating a Korean peace regime.” This union was also concerned that the comments by the orange menace about “prosperity” in the DPRK is “predicated on private investment and the capitalist opening” of that country’s economy, a process that “does not involve workers’ participation, [and] has the potential to lead to the expansion of labour rights violations and increase in economic and other forms of inequality.” In the meantime, the murderous empire has no intention to operate “within the rule-based international order designed to govern relations between states and between people and governments” evidenced by the withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council because it criticized Zionist oppression. Bolivian President Evo Morales rightly described that this event was the most recent evidence that the U$ is “an interventionist, coup-mongering state, and a violator of the people’s right to life, especially of the poorest…[and] an accomplice of Israel, that massacres civilians, and [the U$] today incarcerates innocent children that cross its border.” The empire is, as he noted, with all its unilateral actions since 2017, “the worst threat for world peace, human rights, and Mother Earth.”

As the Chinese revisionist leadership and DPRK leadership increase their ties, there is talk of a railway going from China into the DPRK, with the revisionists not letting up on supporting murderous sanctions on the Korean people. [17] This could complicate matters for the orange menace as it increases the leverage of Xi Jinping in the trade war between the U$ and China, with the Chinese restraining their criticism of the orange menace. This trade war, whether it leads to a shooting war or not, allows Xi (and the Chinese revisionists) to disrupt possible negotiations between the DPRK and U$. As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “what matters is how China and the US cooperate. Let competition drive cooperation,” showing they operate within the capitalist model. Let us not forget that Kim arrived on an Air China jet in Singapore, undoubtedly a symbolic move without question, showing that China “brought him there and back.”

Still, the DPRK is not a Chinese colony. Rather, the DPRK decides its own policy, with Kim outmaneuvering the imperialists, with the U$ adopting the freeze-for-freeze policy, in the simple agreement on June 12 which did not have “any decisive or concrete details,” proposed by the Russians and Chinese, and more recently endorsed by the DPRK itself. Such independent policy has led the ROK has made some concessions even though their military remains wary. In a recent KCNA article describing the summit, it was clear that the Koreans were pursuing their own path, treating the U$ respectfully, while still holding a strong line. This independent policy was recently showcased in the president of the Presidium, the leading body of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), Kim Yong Nam, congratulating Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador upon his election as president of Mexico (by a landslide), saying that it is “an expression of the Mexican people’s trust and expectation,” while adding that he wished Obrador “good health and great success in his responsible work, expressing belief that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would develop onto a new higher stage in line with the aspiration and desire of the two peoples.” Whether Obrador can challenge existing capitalist orthodoxy is an open question, but the Mexican people got a long-needed change and social movements in the country can push Obrador to move the country in a progressive, even radical, direction. On the topic of the DPRK’s independent policy, one should also point out the favorable relations they hold with socially democratic Nicaragua, the secular socially democratic state of Syria, socially democratic Venezuela, Islamic nationalist Iran, socialist Cuba, and support for Palestinian liberation without question.

The former colonial master of Japan has been broadly left out of discussions, becoming a bystander, even though it will eventually have to conform. [18] The DPRK has said already that Japan will be ignored as long as it continues efforts to boost its military readiness and large-scale military drills, that the anti-DPRK policy of the government must be scrapped, and replaced with “sincerity toward Peace.” Other countries have been more positive. The Iranians, with Mohammad Bagher Nobakht of the Iranian government saying that “we are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad,” who warned Kim of the U$ duplicity, were positive about the summit, with Iranian Ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad saying that “one positive aspect of the agreement between the US and North Korea is that the possibility of war and military conflict between the two sides, escalated by Trump’s bellicose remarks, which could have affected South Korea, Japan and China, and had caused great concern, has now been reduced.” More specifically, the Japanese, ROK, and Chinese were pleased. But neo-cons like Marco Rubio, David Purdue, Brett Klinger (former CIA, Heritage Foundation), and conservative analyst Brit Hume were fuming while Lindsey Graham and Cory Gardner were more optimistic. Even the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Mac Thornberry, supports ending the war games, while he still supports a strong imperial presence in the ROK. The Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, Brian Schatz, Chris Murphy, and Steve Cohen, sided with the neo-cons, as one would expect.

It remains to be seen if future negotiations will focus on “eliminating Washington’s regional nuclear umbrella…[or] pulling US troops out of South Korea.” Even if this is the “beginning of a different sort of diplomatic process” as some say, even some bourgeois analysts grumble that “North Korea is not going to jump into our alliance network anytime soon, but the Singapore summit may give it the opportunity to move out of China’s orbit,” seeing a possible future ally of the empire, not realizing the interconnections of the DPRK and China or their shared history. [19] Then there’s the question of possible sanction relief, which the U$ seems to be holding out as a possibility but only once the DPRK unilaterally and completely disarm its nukes, which they aren’t prepared to do without major concessions by the imperialists first, a justified response. The DPRK wants to protect and expand the standard of living of the people within the country, but will not dismantle its nuclear industry since “nuclear technology can be used to generate electricity and is a prestige item for the North generally.” While it is hard for some to see “coherence in Trump’s bellicose policies towards Iran and North Korea,” the fact, as one analyst noted, is that “any increased popularity Trump would gain from a war now would invariably diminish by the time he’s up for reelection. Thus, for Trump, commencing war two years later, just before the presidential election, would make far more sense. Republicans, independents and even some Democrats would rally to the flag and be more likely to vote him back into office.” Furthermore, as Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, noted, the orange menace is not “causing chaos in the imperial Big House because he wants to hasten the demise of U.S. imperialism” but rather he is trying to “stamp his orange imprint on history,” not knowing what he does, while he aligns closely with the Zionists and Gulf autocrats.

I tend to disagree with Ford’s comment that the orange menace doesn’t know what he is doing. There seems to be precise calculations for what he is doing. Sure, he is trying to imprint on history, but his snap analysis, manifested by his comment in Canada that “they say you know you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds – you ever hear of that one? Well, I think I’ll know very quickly whether or not something good is going to happen. I also think I’ll know whether it will happen fast” about Kim, adding that “I’ll be on a mission of peace. In my heart, we will be carrying the hearts of millions of people, people from all over the world. We have to get denuclearization, we have to get something going.”” While this is utter hogwash, there is rationality to his method. At times, the administration is just trying to push the envelope, while other times his statements serve as a distraction from pressing matters. It all fits within the framework of U$ imperialism which broadly continues on the path set by Bush II and Obama, with even further venom spewed toward Venezuela, Cuba (to a lesser extent), Russia, and China. And no, the summit between Kim and the orange menace, even with its antics of those like reactionary Dennis Rodman, was not a distraction from the meeting of some elites, like Henry Kissinger and 130 others, at Bilderberg. Rather, the bourgeois media would just not cover the Bilderberg meeting, regardless of whether the Kim-orange menace summit occurred. This isn’t because of some magic conspiracy, but rather because the summit was more jazzy, fitting with the bourgeois media model than a “boring” and secretive Bilderberg summit, as they would likely describe it.

What is in the cards in the coming days is a summit between Vladimir Putin and the orange menace on July 16 in Helsinki, which is already being panned by bourgeois media and their Russophobic allies here, there, and everywhere!. [20] This summit would undoubtedly be modeled the same way as the summit between Kim and the orange menace. In the process, anti-imperialists must push the U$ for concessions on reducing military pressure, while having no illusions about the Russians, who are nationalistic and wedded to capitalism, with their own bourgeoisie which is willing to work with the U$ as needed.

The specter of detente between the DPRK and U$ scares the liberal and neoconservative imperialists who would like a state of war on the Korean Peninsula, posing the DPRK as a “threat” to global humanity even though the murderous empire is the real threat. This is evident in the fact that this empire has over 266 times more nuclear weapons than the DPRK! [21] At the same time, those imperialists in the corner of the orange menace see this as an opportunity to “flip” the DPRK into the U$ imperial umbrella. What comes next is in part up to the DPRK and U$ negotiators, but can also be influenced by the proletariat in the DPRK, ROK, China, and Russia, along with long-standing movements such as the peace movement. In the end, we should remain critical while rejecting Orientalist propaganda aimed at the Koreans and not being dismissive of the detente, realizing the potential of a peaceful Korean Peninsula for those occupying it, those in the countries surrounding it, and the world at-large.


Notes

[1] In 2012, he also became the Chairman (called “First Secretary” from 2012 to 2016) of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission (called the National Defence Commission from 2012 to 2016), Chair of the Central Military Commission, and a member of the Politiburo’s presidium which is led by Kim Yong Chol.

[2] Uri Freedman, “America’s Moment of Truth With North Korea Is Coming,” The Atlantic, July 10, 2018; Reuters Staff, “North Korea says resolve for denuclearisation may falter after talks with U.S.: KCNA,” Reuters, July 7, 2018; Matthew Lee and Andrew Harnick, “North Korea Says Talks With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Were ‘Regrettable’,” AP (reprinted by Time), July 7, 2018; Rozina Sabur, “Mike Pompeo arrives in Pyongyang to press for commitment to denuclearisation,” The Telegraph, July 6, 2018; Hyonshee Shin and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea slams ‘gangster-like’ U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves,” Reuters, July 6, 2018.

[3] Wang Peng, “US move to suspend military drills with South Korea a calculated move,” Global Times, June 19, 2018; “President Trump Says North Korea Has Returned the Remains of 200 U.S. Soldiers,” Time, June 21, 2018.

[4] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Elise Labott, “US and North Korean officials met Sunday to discuss implementing agreement between countries,” CNN, July 1, 2018; Mike Allen, “Scoop: Trump may hold Round 2 with Kim Jong-un in NYC,” Axios, July 2, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Julia ManChester, “Pence on Trump-Kim summit: ‘It takes courage to make peace’,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; Phil Stewart, “U.S. to give North Korea post-summit timeline with ‘asks’ soon: official,” Reuters, June 24, 2018; “Trump: North Korea ‘total denuclearization’ started; officials see no new moves,” Reuters, Jun 22, 2018. In his interview with ABC News, as noted in the June 12 article titled “President Trump sits down with George Stephanopoulos: TRANSCRIPT,” he said that “we have the framework of getting ready to denuclearize North Korea…We’re going to work with South Korea. We’re going to work with Japan. We’re going to work with China…They’re [Korean] gonna start immediately. They really already started. They blew up a site, which was the real deal site that was their big site, they’ve blown it up…We stopped playing those war games that cost us a fortune…they’re very expensive…His [Kim’s] country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious…We’re starting from scratch. We’re starting right now, and we have to get rid of those nuclear weapons…there are reasons he [Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il] didn’t because he was let down by the United States, but that’s irrelevant…In the past we’ve tried, but it never worked out and it never did work out. And it was embarrassing actually to the United states and to our leadership…He trusts me, I believe, I really do. I mean, he said openly, and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president ever could have done this.”

[5] Morgan Gsalder, “Trump: North Koreans love Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Collum Borchers, “Trump’s refreshing admission that he felt ‘foolish’ when taunting Kim Jong Un,” Washington Post, June 13, 2018; AP, “Trump flips on North Korea, declaring country still an ‘extraordinary threat’,” The Guardian, June 23, 2018; “Trump touts ‘great chemistry’ with Kim Jong Un,” AOL News, June 24, 2018; Lisa de Moraes, “Donald Trump Defends “Great Negotiator” Kim Jong Un Who Bret Baier Calls “Killer”,” Deadline, June 13, 2018; Steve Holland, “Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas,” Reuters, June 23, 2018. Even the orange menace has doubted, there will problems of this strategy, saying “I think he’s going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse” as noted in Dylan Stableford’s June 13th article in Yahoo! News titled “’Sleep well tonight!’: Trump promptly declares North Korea no longer a nuclear threat.”

[6] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Krishnadev Calamur, “No One Knows What Kim Jong Un Promised Trump,” The Atlantic, Jul 2, 2018; “Date set for reunions of war-separated Korean families,” DW, June 22, 2018.

[7] Tom O’Connor, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Wants to ‘Completely Eliminate Manual Labor’,” Newsweek, July 2, 2018; Kim Myong-song, “Kim Jong-un Visits Chinese Border Region,” Chosun, July 2, 2018; “Kim Jong Un visits cosmetics factory in special economic zone near border with China,” Straits Times, July 1, 2018.

[8] Kanga Kong, “North Korea Ramps Up Nuclear Effort Weeks After Trump Summit,” Bloomberg, July 2, 2018; Courtney Kube, Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee, “North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials,” NBC News, June 29, 2018; Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, “North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say,” Washington Post, June 30, 2018; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Expands Key Missile-Manufacturing Plant,” Wall Street Journal, Jul 1, 2018; Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu, “Infrastructure Improvements at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility,” 38 North, June 26, 2018.

[9] Kate Simmons, “Creator of the Trump-Kim ‘Movie Trailer’ Steps Forward,” Newser, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “National Security Council Says It Created That Video President Trump Showed Kim Jong Un Before the North Korean Summit,” Time, June 13, 2018; Euan McKirdy, “Destiny Pictures founder claims mistaken identity, distances himself from Trump video,” CNN, June 14, 2018; Julian Borger, “’Harebrained’: National Security Council owns up to widely derided Trump video,” The Guardian, June 13, 2018; Tim Hains, “Scott Adams: Trump Video Message To Kim “Might Be The Best Thing Anybody Ever Did In A Negotiation, Period”,” RealClearPolitics, June 12, 2018; John Hindertaker, “The Kim Destiny Pictures Video: Brilliant or Stupid? [Updated],” PowerLine, June 13, 2018.

[10] Leong Wai Kit, “’I come back very impressed’: Vivian Balakrishnan on trip to North Korea,” Channel News Asia, June 9, 2018.

[11] “Bulk of S. Korean trading firms want to take part in N. Korea projects: poll,” Yonhap News, June 17, 2018; “Parliament sees more bill proposals for inter-Korean economic exchanges amid warming ties,” Yonhap News, June 10, 2018.

[12] “Inside North Korea: Kiwi’s ‘surreal’ trip to the secretive nation,” New Zealand Herald, June 25, 2018; Ben Westcott and Stella Ko, “North Korea state media airs unseen video from Trump-Kim summit,” CNN, June 14, 2018.

[13] “Russia, South Korea to discuss economic cooperation, Korean Peninsula issue,” Xinhua, June 20, 2018; “Putin tells Moon: We’ll keep working for Korean peninsula peace,” Reuters, June 22, 2018.

[14] Cynthia Kim and Christian Shepard, “North Korea seen looking to China, not U.S., for help in any economic transformation,” Reuters, Jun 10, 2018; Cao Siqi, “North Korean cosmetics firm gains attention from Kim’s factory visit,” Global Times, Jul 3, 2018.

[15] Andreas Illmer, “North Korean propaganda changes its tune,” BBC News, June 23, 2018; Eileen AJ Connolly, “North Korea erasing most anti-US propaganda,” New York Post, Jun 23, 2018; “North Korea to erase anti-U.S. propaganda,” BlackListed News, June 24, 2018; “North Korea media tone down anti-US rhetoric,” Financial Times, accessed June 25, 2018; Cha Song Ho and Eric Talmadge, “In sign of detente, North Korea skips annual anti-US rally,” Washington Post (reprinted from AP), June 25, 2018.

[16] Ankit Panda, “Trump’s Singapore Summit Was a Bust—for the U.S.,” The Daily Beast, June 12, 2018; “The Guardian view on Trump in Singapore: a huge win – for North Korea,” The Guardian, June 12, 2018; William Rivers Pitt, “Winning the News Cycle: Trump’s Made-for-TV Singapore Summit,” Truthout, reprinted in Information Clearing House, June 13, 2018; “Trump Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Atrocities: ‘He’s a Tough Guy’,” The Daily Beast, June 14, 2018.

[17] Liu Caiyu, “North Korea deserves trust as Kim shows resolution on China trip: analysts,” Global Times, June 21, 2018; “As Kim Visits China, Xi Flaunts Bargaining Chip in Trade Dispute,” Bloomberg News, June 19, 2018; Deng Xiaoci, “FM urges US to cooperate on trade, N.Korea as Pompeo visits China,” Global Times, June 14, 2018; Moon of Alabama, “The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit – Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement),” Information Clearing House, June 14, 2018.

[18] Akira Kimura, “Trump-Kim summit leaves Japan struggling with outdated strategy,” Global Times, Jun 14, 2018; “North Korea says to ignore Japan until it scraps military drills, other measures,” Reuters, June 25, 2018; “Iran spokesman warns Kim about nuclear agreement with Trump,” AP, June 12, 2018; Julia Manchester, “Dems rip Trump concessions, ’embarrassing’ rhetoric with Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Brian Murphy and Shibani Mahtani, “With some reservations, East Asian countries welcome the Trump-Kim summit,” Washington Post, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “GOP senator ‘troubled’ by Trump announcement to halt US-South Korean military drills,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Paul LeBlanc, “Fox News Analyst Calls Trump Handshake With ‘Thug’ Kim Jong Un ‘Disconcerting’,” Newsweek, June 12, 2018; Eli Stokols, “Republicans remain skeptical despite Trump’s boasts of breakthrough with North Korea’s Kim,” LA Times, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “House GOP chairman backs Trump’s move to halt military exercises with South Korea,” The Hill, June 13, 2018.

[19] Christopher Steintz, “The Trump-Kim summit advances a unique rapprochement,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; “Pompeo: No Sanctions Relief for Pyongyang Until After Denuclearization,” The Daily Beast, June 13, 2018; Sharon Marris, “Confusion As North Korea Says US Will Lift Sanctions,” Information Clearing House (reprinted from Sky), June 13, 2018; Jeffrey Sommers and Peter Paik, “A Blow to Interventionists, as US and North Korea Move Toward Peace,” CounterPunch, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “President Trump Says It’ll Take Him 1 Minute to Figure Out If Kim Jong Un Is Serious About Peace,” Time, June 9, 2018; Matt Agorist, “As Media Hypes Trump-Kim Summit, The Real Rulers of the World are Secretly Meeting at Bilderberg,” Activist Post, June 7, 2018; Steve Geimann, “Dennis Rodman to Cheer ‘My Friends’ Trump and Kim in Singapore,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018; Jennifer Epstein, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Jennifer Jacobs, “Trump, Kim Planning One-on-One Talk at Start of Summit,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018.

[20]John Wagner, Anton Troianovski and Philip Rucker, “Trump and Putin will meet July 16 in Helsinki, Washington and Moscow announce,” Washington Post, June 28, 2018; Philip Giraldi, “Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?,” Unz Review (reprinted in Information Clearing House), Jun 21, 2018.

[21] This comes from information compiled by the Arms Control Association in June 2018, and the Ploughshares Fund in July 2018. If we include all nuclear weapons of the U$, including the 2,500 said to be “retired” but are still intact, then the U$ has over 436 times as many nuclear weapons, having 6,500 while the DPRK, according to a January 2018 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “have produced sufficient fissile material to build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons, and that it might possibly have assembled 10 to 20 warheads,” adding at the end of the article that “as far as we can assess…North Korea might have produced sufficient fissile material to hypothetically build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons (if it used all the material), but only assembled perhaps 10 to 20 warheads, if even that many.” This is where the number of 15 comes from the Arms Control Association and Ploughshares Fund, which seem to have averaged the numbers 10 and 20 together. As such, the nuclear superiority of the murderous empire might be even more! Both of these organizations are undoubtedly bourgeois without question, but even using their numbers it shows nuclear superiority of the murderous empire. The amount of nukes held by the DPRK is small, as Russia and the U$ hold 92% of the world’s nukes! So the complaints of the imperialists, and even revisionists like those in Laos, China, and Vietnam on this topic is laughable, as they do not recognize this glaring disparity!

Standing against Zionism: the DPRK’s support for Palestinian liberation

Kim Il Sung and Yasser Arafat of the PLO. Date of photo not known.

The same year that Juche Korea was founded, the murderous apartheid and Zionist state of “Israel” was created, and given sanction by the United Nations, which was then dominated by imperialist powers. For the years to come, Juche Korea would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their Palestinian comrades.

In 1966, relations between Juche Korea and Palestinian resistance fighters began, with a “solidarity meeting” held in April 2016 to honor 50 years of relations. While refusing to recognize the murderous Zionist apartheid state, calling it an “imperialist satellite,” Juche Korea has said that it “fully supports the struggle of the Palestinians to expel the Israeli aggressors from their territory and regain their right to self-determination” and has helped Palestine “in many areas, such as maternity or education.” [1] Not only did Juche Korea finance and hand “arms to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” along with the PLO, and DFLP, through the 1970s and 1980s, but during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 (Juche 72), Koreans sent air support to defend the territory Syria along with 19 military advisers to Egypt (like the Cubans who also sent troops) and a MiG-21 squadron to Egypt, where, Zionist F-4s engaged them in a dogfight in the “skies south of Cairo” and the Koreans did very well. After the war, Kim Il-Sung met with Syrian and Egyptian ambassadors in Pyongyang, promising to give them assistance, including military aid, with the Egyptians reportedly rewarding “North Korea with missile technology and designs.” This was coupled with the reported visit of George Habash, leader of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) in  September 1970 (Juche 59), along with providing weapons and financial support.

With such support in the past, there have been claims since then that Juche Korea has sent weapons to Hezbollah through different “trafficking network[s],” helped build underground facilities for Hezbollah in 2003 (Juche 92), that 100 Hezbollah fighters “traveled to North Korea for a year of training,” and that Hamas has ties with Juche Korea or even “Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades”  having weapons from the former. Others, even those with a horrid imperialist viewpoint, admit that in the late 1980s, Palestinian resistance fighters, which they call “Palestinian terrorists,” belonging to the “PLO and from Syrian and Libyan-backed groups” stopped being trained, claiming that training of Hezbollah began in years to come, especially in the 1990s and years after that, claiming that Juche Korea backed all sorts of “terrorist” groups, as they  call them. [2] One recent article, in the bourgeois 38 North, claimed that there was a “historical, and possibly continuing arms relationship between North Korea and non-state actors in the Middle East” like Hezbollah and Hamas, saying that Palestinian resistance fighters like a founding member of Fatah received training by Juche Korea in the 1960s, but couched supposed current support by using words like”allegedly” and “reportedly.” They admitted, however, that there was not “proof” that the weapons heading to Gaza in 2009 intercepted by IDF (“Israeli” Defense Forces) were from Juche Korea, and if one goes with the assumption that these weapons were from there, they were “decades old…likely produced in 1988,” reportedly coming through Iran. [3] Further undercutting the argument, 38 North admitted, in the closing words of their article, “none of these postulations can be proven as fact, but as new details arise and other arms shipments bound for Hamas or Hezbollah are seized, they should be kept in mind.” So, what was the point of this horrible article? Nothing, other than smearing Juche Korea, following in the words spewed by the empire’s military establishment and Zionists talking about arms smuggling (claiming arms are even sent to the fascists Myanmar), talking about a “nefarious North Korean role” while admitting, as The National Interest did, “no smoking-gun evidence that North Korea assisted Hamas directly in constructing its tunnels, the evidence is very suggestive,” showing the weakness of their argument. More likely than not, one could say that the weapons that 38 North writes about may have come from Iran, with Juche Korea sending them during the Iran-Iraq War, and some elements, possibly within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) felt that it would be in Iran’s interest to send weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah, meaning it was not state policy. Even the bourgeois publication, The Diplomat, admitted that “even though North Korea can no longer match its pro-Palestinian rhetoric with military support, the DPRK remains one of Israel’s most strident international critics.” [4] As the foreign ministry of Juche Korea said in June 2014, about claims it gave missiles to Hamas,”this is utterly baseless sophism and sheer fiction let loose by the US to isolate [us] internationally. Lurking behind this propaganda is a sinister intention of the US to justify its criminal acts of backing Israel. The US is working hard to deliberately link [us] to the so-called ‘terrorist organisations’ defined by it in a bid to divert the focus of international criticism to Pyongyang.” We should take their words to heart and not make broad declarations that they are giving arms and support to Palestinian resistance groups.

