“Relations of friendship and cooperation” between the DPRK and the Sandinistas

As noted by KCNA, “Choe Ryong Hae, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, left Pyongyang by air on January 6 [2017] to attend the presidential swearing-in in Nicaragua.
The special envoy of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, was seen off by Ri Su Yong, member of the SAC of the DPRK, Ri Kil Song, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, and Cuban ambassador Jesus Aise Sotolongo.”
In 1979, Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with Juche Korea, shortly after the Sandinista movement, called Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) took power in the country. [1] In 1985, the Koreans were giving the Sandinistas aid including a small number of advisers, patrol boats, artillery, trucks, with the CIA thinking there was a larger “supply relationship” between the two countries. Two years later, in September 1987, the South Korean National Democratic Front or Hanminjon, which favored Juche Korea, visited Cuba and Nicaragua. This was one year after Daniel Ortega, traveled to Pyongyang, and was followed by, in 1988, Nicaragua being a “handful of countries to boycott the 1988 Seoul Olympics.” Sadly, in 1990, the Sandinistas were voted out of office, undoubtedly do to the U$ aggression against the country, and the embassy of Juche Korea in the country closed in 1995. When Ortega was re-elected in 2006, “he re-established Nicaraguan relations with North Korea” and in January 2017, a delegation from Juche Korea headed by Choe Ryong Hae “attended the inauguration of Daniel Ortega for his third term as President of Nicaragua,” showing there deep connection. [2]

However, this alone does not tell the full story. On August 24, 1979, Juche Korea and Nicaragua agreed to “establish diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors.” [3] Three years later, the foreign minister of the former, Li Chong Ok, arrived in Managua “for a three-day visit to discuss widening his Government’s aid program to Nicaragua.” But there was more. Not only did Daniel Ortega come to Pyongyang in 1983 (and 1986) along his brother Humberta Ortega, Defense Minister, in 1984, but Sandinistas trained in Juche Korea (also in Cuba and the Mideast) like Costa Rican-born revolutionary, Plutarco Hernandez, who has also studied at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. Arms shipments to Nicaragua from Juche Korea, Cuba, and Eastern Europe increased in 1989 as Soviet aid waned. At the same time, this state of “socialist orientation” in Nicaragua, or a “gain for Marxism-Leninism” as others called it, had an ambassador in the later 1980s from Juche Korea there named Adolfo Moncada (there was also an ambassador from the ROK). They also joined Juche Korea in a boycott of the ROK Olympics in 1988 since they had refused to hold it in the northern half of Korea! It is also worth noting that Daniel Ortega met personally with Kim Il Sung in May 1983. Nicaragua received much more Soviet aid from 1983-1987 than any time prior as Somoza was in power before 1979. Even with this, the Soviets had their demise but the Koreans stuck with them, and received gifts (in 1982) from the Nicaraguan government, one of which is “an upright grinning alligator, holding out a wooden tray of cocktail glasses…with a matching ashtray” which sits in the International Friendship Exhibition Hall on Mount Myohyang in Juche Korea. In 1984, the Nicaraguans visited “North Korea and the Soviet Union in search of arms supplies” to fight the U$-backed Contras off once and for all.

Sadly, in 1990, the Sandinistas lost in elections that Fidel Castro reportedly warned (as claimed by a conservative author) the Sandinistas against engaging in at all. [4] If Fidel said that, it would be because he recognized that there would be manipulation at work, creating a Western “democracy” in Nicaragua, since the Contras had wanted the elections, meaning that the country was no longer the “hub of the revolutionary wheel in Central America” and a “base for leftist insurgency” in the region, for Cuba and the Soviets, as the CIA declared in 1981, the same year that the DPRK pledged to build “3 industrial plants, 3 hospitals, and 3 educational centers..in Nicaragua free of charge”! While the Sandinistas turned over electoral power to their enemies, the loose alliance of parties called the National Opposition Union/Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO), led by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro “courageously,” their defeat was horrible for the Nicaraguan people. As a result, Chamorro ended “ended 11 years of rule by Ortega’s Sandinista Front” (1979-1990), and relations between Juche Korea and Nicaragua were soon suspended, with UNO pledging to “end the war and the military draft, privatize State-controlled concerns and return confiscated land and property to its owners.” UNO would not have the widespread support the Sandinistas had, not at all, with the country in ruins after the victory of UNO in the elections, and the decentralization of the government, bringing “the police and military under civilian control…cut[ting] the military’s numbers.” Still the country was “thwarted by unpleasant realities – poverty, hunger and continued US interest in the region,” resulting in the UNO making more and more compromises.

In the years to come, Nicaragua went through tough times. In 1996, Daniel Ortega campaigned under the FSLN manner, saying he was “a social democrat in favour of a free-market economy and “a government for everyone”” while “Mr. Aleman, a conservative, called for a departure from the authoritarian and inefficient rule of the Sandinistas” and criticized the current government “for the country’s serious economic problems.” With Aleman viewing Sandinista “confiscations as thefts, the Sandinistas defended them as legitimate redistribution of wealth from the dictatorial regime of Mr. Anastasio Somoza they fought against.” During the presidential race, “Mr. Aleman declared himself the winner in the presidential race but Mr. Ortega refused to concede defeat and charged that there were irregularities in the vote count” even as observers said it was “fair” with the FSLN remaining “the single largest party with 36 seats while the three-party Liberal Alliance captured a total of 42 and, with the support of other conservatives, patched together an absolute majority in the 93-seat legislature.” Aleman, when he took power, “proposed a “national pact” to favour “reconciliation” and economic progress to pull Nicaragua out of its widespread poverty.” Aleman would eventually siphon “some US$100 million from government coffers, which may be chump change where you’re from, but not in Nicaragua” and in 1998, “Hurricane Mitch savaged the country…killing 4000 people and destroying a surreal 70% of the infrastructure” and the next president, “Enrique Bolaños…put Alemán in jail…but it was too late, in a way.” In 2001, Ortega tried again under the Sandinistas, saying that he “vowed to follow market-based policies and to seek good relations with the United States” but some “U.S. officials expressed concern about his party’s past ties with terrorists and its past socialist policies” while the “candidate of the Liberal and Constitutional Party for President, Mr Enrique Bolaños promised to continue the free-market policies of outgoing President Arnoldo Alemán.” Again, Ortega alleged that there were irregularities and “questioned the turnout recorded by the electoral council, which was much higher than the usual” but the OAS said it was ok. This time, Ortega “conceded defeat in the presidential elections to the Liberal and constitutionalist party (PLC) candidate, in his third consecutive election loss.” In December 2001, Ortega announced that FSLN members would “take their seats in Congress on 9 January 2002” which resolved “the impasse over the composition of the new Parliament” and on January 10, Mr Enrique Bolaños became the president of Nicaragua itself.

“Supporters of Daniel Ortega celebrated yesterday in Managua, Nicaragua” on November 7, 2006, AP Photo printed in New York Times.

In November 2006, there were parliamentary elections, for the National Assembly, were held in Nicaragua. The main issue in the 2006 election was “the economy and how to deal with poverty in one of the poorest countries in the Americas where over 80 per cent of the population lives on less than two dollars per day” with Ortega of the FSLN saying that he “pledged to end “unbridled capitalism” while increasing foreign investment to reduce poverty. His plan included establishing development banks for agriculture and small businesses” while the “conservative camp was deeply divided” and the “Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS)…promised to build 10 000 houses per year.” In an election were almost 67% of the registered voters turned out to the polls, “the FSLN came in first with 38 seats while the PLC won 25. The ALN finished third with 22 seats and five seats went to the MRS (see note).” The following year, 2007, on January 10, Mr. René Núñez Téllez of the FSLN was elected as the “new Speaker for a two-year term” and Mr. Ortega was sworn in “as President of the country on the same day”! This victory led to renewed relations with Juche Korea.

In 2007, Juche Korea was on a roll, as it had by that point “normalized relations with most of europe, most of asia…most of africa, and much of latin america…and australia and canada and [the]…UK as U$ diplomats grumbled. In May, Ortega re-established “formal diplomatic relations with North Korea and rejected criticism of the Asian country’s nuclear weapons program,” approving the “credentials of North Korean Ambassador Jae Myong So.” Ortega said that “It isn’t right, it isn’t fair” that some countries in the world “arm themselves then want to prohibit others from arming themselves in self-defense.” [5] This is to be applauded as we cannot forget that Juche Korea helped “the regime of the oppressed Nicaragua with medicines and medical assistance” during the 1980s. As one conservative writer groaned, “Daniel Ortaga never forgets a comrade” and quoted a press release from KCNA (seemingly), noting that Ortega argued that “the DPRK’s access to deterrent for self-defence is a clear manifestation of the independent stand and this greatly encourages us…stressing that the Songun policy of Kim Jong Il is very just” while he also “affirmed the will to further develop the friendly relations between the two countries and strengthen cooperation in the international arena.” Ortega also said that “we’re going to strengthen relations.” One month before, in April, Juche Korea re-established relations with Myanmar (also called Burma), which “had been suspended since 1983 after an explosion in Yangon, the capital of Burma, during a visit by South Korean ruler Chun Doo-Hwan” was blamed on Juche Korea even though Pyongyang said that “the South Korean leader himself had orchestrated the incident.” In August of the same year, Nicaragua began building its ties with Iran, calling the U$ a “terrorist nation” (condemning the U$ invasion of Iraq and Bush II as a “world tyrant”) with Iran ready to invest nearly $500 million in Nicaragua, build a “new hydroelectric project, invest in a new port [,] and build 10,000 new houses,” with this alarming Iran haters in the West, who were also shocked by the new warm relations with Venezuela since the country joined ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), a political-economic alliance created by Venezuela. Ortega also said at the time that “world trade was dominated by the tyranny of global capitalism” which is true while many Nicaraguans seemed to favor the U$, with which Nicaragua had normalized relations. Still, the country had ended “a long neoliberal period that had…failed to kickstart the country’s economy” and the energy crisis in the country was “seemingly solved via a deal with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez,” with a government which is “dedicated to social justice and peace” in power. There are no more “severe conditions” like the ones that UNO and U$ aid polices produced.

By 2009, Ortega was fiery as ever. In November, he lashed out at the U$ for “criticizing Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs,” and asked, before the UN General Assembly, “what right the United States has to question a country that is seeking nuclear development for peaceful – or even military – purposes” and added that “the best path for humanity is for nuclear weapons not to exist, and he called on the United States to take the first step in nuclear disarmament.” [6] The U$ propaganda outlet of the Cold War era, Voice of America (VOA) grumbled that “Mr. Ortega has a long history of opposing the United States.” The following year, Ortega received Kim Hyong Jun at his house in Managua for one hour, the foreign minister of Juche Korea and discussed “strengthening ties between the two countries,” with this Kim in “Nicaragua…as part of a three country tour of the Americas that also includes visits to Cuba and Venezuela” and he told Ortega that “Kim Jong Il sends his fond greetings.” The state media of Nicaragua responded by saying that Juche Korea was a “brother nation” that the latter “demonstrated “solidarity and cooperation” with the Sandinista Revolution in the 1980s.

In 2011, there was another set of elections for the “90 directly-elected seats in the National Assembly” with the Sandinistas, which had implemented “a series of programmes aimed at providing the poor with microcredits, farm animals and transport subsidies…[and] provided a US$ 33 monthly bonus for government workers” since the election in 2006. While the “country’s Constitution prohibits consecutive presidential terms” Ortega filed a suit in 2009 “before the Constitutional Chamber of the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, arguing the presidential term limit violated his constitutional rights” and not long after “the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the President,” a ruling which was “subsequently approved by the Supreme Electoral Council,” allowing Ortega to seek another term. Ortega, challenged by “Mr. Fabio Gadea Mantilla’s Liberal Independent Party (PLI) and former President Arnoldo Alemán’s PLC” said they would “fight corruption” and “restore rule of law and democracy to Nicaragua.” The Sandinistas, who argued that “no previous government had helped the people as the FSLN had” and Ortega who “promised to reduce poverty and illiteracy” were victors, with the final results giving “62 seats to the FSLN and 26 to the PLI. The PLC took the remaining two seats. In all, 37 women were elected” and in the presidential elections “Mr. Ortega was re-elected with 62 per cent of the votes” with the opposition “alleging fraud” but this was rejected. On his victory, Raul Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela “extended their congratulations” for Ortega, whose campaign “enjoyed popular support, particularly for his vast social aid programs,” while the “political opposition in Nicaragua” was “fractured and struggled to gain momentum behind any one candidate during the campaign,” with Ortega building a “strong base of support among the poor with the roll out of social welfare programs, providing subsidized food, clothing, health services and education programs.”

FSLN supporters celebrate after 2011 presidential election in the streets of Managua. AFP photo.

In 2012 and 2013, Ortega was moving along, as so was Nicaragua. Some said, rightly, that he was making “great strides towards making health care, education, and work more accessible to the masses” noting that “unemployment is now just 5%” even though underemployment was still high,” but that since there is “education and health care more readily available, there is much hope for Nicaragua’s future.” [7] Still, it was noted that “Nicaragua still has a long way to go,” since the “main source of work” in the country “remains agriculture and sweat-shop style labour” and education is widely available but “many students cannot afford to go to school when their families need money to make end’s meet.” Still, good efforts have been made! The following year, in July, a Nicaraguan foreign delegation went to Juche Korea, showing the strong connection between the countries.

In 2014 and 2015, Nicaragua and Juche Korea moved together. In October of 2014, Juche Korea supported Nicaragua’s recommendation to take “practical measures to provide safer working conditions, suitable for its citizens” at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process of the UN Human Rights Council which “provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries” and to fulfill “their human rights obligations.” In fact, of the 268 recommendations, 113 enjoyed the support of the Juche Korean government, 4 were “partially accepted,” 58 were “noted,” 10 were not supported, and 83 were rejected on the grounds they “seriously distorted the reality of and slandered the country.” [8] This meant that about 65% of the recommendations, 175 of them, were accepted. If you remove the 83 horrid ones, which distorted the reality of the country and slandered the Koreans, as those recommendations are not legitimate, then of these 185 recommendations, then 95% of the legitimate recommendations were accepted either fully, partially, or noted by the government itself, which is quite impressive, considering that these recommendations come from countries which are broadly bourgeois. The following year, Nicaragua took a strong stand. They said they would not join the Paris agreement because, in the words of the lead envoy, Paul Oquist, “we’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure. We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees and the death and destruction it represents.” This response was, and is, totally understandable. However, with Juche Korea ratifying the Paris Accord on November 4, 2016, Nicaragua did the same, acceding to it on October 23, 2017. This leaves, of the countries that signed the agreement, specifically Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Suriname, South Sudan, San Marino, Russia, Oman, Mozambique, Libya, Liberia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Iran, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia, and Angola, as the only ones that have not ratified the agreement.

2016 was another year of victory for the Nicaraguan people. The Sandinistas won “70 of 90 seats at stake in the 92-member National Assembly” and the “Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), which allied with the FSLN in the outgoing legislature, took 13 seats” with these elections following the “dismissal of 28 opposition members” and hence were “boycotted by the opposition.” For the third consecutive term, thanks to a 2014 constitutional amendment which “allowed for indefinite presidential re-election,” Ortega was re-elected and his wife, “Ms. Rosario Murillo, became Vice President” with both sworn in “on 10 January 2017.” During the campaign for this election, the Sandinistas promised to “work for peace, stability and the security of Nicaraguan families” and during this election, a “50-per cent quota for each sex, introduced by the 2012 amendments to the electoral law, was applied for the first time,” with 42 women elected, which was “up from 37 in 2011.” Article 147 of the Constitution says that “those related to the president either by blood or affinity” cannot be “a candidate for president or vice president” but lawmakers differ “over the definition of the affinity relationship.” Affinity, as defined in the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is a relationship through marriage or a “close relationship” and connection. This would seem to disqualify Ortega and his wife. Other dictionaries call it a “natural attraction, liking, or feeling of kinship” or an “inherent similarity between persons or things.” However, the Nicaraguan government has a valid point, saying that the Constitution of Nicaragua only “prohibits only blood relatives — like two siblings, or a parent and a child — from being on the same ticket” but not those who are married, with Ortega’s wife, Rosario Murillo, crediting the “Sandinista revolution for opening the doors to her candidacy as a woman.” [9] It is worth noting that in the most recent constitution, in 2014, a bit different from the 2005, 1987, or 1974 Constitutions, says that:

“Independence, sovereignty, and national self-determination are inalienable rights ofthe people and the bases of the Nicaraguan nation.” (Article 1)

“Nicaragua is an independent, free, sovereign, unitary and indivisible State. It is organized as a democratic and social state based on the rule of law which promotes as superior values the protection of the dignity of the people through the legal order, liberty, justice, equality, solidarity, social responsibility and, in general, the primacy of human rights, ethics, and the common good” (Article 6)

“All individuals are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection. Thereshall be no discrimination based on birth, nationality, political belief, race, gender, language, religion, opinion, origin, economic position or social condition” (Article 27)

“Nicaraguans have the right to freely express their convictions in public or in private, individually or collectively, in oral, written or any other form” (Article 30)

“All persons shall have the right to have their physical, psychological and moral integrity respected. No one shall be subjected to torture, procedures, punishments, or inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment. Violation of this right constitutes a crime and shall be punished by law.” (Article 36)

“No one shall be detained for debts. This principle does not limit the mandates of competent legal authority for the non-fulfillment of alimony duties. It is the duty of all national or foreign citizens to pay their debts” (Article 41)

“Unconditional equality of all Nicaraguans in the enjoyment of their political rights, in the exercise of these rights, and in the fulfillment of their duties and responsibilities, is established; there exists absolute equality between men and women” (Article 48)

“Citizens have the right, individually or collectively, to petition, denounce irregularities and make constructive criticism to the Powers of the State or to any authority, to obtain a quick resolution or response and to have the result communicated in the time period established by the law.” (Article 52)

“The State shall give special attention in all its programs to the disabled and to the relatives of those killed or victimized by war in general.” (Article 56)

“Nicaraguans have the right to truthful information. This right comprises the freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas, be they spoken or written, in graphic or by any other chosen procedure.” (Article 66)

“The labor of Nicaraguans is the fundamental means to satisfy the needs of society and of persons, and is the source of the wealth and prosperity of the nation. The State shall strive for full and productive employment of all Nicaraguans under conditions that guarantee the fundamental rights of the person.” (Article 80)

“Full labor union freedom exists in Nicaragua. Workers shall organize themselves voluntarily in unions, which shall be constituted in conformity with that established by the law.” (Article 87)

“The State has the obligation to enact laws intended to promote actions to ensure that no Nicaraguan shall be the object of discrimination for reasons of language, culture or origin” (Article 91)

“The principal function of the State in the economy is to achieve the sustainable human development in the country; to improve the living conditions of the people and to realize a more just distribution of wealth in the pursuit of a good life. The State must play the role of facilitator in the production sector which creates the conditions which allow the private sector and the workers to pursue their economic, productive and labor activities in a framework of democratic governance and full legal certainty, so that they may contribute to the economic and social development of the country.” (Article 98)

“The natural resources are national patrimony. The preservation of the environment, and the conservation, development and rational exploitation of the natural resources are responsibilities of the State; the State may sign contracts for the rational exploitation of these resources in a transparent, public procedure when required by the national interest” (Article 102)

“Free health care is guaranteed for the vulnerable sectors of the population, giving priority to the completion of programs benefiting mothers and children. Specific family and community health programs shall be developed” (Article 105)

“The land reform is the fundamental instrument for the democratization of ownership and the just distribution of land; it is a means constituting an essential part for the global promotion and strategy of ecological reconstruction and the sustainable economic development of the country” (Article 106)

“The public officials are accountable to the people for the proper discharge of their functions and must inform them of their official work and activities. They must pay attention and listen to their problems and try to solve them. Public functions must be exercised for the benefit of the people.” (Article 131)

“Legislative Power is exercised by the National Assembly through delegation and by the mandate of the people. The National Assembly is composed of ninety members (diputados) and their alternates elected by universal, equal, direct, free, and secret suffrage through the system of proportional representation. In accordance with what is established in the electoral law, twenty national members are elected and seventy members in the departmental and autonomous regions.” (Article 132)

“The election of the President and Vice President of the Republic takes place by universal, equal, direct, free and secret vote. Those who receive a relative majority of the votes cast shall be elected.” (Article 146)

The same year, the U$ Congress passed a bill to sanction Nicaragua, passing the House but not the Senate luckily for Nicaraguans. Additionally, Nicaragua expelled three U$ government officials in the country “on temporary assignment,” possibly related to these sanctions. [10] Relations with Juche Korea were strong without question. In September, Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the SPA, took “part in the 17th NAM Summit as head of a DPRK delegation” where they “met heads of state of different countries in the period of summit” and met with, on the side, “the prime minister of Uganda, the vice-president of El Salvador, the vice-president of Nicaragua and the vice prime minister of Vietnam who doubles as its foreign minister.” In November, member of the Presidum of the WPK’s political bureau, Choe Ryong Hae “met the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua” and led a “DPRK state and party delegation on a visit to Cuba to mourn the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz, the supreme leader of the Cuban revolution” as Rodong Sinmun described him. The same month, Kim Yong Nam “sent a message of greeting to Daniel Ortega Saavedra upon his reelection as president of Nicaragua” and expressed the “belief that the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries would grow stronger in keeping with the requirement of the new era” and wished “the Nicaraguan president bigger success in his responsible work for the development of the country and the well being of the people.” [11]

Sandinista supporters “flock to the streets of the capital to celebrate” in November 2016. AFP or AP photo.

Then we move onto 2017. Some declared that Nicaragua was a “poor country” and an “agricultural nation” with a growing industry of tourism, which was bound in bourgeois conceptions. [12] At the same time, the murderous empire bared all its teeth. There were threats that Nicaragua would be sanctioned for supporting Venezuela, with such sanctions imposed by the U$ Treasury Department in November on certain individuals, which the UK supported, even though this would hurt Nicaragua’s economy without question. Luckily, the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) failed in the U$ Senate after passing the House “without question”! This showed the true side of liberals, like Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dick Durvin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Albio Sires of New Jersey, who sided with conservatives, like Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, David Perdue of Georgia, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Cruz decried the “Ortega regime,” painting it as some tyrannical monster who is helping a “ruling elite” and allying with “anti-American regimes,” Leahy declared that Ortega had “subverted the institutions of democracy” for his own benefit, Menedez said that the U$ must “restore public confidence in democratic institutions,” Durbin said that “Nicaragua and Venezuela have tragically gone backwards” unlike the rest of Latin America, and Capito declared that the U$ has a “very long history of supporting human rights and protecting democracy around the world.” Of course, such imperialist rhetoric showed that all of them just spoke for the empire through liberal and conservative prisms.

In 2017, Nicaragua also gained further ties with Taiwan, with the two countries signing a defense agreement in September. [13] The U$ also declared it would, in January 2019, end the “special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation.” Additionally, Freedom House released a blistering, anti-communist review of Nicaragua having words like “unchecked corruption,” “electoral fraud,” “subservient,” “largely politicized,” “retaliation,” and “democratic deterioration,” to name a few, but admitting that the

constitution provides for a directly elected president, and elections are held every five years…the constitution provides for a 92-member unicameral National Assembly…Legislative elections are held every five years…Ortega retains significant popular support, thanks to his adept management of a booming economy and support for social programs…half of each party’s candidates for mayoralties and council seats must be women…Religious freedom is generally respected…Academic freedoms are generally respected…Private discussion is usually free…Access to the internet remains unrestricted, and many people speak their minds freely on social networks…Although nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are active…The constitution and laws nominally recognize the rights of indigenous communities…Governmental and nonstate actors generally respect travel, residence, and employment choices….The 2012 Comprehensive Law against Violence toward Women…codified femicide and establishes sentencing guidelines for physical and psychological abuses against women

The same year, Nicaragua, along with Argentina and Cuba, commemorated “the first anniversary of the death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro,” but, as some worried, “Nicaragua’s close relations to Cuba, Russia and Iran could hurt it in the Trump era…the situation obviously could become complicated.” Still, this solidarity should be applauded. Sadly, in September 2017, Nicaragua condemned the Juche Korea for missile launches, saying that “the Republic of Nicaragua expresses its deep concern and condemnation of the incessant launches of ballistic missiles and the Sixth Nuclear Test by the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. We condemn all types of Nuclear Tests or Tests by any Nuclear Weapons State, we urgently call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the abandonment of the Nuclear Programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, in accordance with the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. We urge the Parties involved to return to the Path of Dialogue and Negotiation, which will allow us to develop and find a peaceful solution as soon as possible, to build Peace, Stability, Security, Welfare, Development and the Reunification of the Great Korean Peninsula.” Still, this is a broad condemnation and has no hard feelings toward Juche Korea whatsoever. It seems unfortunate that Nicaragua felt it had to make this statement. But perhaps it is partially due to their economics. In June of that year, the U$ State Department in their Investment Climate Statement thundered that the government was “actively seeking to increase economic growth by supporting and promoting foreign investment” and added that the government emphasized “it pragmatic management of the economy through a model of consensus and dialogue with private sector and labor representatives.” The statement went onto say that a “key draw for investors is Nicaragua’s relatively low-cost and young labor force,” noted that Nicaragua is “a party to the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)” and has a strong “trade relationship with the United States.” It was also noted that Nicaragua currently “offers significant tax incentives in many industries” which include “exemptions from import duties, property tax incentives, and income tax relief” and a well-established “free trade zone regime.” After grumbling about “weak governmental institutions, deficiencies in the rule of law…extensive executive control,” and transparency, the statement also said that the Nicaraguan government actively worked to “attract foreign direct investment as one of its primary tools to generate economic growth and increase employment” and noted that not only do “foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity” but the “Government of Nicaragua does not formally screen, review, or approve foreign direct investments.” Even the 28,000 property owners whose land was seized by the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s was last compensated in August 2015, while Ortega said that “the government will not act to evict those who have illegally taken possession of private property without discrimination for the nationality of the owner.” The statement said that “Nicaragua is a highly-dollarized economy” and added that Ortega “used funds provided by Venezuela through…ALBA…to increase the role of the state and quasi-state actors in the economy” and noted that “the government owns and operates the National Sewer and Water Company (ENACAL), National Port Authority (EPN), National Lottery, and National Electricity Transmission Company (ENATREL). Private sector investment is not permitted in these sectors,” saying importantly that “Nicaragua does not have a privatization program.”

While Nicaragua condemned the missile tests of Juche Korea, the relationship between the two countries was still strong. In January 10, Choe Ryong Hae, special envoy of Kim Jong Un, attended the swearing in of Daniel Ortega in Managua, and met with the presidents of Venezuela (Nicholas Maduro) and Bolivia (Morales Aima), and Cuban first vice-president on the sidelines. [14] In his inaugural speech, as summarized by Rodong Sinmun, Ortega said that “Nicaragua has smashed the U.S. aggression and interference and achieved the reconciliation and unity,” declaring that “his country would develop the friendly relations with the world progressive peoples respecting its sovereignty” and Hae, afterwords “congratulated him on his reelection and expressed support and solidarity with the cause of the Nicaraguan people” and was subsequently invited to “a reception given by the Nicaraguan government that day”! Again, the relationship between the two countries is undeniably strong. The same year, the Cubans attended the inauguration of Ortega, who is part of the Latin American left, strongly praising the country and its leadership as they are dedicated allies.

Nicaragua and Juche Korea flag pin

Oxfam, a bourgeois organization on the whole, admitted on their page on Nicaragua that the country is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, having “more than six million inhabitants” and a predominantly young and female population, which is largely “concentrated in urban areas” while “indigenous and ethnic minority groups make up about 15 per cent of the population.” They admitted that a the “socio-political revolution that took place in Nicaragua during the 1980’s was an inspiration for change throughout the world,” adding that at the time “Nicaragua was on the verge of delivering a fairer political system thanks to the social movers of the time” but that now, the country “is saddled with debt and the second poorest in America.” You could say that is the case, however, there have been great advances since 2006. Recently, Nicaragua gained a victory with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling favorably in an environmental dispute, with the court only ruling that Nicaragua had to pay less than half a million US dollars, lower than the 6.7 million demanded by Costa Rica, “on the maritime delimitation between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the Caribbean Sea” with this money being “environmental reparations for damage caused by Nicaraguan soldiers between 2010 and 2013” on Portillos Island where 300 ancient trees and a channel was dredged near a river, establishing a military camp. Initially the Costa Ricans wanted “compensation of US$6.1 million, which included the salaries of public servants who worked in the area and the cost of equipment maintenance,” but this was not accepted by the court, with the curt instead read to rule “on a maritime border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the territorial border north of the Portillos Island on Friday afternoon.” The representative before the ICJ for Nicaragua, Carlos Arguello, aid it was unfortunate that that the two countries could not “reach an agreement,” saying that Ortega was willing to “compensate Costa Rica, but not for the requested amount,” noting that the “costs of the trial exceeds the amount determined by the court as reparations.”

At the present time, there is a Nicaraguan embassy in ROK (which recently signed a free trade agreement with “Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama…with hopes of increasing exports of cars, steels and cosmetics”) and the Nicaraguan legislative system is churning along. In February of this year, Ortega rejected the exclusion of Venezuela from the Summit of Americas in Peru in April, saying that “We hope that these obstacles can be overcome, those vetoes that are being applied to Venezuela by closing the space to participate in a table where all the countries of our America will be. Precisely if there is a problem is when you have to get to that table, to those places, because it is the place where you can talk about these issues and find a solution. Now they have taken the decision to exclude Venezuela from that meeting, that does not make sense, it does not have logic and it breaks away from the principle of respect for the charter of the United Nations and all international norms.” Ortega was also quoted as saying that “this is not good logically for the region, we hope that this veto being done to Venezuela can be overcome,” and noted that even the Ecuadorean government (now clearly reactionary), “also rejected the exclusion of President Maduro from the summit,” while the governments of “Cuba, Uruguay, and Bolivia have already expressed their opposition to excluding Venezuelan from the summit.” The country is also proposing measures to “regulate social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, among others)” because as vice president Rosario Murillo put it, “we’re in social media and we can be negatively influenced through these social networks, the Internet, because we receive this information from other realities and other countries,” which has led some to cry “totalitarian” while they don’t recognize that “freedom of information” in a broad, unregulated form benefits the capitalist class as it allows them to subvert anyone who opposes the global capitalist system by infiltrating their countries. [15] For this reason, the move forward in Nicaragua should be strongly supported by comrades.

In the years to come, the relationship between Juche Korea and Nicaragua will undoubtedly remain strong, helping both countries serve as part of an anti-imperialist front even though the Nicaraguan are clearly socially democratic while the Koreans are on the socialist road with their Juche ideology.

Notes

[1] “North Korea and the World” project by the East-West Center and the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK). As Manuel S. Marin wrote on page 211 of Opus Dei: A Templar’s Credo for the Advent of the City of God in the City of Man, “North Korea would probably assign its resources to something else, if it didn’t have to fear the United States,” which is important to remember.

[2] Eric Talmadge, “Senior North Korean leader to attend Nicaragua inauguration,” AP, Jan 6, 2017. This article said that “a senior North Korean delegation left Pyongyang on Friday to attend the inauguration of Nicaragua’s newly elected President Daniel Ortega. Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is heading the delegation as a special envoy…Choe, sent off by an honor guard, departed Pyongyang on Friday morning’s scheduled Air Koryo flight to Vladivostok. He was expected to travel via Moscow and Cuba before arriving in Nicaragua. North Korea and Nicaragua opened diplomatic relations in 1979.”

[3] Reuters, “North Korean in Nicaragua,” New York Times (reprinted in), Mar 15, 1982; “North Korea‐Nicaragua Tie,” New York Times, Aug 24, 1979; Dae-Ho Byun, North Korea’s Foreign Policy: The Juche Ideology and the Challenge of Gorbachev’s New Thinking (US: Research Center for Peace and Unification of Korea, 1991), p 108; Robert S. Leiken, Why Nicaragua Vanished: A Story of Reporters and Revolutionaries (US: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), pp 65, 119, 204; CIA, Directorate of Intelligence, Directory of the Republic of Nicaragua: A Reference Aid (Washington, D.C.: CIA, Aug 1, 1998), p 50; Danielle L. Chubb, Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), p 230; Wayne Limberg, “Soviet military support for third-world Marxist regimes,” The USSR and Marxist Revolutions in the Third World (ed. Mark N. Katz, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp 53, 64, 151; Charles K. Armstrong, Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992 (US: Cornell University Press, 2013), pp 209, unknown page; Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement that Remade America (US: Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp 242, 251; Robin Road and John Cavanagh, “Don’t Neglect the Impoverished South,” Diversity and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Reader (ed edited by Ernest J. Wilson III, US: Psychology Press, 2004), p 63; Timothy C. Brown, pro-Contra book titled When the AK-47s Fall Silent: Revolutionaries, Guerrillas, and the Dangers of Peace (US: Hoover Institution Press, 2000), pp 28, 45, 91; AP, “Nicaragua Aide Seeks Arms in North Korea,” New York Times (reprinted in), Apr 4, 1984.Other states listed in 1986, in Katz’s book, as having “socialist orientation” were Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Mozambique, “South” Yemen, Congo, Grenada (until 1983), and Afghanistan. Unknown page Armstrong’s book says that the DPRK sided, in Angola, with the FNLA against the MPLA meaning that they, were in effect siding with the U$ against the Soviets. The FNLA was armed and trained in Zaire by Chinese instructors, and helped by the Romanians. Other pages of his book say that the DPRK built a presidential palace for the president of Burundi in the “late 1970s” and became a major source of assistance for Guyana after 1976 when the country had a falling out with the Soviets and Cubans, giving “assistance in industry, agriculture, education, and military equipment” but these relations did not last “long enough to survive Burnham’s death in 1985.” It was also said in this book that Juche Korea established relations with Iran in 1974, under the Shah, and then after the Iranian Revolution strongly allied with the new government.

[4] Giancarlo Soler Torrijos, In the Shadow of the United States: Democracy and Regional Order in the Latin Caribbean (US: Universal-Publishers, 2008), pp 114, 116, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123; Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner, “Conclusion,” The Foreign Policies of the Global South: Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks (ed. Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), p 183; Matthew M. Aid, “Sins of Omission and Commission: Strategic and Cultural Factors and US Intelligence Failures During the Cold War,” Intelligence and Strategic Culture (ed. Isabelle Duyvesteyn, US: Routledge, 2013), p 55; Stephen M. Walt, Revolution and War (London: Cornell University Press, 2013), p 379; Mattias Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam (US: Duke University Press, 1996), p 205; Fatima Nduka-Eze, Joe Garba’s Legacy: Thirty-Two Selected Speeches and Lectures on National Governance, Confronting Apartheid and Foreign Policy (US: Xlibris Corporation, May 2, 2012), p 386; Jeff Goodwin, No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p 289; Howard J. Wiarda, “Crises of the Castro Regime,” Cuban Communism (8th Edition, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz, US: Transaction Publishers, 1995), p 783; Thomas H. Hendrikson, Using power and diplomacy to deal with rogue states (US: Hoover Institution, 1999, first printing), pp 15, 16; “Nicaragua Re-Establishes North Korea Ties,” The Panama Investor Blog (reprinting from Newsmax), May 19, 2007; Lonely Planet, “History” of Nicaragua, accessed Mar 15, 2018; MapsOfWorld, “History of Nicaragua,” accessed Mar 15, 2018; “History Of Nicaragua,” HistoryWorld, accessed Mar 15, 2018. The Nation of Islam, at the second Mathaba conference in the later 1980s, had delegates from “Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Uganda, Ghana, and North Korea” along with delegations from the FMNL-FDR in El Salvador, M19 in Colombia, IRA, Moro National Liberation Front in Philippines, ANC, Pan-African Congress, Aborgines in Australia, indigenous people from the U$ and Canada, and blacks and Chican@s from the U$!

