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

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

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

Table of contents

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

There is democracy not “autocracy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Us All Cast Yes Votes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us consolidate our revolutionary government rock-solid!

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

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

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

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

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

Let us prepare ourselves as genuine Kimilsungists-Kimjongilists!

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

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

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

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

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

However, the other articles have changed:

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

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

Merciless retaliation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-reliance is Korea’s way of creation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us all vote for the candidates!

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

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

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

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

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

Let us defend our Party Central Committee unto death!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no “cult of personality”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It then says that Kim Il Sung

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

On top of that, this constitution calls Kim Il Sung

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

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

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

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

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

It then calls Kim Jong Il a

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

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

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

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

Honour to great years

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

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

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

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

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

The greatest honour to our motherly Party!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Congress On The Juche Idea

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

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

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

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

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

Heroic Korean People’s Army–80 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of contents for this article

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

 

Defining terms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gowan argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance to imperialism and concluding words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will nuclear North Korea survive 2018? (Chicago Tribune)

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

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

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

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

 

Table of contents for this article

The “difficulties and trials” of 2017

“Hopes and expectations” for 2018

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

 

The “difficulties and trials” of 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And much more in the realm of performances.

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

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

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

“Hopes and expectations” for 2018

Fireworks over Pyongyang on January 1st.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reality of the Democratic Party in the murderous empire

From a Season 3 episode of the Simpsons titled “Black Widower.”

I’ve written on this blog before about the Democratic Party in the murderous empire (the U$) again and again. [1] While, as I’ve noted before, “the bourgeois Democratic and Republican Parties…can be classified correctly as one capitalist party with “right” and “left” wings,” I aim in this post to focus just on the Democrats, while noting their instances of bipartisanship (agreeing with the GOP) of course. This goes beyond the book by avowed Trotskyist, Lance Selfa, titled The Democrats: A Critical History, which I recently gave away since I get enough of their views from reading WSWS and don’t need their books on their bookshelves. This is almost a masterpost of criticism of the Democratic Party over the years, from its creation to the present, covering a wide array of questions and topics. If there are any topics that you think I missed in this article, please let me know in the comments below, or otherwise.

Table of contents for this article

  1. Democrats as the party of feminists?
  2. Are Democrats “fighter[s] for the working class”?
    (varying sub-sections are within this chapter)
  3. Democrats: “the one party [in the U$] that cares for black Americans”?
    (varying sub-sections are within this chapter)
  4. Are the Democrats antiwar?
  5. Corruption in the Democratic Party?
  6. Radicals and concluding words

 

Democrats as the party of feminists?

Quote from writer Arundhati Roy, relates to feminism.

Peter Beinart, a seemingly conflicted Zionist and early supporter (and later opposer after 2006) of the second phase of the Iraq War begun in 2003, declared in The Atlantic that “Democrats aren’t becoming the party of women. They’re becoming the party of feminists” when writing about the recent move of women coming forward accusing powerful men of sexual assault, harassment, and the like (which will be written about m0re in-depth another post) leading to such powerful men losing their jobs (except the orange menace of course). [2] This raises a question if the Democrats even embody this ideal at all.

While Republicans like George H.W. Bush groped women and Roy Moore assaulted women, Democrats engaged in these horrid acts as well. In fact, Al Franken groped women without their consent, “progressive” John Conyers sexually harassed people, “feminist” comedian Louis C.K. who masterbated in front of women, editorial director of Vice Media (a stalwart liberal site) Lockhart Steele who engaged in  sexual misconduct of an unknown nature, “progressive” filmmaker Morgan Spurlock who was “accused of rape in college, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit and has cheated on all of his romantic partners, including both of his wives,” Jesse Jackson who inappropriately touched a woman after a keynote speech, “Middle America” radio host Garrison Keilor who engaged in “improper behavior,” New Yorker commenter Ryan Lizza for “improper sexual conduct,” chairman of the Florida Democratic Party Stephen Bittel for “sexually inappropriate comments,” and  “progressive” commentator Tavis Smiley for engaging in improper sexual relationships, and being an abusive boss, among other aspects. [3] As such, “progressives” and liberals were likely even more abusive to women than those in the GOP! That isn’t excusing the behavior of those associated with the GOP but rather saying that those on the “left” can be abusive as much as those on the “right.” Sexual harassment, assault, and the like is something which transcends party lines and is, as such, a phenomenon of the patriarchy inherent in capitalist society.