“Salam Rabaa, the Palestinian owner of Rabaa restaurant and his son gesture with their right hands imitating a poster of North Korean leader North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un” in Dec 2017 as noted later in this section, via AFP.

The Zionists, not content with the “harsh and well-deserved criticism” tried to hurt “the DPRK’s dignified social system” by allying with the ROK, and declaiming the nuclear weapons (without realizing their hypocrisy) of Juche Korea, and not recognizing that “the Korean- and Palestinian people share many important things in common – their struggle against a foreign aggressor on their respective lands, freedom and sovereignty for the people” with both the peoples “of Korea and Palestine…forged together as brothers in arms against common imperialist foes.”  Even a self-defined Korean-American, Zavi Kang Engles, who holds Orientalist views on Juche Korea, declaring in Mondoweiss that “North Koreans still suffer under a brutal regime, marked by poverty, starvation, and captivity” and that they have “relatives in North Korea, but I know nothing of them, nor if they’re even still alive” posing it as some scary and forbidden place, in line with bourgeois media, wrote something similar back in June 2015:

As a Korean-American concerned about the influence of the United States on other countries, I’ve begun to wonder something: do Korean people have more in common with Israelis, as the official story would have us believe, or with Palestinians? In recent years, the Israeli government has been strengthening ties with the South Korean government, which is headed by the conservative President Park Geun-Hye, daughter of the former US-backed dictator Park Chung-Hee. Prominent government officials on both sides propagate a false narrative of kinship between Israel and South Korea, asserting economic and geopolitical similarities…The governments of South Korea and Israel have gone beyond mere words with concrete steps towards joint economic collaboration…Israel is also a major arms supplier to South Korea…These recent developments are deeply unsettling to those who understand realities in both places behind the political platitudes…at the same time, both the Korean and Palestinian people saw their lands violently divided at the whim of imperialist interests…the true parallel to ordinary Koreans and their history is not Israelis, but Palestinians…Both the Koreans and Palestinians also continue to suffer the consequences of borders imposed and created by outside imperialist countries, with the United States playing a significant role in both cases…While South Korea is a technologically and economically advanced country with a high standard of living, it is still occupied by almost 30,000 US troops, despite constant protests from Korean citizens. Furthermore, South Korea represents only half the fate of the Korean people who had been unified for hundreds of years and were only divided in 1948, a consequence of their country being used as a pawn in a proxy war…Though to outsiders, North and South Korea may now simply be two enemy nations, for many Koreans, it’s a recent division that literally hits home…Of course, the suffering of Palestinians and Koreans cannot be conflated but, as the above facts attest, the similarities between Palestinians and Koreans run far deeper than the shallow sentiments expressed by Israeli and South Korean officials. It worries me, as a Korean-American, when I see the South Korean government so eagerly align itself with Israel, against its own constitution…If Park’s administration acted according to the Korean constitution and adhered to the anti-colonial sentiments so many Koreans hold, there is no doubt that they would call for an end to the Israeli occupation and work in solidarity with the Palestinians…the more authentic, shared experiences of oppression and occupation between Koreans and Palestinians…Through solidarity actions such as participating in BDS and sharing the stories that elucidate our shared experiences of oppression, we can actively work to dismantle these political entities that fail to represent our truths in the interest of selective political and economic gains.

There is also the case of Jindallae Safarini (also spelled Saphariny), a girl of Palestinian descent, born in Juche Korea in 1985, “thanks to the health advances of the country” and given her first name by Kim Jong-Il himself. Her parents, one of whom was a former Palestinian ambassador, not able to have any more children, and with the help of doctors, “they got Jindallae’s mother to become pregnant,” making Jindallae “Kim Jong Il’s Palestinian foster daughter” and demonstrating the “love and care that Dear Leader Kim Jong Il showed for everyone.” [5] As she noted in her interview with KCNA, she came back to Juche Korea in 2005, went back to China, and felt she had to “do something good,” after talking with her father, establishing the nonprofit Jindallae Children′s Foundation in November 2012 to help children (which she says she “loves”), especially for “health services,” in Juche Korea, which she calls her “second homeland.” While bourgeois media claimed they couldn’t “find” her (they are bad at researching), there is a page on the website of United Family Healthcare in Beijing, clearly referring to her. It notes that  she received a “medical Degree from the Peking University Health Science Center in 2008” the same university where she “completed her Master of Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynecology” in 2011 (Juche 100), that she “studied Mandarin at Beijing Language and Culture University,” and that after completing her “residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Peking University Health Science Center’s Third Hospital,” she jointed “Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics as a Physician Assistant” in 2012 (Juche 101), and is currently “a full-time Obstetrician and Gynecologist.”

Jindallae smiled when she said that “DPRK is my second homeland” and that people call her the “daughter of Korea.” She not only speaks very good English but she is articulate for a 27-year-old.

In June 1986 (Juche 75), Kim Il Sung gave a speech to a committee of the people and the political bureau of  the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)’s central committee. While he mainly talked on the subject of the non-aligned movement, endorsing it and calling it anti-interventionist, anti-imperialist, anti-war, and anti-colonialist, he also strongly condemned Zionists. He argued that Zionists and South African racists, along with “other stooges” are “shock forces” of imperialists, with the latter groups pursuing “the racist and expansionist policy of aggression.” On one hand he said that South Africa’s racist government pursued “the vicious policy of apartheid, of racial discrimination, and the policy of brutal repression” while on the other he condemned  Zionist occupation of Arab lands to create a “Great Zionist Empire” within the Middle East. In another breath, he declared that the “expansionist, aggressive schemes of the Israeli Zionists” must be foiled because “Zionism is a form of racism and colonialism,” saying that the “Palestinian and other Arab people” have just cause to fight for the “restoration of land lost to them.” This statement can be coupled with a June 1985 Special National Intelligence Assessment of the U$ Intelligence establishment, saying that while “active liberation movements” have declined, Juche Korea has less ability for involvement, but still gives arms and training to PLO, which includes small number of advisers, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, antitank weapons, mortars, antiaircraft machine guns, and renewed pledges of support to Arafat with arms shipments. This was likely the case, at the time, and it shows the solidarity of Juche Korea with Palestinian liberation.

Kim Il Sung’s speech was not out of the ordinary. Juche Korea has reportedly  given arms to Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza as an act in solidarity with armed struggle by Palestinians. Capitalists shouted that the Koreans are supporting terrorism but the real terrorism comes from Zionist forces murdering innocent Palestinians in cold blood.  Since Yassar Arafat of the PLO declared independence of Palestine in 1988 (Juche 77), Juche Korea has recognized the State of Palestine, saying it covers the whole Zionist state and occupied territories, except for the Golan Heights, which Juche Korea sees as part of Syria. [6] Arafat was reportedly a frequent visitor to Pyongyang,” visiting Kim Il Sung six times, with this Kim awarding Arafat the “Star of Palestine” in 1993 (Juche 82), showing the connection between Palestine and Korea.

Around that same time, in November 1992 (Juche 81), as the Times of Israel claims, “three Israeli diplomats boarded a plane from Pyongyang to Tokyo,” hoping they could “reverse their bitter decades-old enmity and embark on a new era of fruitful cooperation,” dreaming of “setting up an Israeli mission in Pyongyang, and of persuading the reclusive regime to stop selling arms to Israel’s enemies in the Middle East.” [7] They further say that the diplomatic mission was disrupted by Mossad, meaning that “nothing tangible would come of the diplomats’ project to bring Jerusalem and Pyongyang closer together” ans was cut short by “then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in early 1993, presumably due to US pressure” with some still lauding the effort. They further claim that some of leadership of Juche Korea, along with a “Korean businessman,” appeared to be ready to consider opening the country to the West” as they were suffering an economic crisis, claiming they received “a friendly welcome in Pyongyang,” making them think that the country was open to rapprochement. Supporters claimed that if the effort had gone forward, “North Korea today would be a state like China” since some, reportedly, “in the leadership were ready to steer the country into a different, more pro-Western direction.” Let’s say this story was true. It could be the case based on the fact that Juche Korea was in an economic crunch after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and seemed to lower its direct support for international causes, in terms of assistance, after that point. Even so, it seems  fantastical. It could and likely is made-up propaganda created by the Zionists.

Instead, it is better to deal with the reality, that Juche Korea has always supported the

…Palestinian people’s right to self determination and the Palestinians people’s rightful struggle against Zionism. President Kim Il Sung had a close relationship with Yasser Arafat and the support for the Palestinian struggle was always supported by the DPRK by providing arms and aid. After the Cold War the material support declined, but the DPRK have always condemned Israeli attacks and the DPRK is still today supporting the Palestinians people’s struggle for national liberation. The DPRK was there to recognize the State of Palestine when it was proclaimed by the Palestine Liberation Organization. What many so called socialists, communists and anti-imperialists tend to forget is that the struggle against Zionism in Palestine and the Korean people’s struggle against imperialism is one and the same. If we decide not to support one oppressed people’s struggle against an oppressor and we let the imperialist oppressor wins, then we have failed the other oppressed people and helped their oppressor. The DPRK, Cuba, Syria, and Iran for example are countries that always have supported the Palestinians people’s struggle but if we let these countries fall, then the Palestinians people’s struggle will turn out even harder then what it is today if they won’t have material nor political support by some…Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il supported the righteous struggle of the Palestinian people

Yasser Arafat with Kim Il Sung in 1993.

Fast forward to the 2008-2009 conflict. During that time, Juche Korea condemned the Gaza flotilla raid, doing the same during similar raids in in 2010 (Juche 99) and 2014 (Juche 103), rightly calling them “crimes against humanity,” angering the Zionists. [8] Additionally, in December 2008 (Juche 97), Juche Korea denounced “Israel’s killing of unarmed civilians as a crime against humanity, a serious provocation against the Palestinians and other Arab people and an open challenge to the Middle East peace process.” They were right to say that, without a doubt.

In February 2017 (Juche 106), Juche Korea sent a delegation to a “conference in the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of the Palestinian struggle” in Tehran called the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising). Many other countries across the world attended, with delegations from over 80 countries, including Bosnia, Syria, India, Malaysia, Lebanon, Libya, Algeria, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Iraq, to name a few, with groups like Hezbollah and Hamas also sending delegations. The conference was described in the Pyongyang Times in late February [9]

Choe Thae Bok, speaker of the Supreme People’s Assembly, paid an official visit to Iran, leading a delegation. He met Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He courteously conveyed the warm regards from Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to the Iranian counterpart who expressed thanks for this and asked Choe to pass on his best wishes to the DPRK leader. Choe Thae Bok also met with the parliamentary leaders of Iran, Palestine, Niger, Malaysia and Madagascar and other figures. The DPRK delegation attended the 6th international conference for supporting the Palestinians which was held in Teheran on February 21-22.  The meeting brought together parliamentary delegations from over 50 countries and about 700 personages including representatives of organizations for solidarity with Palestine. The participants discussed how to fight against Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its expansion of Jewish settlements and how to promote international solidarity to support the Palestinians in their drive to win statehood. In the opening session Iran’s supreme leader and parliamentary speaker made congratulatory remarks. Choe Thae Bok told the event that President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il had described the Palestinian issue as a sacred liberation struggle and a matter of life and death for the Palestinian people, adding that the great leaders had rendered material and moral assistance to the Palestinians’ just cause since they rose up against Zionism. He stressed the need to grant the Palestinians the right to self-determination and to disallow the intervention of the US that overtly aids and abets Israel, in order to ensure peace in the Middle East and resolve the regional issue in a comprehensive and fair way. The DPRK will as ever strengthen militant solidarity with Iran, Palestine and other countries to reject all sorts of aggression, interference and inequality and to build a new independent world, he said. The meeting released a joint statement in support of the just cause of the Palestinian people.

The same year, in April, the defense minister of the murderous Zionist apartheid state would say that the standoff between Juche Korea and the murderous empire affected them. In response, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Juche Korea, responded, saying that “Israel is the only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East under the patronage of the US,” also arguing that the Zionist state is a “disturber of peace in the Middle East, occupier of the Arab territories and culprit of crimes against humanity.” [10] They are undeniably right: just recent the IDF killed a Palestinian in cold blood, and hospitals in Gaza have had to shut down because of the deadly siege by the Zionists, the latter of whom have been destroying EU-built schools time and time again.

The relationship between the Palestinian resistance and Juche Korea has been occasionally reciprocated. For example, Mahmoud Abbas, PLO president, sent a greeting to Juche Korea in August 2017, praising the “historic friendship” (evidenced by the embassy of the State of Palestine in Juche Korea), wishing “the Korean people continued stability and prosperity; and that the historical friendly relations between Palestine and North Korea and their two peoples will continue to develop and grow,” while he also sent a message the same day to  the ROK. [11] Another example in in April 2017 when  Hamas condemned “the Israeli insult to Pyongyang and emphasizes that the occupation is the leader of evil.” As one site favorable to Juche Korea remarked, “the DPRK have, and will always, provide support in fields such as diplomatic, educational and military, to the Palestinian people in their righteous struggle for freedom and independence” while saying that the fact that “the DPRK is providing arms and trainings to liberation movements in the Middle East is very disturbing to the imperialists” although I would say that isn’t specifically a fact.

There has been some support among the common Palestinians, whom may remember or recognize the “long history of warm relationship” between the Palestine and Juche Korea. In late 2017, a Gaza strip restaurant displayed a poster showing “Kim Jong Un next to a North Korean and a Palestinian flag announces a special offer: an 80 percent discount to North Korean customers” which was meant to show gratitude that Kim Jong-Un criticized “President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, as the capital of Israel,” as one restaurant owner, Raba, noted. [12] He also said that Kim “is not a Muslim, a Christian or an Arab, he’s not even in the Middle East, but he is supporting us,” and that he doesn’t believe “Erdoğan’s words.” Another media outlet, connected with Russia’s RT, interviewed the restaurant owner and others, with one frame of their video showing the poster:

One Zionist claims that “Pyongyang regularly voices support for Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.” [13] The  perception of such support was so strong that family of Otto Warmbier, a citizen of the murderous empire, concealed he had a “Jewish background and identity,” that he “became active with his campus Hillel at the University of Virginia (UVA)” and had even visited the Zionist  state, where he  was “given a Hebrew name,” with his mother being Jewish while he was as well, indicating that he was perhaps a Zionist! Undoubtedly those in Juche Korea likely recognized this, but if they had been told the whole truth, it may have been different. After all, Zionists are horrible, upholding an inherently “racist ideology” which promotes “segregation and ethnic cleansing,” the foundation of the whole Zionist state, the same state which demands a PA takeover of Gaza, wanting “Hamas disarmed and rendered impotent, the PA it controls in charge.”

The ties between Korea and Palestine reiterated again and again in the media of Juche Korea. In Rodong Sinmun there are 35 results for the term “Palestine.” These include a speech by the Juche Korea permanent representative at an emergency meeting of the UN’s Security Council on December 21, 2017, saying that

the status of Kuds [also called Jerusalem] remains so sensitive that it, for sure, should be solved fairly by means of regaining the national rights of the Palestinian people and striking a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Middle East problem. The U.S. and Israel should bear full responsibility for all the consequences of tension and instability that will be entailed in the Middle East region owing to its reckless and highhanded act…My delegation avails itself of this opportunity to reiterate its support and encouragement to the struggle of Palestinian people retrieving their legitimate right to setting up the independent state with East-al-Quds as its capital and to the struggle of the Arab people for their cause of justice.

Other articles in Rodong Sinmun quote Ri Jong Hyok, deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK and director of the National Reunification Institute, as saying to the Asian Parliamentary Assembly in later November 2017, “I would like to express unreserved support to and solidarity with the peoples in Asian countries including Iran, Syria and Palestine who are struggling to put an end to the interference of foreign forces and to defend the sovereignty of the nation,” and greetings sent to the President of Palestine (also see here). Additionally, the Palestinian ambassador had a reception in Pyongyang in October of last year, with Ri Su Yong saying that “the DPRK government [is looking] to boost the militant friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the two countries” and that the “Korean people will as ever extend invariable support and solidarity to the Palestinian people in the just cause to put an end to the Israeli aggressors’ occupation and retake the legitimate national rights including the founding of an independent state,”  similar to what Ri Young Ho said in February, Kim Jong Un at the beginning of the year, Kim Yong Nam in January. Other greetings were sent from Mahmoud Abbas to Kim Jong Un in October, August, and February of last year, while he also referred to the “friendly  relations” with Juche Korea, sent a floral basket (and another), and even a New Years card. In 2016, it was the same. The Palestinians sent floral baskets in DecemberSeptember, August, and February, held receptions in October and April, and messages from Abbas (also see here) to which the Koreans replied with  greetings (also see here), a messages (also see here, here, and here) from Kim Jong Un, a face-to-face meeting, along with honoring other anniversaries.

It can be said with confidence that relations between Juche Korea and Palestine will be strong for years to come, while the Zionists try to “crack down” on BDS.


Notes

[2] Bechtol claims that Juche Korea trained those with the “Basque Spanish ETA, Palestinian Abu Nidal organization, Irish Republican Army [IRA], Italian Red Brigades, Japanese Red Army [JRA], Moro National Liberation Front in the Philippines…[the] anti-Turkish Kurdish PKK group…[the] Tamil Tigers (LTTE)” and says  that collaboration between Juche Korea and Hezbollah began thanks to their supposed ties with the IRGC. While it makes sense that Juche Korea would give arms to the IRA, along with the PKK, JRA, Italian Red Brigades, and Abu Nidal/Fatah helping the others just don’t make sense, like the ETA, Moro Liberation Front, and LTTE, whom are bourgeois nationalist or reactionary forces showing this supposed conspiracy to be absurd.
[3] Andrea Berger, “North Korea, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Arm in Arm?,” 38 North, Aug 5, 2014; Vasudevan Sridharan, “Israel-Gaza Conflict: Hamas Turns to North Korea for Missile Supplies,” International Business Times, Jul 17, 2014; North Korea’s Hamas Connection: “Below” the Surface?,” The National Interest, Sept 4, 2014; Reuters, “Israel: North Korea Supplying Weapons to Six Mideast States,” Haaretz, Oct 4, 2008; AFP, “Israel: North Korea shipping WMDs to Syria,” The Daily Star, May 10, 2010; Zachary Keck, “North Korea’s Middle East Pivot,” The Diplomat, Jul 29, 2014.
[4] Samuel Ramani, “Why Did North Korea Just Threaten Israel?,” The Diplomat, May 3, 2017; Damien McElroy, “North Korea denies reports of missile deal with Hamas,” The Telegraph, Jul 29, 2014.

[5] Isaac Stone Fish, “The Palestinian flower of North Korea,” Foreign Policy,Dec 5. 2012; GlobalPost, “Even a bad-boy dictator needs friends,” PRI, Dec 2, 2014.

[6] North Korea: The Israeli Connection,” BreakingIsraelNews, accessed Feb 7, 2018; Benjamin R. Young, “How North Korea has been arming Palestinian militants for decades,” NK News, Jun 25, 2014; Samuel Ramani, “Why Did North Korea Just Threaten Israel?,” The Diplomat, May 3, 2017.

[7] Raphael Ahren, “The curious tale of Israel’s short-lived courtship of North Korea,” Times of Israel, Aug 10, 2017.

[8] North Korea: The Israeli Connection,” BreakingIsraelNews, accessed Feb 7, 2018.

[9] KCNA, “DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly delegation visits Iran, attends meeting,” Pyongyang Times, Feb 26, 2017.

[10] KCNA, “Israeli defence minister denounced for smear campaign against DPRK,” Pyongyang Times, Apr 30, 2017.

[11] Shlomo, “Anyone Surprised? PLO Leader Abbas Sends Greeting to North Korea Dictator,” JTF News, Aug 16, 2017; Algemeiner Staff, “Hamas Praises North Korea After Pyongyang Regime Threatens to ‘Mercilessly Punish’ Israel,” Algemeiner, Apr 30, 2017; Samuel Ramani, “Why Did North Korea Just Threaten Israel?,” The Diplomat, May 3, 2017; Gary Willig, “Abbas congratulates North Korean dictator on ‘Liberation Day’,” Israel National News, Aug 15, 2017.

[12] Sofia Lotto Persio, “Who Likes North Korea? Kim Jong Un Finds Grateful Fans in Gaza,” Newsweek, Dec 15, 2017.

[39] Michael Freud, “Fundamentally Freund: When Israel fought North Korea,” Jerusalem Post (opinion), Oct 7, 2014; Otto Warmbier’s family kept his Jewishness under wraps while North Korea held him hostage,” Times of Israel, Jun 22, 2017.

Comrades-in-arms: The DRPK and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, meets with President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela in Sept 2016

In 1974, Venezuela and Juche Korea established diplomatic relations, with the latter establishing a diplomatic mission in Caracas. [1] At that time, the country was considered by the Peking Review as consolidating its national independence but still has a developed bourgeoisie. In 1991, Juche Korea started maintaining a trade office in Caracas, “closed for a year in 1999” but later re-opened. For all those Spanish language comrades reading this section, I welcome you and look forward to your comments on this section of the article and any other one.