[5] “Nicaragua Re-Establishes North Korea Ties,” The Panama Investor Blog (reprinting from Newsmax), May 19, 2007; Trevor London, “Nicaragua and North Korea, Comrades Again,” May 27, 2007; Joachim Bamrud, “Nicaragua Building Ties With Iran,” Newsmax, Aug 15, 2007; Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah, The Political History of Ghana (1950-2013): The Experience of a Non-Conformist (US: AuthorHouse, 2014), p 382; Lonely Planet, “History” of Nicaragua, accessed Mar 15, 2018; INTUR, “History and Culture” of Nicaragua, 2018; “Nicaragua embraces North Korea,” North Korean Economy Watch, May 18, 2007.

[6] “Nicaragua’s Ortega Lashes Out at US,” VOA, Nov 1, 2009; “Nicaragua Strengthens Ties With North Korea,” The Tico Times, Oct 1, 2010; Larisa Epatko, “Nicaragua’s Ortega Projected to Win Third Term, Opens Door to Long Rule,” PBS, Nov 7, 2011.

[7] “A Brief History of Nicaragua,” The Giving Lens, Jan 14, 2012; Virginie Grzelczyk, North Korea’s New Diplomacy: Challenging Political Isolation in the 21st Century (US: Springer, 2017), p 82.

[8] The countries which posed resolutions Juche Korea didn’t support included Italy, Chile, Mexico, Hungary, Belgium, Mexico, Botswana, Australia, Greece, and Germany. The countries that posed recommendations which were rejected on the grounds they “seriously distorted the reality of and slandered the country,” 70 (about 85% percent) of which were countries in Europe and North America. The other 13 (15% percent) were scattered across the globe, but mostly in East Asia and Latin America, with only two in the Mideast and Africa.

[9] Frances Robles, “Wife and Running Mate: A Real-Life ‘House of Cards’ in Nicaragua,” New York Times, Oct 30, 2016; Holly K. Sonneland, “Update: Five Things to Know ahead of Nicaragua’s General Elections,” Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Aug 2016.

[10] Felicia Schwartz, “Nicaragua Expels Three U.S. Officials,” Wall Street Journal, Jun 17, 2016.

[11] KCNA, “Blessings sent to new Nicaraguan president,” Pyongyang Times, Nov 11, 2016. Similar translation here to the one cites in the text.

[12] Tim Lambert, “A Short History of Nicaragua,” localhistories.org, 2017; “Sen. Cruz: ‘The U.S. Stands With the People of Nicaragua’,” Press Release, Dec 22, 2017

[13] Elizabeth Shim, “Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen meets with leaders of Honduras, Nicaragua,” UPI, Jan 10, 2017; AAP News, “Nicaragua, Taiwan sign defence agreement,” Shepparton News, Sept 3, 2017; Reuters Staff, “U.S. to end protected status for Nicaraguan immigrants in 2019,” Reuters, Nov 6, 2017; Freedom House, profile of Nicaragua, “Freedom in the World 2018” page, accessed Mar 15, 2018; U$ State Department, “Nicaragua,” 2017 Investment Climate Statements, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Jun 29, 2017, accessed Mar 16, 2018.

[14] KCNA, “Special envoy to attend new presidential swearing-in in Nicaragua,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 9, 2017; KCNA, “Kim Jong Un’s special envoy visits Nicaragua and Cuba,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 16, 2017.

[15] “South Korea signs free trade deal with Central America as first in Asia,” The Straits Times, Feb 21, 2018; “S. Korea, five central American countries to discuss cooperation,” Yonhap News, Feb 19, 2018; Karina Martin, “Nicaragua’s proposed social media controls follow dictatorship handbook,” PanAm Post, Mar 15, 2018. Apparently the “North Korean nuclear problem” was discussed with Nicaragua among other countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama) by ROK on February 19.

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Changing alliances for Juche Korea: Iraq in 1968, Iran in 1979

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, meets with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in Sept 2016

On February 8, 1963, as I’ve written on this blog before, the CIA gave “economic assistance” for the coup that day by the Ba’ath Party, thinking this would benefit U$ policy. Because it was against “Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim (or Qassem) [who] enacted a land reform program, constructed a massive urban development for Revolution City…and partially nationalized the oil industry.” However, this is a bit simplistic. As the Ba-ath Party, fully called the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party – Iraq wrote in their report, titled “Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973,” the situation was a bit more nuanced. While thousands of communists were killed in the February 8 coup, on November 18 there was another coup led by those favoring Nasser in the Ba’ath Party, which the Ba’ath Party described as a “shock…[and] loss of the revolutionary gains and the loss of many Party martyrs who fell while bravely fighting the regressive move.” The Ba’athists were out of power and on February 23, 1966, the Ba’athists in Syria would engage in a “military coup against the national authority of the Party as represented by the National Command…[leading to a] vertical and horizontal split within the Party…[with] psychological, organizational and political effects of such a split…in Iraq,” leading to further schisms. Those who took power in Syria would be Nureddin al-Atassi from 1966 to 1970 (he was the second Ba’ath Party president in Syria, after Amin al-Hafiz who served from 1963 to 1966), then Ahmad al-Khatib (1970-1971), and finally Hafiz Al-Assad (1971-2000) who would soon be followed by his son, Bashar al-Assad. It was 1966 that Juche Korea established diplomatic relations with the Syrians. On July 17, 1968, two years after those in Syria took matters into their own hands, Saddam Hussein and Salah Oman al-Ali engaged in a successful coup in the Republic of Iraq. That year, Juche Korea would establish diplomatic relations with Iraq.

Three years later, Kim Il Sung talked to a delegation of Iraqi journalists, saying that in the past Korea “was a colonial, semi-feudal society in the past,” having to fight off U$ imperialists, he said they currently had “an advanced socialist system, under which all people work and live a happy life helping each other” with achievements through the leadership of WPK and the people, with a “dedication to the idea of Juche. In response to a question from one of the journalists, Sung said that the Iraqi people had, by that point, attained “national independence through their protracted arduous struggle against the domination of foreign imperialism,” adding that “antagonism and discord between nations…are advantageous only to the imperialists and simply detrimental to the people.” He also applauded a “peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem,” and said that the government of Iraq stands “firm in the ranks of struggle against imperialism and colonialism.” Later on in press conference he said that “the Korean and Iraqi peoples are close comrades-in-arms fighting against the common enemy…part of the great unity of the Asian and African peoples against imperialism and colonialism,” while also focusing on a number of other matters like the “expansion of the aggressive war by the U.S. imperialists in Indo-China,” noting that those of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos have made Indochina “a graveyard for the aggressors,” while adding that the “Korean people will assist those fighting against U.S. imperialism in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos.” It seems evident why Sung supported the Iraqis despite their problematic history. For one, the Ba’athists, at least openly, had an ideology to “guide for the masses [and show]…the way for unity, freedom and socialism,” and that they were engaging in an “Arab revolution” and differently from in 1963, when the party failed to lead “a revolutionary Party” after this revolution it became necessary to go a different path. As such, “imperialist countries such as the U.S., Britain and other reactionary regimes…mobilized all of their political, technological, material and highly developed informational potential” to bring down their government. Additionally, the party, at the time, dedicated itself to “unity, freedom and socialism in order to rebuild a united, free and democratic Arab society,” with a duty to “achieve a truly democratic, socialist and integrated state which could be the model for the other states in the Arab World… and the Third World,” while strongly fighting “the imperialist Zionist enemy.” Subsequently there was a “decisive move of nationalization” with the government talking country of “65% of the oil producing sector of the national economy” and was basically in “control of 99.75% of the land from which oil is extracted.” They also worked to establish a “progressive front” in the region while making the society as a whole more democratic. It is the fact that the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party declared itself as a “socialist revolutionary Party which considers socialism imperative for the liberation, union and resurgence of the Arab Nation,” that they received Korean support, even through they were just economic nationalists in reality. Some remnants of “socialism” or what can really more actually be called bourgeois nationalism stayed on for years. Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote about this in 2006, noting that the Ba’ath party was broadly based among professionals, that the state subsidized fertilizer, electricity, and gasoline costs, along with varied state-owned enterprises. [1] At the same time, there was “loud and boisterous” stock exchange in Baghdad, which was re-opened by the U$ after the war, a sign of capitalism, and Saddam consolidated more power for his enrichment, while the population suffered, with his government backed by the imperialists. Of course, after the 2003 invasion, the U$ reversed all these elements, engaging in mass privatization by abandoning “Saddam’s centrally-planned, socialist welfare state for a globalized free-market system” (I’m not sure if it was a “socialist welfare state,” but it wasn’t a state which had privatized industries) and resulting widespread anger by the Iraqi population, thanks to unemployment caused by these horrid policies in this new “capitalist utopia.”

On September 22, 1980, Iraq, led by Saddam, invaded Iran, leaded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The war, which drained the national coffers of Iraq, putting the country “tens of billions of dollars into debt,” in a war which lasted almost 8 years to August 20, 1988. [2] Years later, in 1991, he would invade Kuwait (apparently with U$ permission), resulting in “debilitating United Nations sanctions” which cut off “Iraq from the world.” In the Iran-Iraq war, from 1980 to 1988, Canadians, Danes, Egyptians, East German revisionists, Hungarians, Polish, Qataris (initially), Romanians, Singaporeans, Sudanese, UAE, Yugoslavian revisionists, Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Jordanians supported the Iraqis and no others. However, there were a number of individuals who gave arms to both sides: the Soviet revisionists (arms to Iran covertly), Austrians, Chinese revisionists, French imperialists, the West Germans, Italians, Japanese, Portuguese, South African racists, Spanish, Swiss, Turks, the U$ imperialists (to Iran covertly as uncovered in the Iran-Contra scandal), and UK imperialists. There were a number of others that directly gave to Iran: the Ethiopians, the Belgians, the Argentinians, reportedly the Zionists (covertly to establish more influence), Netherlands, ROK, Libyans, Pakistanis, Syrians, Swedish (covertly), and Juche Korea, last but not least. This is no surprise since in 1982, the latter had extended its “international solidarity to the revolutionary state of Iran to fight in the war against Western-backed Republic of Iraq” while the Koreans had established relations with Juche Korea in 1973, while the Shah was still in power, but relations was not fully forged until after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, five years after Hafiz Al-Assad had visited Pyongyang himself. During the ensuring war, Juche Korea would become a “major supplier of arms to Iran” and it would have a “history of cooperating on missile technology” with Iran as one website reported. As one might imagine, this makes it no surprise that Iraq cut off “diplomatic relations in October 1980,” with the Koreans following suit by continuing their alliance with Iran for the next 38 years to the present-day and never again re-opening diplomatic relations with Iraq. As the war raged between Iran and Iraq, the weapons from Korea flowed in so much that the country “accounted for 40% of all Iranian arms purchases.” One commentary by a Zionist, Kenneth R. Timmerman, with parts within the text about the Koreans being an arms conduit for other countries removed as it makes them seem to be a colony of the Chinese or Soviets when they are not, reported in the late 1980s that

…The North Koreans produce a certain amount of T-54/T-55 tanks and other equipment under license from the Soviet Union. They also continue to purchase large quantities of weaponry from both the USSR and the People’s Republic of China…The first delivery [to Iran]…through North Korea occurred in October1980…the next major deal, for an estimated $1 billion, was negotiated…by North Korea…in exchange for cash and 2 million tons of Iranian crude oil. The equipment was of Chinese origin, and was most likely taken from existing Korean inventory. Deliveries are said to have occured in stages over the1981-83 period, and included 150 T-62 main battle tanks, 400 artillery pieces, 1000 mortars, 600 anti-aircraft cannons, and 12,000 machine guns and rifles…an additional 300T-54/T-55 Korean-built tanks should be added to the list. Weapons deliveries from North Korea were worth $800 million in 1982 alone…Since then, Iran is said to have refused large quantities of locally-produced North Korean equipment, due to its poor quality…[In August 1983] the North Koreans sent 300 military advisors to Tehran…Soviet willingness to supply military assistance, training, and weapons to Iran was codified by a pair of military agreements signed with the Iranian government in July 1981….These agreements resulted in the arrival of some 3000 Soviet advisors in Iran, the building of new ports and military airfi[e]lds by Soviet and North Korean technicians, and the construction of the largest Soviet listening base outside the Warsaw Pact

Others, relying on Timmerman and some other sources, note that in 1985, Iran says it will finance the “North Korean missile program in exchange for missiles and missile technology,” the same year that the country received R-17 Elbrus (Scud-B) missiles from the Libyans and Koreans. Additionally, that year, work on the Mushak-120 missile in Iran, “reportedly begins with assistance from China, North Korea, and others at a Chinese-built factory near Semnan,” while in the summer, “Iran approaches both North Korea and China looking for ballistic missiles and missile technology.” More than this, Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament (from 1980-1989) signs a deal, that year, worth $500 million, to “receive North Korean missiles based on Soviet Scud designs” from the Koreans, while he also visits China and Juche Korea “to establish military cooperation.” As a result, the Koreans agree to “give Iran HN-5A SAMs, and to help in building an assembly site for them” and they also “offer aid to build production factories for the HN-5A and the HQ-2, to engage in technology transfers for Iran’s missile program, and to assist in the building of an assembly site for the missile that is the same as the North Korean Scud-Mod.” From 1985 to 1988, Juche Korea receives 240 Scud-B missiles from the Soviets, and 100 are “re-sold to Iran,” further showing their solidarity. By March 1986, Iran is receiving arms from Juche Korea, Libya, and Syria, even paying the Koreans over the next five years (1986-1991) money in “oil purchase debt” for the weapons they had purchased. Beyond this, the “Defense” Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the U$ declared that

the Middle East has been the major market for North Korean arms, with Iran and Libya making most purchases. Sales to Iran peaked in the early 1980s at the height of the Iran-Iraq war…The weapons North Korea exports include large quantities of munitions, small arms, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, armored personnel carriers, air defense artillery, SCUD-B short-range ballistic missiles, and some naval craft…North Korea presents itself as a fellow revolutionary struggling with constraints of relations with the superpowers…During the Iran-Iraq war, North Korea trained Iranian gunners to operate the Chinese mobile surface-to-air system and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in unconventional warfare techniques

In another part of the same report, the DIA declared that “the current size, organization, disposition, and combat capabilities of the North Korean Army…maintains North Korea’s territorial integrity and assists in internal security, civic action projects, economic construction, and a variety of agricultural programs.” Then there’s the New York Times article in 1987 declaring that Juche Korea was involved in arms trafficking to Iran, serving as a conduit for the soviets. [3] With all these claims, it is hard to know how much or what the Koreans sent to Iran. A trade register showing Juche Korea as the supplier and Iran as the recipient noted that between 1982 and 1987, the following weapons were delivered:

  • 200 self-propelled MRLs (multiple rocket launchers)
  • 150 tanks
  • 6 MiG-19 fighter aircraft
  • 200 towed MRLs
  • 480 towed guns
  • 4000 anti-tank missiles
  • 3 patrol craft
  • 20 anti-ship missiles
  • 20 self-propelled guns
  • 100 R-17 Elbrus short-range ballistic missiles

That may be the most accurate you can get on support Korea lent to the Iranians. Also consider the Special National Intelligence Assessment in 1985 which declared that there were 50-100 Korean advisers, T-62 tanks, SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, antitank missiles and launchers, small arms, field artillery, mortars, rockets, and naval mines from the Koreans in Iran at that time. They also outlined, in varying other documents how the Koreans were arming the Iranians, to the chagrin of the imperialists.

Kim Il Sung and other Koreans come to Iran in May 1989 in Pyongyang, before the Supreme People’s Assembly, with his late son, Ahmed Khomeini, saying that going to Juche Korea was “a decent thing to do” as noted in the YouTube video of the meeting of these two individuals. The video also shows other scenes from Khamenei’s visit to Pyongyang the same year.

Such support was re-paid in 1989 when then Iranian President and later Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, met with Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam reportedly “sought to acquire Rodong missile systems from North Korea” and sent a “$10 million down payment from Baghdad,” but Iraq never “received any missiles or missile technology from the deal” showing that the Koreans would not abandon their solidarity with the Iranians against imperialism, clearly knowing what side Saddam was on, which was the side of repression and global capitalism, not national liberation. Since that time, the two countries have not restored diplomatic relations, even after “the Iraqi population of around 33 million has only been subject to short periods of relative peace as competing interests struggle for control” since the 2003 invasion as Oxfam declared. There were a number of mentions of Iraq on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Juche Korea but these were in reference to “depleted uranium shells seriously affecting human health and the environment” used by U$ imperialists in Iraq, forms of U$ war which could be used to bring down “the social system of the DPRK,” the false pretenses of such imperialists to “overthrow legitimate governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya,” and noting that “the U.S. deleted Iraq and Libya from the list of “state sponsor of terrorism” that gave in to its pressure [and] it also deleted Cuba,” showing that the “the label of “state sponsor of terrorism” is just a tool for American style authoritarianism that can be attached or removed at any time in accordance with its interests,” which is undeniably true.

The relation between Juche Korea and Iran has been ironclad since the 1980s. After all, in May 1979, Kim Il Sung sent Khomeini a telegram congratulating him on the “victory of the Islamic Revolution,” and on June 25th of the same year, Khomeini met with the “DPRK Ambassador Chabeong Ouk in Qom,” on what was the “29th anniversary of the aggression of U.S. troops against the meek nation of Korea” to which “Khomeini replied in kind, calling…for the expulsion of American troops from South Korea.” [4] The Jewish Virtual Library, which is highly Zionist, says with alarm that “Iran is North Korea’s principal customer for weapons and technology, and it has been the site of a number of missile tests carried out on North Korea’s behalf. North Korea may have sold one of its most sophisticated missiles, the Nodong…to Iran…North Korean experts are also believed to have helped Iran with its centrifuges.” While most of this is likely poppycock, it does say that even the Zionists are afraid of the Koreans. These same people consider the Koreans part of the “anti-American Middle East axis” (of Syria and Iran) and that the Korean relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has existed since 1983. In years since the 1980s, the Koreans worked to help fortify Iran, even though they likely did not smuggle in “missiles in pieces” as Zionists declare, instead creating “friendship farms” in each country in 1996, farms which hold “cultural exchanges, commemorations of Khamenei’s visit to North Korea, and commemorations of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il” every year. By the 2000s, some Iranian officials, “concerned with Iran’s integration into the global economy expressed alarm,” said Juche Korea was a negative example. Take for example, the former chief of the IRGC and Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaee, who said that if Iran followed “a reactionary stance internationally and a policy of developmental stagnation domestically,” it would do no better than Juche Korea. Even with this, relations remained strong, with a visit in 2007 by Iran’s deputy foreign minister to Pyongyang “as negotiation with its officials for studying and developing bilateral relations” continued, with both countries signing a “plan for exchanges in the cultural, scientific and educational fields.” In 2012, a scientific and technological cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries, showing that they are dedicated to strong relations. The next year, the Iranian Parliament approved Mohamed Hasan Nami as communications minister, a person who holds a degree from Kim Il Sung University in state management, and images showed that “Iran maintains a seven-building embassy compound in Pyongyang, at the center of which stands the first mosque in North Korea.” Then, in February and September 2014, Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, met with “high-ranking North Korean delegations in February and September 2014.” Even so, there was some evidence of “growing distance and diverging trajectories” which bourgeois analysts said would “eventually cause Iran to see its friendship with North Korea as a liability,” claiming it has little to offer the Iranians, leaving behind a “relationship that once thrived on friendship farms and mutually admiring founding leaders.” However, as recent developments show, this observation was short-sighted. After all, if one Iran-hater, Amir Taheri, is right, the Iranians adopted tactics, used by the Koreans during the Great Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953), during the Iran-Iraq War, with Khomeini’s “resistance economics” loosely based on Juche ideology in Korea itself! [5]

In 2017 and 2018, relations between Iran and Juche Korea have become even stronger. In May 2017, Choe Hui Chol, the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Iranian ambassador in Pyongyang, Seyed Mohsen Emadi, with Chol mentioning the “eye-opening successes being made by the DPRK in bolstering the Juche-based rocket force under the energetic guidance of…Kim Jong Un” and he hoped that the “traditional relations of friendship between the two countries” begun by Iranian leaders and Kim Il Sung “would grow stronger in conformity with common interests of their governments and peoples.” In response, Emadi thanked Chol for his comments, adding that the “traditional relations of friendship, provided by the preceding leaders of the two countries” is “favorably developing” under the care of Kim Jong Un, adding that both countries should strive for closer cooperation “in the international arena including the UN and expand the bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation in politics, economy, culture and other fields.” [i6] The following month, Kim Yong Nam sent a message of sympathy to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressing “deep sympathy and condolences to the Iranian president and through him to the victims and bereaved families” for terrorist attacks. He added that two countries should strengthen cooperation “in the struggle to oppose all forms of terrorism and ensure world peace and stability.” The same month, officials of the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of External Economic Relations, Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and the General Bureau for Affairs with Diplomatic Corps visited the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang, expressing “deep sympathy and consolation to the victims of the incidents and their bereaved families and reiterated the consistent principled stand of the DPRK government against all forms of terrorism.” Later on that month, the Indonesian Ambassador in Pyongyang, Bambang Hiendrasto, hosted a reception at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club, “on behalf of embassies of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC)…as regards the end of Ramadan” with Choe Hui Chol present, along with “ambassadors of Indonesia, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Egypt and charges d’ affaires ad interim of Nigeria and Pakistan, OIC member states, and embassy officials and their families.”

The following month, August, Kim Yong Nam attended the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani in his second term in the Majlis Building in Tehran. Other countries attended as well such as EU representatives, but this showed the connection between the two countries. At his inauguration, Rouhani made a speech, expressing “the stand of his government to develop the economy, strengthen the defence capability, ensure peace and democracy and realize constructive cooperation with the international community” while he also “affirmed that Iran would cope with the U.S. moves for scraping the nuclear agreement with vigilance and make all efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East region.” Nam, attended the inauguration with numerous others such as Choe Hui Chol. At the sidelines of the inauguration, Nam, spoke with Robert G. Mugabe, president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who was also present, showing they were, at that time, part of the anti-imperialist front. Afterwords, Nam attended “a banquet arranged by the Iranian President.” [7] The same month, Nam talked with Rouhani, noting that “the line of simultaneously developing the two fronts set out by the Workers’ Party of Korea is being implemented…under the guidance of…Kim Jong Un” and outlined the “achievements gained in the struggle for independence.” He also said there needs to be further development of “friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and Iran and the Non-Aligned Movement.” Rouhani responded by saying that “Iran-DPRK relations have developed on a very high stage, expressing the belief that the friendly relations between the two countries which have jointly struggled against the U.S. will boost in broad fields in the future.” Earlier on, Nam had met “Speaker of Majlis Ali Larijani and First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri of Iran.” Also that month, Pak Pong Ju, Premier of Juche Korea, sent a “congratulatory message on Thursday to Eshaq Jahangiri” on his re-appointment as First Vice President of Iran, wishing him “bigger success in his work for the independent development and prosperity of the country and the friendly government and people of Iran happiness and prosperity.” The same day, Ri Yong Ho sent a “congratulatory message to Mohammad Javad Zarif” on his re-appointment as Iran’s foreign minister.

Photos of Iran’s old embassy (right) and new embassy in Iran (left). With photos from Wikimedia for the old embassy in 2011, and for the new embassy, after 2017, from KCNA.

The same month, the murderous U$ imperialists passed a host of sanctions aimed against Russia, Iran, and Juche Korea, to which Iran responded by “vowing to pass retaliatory bills regarding the passage of the sanctions bill as a blatant act of hostility against Iran.” More important, a new embassy of Juche Korea was inaugurated in Tehran, with “Ebrahim Rahimpour, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, personages of the Tehran City Government, friendly organizations, media and different social standings and members of an Iranian construction company,” and numerous Korean officials attending. [8] Cho Hu Chol, at the inauguration said that the “premises of the DPRK embassy were built a new to boost exchanges, contacts and cooperation between the two countries for world peace and security and international justice,” stressing the “consistent stand of the DPRK government to invariably develop the strategic relations between the two countries” which had been “forged and strengthened” by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, working with Iranian leaders “in the common struggle for independence against imperialism.” Ebrahim Rahimpour, in his speech, said he was pleased with the new embassy, and noted that “the Iranian people…remember the DPRK’s sincere help and solidarity to Iran when it was in hard times, will fully support the struggle of the Korean people at all times.” The same day, the embassy hosted a reception.

The month afterwords, September, Rouhani sent a message of greeting to Kim Jong Un, congratulating “Kim Jong Un and the Korean people on the occasion of September 9, the birthday of the DPRK.” In the same message he “hoped that the bilateral relations would favorably develop in all fields through cooperation and joint efforts of the peoples of the two countries.” Around the same time, the daily paper, Kayhan, which reflects the views of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ran editorials “praising North Korea’s “brave defiance of Arrogance” by testing long-range missiles in the face of “cowardly threats” by the United States” with one editorial even inviting “those who urge dialogue with the US to learn from North Korea’s “success in humiliating the Great Satan.” [238] There were some responses from the Western favorites, the reformists, with one of them expressing regret that Iran was asked to “downgrade to the level of “a pariah in a remote corner of Asia,” but even so, Kim Yong Nam still came to Tehran on a 10-day visit heading “a 30-man military and political delegation” and was “granted a rare two-hours long audience with Khamenei.”

In October, the next month, relations were still strong. The Iranian Ambassador in Pyongyang, Seyed Mohsen Emadi and his staff members visited the “Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum on the occasion of the DPRK-Iran friendship week” with guests looking around the musuem’s rooms while they were briefed on “the fact that President Kim Il Sung led the Fatherland Liberation War to victory,” and Emadi made “an entry in the visitor’s book.” He also wished the “the Korean people bigger successes” under the guidance of Kim Jong Un. Additionally, Emadi and his staff “toured the Tower of the Juche Idea, [and] the Sci-Tech Complex,” while staff members of the embassy “did friendship labor at the DPRK-Iran Friendship Ripsok Co-op Farm in Mundok County.” The same month, Kim Jong Un sent messages to varying “foreign party and state leaders in reply of their congratulatory messages and letters on the 69th founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” including those from Cuba, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, Syria, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Mali, Belarus, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Tunisia, Eritrea, Dominica, Egypt, Iran, and the “co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kim Il Sung–Kim Jong Il Foundation…secretary general of the United Nations…and the director-general of the International Institute of the Juche Idea.”

In the last two months of the year, relations were clearly still strong. In November, Kim Yong Nam sent a message of sympathy to Hassan Rouhani on a terrorist attack in the country, saying that “upon hearing the sad news that Kermanshah region located in the west of Iran was hit by earthquake, claiming heavy human and material losses, I express my deep sympathy and condolences to you and, through you, to the victims and their families. I hope that you and your government will recover from the consequences of this disaster at the earliest possible date and bring the life of the citizens in the disaster-stricken region to normal.” The month after, Kim Jong Un received a message from Rouhani which extended “greetings to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people on the occasion of the New Year 2018” and hoped that “global peace, justice and equality would be ensured and violence removed in the New Year.”

Foreigners at prayer in the Iranian Embassy in Pyongyang. Photo by Jaka Parker, published by NK News.

This year, 2018, relations couldn’t be stronger. The imperialists have labeled countries like Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and Juche Korea “states of special concern for religious freedom,” undoubtedly a fake label. At the end of January, in Tehran, the two countries signed a “2018-2021 memorandum on cooperation…in the fields of culture, arts, education, mass media, sports and youth” which was inked by Kang Sam Hyon, Juche Korea ambassador in Tehran, and “the vice-chairman in charge of international affairs of Iran’s Islamic cultural liaison organization.” [10] The next month, February, the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang hosted “a reception…on the occasion of the birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il.” Present at the reception was Kim Yong Dae, vice-president of the SPA Presidium, Thae Hyong Chol, president of Kim Il Sung University, “Kim Jong Suk, chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, [and] Ryu Myong Son, vice department director of the C.C., Workers’ Party of Korea.” Also, Seyed Mohsen Emadi, Iranian ambassador there and his staff members were there. In a speech, Emadi said that “historic relations between the two countries forged by their preceding leaders had been further strengthened thanks to Kim Jong Il,” and he expressed the “will to continue mutual cooperation in line with the desire and aspiration of the two peoples.” Kim Yong Dae added, in his speech that “the Korean people would as ever value the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries forged in the joint struggle for independence against imperialism, sincerely wishing the Iranian people success in their struggle for ensuring regional peace and stability.” The same month, Kim Yong Nam sent a “message of sympathy” to Rouhani, in “connection with a recent passenger plane crash in Iran, that claimed huge casualties,” saying that he “expressed deep sympathy and condolences to the Iranian president and, through him, to the bereaved families of the deceased.” Also that month, the Iranian embassy “hosted a reception at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club…to mark the 39th anniversary of the victory in the Islamic revolution of Iran.” Present at the reception was Thae Hyong Chol, president of Kim Il Sung University and chair of the DPRK-Iran Friendship Parliamentary Group, Ri Yong Chol, vice department director of the WPK’s central committee, and Choe Hui Chol, along with other “officials concerned and diplomatic envoys of different countries and representatives of international organizations and military attaches of foreign embassies” in Pyongyang. Around the same time, Kim Yong Nam, “sent a message of greetings…to Hassan Rouhani…on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution of Iran,” in which he noted that “after the victory in the revolution the Iranian people have achieved a lot of successes in the struggle to defend the gains of revolution and build a powerful state while repelling the ceaseless pressure and interference by the hostile forces.” In the same message he expressed “the belief that the good ties of friendship and cooperation between the DPRK and Iran would grow stronger, wishing the Iranian president bigger success in his work for the country’s development and stability and the people’s well-being.”

We then get to more recent news. Iran continues to resist imperialist efforts to isolate it, allying more with the Chinese revisionists, the Russian capitalists, and the socially democratic Syrians, while European imperialists work to appease the orange menace with new sanctions. [11] The Saudis have also been strongly aggressive, basically doing the errand work for the imperialists as they always do. With the full-throated occupation of part of Syria by the U$ as Stephen Gowans pointed out recently, the Iranians are right to call the U$ foolish, especially in light of Mike Pompeo, neo-con of the CIA who has taken the reins of the U$ State Department from oil man Tillerson, who some thought was “moderate” but actually just engaged in imperial diplomacy. At the same time, varied Iranian minister have survived an impeachment process in their parliament, the country is aiming to launch its first operational satellite next year, and the ICAPP (International Conference of Asian Political Parties), headquartered in the ROK, met in Tehran recently for its 29th meeting. Also there were reports of the Cuban ambassador meeting with Iranian officials, and efforts to increase exports from a refinery run by ROK in the country. The protests, which had some elements with U$ backing, are over, with a massive turnout favoring the government. The Iranian government, defiantly, has said that they will negotiate over their ballistic missiles (which do not have nuclear warheads), with Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri saying that “the condition for negotiating Iran’s missiles is the destruction of the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles of the United States and Europe,” echoed by Rouhani saying that “We will negotiate with no one on our weapons…[our missiles] are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don’t have any.” This is while Iran has said it was ready for the U$ to quit the nuclear deal and opposes the U$ moving their embassy to the Zionists to Jerusalem, saying they will defend themselves with all their might if there is Zionist aggression.

At the same time, there has been some other news. For one there has been some victories, such as the British-drafted resolution on Yemen failing in the UN Security Council, or Rouhani being more relaxed when it comes to headscarves in the country. However, there have been some ruminations of developing a cryptocurrency in Iran to bypass U$ sanctions, which will only benefit the Iranian bourgeoisie. There have also been recent stories about the hidden workings of the British empire (in the past) in Iran and India, along with new findings about the clerical involvement in the CIA-backed coup in Iran against Mohammad Mossadegh or how “Operation Merlin” poisoned U$ intelligence on Iran. Most worrisome is an article in Bloomberg back in February [12] stating that

Iran’s armed forces…must divest from energy assets and other businesses to help save the Persian Gulf nation’s economy, President Hassan Rouhani said. Armed forces…must withdraw from all their commercial holdings, Rouhani said Tuesday…“Not only the Social Security Organization but all government sectors, including banks, have to divest their business holdings, and this is the only way to rescue the country’s economy,” Rouhani said. “Government officials, non-government institutions and the armed forces and others — everyone has to divest their commercial businesses.”…Rouhani’s government, now in its fifth year, has faced unprecedented scrutiny from ordinary Iranians frustrated that their living standards haven’t improved since the nuclear deal…The government needs to reduce its dependence on crude as a source of official revenue and must boost contributions from taxes, Rouhani said…Iran also holds the world’s largest proven reserves of natural gas. Paris-based Total SA signed a deal in July to develop part of the giant South Pars gas field, pledging $1 billion in investment. Total is the only major Western energy company so far to commit to investing in Iran since the easing of sanctions. Within the nation’s energy industry, divestment will focus on downstream petroleum projects including refineries, petrochemical plants and storage facilities…The program will emphasize assets owned by the government or semi-government entities, and Iran will seek to attract foreign companies “with investment, know-how, and equipment”

Now, this is troubling. Not because of the work conditions in the country for the proletariat or the supposed “mass and arbitrary detention” and tough “Internet censorship regime” that the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) bemoans. Rather it is that moving away from such state assets is a form of privatization. The Tudeh Party of Iran, which is in exile and did not participate in the country’s elections in the past or recently in 2016, Iran’s communist party as you could call it, dislikes the current government. In a statement on March 1 of this year, they talk about “grand capitalism” in Iran and privatization of factories, which is connected to a statement in January in which they state that Iran has, currently a “system underpinned by neoliberal capitalist socio-economics that has destroyed the productive infrastructure of the country and has driven Iran to unprecedented levels of poverty and deprivation.” Around the same time they released another statement saying that “the way to save Iran is not to replace one dictatorial regime with another kind of dictatorship and tyranny. Our people are striving for a national, popular and democratic republic.” While I am a bit wary of Tudeh as it is an exile, and is not based in the country itself, I think they make good points about the economic system in the country, which is becoming more and more capitalist.

With all of this, there is still no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as it currently stands, is resisting U$ imperialist aggression in the region. It is for this reason that the Koreans continue to support it, even though they do not desire a similar government in their country. For the years to come, the relations between the countries will remain strong unless the Iranian leadership capitulates to the imperialists and cuts off relations entirely to appease the capitalist poles of power. If that happens, that would be a sad day for the peoples of Iran and Korea.

Notes

[1] Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), pp 4, 30-31, 40, 47-48, 54, 61, 70, 78-80, 107, 116-118, 122, 124-127, 131, 134, 135, 137, 140-143.