Taking this into account, one might raise an eyebrow that Democrats are becoming the “party of feminists.” This seems like an utter joke. Apart from this movement in which women are being believed, more than in the past, for their accusations of sexual abuse, to put it lightly, of powerful men, let us take a simple definition of feminism. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it in broad terms: “the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men.” You could say this is a bourgeois definition of the word but we will use it here.

The Democratic Party Platform, issued last year, declares, in a section titled “Guaranteeing Women’s Rights,” the following:

We are committed to ensuring full equality for women. Democrats will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, health care, or any other sphere. We will combat biases across economic, political, and social life that hold women back and limit their opportunities and also tackle specific challenges facing women of color. After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution by passing the Equal Rights Amendment. And we will urge U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

While some (if you were a liberal feminist as is defined later in this section) may be cheering at this, consider that this document is only one made up by the partisans of the party and the members of the party are under no obligation to follow it. You could say that it is a loose guideline which is meant to ameliorate the masses, along with those in the “feminist movement,” if such a movement even exists anymore. Additionally, these words are broad and vapid. How does this statement against discrimination fulfill the principle that women have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men”? The reality is that it does not.

What about the support for the ERA? If one uses the website pushing for the amendment itself, it shows that the joint resolution proposing the amendment once again only attracted 14 co-sponsors (of the Democratic Party) in the Senate (and elsewhere 34) while over 100 (also see here) sponsored it in the House. The question is: is this political posturing or do the Democrats really support the amendment? If they wished do so, why didn’t they pass the amendment when they had control of the Congress and more state legislatures? It seems they have not done so, so their dedication to this amendment seems paper thin to put it lightly.

Let us also consider that while “pay equality” is the law of the land, with Democrats voting in favor back in 2009 (and almost all of them in the House), the law itself only deals with “discrimination in compensation” (or pay) but nothing regarding political, economic, or social rights. If Democrats were liberal feminists, a few questions would arise: why wouldn’t they expand on this effort to push for those engaged in so-called “domestic” work to be paid at the behest of a government agency dedicated to them (perhaps) or have a gender quota for women in the national legislature, if not the state legislatures and/or in all government departments? [4] These are just some ideas that would make them more “feminist,” you could say if you were a liberal feminist. Yet, if you were more radical, as one should be, then you would laugh this off as a joke.

Let us also consider that if Democrats really believed that women should have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men” then they would be working to make abortion a legal right for all women of all shapes, sizes, and characteristics. After all, every single state in the murderous empire has restrictions on abortion, with the amount of those restrictions varying state by state. The lack of action on this is because Democrats (but not all) voted to ban partial birth abortions (later termination of pregnancy)  in most cases, fining (or imprisoning for 2 years) physicians who perform such abortion, along with the father and maternal grandparents suing the doctor. This horrid law was, of course, upheld by the Supreme Court. Additionally, Democrats voted partially, again, for a law declaring that anyone who “causes the death of, or bodily injury…to, a child, who is in utero…is guilty,” basically making this fetus a legal person with rights, even though it really isn’t a person!

Then there is the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for an abortion except in certain cases (incest, rape, save life of mother). Reportedly the 2016 Democratic Party Platform said the amendment should be repealed. However, let us consider that in 2010 to get Congress to pass his healthcare bill (“Obamacare”), Obama issued an executive order stating “that no public funds will be used to pay for abortions in health insurance exchanges to be set up by the government” after Stupak introduced an amendment to prohibit Federal funds “to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion” except for the other provisions put forward before. [5] Additionally, taking into account that only 15 states “fund abortions out of their own revenues,” the plank in the Democratic Party Platform basically is one that is fundamentally ideological pandering. Why not push for the funding of more abortion providers, limited in more and more states? (you could even ask this question from a “liberal feminist” viewpoint) The reduction in providers just seems like the new normal to these Democrats, instead of something to be reversed.