In the 1980s, a man named Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias (or Hugo Chavez for short), a career military officer who was born to a “working-class family in Sabaneta” would found the “Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement -200 (MBR-200)” to overthrow the current government. He would fail in a coup against the existing Venezuelan government on February 4, 1992, when he was imprisoned. On February 4, 2013, Executive Vice President Nicolás Maduro Moros (called Nicolas Maduro for short) would read a letter by Hugo Chavez on the 21st anniversary of this momentous event:

In commemorating the XXI anniversary of the civic-military rebellion of February 4, 1992, I want to direct this fervently Bolivarian and revolutionary message to the people and the Armed Forces as an indivisible whole. How much I regret being physically absent from the homeland for the first time in this luminous birth date, but this is what this battle that I am giving for full recovery, here in revolutionary Cuba and sister, demands. However, my spirit and my heart are among you in this day of national dignity. There are dates in which the entire flow of history is revealed and marks the course of the new peoples. There are dates that sign and clear, that become a commitment and pointing to a destiny, that has to happen to calibrate the past and see more clearly the libertarian horizon, that was the glorious February 4, 1992. In that memorable day all the struggles of our people were vindicated. On that memorable day our liberators and our liberators returned by all roads; In that memorable day, Bolivar became a reason to be and entered into battle for now and forever…I want to exalt today the role of the Venezuelan woman on February 4th. A Columba Rivas, a Marisol Terán express the large group of women who accompanied the rebellion. They were in the hour of detachment and heroism, with all their fervor homeland, with all their self-denial…From the depths of the hearts of the people, I say with Aquiles Nazoa, that thanks to February 4, each compatriot can, with full certainty, “one day look at the landscape and say this is my city, this is my homeland” Sisters and brothers, today, after 21 years of that civic-military rebellion, of that decision taken with the greatest love for Venezuela, thought of and rethought as the only possible way to have a homeland, we live in a real and truly free country. On February 4 our people saw the dawn of their hope, thanks to the soldier people, they felt again accompanied by patriotic soldiers…I remember that great memorable reflection of that great revolutionary thinker named Walter Benjamin: “The past carries with it a temporal index through which it is remitted to redemption, there is a secret appointment between the generations that were and ours.” We can say that this secret meeting took place on February 4, 1992, and the past and present and the future were remitted to that redemption. February 4 has been fully justified by history, those of us who rebelled against the Punto Fijo agreement have been blessed by a people that today is in the vanguard of the struggle for peace and justice and is a living example for the peoples of the world…We were not wrong, that certainty that encouraged us Bolivarian soldiers is identical to the one that in this time embody millions of compatriots, and walks in every corner of the country making reality what was the feeling of that act of rebellion…February 4 was a day that generated forces that are still expanding. February 4 is not over…We still have a great homeland to liberate and, for that reason, we need to be more and more united as a people…Ever onward to victory!!! Independence and Socialist Homeland !!! We will live and we will win!!!

After two years in prison, he would be more radicalized, founding the Fifth Republic Movement in 1997, which would exist until 2007 when it was replaced by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). He would be elected in 1998 as President of Venezuela. He would be elected, in the years to come, three times to the presidency, holding the presidency until 2013. During this time, he would implement a “political ideology of Bolivarianism” or “socialism of the 21st century,” which some would call “Chavismo” which would place “emphasis on the implementation of reforms in the country” called the Bolivarian Revolution, which, during his time in office, included the “implementation of a new constitution, establish[ment of] “democratic participatory councils”… nationalization of several key industries…increase of public financing for medical services and education, and the significant reduction of poverty.” In his first term, Chavez would introduce a “new constitution that increased the rights of marginalized groups and altered the structure of the Venezuelan government,” in his second term he would introduce “a system of Bolivarian Missions, Communal Councils and cooperatives administered by the workers.” He described his policy as anti-imperialist, and would ally with the Cuban, Bolivian, Ecuadoran, and Nicaraguan governments, playing a pivotal role in the creation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), the Bank of the South, and TeleSur. This would profoundly change the relations between Juche Korea and Venezuela. A good primer on the early days of the Bolivarian Revolution is an interview with Miguel Rodriquez Torres, who was a “close confidant of Hugo Chavez.” The rallying cry, you could say, became ¡La República Popular Democrática de Corea y Venezuela están en solidaridad contra el imperialismo americano! (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Venezuela are in solidarity against American imperialism!) [2]

Hugo Chavez holds up a miniature copy of Venezuela’s constitution during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 9, 2012. AP Photo.

The 1999 Constitution of Venezuela replacing the old constitution which in Chavez’s words, represented the “interests of the oligarchic sector,” renamed the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the Constitution from the Republic of Venezuela. It is a document showing the democratic nature of the state itself. The following excerpts show this to be the case:

Article 1: The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its moral property and values of freedom, equality, justice and international peace on the doctrine of Simón Bolívar, the Liberator. Independence, liberty, sovereignty, immunity, territorial integrity and national self-determination are unrenounceable rights of the Nation.

Article 2: Venezuela constitutes itself as a Democratic and Social State of Law and Justice, which holds as superior values of its legal order and actions those of life, liberty, justice, equality, solidarity, democracy, social responsibility and, in general, the preeminence of human rights, ethics and political pluralism.

Article 5: Sovereignty resides untransferable in the people, who exercise it directly in the manner provided for in this Constitution and in the law, and indirectly, by suffrage, through the organs exercising Public Power. The organs of the State emanate from and are subject to the sovereignty of the people.

Article 12: Mineral and hydrocarbon deposits of any nature that exist within the territory of the nation, beneath the territorial sea bed, within the exclusive economic zone and on the continental sheaf, are the property of the Republic, are of public domain, and therefore inalienable and not transferable. The seacoasts are public domain property.

Article 19: The State shall guarantee to every individual, in accordance with the progressive principle and without discrimination of any kind, not renounceable, indivisible and interdependent enjoyment and exercise of human rights. Respect for and the guaranteeing of these rights is obligatory for the organs of Public Power, in accordance with the Constitution, the human rights treaties signed and ratified by the Republic and any laws developing the same.

Article 21: Al[l] persons are equal before the law, and, consequently…No discrimination based on race, sex, creed or social standing shall be permitted, nor, in general, any discrimination with the intent or effect of nullifying or encroaching upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual…No titles of nobility or hereditary distinctions shall be recognized.

Article 43: The right to life is inviolable. No law shall provide for the death penalty and no authority shall apply the same. The State shall protect the life of persons who are deprived of liberty, serving in the armed forces or civilian services, or otherwise subject to its authority.

Article 53: Everyone has the right to meet publicly or privately, without obtaining permission in advance, for lawful purposes and without weapons. Meetings in public places may be regulated by law.

Article 57: Everyone has the right to express freely his or her thoughts, ideas or opinions orally, in writing or by any other form of expression, and to use for such purpose any means of communication and diffusion, and no censorship shall be established. Anyone making use of this right assumes full responsibility for everything expressed. Anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance are not permitted. Censorship restricting the ability of public officials to report on matters for which they are responsible is prohibited.

Article 59: The State guarantees the freedom of cult and religion. All persons have the right to profess their religious faith and cults, and express their beliefs in private or in public, by teaching and other practices, provided such beliefs are not contrary to moral, good customs and public order. The autonomy and independence of religious confessions and churches is likewise guaranteed, subject only to such limitations as may derive from this Constitution and the law. Father and Mother are entitled to have their sons and daughters receive religious education in accordance with their convictions. No one shall invoke religious beliefs or discipline as a means of evading compliance with law or preventing another person from exercising his or her rights.

Article 64: All Venezuelans* who have reached the age of 18 and are not subject to political disablement or civil interdiction are qualified to vote. In state, municipal and parish elections, the right to vote shall be extended to foreign nationals who have reached the age of 18 and have resided in Venezuela for more than ten years, subject to the limitations established in this Constitution and by law, and provided they are not subject to political disablement or civil interdiction.

Article 68: Citizens have the right to demonstrate, peacefully and without weapons, subject only to such requirements as may be established by law. The use of firearms and toxic substances to control peaceful demonstrations is prohibited. The activity of police and security corps in maintaining public order shall be regulated by law.

Article 81: Any person with disability or special needs has the right to the full and autonomous exercise of his or her abilities and to its integration into the family and community. The State, with the solidary participation of families and society, guarantees them respect for their human dignity, equality of opportunity and satisfactory working conditions, and shall promote their training, education and access to employment appropriate to their condition, in accordance with law. It is recognized that deaf persons have the right to express themselves and communicate through the Venezuelan sign language.

Article 82: Every person has the right to adequate, safe and comfortable, hygienic housing, with appropriate essential basic services, including a habitat such as to humanize family, neighborhood and community relations. The progressive meeting of this requirement is the shared responsibility of citizens and the State in all areas. The State shall give priority to families, and shall guarantee them, especially those with meager resources, the possibility of access to social policies and credit for the construction, purchase or enlargement of dwellings.

Article 88: The State guarantees the equality and equitable treatment of men and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to Social Security in accordance with law.

Article 92: All workers have the right to benefits to compensate them for length of service and protect them in the event of dismissal. Salary and benefits are labor obligations due and payable immediately upon accrual. Any delay in payment of the same shall bear interest, which constitutes a debt certain and shall enjoy the same privileges and guarantees as the principal debt.

Article 98: Cultural creation is free. This freedom includes the right to invest in, produce and disseminate the creative, scientific, technical and humanistic work, as well as legal protection of the author’s rights in his works. The State recognizes and protects intellectual property rights in scientific, literary and artistic works, inventions, innovations, trade names, patents, trademarks and slogans, in accordance with the conditions and exceptions established by law and the international treaties executed and ratified by the Republic in this field.

Article 101: The State guarantees the issuance, receiving and circulation of cultural information. The communications media have the duty of assisting in the dissemination of the values of folk traditions and the work of artists, writers, composers, motion-picture directors, scientists and other creators of culture of the country. The television media shall include subtitles and translation into Venezuelan sign language for persons with hearing problems. The terms and modalities of these obligations, shall be established by law.

Article 113: Monopolies shall not be permitted. Any act, activity, conduct or agreement of private individuals which is intended to establish a monopoly or which leads by reason of its actual effects to the existence of a monopoly, regardless of the intentions of the persons involved, and whatever the form it actually takes, is hereby declared contrary to the fundamental principles of this Constitution. Also contrary to such principles is abuse of a position of dominance which a private individual, a group of individuals or a business enterprise or group of enterprises acquires or has acquired in a given market of goods or services, regardless of what factors caused such position of dominance, as well as in the event of a concentration of demand. In all of the cases indicated, the State shall be required to adopt such measures as may be necessary to prevent the harmful and restrictive effects of monopoly, abuse of a position of dominance and a concentration of demand, with the purpose of protecting consumers and producers* and ensuring the existence of genuine competitive conditions in the economy. In the case of the exploitation of natural resources which are the property of the Nation or the providing of services of a public nature, on an exclusive basis or otherwise, the State shall grant concessions for a certain period, in all cases ensuring the existence of adequate consideration or compensation to serve the public interest.

Article 118: The right of workers and the community to develop associations of social and participative nature such as cooperatives, savings funds, mutual funds and other forms of association is recognized. These associations may develop any kind of economic activities in accordance with the law. The law shall recognize the specificity of these organizations, especially those relating the cooperative, the associated work and the generation of collective benefits. The state shall promote and protect these associations destined to improve the popular economic alternative.

Article 120: Exploitation by the State of the natural resources in native habitats shall be carried out without harming the cultural, social and economic integrity of such habitats, and likewise subject to prior information and consultation with the native communities concerned. Profits from such exploitation by the native peoples are subject to the Constitution and the law.

Article 125: Native peoples have the right to participate in politics. The State shall guarantee native representation in the National Assembly and the deliberating organs of federal and local entities with a native population, in accordance with law.

Article 130: Venezuelans have the duty to honor and defend their native land symbols and cultural values and to guard and protect the sovereignty, nationhood, territorial integrity, self-determination and interests of the nation.

Article 186: The National Assembly shall consist of Deputies elected in each of the federal entities by universal, direct, personalized and secret ballot with proportional representation, using a constituency base of 1.1% of the total population of the country. Each federal organ shall also elect three additional deputies. The native peoples of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall elect three deputies in accordance with the provisions established under election law, respecting the traditions and customs thereof. Each deputy shall have an alternate elected by the same process.

Article 274: The organs exercising Citizen Power are charged, in accordance with this Constitution and with the law, with preventing, investigating and punishing actions that undermine public ethics and administrative morals; to see to sound management and legality in the use of public property, and fulfillment and application of the principle of legality in all of the State’s administrative activities, as well as to promote education as a process that helps create citizenship, together with solidarity, freedom, democracy, social responsibility and work.

Article 299: The economic regime of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is based on the principles of social justice, democratization, efficiency, free competition, protection of the environment, productivity and solidarity, with a view to ensuring overall human development and a dignified and useful existence for the community. The State, jointly with private initiative, shall promote the harmonious development of the national economy, to the end of generating sources of employment, a high rate of domestic added value, raising the standard of living of the population and strengthen the economical sovereignty of the country, guaranteeing the reliability of the law; the solid, dynamic, sustainable, continuing and equitable growth of the economy to ensure a just distribution of wealth through participatory democratic strategic planning with open consultation.

Article 304: All waters are property in the Nation’s public domain, essential to life and development. The necessary provisions shall be established by law to guarantee the protection, utilization, and recuperation thereof, respecting the phases of the hydrological cycle and zoning criteria.

Article 316: The taxation system shall seek a fair distribution of public burdens in accordance with the taxpayer’s ability to pay, taking into account the principle of progressive taxation, as well as protection of the national economy and raising the standard of living of the population, the foundation therefore being an efficient system for the collection of taxes.

The constitution is overall socially democratic, but it has many positive elements, some of which are highlighted above.

Fast forward to 2005. Venezuela was lumped in with the other countries as an “enemy.” There was a mission mangers for Iran, Juche Korea, and Cuba-Venezuela to solve “intelligence challenges” of the murderous empire, with Venezuela as an intelligence priority meaning that “massive resources would be spent on espionage, surveillance and special operations both inside and outside Venezuelan territory”! Obviously this was an utter violation of sovereignty, but the empire didn’t care about that, as they flaunt laws all the time without caring if it is legal or not. In September of the same year, Chavez, in an interview, described how much had been spent by the empire on the Iraq War, saying that they appeared to “be preparing for wars against Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela,” quoted as saying “they are preparing to dominate the world,” which was undoubtedly true. The same month, he spoke before the UN General Assembly. He demanded reform of the UN itself, such as expanding the non-permanent and permanent categories of the Security Council, giving access to new countries, increase inclusion in the UN, ending the permanent veto power (which he called an “elite vestige”), strengthening the role of the Secretary General, calling for a “re-foundation” of the UN which should be in a newly created international city in the Global South. He also said that that “neoliberal globalization” and the fact that the world is so interconnected means that there cannot be a “national solution” to many problems, adding that it is “practically and ethically inadmissible to sacrifice the human species by insanely invoking the validity of a socioeconomic model with a galloping destructive capacity” and saying that more than ever a “new international order” (first proposed in December 1974) should be revived. He also spoke against the ideas of “preventive war” and “responsibility to protect,” calling them “very dangerous concepts that delineate imperialism,” and noted that over the past seven years, “the Venezuelan people can exhibit important social and economic achievements,” specifically noting that “nearly 70% of the population…receive…free medical assistance” as on example. He ended by saying that the Venezuelans will fight for “Latin American integration and for the world,” and powerfully declared that “let us not rest our arms, nor rest our souls to save humanity.”

This is from Hugo Chavez’s speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2006.

The following year, 2006, imperialists declared that Venezuela was getting close to Juche Korea. Rumsfeld of the military establishment himself compared “Chavez to Adolf Hitler” while Negroponte accused Venezuela of “being the most serious threat to U.S. interests in Latin America and of seeking closer ties with North Korea and Iran.” Many of these statements were so absurd, its best to laugh out loud at these goofballs. In July, Chavez seemed to hint at some close ties with the Koreans, quoted as saying that “the most virulent, loud, and high-handed critics of North Korea are the same ones that, in view of Israeli aggression against innocent men, women and children, say nothing.” However, Venezuela had its reservations. That year, they condemned the nuclear weapons tests by Juche Korea, with Maduro, then foreign minister, saying that “We condemn all nuclear tests, because of the immense damage to the planet, to life on the planet.” [3] Maduro’s full statement is worth quoting:

“As a matter of principle, Venezuela is against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and condemns these kinds of tests due to the immense damage they cause to the planet. We are against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and we are doing a great effort in all international scenarios so that countries that have nuclear weapons start eliminating them progressively, so that we can move towards a world without nuclear weapons. We have enough destructive elements threatening life on this planet, and we do not need the advancement of these policies of nuclear tests no matter who does them. America, the whole continent, should be declared a nuclear weapons free zone. In that sense we condemn all nuclear weapons tests due to the immense damage they cause to life on this planet which is already deteriorated as a result of a developing model based on consumerism, which has led to global warming and to the destruction of life….[Venezuela opposes the nuclear tests] due to principles and due to our humanist policies…[Nuclear tests should be used for] providing electricity to important regions of the global south that do not enjoy this public service, to treat cancer, and for other aspects related to human life, never for the destruction of human kind.”

While this is a broad and noble statement against nuclear destruction, it is unfortunate as it easily meshes with what the imperialists want, which is why the denunciation of the weapons tests was applauded by the U$, not surprisingly. However, later that year, in September, in a speech in which he recommended a book by reactionary leftist Noam Chomsky [4], he took a strong stand against climate catastrophe. He told the UN General Assembly that “…the hegemonic pretension of North American Imperialism puts at risk the very survival of the human species” and proceeded to call Bush II the “devil.” He went onto criticize Bush II’s remarks, noting that the empire works to “try to maintain the current scheme of domination, exploitation and plundering the peoples of the world…impose the democratic model as they conceive it, the false democracy of the elites” and declared that “Mr. Imperialist dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days with a nightmare,” also criticizing the Zionist oppression of Palestinians. He went onto say that “the peoples of the South, the hit people would say: Yankee Empire go home!” said that the “United Nations System…collapsed, collapsed, does not work” with the General Assembly turned into “a purely deliberative, purely deliberative body without any power to impact the least way the terrible reality that the world lives” and proposed against four ideas to strengthen the UN by giving “giving access to new developed countries and underdeveloped countries, the Third World, as new permanent members….[apply]effective methods of attention and resolution of global conflicts…[end] immediate[ly]…that anti-democratic mechanism of the veto…of the Security Council…[and] strengthen…the powers of the Secretary General of the United Nations.” From here, he went onto say that Venezuela is an “independent voice” which denounces “the persecution and aggressions of hegemonism against the peoples of the Planet,” adding accurately that the “government of the United States has initiated an open aggression” against Venezuela, forcefully making it known that “the Empire is afraid of the truth, of independent voices, accusing us of being extremists. They are the extremists.” Also in his speech, he said that with Venezuela on the Security Council this would bring “the voice not only of Venezuela, [but] the voice of the Third World, the voice of the peoples of the Planet, [and] there we will be defending dignity and truth.” Additionally he said that the “the neoliberal capitalist model that generates misery and poverty,” noted that the empire has “already planned, financed and promoted a coup in Venezuela” (in 2002), saying that the empire “continues to support coup movements in Venezuela and against Venezuela, continues to support terrorism” while noting that the CIA are utter terrorists. He ended by saying that “we are men and women of the South, we are carriers, with these documents, with these ideas, with these criticisms, with these reflections that I close my folder and the book I take it, do not forget that I recommend them a lot, with much humility,” ending on a powerful note.

In 2007, again bourgeois analysts said that Venezuela was allying itself with Juche Korea, along with revisionist China, Cuba, and Iran. Sadly, this year was one of a setback for the Bolivarian Revolution. A constitutional referendum was proposed that have been a “massive overhaul of this country’s constitution,” including ending “central bank autonomy…suspension of due process during a state of emergency, lowering the age to vote to 16 years…empowering new forms of local direct democracy, establishing new forms of property, consolidating rights of sexual minorities, [and] extending social welfare to self employed workers,” reducing the working week to 36 hours from 44 hours, all part of an effort to implement the “aggressive Bolivarian Socialist agenda” or the “start of a new era towards socialism,” and increased presidential powers like indefinite re-election of the president. However, it lost in December of that year by a very slim margin of a “little more than 100,000 votes” or a “tiny majority, of around 1.4%…said no,” possibly because of certain elements of the proposal like increased presidential powers, even among his supporters. [5] Chavez, in a press conference afterwords, said that “this was a photo finish…To those who voted against my proposal, I thank them and congratulate them…I ask all of you to go home, know how to handle your victory…For now, we couldn’t.” Some in the bourgeois media said that “many political observers point to the thousands of university students, who…clogged the streets to protest the reform in the weeks leading up to the vote…Chavez’s traditional support base didn’t show up to vote…[and] poor voters unhappy with the proposed constitutional overhaul said they were more troubled about measures to abolish presidential term limits and facilitate state expropriation of private property than they were enthused by articles that could benefit the poor” but admitted that “Chavez still has many of the poor on his side” and that “the electoral defeat may indeed slow the President down” but it will not stop the momentum moving forward. Still, as one would expect, the White House applauded this move, declaring that “it looks like the people spoke their minds…and I think that bodes well for the country’s future and freedom and liberty,” by U$-backed opposition mayor Leopoldo Lopez, saying that “I am sure that this victory for the Venezuelan people will have a very important impact in the rest of Latin America,” and The Economist which declared that Chavez’s “plan to install what he calls “21st century socialism”…has been badly punctured,” saying that this “setback may also take much of the momentum out of his industrious efforts to form a regional block of allies and client states,” except neither turned out to be the case in the years to come.

Hugo Chavez speaks in solidarity with Evo Morales of Bolivia. Quotes are from a BBC article on Sept 12, 2008 titled “Chavez acts over US-Bolivia row.”

The following year, 2008, was a bit more positive. As the intelligence establishment of the U$ continued to target Venezuela, Chavez removed his “combative vice-president, Jorge Rodriguez” who had been blamed for “the referendum defeat” the previous December,” and changed his tune by promising to “tackle issues like crime and garbage collection that more directly affect his grass roots supporters,” adding that “we are not extremists and we cannot be. We have to look for alliances with the middle classes,” saying that there were no plans to “eliminate private property.” [6] He even, in an act of grace, “declared a pardon that is expected to free from jail hundreds of people who took part in a coup that briefly ousted him from power in 2002”! Still, his strong words and thoughts did not subside. He called on his opponents to read about his political mentors, saying that “to those who consider themselves holier than the Pope, let them read Lenin. They should meet Fidel Castro some day.” In January of the same year, after the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) was less than a year old (it has been founded on March 24, 2007) outlined its “Draft Program and Principles,” and would later have ranks in the millions of members. Within this, the party said that it will have a unique form of socialism in Venezuela unlike anything else, not even like Juche Korea and others:

The Party will go to great efforts to educate itself and others in human experiences that have distant antecedents, such as American Indian cosmovision and primitive Christianity and more recent experiences like those that from the 20th century that gave rise to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. But the socialism of the 21st century will be the consequence of a creative praxis, the free exercise of the will and desires of the Venezuelan people. It will be “neither imitation nor copy”, to borrow the expression of José Carlos Mariátegui, but rather a “heroic creation”.