[2] Ibid, pp 125-126.

[3] John Tagliabue, “How $18 Million Got Soviet Weapons To Iran,” New York Times, May 27, 1987.

[4] IranWire, “North Korea’s Deadly Partnership With Iran,” The Daily Beast, Aug 11, 2017; Victor D. Cha and Gabriel Scheinmann, “North Korea’s Hamas Connection: “Below” the Surface?,” The National Interest, Sept 4, 2014; Ariel Nathan Pasko, “North Korea: The Israeli Connection,” BreakingIsraelNews, accessed Feb 7, 2018.

[5] Amir Taheri, “Khomeini or Kim? Khamenei’s Real Teacher,” Gatestone Institute, Sept 3, 2017.

[6] KCNA, “Deputy FM meets Iranian ambassador ” Jun 1, 2017. Pyongyang Times  reprints same article.

[7] KCNA, “SPA Presidium chief attends Iranian presidential inaugural,”  Pyongyang Times, Aug 7, 2017.

[8] KCNA, “New embassy in Iran opened,” Pyongyang Times, Aug 7, 2017.

[9] Amir Taheri, “Khomeini or Kim? Khamenei’s Real Teacher,” Gatestone Institute, Sept 3, 2017.

[10] KCNA, “DPRK, Iran sign memorandum,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 27, 2018.

[11] Also see articles about a Russian firm re-developing Iranian oil fields, a trade zone between Russia and Iran, that Iran will not seek U$ permission to operate in the region, that Iran does not seek domination of any region, and there are efforts to expand Iran-China ties. The Bahrainis have even blamed the Iranians for discord in their country, using them as a scapegoat. Iran says that its main priority is to increase security in the region, as it maintains connections with nearby countries, and is about to inaugurate an “offshore project which will stop flaring gas in the Persian Gulf.”Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei told the Syrian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) that “Syria is in the forefront of resistance against terrorism, and we are all responsible to support Syria’s resistance. Honorable President Bashar al-Assad played a prominent role of being a great defender and warrior and is highly regarded by its nation and the region…the great powers [US, the Soviet Union, NATO, the Arabs and regional countries against Iran] do not necessarily achieve what they look for…This gives insight, hope and power to the nations. So if we and you and the rest of the resistance groups remain decisive in our decisions, the enemy will not be able to defeat us.” The same was said in two articles in SANA here, here, and here.

[12] Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla, “Iran Orders Armed Forces to Sell All Energy, Business Assets,” Bloomberg News, Feb 7, 2018.

U$ imperialists torpedo opportunity for “positive changes” on Korean peninsula

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org. Written on May 24, 2018.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the orange menace, as I call him, wrote a letter to Kim Jong Un, ending the upcoming one-on-one summit with Kim in Singapore. This summit was even supported by a wide swath of the U$ public, even though many have Orientalist mindsets since they don’t trust the DPRK to be genuine. While the orange menace praised treatment of three U$ prisoners in the DPRK as “excellent,” this didn’t keep him from spouting lies in his recent letter to Kim, who welcomed the summit, showing his is more than a strongman but is the top imperialist in the world, leading forward U$ hegemony. Canceling this summit is, without a doubt, the art of the dealbreaker. This article aims to analyze the letter of the orange menace to Kim, line by line.

After his pleasantries in calling Kim by his proper title, the letter took a tone which seemed paternalistic, or at least demeaning:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that that meeting was requested by North Korea, but that is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you.

For one, it is important to recognize that the meeting was requested by the DPRK. It is not “totally irrelevant.” It shows that Kim Jong Un and the Korean leadership, led by the Workers’ Party of Korea which “may contain many revisionist tendencies and factions” as recently here by Amber B, are the ones whom are working to keep the U$ in “its place, cowed by the superior determination of the Korean people,” with embarrassed imperialists waiting on them. It also reinforces the role of the DPRK, which has attained a strong position, successfully delinking itself “from the world capitalist economy” and proving itself as a “fully sovereign and independent state,” serving on the “frontline of the struggle against imperialism and a vanguard of all Third World movements with tendencies to delink from the parasitic way the global economy is run” as argued by Abdelraheem Kheirawi of FC Apatride UTD in the pages of this website. There’s no need for those commemorative coins of the Singapore summit, which were minted, anymore!

The letter goes onto say that:

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have a long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.

This represents a fallacy: that Kim displayed “anger” and “hostility” toward the U$. On the one hand, the letter could be referring to a comment from DPRK vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui responding to U$ Vice-President Mike Pence’s tweet, in which he wrote that “as @POTUS Trump made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.” Son-hui’s comment that Pence is engaging in “ignorant and stupid remarks” which gush “out from the mouth” and that he is a “political dummy” since he is trying to “compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them” is accurate. The same goes for her comment that other high-level politicians in the U$ know “too little” about the DPRK, comparing it to Libya, and that Pence does not recognize “terrible consequences” of what he said, that the U$ will “taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now” as a result. Even with that, the statement is still not from Kim himself. After all, let us not forget that the orange menace threatened Kim with the fate of Gaddafi, saying that the U$ “went in and decimated him…we did the same thing with Iraq. That model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely,” saying there will be “absolute decimation” if a deal isn’t reached! With this, it is no surprise that the first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Kye Gwan, said they were reconsidering the summit, criticizing the comments of U$ National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom they were repulsive toward, saying they will not unilaterally abandon their nuclear weapons. Perhaps he even tanked these talks from the beginning. After all, the White House has declared that the U$ will continue “the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing” against the DPRK if the talks don’t happen. The criticism of Bolton, whom apparently wanted a possible deal with the DPRK to go before the U$ Senate, may have posed a “serious hurdle” for the orange menace, but they were right to criticize Bolton! [1]

Perhaps there is a political calculation at work here. On May 20, the New York Times reported, as summarized by The Hill, that the orange menace asked “aides if he should move forward with the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un… over fears that he could be politically embarrassed” and that the orange menace he was “surprised and angered by a recent announcement from North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator that North Korea would be unwilling to trade its nuclear weapons for economic aid,” showing he is a political novice. Aides were also quoted, anonymously, as saying they were “concerned about the president’s understanding of North Korea’s nuclear program and what is needed to ensure denuclearization.” Then a couple days later, it was reported that the orange menace publicly questioned if the summit would happen at all! [2]

Getting back to the claim in the letter that Kim stated something toward the U$ with “tremendous anger and open hostility,” Rodong Sinmun lists Kim’s last activity as guiding the 1st Enlarged Meeting of the 7th Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Otherwise, Rodong Sinmun criticizes the U$ interference in Venezuela. The DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pyongyang Times, nor KCNA list any recent statements by Kim about the summit or the U$! In fact, the most recent article of KCNA on Kim notes how he is inspecting Koam-Tapchon Railways which were recently completed in the county. [3] As such, the orange menace is clearly lying on this point, without question. The only article that mentions the summit, implicitly, is an article by Kim Rye Yong in the Pyongyang Times titled “it is needed to see DPRK-US dialogue squarely” in which Yong writes that the DPRK is out ahead:

The international community is supporting the DPRK’s effort to promote détente on the Korean peninsula and build a fine future.

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, has raised the profile of the DPRK as a world-level strategic state and safeguarded peace and stability on the peninsula and beyond by displaying outstanding wisdom, matchless courage and extraordinary political acumen.

With a strategic determination to put an end to the bitter history of the relationship between the DPRK and the US, he met US State Secretary Pompeo in Pyongyang and took a series of crucial and generous measures to seek peace and stability on the peninsula and in the rest of the world.

Foreign media attribute the current tendency towards dialogue to the DPRK’s great strength and positive efforts.

The courageous decision of Kim Jong Un and the proactive efforts of the Workers’ Party of Korea have brought a peaceful environment to the Korean peninsula, Kazbek Taysaev, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, said as he addressed a joint seminar of Russian political parties and organizations. The rapid development of the DPRK makes the world community better understand the greatness of the Korean leader and the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, he added.

While north Korea is leading the current situation, the US is following it, Canadian newspaper Toronto Star said. What is noteworthy is that north Korea emerges victorious in the long-standing confrontation and the US and its allies are on the defensive in their approach towards north Korea, it noted, adding that it is not a big country but it is a military power and centre stage.

“Compared to the US boasting of its economic and military capabilities, the DPRK is a small country in terms of territory and population,” Nigeria-based African Regional Committee for Friendship and Solidarity with the Korean People said on a website. “But the DPRK is led by Kim Jong Un endowed with outstanding strategy and courage and has an army and people committed to their cause.”

Such being the case, some are arguing that the thaw on the Korean peninsula is a result of the US’ “hardline diplomacy” and “sustained pressure”. This is of no slight help to the development of the situation on the peninsula. Rather it hurts the atmosphere for the DPRK-US negotiations.

Explicitly, the current situation is not a passive response to any pressure but an active shift effected by the peerless political acumen and strategic decision of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

To have a proper view on the current peninsula situation is indispensable for promoting global peace and stability.

It is here, we must remember not only the past U$ atrocities, like germ warfare, but recall the new strategic line of the DPRK, which focuses solely on the country’s planned economy, with a number of actions including ending weapons testing, a statement against “first strike” of nuclear weapons (only using them in self-defense) which is consistent with previous policy, and working to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. [4] This means that the DPRK has committed itself to a no-first use commitment, although Ellsberg, in his book, The Doomsday Machine, says on page 333, that any nation making a “threat of first use of a nuclear weapon…is a terrorist nation,” listing the U$, the murderous Zionist apartheid state, Russia, Pakistan, and the DPRK as examples, which seems to be conflating all of these together. In fact, the DPRK would not qualify in this category, with the U$ and Zionists, being the real terrorists without question, especially with recent repression by the Zionists against Palestinians.

The letter then says that:

You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

Let us not forget that the DPRK has made the initiative in the realm of disarmament, showing they are fully serious and committed, while they do not, rightly, want to accept “universal disarmament.” There have been journalists from the ROK who visited the dismantling of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site on May 24th, which was destroyed by “impressive” explosions, as one journalist on the scene described it, while he retained his Orientalist mindset. [5] This was something that the orange menace once called “smart.” Beyond that, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK recently issued a statement explaining what happened when the Punggye-ri site was dismantled before the eyes of the world:

True to the decision of the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK held a ceremony for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK on May 24 Juche 107 (2018), to ensure transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test.

Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site.

It has been confirmed that there were neither leakage of radioactive materials nor any adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment.

Complete closure of the area surrounding the nuclear test ground will come on the heels of successive removal of all ground observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units, and withdrawal of staff concerned.

It has been confirmed by local and international reporters that two tunnels at the nuclear test ground were ready for use for carrying out very powerful underground nuclear tests at any time.

The dismantling of the nuclear test ground conducted with high-level transparency has clearly attested once again to the proactive and peace-loving efforts of the DPRK government being made for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the world.

The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world, a new independent world where the dream and ideal of humanity are realized.

With this, it is no surprise that the leadership of Russia and China endorsed the meeting between the orange menace and Kim, as did revisionist Laos. In the meantime, DPRK diplomats visited China, undoubtedly to talk about the summit, in part, among other issues. This is despite the fact it seemed unlikely that the DPRK would fare better than Iran, a deal torpedoed by the U$ with the European capitalists barely hanging on, while the Iranians continue to suffer.

Since the negotiations on the meeting, the U$ apparently led some B-52 bombers to change their flight plans to not fly over the Korean Peninsula, but they haven’t given up anything else since the “USS Milius, one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers, arrived in Japan…to reinforce defenses against any ballistic missile attacks by North Korea, or anyone else in East Asia” on May 22nd! Some have even pressured the current U$ administration to “confront the North Korean leader about his country’s aggressive hacking strategy,” a “fact” which is “proven” by the U$ intelligence establishment itself and accepted by the bourgeois media as “real” even though it is clearly fanciful considering that the DPRK only has an intranet, and no internet, making such hacking physically impossible and counterproductive.

It is here I recall what Daniel Ellsberg, the person who famously provided the Pentagon Papers to the bourgeois press, in 1971, showing the lies and deception during the war in Vietnam wrote in his recent book, The Doomsday Machine. Keep in mind that Ellsberg has, like former CIA consultant (and bourgeois scholar) Chalmers Johnson who wrote on the U$ empire in his four-part Blowback series, internalized many anti-communist ideals, believing that Josef Stalin was a “dictator as ruthless as Hitler” with the Soviet Union, in the post-war period, ruled “by a single party more cohesive and competent than the Nazi Party,” occupying half of Europe and having tremendous military strength. [6] Being a nuclear war planner for years, he discovered that between 275 million would be killed by nuclear war with the USSR and China immediately and 325 million over 6 months. He also found, horrifyingly, that basic elements of nuclear war have not changed, with nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert,” a continued first-use policy of the U$, and that U$ presidents have used nuclear weapons in many crises as a threat, like a “gun…pointed at someone in a confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.” Ellsberg also says that the “hand” which can launch nuclear weapons has “never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his higher officials,” a policy going back to Eisenhower. This is coupled with false alarms and “catastrophic dangers” concealed from the public, which could result in nuclear war, as shown in the 1964 Hollyweird movie, Fail Safe, where a computer error leads to a nuclear bomb being dropped on Moscow and subsequently one on New York City, killing the President’s wife! He also writes that there was a doomsday machine in the “form of pre-targeted bombers on alert in the Strategic Air Command (SAC)” beginning in 1961, which expanded from there. After talking about his own personal experience as a nuclear war planner, he notes that nuclear warheads arrived in Taiwan and the ROK in 1958, along with in Japan  in the 1960s, a violation of the Japanese Constitution, and the safeguards were circumvented which allowed the U$ Air Force to easily launch nuclear weapons! This was connected to the fact that varied commanders in the Pacific, part of the Commander in Chief of Strategic Arms Command (CINCSAC), could launch nukes on their own authority “without the immediate prior involvement of the president”! At the same time, CINCSAC wanted to, if there was a nuclear war, nuke China even though there was the Sino-Soviet split, so they could gain their glory and be “part” of the “action.” By 1961, there were thousands of pre-planned nuclear targets which put “every city in the Soviet Union and China” in the crosshairs with at least one warhead “allocated for every city of 25,000 people or more in the Soviet Union” alone! Ellsberg writes that he was shown, in spring 1961, calculations of a computer model showing the effects of nuclear war launched by the U$:

…275 million would die in the first hours of our [U$] attacks and 325 million would be dead within six months…[not including] wounded and sick…this was for the Soviet Union and  China alone…another hundred million or so would die in Eastern European satellite countries…many[of the U$ nuclear weapons were aimed at]…air defenses and military  installations near cities…[with] subsequent bombers..dropped megaton weapons on radar stations, antiaircraft installations, and surface-to-air sites…in Eastern Europe [such as Albania]…most warheads in Eastern Europe, as elsewhere, were ground-burst, maximizing fallout. Fallout from our [U$] surface explosions in the Soviet Union, its satellites, and China would decimate the populations in the Sino-Soviet bloc as well as neutral nations bordering these countries…as well as Japan and Pakistan…fallout fatalities inside our Western European NATO allies from U.S. attacks against the Warsaw Pact would dependent on climate and wind conditions.

The total death count, he recalled, from U$ attacks was “in the neighborhood of six hundred million dead,” mostly civilians, generally inflicted in a day or two, the others over a six month period. Ellsberg then described a graphic showing death counts from a nuclear war with the Soviets and Chinese as a “depiction of pure evil.” Still, he admits that the total death count estimated in spring 1961 was a “fantastic underestimate” as it does not include fires caused by nuclear blasts, was was the case in Hiroshima, as John Hersey put it in his book of the same name. Still, in order to make sure that the nuclear missiles remained, a “missile gap” with the Soviets was imagined, lampooned in Dr. Strangelove, after the Soviet Doomsday Machine is activated by a nuclear missile hitting Soviet missile silo, as a “mindshaft gap.” Other parts of the book note how close the U$ and USSR came to war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with continued nuclear plans to kill millions of people with presidents objecting privately but never publicly which allowed the plans to continue, with a constant goal to decapitate the whole Soviet command system. The latter was at first only a private goal, then became part of the U$’s public anti-Soviet foreign policy. There were also nuclear threats by the U$ throughout the Nixon administration, especially in regards to Vietnam. He ends with some recommendations, saying the U$ and Russian (called “Dead Hand”) doomsday machines must end. For the U$, this involves a no-first-use policy, hearings on war plans, eliminating ICBMs, and giving up hegemony based on premise of nuclear weapons, among other aspects, even as he accepts some use of nuclear weapons to “deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies”!

With this, there is no reason in the world that the DPRK should ever trust the U$ at face value, especially not in its current imperial posture!

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only the dialogue that matters.

This seems like a strange statement as they likely have never talked directly, even on the phone to each other, which Kim wanted to do with Obama during his presidency, as Dennis Rodman told the bourgeois media when he returned to the U$ after a trip to the DPRK, but it was rejected at the time. Kim has made varied references to a DPRK-U$ dialogue, the first on April 10 as Japan Times said at the time, but that is not his main concern. Rather he is concerned with improving the living standard of the Korean people, hence the new strategic line. Such dialogue between the U$ and DPRK was not very well developed. What I mean is that just last year, the U$ was utterly hostile in its rhetoric toward the DPRK, while this year, since Kim started his effort for inter-Korean cooperation, rhetoric improved, but there still continued to be a strong hardline, especially with people like Pompeo and Bolton as the advisers of the orange menace!

Some day, I look very much forward to meeting with you.

So the orange menace leaves open the door, but is this an empty promise? I am reminded here of a recent article in MintPress News by Mel Gurtov, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, who wrote that not only is the DPRK “not going to give up its principal bargaining chip and strategic deterrent in advance of receiving incentives” but they have “always demanded are security assurances and an end to “hostile” US policies,” wanting to know that they will not be attacked by the U$, and that they want “a road map to normalization of relations with the US…But…security comes first.” He further added that while “Trump has treated Kim with respect and even exaggerated politeness, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has had two apparently upbeat meetings with Kim,” there have been “ominous signs of trouble” from Bolton, a continued “US-South Korea exercise called Max Thunder” which is a “two-week drill involving B-52 bombers and F-22 Raptor fighter jets.” But he ended by with a recommendation:

…the barrage of criticism leveled exclusively at the North Koreans is unwarranted, and reminiscent of Cold War propaganda. Their views are being dismissed by one and all as typical of their trickery and deceit, when in fact they are well known. Wishful thinking is no substitute for a careful engagement strategy. Next time, the US side should better inform itself of the North Korean perspective and priorities, and listen when an adversary says that trust building requires a long-term process.

Of course, this will not be heeded by many, including giddy liberals who didn’t even want a one-on-one meeting, like former CIA director John Brennan or Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. [7] Robinson, not surprisingly, was confused by the meeting, declaring the country “brutal,” “secretive,” and run by a “dictator” who “oppresses” his people. At the same time, the apologists of the orange menace think that he is “right” and “knows” what he is talking about, even though he doesn’t. The Korean people were optimistic, feeling they are turning a new page of history, but the U$ imperialists, of course, don’t feel this way at all! As Whitney Webb put it recently, “attempts to sabotage the Korea peace talks may also find support from elements within the U.S. government and military…[and] U.S. weapon manufacturers.” With the orange menace pulling out of the summit with Kim, he has allied himself with them, without a doubt!

In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

While this is positive, the language of the orange menace is overly flowery and is what deluded liberals would undoubtedly call “childish” with phrases like “beautiful gesture” which seems a bit over the top. But, really, the orange menace is trying to appeal to his base, with 30-40% of the U$ populace still giving him support as varied polls in Gallup, Pew Research, and elsewhere indicate. After all, he can use this as a point to rally for re-election, declaring that he, the “great” president, released the prisoners. Also, they were not “hostages” but prisoners. He is in a sense, trying to equate those released to the Iran hostages held for 444 days as the Carter Administration refused to meet reasonable Iranian demands, and pose himself as Reagan, not Carter, of course.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.

Kim may write the orange menace, or the message may go through other intermediaries. Of course, the DPRK wants the sanctions to be lifted, a peace treaty, and security guarantees. It is good the orange menace is keeping the door open, but he is still acting like the onus is on the DPRK, rather than the U$ which took a hardline and this drew the Koreans away, not surprisingly, as they remember their history! They will not be fooled or hoodwinked. The U$ is not blameless for the canceling of this summit, but rather holds all the blame and the DPRK, defending its sovereignty and dignity, holds no blame whatsoever.

The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.

This statement echoes his view that Kim would be able to stay as the head of the DPRK, declaring that “he’d be running his country. His country would be very rich,” without, of course, giving any specifics whatsoever of such “security guarantees.” [8] He also forgets that as Han Park, a “former unofficial US-North Korean negotiator” noted, the DPRK does not “want to be a small South Korea. They want the money, but not through capitalist, private-ownership means whatsoever. They don’t want to be like East Germany.” This is what the orange menace thinks they want, but they don’t want this at all. Still, some say the DPRK looks “remarkably similar to the Southeast Asian nation in 1986, when its Communist neighbor [Vietnam] undertook “Doi Moi” reforms to tiptoe toward capitalism.” [9] This is a worrisome sign, if a path similar to that of Vietnam, which recently rolled over and accepted the CPTPP, a trade agreement which benefits the global bourgeoisie and hurts the proletariat, being pursued, to say the least.

This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history.

While at some level it is sad for the Koreans, on another it is a defeat for the orange menace, as it makes the diplomacy of the orange menace look unorganized. It could provide ammunition for the Democratic Party domestically, while it also shows that Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.

In the days to come, it is likely that inter-Korean cooperation will continue, while the DPRK will continue its internationalist path of non-isolation by working to connect itself with the world, even if it doesn’t engage in an “opening up” like the revisionists in Laos, Vietnam, or China, which has created a domestic bourgeoisie in each and turned these countries into revisionist havens for Western capitalists. Instead, the DPRK will undoubtedly pursue an independent policy like that of Cuba, standing in solidarity (and supporting) countries under imperialist attack like Venezuela and working to spread the ideals of Juche worldwide with their continued comradely efforts.

Long live the Korean proletariat!

Solidarity with the DPRK against U$ aggression!

Socialism, not capitalist mayhem!

Another world is possible!


Notes:

[1] Julian Borger, “Trump faces North Korea dilemma after Bolton infuriates Pyongyang,” The Guardian, May 17, 2018; “Bolton: Korea Deal Should Go to the Senate for Approval,” Red State, May 13, 2018. Reportedly, the strikes in Syria (another bout of imperial aggression), as noted by Jesse Johnson in an April 15th article in Japan Times, titled “As Kim-Trump summit approaches, Syria strikes evoke memories of Gadhafi’s gruesome fate for North Korea” were meant to “serve as a stark reminder to North Korea of the 2011 U.S.-led intervention in Libya that ended in the gruesome execution of its leader.”

[2] “Trump says meeting with DPRK’s Kim may be delayed,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018.

[3] “Kim Jong Un Inspects Completed Koam-Tapchon Railways,” KCNA, May 25, 2018.

[4] Robert Carlin, “Kim Jong Un’s New Strategic Line,” 38 North, Apr 23, 2018; Ruediger Frank, “The North Korean Parliamentary Session and Budget Report 2018: Cautious Optimism for the Summit Year,” 38 North, Apr 19, 2018; Jin Qianyi, “North Korea halts nuclear program in preparation for economic gains,” Global Times, Apr 15, 2018.

[5] “Trump Thanks North Korea for ‘Smart’ Move to Dismantle Test Site,” Bloomberg, May 12, 2018; “Statement of Nuclear Weapons Institute of DPRK,” KCNA, May 24, 2018;”DPRK receives list of S. Korean journalists to cover nuke test site dismantling,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018; Lin Xin, “Moon visits US amid uncertainty over Trump-Kim summit,” Global Times, May 22, 2018; Barbara Starr and Jeffrey Cohen, “US B-52 bombers changed flight plan after North Korea threatened Trump summit,” CNN, May 18, 2018; Eric Geller and Martin Matishak, “Trump pressed to put hacking on North Korean summit agenda,” Politico, May 19, 2018; “Leaders of South Korea and US discuss Pyongyang over phone,” TASS, May 20, 2018; “N. Korean diplomat arrives in China,” Yonhap News Agency, May 19, 2018; Tim Kelly, “U.S. bolsters Asia ballistic missile defense as Trump-Kim summit nears,” Reuters, May 22, 2018.

[6] Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (Broadway, NY:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017), pp 2, 6, 11-13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 36-37, 42, 49-50, 53-54, 56, 62, 64, 68, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 77, 79, 82, 84, 85, 88-89, 94, 98, 99, 112, 117, 118, 124, 127, 136-137, 138, 139, 140, 142, 148, 153, 169, 185, 192, 203, 205, 211, 213, 215, 218, 265, 271, 299, 301, 305, 311, 312, 313, 334, 340, 342, 345, 349. These are all the pages information was obtained for the discussion of Ellsberg’s book. Also on 350 he talks about the “Soviet empire,” a Reaganite term.

[7] Cody Fenwick, “Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Reveals How North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘Duped Trump’,” AlterNet, May 10, 2018; Eugene Robinson, “Lord save the world,” Washington Post, May 10, 2018; “North Korea: UN gains ‘unprecedented access’ during visit,” BBC News, May 12, 2018.

[8] Ayesha Rascoe, “Trump: Nuclear Deal Would Be Good For North Korea,” NPR, May 17, 2018; Michael Knigge, “North Korea does not want to be like East Germany,” DW, May 16, 2018; “Trump says “Libya model” not to be repeated on DPRK,” Xinhua, May 18, 2018. As noted in a Washington Post article on May 13, titled “Pompeo says U.S. assuring Kim that it does not seek his overthrow,” Pompeo also said that the U$ did not want to overthrow Kim.

[9] Shuli Ren, “Kim Could Make North Korea Samsung’s New Backyard,” Bloomberg News, May 13, 2018.

“Advancing the cause of socialism”: The DPRK and the Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara in Juche Korea, December 1960, via Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism tumblr

In 1959 (Juche 48), the Cuban Revolution was victorious and rode to power with the fleeing of the autocratic Batista, a victory for the proletariat. The Republic of  Cuba would soon be formed and have a socialist government, quickly allying with the Soviets, but still working to maintain their independence. Through all of this, Juche Korea, which was, in 1959, 16 years old, began to become an ally of Cuba, learning from its experience.

In 1960 (Juche 49), Che Guevara visited Juche Korea (pictured above), said that the government there was a model for “Fidel Castro’s Cuba to follow” with relations between the two countries established on August 26. [1] Even so, Juche Korea felt that it wanted to “avoid Cuba’s dependency on Soviet weaponry” after seeing Khrushchev retreat from confronting the murderous empire during the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it transitioned toward a “military-first policy.” 56 years later, in 2016 (Juche 106), Pyongyang Times commemorated the establishment of relations in 1960, saying that both countries have supported each other over the  years in “efforts to enhance unity and cohesion between socialist countries, expand the Non-Aligned Movement and safeguard global peace against the imperialists’ moves towards aggression and war.” They also added that “the Korean people regard the Cubans as their old comrades-in-arms and close friends and always extend full support and solidarity to Cuba’s cause of socialism,” further saying that both countries have “long maintained the traditional ties and deepened cooperation with each other” with the signing of protocol “on the economic, scientific and technological cooperation and exchange of commodities for 2016 as part of the efforts to promote bilateral exchange and cooperation in different fields.” As such, Pyongyang Times said that both Cuba and Juche Korea, “will continue to strengthen mutual support and cooperation in a bid to realize their common ideal of socialism, upholding the banner of independence against imperialism.” That should be the ideal of all socialist states.

In 1980 (Juche 69), and again in 2016, the WPK and Communist Party of Cuba held talks to strengthen relations between the two countries, with their close relations “explained by a shared normative solidarity” against the murderous empire, which has occasionally “manifested itself in symbolically significant shipments of arms and manufactured goods.” Cuba had become “one of North Korea’s most consistent international allies.” Fidel visited Juche Korea in 1986 (Juche 75), further looking to cement the ties between the two countries. Even if there was such a disagreement, likely in the 1980s, Kim Il Sung of Juche Korea, “sent us [the Cubans] 100,000 AK-47 rifles and its corresponding ammo without charging a cent,” after the Soviets failed to sent Cuba arms to defend itself from invasion, as Fidel  Castro wrote in 2013 (Juche 102). [2] With such statements, imperialists thought that arms were being “illicitly” sent from Cuba to Juche Korea, trying to weaken the relations between the two countries.

After Raul Castro became the President of Cuba in 2008 (Juche 97), there seemed to be “signs” that the bilateral relationship between Juche Korea and Cuba had strengthened, with claims of a “Cuba-North Korea arms deal” during the Obama years, which was not unfazed by the normalization of U$-Cuban relations which has been somewhat weakened by the orange menace. This has manifested itself in the fact that Cuba has stood in solidarity with JucheKorea,with trading of “sugar and railway equipment” between the two countries beginning in January 2016, along with “Cuba’s intelligence sharing and close cooperation with the DPRK” which some bourgeois analysts detest. Additionally, there are organizations such as the Cuban Committee for Supporting Korea’s Reunification and the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba present in Juche Korea, and quotes in Cuban newspapers backing the latter. [3] This is evident in papers like Rodong Sinmun, which noted in July 2017 that the “delegation of the Prensa Latina News Agency of Cuba led by President Luis Enrique Gonzalez Acosta visited Mangyongdae, the birthplace of President Kim Il Sung….The head of the delegation praised the President as a great revolutionary.”

On November 25th of last year there was a memorial service at Cuba’s embassy in Pyongyang”to mark the first anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro.” [4] To honor this, Kim Jong Un sent a basket of flowers, which were “laid at a portrait of the leader of the Cuban revolution” with the event attended by Kim Sung Du (chairman of the Education Commission and chairman of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba), WPK officials, those from the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries  the General Bureau for Affairs with Diplomatic Corps, and the Cuban ambassador Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo, and his “embassy staff members,” along with other officials of the government of Juche Korea. Additionally, the International Affairs Department of the WPK Central Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba, and the  Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces all laid flowers. At the event itself, speakers said  that Fidel was ” a prominent political activist who had established a socialist system for the first time in the Western Hemisphere and devoted his all to the just cause of national prosperity, people’s well-being and independence against imperialism.” The article in KCNA on the subject also noted that last year, Kim Jong Un visited the Cuban embassy, in Pyongyang, “to express his deep condolences” over the death of Fidel (even declaring a “three-day mourning period” to pay tribute to himwhich is the same thing that Fidel did after the death of Kim Jong-Il) and “dispatched a high-level mourners’ delegation to Cuba.” [5] The same article also said the following about the strong ties between the two countries:

They [speakers at thee vent] reaffirmed that the baton of bilateral fraternal ties forged by the preceding leaders of the two countries would invariably be passed on for ever even if time passes and generation changes. The participants recalled the career of Fidel Castro who had performed distinguished services for victoriously advancing the cause of socialism and boosting the bilateral ties.

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of Juche Korea, meets with President Fidel Castro of Cuba in September 2016. Over a year later, in November 2017, Raul Castro met with “Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ri Yong Ho” and others of Juche Korea in Havana.

The relationship between Cuba and Juche Korea is strong without a doubt. In November of last year, the foreign minister of  Cuba and the counterpart in Juche Korea, “rejected the United States’ “unilateral and arbitrary” demands” as anyone with sense should. [6] These two ministers “strongly rejected the unilateral and arbitrary lists and designations established by the U.S. government which serve as a basis for the implementation of coercive measures which are contrary to international law” while also discussing “the respective efforts carried out in the construction of socialism according to the realities inherent to their respective countries.” This is nothing new. In June 2015, Raúl Castro hosted the WPK’s secretary of international relations, Kang Sok Su, while in September Kim Jong-Un received “Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Pyongyang” to give  an example  of their relations. [7] Such relations are vital since, reportedly, Singapore and Philippines said they would cut trade relations with Juche Korea, showing that they have no backbone and are falling into the hands of imperialists. After all, Cuba, Juche Korea, Iran, and Venezuela are part of the orange menace’s new “axis of evil.” With this, Fidel was right to say in 2013 that

…I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary. If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her. Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet. If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Now, although bourgeois media like The Guardian claimed that Fidel “gently admonished” Juche Korea, but “used stronger language in addressing Washington,” the above quote shows it is more aimed at the U$ imperialists than anything else. [8] The relationship continues afoot, with Cuban embassy staff members, this year, visiting the “Pyongyang Maternity Hospital on January 5 to mark the 59th anniversary of the victorious Cuban revolution” and Cuban ambassador Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo hosting a reception “on January 25 on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the victorious Cuban revolution,” inviting “DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Ryu Myong Son, deputy department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, So Ho Won, vice-chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and relevant officials.” The relations between the two countries will continue to grow, building upon Kim Il-Sung’s 1967 phrase that “it is an internationalist duty for
every revolutionary people to fight to defend the victories of the Cuban Revolution,” the sending of 200 technicians to Cuba in 1964 (and even more in 1969), the “solidarity farms with the Caribbean country,” the sympathy against the economic blockade on Cuba and for the “freedom of the Cuban Five antiterrorists.” [9]

Notes

[1] Samuel Ramini, “The North Korea-Cuba Connection,” The Diplomat, Jun 7, 2016; Benjamin R. Young, “Revolutionary Solidarity: Castro’s cozy relationship with North Korea,” NK News, Nov 18, 2016.

[2] David Iaconangelo,” Fidel Castro Says North Korea Sent Cuba Free Weapons During Cold War,” Latin Times, Aug 14, 2013; Mariano Castillo. Catherine E. Shoichet and Patrick Oppmann, “Cuba: ‘Obsolete’ weapons on ship were going to North Korea for repair,” CNN, Jul 17, 2013; “Cuba admits sending weapons to North Korea,” Al Jazeera, Jul 16, 2013.

[3] Lucy Williamson, “North Korea and Cuba: Allies in isolation,” BBC News, Jul 17, 2013

[4] KCNA, “Memorial service held for Fidel Castro,” Pyongyang Times, Nov 27, 2017.

[5] “N.K. declares 3-day mourning over ex-Cuban leader Castro’s death,” Yonhap News, Nov 28, 2016.

[6] Reuters Staff, “Cuba, North Korea reject ‘unilateral and arbitrary’ U.S. demands,” Reuters, Nov 22, 2017; Linley Sanders, “Cuba Backs North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in War On Trump: Havana Calls For ‘Respect For Peoples’ Sovereignty’,” Newsweek, Nov 23, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Cuba and North Korea balk at ‘unilateral and arbitrary’ demands from the US,” Business Insider (reprinted from Reuters), Nov 23, 2017.

[7] Mary Anastasia O’Grady, “North Korea’s Cuban Friends,” Wall Street Journal (opinion), Jan 10, 2016; Robert Vallencia, “New Cold War? North Korea Strengthens Ties with Cuba After Threatening Nuclear Attack on U.S.,” Newsweek, Nov 17, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Castro meets North Korea minister amid hope Cuba can defuse tensions,” Reuters, Nov 24, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Cuba and North Korea hold anti-US meeting and reject Donald Trump’s ‘arbitrary’ nuclear demands,” The Independent, Nov 23, 2017; , “Trump’s axis of evil: Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea,” McClatchy, Jan 31, 2018.