Taking all of this into account, do Democrats really believe that “women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men”? The answer is evidently no. They seem to engage in rhetorical niceties but the murderous empire, including under Democratic administrations:

  1. has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights which states that “every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
  2. has not pushed for an instrument of international law to declare abortion as an inherent human right
  3. has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which says that parties to the agreement “condemn discrimination against women in all its forms…embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions…adopt appropriate…measures…prohibiting all discrimination against women…establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men…refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women…take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women…[and] repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women,” among other aspects such as taking “all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” Let us consider that US “enemies” such as Cuba, Iraq (at the time), the DPRK, and Zimbabwe ratified it, but the murderous empire has NOT. Basically the empire is bowing to the pathetic criticism of this agreement and of course hasn’t ratified the optional protocol.
  4. limited the effect, within the empire, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children as noted here.
  5. has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which says, in one part, that children should live in a “free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.” The non-ratification of this agreement by the empire, even under Obama’s administration. Even as certain GOP members opposed the convention, “President Clinton never pushed the Senate for ratification. Nor did George W. Bush…[and] Obama administration [did not]…want to waste political capital on it” which shows them as utterly spineless. [6] As a recent academic article pointed out, “Secretary of State Madeleine Albright signed the CRC in 1995; however, no sitting President [including two Republicans, George W. Bush and Trump, and two Democrats, Clinton and Obama] has submitted the treaty for Senate approval since that time.” This is an utter outrage, going beyond tainting the image of the empire (that’s a good thing), showing what the U$ really stands for
  6. has not ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states that “the States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.”
  7. has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which staes, in one provision, that states party to the agreement “recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” and that such states shall “take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the present Convention.”
  8. has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which says that states party to the agreement may establish, “without prejudice to other criminal procedures, aggravating circumstances, in particular in the event of the death of the disappeared person or the commission of an enforced disappearance in respect of pregnant women, minors, persons with disabilities or other particularly vulnerable persons.”
  9. has not ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families which declares that states party to the agreement work to ” respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status.”
  10. has not ratified the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 stating that “workers belonging to these peoples [indigenous and tribal] enjoy equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment for men and women, and protection from sexual harassment.”
  11. has not ratified the Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988 which states that “Each Member shall endeavour to establish, subject to national law and practice, special programmes to promote additional job opportunities and employment assistance and to encourage freely chosen and productive employment for identified categories of disadvantaged persons having or liable to have difficulties in finding lasting employment such as women, young workers, disabled persons, older workers, the long-term unemployed, migrant workers lawfully resident in the country and workers affected by structural change.”
  12. has not ratified the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 which states that ” Men and women workers should be provided with separate sanitary and washing facilities.”
  13. has not ratified the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention which states that “special measures of protection or assistance [“affirmative action”]…shall not be deemed to be discrimination. Any Member may…determine that other special measures designed to meet the particular requirements of persons who, for reasons such as sex, age, disablement, family responsibilities or social or cultural status, are generally recognised to require special protection or assistance, shall not be deemed to be discrimination.”
  14. has ratified the 1951 agreement on the status of refugees but not the protocol in 1967 which helped enter it into force! It is worth noting that the 1951 agreement said that members of the agreement shall give “refugees lawfully staying in their territory the same treatment as is accorded to nationals” including measures such as family allowances which form part of “…restrictions on home work, minimum age of employment…women’s work and the work of young persons”
  15. has not ratified the labour inspection convention, 1947 which states that “Both men and women shall be eligible for appointment to the inspection staff; where necessary, special duties may be assigned to men and women inspectors.”
  16. has not ratified the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 which states, in one part, that “the contingencies [for medical care] covered shall include any morbid condition, whatever its cause, and pregnancy and confinement and their consequences” along with also saying that “…medical care…shall be afforded with a view to maintaining, restoring or improving the health of the woman protected and her ability to work and to attend to her personal needs.”
  17. has not ratified the Employment Policy Convention, 1964 which states that “each Member shall declare and pursue, as a major goal, an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment…The said policy shall aim at ensuring that…there is freedom of choice of employment and the fullest possible opportunity for each worker to qualify for, and to use his skills and endowments in, a job for which he is well suited, irrespective of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.”
  18. has not ratified the Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 which states that “the functions of the system of labour inspection in agriculture shall be…to secure the enforcement of the legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work, such as provisions relating to hours, wages, weekly rest and holidays, safety, health and welfare, the employment of women, children and young persons, and other connected matters, in so far as such provisions are enforceable by labour inspectors”
  19. has not ratified the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 which states that “with a view to creating effective equality of opportunity and treatment for men and women workers, all measures compatible with national conditions and possibilities shall be taken…to enable workers with family responsibilities to exercise their right to free choice of employment; and…to take account of their needs in terms and conditions of employment and in social security.”
  20. has not ratified the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 which states that “on production of a medical certificate or other appropriate certification, as determined by national law and practice, stating the presumed date of childbirth, a woman to whom this Convention applies shall be entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks.”
  21. has not ratified the Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) Convention, 1962 which states that “all policies shall be primarily directed to the well-being and development of the population and to the promotion of its desire for social progress…All policies of more general application shall be formulated with due regard to their effect upon the well-being of the population…The improvement of standards of living shall be regarded as the principal objective in the planning of economic development…It shall be an aim of policy to abolish all discrimination among workers on grounds of race, colour, sex, belief, tribal association or trade union affiliation…Adequate provision shall be made to the maximum extent possible under local conditions, for the progressive development of broad systems of education, vocational training and apprenticeship, with a view to the effective preparation of children and young persons of both sexes for a useful occupation.”