Still, this leaves the door open to learning from the Soviet, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Cuban experiences to say the least. In a different way this was reflected by the Wall Street Journal which declared that Chavez is “an ally of the Iranian mullahs, a supporter of North Korea, a close friend of Fidel Castro and a good customer for Vladimir Putin’s weapon factories,” to make him sound like a monster, just as they do with any disliked leader who is in the periphery.

In September of that year, left-leaning commentator, Michael Albert, asked Julio Chavez, Mayor of Carora, that slogans like “Chavez is the people,” “With Chavez anything without Chavez nothing,” “Who is against Chavez is against the people”…sounds a little like North Korea” acting like that is bad and engaging in anti-communist dribble. What Julio Chavez said here is worth quoting:

For us President Chavez has broken many paradigms, has broken with many historical trends…at this point in time Chavez is absolutely necessary, cannot be done without, for our revolutionary process….Chavez was a product of various rebellions. He didn’t come from nowhere. He is not a Messiah….he resembles the people to such an extent, thinks and acts like the people, and says exactly what he thinks – he is what is needed at this moment. So right now, I think that Chavez is absolutely indispensable. I am one of those who is fighting against the current that argues for Chavismo without Chavez. To the extent that Fidel Castro sees that his time has come to an end, it is now Hugo Chavez’s time…Chavez really does embody the personal anguish, the old lack of hope, the new rising hope, and the desires of the people. And that is why we say with him, everything, without him, nothing. At this moment Chavez is the man. He is at the heart of the process unfolding here in Latin America.

In 2009 there was a victory for the Bolivarian Revolution. It could be said to among the “mass socialist revolutions in China, Indo-China,” and Juche Korea which “ousted colonial powers and defeated their collaborators in a period of hyper-inflation and mass unemployment,” as one commentator put it. This victory was a referendum in February, which ended term limits for the President and all elected officials, was considered “free and fair” by election observers from many countries and a showcase of the clear “popular democracy” in Venezuela. [7] As such, the country’s constitution was changed. It was followed by mass celebrations in Caracas and Spanish election observer, favored by the opposition, calling Chavez a “dictator” and was kicked out of the country, just like “Jose Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch executive director for the Americas” in September of the previous year, rightly so! Chavez said that Obama wanted him removed from power: “He’s said I’m an obstacle for progress in Latin America. Therefore it must be removed, this obstacle, right?” While AP was befuddled to what he was referring to, he was clearly referencing an interview Obama did with Univision before his inauguration in January, saying that Chavez “impeded progress in the region…[and] exporting terrorist activities.” Later on that year, Chavez would give Obama a book by the late Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano titled Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina), which he admitted is “still alive and kicking” but said that his “old writing style seems rather stodgy.” Years later, in September 2012, Chavez would sort of “endorse” Obama (which didn’t make Obama a socialist no matter what those conservative goofballs would say) saying that “I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama…Obama is a good guy…I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he’d vote for Chavez…After our triumph and the supposed, probable triumph of President Obama, with the extreme right defeated here and there, I hope we could start a new period of normal relations with the United States,” echoing what he said about him before the 2008 election: that Obama was “an intelligent man.” Still, this doesn’t take away from being anti-imperialist, but shows that he was clearly interesting in normalizing relations, and attempting to build off Obama not calling Venezuela a security threat, just like Cuba did years later. After all, in December 2011, he called Obama an “embarrassment” and clown” who should “focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster,” which is an understandable statement after Obama’s aggressive remarks.

Hugo Chavez talks to jerk interviewer on BBC’s HardTalk. Quote comes from a BBC article titled “President Chavez’s socialist world vision.” This photo comes from one part of this interview on YouTube.

In December 2009, Chavez spoke to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, where he again criticized capitalism and imperialism, while also praising Karl Marx:

…What we live on this planet is an imperial dictatorship, and from here we continue to denounce it. Down with the imperial dictatorship! And may the peoples live and democracy and equality on this planet!…There is a group of countries that believe themselves superior to us from the south…a ghost runs through Copenhagen, paraphrasing Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx, a ghost walks through the streets of Copenhagen, and I think that ghost walks in silence in this room, there goes, among us, gets through the corridors, it goes out below, up, that ghost is a frightening ghost almost nobody wants to name it: capitalism is the ghost, almost nobody wants to name it…Let’s not change the climate. Let’s change the system! And consequently we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism, the model of destructive development, is destroying life, threatening to definitively end the human species…The rich are destroying the planet. Could it be that they plan to leave for another when they destroy this one?…The current human activity exceeds the threshold of sustainability, endangering life on the planet, but also in it we are profoundly unequal…the 500 million richest people….seven percent of the world’s population…is responsible…are responsible for fifty percent of the polluting emissions, while the poorest 50 percent are responsible for only seven percent of the polluting emissions…60 percent of the planet’s ecosystems are damaged, 20 percent of the earth’s crust is degraded; we have been impassive witnesses of deforestation, land conversion, desertification, alteration of freshwater systems, overexploitation of marine resources, pollution and loss of biological diversity..Developed countries should establish binding, clear and concrete commitments in the substantial reduction of their emissions and assume obligations of financial and technological assistance to poor countries to face the destructive dangers of climate change…There are some countries that are playing here that there is no document, because they do not want a law, they do not want a rule, because the non-existence of that norm allows them to play their exploitative freedom, their overwhelming freedom…Can a finite earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite developmentalism is a destructive model, let’s accept it…Stop the aggressions and the wars we ask the peoples of the world to the empires, to those who seek to continue dominating the world and exploiting us. No more imperial military bases, no coups d’etat, let’s build a fairer and more equitable economic and social order, eradicate poverty, stop immediately the high emission levels, stop environmental deterioration and avoid the great catastrophe of climate change, let’s integrate ourselves in the noble objective of being all freer and more supportive…Only possible on the path of socialism, socialism, the other ghost that Karl Marx talked about,…is the course for the salvation of the planet, [and] I do not have the slightest doubt, and capitalism is the path of hell, to the destruction of the world…History calls us to union and struggle. If capitalism resists, we are obliged to fight against capitalism and open the paths of the salvation of the human species..Let’s hear Rosa Luxemburg when she said: Socialism or barbarism

These words should not surprise anyone at all. I say this because Chavez said the following year, 2010, before the National Assembly that he was a revolutionary and is a “Marxist to the same degree as the followers of the ideas of Jesus Christ and the liberator of America, Simon Bolivar…Who can imagine Christ as a capitalist? Christ was more radical than any of us,’” and said that he had begun studying Marx’s Das Kapital (Capital in English) then saying he hadn’t read it completely yet, giving him “the answers to many questions” He also said that “for the love of God, let’s halt this [commercialization of Christmas], let’s put the brakes on this consumerist, capitalist insanity, that leads us to lose our spiritual values.” He also said, in January 2010 that, and I quote, “Marxism is undoubtedly the most advanced theory in the interpretation…[of] the concrete reality of the people,” called Christ a “Marxist,” and said that it is “necessary to take the oxygen from him the bourgeois state,” statements criticized by the bourgeoisie but praised by fellow PSUV members. [8]

With this, we get to 2010. In July, one Venezuelan official said that “an invasion of Venezuela would be almost “simultaneous with an attack on North Korea or Iran” and that Venezuelans need to start organising and mobilising to defend “the sovereignty of our homeland.”” which is not off base at all. Many months later, in November, the Venezuelan government said rightly that the U$ was the aggressor on the Korean Peninsula, which was read aloud by Chavez during a televised meeting of regional vice presidents of the PSUV:

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has for some time been warning of a political plan that consists of provoking incidents in the zone around the Korean peninsula…as a strategy for the perpetuation of imperialist military hegemony in the region. For peace-loving countries, it is essential to denounce the pre-meditated action of ultra-right sectors of the United States, which through certain institutions of the country such as the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA pursue the objective of creating diverse points of instability on the planet, as part of the necessity of maintaining the functioning of a well-oiled military industrial complex…[we urge] the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and the countries in the area to strengthen their capacity to understand each other, with the aim of preserving peace in the region.

This was a more positive statement toward Juche Korea than previously, which can be said to be progress without question.

2011 and 2012 were not much different. On June 30 of 2011, Chavez said he was “recovering from an operation to remove an abscess tumor with cancer cells.” In September of the same year, Juche Korea joined many other countries, including Venezuela, which refused (translated) to recognize the provisional government in Libya, after the imperialist assault, as reported in the publication (Spanish language) of the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV). [9] In December 2012, Chavez requested a second medical operation, which he received in Cuba after he had traveled there. This is a show of comradely solidarity that he was treated in a Cuban hospital.

Juche Korea Ambassador Jon Yong Jin with Yul Jabour, president of committee of Foreign Policy and deputy of PCV (Venezuelan Communist Party), and Julio Chávez, president of committee of People’s Power and the Media and deputy of PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), Oct 4, 2013.

Then we get to 2013, a watershed year for relations between Juche Korea and Venezuela. Due to Chavez’s sickness, his inauguration was delayed but he did return “on February 18, 2013…and was admitted directly to the military hospital in Caracas.” Not long after that he sent a letter to the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of South America and Africa (ASA) in Equatorial Guinea, which was read by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Elías Jaua. He described the transatlantic slave trade as the “kidnapping and murder of millions of daughters and sons of mother Africa, in order to feed a system of slave exploitation in their colonies, sowed in Our America warrior and combative African blood, which burned by the fire that produces the desire for freedom.” However, he said that the sowing of feelings of resistance grew, leading to the “beginning of an independence, unionist, anti-imperialist process and restorer in Latin and Caribbean America” and connected this to “the twentieth century, and the libertarian struggles of Africa,” naming Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral as two liberation leaders in Africa. He went on to say that since “Latin America and the Caribbean, together with Africa share a past of oppression and slavery…we are also united by a present of unrenounceable struggle for the freedom and definitive independence of our nations…we are the same people” and called for ending “neoliberal capitalism of the twentieth century.” Adding to this, he further called for “South – South cooperation” with “strategies and plans of sustainable development towards the south towards our peoples,” noting that some Western powers “project a neocolonial policy that threatens the stability that we have begun to strengthen in our continents,” adding that “the neocolonial strategy has been…to divide the most vulnerable nations of the world, in order to subject them to a slavish relationship of dependency.” With that he strongly opposed the “foreign military intervention in Libya…[and] absolute rejection of all NATO interventionist activity,” ending by saying “Let us march towards our union and definitive independence…Long live the South American and African Union! Long live the ASA! Ever onward to victory! We will live and we will win!” Sadly, at 4:25 PM on March 5, at the age of 58, Chavez, who said he would dedicate his whole life to revolution, died in Caracas. The Bolivarian Revolution was to go on without him, facing trials and tribulations in the days ahead.

In March of the same year, Alejandro Cao de Benós, ambassador of Juche Korea in Chile was interviewed by the Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action) PC (AP) which was transcribed by the Popular Tribune, a publication of the PCV, adding important insights on Juche Korea itself. Cao de Benós, of Spanish descent, said that [10]:

I have never been able to tolerate that 80% of humanity lives in absolute poverty while a few enslave the rest, accumulate millions and speculate with the price of wheat or rice…I dedicate[d] myself to fight for socialism when I realize that volunteering or charity is not going to save the people…It is complicated to summarize it in a few words, but it [Juche Korea] is a socialist system where all the means of production and property belong to the people. There are no private companies or speculation. The Government provides completely free housing for each citizen, as well as education and health at no cost…There is a public distribution system that guarantees food and basic resources to all citizens equally and without exception. The union of the people, army and party is complete, there are no factionalisms or place for selfishness, popular conscience and the strong union around our leaders make the DPR of Korea an impregnable fortress…Despite the global crisis, as the DPRK maintains an independent and self-sustaining system, the economy improves at a rate of 10% per year. 100,000 new fully modern homes are being completed and will be delivered this April…The main key [to solve varied social problems] lies in the nationalization, but this can not be carried out if there is no charismatic leader with massive popular support and a military force. By nationalizing the companies the people take control of the resources, in this way the money that was previously taken by the foreign entrepreneurs or holdings is then within the country. Logically this process can not be carried out without a great popular support that must have a visible and unifying head…Our position is always dialogue and mutual respect, but as we always say: The DPR of Korea wants peace, but will not kneel for it. Meaning that the nation is ready for both dialogue and war…I spend a lot of time traveling and every time I come back from Korea I see that the international situation is going to get worse, especially capitalism, moved by the insatiable desire of the big corporations, it collapses..I have seen a great change from the 90s to the current ones. At that time communism was demonized and the weak changed sides quickly…There is a certain ‘taboo’ in communist organizations to have a leader, that translates into an internal weakness that disperses the forces and favors the enemy…The Juche Idea expresses that man is master of his destiny and can use the means at his disposal to modify it. It’s basically Korean-style socialism. Although in its origins it owes Marxism-Leninism, it is an original idea created by the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and that incorporates traditional elements of Korean culture and philosophy…The giant portraits of Marx and Lenin remain in the main square, each day facing the portrait of our President Kim Il Sung. And Iosif Stalin was a good comrade of the Great Leader, to whom he gave an armored car and train…[Juche Korea’s short term goals are to] improve the economy, specifically developing light industry. Once Korea is strong politically and militarily resources are being used to improve the life of the people and modernize the industry.

The same month, Nicolas Maduro, now heading the country after Chavez’s death, said that Venezuela is committed to all efforts to achieve a peaceful solution in the Korean Peninsula, saying that they hope “for peace on the Korean peninsula and…[calling] to diminish the statements and militaristic actions, which could lead to both Nations to a new conflict. In addition, the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela expresses its deep concern for the continuous realization of exercises and military tests, which only contribute to the increase of tensions. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates the bonds of friendship with both Nations, and reaffirms its commitment to all efforts that allow to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.” [11] Even with this, the next month, after Maduro won elections in April 2013, Kim Yong-nam, chairperson of the SPA Presidium said that the victory in Venezuela of Maduro was “an expression of the deep trust and expectations on his shoulders,” and congratulated the Venezuelan people for a “firm will to maintain the road towards socialism.” Later on that year, at the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students (FMJE), in which there was “discussion around the unity of action of the progressive youth and student movement, in support of the struggles of the peoples in the face of imperialist aggressions” there were delegations from “Zimbabwe…Angola…Vietnam, Nepal and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” to name a few. Also in 2013, the ambassador of Juche Korea to Cuba, Jon Yong Jin, visited Venezuela, meeting with two parliamentarians, one from the PCV, another from the PSUV. At the meeting, Jin said that Juche Korea offered “unrestricted support and solidarity” to Venezuela, saying that their government would not “hesitate to join the struggle against the empire to defend sovereignty and the Bolivarian Revolution.” On an even more powerful note, Jin supported the decision by Maduro to “expel from Venezuelan territory the three diplomatic officials who conspired against the nation,” saying that this was “a measure of an independent country and we support it,” adding that giving priority to military affairs is important, saying that the “driving force” of Juche Korea “is in the popular masses,” noting that the nuclear weapons are for self-defense only and to stop imperial aggression: “the Supreme Commander of the People’s Army, Kim Jong-un, has affirmed that if a single American bullet falls on our territory, we will launch a missile towards the island of Guam and another directed at the White House.” Beyond this, he also said that “unity of the revolutionary force is important in that fight against imperialism.” the PCV deputy thanked Jin for “the support and solidarity offered by the head of the mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and added that the “National Assembly has been developing the legal context to deepen relations between the two countries” while the PSUV deputy said that “a friendship group with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is [being] formed” in the National Assembly!

Nicolas Maduro talks to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in March 2014, as quoted above. Conservative sites claimed she was “paid” by Maduro because of supposed “bills” under her chair, but this is so silly, as Venezuela has its own media and would have no need to pay Amanpour, a person who has a clearly bourgeois mindset.

2014, like 2013, was another year of strengthened relations between the two countries. With the “Western” left, as you could call them, saying that “Venezuela would be like…North Korea,” in a negative way, they fail to recognize the connection between the two countries. In June of that year, it was clear that Juche Korea was ready to open an embassy in Venezuela after the Venezuelan government gave its stamp of approval, ending the ambassador to Cuba representing “North Korean interests in Venezuela.” [12] One bourgeois analyst noted rightly that “North Korean presence in the region has gone under the radar up until now” with their admiration for “Hugo Chávez’s 21st Century Socialism,” adding that Jin, at the meeting previously mentioned “took the opportunity to express his support for President Nicolás Maduro,” and noting by January 2014, “Yul Jabour and…Julio Chávez, emphasized the need for study of the Juche doctrine and its application in Venezuela’s territory.” This same analyst noted that while “there are 24 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean that maintain relations with North Korea…only four of them have Embassies” with Venezuela being the fifth country to join this list, as they also worried that “Chavismo could adopt North Korea’s ideological and political features,” although this has not happened, showing how absurd their fears are.

Venezuela’s connection with Juche Korea is understandable. As one analysis in August of 2014 noted correctly, “the attempts of Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Grenada, Nicaragua, Libya and other countries to forge an independent path have been answered with all-out imperialist war” meaning that survive “in such a hostile world, there are only two real choices: capitulate, or unite and fight,” which Chavez choosing, “informed by his rich knowledge of world history, his identification of US-led imperialism as the major obstacle to peace and development, and his own experiences of trying to exercise sovereignty,” to unite and fight, building “Venezuelan socialism in the face of destabilisation and CIA-backed coup attempts.” The Venezuelan communists started that process however, with the founding of a communist youth organization in 1944 in the country. [13] Also in 2014, in August, Juche Korea, along with Venezuela and many others said no to the commercial blockade on Venezuela imposed by the U$ imperialists.

In 2015, the embassy of Juche Korea opened in Venezuela. Sadly, I cannot, currently find any photographs of it, but it undoubtedly there. In February of that year, the Popular Tribune, a publication of the PCV, published an article noting that “only the Democratic Republic of Korea uses atomic deterrence as a factor that has prevented imperialism from taking control of the strategic peninsula of south-west Asia,” saying this in a supportive manner. [14] The following month, in the same publication, it was noted that the executive decision to make Venezuela an “an extraordinary and unusual threat for national security and the foreign policy of the United States” and declare a “state of emergency” was “applied for the first time against Korea,” then followed by by “Yugoslavia…Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq or the tiny island of Granada,” and now was being applied to Venezuela! The same month, there were two more articles noting Juche Korea. The first was from the Bolivarian Front of Scientific Researchers, Innovators and Workers (FREBIN). In their statement to those in the U$, they noted that “Venezuela appears next to China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Russia… Please, give me a break!” and that in “one of the strategic missions, the NSA proposes “providing warning of impending state instability” in countries such as North Korea, Cuba, Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bolivia, Sudan, Kosovo, Venezuela, the “Palestinian Authority “and -attention!- something they call “Latin American Bolivarian developments”.” They added that this means that “Venezuela appears as an unusual and extraordinary threat because it presents an ideology -the Boliviarian one- which rivals and contrasts with the totalitarian influence exerted by the US status quo over the Latin American region in the recent decades.” This is part of the reason the Koreans support the Venezuelans. As one critical article said at the time, “to say “Venezuela” in the same breath as “North Korea” is entirely acceptable to most people, including much of the left,” referring to the fact that many of those on the Left see this as negative rather than seeing the two countries as comrades-in-arms.

In October, the Popular Tribune publication of the PCV published something which was from the embassy of Juche Korea in Venezuela, focusing on the Workers’ Party of Korea, which they called the “Korean Labor Party” (same thing). [15] They defined the Juche idea as meaning that “the masses of the revolution and their construction are the masses of the people and the force that drives them also” and Songun as meaning “prioritizing military affairs and taking the armed forces by force to promote the revolution and its construction,” noting they came about first in June 1930 from Kim Il Sung himself. They added that as the years went on, the WPK became

more powerful as an ideologically pure organization, fully impregnated only by the Juche idea and the Songun, and that even in the face of the vicissitudes of all sorts of history invariably maintains its principle…The first aspect worth mentioning of the Korean Labor Party is iron unity and internal cohesion…Kim Jong Il…made each one of the lines and policies outlined to reflect the aspiration and the demand of the masses to the maximum, and launched slogans such as “All the Party, to get along with the masses!” And “Serve the people!” that all the party cadres will always empathize with the masses and serve them faithfully…Kim Jong Un…who carries out without any deviation the ideology and the cause of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, launched as the slogan of the Party “Everything for the people, all leaning in the popular masses! “, and fully practice the policy of love and appreciation to the people…A party like the [WPK]…is always invincible; This is the truth proven by history. That’s why the [WPK]…will be eternally triumphant.

In 2016, connections between Juche Korea and Venezuela were still strong. That year, according to some sources, exports to Venezuela were “$7.6 million, while Venezuela’s exports to North Korea were minimal,” showing that Koreans were helping Venezuelans build their Bolivarian Revolution. In February of that year, Han Song Guk, Adviser Consul of embassy of Juche Korea commemorated the life of Kim Jong Il, calling him an “unforgettable leader who devoted his whole life to the enrichment and prosperity of the country” who led the country through “terrible difficulties due to the concentrated offensive of imperialism and its allies against socialist Korea…and unprecedented natural calamities” and destined “the valuable fund of the state that was almost total of the country’s wealth…for the introduction of the computerized numerical control technology in the machinery industry.” [16] Guk also said that “his best option to prepare the people for the eternal comfort and self-sufficiency of everything necessary instead of buying in international markets” while socialist Korea moved forward, “overcoming the unprecedented adversities that caused the whole world concerns about its destiny” and Kim Jong Il had a goal to “sacrifice himself for the enrichment and prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people.” This is why, Guk concludes, he will “live eternally in the hearts of Koreans and progressive peoples of the world.” The following month, the PCV’s Political Bureau “expressed its solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the face of the aggression that is home to US imperialism, South Korea and Japan,” which is what all progressive peoples should do without question. [17]

In May and June 2016, the anger by bourgeois analysts toward Venezuela increased. Miami Herald’s Tim Padgett declared on May 26 that “…history will remember Maduro…for transforming the Western Hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation into the Caribbean Korea.” The following month, a piece in the always critical and wonderful Venezuela Analysis wrote, referring to this piece that “Miami Herald opinion pages host the notion that Venezuela is now “the North Korea of the Caribbean”, a place where “news reports … read like apocalyptic Cormac McCarthy novels”.” The following month, the PCV extended their “condolences to the Chávez Frías family and to the PSUV leadership for the notable death of the Mayor of the Municipality Alberto Arvelo Torrealba,” while Aníbal Chávez also, at the time, “expressed his solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the face of permanent aggression by of US imperialism and its allies on the Korean peninsula.” [18] This comradely solidarity remained strong with reason. Also that month, the PCV delivered a message of solidarity to the government of Juche Korea, reaffirming the “rights of the people to defend themselves against this aggression” and adding that “the DPRK since its independence has been suffering the aggression of the imperialist power.” This is undeniably true if you know the history of Juche Korea.