[8] Associated Press in Havana, “Fidel Castro to North Korea: nuclear war will benefit no one,” The Guardian, Apr 5, 2013.

[9] Fekerfanta (a Spanish-speaking comrade),”Proletarian Nationalism of North Korea,” From Pyongyang to Havana, Aug 8, 2013. Translated webpage. Original webpage in Spanish. The latter two webpages have working videos. Other webpages by this comrade: “In Hostile Earth: North Korea. Jails and Manipulation” Feb 2015 about an anti-DPRK documentary and reality of DPRK (original page),  “Socialist Construction in North Korea” Dec 2014 post (original page), “Sistiaga, manipulation, and North Korea” Oct 2014 post (original page), “The popular democracy of North Korea” May 2014 post (original page), “The “dark night” of North Korea” Feb 2014 post (original post), “Manipulation against North Korea (2013)” Dec 2013 post (original post), “[2013] Socialist construction in North Korea” Nov 2013 post (original post), “Economic blockade against North Korea” Oct 2013 post (original post), “Persection of Christians in North Korea?” Jun 2013 post (original post), “Cities of North Korea III [Sariwon]” Apr 2013 post (original post), “Dismantling lies I: Haircuts in North Korea” Mar 2013 post (original post), “The women in North Korea” Mar 2013 post (original post), “Rural areas in North Korea” Jan 2013 post (original post), “[2012] Socialist construction in North Korea” Dec 2012 post (original post), “Cities of North Korea II [Hamhung]” Nov 2012 post (original post), “Traffic in North Korea” Nov 2012 post (original post), and “Disabled in North Korea” Oct 2012 post (original post). The Twitter of this comrade is active, the YouTube Channel of this comrade is not really that active, and the same can be said about the Facebook page.

Mansudae Overseas Projects spreads the ideals of Juche worldwide

Korean artist examining his work at Mansudae Art Studio. This photograph really shows the workplace well, unlike others. There are other photos of a statue under construction at Mansudae Art Studio and what the outside of the art studio looks like.

In the heart of Pyongyang, in Jongphyong-dong, Phyongchon District, there is what some have called the “world’s biggest art factory” or likely the “largest art production center in the world.” This is the Mansudae Art Studio, which employs 4,000 people (who  are male and female) 800 of whom are artists, with Mansudae Overseas Development Group launched in  the 1970s (Munsadae Overseas Projects or MOP is part of this group) as a subset of the studio, with this subset doing works for varying foreign countries, especially in Africa, while the studio as a whole does many works inside Juche Korea, honoring the accomplishments of the socialist state. [1] The studio’s Italian liaison and representative of the studio to the “outside world,” Pier Luigi Cecioni, described it as “more of a campus than a factory, more of a studio, the biggest in the world.” More specifically, this art studio, founded on November 17, 1959 (Juche 48), has an area of “over 120,000 square meters, 80,000 of which indoor,” occupying an a 30 acre area, as noted by the firm’s English-language website, with Cecioni facilitating “the studio’s international sales of paintings, prints, and smaller works.” The studio itself is divided into

…13 creative groups, seven manufacturing plants and more than 50 supply departments. The artistic works produced at the Mansudae Art Studio range from oil paintings to bronze sculptures, from Korean Paintings (ink on paper) to ceramics, from woodcuts to embroideries, from jewel paintings (made with precious and semiprecious stones reduced to powder) to charcoal drawings and much more. The Mansudae Art Studio is…a very high-quality art production center. The vast majority of the major artworks of the country have been made by Mansudae Art Studio artists…[most of whom] are graduates of the very demanding Pyongyang University.

Furthermore, artists who work there are members of “state-run studio complexes” with every artist with a “formal ranking,” with the top art institute in the country being “the Pyongyang University of Fine Art with various sections: brush-and-ink, oil, sculpture, ceramics, mural painting and industrial arts.” Young artists who want to go into the university are selected, and “judged sufficiently skilled they will study here,” with a minimum of “five years study,” with a total of “around 150 students a year in the fine art department,” with students, after graduating “are selected by various art studios.” The art looks like “classic Social Realist propaganda,” while abstract painting is prohibited, rightly, “as it is deemed bourgeois and anti-revolutionary,” with a yearbook published every year cataloguing official art production. Artists working at the Mansudae Art Company, whom can be viewed by foreign tourists whom can view “small-scale ceramic sculptures,” work in small studios either with ink or even with oil paint, while other non-artist workers and technicians likely help with woodblocks (a specialty of those in Juche Korea), helping production “at least 4,000 top level original works a year. Employees work a week with eight-hour days and are paid depending on the level of production, with art production, at least in 2011 (Juche 100), taking up 40% of the socialist nation’s budget, showing the importance that is put upon it. The studio produces 80% of the country’s art, with a typical artist producing “30 artworks a year, working four days a week,” with Fridays for community service, and their work critiqued by colleagues. However, as Rodong Sinmun makes clear, there are other art groups, like the Korean Central Fine Art Studio, Pyongyang University of Fine Art and Art Studio of the Ministry of Railways which produce works of significance, such as posters “dealing with the Party’s militant call for conducting a dynamic all-people general offensive to attain the five-year strategic goals with the might of self-reliance and self-development.” After all, just look at the architecture in Juche Korea to show how important art is there.

One oil painter, Ho Jae-song, working for Mansudae, said that “normally artists work from Monday to Friday, but it depends on the individual artists and what they are doing,” with the artists normally visiting “many places to get inspired, pick up information and make studies” with their visit taking “a couple of weeks, even months,” with those who are members of the studio  proud of their work. BBC News even says that “these highly skilled craftsmen, largely anonymous, working for a higher good and not interested in profit inhabit a very different world from artists elsewhere” although they claim, as one would expect from such horrid media, many would not “envy” their work, in their typical propagandistic style. There are claims in bourgeois media that in overseas environments there are “poor working conditions…and the low pay” but this is undeniably slander.

Painters at the Mansudae Art Studio, as noted by Colors Magazine. Two female artists are working on the left, and two male artists on the right.

Of course, bourgeois media  and analysts declare works coming from MOP (and would undoubtedly say the same about the studio as a whole as well) are “propaganda” with a snarl, claiming it runs afoul of UN sanctions, scrutinized by the murderous empire and UN “experts” as bringing in “significant” money for  Juche Korea, with  “large construction operations” led by Mansudae, with contracts drawn with said governments. Whether this is true or not, is unknown, but it shows that imperialists fear the influence of these monuments, some of which are 160 feet tall! Just take the words of a former IMF adviser, Naranhkiri Tith, who declared that Juche Korea is commercializing Angkor Wat (the project there described in the next paragraph), declaring laughably that “I think anything that happens in Cambodia is not normal. That is why Cambodia is called the country of the absurd…North Korea, in my opinion, is another country of the absurd where the government is engaging in smuggling and many other illegal activities to survive.” [2] What the heck does this even mean? The bourgeois media cites clowns like this person all the time, with this being only one example of the Orientalist propaganda spewed by media every day. They definitely won’t mention that in 2013 (Juche 102), a Western named Oliver Laric became “the only individual…to have hired the Mansudae studio to create a private sculptural commission.” The museum in Angkor was the most “ambitious foreign project” for MOP, taking 63 artists, who were flown in Juche Korea, “four months to paint the cyclorama,” with Yit Chandaroat, acting director of museums for Apsara, saying that “Mansudae has great talent and a good reputation in artwork, painting and construction,” which is undoubtedly the case. Even Nicholas Bonner, founder of Koryo Studio in Beijing who has worked with Mansudae for 20 years, said that “I don’t see this museum [in Cambodia] as an attempt to project soft power. Mansudae is a massive studio, and they need to keep working to bring revenue in from inside and outside of the country.” Mansudae’s official overseas gallery, called the Mansudae Art Museum is in “Beijing’s art district 798 Art Zone and has been holding exhibitions since 2009.” The head of this gallery, Zhengtai Ji, argued that “Now more than ever we need avenues like art to create understanding between North Korea and the rest of the world,” which is undeniably the case. Other bourgeois media claims that there is a huge market for artwork from Juche Korea in China. If this is true, which is may because there was a showing of Mansudae artwork in Shenyang in 2015 (Juche 104), it would be a further reason for a studio there.

These Korean workers have constructed monuments across the African continent celebrating “the rise of young, independent African nations” by merging their style of “socialist realism with African nationalism” (some say they have a “Soviet style“) with historical connections between the countries the monuments appear and those which Juche Korea supported national liberation. Currently, 17 African countries have monuments and structures built by these wonderful workers: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Togo, and Zimbabwe! [3] Asian countries being Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Western European country of Germany. In Cambodia, Mansudae constructed a “multimillion dollar culture and history museum in Angkor Wat” called the Angkor Panorama Museum, which opened in 2016, which will be run jointly by the Cambodians and those from Juche Korea for ten years, then  handed over to Cambodia into its complete control by 2036. As for the African countries, one bourgeois academic, who has an anti-Korea sentiment to his work, even wrote that the monuments “celebrate the rise of young, independent nations” with Mansudae originally having the government of Juche Korea as his client, with the latter company offering “cheap” and “attractive” prices to African governments. He adds that the monument in Namibia (National Heroes Acre) honors the fight against racist South Africans, the monument in Zimbabwe (also called National Heroes Acre) honors the fight against British oppressors, and a monument in Juche Korea (in the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery) commemorates the fight against Japanese colonizers, with the victors “of each of these fights continue to rule the liberated countries and are basing their legitimacy on the independence struggles.” [4] In all, as one bourgeois “watcher” site for Juche Korea noted, “Mansudae Overseas Development Group undertook to build bronze statues, monuments and other works of arts, and fit out buildings and parks in over 70 countries and regions,” claiming it brings in “needed” cash to Juche Korea, not understanding it is done even more for the reasons of international solidarity. This is demonstrated by the statues, listed by the bourgeois Colors magazine, of

  • national heroes in Botswana (2005)
  • Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe (2010)
  • Mozambique’s first president, Samora Machel (2011)
  • Angola’s first president Agostinho Neto (2012, with production overseen by “Neto’s wife and daughter”)
  • the Tiglachin Monument for the then-Marxist Ethiopian government (1974)
  • the African Renaissance monument in Senegal (2010)
  • The Unknown Soldier representing Namibians who were killed during the independence war (2002)
  • the Monument to Laurent Kabila in the DRC (2002)

The bourgeois media claims that Juche Korea has taken in $160 million (a number first floated by the anti-Korean Daily NK and repeated by bourgeois media) “in the last ten years thanks to the construction of sculptures and other edifices in countries across Africa,” saying it is a lot because of the country’s “per capita income.” [5] Yet, if we take the most recent estimated GDP (PPP) put forward by the CIA Factbook lets say, taking  it for the sake of argument, being $40 billion, this project would be equal to .04% of that value! That means these projects are chump change generally but still enough to make the work worthwhile, not a big “cash cow” or “cash lifeline” as the bourgeois media likes to describe them, in their lying terms, like they do with everything related to Juche Korea. So, what’s the big deal? It has to do with efforts to restrict this socialist state and limit its influence while capitalism continues to maintain its dominance across the world by strangling it. This is evident by the sanctions of the murderous empire levied by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in August 2017 (along with 15 other entities) against the Mansudae organization and in December 2016 the managing director of MOP, Mr. Tong-chol Kim, who was born on August 7, 1968, and a”Chinese subsidiary in Namibia” called Qingdao Construction. [6] That same year, the UN sanctioned Juche Korea, in an investigation led by one “Hugh Griffiths” who seemed to be anti-Korean (i.e. his statement of “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa”) for Mansudae constructing statues, mainly in Africa, showing that the UN was serving the interests of imperialists and being utter racist, not allowing it to make wonderful socialist realism statues celebrating African liberation. Later in 2016 (Juche 106), the UN “blacklisted Mansudae Art Studio, subjecting it to a global asset freeze and travel ban,” further manifesting imperialist efforts to isolate Juche Korea.

Choi Sang Kyun, head of Gallery Pyongyang, poses with a propaganda poster of Juche Korea that he collected. Photo is courtesy of Reuters and reprinted by The Telegraph. The image here is used  here under the fair use exception to U.S. Copyright law.

With this, it is worth quoting Cecioni, who notes the value of Mansudae to the world: “I consider it very important to let people know that … North Koreans do not make only bombs but also art and are common people.” [7] Clearly, the imperialists don’t want the world to know this, which is why the studio is on the list of sanctions, with some artists going to the “Chinese border town of Dandong.” Cecioni also adds that those who work at Mansudae find “abstract and conceptual art…amusing” because they “don’t see it as necessary.” He also added that artists there “have an enviable position” because, “unlike a Western artist they don’t have to worry about selling their work” since they “have a salary…are recognized and have privileges” and ultimately “seem to live happily, they feel part of something.” That is definitely not the case in the capitalist West. In exclusive interview with horrid Vice, Cecioni told more about Mansudae, from his perspective,20 noting that in January 2006 (Juche 105) he became “the representative of the Mansudae Art Studio in the West” with one of the provisions of the agreement to “organize exhibitions of Mansudae Art Studio works in the West” and he has “returned to Pyongyang a few times, and Korean artists have come to visit in Italy.” [8] He added that

The vast majority of the best artists in the country are at the Mansudae. Practically all its artists have a university or a fine-arts degree. When a student distinguishes himself or herself at the university he or she is invited to join the Mansudae. Also, if an artist distinguishes himself or herself in another center he or she might be invited to join. It is a great honor to enter the Mansudae…From what I have seen, from about late elementary school through high school, in the afternoon, students may attend on a voluntary basis after-school programs and institutions in which they follow their interests which can be musical, artistic, sport, acting, and similar. My impression is that the training becomes really demanding at the university: North Koreans are very good and serious university students… The Mansudae Art Studio has a perhaps unexpected economic autonomy. The money that comes from our sales goes to the Mansudae Art Studio… The artists do not absolutely have big egos, nor are they humble. In a way, among the people I frequent, they all consider themselves equal, even though they are fully aware, in art, that some are better than others and that they have different positions work-wise. Western contemporary art in general does not interest them. In fact I saw them find it literally funny in the sense that they laughed at seeing some works, not with disdain but with true amusement. They are very much interested in classic art…I would not say that the purpose of all DPRK art is its political message. The socialist realism works represent North Korea in a positive light and, in a broad sense, want to inspire the viewers to have positive and patriotic feelings and celebrate, especially with some large sculptures and large paintings exhibited in public places, the leaders. The subjects are often related to work, a subject not common in the West. One particular form of socialist realism art are the posters. They are hand-painted, not printed, and they have political or social messages. Many are aimed against the US, seen as past aggressors or potential aggressors. Besides social realism, landscape paintings are very popular. Also paintings of flowers and nature in general. There are also many portraits, mainly of workers. But then there are so many kinds of art—sculptures, ceramics, embroidery, various kinds of paintings, woodcutting, calligraphy, and some others—that I cannot generalize.

Apart from this, in 2015 (Juche 104), a south Korean filmmaker Onejoon Che made a documentary named Mansudae Master Class, which attracted interest in Western  art circles, which undeniably has an Orientalist tone to it, since in an interview with him, he calls Juche Korea a “dictatorship” and acts like they exploit Africans. [9] Basically, the country is again treated as a “curiosity” in undeniably racist terms.

Even with all of this, Mansudae was able to show their works, in 2007 (and again in 2014) in London, of all places, showing that the imperialist efforts to isolate the country aren’t working in slightest. The same was the case about Mansudae’s exhibition on Australia in 2009 (Juche 98), which was even covered by AP, with a 5-minute-video. Mansudae is following in the tradition of Korean history, with maps of Korea drawn in the 19th century which were “painted with watercolors” and are “wonderfully detailed [and] hand-drawn” maps, with these artists and loyal comrades with the same vibe with their work.

Notes

[1] Caroline Winter, “Mansudae Art Studio, North Korea’s Colossal Monument Factory,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Jun 6, 2013; Statues and ammunition: North Korea’s Africa connections,” CNN, Dec. 14, 2017; “North Korea’s ‘biggest’ export – giant statues,” BBC News, Feb 16, 2017; Thomas Gordon, “A North Korean art factory is making enormous statues,” Dazed, Aug 6, 2014; Hamish Macdonald, “North Korean embassy hosts art exhibition in London,” The Guardian, Nov 3, 2014; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 26, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 19, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 12, 2017; “Floral Tributes Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 11, 2017; “Floral Tribute to Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept 11, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 28, 2017; “Anniversary of Publication of Kim Jong Il’s Work Observed,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 22, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 17, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jul 29, 2017; “Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jul 10, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jun 21, 2017; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 27, 2017; “Floral Tribute to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 17, 2017; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 20, 2017; “22nd Paektusan Prize Sports Contest among Officials of National Institutions Closes,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 18, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 9, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Great Leaders on Lunar New Year’s Day,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 31, 2017; “Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival-2017 Opens,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 4, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il on New Year,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 4, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Great Leaders,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 26, 2016; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 20, 2016; “Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 18, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 12, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept 12, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 27, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 17, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, July 29, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jun 21, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 27, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 16 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 11 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues, Portraits of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 18, 2016; “Floral Tributes Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 11, 2016; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 2, 2016. In Angola, the studio has constructed the António Agostinho Neto culture center, Cabinda Park, and the Peace Monument along with a basketball stadium and athlete academic center “in the Congo, a government office building, Luba Stadium, and conference halls in Equatorial Guinea.

[2] Patrick Winn, “North Korea propaganda unit builds monuments abroad,” PRI (reprinted from Global Post), Aug 3, 2011; Amy Qin,  “An Art Powerhouse From North Korea,” New York Times, Jan 25, 2016; Guandong Hu, “Mine workers, idyllic landscapes, tigers: North Korean artists have made tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang,” Quartz, Nov 14, 2017; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph (reprinted in Yahoo! News) Oct 5, 2017; “North Korea’s Mansudae: The propaganda factory,” MSN News, Feb 17, 2016;

[3] Wikipedia, “Mansudae Overseas Projects,” accessed Feb 6, 2018, lists 11 African countries as places with monuments, but also says “as of 2015, Mansudae projects have been built in 17 countries: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Zimbabwe”; Derek Henry Flood, “Symbolism merges for Mali and North Korea,” Asia Times, Feb 2, 2013; Statues and ammunition: North Korea’s Africa connections,” CNN, Dec. 14, 2017; “North Korea and the World” project by the East-West Center and the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK); Tycho van der Hoog, “North Korean monuments in southern Africa: Legitimizing party rule through the National Heroes’ Acres in Zimbabwe and Namibia,” Masters Thesis summary (archived here), Leiden University, July 1, 2017, full masters thesis (67 pages), accessed February 5, 2018, archived here; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph, Oct 5, 2017; John Russell, “North Korean Art Market Growing,” VOA, Oct 10, 2017; Sebastian Strangio, “N Korea’s multimillion-dollar museum in Cambodia,” Al Jazeera, Feb 22, 2016. VOA claims that Juche Korea has “built statues and markers in at least 15 African countries.” In the full masters thesis, van der Hoog claims he didn’t have time (or ability) to do research in Zimbabwe, but did research in Namibia, which had “old black and white photos of SWAPO officials who were visiting Pyongyang before independence,” further noting that “North Korea not only funded and supplied the liberation movements [in Zimbabwe and Namibia, but], high ranking officials also visited the Asian country and North Korean military instructors were active in the exile camps in Africa, where they trained guerrilla soldiers.” This academic specifically describes the memorials in Namibia and Zimbabwe. One site, says that “as of 2015, Mansudae projects have been built in 17 countries: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Zimbabwe.”

[4] Other large projects in Namibia built by Mansudae include the “Independence Memorial Museum, the State House and a military museum in Okahandja” while in Zimbabwe, they also built a “grand statue of Joshua Nkomo in Bulawayo,” in Angola they have engaged in “56 construction projects” as one bourgeois scholar points out. It is claimed that Mansudae “has an office in Windhoek” although this relies on the UN report which only took information from 9 African counries, with 43 not submitting “the required National Implementation Reports,” which the bourgeois scholar still thinks gives the report legitimacy! He also claims that “among the African countries that are often mentioned as hosting North Korean laborers are Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya and Nigeria.” They also argue that Juche Korea “may form an inspiration for Namibia and Zimbabwe, and other countries.” One article in bourgeois media says that Other North Korean statues, mostly of African revolutionary leaders, were sold to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Benin and Congo” (Kevin Shieff, “North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa,” Washington Post, Jul 10, 2017).

[5] “Mansudae Overseas Development Group Projects,” North Korean Economy Watch, Jun 23, 2010; “Foreign Currency Earning Constructions in Africa,” Daily NK, Jun 21, 2010; “Korea, North,” The World Factbook, CIA, accessed Feb 5, 2018; Kevin Shieff, “North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa,” Washington Post, Jul 10, 2017.

[6] U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center, “Treasury Targets Chinese and Russian Entities and Individuals Supporting the North Korean Regime,” Aug 22, 2017, accessed Feb 5, 2018, it was later reprinted by the US Embassy in Russia; “Notices,” Federal Register, Vol. 82, No. 164, Friday, Aug 25, 2017; U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center, “Treasury Sanctions Individuals and Entities Supporting the North Korean Government and its Nuclear and Weapons Proliferation Efforts,” Dec 2, 2016, accessed Feb 5, 2018; John Bat, “Treasury slaps new sanctions on groups allegedly supporting North Korea,” CBS News, Aug 22, 2017; “Notices,” Federal Register Volume 82, Number 164, Friday, Aug 25, 2017; Bill Gertz, “U.S. Sanctions Chinese, Russians for Illicit Trade With North Korea,” Free Beacon, Aug 23, 2017; “Sanctions on North Korea Inc. Hit Kim’s Secretive ‘Office 39’,” Bloomberg News, Aug 10, 2017; Guandong Hu, “Mine workers, idyllic landscapes, tigers: North Korean artists have made tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang,” Quartz, Nov 14, 2017; Sue-Lin Wong, Giselda Vagnoni, Fanny Potkin, “White tiger, dark horse: North Korean art market heats up,” Reuters, Oct 4, 2017; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph, Oct 5, 2017; Reuters, “North Korea’s art market is on the rise despite UN sanctions,” New York Post, Oct 5, 2017; Liu Zhen, “8 ways North Korea evades UN sanctions,” Business Insider (reprinted from South China Morning Post), Sept 19, 2017; Eric Talmadge, “Statue export ban hits at Pyongyang’s soft power, hard cash,” AP, Dec 27, 2016; Salem Solomon, “Sanctioned and Shunned, North Korea Finds Arms Deals in Africa,” VOA, Mar 22, 2017; U.S. hits Chinese and Russian companies, individuals with sanctions for doing business with North Korea,” Washington Post, Aug 22, 2017; Xi En Lee, “North Korea still has plenty of options as it faces new sanctions and a frosty Beijing,” CNBC, Nov 23, 2017; Steve Allen, “4 Ships Banned from All Ports for Violating NKorea Sanctions,” Newsmax (reprinted from AP), Oct 9, 2017; “Kim Jong Un’s personal ‘slush fund’ known as ‘Office 39’ hit by sanctions,” Washington Post, Aug 10, 2017; “North Koreans ban statue exports” (title is totally inaccurate, the UN banned the exports, not Juche Korea), Sun Gazette, Feb 6, 2018. The latter article said that Mansudae “has generated an estimated 38,000 statues and 170,000 other monuments for domestic use and, according to the website of its overseas representative office, it is divided in 13 creative groups, seven manufacturing plants and has more than 50 supply departments.” One Treasury Dept report claimed that “the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies has been reported to conduct business in countries including Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe.”

[7] Sue-Lin Wong, Giselda Vagnoni, Fanny Potkin, “White tiger, dark horse: North Korean art market heats up,” Reuters, Oct 4, 2017; John Russell, “North Korean Art Market Growing,” VOA, Oct 10, 2017; Lawrence Pollard, “North Korea’s biggest export? Giant statues. To African dictators,” PRI (reprinted from BBC News), Feb 17, 2016; David Sim, “Cash-strapped North Korea turns to art to beat sanctions, but all that is about to change,” International Business Times, Oct 4, 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.” Madro 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.

Zombie Simpsons and the cultural hegemony of Hollyweird

From S5E14, “Lisa Vs. Maliu Stacey

In 1919, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who was imprisoned by the Mussolini’s government, for his beliefs, specifically his anti-fascist actions, wrote that “the capitalists have lost pre-eminence: their freedom is limited; their power is annulled. Capitalist concentration has arrived at the greatest development allowed it, realizing the world monopoly of production and exchange. The corresponding concentration of the working masses has given an unheard of power to the revolutionary proletarian class…They are not dead.” This is the case with The Simpsons, an animated sitcom, in its 29th season, with its viewership sharply declining, which still lives on through “memes on social media that serve as still-relevant social commentary.” [1] In order to analyze how this manifests itself in the Simpsons and the tyranny of Hollyweird, a term I thought came from  Chuck D of Public Enemy, but it seems to be used on a lot of conservative websites but I see no issue with re-appropriating it for something which is evidently much more positive, it is only right to turn to the theories of Gramsci. Later on, this article will use Gramsci’s theories to pose a broader analysis of The Simpsons, which can easily be applied to Hollyweird as a whole. Before anyone criticizes my analysis, I would like to add here as a disclaimer that I read through Gramsci’s works, cited in this article, over a few day period and made the analysis from there. Obviously, this is not all the works of Gramsci, but I did my best to provide a summarized analysis. There is undoubtedly some aspects which I did not address, but I did my best to address all the pertinent aspects. I say this before people get on my case about “missing” something or debating over my interpretation of Gramsci. With that, as always, all comments are welcome.

Summarizing Gramsci’s theories on intellectuals and hegemony

The tyranny of Hollyweird (which usually just includes America’s film industry, but can be said, for this article to include the whole media-entertainment complex), should be analyze on a systemic manner, rather than just focusing on a symptom.

Apart from looking at varied scholars, it is best to look at Gramsci’s writings themselves. In December 1916, when arguing that the proletariat should reject ideology from bourgeois newspapers, he added that these proletariat must “always, always, always remember that the bourgeois newspaper…is an instrument of struggle motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to his. Everything that is published is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class, and which is ineluctably translated into a fact: that of combating the laboring class…the bourgeois newspapers tell even the simplest of facts in a way that favors the bourgeois class and damns the working class and its politics.” This could easily be applied to Hollyweird. The same could be said of his writing in 1921 that the “entire state apparatus: with its police force, its courts, and its newspapers that manipulate public opinion according to the desires of the government and the capitalists” or his writing in 1925 that in order to

take the working class beyond the limits of existing bourgeois democracy…a conscious ‘ideological’ element is necessary. This entails an understanding of the conditions in which the class is fighting, of the social relations in which workers live, of the fundamental tendencies that operate within these social relationships, and of the development of society (driven by the irreconcilable antagonisms at its heart), etcetera.

Due to the format of the Prison Notebooks on the Marxists Internet Archive, for the rest of this section, I use the Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, which derives from the original text itself.

For Gramsci, two types of intellectuals are created by “every social group” (bourgeoisie or proletariat). The first is a group of intellectuals which have homogeneity and awareness of their function in the capitalist system. [2] At the same time, “capitalist entrepreneur[s]” create the “industrial technician, the specialist in political economy, the organisers of a new culture,” and have technical and directive capacity. This is because they serve as organizers of “masses of men,” “confidence” in their business, consumers in their product, and so on. Most, or an elite among these “capitalist entrepreneur[s]” have intellectual capacities, including the complex “organism of services,” up to the state, with the need to creative conditions “most favorable to their class” or choose specialized individuals to organize their relationships, whom include these intellectuals. Such intellectuals are “organic,” with every class, the  bourgeoisie or proletariat, creating alongside itself, elaborating in the course of its development. The other form of intellectuals is one which is “already in existence” and seemed to represent uninterrupted “historical continuity.” These intellectuals are in the ecclesiastics, who held a long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bonded to schools, education, morality, and other societal values, originally tied to the landed aristocracy, gaining their own privileges over time. These intellectuals are “traditional,” posing themselves an “autonomous and independent of the dominant social group,” whether the  bourgeoisie or the proletariat, but this idealism is not true in reality. As Gramsci puts it artfully, “all men are intellectuals, one could therefore say: but not all  men in society have the  function of intellectuals,” with “non-intellectuals” not existing in society, but a stratum of intellectuals being present, either “traditional” or “organic.” He adds that there are “historically specialised categories for the exercise of the intellectual function,” with assimilation and conquest of “traditional” intellectuals quicker and more efficacious the more the group (bourgeoisie and proletariat) elaborating on their own organic intellectuals. For both types of intellectuals, schools are the “instrument” through which they improve their functions, with complexity of their “intellectual measured” by the number of gradation of specialized schools, with the more extensive the “area” covered by education and varied levels of schooling, the more complex “is  the cultural world.” While, as Gramsci notes, there is a wide base provided for  selection of the “top intellectual qualifications,” it creates vast “crises of unemployment for the middle intellectual strata.” The elaboration of the intellectual strata in “concrete reality” does not come from something abstract but in accordance with “concrete traditional historical processes,” with distribution of different types of school over a territory, with varied aspirations within the intellectual strata determine or give form to “branches of intellectual specialization.” After giving an example of development of rural and urban bourgeoisie in Italy, Gramsci adds that

The relation between the intellectuals and the world of production is not as direct as it is with fundamental social groups but is, in varying degrees, “mediated” by the whole fabric of society and by the complex of superstructures, of which the intellectuals are, precisely, the “functionaries”.

It is here that Gramsci begins to outline his thoughts on hegemony. He first notes that the “organic quality” of varied  intellectual strata and their “degree of connection” with a “fundamental social group” (bourgeoisie and proletariat) and says that a gradation of their functions (and of the superstructures) can be determined. For the superstructure, Gramsci notes that there are two levels: one that can be called “civil society,” which includes institutions which are commonly seen as “private” and that of  “political society” or the “State.” These two levels, he writes, correspond to the exercise of hegemony by a dominant group (bourgeoisie or proletariat) over society and to “direct domination” or command exercised through the State. For the dominant group, intellectuals are their deputies, exercising the “subaltern functions of social hegemony and political government” comprising of “spontaneous” consent which is  given by the masses to the “general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group” with such consent historically caused by prestige and confidence which the “dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the world of production.” Secondly, intellectuals exercise their functions through the “apparatus of state coercive power” which enforces discipline on groups which do not consent “actively or passively,” an apparatus which is constituted for the society in  “anticipation of moments of crisis of command and direction when spontaneous consent has failed.” Gramsci closes this chapter by saying his ideas expand the concept of intellectual but is the only way to recognize the reality, adding that the function of “organizing social hegemony and state domination”  gives rise a particular division of labor, with a “hierarchy of qualifications” with intellectual activity needing to be “distinguished in terms of its intrinsic characteristics” with those at the highest level being “creators of the various sciences, philosophy, art, etc.,” and the lowest being administrators and divulges of “pre-existing, traditional, accumulated intellectual wealth.” The chapter ends by saying that in the modern world the category of intellectuals has expanded, with functions justified by the “political necessities of the dominant fundamental group,” with mass formation standardizing individuals psychologically and in terms of “individual qualification.”

Comes from the Selections from the Prison Notebooks, quoted in this article.

In the next chapter, Gramsci expands on whom can be “traditional” intellectuals: they are rural, linked to the “social mass of country people and the town…petite bourgeoisie.” [3] On the other hand, the  urban intellectuals are those who have “grown up along with industry and are linked to its fortunes,” having no autonomous plans, with a job to “articulate the relationship between the entrepreneur and the intellectual mass,” executing production plans of the industrial general staff, which controls varying “stages of work,” while they are very standardized, identified with the “industrial general staff itself.” He adds that every “organic development”of the peasant masses is linked and  depends on movements “among intellectuals.” Specifically, organic intellectuals who come from the “instrumental masses” can influence factory technicians. Gramsci further delineates between “organic” and “traditional” intellectuals. He writes that the political party, for some groups (specifically the proletariat) is a specific way of creating their own organic intellectuals, who directly join the political and philosophical field, while the political party, for all groups, carries out the same function as the State  in political society, welding together intellectuals whom are “organic” (of the dominant group) and “traditional.” Latter political parties carry out this function by fulfilling its  basic function:  of elaborating its “component parts” which are those who have been born and developed as an economic group, turning them into “qualified political intellectuals…leaders and organisers of all activities and functions inherent in the organic development of society.” After explaining how a political party functions with intellectual elements, functioning specifically in relation to the different types of intellectuals, “organic” and “traditional,” the history of traditional intellectuals connected with “slavery in the classical world,”  giving specific examples for how this manifests itself in Italy, England, France, Germany, Russia, he moves onto the U$, specifically relevant for this article, writing that:

…in the case of the United States, [there is] the absence to a considerable degree of traditional intellectuals, and consequently a different equilibrium among intellectuals in general. There has been a massive development…of the whole range of modern superstructures. The necessity of equilibrium is determined…by the need to fuse together in a single national crucible with a unitary culture the different forms of culture imported by immigrants of differing national origins. The lack of vast sedimentation of traditional intellectuals…explains…the existence of only two major parties, which could…be reduced to one only…and…the enormous proliferation of religious sects.

After talking about the influence of “negro intellectuals” on the U$ and how the empire could use Blacks to advance imperial interests, he talks about other examples in Latin America, Japan, and China. It is there that the chapter ends.

Gramsci as cited in Davidson’s Antonio Gramsci: Towards an Intellectual Biography (London: Merlin Press, 1977), p. 77.