Considering that Democrats, while in power, have not ratified ANY of the above labor and human welfare treaties, all of which would allow women to have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men” (or at least get to that point), shows that Democrats will never be feminist. Even if all of the people who are sexually abusive are rightly kicked out of the party, which won’t happen, and they claim to stand for “women’s rights,” the party will never fulfill the ideal of feminism as enshrined in the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, which is a bit bourgeois in nature. If one took an even more expansive definition, this would be even more ridiculous. The Marxist Internet Archive defines the word, as developing a number of different currents including

  1. Socialist Feminism, in which women’s emancipation is seen as intimately connected to the emancipation of the working class and consequently of humanity as a whole. Within Socialist Feminism, “Marxist Feminism” is the current which employs the theoretical legacy of Marxism in order to theorise the special oppression of women within the relations of production, both domestic and social. Shulamith Firestone is an example of a feminist who turned Marxist categories to use in feminist theory;
  2. Liberal (or “Bourgeois”) Feminism, in which the claim of women for equal rights is seen in the context of a general opposition to various forms of oppression and discrimination, independently of other political convictions. Liberal feminism tends to emphasise social policy to open up professional, better-paid and prestigious jobs to women and the elimination of laws discriminating against the political, property and social rights of women;
  3. Radical Feminism, which lays emphasis on the “celebration” of femininity, rather than seeing femininity as a social construct which simply constitutes a form of oppression and discrimination within patriarchal, i.e., male-dominated, society. Kate Millett was one of the founders of Radical Feminism.

The definition goes on to add that

Although characterised by ideas concerning the nature of women’s oppression, historically feminism has drawn on a wide variety of analytical instruments in order to theorise women’s oppression and liberation…there is no doubt that femininism has had a profound and historic impact on all aspects of social theory, philosophy and ideology, particularly since the 1960s. Marxism is far from alone in having been transformed by the impact of feminist critique.

To sum up what is above, if the democrats were to become “feminist” they would enter the “liberal feminist category.” But, considering what has been written in this section even falling into this category is not possible without some major improvements. What the world needs is a socialist, Marxist feminism, not a liberal one, and possibly some ideas taken from radical feminism.