In the later months of 2016, the connection of the two countries was evident in the distorted eyes of bourgeois analysts who snarled. As one analysis put it, “Venezuela has become one of those countries…that western audiences have an insatiable interest in, but where credible information can be hard to come across,” which is the same for Juche Korea, which Max Fisher of the Washington Post paraphrased a fellow reporter Isaac Stone Fish as once joking, “as an American journalist you can write almost anything you want about North Korea and people will just accept it. Call it the Stone Fish Theory of North Korea coverage.” This isn’t really a joke, but a reality as anything they want is said about Juche Korea and its kind of disgusting to say the least. In October, Venezuela joined a host of other nations, such as Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Bolivia, and Juche Korea, to name a few, who called for the “end of the Washington sanctions against Cuba.” [19] The following month, one of the biggest newspapers in Venezuela (Ultimas Noticas), undoubtedly favoring the opposition, ran an op-ed by Gloria Cuenca asking “is this government trying to imitate North Korea?,” again trying to stir the pot of deceit. The same month, after Fidel Castro’s death, Nicholas Maduro joined other world leaders in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, underscoring the importance of Cuba to the Bolivarian Revolution: “without the support of the Cuban Revolution and its example of struggle and immense capacity for solidarity, our path would have been much harder, our young revolution advancing much slower.” Maduro was joined by delegations from many countries paying tribute to Fidel, from “Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Greece, Russia, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Namibia, Algeria, [and] Iran,” and in some sense by those who declared “official state commemorations of Castro’s legacy, including Nicaragua, Bolivia, Algeria, Vietnam, North Korea, [and] Namibia.” Again, Venezuela and Juche Korea were part of the same anti-imperialist front.

Ri Sung Gi, DPRK ambassador, and CBV (Central Bank of Venezuela) officials on Nov 29, 2017, after a discussion by the Movement of Workers and Revolutionary Workers of the Central Bank of Venezuela (Mttrbcv), entitled “The Blockade of the United States of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

In 2017, Juche Korean and Venezuela were still interconnected by their relations. In January, Cho Chol Hui, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs for Juche Korea made a visit to the Venezuelan embassy in revisionist China so he could present “the balance of the newly completed year 2016 and 2017 prospects, offered by the President, Kim Jong Un.” [20] At this meeting, which was held with the Venezuelan ambassador there, Iván Zerpa Guerrero, both of these individuals “ratified the bonds of solidarity and friendship that unite the two Nations,” with Choe saying that their government and the Korean people will support Venezuela with common positions between the two in international forums. Choe also noted his “country’s achievements in economic matters, establishing numerous industrial developments, and cooperative farms, which have generated a bumper increase in the levels of production,” adding that “his country’s Government will propose is to accelerate the victorious advance of socialism” with measures to “promote the industry of construction, light industry, agriculture and fishing.” In terms of foreign policy, the country would “promote peace in the Korea Peninsula, in search of the reunification of that nation” and would continue to denonce political and military pressures “to achieve sanctions against [them, which had] have reached extreme levels, but have failed in order to break the conviction of its people and its leader…and could not prevent the advance of socialist Kore.” He finally added that their government and WPK were committed to a “foreign policy of independence, peace and friendship, expanding and developing the relations of good-neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation…making joint efforts with them to ensure genuine international justice.” In response, Ambassador Iván Zerpa greeted Juche Korea, ratifying “the deepest feelings of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, in the framework [of the] Bolivarian diplomacy of peace, in defense of the sovereignty and independence of countries.”

After January, the two countries continued to build their ties. In February, the government of Juche Korea worked to evaluate a “number of agro-industrial projects to develop the potentials of the State Yaracuy,” with Ri Sung Gil, Ambassador of the former country in Venezuela, meeting with the Legislative Council to explore “investment opportunities and promote sustainable projects in the agricultural area.” [21] Specifically, he was quoted as saying that “we are reviewing agreements in all areas to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and friendship that keep our countries and here in Yaracuy, we see significant potential that we want to develop agribusiness, to boost…corn [fields]…[which is] of great interest for our nation and that unites us in the production area.” After saying that the Koreans supported “the policies pushed by President Nicolas Maduro,” he said that his government supported a dialogue between the government and opposition leaders to “achieve peace and stability political and economic in Venezuela.” He was quoted as saying “the dialogue is correct to stabilize the political situation…North Korea has always maintained the rejection against external interference in the internal affairs of this Latin American country.” In response, one of the members of the Legislative Council, Chairman Henrys Lord Mogollon added that cooperation would expand in the future: “We have planned other meetings, more technical, in that North Korea will assess with greater depth in what areas can get involved to promote viable projects that contribute to the mutual support that we promote both countries…everything [is] geared to agribusiness with products such as corn, sugar cane[,] and orange[s], [all of]…which Yaracuy has great potential.”

In later months, the connection between the two countries was even clearer. After all, both countries have been painted in a bleak manner by the bourgeois media, which engages in “starvation propaganda” which is like “war propaganda” since it is meant “to paint a false but compelling picture to influence the gullible and justify military aggression disguised as humanitarian rescue.” In June, Kim Yong Nam, President of the SPA Presidium, sent a letter to Maduro, the secretary-general (or what some call “President”) of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which has 120 member countries, focusing on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, adding that climate change is a global issue and an urgent task, saying that “U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement…is an extreme expression of egoism and moral inferiority seeking after its own well-being only at the cost of the global interests,” further noting that as “the world[‘s] second largest greenhouse gas emitting state, the United States is more responsible than any other countries for the prevention of the global warming.” Nam added that not only is this a “self-righteous and selfish action” but that the NAM should “duly take concerted measures to resolutely condemn and reject the arrogant and shameless action of the United States which pursues its own interests at the expense of developing countries.” At the end of this message, Nam said that he reaffirms “the stand of the DPRK to strengthen close cooperation with Venezuela and other member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement in upholding the purposes and principles of NAM and enhancing its role.” From June of that year, until 2019, when the next summit of the NAM will be held in Azerbaijan, the member countries of NAM entrusted “Venezuela with the leadership of the body…in order to encourage actions necessary for reinforcing the founding principles of the bloc” with Maduro as the President of this supranational organization.

The same month, Ri Yong Ho, the foreign minister of Juche Korea, sent a “congratulatory message to Samuel Moncada upon his appointment as foreign minister of People’s Power of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” He extended full “support and solidarity to the righteous struggle of the Venezuelan government and people to defend the Bolivarian revolution and accomplish the cause of ex-President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, vehemently denouncing the U.S. and its vassal forces’ evermore undisguised moves to interfere in the internal affairs of the country,” and wished Moncada “successes in his new job, expressing belief that the two countries will continue to strengthen support and cooperation with each other in the international arena” with stronger relations “in the common struggle for socialism against imperialism.” Also that month, Ri Sung Gil, Ambassador of Juche Korea in Venezuela, highlighted “the heroic history of struggle and combativity of the North Korean people against imperialism” and referred to “the tension that remains in the Korean peninsula in the face of the military provocations of the United States and South Korea,” adding that “the North Korean people are prepared to wage an offensive against the imperialist aggressors.” [22] This contrasted with what Jorge ‘Tuto’ Quiroga, a reactionary President of Bolivia from 2001 to 2002 who is a capitalist propagandist and former consultant of the IMF and World Bank, who declared in the Huffington Post that “Venezuela is at the crossroads: the beginning of the end of this narco-dictatorship or the beginning of a North Korea in the Caribbean.” Elsewhere he declared that the election of Maduro “will install a Soviet state in Venezuela, liquidate democracy, end the Congress, cancel elections and turn Venezuela into a sort of Caribbean ‘North Korea.’” These were and are absurd notions without question and it shows how these bourgeois analysts, like always, don’t really understand what is going on in Venezuela. But what’s new about that? That has been the main perception for years with “enemy” countries.

In the next month, July, again, people were comparing Venezuela to Juche Korea. Quiroga was saying that Venezuela under Maduro was “the next North Korea,” while Jazz Shaw of Hot Air thundered, after citing, other than the one link to another article he wrote, exclusively bourgeois media (NBC, CNN, and Reuters (two times)) that “…Venezuela will likely become a hermit kingdom, much in the style of either Fidel Castro’s Cuba during the early years or North Korea’s present regime.” Again, these bourgeois individuals fear something which hasn’t even happened, showing they are so deluded, its almost a little funny. The month afterwords, August, some admitted that even “the most ardent Maduro supporter is unlikely to use Kim Jong-un as a model.” [23] The same month, Pedro Eusse, representing the PCV’s Political Bureau, said that the party condemns “the aggressive [and] militaristic…action of the right to self-determination of the peoples manifested by the United States, by US and European imperialism, who hold a global monopoly over nuclear weapons,” adding that the “threat to humanity is not Korea, it is not China, it is not even Russia, it is the imperialist world system, while that exists, we are threatened all of us.” As the foreign ministry of Juche Korea added, in a similar manner, “China and Venezuela are…showing strong reaction to the escalating threats of sanctions by the U.S.” Also that month, Ri Yong Ho sent a “congratulatory message to Jorge Alberto Arreaza Montserrat on his appointment as foreign minister of the People’s Power of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,’ extending “full support and solidarity to the just struggle of the government and people of Venezuela to reject the U.S. and its vassal forces’ interference, achieve the country’s peace and political stability and realize the cause of Hugo Chavez Frias. Like Ho had expressed the previous month, he again expressed “the belief that the relations of friendship and cooperation between the governments and peoples of the two countries would grow stronger in the common struggle for independence and socialism against imperialism.”

In the later months of 2017, September, October, November, and December, relations were clearly still strong. The embassy of Juche Korea in Venezuela, on the 69th Anniversary of the founding of Juche Korea, laid a “wreath before the Mausoleum of the Liberator, Simón Bolívar,” with the delegation of the embassy headed by Ri Sung Gil and by Gloria Román Romero, “General Director of the Office of the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for Asia, the Middle East and Oceania,” of the Venezuelan government. During their joint activity together, the “notes of the national anthems of both countries were performed by the Marcial Band of the Military Academy of the Bolivarian National Guard” while residents and friends of the Korean population attended the event.” [24] Such solidarity contrasted the actions of U$ imperialism, in October, against Venezuela barring “banks from buying Venezuelan state bonds,” which had, as Maduro put it, “exacerbated the crisis.” The next month, November, Venezuela raised its voice at the 36th meeting of members to the Organization of the UN in Geneva, for their “right to sovereignty, respect for their right to self-determination and peace against the war media coming from abroad, and the economic blockade by Governments such as the U.S. attempts,” with delegations from 25 other countries which also met there including “Sudan, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Laos, among others,” with revisionist China, Nicaragua, and Cuba all supporting Venezuela. Near the end of November there was a momentous meeting between representations of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) and Juche Korea to exchange “ideas in the defense and construction of socialism”! For one, José Salamat Khan Fernández of the BCV said that “we must learn from the socio-productive experience of North Korea. We as a people can begin a process of training to reindustrialize the country’s economy and depend less and less on other hegemonic countries. We have the human resource, the land and the capital,” at a meeting organized by the Movement of Workers and Revolutionary Workers of the BCV (Mttrbcv) which held a discussion titled “The US Blockade of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” In response, Ri Sung Hil said that “expansionist interests [aim] to appropriate the wealth of strategic countries such as Venezuela and North Korea, which chose socialism as an economic and social model. Imperialism wants to keep at bay the economic and military growth of the progressive countries. Venezuela has its geopolitical importance, raw materials, many natural resources, oil and water; The US is not going to leave Venezuela in peace until it seizes the country’s resources.” A press release released by the BCV gave further context to this meeting:

The Movement of Workers and Revolutionary Workers of the Central Bank of Venezuela (Mttrbcv), organized this Wednesday, November 29, the conversation entitled The Blockade of the United States to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in the Auction Room of the Financial Tower of the Institute. The activity, led by the ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ri Sung Gil, was headed by the director and second vice president of the BCV, José Salamat Khan Fernández; the adviser, Simón Escalona and the vice minister of Industrial Management of the Ministry of Popular Power for Basic, Strategic and Socialist Industries, Orlando Ortegano. After the conversation, Ambassador Ri Sung Gil met with the president of the BCV, Ramón Lobo, with whom he talked about the importance of both nations exchanging their experiences in defense of the construction of socialism. This initiative was carried out in order to highlight the North Korean experience in its process of self-determination and political, economic and social sovereignty, in the face of the military and interventionist threat of hegemonic countries such as the United States…For his part, the North Korean ambassador, Ri Sung Gil, explained that the US government has expansionist interests to appropriate the wealth of strategic countries such as Venezuela and North Korea, which chose socialism as an economic and social model. “Socialism always has its enemies, because it does not defend the interests of the rich and the influential, who are the minority in the world. Imperialism wants to keep at bay the economic and military growth of the progressive countries….Sung Gil recalled that, like Venezuela, his country has been subject to sanctions and economic blocking measures. Nevertheless, despite the strategy to isolate them, they set out to industrialize the nation and in fourteen years they were able to achieve it…The discussion was carried out as an initiative of Mttrbcv to learn more about the North Korean experience. It also aims to unify efforts between Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in the search for strategic alliances that promote the Venezuelan economy, as well as the construction of a socio-productive model based on sovereignty, self-determination, solidarity and cooperation between the villages. Finally, the high representative of the North Korean Government undertook to organize an exhibition with images and videos for the workers of the BCV and in this way to present essential and characteristic aspects of the culture, art and daily life of a society that has been so demonized by the Western media.

This shows that the two countries are coming closer together while the Juche Koreans use statements at the NAM summit in September 2016, in Venezuela, to note that “the heads of states and governments reaffirmed their commitment to defend the interests of developing countries in the issues directly related to world peace and security such as the situation in the Middle East including the question of Palestine by promoting multilateralism especially by strengthening key role of the United Nations.”

Courtesy of this website, the above photo shows Ri Sung Gil (2nd from the left) and three other Venezuelans at a panel discussion in January 2018 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

The two countries are seen as peas in a pod together, more “rogue states” by U$ imperialism. This was evident by the fact that the Heritage Foundation, in their “Index of Economic Freedom” for 2017, released in early this year, 2018, those in the lowest ranks were “Eritrea, the Republic of Congo, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea,” showing the disdain of the bourgeoisie for these countries. [25] This connects to the fact that U$ imperial policy toward Venezuela is premised on varied misconceptions, one of which is that “Venezuela is a totalitarian dictatorship.” One bourgeois analyst, who hated Maduro, snarled that “while Maduro has certainly done many things to undermine democracy, Venezuela is no North Korea,” which is undeniably accurate. In January, Ri Sung Gil visited the Barquisimeto, the capital of music in Venezuela, a city which is 357 kilometers (about 222 miles) from Caracas, and showed his “extensive knowledge of our culture, especially in the Spanish language.” On this goodwill visit (Spanish language), hosted in a “downtown hotel facing the permanent book fair,” he aimed to embrace “popular movements in the region…pay tribute to the leader, Kim Jong-il” and spoke (translation) to the participants there, adding the following:

…invasions and criminal shelling of [U$] imperialism…are intended to continue…We are prepared to defend until the last inhabitant of the country. We are a sovereign country of East Asia, whose portion of land bounded on the North by China and Russia, to the West with the sea of the Japan, or Yellow Sea, to the East by the Gulf of Korea and on the South by South Korea. [Juche] Korea…[with its] capital, Pyongyang, [a] promising city, where the developments cover the entire nation…has currently advance[d]…based on the architectural contents of the creators of the new nation…our country has important achievements of high levels in: education, primary, secondary, University, technology tip, safety, health, management of waters in all respects accurate to our needs, employment suitable to their fellow citizens, stimuli in the fields of mass screening, especially for nuclear power, where [we are working on]…vital fronts for the collective…[helping] workers and young people…Workers, artisans, farmers, artists, children, women are of special primary interest…we enter into the 21st century with the conviction to uphold the nation, respecting all people who do the same exercise. We now belong to the Atomic club, we can talk about you to you, with its due respect. We are in favour of peace in its maximum expression. Solidarity with peoples in development, we have policies to our principles and purposes, such as the Juche idea, the Juche idea, it is not Marxism-Leninism adapted to Korean reality, but a new ideology, higher to Marxism itself. It is the scientific socialism raised to the exponent.

At the end of his remarks, he gave a “revolutionary and solidarity greeting…to Venezuela” and “Latin American singer-songwriter, Toño Rivero” played a sound which had premiered in the 1980s in Pyongyang. Again, the connection between the two countries was strong without question. This also shows that Juche is descended from Marxism-Leninism and is its own ideology.

In February, some noted that in his State of the Union address, the orange menace had “reinvented its own axis of evil, as a drag brought on by the worst Bushian policy,” putting “Russia, China, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Cuba” as part of this “evil” club. This showed, as one remarked, that “there is only one point in the empire that we can endanger: “its values”, with the powerful weapon of our own, a crucible of all the values of humanism, hope and example spread throughout a continent and beyond, and a purpose of justice and justice. freedom for all.” [26] The same month, Diosdado Cabello, first Vice President of PSUV showed that he met with Ri Sung Gil of Juche Korea, saying on twitter that “today together with his Excellency Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ri Sung Gil, deepening relations of friendship,” he wrote in his Twitter account.” This was corroborated by the foreign ministry of Juche Korea, which said that Kim Jong Il was “awarded a diploma” by the PSUV, which “was conveyed on Feb. 14 to the DPRK ambassador to Venezuela by Felix Jesus Velasquez Castillo, general coordinator of the Federal Political Secretariat of the Party.” The following month, the WPK’s central committee sent a “congratulatory message” to the PSIV’s national leadership “upon the 10th anniversary of its foundation,” saying that they “extended warm congratulations and greetings to the Venezuelan Party leadership and all its members and voiced full support and solidarity to the Party in its effort to defend the country’s sovereignty and socio-political stability under the banner of the Bolivarian Revolution.” They added, in their message that “the ties between the two parties would be strengthened further in the joint struggle for independence, anti-imperialism, and socialism, it wished the Venezuelan Party greater success in its activities.”

In the years to come the Bolivarian Revolution has faced many challenges. There has been increased criticism of TeleSUR English, an offshoot of the 24 hour news channel, TeleSUR, established on June 24, 2005, the 222nd birthday of Simon Bolivar, by Hugo Chavez in service of the “Bolivarian project” which was a collaborative effort of varied governments (Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela, and Uruguay, with Bolivia and Ecuador joining later, and Argentina leaving in 2016). The anti-revolutionary trash heap called Jacobin, which claims to be socialist but is actually a bunch of bourgeois posers who kiss up to horrid social democratic imperialists like Bernie Sanders, started this in May 2017, declaring that that TeleSur was right to point out that “large television and media conglomerates [in the region] nearly all had ties to the Right,” but grumbled that socialism was not being “well served” by the channel. [27] To bolster their argument, the writer, Patrick Iber, cited a number of anti-Venezuela bourgeois scholars: Robert Samet (a person who has focused on the U$-backed opposition and grumbles about “restricted” press freedom in Venezuela), Hugo Pérez Hernáiz (who grumbled about “conspiracy theories” of those support the Bolivarian Revolution), and Alejandro Velasco (an annoying progressive who dislikes the country). With this, its no surprise he claims that the channel doesn’t have “editorial independence from the state.” His scholarship is questionable. Even with this, he is cited supportively by Jon Jeter in Mint Press News who tells about the story of “Rita Anaya…a 25-year-old graduate student living in southern California,” his story, the experience of a “young black woman who once worked as an editor at teleSUR…young woman who worked as the social media editor…young man of Mexican ancestry…[and] black woman from Washington, D.C., who had worked for teleSUR.” This adds up to only six people, from an organization which has a staff of up to 200 employees. In this same article, Jeter declares that “TeleSUR English is located in Quito’s toniest neighborhood and resembles an insurance office. [and that] its reporters seldom venture outside, conduct phone interviews, or even discuss news stories at length…They are, for the most part, not reporters at all, but aggregators, rewriting news stories published elsewhere.” He then calls it an “abysmal failure, and represents nothing less than a betrayal of the Bolivarian revolution” and says, almost hilariously, at the end that, “fearing that I would do time in an Ecuadorian jail if I saw Cyril or Pablo, I quit an hour later, and walked off the job.” To support his claims that the news channel is, as he puts it, “by any critical measure — the size of its audience, the impact of its journalism, or its strengthening of democracy — an abysmal failure, and represents nothing less than a betrayal of the Bolivarian revolution” he cites the horrid Jacobin article I noted earlier, a Reuters article in January of this year declaring that “mobs gathered outside some Caracas supermarkets on Saturday after the government ordered shops to slash prices, creating chaos as desperate Venezuelans leapt at the chance to buy cheaper food as the country’s worsening economy causes severe shortages,” which is questionable if it is true at all, and an article by a man named Ariel Sheen. Again, this is basically an attack piece with little basis. Sure, some comments on Glassdoor about the organization are negative with some saying that “HR is rude and unhelpful…[has a] Hard Left Ideology which makes very difficult to make real news…Upper management very controlling…Leftist slant on everything skews the truth sometimes…There is little room for growth, unless you start from the bottom…Poor quality control in all areas…Organisation doesn’t have good long-term vision,” there are also positives as stated on there:

Good Salary and benefits…Important message, great experience, fun team, based in Quito, great pay…Salary goes very far in Ecuador…Meet people from all over the West…Great stepping stone…Opportunity to write numerous kinds of news articles such as briefs, opinion and analysis pieces. I have also interviewed a number of people…The salaries offered by teleSUR English are usually sufficient to live a very good life. Colleagues are from around the world and very talented. Great place to learn, get experience…Good wages in a cheap country…Maybe your best opportunity to break into journalism…Management is pleasant and helpful…Colleagues are diverse, young and interesting

Ariel Sheen, in his article on TeleSur English (began in 2014), starts out by saying that they are “unique in today’s media environment…TeleSur English is avowedly socialist in its political orientation…the non-current event content shared on their social media pages includes quotes and photos from socialists…and a variety of other socialist related content.” [28] Sheen, unlike the other two claims he favors them and is just trying to air “helpful” criticism. He claimed that looking at their digital performance “something more nefarious emerged” and is surprised that when he sent his negative findings there he didn’t hear from them again, not realizing that they may have rejected what he said because it seemed he was attacking the organization from the outside. He then declares that what he “uncovered at TeleSur English what looks to be corruption and gross incompetence, if not sabotage,” saiding that the “bad stats were intentionally produced as the person directing operations was either incompetent or is trying to purposely sabotage TeleSUR English’s operations,” adding that the social media footprint of TeleSur English has “the shape of such mismanagement.” To support these high and minty claims, he claimed that “many of the people which are “Following” these accounts” on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are not real, but admitted he was only estimating how many were “fake,” with Twitter Audit saying the 80% of the followers on twitter were real. This is where his analysis gets a bit shaky, as he seems to not recognize some people may interact with this social media more than others, and declares that the channel is “paying for fake followers” which is an assertion he cannot support, and complains that they didn’t tell him that “the unpublishing of the TeleSUR English Facebook page was an accident on their part,”only hearing of it from internal sources, like his opinion matters more than others!