In his chapters on education, in which he writes that “every intellectual idea tends to create for itself cultural associations of its own,” specialized schools and bureaucracies, the elements of educational institutions, he does not touch on hegemony or the “intellectual strata.”[4] His chapter on Italian history isn’t much different. He does, however, in one section, specifically focus on intellectuals and hegemony, writing

the supremacy of a social group manifests itself…as “domination” and as “intellectual moral leadership.” A social group dominates antagonistic groups, which it tends to “liquidate”, or subjugate…a social group can…exercise “leadership” before winning governmental power…it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp, it must continue to “lead”  as well. [5]

He later adds that in the experience of many countries, if peasants move through impulses which are  “spontaneous,” the “intellectuals start to waver” and if a “group of intellectuals situates itself on a new basis of concrete pro-peasant policies,” it draws in more important “elements of the masses.” [6] Later on, he  briefly mentions intellectuals. One example is when he talks about the “intellectual stratum” in northern Italy, another is when he writes that to analyze the “socio-political function of intellectuals, it is necessary to recall and examine their psychological attitude toward the fundamental classes [bourgeoisie and proletariat].” [7] He later that a philosophy which “offers to its adherents an intellectual “dignity”” which differs from old ideologies, and an “educative principle” which interests a sect of intellectuals whom are homogeneous and most numerous, are the ways that “hegemony of a directive centre” asserts itself over intellectuals. When talking about a “homogeneous ruling class” in the Italian Piedmont, Gramsci wrote that this ruling class wanted their “interests to dominate…they wanted a new force, independent of every compromise and condition, to become the arbiter of the Nation.” [8] After summarizing principles from Marx’s Preface to The Critique of Political Economy, he criticized the idea of “passive revolution,” specifically citing “Gandhism and Tolstoyism,” endeavoring to discover its roots in Italian history. In writing a further part of his history of Italy, Gramsci notes that

Although it is certain that for the fundamental productive classes (the capitalist bourgeoisie and modern proletariat) the State is only conceivable as the  concrete form of a specific economic world, this does not mean that the relationship of  means to end can be easily determined or takes the form of a simple schema, apparent at first sight. It is true that conquest of power and achievement of a new productive world are  inseparable, and that propaganda for the other, and that in reality it is solely in this coincidence that the unity of the dominant class–at one political and economic–resides. [9]

He adds on the next page that “intellectuals are the social element from which the governing personnel are drawn.” Later on, in the same book, he adds that the while there can be a distinction between an intellectual strata separated from the masses and intellectuals linked “organically to a national-popular mass” in reality one needs to struggle against deceptions, stimulating the formation of “homogeneous, social blocs” which  birth their own intellectuals, commandos, and vanguard. [10] He also briefly mentions reinforcement of the hegemonic positions of a dominant group, but focuses on the hegemony of the State. In another chapter, he writes about a class “that is international in character” (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat) which guides “social strata which are narrowly national…frequently less than national,” referring to intellectuals specifically. [11] In a section about state power, Gramsci makes, what I believe, is his only use of the term “cultural hegemony” in the Prison Notebooks and likely in the rest of his writings. He writes that

…every State is ethical in as much as one of its most important functions is to raise the great mass of population to a particular cultural and moral level, a level…which corresponds to the needs of the productive forces for development [the bourgeoisie], and hence to the interests of the ruling classes.The school as a positive educative function, and the courts as repressive and negative educative function, are the most important State activities in this sense: but, in reality, a multitude of other so-called private  initiatives and activities tend to the same end–initiatives and activities which form the apparatus of the political and cultural hegemony of the ruling classes…only the social group that poses the end of the State and its own end as the target to be achieved can create an ethical state–i.e. one which tends to to put an end to the internal divisions of the ruled, etc., and to create a technically  and morally unitary social organism. [12]

Adding to this, he writes that if states cannot avoid going through a stage of “economic-corporate privimatism,” then the “content of political hegemony of the new social group” will be “predominantly of an economic order,” with reorganization of the existing structure, and a negative cultural policy. Beyond this are his comments that in a society one or more private associations (which are either natural, contractual or voluntary) one or more predominates, constituting a “hegemonic apparatus of one social group over the rest of the population,” with the basis for the State in “the narrow sense of governmental-coercive apparatus.” [13] Gramsci’s next mention of hegemony is related to political parties. He  writes that

The function of hegemony or political leadership exercised by [political] parties can be estimated from the evolution of the internal life of the [political] parties themselves. If the State represents the coercive and punitive force of juridical regulation of a country, the [political] parties–representing the spontaneous adhesion of an elite to such a regulation, considered as a type of collective society to which the entire mass must be educated–must show in their internal life that they have assimilated as principles or moral conduct those rules which in the State are legal obligations. [14]

In his next book, Gramsci writes about the expanding circle of intellectuals. He notes that the intellectual stratum expands, with every leap forward tied to a movement of the masses who raise their level of culture, extending their influence among the stratum, but there are continually gaps “between the mass and the intellectuals.” [15] Later, he specifically focuses on European culture. He writes that it is the “only historically and concretely universal culture…European culture has undergone a process of unification,” with the cultural process personified in intellectuals. [16] On the next page, he specifically, once again, addresses intellectuals in society:

…The intellectual’s error consists in believing that one can know without understanding and even more without feeling and being impassioned…the intellectual can be an intellectual…if distinct and separate from the people-nation…without feeling the elementary passions of the people, understanding them and therefore explaining and justifying them in the particular historical situation and connecting them dialectically to the laws of history and to a superior conception of the world…one cannot make politics-history without this passion, without this sentimental connection between intellectuals and people-nation…if the relationship between the intellectuals and people-nation, between the leaders and led,the rulers and ruled, is provided by an organic cohesion in which the feeling-passion becomes understanding and thence knowledge (not mechanically but in a way that is alive) then and only then is the relationship one of representation.

On a related  note, he writes that the “great systems of traditional philosophy and the religion of the the leaders of the clergy,” which conceives the world as one of intellectuals and high culture, systems “unknown to the multitude” and do not influence them directly, but do so indirectly, with these systems influencing the masses as an “external political force, an element of cohesive force exercised by the ruling classes and…an element of subordination to an external hegemony.” [17] Such efforts negatively influence the masses, limiting their thought, limiting their common sense.

Reading through this book, it is clear that scholars have interpreted Gramsci well to say that the state serves as an “instrument of domination that represents the interests of capital and of the ruling class,” with  domination “achieved in large part by a dominant ideology expressed through social institutions that socialize people to consent to the rule of the dominant group,”while  hegemonic beliefs, “dominant beliefs” fundamentally dampen critical thought, and are thus barriers to revolution.” [18] They point out that he viewed the educational institution as “one of the fundamental elements of cultural hegemony in modern Western society,” with hegemony being a form of control exercised by a dominant class, either the bourgeoisie or proletariat, a class which takes into interest those classes and groups over which it dominates, while it has to “make some sacrifices tangent to its corporate interests,” and maintain its “economic leadership besides ethico-political leadership” with the class “situated at one of the two fundamental poles in the relations of production: owner or non-owner of the means of production.” This entails, these scholars argue, that this class executes a “leadership role on the economic, political, moral, and intellectual levels vis-a-vis other classes in the system, coupled with the sacrificing of some of its corporate interests as a fundamental class precisely to facilitate its vanguard role.” Furthermore, they note that Gramsci is arguing that the dominant class, with its hegemony, “exercises a political, intellectual, and moral role of leadership within a hegemonic system cemented by a common world-view…won in civil society through dynamic ideological struggle.” With this, the concept of “cultural hegemony” is derived: that the “beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values and moral norms of a ruling class…is accepted as the cultural norm” or dominant, with those who own the with capital assets in society, “TV stations, film studios, newspapers” releasing their media product into society, intending to “reinforce the status quo and keep these asset holders in control.” Others defined this concept as centered around the “domination of a society by a group whose domination comes through control of culture…and the implicit ideology contained within that culture” with the worldview of the dominant group becoming the “worldview of the majority; who see its values as natural and universal values which are good for all.” [19] Regardless, it is clear that the concept of “cultural hegemony” is one that is derived from Gramsci, just like the concept of “labor aristocracy is derived from the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. That doesn’t mean either of these ideas is incorrect or improper, but rather that their origins should be recognized.

It is with this, we move onto the next section of this article, which uses Gramsci’s theories, applying them to a recent debate over Apu and The Simpsons, which directly connects with the overall tyranny of Hollyweird.

Gramsci, Springfieldian stereotypes, and Hollyweird

This is followed by Marge saying “some things will be dealt with at a later date?” and followed by Lisa saying, sorrowfully, “if at all.” This sets the stage for the following post.  The phrasing “don’t have a cow!” on Apu’s signed photograph has said to be a “direct mockery of Hinduism” by some critics.

The concepts posed by Gramsci directly apply to the Zombie Simpsons, a term which I’ll explain later, and Hollyweird as a whole.

Determining who the organic intellectuals are is of utmost importance. Starting with The Simpsons, it seems evident that those at the three White Male producers: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening (creator of the show itself), and Sam Simon, would have fulfill this function, as they have homogeneity and awareness of their function in the capitalist system. In order to make sure that conditions which benefit the dominant class are created, capitalists, the “capitalist entrepreneurs” as Gramsci calls them, choose specialized individuals to organize relationships which benefited their class, in this case which are the organic intellectuals. [20] The organic intellectuals can also, by extension, have specialize certain individuals who can serve their interests. This includes, for one,  the show’ss main cast members, three of whom who were White males (Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, and Henry Shearer) and three of whom were White females (Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith). Secondly, this includes the 127 individuals who have written or co-written Simpsons episodes since the show was released in 1989, along with other individuals like the composers and animators, to name a few.

These producers, organic intellectuals if you will, are dominated by those whom were higher up. Their domination comes from the executives heading 21st Century Fox (which owns FOX), with the world of production mediated through the whole fabric of society by The Simpsons itself, for their sake, creating a “degree of connection” between the organic intellectuals and the bourgeoisie. In case, the section of the bourgeoisie constitutes the executives of 21st Century Fox (and formerly News Corp), symbolized by Rupert Murdoch, who still has a leading role. Such bourgeoisie used the burgeoning news network, FOX, to exercise their hegemony over society, with intellectuals as their deputies, enforcing such hegemony, working to obtain the “spontaneous” consent given by the masses to the “general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group.” Of course, the organization of such hegemony creates a particular division of labor, with a “hierarchy of qualifications” over intellectual activity, even in the structure of The Simpsons where the producers are those whom you could call organic intellectuals. As Gramsci notes, those with the highest amount of intellectual activities are “creators of the various sciences, philosophy, art, etc.,” being the show’s producers in this case, and the lowest could  be said to be the writers or animators but this may not be going far enough down the totem pole. Furthermore, the organic intellectuals of the Simpsons clearly do not come from the “instrumental masses” (or serve the peasants) and, as such, serve the bourgeoisie, part of an effort which continues to “fuse together in a single national crucible with a unitary culture the different forms of culture imported by immigrants of differing national origins,” to use Gramsci’s words. In such a relationship, the bourgeoisie dominates, specifically “antagonistic groups” which it subjugates and “liquidates.” Is The Simpsons such an antagonistic group? Perhaps to a very limited extent, but it also got FOX even more popularity, so the criticism on the show was approved as it brought in needed revenue. [21]

There is a further aspect to these organic intellectuals. As they serve a sociopolitical function, they are taken in by a philosophy, which in the case of the U$ either “conservative” or “liberal” in nature (mostly in The Simpsons, the liberal one won out), giving its adherents intellectual “dignity,” differing from old ideologies, a interesting a sect of intellectuals whom are homogeneous and most numerous. This is not a surprise, as organic intellectuals, are the element from which governing personnel are drawn. All in all, there are varied “initiatives and activities which form the apparatus of the political and cultural hegemony of the ruling classes” with one of these activities undoubtedly being the hosting of TV shows, in the case of media conglomerates, which reinforce such hegemony, ensuring their dominant beliefs take hold on a wide basis in order to keep themselves in control. Obviously, there are gaps “between the mass and the intellectuals” since the intellectual themselves “can be an intellectual…if distinct and separate from the people-nation…without feeling the elementary passions of the people.”

That brings us to the most recent controversy involving the Simpsons and what we can call Springfieldian stereotypes: the case of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a stereotype of a first-generation Indian immigrant who owns a local convenience store in the town of Springfield. Hari Kondabolu, a comedian of Indian descent, released a documentary on this subject last year, titled “The Problem With Apu.” [22] In the film, Kondabolu grapples with his “lifelong love of The Simpsons,” examining how Apu “gave his bullies ammo for years, while contributing to a broader cultural stereotyping,” exploring a “larger deficit in American pop culture,” specifically one that “there have hardly ever been any South Asian characters on television.” His interviewees, the actors and comics, mostly of Indian descent (i.e. their parents were born in India), echo this sentiment, saying this “problem with Apu” came about due to under-representation of South Asians on television in the U$, some of whom say either kids bullied them by calling them “Apu” or doing the same for their parents. [23] Some, like Indian-born actor Kal Penn,  well known for his acting in the Harold & Kumar stoner comedies, says that they hate Apu so much that he won’t even watch the Simpsons series! Others, like actor Utkarsh Ambudkar let the Simpsons producers, organic bourgeoisie, off the hook, by declaring that their subordinates, writers, didn’t mean to cause psychological and emotional problems, but that Apu was created due to  under-representation of South Asians.

There is more than just under-representation, which many interviewees blame as the problem. [24] As Kondabolu argues himself, Apu represents an “America” where no one who is White isn’t wanted and reflecting how “America viewed” South Asians, which creates a bad impression across society. Add to this W. Kamau Bell‘s comments, that  America went through a time when the Simpsons “owned America,” determined conversation, with Kondabolu adding that the show was “edgy at the time.” The systemic nature is partially acknowledged: the film recalls Azaria’s story that the the producers told him to do a stereotypical voice of an Indian, but then there is the story of a writer of The Simpsons, Mike Reiss. He said that Apu was not intended to be a character, saying that making him Indian was a comedy cliche, adding that White writers laughed at his impression. [25] Regardless, the character was OK’d by the producers, like Matt Groening, the organic intellectuals, showing their role in this process, named by Groening himself. Apu’s last name either derives from the sanskrit word for bullshit (as Kondabolu claims) or is “spoonerism” while the first name is based of the protagonist in the Satyajit Ray trilogy of movies. As critic John Powers describes Ray’s trilogy, it tells the story of a young man (Apu) who becomes a multi-dimensional human being in a modernizing India, and  having Apu of the Simpsons named after him, diminishes the latter. Kondabolu’s most powerful point is that Apu stood in for his parents, participating in cultural erasure by eliminating their stories, while the the claim by Whoopi Goldberg, that Apu is a minstrel voiced by a white guy with brown paint, and Kondabolu’s related claim that Apu is the same as Black racist depictions, may be muddying the waters too much. However, it does seem evident that Azaria based the voice of Apu off Peter Sellers in The Party, an offensive interpretation, and an exchange with an irate Indian convenience store clerk, with the documentary saying that a White person doing a stereotype, such as Apu, is usurping culture and is exploitative. [26] Clearly this is fine with White writers like Dana Gould, who wrote for The Simpsons from 2001 to 2008, saying that  some accents are funny to Whites,giving them culpability, admitting that if The Simpsons was done today, “I’m not sure you could have Apu voiced by Hank [Azaria]” while he claims that for writers of the Simpsons, there is no difference between Apu and Mr. Burns. Once again, there are hints are deeper causes: Indian-born comic Aasif Mandvi says that racism in our culture can become so deep rooted that those who are being made fun of think that a racist joke is funny and that making Apu a horrid stereotype was part of broader cultural values. [27] Clearly, Homer was wrong when he said in the 2nd episode of Season 3 that “cartoons don’t have any deep meaning.”

The implications of the most recent Simpsons episode are evident, connecting the imposition of hegemony by the dominant class, in this case the bourgeoisie. The episode, the 633rd of the show, titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” doubled down on the Apu stereotype, “long the sole prominent Indian character on television” even though he was clearly a “racial caricature played by a white man.” [28] In the episode, Marge is creating a book to be more inclusive and feels lost, with Lisa responding Marge’s question by saying that Apu was applauded and inoffensive decades ago, now is deemed “politically incorrect” (a sentiment embraced by show writer Al Jean) adding that “some things will be dealt with at a later date?” and Lisa saying, sorrowfully, “if at all.” This implies that those who criticism the racist caricature deemed “politically incorrect” (with the phrase “politically correct” used by bigots use to give themselves the license to say what they want) and could mean that a future episode will address this more. Not surprisingly, reactionary commentators received the episode well, with Hot Air claiming that the episode “is an apology of sorts, just not the forthright one Kondabolu and his supporters wanted,” that The Simpsons “occupies a more exalted place in American pop culture.” and that “an apology is coming here…but in the plot of some future episode” while Red State said that “the Simpsons are not all that friendly to the right-leaning parts of America…[but has done] something that South Park has already done…draw a line in the sand and declared in one quick segment that…wailing and gnashing of teeth can only have so much of an effect…I’m proud of the folks at The Simpsons,” as part of the “culture war against political correctness.” [29] Perhaps, as some said, the show has “utterly given up on itself…The Simpsons has lost its way…The Simpsons, a show that has been absolutely dreadful since the early 2000s, simply could not be improved upon” with Lisa, the most progressive character of the way, with bourgeois values, but much more left-leaning than any other characters, speaking these lines about Apu, with “years of churning out unfunny episode after unfunny episode seems to have left the writers’ room stubborn and stuck,” with this episode specifically having a  “wandering and weak plot spine.” [30] Others recognized the broader implications, saying that “The Simpsons is, as I stated earlier, an institution…a show that has been permitted to exist for decades following the widely-accepted consensus opinion that its best years are behind it,” with the list of the show’s “extremely white, extremely male list of writers stretch[es] back twenty-nine years.”

The Stereotypes bowling team, The Simpsons.

As  such, it should be perfectly evident that the Springfieldian stereotypes are more than just about under-representation, only a symptom of the capitalist system. Rather, they are one of the manifestations of the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, in this case, enforced on the public, which provides their “consent” by passively watching shows such as The Simpsons, accepting the values. [31] This doesn’t take away from the social criticism aired on the show, especially in its earlier years, but it shows the role of the show in the capitalist system, specifically in relation to Gramsci’s theories. The fact that Apu is a stereotype, different from other stereotypes on the show, somehow “worse,” is a point that can  be easily swatted away, as it was by the conservatives at Red State who recently declared that “the show is filled to the brim with stereotypes of all kinds of cultures and sub-cultures, but these were conveniently ignored by those suddenly outraged by Apu after decades of the show being on the air.” [32] This involves making the criticism more wholesome. It is obviously valid to criticize the racist caricature of Apu, since, as one critic notes, “not all demographics are on equal footing in America…The Simpsons is classic Americana…But it does no one any favours to pump life into it long after brain death.” A symptom of the bourgeoisie’s hegemony, exercised by the organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, are the further stereotypes, apart from Apu. One of these is Fat Tony, with the voice over by Joe Mantegna, a negative Italian stereotype manifested as a “violent mobster”whom the show’s writers “never fail to stress the Italian ancestry” and his  “assorted henchmen,” with Fat Tony and his henchmen obviously based on the depiction of mobsters in the three-part Godfather epic, the brainchild of Francis Ford Coppolla. [33]

But, Fat Tony isn’t the only stereotype. Others include Marge the housewife (although there’s a lot to her character), Akira, the Japanese sushi chef, Ling, adopted Chinese child of chainsmokers Patty (a lesbian) and her sister Selma, Bumbleebee Man, Mexican actor/TV personality, Ccoseted and then out gay man Smithers, “redneck” Appalachian Cletus Spuckler and his family, including his wife, Brandine, and their children, Italian chef Luigi, and angry Scotsman Groundskeeper Willie. [34] Of these, four are directly recognized as stereotypes, in the Season 7 episode (pictured above), “Team Homer”: Italian chef Luigi, Angry Scotsman Groundskeeper Willie, “redneck” Appalachian Cletus Spuckler, and sea captain Horatio McCallister. Tellingly, “they were apparently dying to have Apu on their team, but he declined.” Apu is recognized as a stereotype in the show, but not until Season 27 when it is brushed off with the idea that everyone is a stereotype and that people should get over it.

Apart from the stereotypes, there is another symptom, showing how the organic intellectuals enforce the hegemony of the bourgeoisie on society: only one of the Indian  characters portrayed on the show is voiced by a person of Indian descent while the rest are voiced by White people! [35]. Clearly, the show is spreading the perceptions of the White organic intellectuals and their writers onto the populace as a whole. The same is the case for the Black characters in The Simpsons, with the below chart showing that only about 30-35% of the voice actors are Black, with all the others being White! [36]

While noting such stereotypes, it is clear that the problem is deeper than one of just under-representation or even racism: it is about the organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, to use Gramsci’s definition, enforcing the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, making it even  more the dominant ideology. This is further cemented by the patriarchal nature of the show: Homer speaks the most of any character (he has been “always been the most talkative character on the show”), accounting for “21% of the show’s 1.3 million words spoken through season 26,” while “Marge, Bart, and Lisa…combine for another 26%, giving the Simpson family a 47% share of the show’s dialogue” as Todd W. Schneider in “The Simpsons By the Data” points out. [37] He also writes that looking at the “supporting cast, the 14 most prominent characters are all male before we get to the first woman, Mrs. [Edna] Krabappel, and only 5 of the top 50 supporting cast members are women,” with women only accounting for “25% of the dialogue on The Simpsons, including Marge and Lisa, two of the show’s main characters” but if the Simpsons family is removed, then women only account for “less than 10% of the supporting cast’s dialogue.” He adds that “9 of the top 10 writers are male,” reinforced by the fact that The Simpsons is “stocked by Harvard Lampoon alumni and overwhelmingly white and male, [and] is one of the toughest clubs for a comedy writer to break into.” [38]

Some critics say that the show has become effortless, not “tried in years” and “has been on for such a long damn time, well past long enough to lose its own sense of identity.” Taking this into account, it is clear that The Simpsons is becoming less and less able to serve as a medium to spread the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, making their views more and more the “dominant” ideology. In the early 1990s, when it “dominated the pop-culture landscape…[with a] skillful and fearless tendency to jam its thumb in the eye of the American Establishment, by highlighting white male laziness…the crass privileged class… and a whole host of other marks of ignorance,” it was much more effective. But now, it has lost that allure, as it  has become, as one critic write, “the Establishment…becom[ing] lazy and complacent, while also feeling fiercely defensive of one’s legacy,” with the show “still living in the happy past and clinging to its Kwik-E-Mart, not listening while others shout about being in denial.” [39] That doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t spread such hegemony, but that it isn’t as effective as it used to be. This a common trend with many television shows, with “TV ratings for individual shows…broadly declining for over 60 years,” even among shows like Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy or Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Parks, both of which are also animated sitcoms.

This decline in rating has happened as the show has become even more a part and parcel of capitalist mass culture in the U$. This is because the show has changed over time from the “Golden” years (1989-1997), “Silver” years (1997-2001), “Bronze” years (2001-Present) for the worse. As such, The Simpsons has become the “Zombie Simpsons,” without a pulse, with the show becoming “inanimate, barren, cold, listless, mechanical, and weird…hollow and run out of ideas, what you could call stale…There is no reason to watch something which is dead and has no pulse.” [40] Even during the period of the “Golden” years, however, when there were social criticisms, the show only expressed broad liberal values, embracing anti-communism, and throughout the show’s history. As such, it enforced the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie.

The organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, which in this case are the producers of the show, will continue to release episodes, vapid while “entertaining,” not drawing as much of a crowd as they once did, but still serving the bourgeoisie even though they are doing doing that as effectively as they did in the past. In the end, one can watch The Simpsons, if they wish, but they should recognize its role in the overall capitalist system, while working to build a another world which is free of capitalism, standing with comrades across the world, building their own revolutionary institutions, as a start.


Notes

[1] David Anthony, “Last night’s Simpsons episode set an all-time ratings low,” A.V. Club,  Apr 28, 2014; Todd W. Schneider, “The Simpsons by the Data,” accessed Apr 10, 2018; “Number of viewers for The Simpsons,” InfoMemory.com, Oct 15, 2013; “Simpsons: Quality and Viewership Decline Trend,” Absent Data, Jun 9, 2017; Joe Otterson, “TV Ratings: ‘Simpsons’ Rises With ‘Treehouse of Horror’,” Variety, Oct 23, 2017; “The Simpsons: Season 27 Ratings,” TV Series Finale, May 23, 2016; “Number of The Simpsons viewers in the United States as of 2017, by season (in millions),” statista, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “US ratings: ‘Simpsons’ returns steady, but with lowest premiere viewership,” The Springfield Shopper, Oct 3, 2017; Niall McCarthy, “30 Years On, ‘The Simpsons’ Isn’t Aging Well [Infographic],” Forbes, Apr 20, 2017.

[2] All information from this footnote onword, unless otherwise noted, derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Formation of Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 514.

[3] All information from this footnote onword, unless otherwise noted, derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Different Position of Urban and Rural-Type Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 1425. Later on, on page 270 he adds that  traditional intellectuals are detaching themselves from regressive and conservative groupings.

[4] All information derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Organisation of Education and Culture” (ends on page 33) and “In Search of the Educational Principle” (ends on page 43) Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 2643.

[5] Antonio Gramsci, “The Problem of Political Leadership in the Formation and  Development of the Nation and Modern State in Italy” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 57-58.

[6] Antonio Gramsci, “The Problem of Political Leadership in the Formation and  Development of the Nation and Modern State in Italy,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 74.

[7] Antonio Gramsci, “The City-Countryside Relationship During the Risorgimento and in the National Structure,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 94, 97; Antonio Gramsci, “The Moderates and the Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 103-104.

[8] Antonio Gramsci, “The Function of Piedmont,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 105. See pages 106114 of the next section after “The Function of the Piedmont,” titled “The Concept of Passive Revolution.”  Also see the section on pages 118 to 120 titled “The History of Europe Seen As “Passive Revolution.””

[9] Antonio Gramsci, “Material for a Critical Essay on Croce’s Two Histories, Of Italy and Europe,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 116117.

[10] Antonio Gramsci, “Voluntarism and Social Masses,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 204205, 239 (of “The Transition from the War of Manoevre (Frontal Attack) to The War of Position–In the Political Field As Well” section).

[11] Antonio Gramsci, “Politics and Military Science,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 241. Also see, for future discussion, pages 214217 on military influence within a country (also on pages 229238) and Bonapartism (also see page 228), or Caesarism on pages 219223. Some of the  other instances, not mentioned in the text above, are when Gramsci mentions hegemony in reference to power of the State (“Politics and Constitutional Law” section)  or conflicts between such power and the power of the Church “Hegemony and Separation of Powers” section).

[12] Antonio Gramsci, “The State,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 258259, 263.

[13] Antonio Gramsci, “Organization of National Societies,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 264265.

[14] Antonio Gramsci, “State and Parties,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 267.

[15] Antonio Gramsci, “Some Preliminary Notes of Reference,” Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 334-335. Later he writes, on page 349, that “culture..unifies in a series of strata.”

[16] Antonio Gramsci,”Hegemony of Western Culture over the whole World Culture,” Some Problems in the Study of Philosophy of Praxis, Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis , Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers, 11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 416-417, 418 (the section “Passage from Knowing to Understanding and to Feeling and vice versa from Feeling to Understanding and to Knowing”).

[17]  Antonio Gramsci,”Critical Notes on An Attempt At Popular Sociology,” Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis , Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers, 11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 419420. Also see page 433 on “mass ideology” spewed from the intellectuals, on page 442 about distance between different groups of intellectuals.

[18] Nicka Lisa Cole, “Biography of Antonio Gramsci,” Thought.Co, Apr 12, 2017; Caroline Lee Schwenz, “Hegemony in Gramsci,” Postcolonial Studies @ Emory, accessed Apr 11, 2018; Gene Veith, ““The long march through the institutions”,” Patheos, Apr 18, 2013; Carl Davidson,”Strategy, Hegemony & The ‘Long March’: Gramsci’s Lessons For The Antiwar Movement,” Keep on Keepin’ On, Apr 6, 2006; Kerry Manderbach, “Hegemony, Cultural Hegemony, and The Americanization of Imported Media,” Apr 2012; Teo Ballvé, “Antonio Gramsci: On Hegemony,” May 4, 2011; Valeriano Ramos, Jr., “The Concepts of Ideology, Hegemony, and Organic Intellectuals in Gramsci’s Marxism,” Theoretical Review No. 27, March-April 1982; “Gramsci’s Notion of Cultural Hegemony,” Integral Axis, Oct 14, 2017.

[19] One writer adds that “any counter-hegemonic force will have to overcome the fact that the majority may well assert the values of the status quo as natural values that are good for everyone – even if it’s not in their own interest…Cultural hegemony should be achieved first. Then political power. The hegemony of the dominant group must be fought with a counter-hegemony – to displace their ideology with our own…What we want are a kind of ‘intellectual’ (what Gramsci labels as his organic kind) that concerns itself with actively influencing people and winning people over to the worldview. Leading the charge in the cultural war.” Another writer says that Gramsci divides the superstructure in society into political society (government, military, police, legal system) and civil society (where ideologic content is produced and reproduced…through…media, education system, religion, art, science, the family) with political society dominating “through coercion” and civil society dominating “through consent.”

[20] In this situation there would not be traditional intellectuals, or those whom held a long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bond to schools, education, morality, and other societal values, tied to the landed aristocracy originally, gaining its own privileges over time, with the dominant group aiming too assimilate and conquer the “traditional” intellectuals.

[21] John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, as interviewed in Kondabalu’s documentary, says that FOX was desperate for content, Simpsons seems funny and weird, that Simpsons were huge, everywhere, international phenomenon.

[22] He recently  criticized the recent Simpsons episode discussed at the beginning of this article, saying they have reached “peak whiteness,” that the words from Lisa are “sad,” further adding that “The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress” and saying that “The Simpsons always critiqued pop culture, mocked hypocrisy & went after broken institutions. I LEARNED FROM THE BEST.”

[23] Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018. Also see the personal narrative titled “What it’s like growing up with a dad like Apu.”  One of the other interviewees, Dr. Vivek Murphy, former Surgeon General, was bullied by a kid who spoke to him with an Indian accent.Kondabolu says that racist impression of Apu led him into comedy, tells his family story, history as a comedian, and that Apu “haunts him,” as he declared “war” on Apu in 2012 when on W. Kamau Bell‘s former show, Totally Biased, saying that Hank Azaria, a White Jewish man born in the Queens borough of New York City, who voices Apu, is a white guy doing an “impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” Even the now disgraced (because his pervy behavior) Aziz Ansari  is interviewed, noting that people insulted his father using the Apu accent, while actor Malulik Pancholy says that if there was an Indian person behind the counter he was afraid that his White friends would do the “Apu thing.”

[24] To take one example, Ambudkar says that while the Simpsons “stereotypes all races” (and peoples) including alcoholics, dead-beat dad, messed up kid, overachieving daughter, Italians, Chinese, and Japanese, the problem for South Asians specifically if that they didn’t have any other representation in such media. In another example, Ansari, who I noted before is basically a perv, asks why a show is called mainstream if it if full of white people.

[25] Kondabolu also interviews Mallika Pao of the Huffington Post, whom Azaria spoke to in 2015 about voicing Apu, saying he had not thought it was racist until he watched Kondabolu’s bit, and hadn’t thought about Apu from a South Asian perspective before that point. Later he interviews his parents, with his mothers saying that she is offended by it, while in a different way than Kondabolu’s generation, with both parents saying they don’t see themselves in Apu (or his family). Kondabolu then goes into more of his backstory in growing up in Queens, like Azaria, near 74th Street, noting that South Asians gather there, but says that if you grow up in U$ you’ll still be called Apu. This connects to his next two interviewees: Shilpa Dave, author of Indian Accents, says that many sequences involving Apu deal with immigration and race, but noted that when something was done in response to a universal norm, it was done in a stereotypical way, and Dr. Vivek Murphy, former Surgeon General, saying that stereotypes last for a while unless people tell their own story.  Later on, Kondabolu adds that there are few choices for the South Asian community, toy are either portrayed as one-dimensional or you let someone else do it, asking “is it better to be clowned or clown yourself?” After some Indian actors and actresses share their experiences, Kondabolu says that while Apu only said “thank you come again” eight times over the Simpsons history, the caricature has haunted Indian children for over a quarter century.

[26] It is here that Sakina Jaffrey defines patanking as being asked to speak in abroad Indian accent, with broad acting, and you do this in front of people. Another of his interviewees, Noureen DeWulf says that there is nothing wrong with an accent but that when an accent is part of a joke about a person, a racist dig, it is problematic.

[27] The documentary then focuses on an episode on Season 27 when Apu’s U$-born nephew, of Indian descent, is voiced by Ambudkar, whom says that the Simpsons asked him to do it, but says that in the end The Simpsons won, with the message to stop complaining, that everyone is stereotyped. Kondabolu  then reads an email from Azaria to him, saying that  the fact that Azaria chooses how he gets to be portrayed is ironic since this is all about misrepresentation of Indians. As the documentary closes, he says it shows that Indians can have exposure in media settings, that undeniable there has been progress  for South Asians over the last decade, that if the Simpsons can’t change then perhaps it should die, saying he will remember Seasons 1-10.

[28] Russell Contreras, “‘Simpsons’ reference to Apu criticism sparks backlash,” AP (reprinted in ABC News), Apr 9, 2018; Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018. While Azaria said in January of this year that “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing,” this belays the reality: that it has already happened.

[29] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Allahpundit, “Today’s important controversy: “The Simpsons” thinks criticism of Apu is “politically correct”,” Hot Air, Apr 9, 2018; Brandon Morse, “The Simpsons Not Caving to SJW’s Politically Correct Pressure Is the Line in the Sand Society Needed,” Red State, Apr 4, 2018. The reactionaries have this fake idea of a “social justice warrior” or SJW, a concept which they created to demonize progressives. Their viewpoint was embraced by show writer Al Jean who said on twitter that “Respectfully Hank won an emmy for voicing the character in 1998. Only 20 years ago,” and that “no, I’m just saying Lisa’s statement was factual.”

[30] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Carl Kinsella, “The latest Simpsons episode sums up how the show has completely lost its way,” Joe, Apr 9, 2018; Melenie McFarland, ““The Simpsons” just made its Apu problem worse — and proved its creative bankruptcy,” AlterNet (reprinted from Salon), Apr 9, 2018; Yohana Desta, “The Simpsons Still Doesn’t Understand the Problem with Apu,” Vanity Fair, Apr 9, 2018; Michael Cavna, “‘The Simpsons’ responds to criticism that Apu is a stereotype: ‘Don’t have a cow’,” Washington Post, Apr 9, 2018; Steph Harmon, “‘Don’t have a cow’: The Simpsons response to Apu racism row criticised as ‘toothless’,” The Guardian, Apr 9, 2018; Jen Cheney, “The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long,” Vulture, Apr 9, 2018; Ryan Parker, “‘Simpsons’ Criticized for Response to Apu Controversy,” The Hollywood Reporter, Apr 9, 2018; Russell Contreras, “‘Simpsons’ reference to Apu criticism sparks backlash,” AP (reprinted in ABC News), Apr 9, 2018; Nicole Drum, “Fans Are Unhappy With How The Simpsons Handled Apu,” Comicbook, Apr 9, 2018; Johnny Lieu,  “People feel let down by ‘The Simpsons’ response to Apu stereotyping,” Mashable, Apr 9, 2018; Dan Snierson, “The Simpsons briefly addresses Apu controversy, causes more controversy,” Entertainment Weekly, Apr 9, 2018; Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018; Linda Holmes, “‘The Simpsons’ To ‘The Problem With Apu’: Drop Dead,” NPR, Apr 9, 2018. Others have pointed out that “Apu wasn’t a contested character when the show began, but he is now” (so what), that the show missed the opportunity to acknowledge why “the depiction of Apu and his portrayal by a white man…have been offensive to many members of the South Asian community,” that the show should admit its mistakes, that the portrayal has always been “offensive, it’s just that the people hurt by it didn’t have a voice,” and  that “The Simpsons has not been relevant in years.”Some had deeper criticism, saying that “the suggestion that any change to Apu would rob The Simpsons of its essential spirit” is wrong, adding that the implication of the statement in the episode is “what matters most here is the show’s legacy,” adding that  “The Simpsons has generally earned the benefit of the doubt by being a sharp cultural satire in so many other respects” and that while the show has treated, in their mind, Apu well, becoming a “genuine, multidimensional character with a rich history and inner life.”

[31] In the capitalist system as a whole, “the dominant class” combats the “laboring class,” using facts that favor “the bourgeois class and damn…the working class and its politics,” to build off what Gramsci wrote, specifically talking about bourgeois newspapers. They also, as it is evident,  manipulate “public opinion according to the desires of the government and the capitalists.”