The history of the Democrats with feminism is a checkered one. Susan Fuludi writes in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argues that the Democrats “boldly advertised to women the differences between the two parties” by nominating Geradline Ferraro” to the vice-presidential spot (Walter Mondale was the presidential candidate) in the ticket during the 1984 presidential elections, with the Democrats gaining “new support from millions of female voters.” [7] With the bourgeois media criticizing Ferraro, Faludi argues that she had an edge over George W. Bush as vice-President even as “analysts” at the time said the Democrats were “surrendering” to feminists, with the result in later years of women stepping away from the public sphere, with numbers declining into the later 1980s. By 1988, women who supported a “feminist agenda of pay equity, social equality, and reproductive rights” supported Michael Dukakis as a Democrat even as he turned his back on women, with Democrats nearly wiping “women’s rights off the party slate” as those women loyal to the Democratic Party were “suffering in silence.” [8]  This was different from 1980 when feminist leaders said that they would “endorse independent candidate John Anderson” if the Democrats didn’t put “the ERA, abortion rights, and child care on its agenda.” But, by the end of the 1980s, women, who could have “constituted an immensely powerful voting bloc,” were discouraged with a “steady strafing of ostracism, hostility, and ridicule,” as they ran “for cover.” [9]

However, this analysis, while well-intentioned, it doesn’t seem to take a broader picture. For one, Geradline Ferraro, a well-educated woman who had gone to law school, was a law-and-order Democrat who once called herself a “conservative” instituted the “reform” which created “superdelegates,” billed as a way to unite the Democratic Party. Recently, she defended this in a 2008 op-ed in the New York Times (titled “Got a Problem? Ask the Super”) declaring that “superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow…to determine what is best for our party and best for the country,” basically saying that they should not follow the lead of the people. If having superdelegates isn’t elitist and undemocratic, I don’t know what it.

Apart from her creation of such an elitist institution, Ferraro admitted in her memoirs that she visited the Contras, saying that U$ intervention in Nicaragua and El Salvador was counterproductive, supporting regional negotiations instead. While this does not seem bad, there was no support for solidarity against such intervention, just a call for negotiations. Additionally, as Time magazine put it, while she called for a freeze on certain military programs, she spoke of “the need for a strong defense and backed funding of the Trident Nuclear Submarine, the Pershing II Nuclear Missile and Draft Registration.” This is horrifying, to say the least, showing that she was imperialist, considering herself a moderate even as she supported “women’s economic equity legislation” but also wanted to “reform” pensions. Additionally, some sources say she favored an “anti-busing amendment to the Constitution” which would have made it unconstitutional to transport “students to schools within or outside their local school districts as a means of rectifying racial segregation” or busing, as it is called. All of this should make it no surprise that she became a Clinton supporter in 2008, declaring that Obama was only successful because he was black (he is actually biracial), saying in dog-whistle fashion that “racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white.” The fact that anyone in their right mind would say that, makes one question their sanity, for a person who yelled at her daughter for voting for Obama, calling her a “lunatic.” Obama ended up being the black face of the murderous empire, but Ferarro was unhinged, wanting to support a corporatist like Clinton, which isn’t a surprise as she was a Fox News contributor throughout the campaign, eventually supporting Obama.

Beyond Ferraro, and the 1984 election, it is worth considering how “liberal feminists,” as they call themselves, acted under the Clinton administration. As President Clinton engaged in “innovative defenses against investigations” by even investigating the staff of special counsel Kenneth Starr,  not a single Democrat or interest group that was prominent spoke out against Clinton, and nether did any “major women’s group” since they were prepared to ignore allegations against Clinton as much as they had done for Ted Kennedy. [10]  As a result, silence of women’s groups led to HillaryKillary’s defense of Bill on national television, leaving her as the “only avowed feminist to speak on the Lewinsky affair” as Clinton was able to “secure the blessing of the feminist movement.” In today’s environment, it is unlikely that would happen. After all, just last month, a female running as a liberal Democrat, even endorsed by the group Emily’s List, Andrea Ramsey withdrew because the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) has “implemented a zero tolerance standard,” allowing a terminated male employee to falsely accuse her on  a change which has already been revolved in courts years ago. Ramsey lashed out at the DCCC and Democratic Party in their “rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment” which is definitely justified, without a doubt.

There have been efforts, of the “resistance” to Trump moving to feminists running within the Democratic Party. But this fails to recognize that Democrats are no friends to feminists or the feminist movement, as has been laid out in this section.