Clearly, Mr. Sheen is an egotist without question. While he makes good suggestions on interacting with readers and perhaps may have some points about bad social engagement by TeleSUR English, or even that there should be writers’ guidelines, perhaps he should work with them to help them solve these problems rather than grumbling about it! If they need this help, they provide it them rather than complaining it isn’t being done! Worst of all, he cites anti-socialist Frederich Hayek to “take down” the channel, claiming that TeleSUR English (and TeleSUR) is that “the tendency for innovation to be lost in production,” going on to engage in “total conjecture” (in his own words) and received information from an unnamed source on the “insulting, overbearing demeanor” of the head of the organization. He then declares that the organization “replicates an elitest strand of authoritarian socialism” and says that “TeleSur English’s loss of integrity reflects badly on all socialists, thus it needs to be critiqued so that it can be corrected,” ending by saying that “here are a number of immediate steps that TeleSUR could take to ameliorate their misdirection and work towards creating a genuine voice for the construction of a new communications order focused on social, political and economic justice.” This is so laughable because the news channel is still around, churning out new articles every day, so clearly he doesn’t follow or read the publication as I do on a daily basis, and realize the role it plays in serving as an effective counter to horrid bourgeois media. Such pieces do not help move the Bolivarian Revolution forward but actually provide ammunition to capitalist propagandists. Still, TeleSur English deserves to be criticized as it is a bastion for Chinese revisionism in Latin America and is generally not critical of left-leaning governments in Latin America!

Above, activist and Central University of Venezuela Criminology Professor Andres Antillano speaks to Venezuela Analysis and is critical of the security policies of the Venezuelan state and police actions, which he calls “repression,” but still has some positive remarks about the Bolivarian Revolution as a whole.

Relatively recently, the U$ imposed sanctions on the “fledgling Petro” of Venezuela, a so-called cyrptocurrency which is more of a commodity than anything else, which may not help move the country forward, instead helping certain bourgeoisie allied with the government. Still, there is no doubt that the murderous empire continues to wage economic war on the Venezuelan people, which Amnesty International basically ignored by saying they have “no position,” while the country serves a major role in the Caribbean region, with continuing propaganda about migration from Venezuela, including from Gallup itself, which declared that “…,ore than four in 10 residents (41%) in 2017 said they would like to move to another country permanently if they could…a small majority of Venezuelans say they would like to remain in their country.” Upcoming in May will be the country-wide elections, for which digital cards can be used which is problematic, while the country struggles with remnants of its colonial past, like bullfighting, to give an example. There was, relatively recently, a meeting of “more than 800 social leaders, journalists, politicians and activists participating from 95 countries,” in “international solidarity…in Caracas,” including people such as Bolivan President Evo Morales,” and releasing the following declaration:

We, citizens from distinct countries, social movements and organisations, political parties, women, youths, workers, creators and intellectuals, peasants, and religious leaders, gathered here in Caracas on the 5, 6 and 7th March 2018, reaffirm our solidarity and militant support of the Venezuelan people, the Bolivarian Revolution and its popular government, which is headed by Nicolas Maduro Moros. We energetically reject the grave escalation of aggressions against Venezuela’s democracy and sovereignty by the war-like government of Donald Trump, global corporate powers, and the American imperialist military-industrial apparatus, which looks to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela, destroy the project of Bolivarian democracy and expropriate the natural resources of the Venezuelan nation. We denounce that this operation against Venezuela forms part of a global strategy of neo-colonialization in Latin America and the Caribbean which seeks to impose a new era of servitude and looting through the resurrection of the shameful Monroe Doctrine, a plan which has already begun in numerous countries across the continent. We reject the threat of Donald Trump of a potential military intervention in Venezuela and we alert that such declarations by him are not mere charlatanism. The military option against the Bolivarian Revolution forms part of the strategic and geopolitical doctrine of the US for the 21st Century. The world must know that a military aggression against Venezuela would provoke a crisis in the region of historic dimensions and uncountable and unpredictable human, economic, and ecological impact. We warn imperialism and their elites lackeys that play this game: the peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world will never allow that Venezuela be touched by the ambitions of the American military boot! If, in their crazy obsession, the hawks of Washington dare attack Venezuela, the homeland of Simon Bolívar, as it was more than 200 years ago, will again be the tomb of an empire. We denounce the blatant pressure of US imperialism on the region’s governments to involve them in political, diplomatic, and even military operations against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. With these actions, they seek to destroy regional integration and bring about the de-facto abolition of the principle of the founding charter of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States which declares the region as a zone of peace. We reject the shameful and historical opposed attitude of governments in the region that have caved in to Washington’s politics through the creation of illegal and spurious organisms such as the so-called Group of Lima. The shameful regional elites who today lead the plundering of their peoples, hand over their sovereignty to the transnational corporations, and increase poverty, inequality and violate human rights, lack any moral and political authority to question Venezuelan democracy. We reject the unilateral and illegal sanctions of the US Government and the European Union against the Venezuelan people, which seek to destroy its economy and break their democratic will. Blockades and sanctions are crimes against humanity carried out by the international capitalist system, and are severely hurting the Venezuelan people by sabotaging their productive, commercial and financial processes, preventing access to food, medicines and essential goods. We reject the perverse U.S. sabotage of the process of dialogue developed in the Dominican Republic and reiterate that only the absolute respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela, non-interference in their internal affairs, sincere dialogue and electoral processes based on Venezuelan legislation can define the path to recover the political coexistence between Venezuelans. In this regards, we welcome the call for presidential, regional legislators and councilorelections for May 20, a result of a political agreement with a sector of the Venezuelan opposition. In these absolutely constitutional and legitimate elections, the Venezuelan people in a transparent and sovereign way will decide the course of their homeland.We alert the peoples of the world to the counterproductive intentions of international governments and organizations that are directly involved in the war against Venezuela to not recognize the results of the elections on May 20, and accelerate attacks after what – no doubt – will be a real democratic expression of the Venezuelan people. We welcome and support the declaration of the presidential summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America ALBA-TCP that categorically rejects the exclusion of Venezuela from the next Summit of the Americas, to be held in the city of Lima, Peru. Similarly, we support all diplomatic and political actions that governments, countries and peoples take to defend plurality and political diversity in the continent and to safeguard the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples. We recognize the heroic resistance of the people of Venezuela when confronted by the ravages of economic aggression, the financial blockade and all the forms of sabotage that Venezuela is suffering from, and support the economic, financial, political and diplomatic strategy that the Bolivarian Government and President Nicolas Maduro are carrying out to overcome the problems and construct the humanist model of Bolivarian socialism. We are committed to continue the battle for the truth, peace and the sovereignty of Venezuela, to expand the ties of friendship, solidarity and revolutionary commitment to the Venezuelan people. The peoples of the world, the consciousness of all those who struggle for the just cause of mankind, accompanies at this time and always the Bolivarian revolution, its leadership and its people. We are convinced that Venezuela will be able to – through dialogue, respect for the Constitution, and the indefatigable democratic will of his people – overcome the problems that besets it, and that the Bolivarian revolution will remain a beacon of hope for the peoples of the world who search for a worthy and just destination for humanity. In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the physical passing of Commander Hugo Chávez, historical leader of the Venezuelan people, from Caracas we say to the world: Venezuela is not alone, we are all with her!

At the same time, leftist organizations in Venezuela have sided with Nicolas Maduro, saying they will support him in the upcoming elections (which the U$ wants to sabotage), including the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), “a radical grassroots current within the PSUV,” the PCV, which reached a “groundbreaking accord” with the PSUV, to confront the crisis of Venezuelan capitalism in the days ahead, and the Leftist Homeland for All party (PPT) doing the same, with other elements in Venezuela taking steps forward to socialism.

While this is happening, Maduro has called for UN election observers, with Venezuela denouncing opposition plans for violence after the elections, which has five candidates running currently, with the main opposition group kicking out Henri Falcon after he decided to run in the elections they are boycotting. Additionally, Raul Castro of Cuba has said that a defense of Venezuela should be a major goal for ALBA in the days ahead. With human rights imperialists supporting economic aggression, pushed by the imperialists for their own aims, there is also, as Venezuela Analysis put it, a continued backing “of millions of grassroots Chavistas like Javier,” but has also clear that “important swathes of Venezuela’s popular classes have lost faith in the president and his party since mobilizing en masse to reelect Chávez with over eight million votes in 2012” with fallout of reformist policies “measured at the ballot box” and there is an “absence of any autonomous, mass-based political force to the left of the PSUV that could conceivably channel the deep discontent in a revolutionary direction, or which minimally has the power to hold the government to account.” Still, as noted in the same article, “there is little doubt that Maduro will handily win his reelection gambit” as the “opposition remains deeply divided following its devastating back-to-back defeats in regional and local elections” with the “consensus of the Bolivarian left” being that “the primary contradiction is with Western imperialism and the right-wing opposition, which must be opposed at all costs” meaning that those in the “international left have a duty to stand in unconditional solidarity with the Bolivarian government and its people against imperialism” but should also “offer our thoughtful critiques aimed at backing grassroots struggles to rejuvenate and radicalize the revolution.” This is important especially since the U$ State Department bellows that “deepening the rupture of Venezuela’s constitutional and democratic order will not solve the nation’s crises…A free and fair election should include the full participation of all political parties and political leaders,” even as they respect the opposition leaving the election, showing that this again is absurd and empty rhetoric, in keeping with accepted propaganda.

The country, as it stands now, is beset by an opposition boycott, ban from the Summit of the Americas, threats of a military coup by U$ imperialists, and the OAS interfering as they favor U$ imperialism. The Cubans are strongly and undeniably in solidarity, as is Bolivian President Evo Morales, the Communist Party of Chile, with continuing border disputes with Colombia, as Venezuela defends itself and its sovereignty from obvious subversion from the capitalist poles of power in the world. Maduro is the candidate for the PSUV and there has been a proposed peace deal between the opposition and government, which has partially faltered. Maduro was right to send a message of unity and peace to Venezuelans, as he did in February, and the 15th ALBA-TCP (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Trade Treaty of the Peoples) summit, started by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, this month, was right to call for the

strict observance of the Objectives and Principles of the UN Charter and International Law…reiterate the decision to continue constructing a new just and inclusive, multi-centric and plural-polar international order…denounce attempts to revive the Monroe Doctrine…highlight the lack of moral authority of [United]…States to offer lessons regarding democracy and human rights to the regional countries…reiterate our commitment with Latin American and Caribbean unity in the search for its own destiny, independence and sovereignty, without interference that affect our peoples and development…express our disagreement with the announcement of a group of countries in the continent…constituting an interference in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…demand respect to the legality to the organization of the Summit of the Americas…demand the right for Venezuela’s participation in the event and we propose to exercise diplomatic and political measures to guarantee our goal…urge the international community to abstain in any type of coercive exercises against the political independence and territorial integrity of Venezuela…reject unilateral coercive measures and sanctions imposed against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that affects the life and development of the noble people of Venezuela and the enjoyment of their rights…reaffirm our firm support to the Constitutional President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros and his Government and democratic process that he leads…recognize the inalienable rights of the Venezuelan people to hold and participate in Presidential and Legislative elections on the national, state and municipal levels in compliance with their norms and internal procedures…support the efforts of the Venezuelan authorities and people to find their own answers to their political and economic challenges…denounce the advances of the political and economic corruption in the region expressed by the growing inequality in the distribution of its resources, social exclusion of the most humble sectors, and the financial influence of a large capital in political campaigns…reaffirm the political commitment in the fight against corruption and compliance to the international commitment in the field…reiterate the international community’s demand for the unconditional lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, whose extraterritoriality affects all States…highlight the commitment of the Bolivian Government and people in peacefully searching for solutions through International Law…reiterate our support to our brothers in the Caribbean, victims of natural disasters and climate change and we will contribute in an active manner to overcome the damages provoked by recent hurricanes….call on all social and political organizations in the continent to participate in forums and activities of social movements and progressive forces that will be held in 2018…[and] defend the unity of the diversity in Our America.

This leads to my final comments. The U$ State Department, in their Investment Climate report for Venezuela, shows that Nicaragua and Cuba are top investment partners but also that the country is a social democracy, not a socialist state. Describing how the country is a “difficult climate for foreign investors” they note that the “petroleum industry provides roughly 94 percent of export earnings, 40 percent of government revenues, and 11 percent of GDP,” saying that Maduro aimed to increase “state control over the economy” in response to the economic crisis. They add that with this, the Venezuelan government “retains state control of the hydrocarbons sector” but adding that even with “Venezuela’s expropriations in the petroleum sector…since 2009, several international companies have agreed to create joint venture companies with PDVSA to extract crude oil.” They further complain that “Venezuela has a history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors” but talk with glee about the “three existing free trade zones” in the country, while noting that “Venezuela’s financial services sector…[and] Venezuelan credit markets are heavily regulated,” with “strict currency controls” since 2003. With that, they add that “State Owned Enterprises…are dominant in diverse sectors of the Venezuelan economy, including agribusiness, food, hydrocarbons, media, mining, telecommunications, and tourism,” with private firms at a “disadvantage.”

On a related topic, there has been critical assessment of ideas like Latin American dependency theory, and other comments. This brings me to a set of comments on Reddit’s forum, /r/communism. In the first, by yours truly, it is noted that the Venezuelan communists have “concurred with supporting Maduro as part of a unity effort even as they retain their criticisms…which is valid without question.” I also wrote at the time their criticism that “the crisis of the exhausted capitalist dependent and rentier accumulation model of Venezuela” has become worse, leading to a “growing impoverishment in the living and working conditions of the popular and working masses of the city and the countryside,” noting that “progressive-reformist projects that have taken place in Venezuela and other Latin American countries since the beginning of this century” are not directed by “genuinely revolutionary organizations, [meaning that they] lack the necessary class content to go beyond social assistance measures.” It was also noted that they criticized the Petro’s development in Venezuela. In the second, I reprinted a statement from the PCV noting that they support Maduro but with reservations and criticisms, as it justified.

On this note, I conclude this section and believe that in the days and years to come, the relationship between Juche Korea and Venezuela will remain strong, creating an inter-dependent relationship opposing imperialist aggression and pushing for socialist ideals.


Notes

[1] María Gabriela Díaz, “North Korean Embassy in Venezuela Signals Two Peas in a Pod,” PanAM Post, Jun 26, 2014; East-West Center and the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK), “North Korea in the World: North Korea’s External Relations,” accessed Mar 18, 2018.

[2] República Popular Democrática de Corea is “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” in Spanish, and “Corea Del Norte” is “North Korea” in Spanish.

[3] María Gabriela Díaz, “North Korean Embassy in Venezuela Signals Two Peas in a Pod,” PanAM Post, Jun 26, 2014.

[4] One article in BBC on Sept 25, 2006 titled “Chavez boosts Chomsky book sales” noted that “a speech by Mr Chavez cited Chomsky’s 2003 critique of US policy…Chomsky’s book spent the weekend at the top of Amazon.com’s bestseller list. The 77-year-old linguistics professor told the New York Times newspaper last week that he would be “happy to meet” Mr Chavez. He said he is “quite interested” in Mr Chavez’s policies and regards many of his views as “quite constructive”.” Chavez eventually met Chomsky in August 2009, with Chavez saying that “Hegemony or survival; we opt for survival” and calling Chomsky “one of the greatest defenders of peace, one of the greatest pioneers of a better world” with Chomsky responding that “I write about peace and criticize the barriers to peace; that’s easy. What’s harder is to create a better world…and what’s so exciting about at last visiting Venezuela is that I can see how a better world is being created…In the United States the socio-economic system is designed so that the control over the media is in the hands of a minority who own large corporations… and the result is that the financial interests of those groups are always behind the so-called freedom of expression,” and saying in a later interview that “the transformations that Venezuela is making toward the creation of another socio-economic model could have a global impact if these projects are successfully carried out.” The book is titled Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. However, in the Spanish version of Chavez’s speech the title of the book read as Hegemonía o Supervivencia. La estrategia imperialista de Estados Unidos in Spanish, or Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States in English. This means that the title in Spanish may have been slightly different, as the translation of the English title into Spanish gives you the words “Hegemonía o supervivencia: la búsqueda de América para la dominación global.” Still, the content is the same. Chomsky’s book was reviewed by the PSL in 2006, but disliked by certain liberals like Nick Cohen in The Guardian who declared that “Noam Chomsky is the master of looking-glass politics. His writing exemplifies the ability of the Western Left to criticise everything from the West – except itself….his audience is primarily a comfortable Western audience…Chomsky’s account of the brainwashing of the dumb masses provides an excuse for failure,” Samantha Power in the New York Times grumbling that “Noam Chomsky is a global phenomenon…the appetite for Chomsky’s polemics is only increasing…”Hegemony or Survival” is a raging and often meandering assault on United States foreign policy and the elites who shape it…”Survival or Hegemony” is not easy to read. Chomsky’s glib and caustic tone is distracting….This is a thinker far too accustomed to preaching to an uncritical choir…reading Chomsky today is sobering and instructive for two reasons…Chomsky also denounces the dependence of foreign policy elites on special interests…Chomsky is wrong to think that individuals within the American government are not thinking seriously about the costs of alliances with repressive regimes.” It was also followed up by an interview on the topic in Democracy Now back in 2003. It is also on the Internet Archive currently.

[5] Jeffrey Kofman, “Tension, Then Surprise, Chavez Loses Reform Vote,” ABC News, Dec 3, 2007; Jens Erik Gould, “Why Venezuelans Turned on Chavez,” Time, Dec. 3, 2007; “Understanding constitutional reform in Venezuela (a background),” Sandhaanu.com, Nov 13, 2007; “Q&A: Venezuela’s referendum,” BBC News, Nov 30, 2007; “Venezuela lawmakers back reforms,” BBC News, Aug 22, 2007; “Venezuela assembly passes reforms,” BBC News, Nov 2, 2007; “US hails Chavez referendum defeat,” BBC News, Dec 3, 2007; “The wind goes out of the revolution,” The Economist, Dec 6, 2007; Antonio Fabrizio, “Gay rights were part of rejected Venezuelan referendum,” PinkNews, Dec 4, 2007; “Chavez urges reform for Venezuela,” BBC News, Dec 1, 2007.

[6] Frank Jack Daniel, “Venezuela’s Chavez reshuffles cabinet after defeat,” Reuters, Jan 3, 2008.

[7] “Chavez wins chance of fresh term,” BBC News, Feb 16, 2009; Mark Weisbrot, “Venezuela, an imaginary threat,” The Guardian, Feb 18, 2009 (quotes from Univision interview); Reuters Staff, “Chavez to Obama: I’d vote for you, and you for me,” Reuters, Sept 30, 2012; Howard LaFranchi, “Is Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez sincere in endorsing Obama?,” Christian Science Monitor, Oct 2, 2012; “Chavez: Obama meddles in Venezuela term-limit vote,” Sioux City Journal (reprinted from AP), Jan 18, 2009; Tom Phillips, “Hugo Chávez says Obama is ‘a clown and an embarrassment’,” The Guardian, Dec 20, 2011; “Veneconomy: Venezuela Chavez’ Doubly Illegal and Unconstitutional Amendment,” Latin American Herald Tribune, 2009; “U.S. Embassy Head Denies Plotting With Opposition in Venezuela,” Latin American Herald Tribune, 2009; “US welcomes Venezuela’s term vote,” BBC News, Feb 17, 2009; “Venezuela ousts EU politician for insulting Chavez,” CNN, Feb 14, 2009.

[8] Yolanda Valery, “El marxismo según Chávez,” BBC Mundo, 23 enero 2010 (translated into English paragraph by paragraph by Google Translate); “Chávez afirma que es “marxista” pero reconoce que todavía no ha leído “El Capital”,” Noticias 24, 15 enero 2010 (translated into English by http://www.online-translator.com/), “Chavez se declara marxista,” ABC, May 5, 2010 (translated into English by http://www.online-translator.com/), “Chávez se declara marxista en un mensaje ante el Congreso,” Clarin Noticas, Jan 16, 2010 (translated into English by http://www.online-translator.com/).

[9] The translated text is here, and the original Spanish language is here.

[10] The Spanish language transcription in the Popular Tribune is here, and the translated version of the text is here.

[11] The translated text is here and the Spanish language original is here. For the next sentence see: María Gabriela Díaz, “North Korean Embassy in Venezuela Signals Two Peas in a Pod,” PanAM Post, Jun 26, 2014. For the next sentence, after that, the translated text is here and the Spanish language original is here.

[12] JC Finley, “North Korea to open embassy in Venezuela,” UPI, Jun 25, 2014; María Gabriela Díaz, “North Korean Embassy in Venezuela Signals Two Peas in a Pod,” PanAM Post, Jun 26, 2014.

[13] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[14] For the sentence the footnote is on, the Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here. For the next sentence, the translated version is here, and the Spanish language version is here.

[15] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[16] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[17] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[18] The Spanish language versions of these articles are here and here, and the translated versions are here and here.

[19] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[20] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[21] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[22] The Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[23] Oliver Stuekel, “Why Venezuela will not look like Cuba (or North Korea),” Post-Western World, Aug 11, 2017. In the next sentence, the Spanish language version of this article is here, and the translated version is here.

[24] Donna Borak, “Tax reform, North Korea top U.S. agenda at IMF/World Bank meetings,” CNN, Oct 12, 2017; Sabrina Martin, “Venezuela Looks to Save Its Economy By Mimicking Communist Ally North Korea,” PanAm Post, Nov 30, 2017. This paragraph also uses articles from Spanish language sources (here, here, here, and here) which have been translated (here, here, here, and here).

[25] Michael W. Chapman, “Ranked Worst for Economic Freedom: North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Congo, Eritrea, Zimbabwe,” CNSNews.com, Jan 12, 2018. In this paragraph, articles from a Spanish language source, which has been translated, is used.