 

[32] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Brandon Morse, “The Simpsons Not Caving to SJW’s Politically Correct Pressure Is the Line in the Sand Society Needed,” Red State, Apr 4, 2018.

[33] “Exhibit A: Examples of Media Bias,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “Shark Tale: The Complete Story,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “SHARK TALE – Overview, Argument, & Position Summary,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018. The Italic Way adds that the “equal opportunity offender” argument for defenders of the show is weakened “by the fact that the show’s writers take obvious pains to avoid heavy handed characterizations of all groups but Italian Americans.” However, the Italic Way seems to not focus enough on the “several African American characters that are featured…a decadent clown, is depicted Jewish…[and] a convenience store owner is depicted as Pakistani” (actually Indian, not Pakistani) claiming that all of these are “unaccompanied by dialogue or mannerisms which evoke the crudely negative…stereotypes as those heaped on Fat Tony and his gang, proving that the writers of the show are not nearly as bold and daring as they’d like us to believe,” saying the show does not get a pass of approval from them even though Tony and his mob are  limited to only certain episodes. This is a bit distorted as Apu is undeniably a racist stereotype, which is negative, but I see what they are saying. The Italic Institute of America added that the first film in the series, and by extension the two others, “criminalized the history of the Italian American immigrant experience and reaffirmed the belief that criminal behavior is an essential aspect of Italian culture,” creating a “billion-dollar spin-off industry which has spread to every conceivable media outlet in America,” further explained in this 6-page article.

[34] There are some funny ones, however (even with some ageism present for the older individuals), like: a businessman in the failing car industry, Herb Powell, Birch Barlow (parody of Rush Limbaugh),  Homer the drunk/dead-beat dad/working-class slob, Barney the drunk, Bart the bad boy; Dottering grandparents, Abraham “Abe” Simpson and Jacqueline Bouvier; 1960s radical, Mona; civil servant state comptroller Atkins who is of Canadian descent; Dottering Democrat Mary Bailey; Geeks/nerds Benjamin, Doug and Gary; Radio hosts Bill and Marty; Corporate lawyer, the Blue-haired lawyer, Booberella, student Wendell Borton (apparently of Mexican descent), local news anchor Kent Brockman, Marge and Homer’s baby, Maggie, Santa’s Little Helper (the dog), Snowball II the cat, Diabetic Dia-Betty, Blinky, male steward/flight attendant Clancy Bouvier, Sunday school teacher Ms. Albright, old man Jasper Beardly, capitalist Mr. Burns, Capital City Goofball, fat white nerd named Comic Book Guy, jailbird Snake, top scientist Professor Frink, Raphael, Superintendent Chalmers, unemployed father Kirk Van Houten, mentally ill cat owner Crazy Cat Lady, nuclear plant employee Charlie, Christian neighbor Ned Flanders, Sideshow Bob, quack doctor Dr. Nick, incompetent attorney Lionel Hutz, actor/salesperson Troy McClure, country singer Laureen Lumpkin, oil millionaire “The Rich Texan,” corrupt police chief Clancy Wiggum  (part Irish), bartender Moe Szyslak, and clueless police officer Eddie.

[35] Neither Apu’s wife, Manjula, Apu’s brother Sanjay (and his daughter), Apu’s mother, Apu’s cousin Navi, are voiced by those of Indian descent but only by White people. Only Jay, Apu’s nephew, is portrayed by a person of Indian descent, and he only has had two appearances in the show, one on which he voiced by a White person, while the children have no speaking parts.

[36] This isn’t a shock, as Hank Azaria voices 200 characters in all, over the show’s history, with other voice actors likely having comparable numbers! Also take the “Cleveland Show” which portended to be a “black” show: half of the main characters, who are all Black, are voiced by White individuals!

[37] As Schneider, if the Simpsons family is excluded from “the results become a bit less predictable, if not exactly surprising” with Mr. Burns speaking “the most words among supporting cast members, followed by Moe, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and Krusty rounding out the top 5.” Apu, specifically, is listed as speaking 11-12,000 words, even more than Smithers! You could say the same dynamic is at work with Family Guy, which centers around the patriarch, Peter Griffin

[38] Melenie McFarland, ““The Simpsons” just made its Apu problem worse — and proved its creative bankruptcy,” AlterNet (reprinted from Salon), Apr 9, 2018; Carl Kinsella, “The latest Simpsons episode sums up how the show has completely lost its way,” Joe, Apr 9, 2018;  Jen Cheney, “The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long,” Vulture, Apr 9, 2018.

[39] In the past, The Simpsons “gracefully and savagely deconstructed the foibles of white America, casting a withering gaze on subjects like gun ownership, right-wing broadcasters, the American school system, police incompetence and both Republicans and Democrats — all the while making charming, absurd and unexpected jokes.”

[40] I recently watched an episode, “Fears of a Clown,” with a storyline about Krusty  redeeming himself. It was emblematic of The Simpsons: it was entertaining but not funny. As Dennis Perkins of AV Club noted (Dennis Perkins, “Bart, Krusty, Marge, and Skinner unsuccessfully vie for our attention in a forgettable Simpsons,” AV Club, Apr 1, 2018), “…a handful of fine seasons can be cobbled together from episodes from the post-classic seasons, and the show is more harshly judged against itself than against any baseline of acceptable sitcom quality…sometimes The Simpsons rolls out an episode that’s so pale an approximation of its best that sticking up for it becomes an exercise in hand-waving and deep, deep sighs…[this episode] is…irrelevant in its hollow echoes of past, actually memorable, episodes. When the book on The Simpsons is finally closed…and the inevitable all-time episode rankings are compiled, “Fears Of A Clown” is one of those installments destined to elicit blank stares, even from die-hard fans. It barely exists…Plotting discipline remains one of latter-day Simpsons’ most dispiriting weaknesses, with the least memorable episodes heaping unrealized A- through C-stories atop each other as if hoping quantity will distract from how little of substance in happening.”

“A calamitous defeat”: Is “Kurdistan” a nation at all?

A map reprinted from an alternative website, which links to an article in Global Research saying that Washington sponsored the idea of a “Great Kurdistan.”

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated. This article is the fourth of a four-part series, which never got published on Dissident Voice.

The previous article [link here] focused how Western imperialists have granted support to “Kurdistan” over the years. This article poses the question: is “Kurdistan” is a nation at all? This differs from previous analyses of the “Kurdish national question,” but I pursued my own course of analysis in writing this article and others in this series.

As was argued on /r/communism by one user, “from a Marxist-Leninist perspective they are not a nation, they are an ethnicity. To speak of “self determination” for them can only mean “ethnic self determination”, which is a Nazi belief, not a Marxist one.” This in line with users on the same forum agreeing that Kurds are co-operating with U$ imperialism while, at other times, there seemed to be disagreement on the subject.

It is not worth considering whether the referendum was “constitutional” or not, with the former argued by the KRG. Instead, let us consider the views of PRI’s interviewees on the referendum. Most, as is typical of bourgeois media, voiced support, speaking of the “will” for independence, saying that the Kurds “deserve” independence, that people should fight for “our rights,” and hoped for a stronger government. However, one interviewee said that “they [the KRG] pretend democracy, but they are more like dictators.” This in line with the idea that Kurdistan as Qatar’s Al Jazeera declared, that “Kurdistan” is basically a “kind of dream…buoyed by memories of a glorious past” with one person evening saying that “if countries in the region became more democratic and more welcoming of their Kurdish populations, the cries for an independent Kurdistan would quiet down” and the realization that “the country many dream of may not end up as the hoped-for Kurdish utopia.” This is a concern since the Kurds are described as “the largest ethnic group [in that region] without self-determination” and Westerners are coaxed into helping built “stable, democratic institutions,” for the Kurds. [1]

Let us consider that the Barzani family “governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist” and is “historically connected to Israel.” Additionally, let us consider the words of the Qatari-backed and pro-terrorist outlet Middle East Eye, only because they even admit that “Kurdistan” in Northern Iraq is a complete and utter mess:

“…following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late. But the crunch has not been felt by all – cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the ..KRG…Following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late…cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the..KRG…That the upcoming referendum is more about President Barzani and the KRG’s elites ensuring their hold on power undermines the aspirations of some of the world’s most discriminated against people”

The same is the case for the neo-con magazine, Commentary, which says that “…the region was never democratic—the freest and fairest election it had was in 1992—and then the leaders simply massaged the process in order to maintain their hold.” They added that Barzani is “officially limited to two terms by the constitution, but got around the problem by extending his second term extra-legally” meaning that the region is “a dictatorship…[since] two ruling families dominate politics and society…Masud Barzani is a dictator.” Beyond this, there are also reports that “Barzani family members alone took 600 billion dollars from the Kurdish people’s oil income and…[the] Talabani side shared 50 % of that oil money, too, which means they made 600 billion dollars to be divided among Talabani sides.” Then there is the words of the alternative site, Moon of Alabama, which sometimes goes off the rails (but not this time), arguing that the recent referendum was more “to do with the beleaguered situation of the illegitimate regional president Barzani than with a genuine opportunity to achieve independence.” They added that “Arabs, Turks, and Persians see the Kurds as a recalcitrant nomadic mountain tribe and stooge of Israeli interests” and that basically “Kurdish independence…would be the start of another decade of war – either between the Kurdish entities and the nations around them, or within the ever disunited Kurdish tribes themselves.” Finally there are the words of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian Parliament’s General Director for International Affairs, who said that “Barzani’s call for independence means further strengthening of ISIL and Tel Aviv, a new anarchy in the region and instability.” This is fundamentally the case.

Still, these realities or the data collected by the Rand Corp, an appendage of the imperial war machine, do not answer the question on whether “Kurdistan” is a nation or not. Sarah Abed, in a series of articles in Mint Press News seems to raise doubts as to whether the Kurds are a nation. In her first article on the subject, she writes that

“Kurdistan—Land of the Kurds—exists only in two spheres. One is on maps sold in bazaars wherever the Kurdish language is spoken. The other is on yellow-red-and-green flags Kurds sometimes wave in the countries where they actually reside (according to maps sold everywhere else in the world).Yet in one of those countries, the Kurds have built themselves a state in all but name”

In the second, she argues that Kurds are even more devious, not even having their own culture, stealing it from others, with the same being the case with their land, with “much if not all of the land in Eastern Turkey that the Kurds claim as their own once belonged to the Armenians.” She goes on to say that Kurds assisted in the 1915 genocide of Armenians and of Assyrians, along with dwelling in cities which were only recently established as theirs “as a means of drawing their eyes away from the oil-rich lands in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.” As a result, large migrations of Kurds into the area often displaced “Assyrians who had far greater legal and historical claims to these lands.” Add to this, she argues, that Kurdistan will be defined by where “Kurds happen to dwell at any given point” and were easily used as a “pawn of U.S. interests” while Kurds began, in July 2014, “systematic disarmament of Assyrians and several other ethnic groups so that it could use their weapons in its own struggle” which left these groups at the mercy of Daesh. She argues that this is a “deliberate ploy by the Kurdish leadership to allow foreign forces to violently cleanse these areas of all non-Kurdish residents and then…retake and “liberate their lands.” She later argues that

“…the Kurds would have a vested interest in claiming Arab, Assyrian or Armenian history as their own…they often resort to destroying any relevant history altogether…Kurds claim that their “Kurdistan” is “multicultural and multireligious,” which is disingenuous when you consider that those additional cultures consist of people now dwelling amongst a Kurdish majority in lands the Kurds took by force. These people will be faced with the prospect of casting meaningless votes on Kurdish independence since, even if they all voted “no,” they would nonetheless be outvoted by the Kurdish “yes” majority…Kurdish history in the 20th century is marked by a rising sense of Kurdish nationhood focused on the goal of establishing an independent Kurdistan in accordance with the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920…The state of Kurdistan has simply never existed…The Kurds have a centuries-long history of persecuting minority groups, having committed genocide against them with alarming frequency…It is important to reiterate that there are many Kurds to whom some of the characterizations presented in this analysis cannot and should not be applied. There are Kurds who have assimilated into their current cultural societies and reject the ideals of the separatist Kurds. Their concerns are mostly political in nature and specific to the nations in which they reside. They are not interested in establishing a united Kurdish country…In fact, these Kurds have faced discrimination from the Kurdish community as a result of their unwillingness to support the establishment of a Kurdish state…The Kurds have gained popularity through effectively marketing themselves to Western audiences as revolutionary, feminist, Marxist “freedom fighters”…Up until recently, Kurds with separatist ambitions were seen in a positive light. But their hidden agenda has now been exposed and their true intentions revealed…To support the Kurds’ demands for autonomy, and the establishment of a federation at the expense of others in the region, is illegal, profoundly illogical, and a violation of human rights”

If what Sarah Abed says has any validity then the Kurds cannot claim they are a nation and hence their claim for independence as a “nation” and a “nation-state” is fundamentally flawed. The Syrians recognize the danger of this, even discussing with the Russians and a PKK leader a number of issues: “the future of the YPG, the future of US bases…in the YPG-occupied areas, and a political solution to the Kurdish question in Syria.” Whether the Syrian state does the same as Iraq in creating an autonomous area within their country for the Kurds is possible. However, considering the fact that they have been under imperialist assault since the 1960s, especially more intense since 2013, it is likely that Kurds will be granted additional rights but not an autonomous area, a concept which could be exploited by power-hungry Western imperialists.

This discussion is nothing new. In 1973, the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in Iraq wrote a political report titled “Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973.” They noted, in one chapter about the Iraqi revolution, as they called it, talking about the Kurds:

“The Kurdish national movement in Iraq, despite some historical circumstantial errors and reactionary isolationist trends some of which were on openly good terms with imperialism and reactionary circles, is essentially a legitimate national movement so long as it works within the framework of national rights for the Kurdish people within the Republic of Iraq. Autonomous Kurdish rule is realistic and justified…the problem has become very complicated because of foreign interventions, the chauvinistic and dictatorial attitudes of the former reactionary regimes towards the Kurd’s legitimate rights….The Party had to find a solution, theoretical and practical, that would satisfy the national aspirations of our Kurdish masses while protecting the territorial unity of the land and the unity of the national progressive movement without conflicting with the aims of the Arab struggle…the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party often did not behave in the spirit of national unity and sincere alliance with the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party…in spite of all the errors and negative aspects, the peaceful democratic method of the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in tackling the Kurdish Question has proved to be correct and has yielded significant positive results…After four years of persistent struggle to solve the Kurdish Question peacefully and democratically, the general political, psychological and economic trends of the Kurdish masses are no longer as they used to be before the March announcement. Large sections of our Kurdish people are now finding their lives more secure and peaceful than ever before…The peaceful solution of the Kurdish Question is also another sign of democracy, In addition to its significant aspect in consolidating national unity, political independence and social progress in the country, it has provided the opportunity for the first time to create a democratic climate for our Kurdish people to practice their national rights, political, social and cultural activities on a very large scale.”

This statement does draw into question the story told by the Kurds who want their own nation and fundamentally a new nation-state, showing that the Iraqi government understood, at least at one point, that the Kurds were justified in their push for self-determination. Even Kim Il Sung, in 1971, congratulated the Iraqi people and government on the “successful solution of the Kurd national problem in Iraq,” further saying that “the peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem is a telling blow to the imperialists and an important measure which makes it possible to strengthen the anti-imperialist people’s front and further intensify the anti-U.S., anti-Israeli struggle in Iraq.”

However, if the Kurds were not a nation, fundamentally and just an ethnicity, then the Iraqi approach at the time would be even more justified. One Marxist writer even pointed out, in 1979, that two important ayatollahs in Iran called Kurdish leaders “agents of Savak, Zionists and corrupt sources,” while Saddam Hussein reportedly was “arming some Kurds to start a revolt within Iran.” Kurds seem to be pawns, now and throughout their history, of Western imperialists. Still, we cannot paint all of them with the same brush. There are Kurds, as I’ve written in the past, who support federalism in Syria, and also support federalism in Iraq. Not all are separatist, wanting to form an “independent” nation.

Whether the Kurds are an “oppressed nationality” is up to the reader. But this writer thinks that is drawn into question considering that certain Kurds have been used for pawns. They gotta serve somebody, and those somebodies are in the West, not in the Mideast. Clearly US imperialism has re-positioned itself to support certain Kurds in Syria, but there is another reality. A new state in the region would be the paradise of capitalists, getting to the level of Cuba before the revolution’s success in 1959. Additionally, they want a nation-state conceived in a bourgeois way, following what Rosa Luxembourg pointed out in 1909, that ““Nation-states” are today the very same tools and forms of class rule of the bourgeoisie as the earlier, non-national states, and like them they are bent on conquest. The nation-states have the same tendencies toward conquest, war, and oppression – in other words, the tendencies to become “not-national.”” Fundamentally, this is a bourgeois concept.

As the Marxist Internet Archive defines it, a nation-state is when a nation combines with a state, with “the state being an instrument of force which is able to dominate the people of a nation, representing the social interests of the dominant class with that nation.” This is not something that should be cheered or supported. Instead, those with sense should support those Kurds who push for the maintenance of federalist systems in their respective countries, Syria or Iraq, oppose the creation of “Kurdistan,” strongly oppose outside interference by the West, and ally with the proletariat in those countries, along with Communist parties in those countries (i.e. Iraqi Communist Party and Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash)) at minimum. [2] This would all be within the right of any ethnicity, but especially those in countries under imperialist attack. While some may argue, rightly, that Syria and Iraq are not socialist states, it is not the job of those in the West to determine how peoples in those countries engage in revolution but it should be up to the people n those respective countries, with those outside offering international solidarity and support if they deem it necessary. In the case of “Kurdistan,” this should not be supported by any thinking comrade, as it will assist Zionist expansionism, Saudi expansionism, and Western imperialism in dividing up the region. This is not beneficial for the well-being of those who live in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, or those living in any other area. In the end, what happens next, whether they see the Kurds as a nation or they don’t, is up to any comrade who reads the articles in this series.

Notes

[1] Aliza Marcus and Andrew Apostolou, “Why It’s Time for a Free Kurdistan,” The Daily Beast, Nov. 25, 2015.

[2] The same would also be the case in Iran except that the country does not have a strong and established Left, so that would need to be built from the ground up. The existing communist party, Tudeh, is in exile and seems to, unfortunately, mesh with the criticisms of the country’s government by Western imperialists. If this turns out to be incorrect, then perhaps Tudeh can be useful as a force that can challenge the existing political system in Iran.

Armed resistance, “gun control,” and inherent capitalist violence

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org and written by yours truly. Since I’ve written  this article, on February 28, the orange menace has engaged in his own political gymnastics acting like he endorses gun control, then backing of and siding with the NRA. Additionally, he has, as noted by varied news outlets, openly called for the killing of drug dealers. I’ve also read a number of other articles, one talking about how the Second Amendment ties back to settler colonialism, White supremacy and  slavery, with others noting how guns have been helpful for self-defense of Blacks over the years, and another asking that if police can’t protect the public, then what are they good for, anyway? These are all good food for thought.

The bourgeois media in the U$, “a garrison of armed citizens,” has been talking incessantly about the Valentine’s Day Massacre by Nikolas Cruz in Florida which some have called “state-sponsored domestic terrorism” or a “major abuse of human rights.” There have been articles sent off every day on this subject, so many that I can’t even summarize them all in this article. Conservative media have directly attacked the armed deputy who was “assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Scot Peterson, as a “coward” for not entering the building to stop the shooting (which he reportedly thought was outside) while possibly four other deputies also did nothing to stop the violence. [1] Peterson has resigned since then, with others declaring saying that the sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, is “a hack politician whose primary concern is protecting his own political reputation and little fief” and saying this why “we don’t trust our public institutions.” This criticism also focused on the fact that Broward County received many calls “concerning Cruz” while the FBI failed to act on a tips it “received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.” As such, 73 Republicans in Florida called for Sheriff Steve Israel to be suspended (which was happily reprinted by the progressive media outlet, Mother Jones with little comment) by the state’s governor, Rick Scott, who has already launched an official investigation of the response of law enforcement to the shooting itself. This echoes the calls from conservation publications like the National Review and some survivors of the shooting calling for Israel’s resignation. These views are understandable considering that sheriff’s deputies “responded to at least 45 calls about the shooter before the shooting” but still took no action.

Responses to the Valentine’s Day Massacre and analysis

With this, there have been two responses. For one, conservatives, U$ House Republican leaders, the NRA (with a “large, ideologically committed membership” as one conservative publication put it) and their lackeys, like the orange menace (Trump) who is exploiting the tragedy for his own gain, have called for more guns in schools, specifically that teachers be armed, which has been widely panned by progressives, and the general population, for good reason. [2] They also rail against gun-free zones in schools and inherently support further militarization of schools, declaring the liberals are “gun grabbers, saying the media has a “liberal bias” and “loves” mass shootings, and declaring they have the “facts” about gun use, even citing Bob Dylan to support their distorted arguments while laughing at liberals. The reality is that the bourgeois media will profit regardless in such a capitalist society and don’t “love” the shootings as not even bourgeois journalists are subhuman enough to have such beliefs. Still, it is worth pointing out that CNN held a town hall about gun violence, which at minimum raised their stature while the surviving family who was part of it sent doctored emails about the CNN town hall to varied outlets. The liberal response, trumpeted by progressive media, is not much better. They, apart from criticizing hypocritical conservatives, like one that reportedly owned a rifle factory but blamed video games on the shooting, have pushed for further gun control. Over 150 Democrats in the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill which would ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons,” with some conservatives call it a “non-ban” because “assault weapons” is a broadly defined term, which comprises “205 specific firearms that are prohibited, including the AK-47 and AR-15,” leading to further pressure on Congress. At the same time, many firms are dropping their endorsement of the NRA as liberals cheer at their “victory” which will be further enhanced with the upcoming march on March 24th in Washington, D.C., called “March for Our Lives,” organized by a student-led organization named Never Again MSD, while it is co-sponsored by the gun control organization, Everytown for Gun Safety (formerly Mayors Against Illegal Guns), led by former cop-defending NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The march, according to their website, has a mission statement arguing for school safety and reducing gun violence, is followed by other actions across the country. This new push is mainly led by young people, even though they are not more “liberal” on gun control than those of other ages, especially those who are students, some of whom were survivors of the shooting. Of course, these individuals seem to not grasp, by pushing for gun control, that there is seldom “ever any one single cause for such an outrageous act of violence as a mass murder, especially when aimed at school children” with environmental and emotional causes.

This shooting should be no surprise: violence is inherent to the society of the murderous empire, just as it is to capitalist society in general. For the murderous empire, it is expressed through the white supremacist who is running for the U$ Senate in Washington State, the orange menace declaring that he wants to execute drug dealers just like fascist (and anti-communist) Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte or domestic violence in homes across the country, among many other forms of violence. [3] As one writer, Jay Janson, put it, “violence and heroic gun play is in the air children breath in the USA” since members of the military are “hailed in US media as heroic for ‘serving their country’ in other peoples countries” with the NRA having “a financial interest in the sale and proliferation of guns,” adding that “most Americans, or at least those addicted to their TV screens, might not see what the Third World and even America’s European allied peoples see clearly… the Third and Second World see that the seventeen mercilessly slain in Florida last week were the result of American fire power backfiring on its own kids and teachers.” He ended by saying that everyone “should try to end the era of colonial genocide earlier than it will end in any case,” closing by saying that “the human species…will soon end this period of profitable genocide for a relatively small group of insane speculative investment bankers of Western de-civilization.” It is my hope that happens, although I’m not always as optimistic and do not share his view of revisionist China leading the world out of an era of Western “colonial imperialism,” as he calls it, for one, and secondly feel that his analysis is not completely in keeping with radical principles.

As it always happens in the discourse about guns, it goes back to the Second Amendment of the U$ Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Some have declared that this amendment has “no practical value in thinking about gun control,” saying that the debate over firearms is not between those in favor of gun rights or gun control, but about “what kind of controls and restrictions of firearms are right and proper” with the U$ government having the “right” to hold certain arms for military use since the Western Pennsylvania rebellion of 1794, falsely called the “Whiskey Rebellion” after the moniker adopted by aristocrat Alexander Hamilton, with self-proclaimed militias having, in his view, no “basis in the Constitution.” This same author bloviated that “hiding behind the Second Amendment to advocate few or no restrictions on firearms is a nasty scam and misunderstanding of American history. Others said that the magical, mystical “founding fathers” (a conception which is racist and patronizing) didn’t give people the “right” to bear arms. Such views, as one would expect, do not take in the full picture, the reality of the situation.

Recently, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA spoke to CPAC, where he complained about Karl Marx taught on college campuses and declared that “students are even earning academic credit for promoting socialist causes” (which I doubt), while implying that such students favor gun confiscation, while ignoring the U$ Constitution and U$ history, in his distorted view. The reality is very different. Despite what LaPierre said, the reality is that communists are not, by in large, supporters of gun control. Just take a post on a Marxist-Leninist tumblr, as an example. This individual, Steff Yorek, opposed the NRA as a “vile, racist, reactionary organization,” was proud of students taking “reins of leadership,” opposing arming of teachers, turning schools into “prisons or military installations,” and putting more school resource officers in schools because it will disproportionately effect Black, indigenous, and Chican@ kids. At the same time, he wrote that he believed in the “right to bear arms and the right to community self-defense are democratic rights and I want to expand democratic rights not shrink them,” adding that the growing anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist group (founded in June 2016 as a “community defense formation” and working to reclaim the word “redneck”), Redneck Revolt assisted in evacuating a church in Charlottesville during White supremacist violence. This is forgotten by those who say that the U$ should follow the path of the Chinese and institute gun control.

A short history of armed resistance in the U$ and analysis of the current “gun culture”

Echoing this, I return to my articles on gun control and armed resistance, as it worth summarizing the history I put forward there. In the first article, I wrote that gun laws have been “interlinked with racism and racial politics,” noting that the first targets were enslaved Blacks but also included “farmers and dispossessed revolutionary war veterans” to prevent them from revolting, in the 1790s and 1820s, with such laws as a form of social control. I also noted that for Blacks who were enslaved, guns were “an important and vital tool (one of many tools) of resistance against their chains of human bondage,” adding that they were used to “protect against violent White supremacists, police, and terrorist vigilantes” with these use of guns feared by brutal slaveowner Thomas Jefferson, among others, while armed White men in slave patrols went around to maintain order and keep enslaved Blacks in their “place,” with their prohibition ruled as still legal in the South, and cited in the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) case as a reason to not give Blacks their full rights. I further added that many of those pushing for abolitionism said that guns were necessary to help Blacks become free, with Harriet Tubman carrying a firearm, while southern Blacks used weapons to defend themselves against racist Whites and White terrorist groups during the Reconstruction. The Supreme Court during the Reconstruction effectively dismantled the 14th Amendment (it was only restored in the 1960s), allowing the “forcible disarmament of free Blacks” and basically “imposing White supremacy…throughout the American South” which did not occur without resistance. In the years to follow, W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP defended himself with a gun and championed armed self-defense as a duty of individuals, a position held by other NAACP members and declared often in the organization’s publication, The Crisis. This right to self-defense was later manifested by a Black sharecropper, Pink Franklin, in 1910, Sgt. Edgar Caldwell in 1918 Ossian Sweet in 1925, all of whom were supported by the NAACP, with Black capitalist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, despite his faults (like his claim that communism would only benefit White people, calling it a “dangerous theory of economic and political reformation” which puts power in the hands of ignorant White masses), strongly believing in armed self-defense of Blacks. Jumping forward many years, after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 which legalized racial segregation in the U$ South, handgun permit and gun registration laws were enacted by varied Southern states, with gun control laws expanding to encompass social control of Whites, Blacks, and other marginalized groups, such as Mexican and Chinese immigrants. The latter was manifested by the Sullivan Act which passed in New York State in 1911. As for the NRA, it promoted gun laws, “embedded with racism,” in the Northern U$, passed in response to “urban gun violence and crime often pegged on immigrants, especially those from Italy and Eastern Europe.” The Harvard-educated lawyer heading the NRA, Karl Frederick, drafted model legislation to “restrict concealed carry of firearms in public” which later led to the 1934 National Firearms Act. Adding further to the history, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), before it was corrupted by revisionists, mobilized mass support for the Scottsboro Boys and other dispossessed individuals, having an organization of armed self-defense as they prepared workers for battles in the 1930s, with sharecroppers in the South engaging in pitched armed battles across Alabama in 1931, 1932, and 1935.

Fast forward to the 1950s. By this time, no new gun control legislation had been passed, dedicated Black comrade, Paul L. Robeson, threatened that Blacks would “exercise their right of armed self-defense” if Truman didn’t sign anti-lynching legislation, a threat not based in thin air, with Robeson hounded by the FBI for his strong communist and Marxist views for years, with the Civil Rights Congress, which he was involved with, charging the U$ with genocide in 1951. Robeson traveled abroad after 1958 (when his passport was renewed) and didn’t return to the U$ until 1963, dying 13 years later in 1976. Apart from Robeson, Martin Luther King, Jr., “took measures to protect himself,” with his home as an arsenal of guns and protected by armed guards, as he even applied for a “concealed carry permit, under a law that the NRA had promoted thirty years earlier” in 1956 but his “application was rejected.” Around the same time, Robert F. Williams was beginning his activism for Black freedom. After many years of activism, heading a NAACP branch in Monroe, North Carolina, in May 1959, after a Monroe court acquitted a “white man for the attempted rape of a black woman,” he declared that justice in the courts cannot be expected from Blacks, saying that they must “convict his attackers on the spot. He must meet violence with violence, lynching with lynching.” Of course, this caused a lot of controversy, but he clarified it by saying that if the U$ Constitution could not be enforced, Blacks need to “defend themselves even if it is necessary to resort to violence,” adding that there is no law in the South, and no need to “take the white attackers to the courts because they will go free” while the federal government is “not coming to the aid of people who are oppressed,” adding that Black men should “stand up and be men and if it is necessary for us to die we must be willing to die. If it is necessary for us to kill we must be willing to kill.” That was a strong statement then, and would be a strong statement now. Apart from heading the NAACP branch, he organized, with his wife Mable, and other community members, a rifle club, called the Black Armed Guard, to defend the community from “attacks by the KKK, with the base of the club coming from the NAACP branch that Robert led” and while Black men “dominated the new club, some Black women were members, and the club’s actions were broadly a success” and even using guns to defend Freedom Riders. Robert would later, with his family, live in Cuba to escape a “kidnapping” charge imposed on him by the FBI, later arguing for racial internationalism even as he shied away from Marxism and the then-revisionist CPUSA disliked him, drawing Robert closer to the Trotskyists. Later, he moved with his family to the People’s Republic of China in 1965, where he stayed in exile until 1969 and was pardoned of his “crimes” in 1975.

As the years passed, armed self-defense was advocated by even more people in the Black community, with field organizers in the South standing against racial segregation were often protected by armed farmers and workers, with Robert Moses in SNCC saying in 1964 that “it’s not contradictory for a farmer to say he’s nonviolent and also pledge to shoot a marauder’s head off, “with James Foreman admitting the same year that “I dare say that 85 per cent of all Negroes do not adhere to non-violence. They are allowing the non-violent movement to go ahead because it is working.” Other groups saw such protection as necessary as they refused to “publicly criticize the use of armed self-defense,” even including Martin Luther King. Others noted that gunfire and the threat of gunfighter helped nonviolence, with the latter not a “way of life for many in the southern Black community” as many households had guns, with “armed supporters protecting field organizers.” By this time, radical Black activists who believed in varied “forms of Black liberation and Black nationalism,” splitting from the bourgeois civil rights movement, including those such as Malcolm X, among others. This was expressed even by the pro-China Progressive Labor Movement, saying that “Black people…must develop political power outside of the present power apparatus through armed self-defense, political councils, the creation of an economic base, seizing land and factories and…uniting with all workers struggling for revolution” and Malcolm X calling for Black rifle clubs while he threatened Lew Rockwell with “maximum physical retaliation” if MLK and his fellow demonstrators were harmed. Sadly, on February 21, 1965, the Nation of Islam, likely with the “help of the NYPD, CIA, and FBI,” gunned down Malcolm X.

Other than Malcolm X, there was a group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice. This group “defended civil rights workers against attacks from the KKK and other White supremacists,” using masculinist appeals, expanding across the Deep South, with Black women participating informally and individually, defending their homes with armed force, but not directly in the group itself. This group, “roughly active from 1964 to 1968” helped the civil rights movement move forward, by allowing this movement “to have victories in the Deep South,” and without the Deacons protecting civil rights workers, “it would have been harder to push for such laws,” like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, “regardless of how much they accomplished in retrospect.” While the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), earlier called the Progressive Labor Movement, saw the Watts rebellion (in 1966) as unorganized and facing tremendous odds, saying that people “liberated their own community and kept out the police,” while advocating for “self-defense organizations to help them organize to defend themselves,”Martin Luther King did not agree, even as he saw “riots” as the “language of the unheard.” The same year, in October, a group founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP), came onto the scene in Oakland. It centered around the idea of armed self-defense and a whole program of self-defense with demands for basic needs and a program to unfold into socialist revolution, inspired by the efforts of Robert and Malcolm X, using guns as self-protection, carrying them “in public and displaying them for everyone, especially for the local police to see.” At the same time, they pushed the belief that “the gun would be a way to gain liberation,” with recruits “taught about socialism and Black nationalism,” as they famously “electrified the nation and brought gun control back into the picture” in 1967 with a “number of Panthers, with loaded weapons, went to the state legislature in Sacramento” to oppose a gun control law, the Mulford Act, which was supported by the NRA! Bobby Seale read a statement by Huey Newton saying that the Black Panthers opposed such legislation “aimed at keeping the Black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder and repression of Black people,” adding that “repression, genocide, terror and the big stick” is the policy of the empire, arguing that “the time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.” The following year, in 1968, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act and the Gun Control Act were passed, laying the foundation for “existing carceral state” with the latter law clearly about controlling Blacks, and was again supported by the NRA!

In the years to follow, armed self-defense continued to be important for marginalized groups. The Republic of New Afrika (RNA) formed in 1968, and lasting until 1971, aimed to create a Black nation in the South, along the “Black Belt” of the country, having a group of young Black men with rifles for self-defense and had “armed women serving as security for the RNA’s Land Celebration Day in 1971.” In the Black Panther newspaper, the publication of the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas drew varied illustrations showing “poor black women resisting authority in everyday life” especially women with guns and being “equals with men,” with such ideas later leading to a split in the Party, with the creation of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). As for the White establishment, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Ramsey Clark, and the National Violence Commission all supported gun control, while hardliners led by Harlon Carer took control of the NRA in May 1977 in a coup ousting Maxwell Rich. The latter action changed the NRA into a “pro-gun powerhouse and juggernaut where mistrust of law enforcement was one of the main beliefs” which was echoed by Republicans while Blacks embraced gun control due to increased violence in urban areas. Still, there were some groups which continued to support armed self-defense, and armed resistance such as a “Revolutionary Union” group in Detroit, the Brown Berets, a Chican@ nationalist organization, advocating for armed self-defense and armed struggle, as part of their anti-capitalist viewpoint, as necessary tools for liberation,” other Black radicals, and those fighting against White supremacist violence with strength. Specifically, in the later 1970s, the phrase “Death to the Klan” was spread across the U$, with some left-wing groups supporting “militant, anti-racist opposition to the Klan” by organizing within unions and against racism in varied communities. The result was the Greensboro Massacre in 1979 where Nazis, as the police and federal authorities looked the other way, opened fire on these left-wing activists, resulting in many deaths. Other groups supporting such methods included the United League in North Mississippi which “organized the masses, engaging in armed self-defense” and took “precautions against Klan threats,” with other groups coming out of the efforts by left-wing groups to oppose the Klan, especially among the Puerto Rican and Black communities. Since the 1980s, there has not been any organized efforts of armed self-defense until very recently, as I noted in my next article.