Are Democrats “fighter[s] for the working class”? [11]

“The Democratic party once represented the working class. But over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising campaign money from corporate and Wall Street executives and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs.”- Robert Reich, lover of capitalist reformism who has declared that “Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations. The answer is to reform capitalism…We don’t need socialism. We need a capitalism that works for the vast majority”

“…low voter turnout remains a huge problem for Democrats’ efforts not only to win over but also collect votes from the American working class.”- Time Magazine

“The Democratic Party was once the party of the New Deal and the ally of organized labor. But by the time of Bill Clinton’s presidency, it had become the enemy of New Deal programs like welfare and Social Security and the champion of free trade deals.”- Tobita Chow writing within a union-funded publication titled ‘In These Times’

Time and time again people say that the Democrats represent the working class. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about Democrats “re-gaining” their support (implying that the Democrats supported the working class to begin with), specifically of the white sect of the working class in the murderous empire. [12] Even the fake Marxist, Louis Proyect, who hates duly elected Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad with a passion, calling Gowans (who I respect but disagree with from time to time) part of the “openly pro-Assad left” and is seething about “the dictatorship in Damascus,” while praising the “Arab Spring,” thinks there is a false perception. [13] As I’ve noted elsewhere, I do not agree with Gowans that Syria is socialist, but think that, from my research on the subject, that Syria is socially democratic (also see here and here) and with a vibrant democracy. Back to Proyect, he basically declared that “…the Democratic Party’s history” shows that it didn’t represent the working class, highlighting the presidencies of Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson. He apparently had a second part, but I can’t find it as of yet. Add to this David Sole in Workers World which noted how the illusion that the Democratic Party  “represents the poor and working people of the United States” is slipping, even as it acts as  “a great safety valve against social uprisings” and has “no intention of fighting to win the support of the whole working class.”

Before going into the history, consider how tenuous the Democratic claim to representing the working class is. There are 30 treaties, favorable to labor, that Democrats have not ratified while in office, since the 1940s. [14] They are as follows:

  1. has not ratified the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, a fundamental convention of the ILO, which states that “Workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment.”
  2. has not ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, a fundamental convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which states that “workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation.”
  3. has not ratified the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 which states, in one part, that “each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes to pursue a national policy designed to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.”
  4. has not ratified the Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921 which states that the “whole of the staff employed in any industrial undertaking, public or private, or in any branch thereof shall, except as otherwise provided for by the following Articles, enjoy in every period of seven days a period of rest comprising at least twenty-four consecutive hours.”
  5. has not ratified the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1946 (or the corresponding one for non-industrial occupations) which states that “Children and young persons under eighteen years of age shall not be admitted to employment by an industrial undertaking unless they have been found fit for the work on which they are to be employed by a thorough medical examination.”
  6. has not ratified the Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949 which states that “where appropriate provisions relating to the health, safety and welfare of workers engaged in the execution of contracts are not already applicable in virtue of national laws or regulations, collective agreement or arbitration award, the competent authority shall take adequate measures to ensure fair and reasonable conditions of health, safety and welfare for the workers concerned.”
  7. has not ratified the Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 which states that “Wages payable in money shall be paid only in legal tender, and payment in the form of promissory notes, vouchers or coupons, or in any other form alleged to represent legal tender [like bail bonds], shall be prohibited…Employers shall be prohibited from limiting in any manner the freedom of the worker to dispose of his wages”
  8. has not ratified the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 which states that “Each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes that it will, so far as national laws and regulations permit, take all appropriate steps against misleading propaganda relating to emigration and immigration”
  9. has not ratified the Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957 (No. 106) stating that “all persons to whom this Convention applies shall…be entitled to an uninterrupted weekly rest period comprising not less than 24 hours in the course of each period of seven days.”
  10. has not ratified the Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 which states that “every effort shall be made to restrict the exposure of workers to ionising radiations to the lowest practicable level, and any unnecessary exposure shall be avoided by all parties concerned.”
  11. has not ratified the Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962 (No. 118) which states that “Equality of treatment [under social security] as regards the grant of benefits shall be accorded without any condition of residence: Provided that equality of treatment in respect of the benefits of a specified branch of social security may be made conditional on residence in the case of nationals of any Member the legislation of which makes the grant of benefits under that branch conditional on residence on its territory.”
  12. has not ratified the Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 which states that “national legislation concerning employment injury benefits shall protect all employees, including apprentices, in the public and private sectors, including co-operatives, and, in respect of the death of the breadwinner, prescribed categories of beneficiaries.”
  13. has not ratified the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 which states that “the employer shall keep, and make available to inspectors, records containing, in respect of persons under 21 years of age who are employed or work underground.”
  14. has not ratified the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 which states that “the elements to be taken into consideration in determining the level of minimum wages shall…include…the needs of workers and their families, taking into account the general level of wages in the country, the cost of living, social security benefits, and the relative living standards of other social groups…economic factors, including the requirements of economic development, levels of productivity and the desirability of attaining and maintaining a high level of employment.”
  15. has not ratified the Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which states that “each Member which ratifies this Convention shall make every effort to have carcinogenic substances and agents to which workers may be exposed in the course of their work replaced by non-carcinogenic substances or agents or by less harmful substances or agents; in the choice of substitute substances or agents account shall be taken of their carcinogenic, toxic and other properties.”
  16. has not ratified the Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974 which states that “each Member shall formulate and apply a policy designed to promote, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice and by stages as necessary, the granting of paid educational leave for the purpose of…training at any level….general, social and civic education…[and] trade union education.”
  17. has not ratified the Rural Workers’ Organisations Convention, 1975 which states that “it shall be an objective of national policy concerning rural development to facilitate the establishment and growth, on a voluntary basis, of strong and independent organisations of rural workers as an effective means of ensuring the participation of rural workers, without discrimination…in economic and social development and in the benefits resulting therefrom.”
  18. has not ratified the Human Resources Development Convention, 1975 which states that “…each Member shall establish and develop open, flexible and complementary systems of general, technical and vocational education, educational and vocational guidance and vocational training, whether these activities take place within the system of formal education or outside it.”
  19. has not ratified the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 which states that “each Member for which this Convention is in force shall systematically seek to determine whether there are illegally employed migrant workers on its territory and whether there depart from, pass through or arrive in its territory any movements of migrants for employment in which the migrants are subjected during their journey, on arrival or during their period of residence and employment to conditions contravening relevant international multilateral or bilateral instruments or agreements, or national laws or regulations…Each Member for which the Convention is in force undertakes to declare and pursue a national policy designed to promote and to guarantee, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice, equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, of social security, of trade union and cultural rights and of individual and collective freedoms for persons who as migrant workers or as members of their families are lawfully within its territory.”
  20. has not ratified the Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention, 1977 which states that “national laws or regulations shall prescribe that measures be taken for the prevention and control of, and protection against, occupational hazards in the working environment due to air pollution, noise and vibration.”
  21. has not ratified the Nursing Personnel Convention, 1977 which states that “nursing personnel shall enjoy conditions at least equivalent to those of other workers in the country…[such as] hours of work…weekly rest…sick leave…[and] social security”
  22. has not ratified the Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 which states that “public employees shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment.
  23. has not ratified the Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981 which states that “measures adapted to national conditions shall be taken to promote collective bargaining.”
  24. has not ratified the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 which states that “each Member shall, in the light of national conditions and practice, and in consultation with the most representative organisations of employers and workers, formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working environment.”
  25. has not ratified the Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 which states that  “the employment of a worker shall not be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination connected with the capacity or conduct of the worker or based on the operational requirements of the undertaking, establishment or service.”
  26. has not ratified the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983 which states that “each Member shall, in accordance with national conditions, practice and possibilities, formulate, implement and periodically review a national policy on vocational rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons.”
  27. has not ratified the Working Conditions (Hotels and Restaurants) Convention, 1991 which stated that “each Member shall, with due respect to the autonomy of the employers’ and workers’ organisations concerned, adopt and apply, in a manner appropriate to national law, conditions and practice, a policy designed to improve the working conditions of the workers concerned [within hotels, restaurants and similar establishments]”
  28. has not ratified the Convention on Domestic Workers which states that “each Member shall take measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers, as set out in this Convention…every domestic worker has the right to a safe and healthy working environment.”
  29. has not ratified the Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) Convention, 1951 which states that “each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to create or maintain adequate machinery whereby minimum rates of wages can be fixed for workers employed in agricultural undertakings and related occupations.
  30. has not ratified the Holidays with Pay Convention (Revised), 1970 which states that “a person whose length of service in any year is less than that required for the full entitlement prescribed in the preceding Article shall be entitled in respect of that year to a holiday with pay proportionate to his length of service during that year.”