[26] “Diosdado Cabello met with Ambassador of Korea of the North in Caracas,” El Nacional (translated), Feb 1, 2018; KCNA, “Blessings sent to Venezuelan Party,” Pyongyang Times, Mar 10, 2018; “North Korea supports Venezuela in its anti-imperialist struggle,” khabarkhat News Aggregator Agency, Mar 11 2018. In this paragraph, articles from a Spanish language source, which has been translated, is used.

[27] Patrick Iber, “The South Is Our North,” Jacobin, May 2017.

[28] Ariel Sheen, “TeleSUR English: Surface Level Website Analysis,” Feb 13, 2018.

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 of the U$ system: it is a plutocratic 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 definitions 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 that comes out 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 treasures 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 Juche” 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 the 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 say that 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.

“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 on 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 revisionist 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 not U$ backed like the one in 1963. 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.

The immigrant proletariat, the Muslim ban, and the capitalist class

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written on February 1, 2017 so it is outdated in some respects, but broadly still valid. This is reposted from Dissident Voice, with the name of the current president changed to the orange menace.

The orange menace’s administration has dug in its heels, declaring that the 90-day (for now) Muslim ban on refugees, from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia), enshrined in a January 27th executive order, is just “extreme vetting” and that the media is engaging in “false reporting.” In contrast, hundreds of diplomats have criticized the travel ban, top Democrats have criticized the ban while Republicans like Paul Ryan have said it necessary to protect the “homeland.” Also Jewish groups, over six thousand academics, varying UN agencies, and pro-refugee groups have criticized orange menace’s action, along with protests in airports across the country, while immigrants have suffered with more crackdowns to come.

Numerous companies and CEOs have put out critical statements about orange menace’s order. This included the top executives of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Airbnb, Box, GE, Lyft, Uber (later on), Koch Industries, TripAdvisor, SpaceX/Tesla Motors, JPMorganCase, and Goldman Sachs, most of whom pledged to help their own employees directly affected. [1] Others that spoke out on the ban included the head of the Internet Association, an industry trade group for the Internet industry, with some investors, like Chris Sacca, sending thousands of dollars to the ACLU, just like Lyft, Tim Cook of Apple declaring that “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do” and Twitter mirroring this by saying “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.” [2] Some exploited the misery of the order by trying to help their bottom line: Airbnb said that it would “provide free housing to detainees and travelers” affected and Starbucks is planning to hire 10,000 refugees “over five years in the 75 countries where it does business,” starting with those people who “have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.” [3] What seems clear is that the actions of the orange menacemay have crossed a “red line” as Hunter Walk, a partner at the San Francisco-based venture capital firm Homebrew VC, told the Washington Post, indicating possible anti-orange menace action by Silicon Valley in the future, as more companies realize it is a “bigger risk to their investors and bottom line to stay quiet than it is to protest the orange menace’s ban on refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, betting vocal opposition to the executive order scores them a moral and fiscal victory.” [4]

Such statements mean that the one group that remains constant in opposition to the racist executive order is a sect of the capitalist class. While the recent lawsuits filed in Darweesh v. Trump, Aziz v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, Sarsour v. Trump, San Francisco v. Trump, Louhghalam et al v. Trump, have mainly made constitutional arguments against the racist immigration ban, one suit revealed more about the interests of the capitalist class, especially those in the tech industry. This lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General of the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, and joined by Expedia and Amazon, among other companies, declared the following, showing how this industry depends on immigrants:

Immigration is an important economic driver in Washington. Many workers in Washington’s technology industry are immigrants, and many of those immigrant workers are from Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant and refugee-owned businesses employ 140,000 people in Washington. Many companies in Washington are dependent on foreign workers to operate and grow their businesses. The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program through which highly skilled workers like software engineers are permitted to work in the United States. Washington ranks ninth in the U.S. by number of applications for high-tech visas. Microsoft, a corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, is the State’s top employer of high-tech—or H-1B visa holders and employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington-based companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders. The market for highly skilled workers and leaders in the technology industry is extremely competitive. Changes to U.S. immigration policy that restrict the flow of people may inhibit these companies’ ability to adequately staff their research and development efforts and recruit talent from overseas. If recruiting efforts are less successful, these companies’ abilities to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas. There may be other employees with permanent-resident status or green cards. These employees may be banned from re-entering the U.S. if they travel overseas or to the company’s offices in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle-based company Amazon also employs workers from every corner of the world. Amazon’s employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon have been impacted by the Executive Order that is the subject of this Complaint. Amazon has advised such employees currently in the United States to refrain from travel outside the United States. Bellevue-based company Expedia operates a domestic and foreign travel business. At the time of this filing, Expedia has approximately 1,000 customers with existing flight reservations in or out of the United. States who hold passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen. The Executive Order will restrict business, increase business costs, and impact current employees and customers.

Such a section comprises six paragraphs of Washington State’s argument against the immigration order, a section that the lawsuit depends on to be successful. Immigrants are clearly vital to the tech industry. Of the 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area, who are mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, many of them work at “companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft.” [5] These immigrants are seen as “essential” to the growth of Silicon Valley, with 37 percent of workers in the area being foreign-born, with immigrants creating “some of America’s biggest tech companies,” like Yahoo, Apple, or Google, and allowing them to survive (and “boom”), since they rely on “talent from abroad to fill positions and to meet their global ambitions.” [6] After all, the “superstars of the high-tech industry are all immigrants” as one article points out.

Since immigrants account for a “significant part of the workforce in the tech industry,” the industry has advocated for looser laws to “increase the flow of skilled immigrants into the U.S.” and is heavily reliant on the H-1B visa program. The program, which started in 2000 with bipartisan support, “allows software engineers and other skilled workers to work in the U.S.,” resulting in their active role in the political arena to push for looser immigration restrictions. [7] Hence, Silicon Valley is afraid of the upcoming immigration restrictions during the orange menace’s administration. This is especially the case since the orange menace has reportedly drafted an executive order to overhaul the H-1B visa program, which companies depend on so they can “hire tens of thousands of employees each year,” the “talent” they need to thrive, with their support of the orange menace basically non-existent in the recent presidential campaign. [8]

By the mid-1990s, those who live in the Valley divided “along racial and economic lines” with older and wealthier whites “concentrated in the west Valley,” Latinos have fanned across the floor of the valley, with many of the immigrants poor, bringing with them “crowding and new welfare burdens,” a division that angers many Latinos. [9] In recent years, the immigrant community which undergirds Silicon Valley has been in trouble. [10] With immigrant youth comprising a major portion of “both the population and the workforce in the Silicon Valley,” the Valley had “deep disparities when it comes to the lives of undocumented immigrants,” with such youth facing barriers in accessing education, concentrated in low-wage jobs, and serving as a diverse and “core part of the Silicon Valley community.” Immigrants from the Asian continent, whether Chinese, Filipino, or otherwise, form, as of April 2015, the “largest racial block in Santa Clara County, exceeding the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents for the first time.”

Despite such dependence on immigrants, the tech industry does not treat these employees fairly or justly. One academic report in 2012 says that the stated reasons of the tech industry (lack of study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), rapid technological change, and needing to hire best and brightest workers for “innovations” to occur) cannot be confirmed upon close inspection, leaving cheap labor as “the remaining explanatory factor.” The report goes on to say that legal loopholes allow for foreign workers to be unpaid drastically compared to American-born workers, with many of the workers coming from India, revisionist China, and the Philippines, along with other Asian immigrants, comprising from 50-80% of the workforce of top technology companies, with the tech industry claiming a “labor shortage” and lack of talent, although this cannot be supported by existing data. Interestingly, even the conservative media scoffs at the claims of the tech industry, with arch-conservative National Review declaring that work permits “are basically de facto green cards and give the foreign national complete flexibility in the job market” and that the visa program will hurt the middle class (not sure if that’s true) while the similarly aligned FrontPage Magazine questioned the shortage of “high-skilled American labor,” saying that the visa program provides “a supply of lower-wage guest workers.” [11] Of course, they oppose the claims for anti-immigrant reasons and don’t really care about the well-being of immigrant workers in the United States.

Mistreatment of immigrants in Silicon Valley is nothing new. There is no doubt that high-skilled immigrant workers “are being exploited by employers,” with the H1-B visa program benefiting the corporate bottom line, especially providing protection against unions and labor strikes, but hurting the workers. The program itself gives employers great power over workers, allowing them to “hire and fire workers…grant legal immigration status…[or] deport the worker” if they don’t do what they like. In 2014 Wired magazine reported on a study showing that major tech companies (ex: Cisco, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Google) have pocketed wages and benefits from workers, especially among new Indian immigrants to the Valley, leading to an “ecosystem of fear” in the area among the workforce. The tech companies collectively withheld at least $29.7 million from such workers, forcing them to pay fees they shouldn’t have to pay, creating a form of indentured servitude, as some called it, where there exists an “underground system of financial bondage by stealing wages and benefits, even suing workers who quit,” making “business and profit by having cheap labor” as one worker put it. [12] This shows that the tech companies are, in their own way, engaging in a form of organized crime against the immigrant proletariat. Such crimes are only part of their business model which includes top Silicon Valley CEOs conspiring in wage-fixing to drive down the wages of 100,000 engineers, ultimately involving one million employees in all.

With the exploitation of the immigrant proletariat, mainly those that are “high-skilled,” by the tech industry, this explains the harsh opposition from Silicon Valley to the orange menace’s executive order. Without the visa program, the industry would likely collapse or at least be weakened. As for other industries, immigrants are employed in jobs across the US economy, even as they face similar constraints to the native-born poor along with restrictions related to their citizenship status, especially in cities like New York. As a result, it can be said that immigrants ultimately benefit the US economy, even those that are undocumented, and are not a drag on the “native-born” section of the working class, making the country a better place for all, as even free-marketeers and libertarians would admit. [13] This is important to point out with nativists getting a new lease on life under the orange menace’s administration.

As we stand now, the authoritarianism of the Obama administration has increased under the orange menace’s nightmarish state in regards to immigrants, Muslims killed by drone bombing, and violence supported by the murderous empire across the world, among much more. While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting the orange menace, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by. We must get involved in pushing for revolutionary politics by at minimum engaging in actions that show solidarity with the immigrant proletariat, whether documented or undocumented, in the United States. In the end, perhaps we should heed what Homer Simpson declared about immigrants all those years ago:

Most of here were born in America. We take this country for granted. Not immigrants like Apu [who immigrated from India and on a green card], while the rest of are drinking ourselves stupid, they’re driving the cabs that get us home safely. They’re writing the operas that entertain us everyday. They’re training out tigers and kicking our extra points. These people are the glue that holds together the gears of our society. [14]


Notes

[1] Nathan Bomey, “Elon Musk to seek CEO consensus on changes to Trump immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Fredreka Schouten, “Koch network slams Trump immigrant ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017. As Elon Musk (of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) tried to “seek a consensus” among fellow business CEOs who were affected with the order and trying to work with Trump, Uber changed course from crossing a picket line and profiting from the misery, to condemning Trump’s action as impacting “many innocent people” and the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, declaring “I’ve…never shied away…from fighting for what’s right,” even as they continue their horrid practices with exploitation of their workforce.

[2] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[3] Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017

[4] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017; John Ribeiro, “US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations,” CIO, Jan. 29, 2017; Anthony Cuthbertson, “How Silicon Valley Is Fighting Back Against Trump’s Immigration Ban,” Newsweek, Jan. 30, 2017; Eric Newcomer, “Silicon Valley Finds Its Voice as Immigration Ban Fuels Outrage,” Bloomberg Technology, Jan. 30, 2017; PCMag staff, “Here’s What Silicon Valley Is Saying About Trump’s Immigration Ban,” PC magazine, Jan. 29, 2017; Matt Richtel, “Tech Recruiting Clashes With Immigration Rules,” New York Times, Apr. 11, 2009. On the subject of US-Mexico migration some companies have tried to get on the game as well: an Israeli company said they will help build the “great wall” on the US-Mexico border.

[5] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017.

[6] John Blackstone, “Tech industry, fueled by immigrants, protesting Trump’s travel ban,” CBS News, Jan. 31, 2017; Kerry Flynn, “Immigrants have built America’s tech industry,” Mashable, Jan. 31, 2017; Carmel Lobello, “The tech industry’s case for immigration reform,” The Week, June 2, 2013; Sarah McBride, “One quarter of U.S. tech start-ups founded by an immigrant: study,” Reuters, Oct. 2, 2012. Even a Forbes contributor, David Shaywitz,” said that immigrants are an “inextricable part of the valley’s cultural fabric and a vital element of its innovative potential.”

[7] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017; Katie Benner, “Obama, Immigration and Silicon Valley,” BloombergView, Jan. 22, 2015; Gregory Ferenstein, “No Exceptions For Tech Industry: High Skilled Visas Now Tied To Comprehensive Reform,” TechCrunch, Dec. 1, 2012; Stephen Moore, “Immigration Reform Means More High-Tech Jobs,” CATO Institute, Sept. 24, 1998; Jessica Leber, “Silicon Valley Fights for Immigrant Talent,” MIT Technology Review, July 26, 2013; Amit Paka, “How Legal Immigration Failed Silicon Valley,” TechCrunch, Sept. 7, 2015.

[8] Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, “Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 30, 2017; Gretel Kauffman, “How Trump’s immigration stances could affect the tech industry,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 20, 2016; David Z. Morris, “Tech Industry Could be “First to Suffer” From Trump’s Immigration Stances,” Fortune, Nov 19, 2016; Salvador Rodriguez, “Why Tech Companies Need Immigrants to Function,” Inc, Jan. 30, 2017; Paresh Dave and Tracey Lien, “Trump’s shocking victory could squeeze Silicon Valley on immigration and trade,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 2016; David Jones, “Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul,” E-Commerce Times, Jan. 31, 2017; Marisa Kendall, “Trump poised to overhaul H-1B visas relied on by Silicon Valley tech,” Mercury News, Jan. 31, 2017; Hansi Lo Wang, “In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top,” NPR News, Apr. 19, 2014; Marie-Astrid Langer, “Silicon Valley Wants High-Skilled Immigration on Campaign Agenda,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2015.

[9] Andrew Murr, “Immigrants In The Valley,” Newsweek, Dec. 25, 1994.

[10] Some immigrants are doing well however. Even by 1998, one study found that “Chinese and Indian immigrants were running a quarter of the high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley, collectively accounting for more than $16.8 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs.”

[11] Ian Smith, “Obama Games the Visa System to Lower Wages and Please the Tech Industry,” National Review, September 30, 2015; Arnold Ahlert, “The Tech Industry’s Immigration Lies,” FrontPage Magazine, April 2, 2014.

[12] The report shows that most of those who are the “well educated, highly skilled and specialized foreign workers” accepted under the H1-B Visa program are from China, India, the Philippines, and South Korea, with thousands of other petitions accepted from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, France, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, Venezuela, Colombia, Italy, Russia, and Spain, among other countries.

[13] H.A. Goodman, “Illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. economy,” The Hill, Apr. 23, 2014; Rowena Lindsay, “How immigration helps the US economy: Report,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 24, 2016; Ted Hesson, “Why American Cities Are Fighting to Attract Immigrants,” The Atlantic, Jul. 21, 2015; Daniel Griswold, “Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World,” Insight (CATO Institute publication), Feb. 18, 2002; Rohit Arora, “Three Reasons Why Immigrants Help the U.S. Economy,” Inc, Feb. 24, 2015; Timothy Kaine, “The Economic Effect Of Immigration,” Hoover Institution, Feb. 17, 2015; Sean Hackbarth, “Immigrants are Good for the Economy,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 5, 2014; A. Barton Hinkle, “Immigration Is Good for the U.S. Economy,” Reason, Jul. 21, 2014; Minyoung Park, “The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US are here working: BAML,” Yahoo! News, Jul. 21, 2016.

[14] This speech is made by Homer near the end of the Simpsons episode, Much Apu About Nothing (Season 7, episode 23, May 1996) when Homer has the realization that the measure that would deport immigrants from Springfield, proposition 24, proposed by the loyal mayor, Joe Quimby, to distract from the “bear tax” to pay for the worthless “Bear Patrol” is wrong. Regardless, the measure passes anyway, with 95% approval, and Homer declares that democracy “doesn’t work” while all of the immigrants have gained citizenship (after passing the citizenship test), except for Groundskeeper Willie, who goes on a ship back to Scotland.

“It is homeland or death”: From British colonialism to the Zimbabwean liberation war

Picture of the Great Enclosure, part of the Great Zimbabwe ruins (courtesy of Wikimedia).
Picture of the Great Enclosure, part of the Great Zimbabwe ruins (courtesy of Wikimedia).

Every day the Western bourgeois media concocts another story about Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s faults. [1] The “human rights” organizations like Amnesty and “Human Rights” Watch join in on the charade, siding with the opposition in the country, which is predictably backed by the United States and the West. As a result, the revolutionary state of Zimbabwe is rocked by political turmoil because the neoliberal opposition leads to polarization, not due to the policies of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party. The masses of Zimbabwe are “one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death” as Reason Wafawarova, an Australian political writer for the government-owned newspaper, The Herald, writes at the bottom of many of his editorials. In order to recognize this perspective, this article will examine where Zimbabwe’s history from before European contact into the last days of the 1960s.

The history of Zimbabwe dates back to years before the first White imperialist would be  out of their womb. The earliest kingdom in the region may date back to 500 C.E.. with the area known as Great Zimbabwe settled in the 11th century, and more substantially by the thirteenth century, with many states around the region “built around stone forts.” [2] The term Zimbabwe can be used to designate, at a minimum, the Zambesi-Limpopo cultures. These cultures, with peoples who were state-builders and iron users, flourished in the region of present-day state of Zimbabwe, in the centuries before European arrival. [3] During the pre-European period, the area was part of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, an African civilization lasting from the eleventh century (roughly 1220) to the fifteenth century (roughly 1450) which was called “Monomotapa” by the Europeans, with building of large stone palaces, which were known as “Zimbabwe.” [4] This empire had access to mineral resources and coastal trade, mainly with traders from the Asian continent, especially China.

The famous stone ruins at Great Zimbabwe are worth describing. Near the capital of “Southern Rhodesia” in the 1960s, Salisbury (present-day Harare), there were “two outstanding buildings” which were named by Europeans the “Acropolis” and the “temple”/”elliptical building,” with the plain beneath the “Acropolis,” stands a “solid fortress, with strong battlements” which is made from local granite, constructed by Zimbabweans. The complex building is “300 feet long, 220 feet broad” with walls that “were 20 feet thick and 30 feet tall” along with stepped “recesses and covered passages, the gateways and the platforms” which were hewed out elaborately with “soapstone bird-gods” inside and outside the structure. [5] Walter Rodney added that there were “encircling brick walls” at this site, and in other parts of the African continent where Bantu-speaking people were inhabitants, which was “characteristically African” and that undoubtedly a large amount of labor was needed to construct buildings. [6] He added that such workers likely came from particular ethnic groups with possible subjugation and subsequent social class delineations, but that there wasn’t simply “sheer manual labor” because the structures themselves had a level of advanced “skill, creativity, and artistry” which went into construction of the walls, doors, inner recesses, and decorations of the buildings. There were also great brick constructions, which dated back to the 14th century, which were commonly referred to as “temples” which served religious purposes since the religious aspect of development in that society was greatly important, just as it was across the African continent. [7]

The various societies that constituted a developed (and advanced) Zimbabwean culture lasted a total of a thousand years. People constructed dams for irrigation, raised cattle, sowed grain, and traded across the Indian Ocean, with chiefs enjoying “fine pottery or china” while sitting at-top of warring cultures. [8] These cultures, with no system of writing, were “highly stratified,” with chiefs and priests, miners, and specialized craftsmen, the latter who created ornaments with exact skill and lightness of touch. [9] There was also mixed farming, with cattle valued as important work animals, and major terracing and irrigation which is comparable to that of ancient Rome, or civilizations in Asia, making Zimbabweans, what we now would call “hydrologists.” [10] In the society itself, there were several ethnic groups which mixed: Khosian type hunters or “Bushmen” who were long-time residents, and newcoming Bantu-speakers from the north, all of which had varying pottery styles and burials, with certain ethnic groups, likely, relegated to inferior status so that “labor for agriculture, building, and mining” as necessary for societal needs. [11]

While the kingdoms long fought off “barbarian invaders,” they couldn’t stand against the Portuguese. After the collapse of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, there was the Kingdom of Mutapa, which the Portuguese confronted in the 1500s. This empire, first ruled by Mwene Mutapa, from 1415 to 1450, who appointed governors to rule over numerous localities outside the capital, spreading from Zimbabwe to Mozambique’s hinterland, with the center of the Mutapa empire at Great Zimbabwe at first, and later moving northward. [12] While those living in the region at the time were predominantly Sotho-speakers, many of those in the ruling class were pastoralists who had religious rituals with objects symbolizing cattle, possibly meaning that cattle owners were honored in society, and paid homage to their ancestors. As Immanuel Wallerstein argues, the Portuguese went on the full offensive, sacking coastal cities, reducing Indian Ocean trade, which was a “severe blow to Zimbabwe peoples” as the Portuguese, with firearms, went into the interior, taking sides, and undermining “the whole structure” of the kingdom. [13] Still, they were too weak to establish a colonial administration, only having enough power to destroy and cause destruction.

This could have been helped by the fact that in Zimbabwe and Congo, social organization was low until the 15th century. This was even the case despite significant political structures in the area as tentacles of the transatlantic slave trade encroached on Africa. [14] In later years, as the Mutapa empire waned and dissipated in 1760, there was the Rozvi empire, lasting from 1684 to 1834. The lords of the both empires encouraged production for “export trade, notably in gold, ivory, and copper” with Arab merchants living in the kingdom. The Zimbabwean region, at the time, was still connected to the “network of Indian Ocean commerce.” A “single system of production and trade,” was organized by collecting tribute from other states. [15] In later years, the Mthwakazi, a Ndebele kingdom, existed until the late 19th century, when the British colonists come into the picture. Despite the fact that indigenous kingdoms in present-day Zimbabwe ultimately faltered, there is no doubt that such development showed that there were advanced societies on the continent before the Europeans arrived. The idea that there was some “dark continent” with people running around like “savages” as European imperialists imagined in their racist, colonialist minds is utterly false.