In the next part of the series, I specifically focused on gun control in the murderous empire. I wrote that indigenous peoples heroically resisted White European settlers but they were suppressed due to a superiority of weapons among the former, adding that armed resistance “has been an effective form of self-defense,” especially since the “long history of racial domination” in the Americas for Black people (1510-2018), beginning on January 22, 1510, noting the ahistorical arguments by gun rights supporters and by those for gun control, with the latter disregarding “the fact that enslaved Blacks gained guns during the Civil War and due to evasion of gun control laws, allowing them to engage in armed resistance.” I also pointed out that apart from the Deacons, Black Panthers, and Brown Berets (a new version formed in 1993), there are other groups, historically such as the Young Lords among the Puerto Rican Community, the Young Patriots, and the American Indian Movement (still existing). At the present, I pointed out that the Nation of Islam has armed wings for men and women, while also highlighting the Red Guards in Texas, Brothas Against Racist Cops, Redneck Revolt (including the John Brown Gun Club), the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, with other groups I listed not seeming to be that active. [4] After talking about recent developments on gun rights, such as the District of Columbia v. Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago cases, I noted that Antonin Scalia in the majority decision in the latter decision arguing that “the Fourteenth Amendment contemplated guns rights because it was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1866.” This is interestingly enough, correct, as a Black Code enacted by Mississippi in November 1865 worked to restrict gun and weapon use, while the Second Freedman’s Bill passed the same year said that states should honor the “constitutional right of bearing arms” saying that it cannot be “refused or denied to negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons, on account of race, [or] color” and likely influencing the 1868 Mississippi Constitution which declared that “all persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense.”

After highlighting gun clubs and debate over guns, I noted that some asked if it as “time to start resisting police with violence.” With this, I highlighted that “firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense” and said that “guns can frighten and intimidate” which is part of self-defense, even quoting a liberal who argued against gun laws saying that they contribute, like other criminal laws, to Black incarceration. As such, I focused on a group for Black gun owners called the National African American Gun Association, protests with guns by the problematic “New Black Panther Party” (which do not legitimately hold claim to the name), a group called the Liberal Gun Club, comprises of “gun-owning liberals and moderates,” and still-existing group called the Pink Pistols, which argues against gun control, argues that there is a connection between “gay rights and gun rights.” The latter group is a self-defense group for non-binary folks (often called LGBTQ+) which was founded in 2000 with the idea that “armed queers don’t get bashed,”filing court cases on their behalf. Additionally I noted that some had floated the idea of Communist Gun Clubs and argued that “we should not reject those in the heartland of the United States who may oppose fracking but also strongly believe in their right to have firearms” as an example. I also added that gun laws, as they stand now, “contribute to the white supremacist order” with such laws connected a “correctional control” in the country as a whole, saying that as a practical measure, funding for mental health programs should be increased, while adding that gun laws don’t “help protect marginalized communities, arguably disarming them at most, or weakening their protection at minimum.” I also quoted a person on the “Left” as saying that the right of “necessary self-defense against oppressive force” should be recognized with a gun culture on the Left, arguing that “guns are a small business in the US at large,” and saying that “gun control won’t bring us to a humane society.” This same writers noted that Eugene Debs called for guns after the Ludlow Massacre to “protect from Rockefeller’s assassins,” the story of armed miners “in Harlan Country in the 1930s,” and urban labor unions providing “armed protection,” even as he rejected the “right-wing’s fetishization of brute force” without a doubt.

From there, I noted that due to the fact that society of the empire is “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted,” it would be “criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control” because anyone considered “a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary” since this is claimed by White, straight men, so it is only logical that others in society should have this right, in order to “fight off bigots.” I further added that a revolution cannot be fought with “flowers and sayings, but political power” and said that “gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.” Adding to this, I said that armed self-defense “cannot occur as effectively with gun control measures in place,” adding that “the focus on gun control should be removed from the equation, with other approaches instead, which are more effective.” After that, I cited the writings of Karl Marx, who argued in 1850 for organizing and arming the proletariat “with rifles, guns, and ammunition” with the proletariat under no pretext giving “up their arms and equipment” with any “attempt at disarmament must be forcibly resisted,” and those of Vladimir Lenin who argued for “special bodies of armed men,” even saying at one point that “only an armed people can be a real stronghold of national freedom…the sooner the proletariat succeeds in arming itself, and the longer it maintain its position of striker and revolutionary, the sooner the soldiers will at last begun to understand what they are doing, they will go over to the side of the people.” With this I concluded that guns can be a tool to “allow socialist revolution to succeed,” noting that guns can “be used for malevolent ends” but can also “be used to allow socialist revolution to succeed.” From there, I analyzed the Second Amendment, arguing that the amendment says that “militia units in states should be well-regulated for the purposes of securing the State…but also declares that “the people” which means the whole population of the US…have the right to “keep and bear Arms” interpreting the word “arm” to apply to “ALL weapons, not just guns” meaning that people have the “right to defend themselves with “fists, feet, stones, bricks, blades, and gasoline firebombs”” apart from just guns. I ended the article by saying that rather than “waiting” for revolution there must be action at the present “against the threats that face this planet and its people, even when one should do so without illusion, whatever form that takes offline or online.”

A radical way forward

There is no doubt, as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argues, the murderous empire has a gun culture because of the tradition of “killing, looting, burning, raping, and terrorizing Indians” as inherent to the murderous empire itself, even before the Constitutional Convention. Dunbar-Ortiz, who notes that Richard Hofstadter coined the term “gun culture,” adds that the Second Amen dent specifically gave “individuals and families the right to form volunteer militias to attack Indians and take their land” with later, slave patrols drawn from these very militias! She added that the main problem with the current gun debate is that neither side, those for gun control or those for gun rights, don’t wish to admit what the “Second Amendment was originally about and why its sanctity has persisted” as she argues, in a new book (Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment) that the Second Amendment is “key to understanding the gun culture of the United States,” and key to a new consciousness about the “linger effects of settler-colonialism and white nationalism,” with a necessary reflection needed on “how the violence it [the Amendment] has spawned has deeply influenced the character of the United States.” There is no doubt she is right. There’s more to what’s happening now than what is declared in think pieces by liberals or conservatives. While is is valid that the Second Amendment was part of an effort by the South “determined to ensure that slave owners could pursue runaways.

There is more as is states the column by self-declared socialist, but really liberal-at-heart, Chris Hedges. In his piece, he says that proliferation of guns in the murderous empire benefits gun manufacturers but  “fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency,” saying that gun ownership is “largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression,” saying it is “an instrument of tyranny,” saying that “mass culture and most historians do not acknowledge the patterns of violence that have played out over and over since the founding of the nation.” He adds that a gun, as it stands in the U$, “reminds Americans that they are divine agents of purification, anointed by God and Western civilization to remake the world in their own image” with American “vigilantes are the shock troops of capitalism” and gun ownership being the “fear by white people of the black and brown underclass, an underclass many whites are convinced will threaten them as society breaks down” with guns rarely deployed against the state, as the gun, in his summary, “seems to be the last tangible relic of a free and mythic America.” He ends by saying that attacks on gun violence and gun culture is seen “by many gun owners as an attack on their national identity” with the almost always White Male lone killer “celebrated by Hollywood and in our national myth.”

Hedges makes a good point, as does Dunbar-Ortiz. However, Hedges seems to whitewash any history of armed resistance by the oppressed over U$ history, likely because of his beliefs in “peaceful” revolution, a laughable concept if I ever heard one. In terms of gun violence, there is a better way forward, which is not posed by Hedges. One can, as a start, push for the banning of “ROTC from public schools,” against expanded military recruitment, and further militarization. This obviously will not address gun violence at its root. That would require, all armaments should be taken away from the capitalist state and its armed forces. This includes the military, police forces, and any other forces of terror in society as a whole. Some may say this is impossible in a capitalist society as the bourgeoisie would never allow this, which is the reality. As such, there would need to be a revolution in the empire, as it splinters and explodes into different pieces, benefiting the world as a whole, giving an opportunity for the proletariat, allowing these weapons to be taken away. Of course, this cannot be imposed from above, and has to be a process of working with the proletariat itself, as anything but this approach would be fundamentally elitist and betray efforts to build a revolution. Taking this into account, calls for taking or limiting guns used by the populace, the latter favored more by liberals than seizure of guns, which is an inherent aspect of gun control, is a death nail to revolution and brings with it more social control without question, increasing the already strong system of mass incarceration in the U$ which liberals only flit about with “reforms” of prisons, rather than favoring efforts at abolition. It is only after a socialist revolution was completed that gun control could be implemented, as it was in Cuba or in Juche Korea, to give two examples of countries under imperialist attack.

This may seem all too fantastical for some, however those people don’t see the full picture. There is no doubt that many gun owners are well-off White Males who live in rural areas (and smaller urban areas), with 3% of the population owning nearly half of the country’s guns, having them mainly for “protection,” and do not have any revolutionary feelings or much developed class consciousness. These are the same people who broadly favorrepressive agencies such as the FBI, and CIA, among varied other government agencies, even as they feel the government helps the wealthy more than any other group in society. With that, there is slight dissatisfaction with current gun laws. As such, in the current situation of the empire, those with guns will not magically join up a revolution against capitalism and wave a red flag like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, before he was beat up by the police. Instead, the development of a revolution in the murderous empire would take time and organization, perhaps with soviets like the one put together by the Party of Socialism and Liberation last year, or those endorsed by the Venezuelan Communist Party, as I read recently in their publication, Popular Tribune.

While my opinions are still developing as I learn more about varied topics, writing about issues relating directly to the murderous empire and efforts at resisting imperialism in other corners of the world whether it be Palestine or Juche Korea, I continue to stand strongly against capitalism in all its forms and in solidarity with all those resisting it, not any flunkeys like the so-called “revolutionary” Kurds of Rojava who are utter posers. Violence is inherent to the murderous empire and it has been that way since its legal creation in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, and from 1607 until that point, as the White English settled their part of the North American continent, creating another colony of the British empire, while the Spanish, French, and Dutch also staked out their claims, expanding their imperialist systems. While a revolution to bring down the murderous empire is developed, all efforts of armed resistance should be supported while typical “nonviolent methods” still has some value in social movements, but not as much as it used to have. After all, there should be a diversity of tactics that are used. The same goes for supporting all those being oppressed by the capitalist poles of power in the world and all of those who appease these poles of power.


Notes

[1] “Scot Peterson: ‘Patently untrue’ that he failed to meet standards during Parkland school shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted in conservative Washington Times), Feb 26, 2018; Rich Lowry, “The Broward County Sheriff Is Everything That’s Wrong with American Authority,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Laurel Wamsley, “Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny For Handling Of Parkland Shooting,” NPR, Feb 26, 2018; “Florida Sheriff Denies Claims That 4 Deputies Were on Scene During School Shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted by Atlanta Black Star), Feb 25, 2018; Editors of the National Review, “Broward’s Cowards,” National Review, Feb 25, 2018; Christian Datoc, “Parkland Survivor Slams Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: ‘Absolutely Needs To Resign’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Derek Hunter, “Sheriff Israel To Local Reporter On His Deputy’s Failure: ‘That’s Not My Responsibility’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Victor Morton, “Florida to launch official investigation of law enforcement response to school shooting,” Washington Times, Feb 25, 2018; “Broward County Sheriff DIDN’T Respond to 39 Calls Regarding School Shooter — There Were MORE,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “74 Florida Republican Lawmakers Are Calling for the Sheriff in the Parkland Shooting to Be Suspended,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “School Resource Officer who stood outside during shooting thought he did a good job (Update: ‘You’re despicable’),” Hot Air, Feb 24, 2018; Alex Swoyer, “Grassley: FBI didn’t contact Google during probe on Florida shooter,” Washington Times, Feb 23, 2018; Sarah Rumpf, “Three Other Broward Cops Were Outside School During Shooting But Didn’t Enter,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Max Greenwood, “Additional deputies did not enter Florida high school during shooting: report,” The Hill (relying on a CNN report), Feb 23, 2018; Michelle Mark, “Local authorities and the FBI got multiple warnings that the suspected Florida shooter was dangerous — but no one followed up,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Rod Dreher, “Disgraceful Broward County Deputies,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018.

[2] Jennifer Van Laar, “Get Rid of Do-Nothing ‘Gun-Free’ Zones and Give Schools Real Security,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Carl Arbogast, “Stop Lying to Those Kids and Telling Them They’re Going To Win the Gun Debate,” Red State, Feb 26, 2018; Jay Cost, “The NRA Is Not Your Typical Interest Group,” National Review, Feb 26, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Dozens of companies boycott NRA over Florida shooting — but it’s backfiring big time,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “The Trump Campaign Is Trying to Raise Money Off the Parkland Shooting. Here’s What It Sent Supporters,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Father of girl killed in Florida shooting eviscerates the media for pushing gun control narrative,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; “The Gun-Grabbers Don’t Care About the AR-15 — They Are After All Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Martin Cizmar, “Oklahoma congressman who owns rifle factory blames video games and lack of Jesus in schools for Florida massacre,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Julia Conley, “Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings,” Common Dreams, Feb 23, 2018; Susan Wright, “This Looks Bad: Trump Campaign Raising Money off the Image of Parkland Survivors,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Laura King, “NRA rejects Trump’s call for raising the age limit to buy rifles,” LA Times, Feb 25, 2018; Rivera Sun, “Stopping Mass Shootings: Less Finger Pointing, More Action,” Common Dreams, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “House Democrats back new ban on semi-automatic weapons,” Hot Air, Feb 26, 2018; Melissa Quinn, “House Democrats introduce bill prohibiting sale of semi-automatic weapons,” Washington Examiner, Feb 26, 2018; David Weigel, “Most House Democrats get behind effort for new assault-weapons ban,” Washington Post, Feb 26, 2018; Jena Greene, “FedEx Backs Away From NRA: Restrict ‘Assault Weapons’ To Military,” The Daily Caller, Feb 26, 2018; Kate Harloe, “A Guide to the Upcoming Gun Control Marches,” Mother Jones, Feb 26, 2018; “Md. Rep. Cummings Joins Democrats Introducing Bill To Ban Assault Weapons,” WJZ(CBS affiliate), Feb 26, 2018; “US gun control: Congress returns under pressure to act,” DW, Feb 26, 2018; Sarah Quinlan, “Hold up! Here Are Some Facts Too Many Get Wrong When Talking About Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Anna Wu and David Desroches, “Educators Fear And Embrace Calls For Concealed Carry In The Classroom,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Jesse Byrnes, “NRA strikes back at Florida sheriff: ‘Your office failed this community’,” The Hill, Feb 23, 2018; Daniel J. Flynn, “Bob Dylan on Guns,” The American Spectator, Feb 23, 2018; Eliza Redman, “Parkland shooting survivor’s family shops doctored emails with CNN to media outlets,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Kira Davis, “Vice is SHOCKED That the NRA Thinks Women Should Be Allowed to Own Weapons,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018;Brandon Morse, “Dana Loesch Reveals What Went Down Behind the Scenes at that CNN Town Hall, and It Doesn’t Help CNN,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Patrick J. Buchanan, “Don’t Confiscate Guns: Protect Schools,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018; Mark Ossolinski and Katie Pickrell, “‘Protect Kids, Not Guns’: Maryland High Schoolers’ Walkout to Demand Action,” AlterNet (reprinting from The American Prospect), Feb 23, 2018; Hansi Lo Wang, “Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control Than Elders, Polls Show,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan, “U.S. congressional Republicans reject new limits on guns,” Reuters, Feb 27, 2018; David French, “It’s Time for Real Talk about the Assault-Weapons ‘Ban’,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Bob Eller, “The father of a Parkland school shooting survivor admits to altering an email exchange with CNN and shopping it to other media outlets,” Business Insider (reprinted from AP), Feb 27, 2018.

[3] Martin Cizmar, “Notorious Washington extremist whose rallies attract violent white supremacists to run for US senate,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Mark Abadi, “Trump reportedly told friends he wanted to execute every drug dealer in America,” Business Insider, Feb 25, 2018.

[4] At the time, I listed Black Guns Matter, the John Brown Militia, and the Indigenous People’s Liberation Front but they do not seem to have active websites/webpages.

“Kill your idols”: Chelsea Manning and the reactionary “left”

Quotes by Chelsea E. Manning (pictured above) from a recent Washington Post article by Jenna Portnoy titled “Chelsea Manning: ‘The establishment needs to be challenged.’” Note that she has a necklace which is a hashtag, showing that what she writes on Twitter is part of who she is as a person, and connects to an analysis of her as a popular figure.

In August of last year, Tarzie, a self-declared “queer small a anarchist” who lives in Brooklyn, delivered a biting criticism of Chelsea Manning, the trans female whistleblower, who is the subject of this article. This writer said that they are free to “weigh in at length on Chelsea Manning’s rebirth as a 14-year-old fashion icon and anti-communist.” They further commented that Manning’s stunt which recapitulates “the Cold War “truism” that Nazi Germany = The DDR = The Soviet Union requires an answer,” since this is a common false equivalence, saying that good ‘ole Snowden was saying basically the same thing. Tarzie further wrote that without question Manning and Snowden, along with others, who “liken Lenin to Robert Lee are the most misleading kind of propagandist, regardless of how they see themselves,” further concluding that their motives are not of concern but rather the fact that they are “foisting it on impressionable nitwits in thrall to their celebrity and dissident cred” is disturbing. To counter such notions of anti-communism, Tarzie offered as a disinfectant an “excellent talk from Michael Parenti, which places the failings of communism in historical perspective.”

Saying all of that and recognizing the recent debate over Chelsea Manning and her actions, which will be discussed later in this post, it is worth delving more into Chelsea Manning, the reactionary “left”, which some call the “Celebrity Left,” and related aspects.

Table of contents

  1. The contours of the reactionary “left”
  2. The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning
  3. Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

 

The contours of the reactionary “left”

In the past, Tarzie has criticized the prominent parts of what he calls the “celebrity left,” or what can be call the reactionary “left.” On this blog, I have used the term to refer to supposed anarchist David Graeber (“Anarchy Dad”), “celebrity left personalities” Shaun King and DerayNoam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald (who claims to hold a “higher truth“), Snowden (who is inherently deceptive and claims to be “adversarial” meaning that he should undoubtedly be criticized), Naomi Klein, and artist Molly Crabapple (her real name is Molly Klein) while implying that the term also refers to bourgeois pacifist David Swanson and Obamabot Ta-Nehisi Coates. However, in none of these did I talk about the contours of reactionary “left” or “celebrity left” as Tarzie prominently calls them. The closest I came to defining the term “celebrity left” was in my article harshly criticizing Naomi Klein’s 273-page-book No Is Not Enough and arguing that she is a brand (all links not from my own blog have been retained):

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background…with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves?…Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books…Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands.

This begs the question: what is the “celebrity left”? In September 2014, Tarzie defined the Celebrity Left as those who who have an expansive “Twitter following in the tens of thousands and up” or capable of having such a following, and also “getting paid from time to time by mainstream media or larger liberal outlets to write and gab.” He also added that such individuals operate under “different or fewer constraints than the media as a whole,” that the funding sources of these individuals showing that the “presumed border between mainstream and alternative media is largely imagined,” that the higher status of these individuals “permits them a childishly despotic relationship with their critics” which usually takes the “form of sneering anti-radicalism — and the protection of fans…who dole out discipline on their behalf.” Tarzie further said that the latter is why “neoliberal billionaires and right wing media moguls find them worthy investments,” saying that such personalities are “essentially religious figures and so evaluating them becomes an issue of good and bad.” I would add  that such individuals do not  like criticism and dismiss it as silly, distracting, or unfounded, some of whom have been written about by Tarzie. [1] Other possible candidates for this “celebrity left” include Johnetta Elzie, Laurie Penny (not her real name), Sarah Jeong, Sarah Kendzior, Benjamin “Ben” Norton, Medea Benjamin, Bill McKibben, Chris Hedges, and Brittany Packnett.

It is worth investigating “what they actually believe and what they actually do” as one person, as noted earlier, suggested about Manning. These individuals may have some “wide recognition; fame; renown” but only in certain circles, as they are not famous or well-publicized people, as the definition by the fourth edition of the Webster’s New College Dictionary states for the word “celebrity.” As such, it may be detrimental to radical analysis to call them the “celebrity left.” Rather, one can have a broader group, considering them left reactionaries or the reactionary “left.” This person could as easily be applied to established media personalities like Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Gore or Michael Moore as much as Chelsea Manning. This would help put them into context of existing bourgeois politics within the murderous empire, allowing one to criticize the reactionary elements of the “left.” Others can use the term “celebrity left” if they wish, but I think it limits the realm of discussion.

The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning

A quote from her first column in The Guardian, showing her reformist, anti-revolutionary attitude. This photo is a revised version of the original posted on Manning’s twitter account, which was re-posted from her instagram account, in November of last year.

In late January of this year, /r/communism erupted in a storm with a post titled “i’m sorry for supporting Chelsea Manning.” Within it, the loyal comrade wrote that Manning has “gone full fucking reactionary these past few weeks” and said that he was “at least hoping she could eventually see past anarchism and move towards proper marxism,” saying at the end that “remember, comrades: kill your idols,” the latter used in the title of this article. There was over 40 comments on this thread, with some saying that it shouldn’t surprise people “she turned out to be a liberal” and that they “never thought of her as any different from Snowden or any more “left” than Sanders,” while others said that she is we should be aware of her but “actively seek to move past” as she remains “confined to the ideological trappings of capitalism-imperialism.” Comments ranged from those saying that “why would we (as a sub) support Ms. Manning anyway? She had always been an anarchist, and anti socialist,” that she is “is an inspirational figure, someone who did the right thing” but that “she is by no means a communist revolutionary” as her “announcing a Senate run under the Democrats should show just how liberal her politics are,” and others saying that she is a “big military supporter in spite of being personally aware of the war crimes they do on a regular basis” and that one should “not project revolutionary politics onto your fav celebrities” but rather “investigate what they actually believe and what they actually do.” As an active contributor on /r/communism, I of course commented as well, writing that

…I remember how people thought she was a pacifist, but she said she wasn’t anti-war or even a conscientious objector, but was only a “transparency advocate.” While she seems to be firmly anti-Trump, from a pursuing of her twitter account, she has said she wants ICE and Customs dismantled calling ICE the “gestapo”, supports universal basic income, believes the FISA court should be abolished, opposes police militarization and mass incarceration (I think?), has somewhat anti-authority beliefs and hangs out with other celebrity left as some call them. Lets say all of that is positive and genuine (not sure all those views are). It still doesn’t excuse equating the Nazi gestapo, Soviet nkvd, East German stasi, and ICE as one and the same! They aren’t! Its a bit disorienting to go through her twitter feed to say the least. I say that as a person who supported her throughout. I don’t think she has ever been radical, from what I can remember. This fulfills her self-defined “motivational” role, basically like a celebrity: “My role is to motivate people and remind them that there are ways in which we can defend ourselves”

After this, I said that I would like to know more about universal basic income, and that while Manning claims she “crashed” the party of bigots, but she actually didn’t do this at all, with the black bourgeois figure, DeRay as her “friend.” I also noted that she “believes in “radical anti-authoritarianism” (whatever that means)…doesn’t believe in borders and thinks that “anyone wanting to immigrate to America should be able to”…noted in that recent interview she had.” The response on /r/communism was a change from previous more supportive responses and for good reason!

This presents a number of problems. For one, any dedicated comrade should be horrified at the idea of partying with a bunch of bigots rather than protesting them and/or engaging in other anti-racist actions. It seems illogical to say you are crashing a party when you are schmoozing up with bigots of here, there, and everywhere! To her credit, however, she has been listening to these criticisms, saying in a recent tweet that

its been over a week since ive let everyone who helped me out of prison down, so many of you have helped me thru tough times, i tried too hard to do too much, im sorry im a human being and not a symbol, i have hit rock bottom

This is positive, but her logic that she “tried using my access/privilege to find ways to fight and undermine them” seems flawed. This is part of her response to “intense criticism for attending the A Night for Freedom party at the nightclub FREQ NYC hosted by right wing leader Mike Cernovich” as noted in The Daily Beast, for which she says she is “acting as a double agent, trying infiltrate the alt-right world to gain insight into their plans for rallies, get togethers, and general political strategy” as her connection with “right wing social media leaders began in autumn of last year” as she got more “involved in direct anti-fascist action in the wake of white supremacist-led violence in Charlottesville” by her own account. [1x] The same article says that Manning’s solution was “to use her fame and celebrity to integrate with an admirer who had connections with several alt-right social media personalities.” This included her connection with “Gateway Pundit writer Cassandra Fairbanks” whom she disagreed with, and was invited to go to “Escape the Room with friends” which she agreed with, feeling that she could “use the celebrity and fame I’ve gotten since getting out of prison to gather information and to ultimately find ways in which we who are against the alt-right can undermine the alt-right,”  deciding to double down on “her decision to hunt for information on the alt-right’s dealings.” She later spent an evening in playing Cards Against Humanity at the apartment of Gateway Pundit correspondent Lucian B. Wintrich, with Manning later saying that she learned that these individuals “don’t actually believe the things that they say…they’re opportunists and that they exploit their Twitter followers’ fears.” The Daily Beast then claims that Manning’s plan to establish “relationships with alt-right media figures to gain insight into their plans isn’t as far fetched as it seems at first blush” with Manning apparently using “her celebrity to access the [Manhattan] party to confront the alt- right VIPs on hand by making her presence felt in opposition, even if she wasn’t necessarily planning on making a scene inside before joining the anti-fascist protest assembling outside” with the party headlined “by VICE co-founder Gavin McInnes,” and said that there was “a transphobic rant,” viewing her presence as a protest. This flies in the face of “a photo that have been released this week showing Manning with a relaxed demeanor and smiling, with drink in hand as she conversed with McInnes,” then emerging from there to “join the protesters outside, who by that point had surrounded the entire building.” She talked gto the protest marshall “and relayed several bits of useful of information, including the number of people inside, the general mood, what people inside were talking about, and whether they were planning any after parties.” The Daily Beast concluded that “it’s impossible to really know what was going through Manning’s head as she decided to escalate her relationships with figureheads of the alt-right in order to supposedly gather intelligence on their plans” and that her “decision-making process appears nonsensical to all but the most ardently engaged in the anti-fascist movement and the whole thing has an air of impulsiveness,” leaving supporters confused and betrayed. As she said at the end of the article,

People have every right to be confused and hurt by this. Regardless of good intentions, I leveraged my privilege to gain access to spaces others couldn’t dream of entering safely. I never meant to hurt my supporters. No amount of information on the alt-right is worth losing the trust of my supporters.

I think that she made the wrong decision to enter the party. It may have had some short-term benefit, but ultimately it was worthless.

Then there’s her decision to run for office. Since she had NO established platform yet, other than what she has said on twitter, this isn’t worth discussing for more than a sentence, except to say that it shows that she doesn’t really care about the masses of people, whom the Democrats don’t really serve at all. As Ralph Nader said, in Omidyar’s plaything called The Intercept, of all places, the Democratic Party has been in decline since the 1970s, due to poor decisions and other factors:

…I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones. The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area? And they did. And I could see the difference almost immediately. First of all, they lost the election to Reagan. And then they started getting weaker in the Congress. At that time, 1980, some of our big allies were defeated in the so-called Reagan landslide against Carter, we lost Senator [Gaylord] Nelson, Senator [Warren] Magnuson, Senator [Frank] Church. We had more trouble getting congressional hearings investigating corporate malfeasance by the Democrat [congressional committee] chairs. When the Democrats regained the White House [in 1992] you could see the difference in appointments to regulatory agencies, the difficulty in getting them to upgrade health and safety regulations. The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note. That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation…they took the economic issues off the table that used to win again and again in the thirties and forties for the Democrats. The labor issues, the living wage issues, the health insurance issue, pension issues. And that of course was a huge bonanza for the Republican Party because the Republican Party could not contend on economic issues. They contended on racial issues, on bigotry issues, and that’s how they began to take control of the solid Democratic South after the civil rights laws were passed…As a result they drew back geographically, to the east coast, west coast and so on. And that created another millstone: You don’t run a 50-state [presidential] campaign. If you don’t run a 50-state campaign, number one you’re strengthening the opposing party in those states you’ve abandoned, so they can take those states for granted and concentrate on the states that are in the grey area. That was flub number one. When they abandoned the red states, they abandoned five states in the Rocky Mountain area, and started out with a handicap of nine or ten senators…Next millstone, the labor unions began getting weak, weak in numbers and weak in leadership. They began shelling out huge money to the Democrats for television. And as they became weaker they lost their grassroots mobilization on behalf of the Democrats. The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy. No — policy precedes message…The last millstone is, they make sure by harassing progressive third parties that the third party never pushes them. I’m an expert on that. They try to get them off the ballot…Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.

Then we get to Manning’s endorsement, on twitter, of Universal Basic Income (UBI) which calls for a discussion of the concept itself.

Since the 1980s, the idea of UBI has been circulating in “left-of-centere” political circles in countries such as Finland, with the idea it would “combat the economic and social consequences of falling industrial employment by freeing all” to make “meaningful contributions to society” but it is also appealing to the right-wing that sees it as “a possible way to a leaner, less bureaucratic welfare system.” [1a] As such, some say it is an “answer” to automation and some claim end “poverty with a stroke.” The idea’s conception is vague, but it seems to be that it means that the “government would pay every adult citizen a salary, regardless of wealth, employment income or if they worked at all” with the theory that this would solve “a host of endemic economic problems, from poverty to chronic joblessness, that are only likely to worsen in the coming century,” along with disruptions from technology, with this idea dating back years in Western political thought. [2] It is well-rooted enough that the Nixon Administration studied the idea in the later 1960s, unsuccessfully trying to “get a basic-income benefit through Congress” and is backed by Silicon Valley mavens Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, and Bill Gates along with others like Andrew Stern (formerly of the SEIU), and Charles Murray of the AEI (American Enterprise Institute), to name a few. However, critics say it is just a way to starve the existing government programs, especially those that boost “universal child care or free college tuition” with most critics, and even some proponents, saying that the “the costs would be absurdly prohibitive in any case.” Specifically, Robert Greenstein of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says “a check of $10,000 to each of 300 million Americans would cost more than $3 trillion a year” while Lawrence “Larry” H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, said that “paying a $5,000 universal basic income to the 250 million nonpoor Americans would cost about $1.25 trillion a year.” [3] Even with this, there are ongoing experiments in Finland, Kenya, Scotland, Canada, the Netherlands, India, and Italy of UBI, with the one in Finland being a short two year program only targeting the unemployed, and implemented by a “centre-right, austerity-focused government interested primarily in spending less on social security” along with bringing down the unemployment rate. [4]

There are a host of problems with UBI, claimed to be utopian. For one, it could sap the “desire to work” and it “divorces assistance from need” along with not being  politically resilient as some might think. [5] It may attract those across the political spectrum, including horrid libertarian economists F.A. Hayek & Milton Friedman, former Democratic candidate George McGovern, Stephen Hawking, Bernie Sanders, Andrew McDowell, political scientist Charles Murray, CATO Institute peoples, the Brookings Institution, the IMF, and others with a bourgeois viewpoint along with interest across the world, with a global network of support. Even Killary Clinton thought that it was a great idea, thinking about it during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, its supposedly “radically simple” approach does not “liberate” people in a capitalist society, from their jobs or give them more “bargaining power,” and be “revolutionary” as some proponents seem to think it will since a good number of those who support it, especially on the right-wing, want to eliminate all social programs, an excuse to “get rid of the welfare state” especially if those in power are hostile toward social services programs which serve the proletariat. [6] Some proponents are even unsure about is success, saying that “it could fail disastrously, or it could change everything for the better,” since we don’t know what would happen if it is implemented, a worrisome thought to say the least. Also, terms like “universal” and “basic” are not defined, likely leading to discrimination by those implementing the program to exclude “bad” people, as they claim it is “universal.” [7]

Sure, you can say there is a “patchwork benefits system” in the murderous empire, for example, but UBI’s universalism is a trap in and of itself, with failures in all the “four major negative income tax experiments” within the murderous empire held from the 1960s to the 1980s. It is further problematic that UBI may be, as some proponents say, is about embracing automation despite its effects on the proletariat which would benefit the capitalist class! Some proponents go out and declare that UBI is about making sure “the market is working as efficiently and effectively” by giving everyone, supposedly, “the minimum amount of voice with which to speak in the marketplace for basic goods and services,” an improvement on capitalist democracy, and others noting that it would allow the proletariat to become petty bourgeoisie. [8] However, the claims it will “even the playing field” in capitalism is magical thinking. You can’t regulate away exploitation. You can only do that through determined effort and struggle by the masses, not some law passed by stogy legislators. Of course some capitalists oppose the concept of UBI as would be “too expensive” or expands government too much, but there are also others who support it. A major problem is that there is no unified thought on UBI with some thinking that all payroll and income taxes should be replaced with “a 25% flat tax on income regardless of source,” benefiting the bourgeoisie (as they would be paying less tax and the proletariat would be paying more!), while others want higher taxes on the bourgeoisie and elimination of certain subsidies. [9] The libertarian proponents of UBI probably hint at the obvious results of the program: “free markets” would be reinforced, welfare programs limited, supporting the exploitative relationship of capitalists over workers, and reducing “bureaucracy.” All of these effects, in existing capitalist society, would hurt the proletariat. Regardless of what the proponents claim, UBI would support the bourgeoisie plain and simple, bankrupting a society (or societies) allowing the bourgeoisie to take even more control than they already have. Even Jacobin, the magazine for butt-hurt social democrats, argued that “UBI isn’t an alternative to neoliberalism, but an ideological capitulation to it” because the most “viable forms of basic income would universalize precarious labor and extend the sphere of the market.” [10] They further added that “if UBI does take shape, current power relations will favor those who have economic power and want to profit by weakening the existing system of social protection and labor market regulations.” That should be enough to reject the program all together. After all, while having a capitalist society and operating as part of the capitalist system, exploitation will always be there, even if you think you have “tamed” it.

In sum, Manning’s support of UBI shows she is standing with the bourgeoisie with a “trendy” political position, and not supporting the proletariat, yet another aspect of her horrid reactionary politics.

Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

This video still comes right after Trevor FitzGibbon of the PR firm, FitzGibbon Media, declares “we work 24/7…to get our clients injected into the national and international news cycle, online through social media, pack a punch to make sure that clients, who are the real heroes here, are going to break through.” It also quotes the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Elyse Hogue, as praising the firm as an “extension of her campaign team.” The Executive Director of Color of Change says the same thing. This firm, as noted later in this section, has ties to Chelsea Manning herself.

Disturbingly, these views and attending a party of bigots is the least of the problems with the company she keeps. Her popularity is part due to her connection with the collapsed PR form, FitzGibbon Media (FGM). It is worth remembering what happened considering that some created crowdfunding for former FitzGibbon employees, and others  said that it “can be tough out here for women in the workplace.” [11] It is worth recalling that the form worked with clients like the ACLU, MoveON, Rock the Vote, Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund, WikiLeaks, Purpose, Credo, The Nation Institute, “Flood Wall Street“led by their client Energy Action Coalition,to name a few. The organization also opposed “Stand Your Ground” laws, assisted SumOfUs in “fighting” against Bank of America apparently, and demanding, hypocritically due to FitzGibbon’s predatory behavior, pushed for the passage of a new and improved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and called out the Nature Conservancy for working with paper manufacturers (before FGM was formed).

FGM, having the same abbreviation as female genital mutilation, shutdown after various female employees, such as journalist Sierra Pedraja, Rachel Tardiff of a Democratic Party partisan organization (Media Matters), Heather Parker, “Mary,” “Beth,” “Tracey,” and “Karen,” among others, noted that Trevor FitzGibbon, former communications director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, had engaged in sexual harassment and assault (including groping) toward them, even inviting people to his hotel room and requesting photos of some. [12] He also treated male staffers with an “overgrown frat boy demeanor” and angrily dismissed the accusations, declaring in sexist terms that “being accused of rape was actually worse than being raped,” defending his role as a “calculating predator who knew exactly how to exploit his power.” He did something similar at his former PR firm, Fenton Communications.

With employees apparently caught off guard when management said the firm was closing soon, due to the fact that they could not work under the leadership of a sexual harasser like him, staffers received no bonuses or severance, while some former clients said they were willing to “work with the company’s former employees.”Still, the “activist Left was shocked in December by the collapse of progressive communications consulting firm Fitzgibbon Media” as one article put it. This was indicated by those at The Nation engaging in hand-wringing about the disintegration of “one of the country’s most powerful PR firms on the left…[with] FitzGibbon Media is unique in [that]…the employees banded together and decided to speak out,” while Jamil Smith in the horrid New Republic declaring that “yes, you can be a liberal and a sexual abuser…[progressives] need to stop believing that liberalism elevates us over the possibility of being sexist.”

Of course FitzGibbon calling the accusations of sexual harassment “a distraction to the mission at hand” and defending his pervy behavior. Former staffers responded to this, saying the following on the tumblr of one “Ginny Simmons,” who was   the VP of the firm:

The team that comprised FitzGibbon Media is incredibly sad and disappointed to confirm that allegations have been made against Trevor FitzGibbon, FitzGibbon Media founder and President, for sexual assault and harassment of multiple female staffers. Staffers reported over a half dozen incidents of sexual harassment and at least two involving sexual assault committed by Trevor FitzGibbon against his own employees. For decades, Trevor presented himself as a champion of the progressive movement, claiming to support and respect women and feminist issues, from equal pay to reproductive rights, but his actions prove a hypocrisy so great that FitzGibbon Media closed its doors today, as we could no longer continue working under his leadership. We lost our jobs standing up for what’s right, to ensure a safe workplace for all — and while we may have been left without jobs, benefits and long-term healthcare, we have our integrity and each other. We are devastated to see our beloved place of work closed at the hands of such a coward and hope to continue working on the social and political issues we love and care so deeply for in the future.

With such accusations, some of FGM’s former clients [13] condemned the actions of FitzGibbon, whose actions were aimed at a total of (at least) thirteen women, 10 who were employees and 3 who were FGM clients. This is made worse by the fact, as PR Daily observed, according to FGM’s former website, “two-thirds of the 30 employees listed are female.” That’s a pretty strong case that FitzGibbon is creep, and definitely more of a creeper than Anakin Skywalker in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series in the way he acted toward Padme. With the end of FBM, which was in the process of expanding to a London office and had a new San Francisco office, with an office in L.A. adding a new employee named Naomi Seligman in 2010, one could say that FGM clients are at least partially responsible in covering up FitzGibbon’s abusive behavior.

Beyond this, the firm, which was described as “astroturf” by Tarzie, fulfilled this reality when Andy Stepanian with FGM spoke on behalf of Bree Newsome, a Black woman who took down the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolinan Statehouse, on June 27, 2015, a connection which Newsome didn’t even acknowledge as the hashtag of “#freebree” spreading across the twitterverse. [14] One article on a PR website, is most illuminating on this subject, noting that the firm

handled publicity for the removal by activists of the Confederate Battle Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse…Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole to take down the flag, said her group couldn’t wait any longer for the flag to go. She said, “It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” The flag’s removal soared to the top of Twitter’s trending topics for most of June 2y…In its piece, CNN credited FitzGibbon Media, which represented Color of Change in the flag action, for reporting the event.

This use of FGM apparently to just “report” the event is troubling as it casts doubt on Newsome’s supposed radicalism. This troubling nature is enhanced by the fact that FGM promoted the event on their Tumblr, even reporting it originally for the first time on the same Tumblr, in a post where Newsome declares that “we removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” This association with FGM throws doubt on Newsome herself, at least in my mind. This shows that FGM had a fundamental amount of power in social justice organizations, a number of which claimed to be grassroots. This is confirmed by an article in Style Weekly, noting that”Trevor FitzGibbon…knew for a week that the flag takedown was coming, but the exact time changed when capitol security showed up unexpectedly”with FitzGibbon hiring “the videographer, created the news release, trained people on the ground on how to deliver their message, and juggled the huge volume of media requests and appearances.” [15] Furthermore, the article says that FGM client Color of Change, “helped fund the effort,” with FGM getting “the first call whenever a huge progressive moment is about to happen anywhere in the country” engaging in pro-bono work for “leading organizations and public figures in the progressive world,” with staff sent to Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot  “to assess the situation and work with youth voices, friends of Michael Brown.” The article also said that “FitzGibbon visits Manning occasionally, runs her social media accounts.”

How does Manning connect to FGM? We know that in December 2015, when FitzGibbon was forced out and FGM closed that Manning’s account tweeted that “the crisis at @fitzgibbonmedia is hardly a “distraction.” Dozens of people are hurt, humiliated, and traumatized =( My thoughts are w/ them.” The question remains, who wrote this tweet? Was it Manning or someone else? This may seem to be worthless question. As Tarzie wrote in April 2015, in post titled “Chelsea Manning is not on Twitter. Her PR Agency is,” it was noted that the official story is that “she’s dictating tweets over the phone to a representative.” Tarzie noted that Manning’s agency is FGM, which is an organization which he describes as specializing “in co-opting non-partisan dissent for the Democratic Party.” Tarzie notes that MoveOn is the model for “niche astroturf campaigns for a variety of left-liberal concerns” and that “a number of Fitzgibbon’s larger clients are in the same vein” along with FGM participating in “soft imperialism” with the Ford Foundation and Amnesty International as clients, which makes Manning’s connection weirder considering the relationship between FGM and Manning goes back to 2011 at least. Tarzie also writes that we can “take everything her astroturfing PR Agency tweets on her behalf or publishes under her name, very, very seriously” and that he has “no illusions of unearthing a deep dark secret.” There are also a number of articles in Newsweek, NBC News, and the New York Daily News that show FitzGibbon’s involvement with Manning’s account. [16] Newsweek wrote in April 2015 that Manning created her account “with the help of Fitzgibbon Media, a self-described global, progressive communications firm,” with the account then managed by a FGM employee, while NBC News said that FBM is “handling Manning’s account…posting messages she dictates by phone and telling her about the responses.” An article in the New York Daily News added that “the note [in which Manning said her account was genuine], written on Manning’s personal letterhead, arrived late last week in Trevor Fitzgibbon’s mailbox,” with the message appearing “on her account Thursday.” with Fitzgibbon “one of two people with the keys to the Twitter account.” [17]

On December 18th, after the demise of FGM, “the Sparrow Project,” lead by the former senior director of the firm, Andrew “Andy” Stepanian (as noted on his LinkedIn), said that Manning’s account was discussed and will be “handled.” The same day, a tweet came from Manning’s account announcing that “control of this account has temporarily been transferred to a volunteer associated w/ https://www.chelseamanning.org” (dead link) likely written by Stepanian himself. Even Chuckles or Charlie Davis, an aspiring member [18] of the reactionary “left,” noted FGM’s involvement, writing that

Though owed tens of thousands of dollars, Manning’s lawyers have not stopped working (the fund paid $10,000 toward its bill in March after receiving $10,636 in donations, or $9,412 after bank fees). The shortfall has led Manning herself to appeal for funds on her new Twitter account. Her posts are currently dictated over the phone from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to an employee of the public relations firm Fitzgibbon Media, according to a handwritten letter from Manning. That firm has been paid by the Chelsea Manning Support Network to promote Manning’s cause.

However, according to a resolute commenter, Mr. Kal Holmann, Glenn Greenwald said that FGM represented the Chelsea Manning Support Network for pro bono (it seems that many organizations were represented by FGM on a pro bono basis) because of the “rightness” of her cause. As I said in my comment, it remains to be seen if we should trust Greenwald’s account over that of Chuckles. Even so, it is undisputed, in both stories, that the Chelsea Manning Support Network was FGM client. Mr. Holmann also argued that while the relationship between Trevor FitzGibbon and Chelsea Manning, “remains of historical interest, it’s hardly pertinent to the left’s current concerns with Chelsea’s behavior.” I tend to disagree, as FGM had a pivotal role as a PR firm in progressive circles.At the present time, Manning likely does not have ties to the creep Trevor FitzGibbon, and neither do the progressives who rightfully left him in the dust when FGM closed down in December 2015. It is possible, however, that Manning has relationships with former FGM employees and may have some doing PR efforts for her, a possibility which isn’t out of the question. Now, back to the main article, my fellow readers.

With such involvement in promoting progressives, it is no surprise that the Venezuelan embassy in DC was given a “PR voice” by FGM, under a six-month contract with Trevor FitzGibbon and Suzanne Gilbert handling “Venezuela work” and reporting to “Maximillen Arvelaiz, charge d’affairs at the embassy” and another firm, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications also working for “Venezuela under a one-year contract worth $420K.” Before the LinkedIn for FGM disappears [19], I think its is important to fully quote what it says so it can be saved for future analysis:

FitzGibbon Media was founded a little over four years ago, uniting a staff of communications and campaign experts to create aggressive strategies that ensure non-profits, foundations, and progressive advocacy organizations break out, break through, and get noticed. FitzGibbon Media makes an impact in the US and abroad every single day. Our expertise and aggressive strategies ensure our clients’ actions, messages, and spokespersons are a dominant force in the news cycle. Our work is second to none.

It tells you that the connection of Manning and FitzGibbon plants her within the “left” reactionaries but also shows she is not only anti-revolutionary but has the company of creeps which is disturbing. FGM, along with George Soros’s Open Society, is willing to pull in progressives for their own motives, like the support for the group, Hands Up United. You could call it a progressive PR firm, but that inherently means that those it helps will not, in any way, be radical.

What happened to Christina C. DiPasquale, Nery Espinosa, Karen Scott, Suzie Gilbert, Yasmina Dardari, Tim Rusch, Al Thomson, Lucia Allain, Michele Setteducato, and Andy Stepanian, who all worked at FGM as of July 2015 (there are others who worked there in 2013, the next time the page was archived, in 2016, it was too late)? Well, Christina DiPasquale became the “founder and CEO of Balestra Media,” leading “strategic communications for progressive clients working on human rights projects.” It should be no surprise that Andy Stepanian is the creative director of Balestra Media (archived here), with the organization’s clients seeming to be some of same that were taken up by FGM:

  • National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) (partnered with other bourgeois “Latino” groups)
  • Global Witness (pushed along with millions of funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundations, with other money coming from the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish governments, Omidyar Network, and Ford Foundation to name a few)
  • Stand With Congo (receiving support from varying partners, media organizations, and humanitarian imperialists like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International)
  • The Raben Group (a PR firm that works among “the LGBTQ community and communities of color” with philanthropic, corporate, and nonprofit clients. It is also where former FGM employee Nery Espinosa works)
  • Luminant Media (a “production and post-production company based in Venice, California” with a site that never loads)
  • AccessNow (a group which “defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world,” a mission which is complicated by their funding from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Cisco, to name a few)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America (a group in favor of reproductive rights with millions of dollars of assets)
  • Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund (now defunct)
  • ACLU (A so-called “guardian of liberty…defend[ing] and preserv[ing]…the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States” but also sides with White supremacists and is incredibly liberal, not standing by radicals. It is funded by the Ford Foundation, Pierre and Pam Omidyar, and many other groups)
  • Fight for the Future ( a group that says it is fighting to “ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, other foundations, and varying other funders)
  • Free Press (an organization which says it “fights for your rights to connect and communicate” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, and a host of others. Michele Setteducato, former FGM director of media relations, seemed to work for Free Press at least up to 2016 but not at the present)
  • University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy (a school supported by the Ford Foundation, and Goldman Sachs, to name a few)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) (a group which says it “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” It is funded by Pfizer, General Electric, Google.org, Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, Chevron, Tides Foundation, and Microsoft to name a few)
  • EducationCities (a “national nonprofit network of 31 city-based organizations in 24 cities working to significantly increase the number of great public schools across the country” which is funded by the Gates Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation, among others)
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) (a group which works with and educates “immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people,” and is funded by some law firms and numerous other individuals)
  • Youth First Initiative (opposes juvenile incarceration, and has Andy Stepanian of The Sparrow Project as the head of creative direction for the organization. Those who fund this organization are not known)
  • Restoration Legal Arts (a “retreat, learning and action community for artists and ministers who are creating resources within today’s movements of liberation.” It has only two staff, a small board of directors, and two advising theologians. It is not known who funds this non-profit)

It seems evident that Global Witness, Stand With Congo, AccessNow, NARAL Pro-Choice America, ACLU, Fight for the Future, NHMC, Free Press, IRC, EducationCities, ILRC, and Youth First Initiative are not grassroots. They are all, basically astroturf. Others, like the Raben Group, Luminant Media, and University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy have ties to bourgeois groups and corporate funders, but that is all that is known. Restoration Legal Arts may be tied to such groups as well. Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund/Chelsea Manning Support Network may have been grassroots originally but it received money from Glenn Greenwald, First Look Media (the overarching organization of Omidyar’s The Intercept which is a horrid place to work by all accounts), and Courage to Resist at least.

We know where Andy Stepanian, went, as noted earlier, but what about the others? It is not known what happened to Karen Scott, former Vice President of the Artist Action Team at FGM, and Al Thomson. For others, something is known. Tim Rusch, Senior Vice President & NYC office Co-Director seemed to work for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United at one point (and before FGM, Demos). Suzie Gilbert who was in FGM’s London office seems to have stayed progressive and is still on Twitter. Yasmina Dardari, a FGM strategist, is seemingly working for Unbendable Media, after graduating from Columbia University. Lucia Allain, a “Dreamer” and immigration activist, is a blogger and National Media Coordinator for Movimento Cosecha.

This shows that the former FGM people are everywhere. So, be careful, comrades! Perhaps some of the former FGM employees can redeem themselves, but a good amount of them still stayed in PR-like work.

The  Company Manning Keeps

It is worth briefly discussing the company that Manning keeps. Lets start with Glenn Greenwald.

While I think that I don’t even think writing a post criticizing Glenn Greenwald is worth my while, a criticism is warranted. Back in 2010, when the Supreme Court decided in favor of corporations with the Citizens United decision, Greenwald supported the decision. As even Noam Chomsky said in an interview with Truthout, “…there are some civil libertarians like Glenn Greenwald who more or less supported it on free speech grounds. I don’t agree with it, but I can see the argument.” Specifically in an article in Salon titled “What the Supreme Court got right: It’s best for the government to stay out of the business of restricting political advocacy” Greenwald said that while he was “deeply ambivalent about the court’s ruling,” he claimed that “the Government is barred from restricting speech — especially political speech — no matter the good results that would result from the restrictions. That’s the price we pay for having the liberty of free speech” which he accepted as the norm, adding that “free speech rights burdened by campaign finance laws are often significantly under-stated” while further saying he understands and sympathizes “with the argument that corporations are creatures of the state and should not enjoy the same rights as individuals,” ringing his hands over these speech restrictions.Even if we agree that such restrictions are worthless, that doesn’t mean we should applaud this decision. In fact, we should condemn it.

This opinion connects with Greenwald’s support for a Supreme Court decision that overturned a law banning videos showing kittens being crushed to death for sexual satisfaction, with Randy Shields saying in response that

the inspiration for this piece was a tweet of Salon’s Glenn Greenwald where he defended the court’s decision. Screw you, Glenn Greenwald, and your lofty liberal white bread apologetics, which don’t mean shit in the real world of “crush” videos and capitalism.

Greenwald’s view is not surprising since he has gone to conferences of the CATO Institute and Socialism conferences, as noted on his twitter. Even Socialist Worker (a Trotskyist site) writer Kolponashokti-r Doinyo was critical of Greenwald standing beside two conservatives and not challenging them [20], writing that

… Glenn Greenwald took part in a college speaking tour sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF) and Young Americans for Liberty (a mouthpiece for Republican presidential contender Ron Paul) in early February…At the tour stop at Ohio State University in Columbus, the speakers talked at length about the infamous federal law called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the evils of the state having the power to detain citizens (and non-citizens) without the due process…All three panelists shared the belief that there are certain core principles which citizens should fight for irrespective of their professed political and ideological beliefs…Additionally, while words like “empire” and “imperialism” were thrown around to describe the U.S., there was no connection made between U.S. imperialism and the economics of capitalism. WHILE GREENWALD’S critique of Barack Obama for undermining civil liberties was correct, his decision to choose a platform provided by right-wing libertarians should be a matter of concern to people on the left. At the forum, he never raised any points of political difference that he might have with the libertarians, giving the impression that civil liberties issues trump all other political and social questions. In fact, he went so far as to say that the only person challenging the narrow political spectrum of the two-party system currently is Ron Paul, effectively showing support for him before the Republican primaries…For someone like Greenwald to speak on a platform provided by a right-wing libertarian organization connected to Ron Paul–and to speak highly of Paul without even hinting at political differences–while solely concentrating on the question of civil liberties does not reflect the political perspicacity that followers of his blog at Salon.com might expect.

Then there’s Chris Floyd who notes that Greenwald fits in with Ominyar’s reformism,   unlike Douglas Valentine who once said he’d give Greenwald and others a “free pass” for working with capitalist Omidyar, arguing that

Omidyar, who founded eBay and now owns PayPal, has recently become widely known — and universally lauded — for committing $250 million to fund First Look, a publishing group dedicated to adversarial journalism. He has assembled an all-star team for his venture, including Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Marcy Wheeler and others of similar reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that he has become a bonafide hero of the left, which has tended to dismiss all criticism or questioning of his new enterprise, or his wider operations, as the grumbling of jealous losers — or even as covert actions of the State, trying to derail this dangerous new threat to elite rule…Indeed, even Greenwald calls only for “reforms” of the system, for “real oversight” of the National Security State by legislators — the same legislators bought, sold, cowed and dominated by Big Money. I honestly don’t think that the powers-that-be feel threatened by an enterprise set up by one of their number that confines itself to calls for “reform” from “within”…Omidyar’s goals are limited: to protect the privacy of the individual from government. This is a noble, worthy aim. But based on his own actions, he is perfectly content for that privacy-protected individual to advance a punishing neo-liberal agenda on the rest of the world, and at home, in collusion with the National Security State if need be. Whether Greenwald, Scahill, Taibbi, Wheeler and the rest are equally content with this agenda is something we will find out in the months to come.

There are other critiques as well, like those that criticize him for misstating the charges against Chelsea Manning, and Israel Shamir’s articles (see here and here) about The Guardian, Snowden, and him getting to Moscow.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Freedom of the Press Foundation which recently waged a campaign against Wikileaks and claiming that funding still flows when it really doesn’t.  As Trevor Timm, of the foundation declared, at the last board meeting in October 2017,

…a consensus arose that we could not find any evidence of an ongoing blockade involving PayPal, Visa, or Mastercard. We decided we would therefore formally notify WikiLeaks that unless they could demonstrate that a blockade was still in effect, we would no longer provide a mechanism for people to donate to them.

Of course, Micah Lee, of the organization is saying that Wikileaks is lying (and has an “army of twitter trolls“), and trying to say Assange is anti-semetic.  As MintPress noted, the board of the organization voted “stop accepting U.S. donations for WikiLeaks,” claiming that “the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect” and will not process any further payments to Wikileaks, as noted by the Washington Times. While Wikileaks is clearly libertarian in willing to hire that horrid Google engineer, they are right that the foundation was “substantially taken over by US oligarch Pierre Omidyar (Paypal/Ebay) cash and influence,” which once agreed with Wikileaks that there was a financial blockade! As one Wikileaks supporter put it, the answer for ending such donations lies “a man named Pierre Odiymar who is known for founding the site Ebay and for his board position at PayPal, and also created the Intercept news organization,” further writing that

…Up until a few months ago, the Intercept’s funding was public which showed financial resources coming from Pierre Omidyar’s NASDAQ securities. Removing this, is simply a publicity stunt in order that Omidyar can distance himself from the Intercept and appear to have no influence on its journalists…The only reason for dropping support of Wikileaks is purely political in nature and may very well be instrumented by the Clintons themselves…Recently, Micah F Lee has slandered the editor of Wikileaks on Twitter and is currently trying to smear his reputation. This also is included in the “Wikileaks Threat”…The biggest critics in 2010 of the Wikileaks bank blockade are now funded by none other than Pierre himself as seen in the chart below. This is an obvious attempt to silence the critics that are against his Wikileaks agenda…Needless to say, this dropping of funds by FPF should make patrons stronger in their support of this persecuted institute that has never been wrong in 11 years.

It seems that to some extent, Wikileaks has come around to the view of Tarzie, tweeting out one of his articles earlier this year.

Notes

[1] Articles/posts by Tarzie: Greenwald on Chomsky and Staying In the Mainstream Without Compromise, Citizenfour’s Astonishing Revelation: Greenwald is a “useless” “careerist” “boob”, Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism and Twitter’s Foley Ban, Do Glenn Greenwald And His Fans Really Care More Than You?, Greenwald’s Fireworks Finale Postponed, Sy Hersh is an Intel Asset and Therefore No Gary Webb, Snowden Lays an Egg, a Statue Grows in Brooklyn and Manning Wins a Round, and Cornel West’s Impermissible Opinions. Bill McKibben, a primer environmental activist who is part of the former FGM client, 350.org, promotes the New York Times on a regular basis. More importantly, 350.org celebrating that the New York Times featured the march on their front cover with a cover story, despite some saying the Times’s coverage was “pitiful.” This is laughable considering, looking at the Times’s own stats, their readers are “educated, affluent and influential” with over 85% with a college degree, and readers earning more than $75,000, with a median net worth of over $156,000. Hence, those that read the Times aren’t normal people, but are those that are affluent. That’s who their protests are supposedly reaching but likely not challenging in a fundamental way.

[1a] Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Dylan Matthews, “A basic income really could end poverty forever,” Vox, Jun 17, 2017.

[2] Matt Vella, “Universal Basic Income: A Utopian Idea Whose Time May Finally Have Arrived,” Time, April 13, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Chris Weller, “Mark Zuckerberg doubles down on universal basic income after a trip to Alaska,” Business Insider, Jul 5, 2017; Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), “History of basic income,” accessed February 2, 2018; Issie Lapowsky, “Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government,” Wired, Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017.

[4] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017. UBI was rejected in Switzerland by voters.

[5] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Michelle Chen, “Could a Universal Basic Income Work in the US?,” The Nation, August 15, 2017; Christine Emba, “Universal basic income,” Washington Post opinion, September 28, 2015; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017; Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Frances Coppola, “The IMF Gives A Cautious Welcome To Universal Basic Income,” Forbes, Oct 15, 2017.

[6] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017.

[7] Yuval Noah Harari, “Universal Basic Income Is Neither Universal Nor Basic,” Bloomberg View, Jun 4, 2017.

[8] Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Sebastian Johnson, senior associate with Freedman Consulting, LLC, “The case for a universal basic income,” LA Times Opinion, Jun 29, 2017; Keri Leight Merritt, “Why We Need a Universal Basic Income,” Common Dreams, Sept 17, 2017.

[9] “The Growing Need for a Universal Basic Income,” Universal Basic Income, accessed Feb 2, 2018; David Z. Morris, “Universal Basic Income Could Grow the U.S. Economy by an Extra 12.5%,” Fortune, Sept 3, 2017; Matt Oraflea, “Why Milton Friedman Supported a Guaranteed Income (5 Reasons),” Medium, Dec 11, 2015; Robert Reich, “Why We’ll Need a Universal Basic Income,” Sept 29, 2016.

[10] Daniel Zamora, “The Case Against a Basic Income,” Jacobin, Dec 2017.

[11] The tabloid publication the Daily Mail declared that “the head of a major PR firm has shut down his business after ‘an avalanche’ of sexual harassment claims from female workers” and Tom Blumer in the right-leaning Newsbusters declared that here was the “virtually complete lack of establishment press interest in the story…the establishment press did virtually nothing with the story.” Another right-wing publication, the Washington Times, declared laughably that “the Left loves to claim moral superiority over the Right when it comes to women…Perhaps the reason progressives think women in America are so oppressed is that they are treated unfairly in liberal spaces” but correctly that we should “not excuse progressives for bad behavior.” Even Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy weighed in, saying “bad news for Dems indeed as FitzGibbon Media…abruptly shut its doors yesterday…In the past, the firm was criticized for taking money from the Venezuelan government for PR work…How about allowing women at liberal PR firms to carry guns? Sounds like that’s what’s needed, and pronto.” Other sites such as the New York Post, Mashable, Fortune, Variety, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, RH Reality Check,Feministing, Ad Week, Jezebel, and Al Jazeera America, among others, had their respective articles as well.

[12] Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Sam Stein, “The Disturbing Story Of Widespread Sexual Assault Allegations At A Major Progressive PR Firm,” HuffPost, Dec 9, 2015;Amanda Terkel, “It Took Just One Woman Breaking Her Silence On Sexual Harassment To Take Down A Top Progressive PR Boss,” HuffPost, Dec 18, 2015; Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Daniel Marans, “FitzGibbon Media May Be Gone, But Staffers And Progressive Groups Are Rallying To Launch A New Version,” HuffPost, Dec 19, 2015; Emily Crockett, “FitzGibbon Media and the problem of sexual harassment in the progressive movement,” Vox, Dec 21, 2015; Ed Pilkington, “FitzGibbon Media sexual assault claims: alleged victims feared retribution,” The Guardian, Dec 19, 2015; Michelle Goldberg, “The Nice Guy Fallacy,” Slate, Dec 21, 2015; Marisa Kabas, “Alleged sexual assault victims describe working for Trevor FitzGibbon: ‘Every time I saw him, I feared him’,” The Daily Dot, Dec 18, 2015.

[13] The statements of numerous FGM clients were pretty similar, declaring that: “every allegation of sexual misconduct must be given the attention and seriousness it deserves” (AFL-CIO), “we admire the courage of the women who have come forward” about sexual harassment (Moms Rising), we are “shocked and outraged to hear of the alleged sexual misconduct of the President of FitzGibbon Media” (V-Day), “sexual harassment must be taken seriously and it has no place in the progressive movement or anywhere else” (Ultraviolet), “we are distressed and saddened by the alleged misconduct of the FitzGibbon Media president” (NARAL Pro-Choice America), and “we’re shocked and dismayed by the allegations of sexual assault and harassment at FitzGibbon Media” (MoveOn). Even the notoriously pro-Democratic Party joke of an organization, Working Families, said they were “stunned at the allegations of sexual harassment and assault” at FGM and that they “stand firmly with the staff who courageously spoke out.”

[14] Julia Jacobo, “Activist arrested after taking down Confederate Flag at S.C. Capitol grounds,” WPIX, June 27, 2015; CNN Wire, “NC woman climbs pole, takes down Confederate flag outside SC Capitol,” reprinted in Fox 8, Jun 27, 2015.

[15] Brent Baldwin, “The Fire Starter,” Style Weekly, Aug 18, 2015.

[16] NBC News, “Chelsea Manning Joins Twitter From Prison,” Apr 3, 2015; Nicole Hensley, “Whistleblower Chelsea Manning confronts Twitter account naysayers in prison letter,” New York Daily News, Apr 16, 2015;Lauren Walker, “Chelsea Manning, Leaker of Classified Information, Tweets From Prison,” Newsweek, Apr 6, 2015.

[17] Some of the tweets from the account included articles from The New Yorker (likely quoting FitzGibbon), USA Today implying that Snowden was a client of FGM. The latter is indicated by Snowden’s endorsement of DeRay’s proposals, promotion of the “Snowden Treaty” (see here and here) which was conceived, apparently, by Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda. The homepage of the Snowden Treaty shows that some of the “partners” of the Snowden Treaty are the usual suspects, such as Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras, to name a few. This is even more worrisome when the “description” of the Treaty literally describes nothing other than what the Treaty is supposed to do on a website that also almost no substance. It is also important to note that the Treaty was burst out of thin air in September of last year. FitzGibbon also promoted Chris Hedges (along with other clients) congratulated Chris Hayes on an Emmy, trolling about the Black Panthers, which he definitely wouldn’t support if they were around today, a rash of tweets which imply that CEPR, Color of Change, Hands Up United, and the nebulous “people’s climate” march are clients. There is also a connection between the later Michael Rattner of the Center for Constitutional Rights to FitzGibbon, with both promoting the sign “Jesus Loves Wikileaks” which may come from a guy named Sean Anderson or a number of other sources. It is worth mentioning because Rattner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Real News Network. This matters to FitzGibbon because CCR has legally represented/advised Wikileaks in the past, and Wikileaks, as noted earlier, was a FGM client. The FGM tumblr which seems to be taken over by former FGM employees, does note that FGM promoted the Google Impact Challenge, some Kansas juvenile justice organization (Kansans United for Youth Justice), served as a place for Hands Up United to publish a press release, and so on. Other posts are about a farm sanctuary (likely this is related), the black panthers, “blacktwitter,” mic.com, the Youth First Initiative, The Intercept (also see here and here), the “wear orange” campaign (see here and here), Obama, Baltimore United for Change (also see here), presente.org, black spring, White House, Kwame Rose, Nirbhaya (see here, here, and here), Chelsea Manning, and so on. FGM seemed to serve as astroturf, which is, as SourceWatch describes it, “apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.” In days future, it is likely that this will continue under the purview of a new PR organization which serves the purpose as the old FGM. While PR is a staple of the media landscape and social justice circles, perhaps it is time to move beyond organizations and peoples in the PR industry. This means that the existing PR tactics which constitute a form of propaganda, should be critiqued, challenged, and opposed with a form of counter-propaganda which promotes radical anti-capitalist goals to improve American society and global society. It’s worth a try.

[18] Charles (Charlie) Davis or “Chuckles” has many laughable ideas. Take for example a piece on Telesur English‘s website by Chuckles (a Telesur editor) on the “humanitarian crisis” in Yemen as a result of Saudi bombing of the country. He argues that there has been mass destruction with fighting between coalition forces and Houthi rebels “aligned with the country’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh” (they are not),” saying that the only solution is the grounding of the “airforce responsible for so much destruction in Yemen by imposing a no-fly zone—and it can and should do so unilaterally.” He further adds that this is needed due to a failed peace process, citing humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International, claims that a “Saudi-led coalition” is bombing Yemen (no, it is U$-led), mocks anti-imperialists (“You Yankee imperialist pig-dog. I knew to what end all this performative ‘caring’ would ultimately lead: ‘Humanitarian’ war crimes on behalf of your Anglo-Zionist paymasters at the World Bank and Major League Soccer, which has been trying to infiltrate the Yemeni market for years”), and calling for U.S. aircraft in Yemen’s skies, but not dropping bombs? He further says there should be “cease-fire, perhaps, by depriving an arson of more firepower,” grounding the “Saudi air force by refusing to restock it with weapons and spare parts,” imposing a ““no-fly zone” unilaterally without even offending the world’s multilateral organizations, saving lives and its own duplicitous face by ceasing to continue what it’s done so far.” While some may think this is ok, it is still a response allowing for anti-imperialism. Yemen should solve its own problems, meaning that the murderous empire should pull all support for Saudi Arabia without a question. With all this, Chuckles was clearly being smug, and it was more silly than anything else, utter nonsense. In some twitter exchanges with him, he claimed he wasn’t calling for a no-fly-zone even though that was part of his silly plan! If this wasn’t enough, Chuckles engaged in Chucklesplaining, which one could describe as a derivative of what some have called “mansplaining.” Beyond this, he is just like Proyect who calls out “Assadists”: he seemed to say that it is absurd that “the U.S. government would conspire to preserve the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad” as proposed by Sy Hersh, who has his own problems, but then said that this is the reality! If this wasn’t enough, he scoffed at the idea of “a U.S-Israeli plot to effect regime change,” claiming that the Obama administration’s “train-and-equip program for rebels was explicitly directed at the Islamic State” not the Syrian government which doesn’t even make sense,claiming that Assad is an “Israeli-preferred fascist” (which also isn’t true), and ringed his hands about “apologism for mass murder.” This is no surprise considering his other deluded views, including but not limited to acting like Wikileaks is in tandem with Putin. This aligns with his anger at Russia, basically calling them “imperialist,” hating those who point out that sanctions on Syria are utterly murderous, believing foolishly in the Russia conspiracy, along with some other absurd opinions (also see here, here, and here), calling Soviet Russia “imperialist,” and saying that the Workers World Party is a “delegation of old crackpot commies” because they back people he doesn’t like (whom he calls “dictators,” in keeping with imperialist propaganda), ending up thinking that the Trotskyists are more reasonable, of course. And this is only a sampling of what he is wrote! Lest us forget that even though there was a Chuckles story about NSA spying in Venezuela, his buddy, Glenn Greenwald, wrote about this in O Globo in 2013! There has been something deeper: work for Russell Brand as even a simple search of the internet confirms. The love of Brand as noted in other tweets was later over. Elsewhere, Chuckles doesn’t even stop to consider that the US government is pushing prosecution and other measures in an attempt to nab Assange, not once. The best refutation of Chuckles’s points is the agreed statement of facts which one twitter user shared in this exchange. There are also a number of things which should also be of note. One of these things is Google plus. However, more important is Chuckles’s LinkedIn (version is archived here) To me, what this shows is that Chuckles has become a mainstay in progressive movements, and easily meshes with liberal propaganda outlets like Salon whose main duty, as it will, it to counter right-wing propaganda outlets. The fact that he worked for places like Vice, FX, Michael Moore, and Change.org without shame is telling. Need I say more?

[19] There are a number of other webpages on Idealist, Foursquare, Vimeo, and Flickr.

[20] Kolponashokti-r Doinyo, “Sharing a platform with right-wingers,” Socialist Worker, Mar 6, 2012.