In 1889, the British South African Company came to Zimbabwe, later naming it “Rhodesia” after British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Not only did this name override the indigenous name of Zimbabwe, which came from the Shona language and meaning venerated or stone houses, but it showed that the age of imperialist exploitation was at hand. In 1895, African history was whitewashed when a prospector was sent by the South African company to exploit the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, making it harder to know what the gold smelters of Zimbabwe produced years earlier. [16] History was lost to greedy White settler capitalism. Luckily, while most of the “copper and gold objects were largely destroyed and melted down” by 1902, similar objects at the Mapungubwe have been found, objects which were “unravaged by Europeans with a civilizing mission.” As a result, historians can recognize the reality of African and Zimbabwean history, not the whitewashed one “handed down.” Even with this, there is no doubt that Cecil Rhodes, his imperial agents, and “settler pests,” came in to Zimbabwe to “rob and steal,” coming north from present-day Botswana to raise a flag at (Mount) Harare, later renamed Salisbury by the White settlers. [17] While these new invaders marveled at “surviving ruins of Zimbabwe culture,” they assumed, from their Eurocentric perspective, that it had been built by White people.

This exploitation went beyond the erasure of culture. In the economy of Southern Africa and Rhodesia under British colonialism, Africans were treated as cheap labor who were prohibited from growing cash crops so their labor could be exploited by White “owners.” [18] These “owners” included those such as Standard Bank, a financial organization which was founded on loot of Rhodes and De Beers, headquartered in London, which expanded from the Cape Colony to Mozambique, Rhodesia, and Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana) in 1895. [19] Still, this was not accepted without resistance. There were numerous bloody battles between the indigenous African population and invading settlers. [20] During this time, when power began to be exclusively held by Whites, native Africans engaged in rebellions against White settlers, but these rebellions were crushed. [21] This didn’t stop Robert Mugabe, a Zimbabwean revolutionary, who was pivotal in the anti-colonial struggle, to see those who rebelled as first African revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. He remembered how folklore about past struggle was told to them by their parents so they could explain “how White men came to the country, how he grabbed the land.” [22] Mugabe also added that

“In a society where you have a class whose main purpose and accepted privilege is to exploit others, naturally it rebuffs. If the majority of people are being oppressed, being exploited, you can’t avoid, if you have any moral principles at all, the call to do something about it.”

In the years that followed, the British South African Company continued to control the British colony of Rhodesia. In 1923 this changed. As a result of plans made by White British colonists, settler migrants came to the colony after WWI with the London government granting the settlers a “Letters Patent Constitution” which made it a “self-governing colony.” [23] This designation meant that settlers had the right to secede or not, but the British retained “control over defence and foreign policy, certain reserve powers” which included issuing discriminatory legislation to control the African population. Hence, the British colony of Southern Rhodesia was born, the following year, comprising the area of the republic of Zimbabwe, founded in April 1980, splitting from the Northern section, called “Northern Rhodesia,” covering the area of the independent republic of Zambia, formed in October 1964. As the years went on, the oppression mounted. While the idea of “reserve powers” was supposedly to protect African interests, it became ineffective with the Land Apportionment Act of 1930 revised in 1941, and in a number of other times, a law that formed the basis of the “social and racial structure” in Rhodesia. [24]

Even with the settlers with official power, the British monarch in the colony itself is represented by the governor and there were “British errand boys” who lived as White settlers. The greedy mentality of the colonists led to more divisions. Such colonists divided the country into two portions: the “native” area for Black Africans and Crown or European land for White settlers. [25] Predictably, the “rich and fertile land” was occupied by White settlers and the “sandy, semi-dry land” given to Black Africans, land from which they can be expelled from if minerals are found or settlers want to buy a farm in the area. Adding to this insult were laws on the books, enacted in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, which evicted Africans from “European land,” gave the government control of all the aspects of African life, and gave each family eight acres for “living in farming.” [26] The latter measure was one of social control, in an attempt to keep Africans poor and give White settlers “cheap and exploitable labor for the mines, farms, light and heavy industries.” Hence is fundamentally the reason for why the fight over land is so important in present-day Zimbabwe.

In the 1950s there were other sea changes in Southern Rhodesia. While the White settlers celebrated “sixty years of progress” in 1950, oppressed Africans did not see it the same way. African civilization had become the largely the domain of Christian missionaries, with different forms of education (“European,” “African,” “Asian,” and “Coloured”)  “separated budgeted for.” [27] To enforce the inequality, more was spent on European education than on African education. In 1953, officially, the structure of the colony changed, with the creation of the Central African Federation (CAF), comprising the areas of present-day Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi (Nyasaland), in an effort led by Southern Rhodesian settlers under the direction of Godfrey Huggins. [28] To reinforce this, the British colony received, between 1950 and 1958, 10 armored cars, 22 Spitfires, 32 fighter aircraft, 16 trainer aircraft, 8 transport aircraft, 2 light transport aircraft from UK, and 18 bomber aircraft, all from from London, while NATO accompanied this by providing bombers and armaments. [29]

Of course, this action was done without the approval of Africans. As the settler oppression became even more ruthless, “African resistance rekindled” against racist laws, enacted to maintain settler dominance, and against the idea that racial discrimination was the “order of the day” in Zimbabwe. [30] In 1957, a chapter of African National Congress (ANC) organized in the country, led by Joshua Nkomo, with the chapter joining the ANC in South Africa which had been created in 1912. [31] The following year, as the record shows, Nkomo began his contact with the Soviets, which would prove as a major force in the liberation struggle to come. [32] During this time period, the political aspirations of the Black masses seemed modest, as nationalists only wanted simple political rights which they demanded in clearly nonviolent demonstrations. [33] This perception was also because the struggle was reformist since the major groups were not forceful or anti-capitalist. [34] However, after demonstrations were banned by the colonialist government, there was more frustration, with moderation turning to militancy and passive resistance turning into civil disobedience. The stage was set for set for full scale civil war.

In the 1960s, the anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe heated up. In December 1961, after frustrations with previous nationalist groupings such as the National Democratic Party (NDP), established in January 1960, which pushed for a constitutional conference, with party members demonstrated, rioted and committed acts of arson in hopes of changing the conditions in Zimbabwe, Nkomo formed the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, or Zapu, just after the NDP was banned. [35] As for the actions of the NDP, as Mugabe put it many years later, some of those in the organization were some of the first to use petrol bombs in 1960 as a “means of pressure, not really to destroy life” and that there were strikes and demonstrations in 1961. [36]

Zapu named Nkomo as President, Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa as vice-president, Ndabaningi Sithole as chairman, Jason Moyo as information secretary, and Mugabe as publicity secretary. The organization embarked on pushing the failed policies of the NDP, with Nkomo banned from coming into Zimbabwe under legalistic jargon from the colonialist state. [37] Furthermore, Nkomo wanted to encourage the British government to agree to nationalist demands, and the organization boycotted the settler elections in Dec. 1962, with Nkomo declaring that that Zapu must “continue in any form desired by the people at a given time, and under different circumstances. But I must repeat, that we shall never, I repeat never, form any new Party.” [38] In order to back up these claims, Zapu and related freedom fighters engaged in civil disobedience, arson, sabotage, and demonstrations against the White minority government, which they refused to talk with, rightly so. [30] Nkomo was imprisoned and official Black opposition banned in 1962 by the white colonialist government. The Soviets played a major helping hand in this liberation struggle, giving massive support for Zapu, which made its first contact with them through the ANC in South Africa, with the Soviets continuing their opposition to the settler government in Zimbabwe at major international forums time and time again, with Nkomo and other top leaders went on troops worldwide in an effort to garner international support. [40]

In 1963, the equation changed. The “more radical elements” of the anti-colonial Zimbabwe opposition, who were mostly in prison, broke away from Zapu to form Zanu, the Zimbabwe African National Union. [41] This new grouping, which had come about due to anger against Nkomo by those who accused him of allowing the White settlers to unite and different strategy, was led by Sithole. It believed in immediate armed confrontation with the White settlers and self-reliance while Zapu wanted intervention from the international arena. [42] Broadly speaking, Zapu was aligned with the Ndebele and Zanu was aligned with the Shona. Additionally, those in Zanu, including Mugabe of course, were progressive nationalists who wanted immediate action, while Zapu represented the more conservative nationalists, seeming to only engage in slow maneuvers. [43] Predictably, the Zapu denounced Zanu as dividing the movement. At a “people’s conference,” supposedly to solve problems within the Zimbabwe liberation movement, attendees resolved that Nkomo was the only leader of the anti-colonial liberation movement in Zimbabwe, that bans on African nationalist organizations. throughout Africa must be denounced, that “divisive tendencies” must combated, and vigilance against the settler regime continued. [44] Additionally, the conference declared that “active resistance” against the settler regime would continue, rejected cooperation with the British, and expelled the “four conspirators” which formed Zapu (Sithole, Mugabe, Washington Malianga, and Leopard Takawira). [45] The attendees declared that these individuals were “dividing” the Zimbabwean people through forming their own party, seeing it as an imperialist divide-and-control policy. [45]

Due to these differences, the conflict between Zapu and Zanu erupted. At times it became violent. While some may be included to do so, it is wrong to discount the Zanu group wholesale. For one, Mugabe, a top leader in the group, spent 11 months in detention which hurt his son psychologically, who later died from malaria. [46] Years later, he summarized, in part, the beliefs of Zanu, by saying that “you cannot fight for grievances by pleading…you can only do so by getting to the root cause of the problem and that’s the problem of power.” [47] As for Zapu, it suffered from the justified defection of members to Zanu. A number of the key figures of Zanu’s armed wing had played a role in leading Zapu’s armed wing, taking with them “operational information and many individual cadré.” This altered the “balance of power in the liberation movement,” leaving Zapu with the short end of the stick, something from which it would not recover from in the years to come. While the idea of reconciliation between the two “wings” of the liberation movement was proposed, it was quickly abandoned within the country as untenable. [48] The same year, the Central African Federation dissolved and military power was handed over to Winston Field, leading to continued oppression.

As the liberation movement in Zimbabwe split, so did the funding. Zapu representatives went to a number of socialist countries, still supported by the Soviets, and based in Zambia with the military wing of ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army). [49] As for Zanu and their military wing, the Zimbabwean African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), they received much of their support from Maoist China. The latter socialist state promoted the idea of guerrilla warfare as a way to win the liberation war. Simply put, Zanu, later led by Mugabe, had a pro-China leaning while Zapu, led by Nkomo, had a pro-Soviet leaning. Black leaders in nations such as Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola, supported the guerillas with training areas and pitched camps, while the White settler government in Zimbabwe formed “a well trained, moderately equipped, and integrated armed force.” Ultimately, the split between Zapu and Zanu never healed, manifesting itself in problems which continue in Zimbabwe to this day. Arguably, Zapu, also supported by Cuba, the short-lived United Arab Republic (U.A.R.), and the German Democratic Republic (GDR or “East Germany”), followed Soviet-influnced teachings while Zanu, with their varying external networks, followed the teachings of Mao Zedong. [50] This meant that Zanu worked to mobilize the rural peasantry, Zapu worked to mobilize the urban proletariat.

This manifestation of the Sino-Soviet split, begun in part by Nikita Khrushchev’s traitorous “Secret Speech” denouncing the supposed “wrongs” of Joseph Stalin, meant that China determined more of the direction of the Zimbabwe liberation struggle than the Soviets. Beijing’s association with Zimbabwe goes back to the liberation struggle, a time when Zanu cadres went to China to get guerrilla training and attended classes in Ghana taught by Chinese instructors. [51] As a result of Chinese support, Zanu was transformed from a splinter organization into a full-fledged participant of the liberation struggle, and it became more bold, criticizing the alliance of the Soviet-aligned ANC and Zapu, saying this allowed racists to consolidate their forces. [52] In later years, Zanu revamped its strategy to be more Maoist, with armed struggle based in “support of the people,” by the early 1970s, as Mugabe said years later. As a result of the guerrilla warfare tactics by Zanu and traditional military tactics by Zapu, along with  with Zanu freedom fighters trained by the Vietcong and Chinese in guerrilla tactics, with the fighters returning from the latter country coming back radicalized, the White settler government adjusted their system of racist terror. [53] China, for their part, was active in aiding liberation in the country, seeing as a way to counter “Soviet hegemonism” and “Sovietism” with their support as part of their anti-superpower and anti-Soviet agenda. Hilariously, this was misread by the White apartheid government as a way to get Western capitalists and China to work together and fight the Soviets, but the Chinese would have no part in such an “agreement.”

The Zimbabwean liberation movement was up against a formidable adversary. Between 1960 and 1963, the White settler government had received four transport aircraft, 12 fighter aircraft, and 30 armored fighting vehicles, called Ferret armoured cars, from London, along with three light helicopters from France. [54] The colonial organization in 1965, in Zimbabwe, was changed. In 1964, a White minority government, called UDI (Universal Declaration of Independence), was illegally created by Ian Smith, imposing apartheid rule and invalidating the phony 1961 constitution. [55] But the British “lacked the [political] will to put down this constitutional treason,” even as they had the will to disarm those that opposed the new government, so the UN instituted sanctions and gave sympathy to the liberation movement, setting the stage for guerrilla warfare in years following. During the period, Smith’s government received 10 light aircraft and 20 towed guns from Italy, along with one transport aircraft from the United States and 12 armored cars from apartheid South Africa. [56]

Still, the Zimbabwean revolutionaries did not give up. As resistance against the settler government continued to grow, and the Rhodesian Front whipped up White nationalist sentiment, Zimbabweans argued that “freedom can only be achieved by confrontation and determination.” [57] The Soviets still backed the moderate Nkomo over Mugabe, who was more radical and Marxist. This was partially due to Mugabe’s call to run his own organization while Nkomo was willing to rely on aid from the Cubans and Soviets. The Soviets also felt this aid was important since they saw China’s aid in this struggle as “hostile” even if that meant supporting someone less radical. It is also worth pointing out that that despite Cuba’s support for Zapu broadly, they did help the military wing of Zanu, which also received military training in Mozambique. This shows yet again that Cuba is not some “Soviet satellite,” as ignorant bourgeois commentators will bark.

While one could argue that Zapu was more internationalist since they sought assistance from Ghana, Egypt, the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), GDR (“East Germany”), and Eastern European nations within the Warsaw Pact, which interestingly gave Fidel Castro more of a role as a “benefactor of third world liberation,” allowing them to be better trained and equipped than the Zanu’s military wing, Zanu connected with exiled Black nationalist Robert F. Williams. [58] They asked Williams to send copies of his publication, The Crusader, in exchange for copies of their paper, the Zimbabwe News. It is worth pointing out that despite charges that Zanu was some US-backed organ because of their reported skepticism of “accepted” liberation organizations in Southern Africa, the publication criticized Moscow, said that the Soviets were collaborating with US imperialism, criticized ANC for being pacifist, took a Black Power stand, promoted those such as H. Rap Brown, and frequently cited Mao Zedong, along with pronouncements of African socialism. [59] Hence, the Zapu claim that Zanu was US-sponsored falls flat and is almost a joke. Such a claim is also further invalidated by the fact that Zapu’s strategy to discredit Zanu leaders was “based on personal accounts and accusations” in papers such as the Daily News, which effectively served as a pro-Zapu and anti-Zanu outlet. [60]

Despite their differences, there is no doubt that Zapu and Zanu had a tough fight. For Zanu, they engaged in armed struggle, first tested in April 1966 in Sinoia, in an engagement that proved “tactically manageable” but shook the “Rhodesian White community.” [61] Such events, followed by freedom fighters of Zanu and Zapu going off to socialist countries to train, coming back “to intensify the armed struggle,” were downplayed by the information department of the UDI, who claims that all was well in the country, with news of battles suppressed in their totality. The same was the case for those guerrillas in the Zapu-ANC alliance, which engaged in a rough, bloody battle in August 1967, which resulted in heavily censored news inside of the country. [62] Zanu, pointed this out the same year, arguing that the illegal White government in Zimbabwe was trying to stoke ethnic discord by stressing “ancient wars among Africans” in radio and news commentaries, along with in schools, saying that the government was circulating letters that purport to be from the GDR (“East Germany”) as a way of stirring up mischief. [63] As for the tactics used by Zapu, some argued they had no significant impact, an assessment which resulted in a new strategy formulated, with a plan to send a joint military force across the Zambezi River into northwest Zimbabwe. This was done with the realization of the nature of their enemy as “British imperialism assisted by NATO” while understanding “the savagery role of the Washington government,” vowing the fight until the end. [64]

Internationally, Zapu and Zanu played differently. Zanu members were critical of Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) leading SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), arguing that Carmichael was partnering with Zapu and ANC, which was only partially true since in his autobiography, he says that he supported the Pan-African Congress more than other organizations, seeing it as mature, principled, and young, a bit like SNCC. [65] Still, it worth noting that this “alliance of convenience” between the ANC and Zapu may have seemed sound by many but also could be arguably “narrow and selfish” with a wider alliance of nationalist parties in the region perhaps a better strategy. [66] In Algiers, the location of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Eldridge of the Black Panthers met with Charles Chikarema of Zapu who introduced him to an Elaine Klein, an American woman who worked with the Ministry of Information in Algeria, who let Eldridge be officially invited to the country along with a Black Panther Party delegation, removing his dependency on Cuba as a place of exile. [67] Due to this development, and the fact that Sithole of Zanu appeared in court, at one point, saying that he publicly wanted to disassociate himself from “any subversive activities” and from any “form of violence,” it is likely that the Black Panther coalition and support group in Zimbabwe was pro-Zapu. [68] However, one cannot be completely sure about this since Zanu was much more Black nationalist. The latter was clear when the Zimbabwe News declared that “Christianity has been used as a subtle instrument to destroy Zimbabwe culture” which some was a statement that went “too far.” [69]

By 1969, the situation in Zimbabwe was worsening. With financial interests in White-ruled Africa, Africans continued to be oppressed by about two hundred British firms in companies led by a small “White group of capitalists,” while 86% of Zimbabweans worked (and lived) in rural areas on European farms or subsisting as cash-crop farmers. [70] Additionally, education was not free (or compulsory), Whites earned much more than Black Africans by far, and no African nationalist organization could hold weight, with the masses angry about the system of the whole, not just the UDI government. [71] It was clear that the British government would not “stand idle while a truly people’s socialist revolution is on the verge of reality in Zimbabwe” with British intervention in the country either to save their “kin” or to put in place a “neo-colonialist puppet regime.” [72] While this did not happen by 1970, the UDI elites consolidated their control. At that time, they had a strong military force, consisting of 3,400 regular troops, 6,400 police troopers, 28,500 reserve police, two infantry battalions, 1,200 Air Force personnel, 4,000 Air Force personnel in reserve, and one field artillery piece. [73] They also had advanced airplanes, helicopters, and other machinery, many from Western capitalist states, along with an alliance with South Africa. This included, in part, South African troops in Zimbabwe, aided by Britain and US military personnel, along with fascist organizations across the Western capitalist world supporting the horrid White settler government. [74]

There were a number of continuities throughout the 1960s in the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. For one, Zimbabwean women subverted traditional gender roles by fighting as freedom fighters, sometimes in fatigues, along with providing troops with food and clothing, and they later earned praise for their valuable “contributions to the revolution.” [75] This was likely the case in Zanu and Zapu. There is no doubt that the violence of the apartheid government in Zimbabwe led to armed resistance among the liberation movement, along with Nkomo to be imprisoned in a concentration camp, one of the ways the government tried to keep the populace under control, from 1964 to 1970, along with killing of many comrades in the process. [76] It is worth noting that Mugabe was also imprisoned from December 1963 until November 1974, but was still part of the liberation struggle. The bloody battle for liberation in Zimbabwe, between the White settler-rulers and “black guerrilla movements” through the 1960s and until the late 1970s, as even the US State Department acknowledged, was part of something bigger. There were liberation groups and revolutionaries across East Africa ranging from The Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), the Southwest African People’s Organization (SWAPO), ANC, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Zanu, and Zapu, all of which “utilized Tanzanian training camps” so they could “prepare and plan anticolonial wars” against White settler governments in the region. [77] Such developments interested Black nationalist Robert F. Williams greatly, not surprisingly. As John Nkomo of the Zapu grouping, said years later, they worked closely with Nordic countries, such as Sweden, the latter which cooperated with Zanu and Zapu, allowing them to bring equipment back to Zimbabwe, with some equipment later donated to Zambia since they had “sacrificed so much.”


Notes

[1] Such stories have been published in the Zimbabwe Independent, News24, International Business Times UK, New Zimbabwe, The Zimbabwe Mail, NewsDay, ZimEye, and The Zimbabwe Daily, among many others.

[2] Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa: The Politics of Independence: An Interpretation of Modern African History (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 22.

[3] Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1982), 65.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Wallerstein, 22.

[6] Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, 65.

[7] Ibid, 64.

[8] Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa: The Politics of Independence: An Interpretation of Modern African History (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 23; Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1982), 48.

[9] Wallerstein, 23; Rodney, 66.

[10] Rodney, 66.

[11] Rodney, 66-67.

[12] Rodney, 64, 67.

[13] Wallerstein, 23.

[14] Rodney, 134.

[15] Rodney, 67-68.

[16] Wallerstein, 23.

[17] Rodney, 65.

[18] Ibid, 165, 233.

[19] Ibid, 163.

[20] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle (ed. Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), Cairo: Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization, 1972, second edition), 14.

[21] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Sadly, the original name of this documentary or its British announcer, clearly a journalist at the time, is not known. On the webpage for the film, a horrid anti-Mugabe book is linked, a book by a French academic who wants to think “beyond” the Zanu-PF.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 14-15.

[24] Ibid, 15.

[25] Ibid, 15-16.

[26] Ibid, 16-17.

[27] Ibid, 17-19.

[28] Ibid, 20-21.

[29] This information comes from the SIPRI trade register.

[30] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 19.

[31] Ibid, 20-21; Chenhamo Chimutengwende, “Zimbabwe and White-Ruled Africa,” The New Revolutionaries: A Handbook of the International Radical Left (ed. Tariq Ali, New York: William Morrow & Company, 1969), 241.

[32] Ian Taylor, China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise (New York: Routledge, 2006), 107-108.

[33] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary.

[34] Chimutengwende, 241-242.

[35] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 22-23.

[36] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Mugabe also said that his wife at the time, Sally Mugabe, participated in a women’s demonstration in 1961.

[37] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 24-25.

[38] Ibid, 25.

[39] Ibid, 26-29; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary.

[40] Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 351; Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics, p. 144. There is also an academic article by Dumiso Dabengwa titled “Relations between ZAPU and the USSR, 1960s–1970s: A Personal View” which may shed light on this subject.

[41] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary.

[42] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 24-25. Part of this armed confrontation included the conviction that “physical attacks on Whites and their property were necessary.”

[43] Chimutengwende, 242.

[44] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 31-32, 33-37.

[45] Ibid, 32-37.

[46] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Mugabe himself had declared in December 1962 that it was time to move to armed struggle.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 38. After this idea of reconciliation was abandoned from within the liberation movement, it became an “external, non-Zimbabwe wish, not worth pursuing” as Zapu argued in this publication.

[49] It is also worth pointing out that China funded the Pan-African Congress while the Soviets supported the African National Con