Now onto the history, divided into the following sections:

  1. The 1820s to the 1840s
  2. The road to Civil War (1850s-1861) and the conflict breaks out
  3. Civil War (1861-1865)
  4. After the war and Reconstruction (1865-1876)
  5. Up the 20th century (1876-1900)
  6. From McKinley to Wilson: 1900-1921
  7. After Wilson and to Hoover: 1921-1933
  8. The Years of FDR: 1933-1945
  9. Truman to Eisenhower: 1945-1960
  10. The reign of Camelot: The Kennedy years (1961-1963)
  11. The turbulent 1960s and the years of LBJ
  12. Comparing LBJ and FDR
  13. After Johnson, 1968-1977
  14. Jimmy Carter the fake “populist” (1977-1981)
  15. The retreat of liberals and the age of Reagan
  16. The Clintonites in the White House (1993-2001)
  17. The Bush era and “War on terror” (2001-2009)
  18. A continuation of Bush: Obama and the illusion of “hope” (2009-2017)
  19. The milquetoast “resistance” of the Democrats and the orange menace (2017-present)

The 1820s to the 1840s

Jackson’s racism shown in his 1829 State of the Union which is quoted above.

The First Democratic Party President was Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). A son of Ulster immigrants, he was a land speculator, slave trader, and “the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history” who gained his fame as a “War hero” in the Battle of New Orleans of Mr. Madison’s War, often and falsely called the “War of 1812.” [15] The latter conflict was “about territorial acquisition and genocide of indigenous people…[a war] about empire,” leading to the “acceleration of capitalism’s development within the US as agricultural tendencies remained in the South and West.” The U$ was an “empire of liberty” which had a very small proletariat within urban cities along with “members of the more propertied middle class and established bourgeoisie,” as the country was then very agricultural in nature.

Jackson, the so-called “people’s president,” who never “much liked the folks,” gained the moniker because the Democratic Party supported him. [16] Before he took office, he and his friends ” began buying up seized creek Lands” while he played a key role in treaties with indigenous nations by which “whites took over three-fourths of Alabama and Florida, one-third of Tennessee, one-fifth of Georgia and Mississippi, and parts of Kentucky and North Carolina.” He also began the Seminole War of 1818, leading to the bloody seizure of Florida, which he claimed was a “sanctuary for escaped slaves and marauding Indians” showing that he was not “the frontiersman, soldier, democrat, man of the people” but was rather “the slaveholder, land speculator, executioner of dissident soldiers, [and] exterminator of Indians.” [17] When Jackson triumphed over Federalist John Quincy Adams in the 1828 Presidential elections, he showed that he had  “superb ability to unite his supporters and create enemies.” This was because the Democratic Party was “created by Andrew Jackson in his own image” claiming he represented the common man, even though “his plantation, slaves, and vast wealth were decidedly uncommon,” and believing that his victory “was the victory of the people over entrenched interests and corrupt politicians, including Henry Clay, who ruled Washington.” [18] Sounds a little like what Trump claimed with his victory last year. Jackson’s election not only “marked the death of certain deferential politics that ruled during the era of Washington, Jefferson, and John Adams” but his “inferior education and shocking inability to spell led the East Coast elite to snicker” with “the people” (white males who could vote) turning out in elections in 1824, 1828, and 1832. [19] As a result, it should be no surprise that Jackson’s image “would cast a long shadow over the Democratic Party,” which some say “expressed and embraced the ideal of popular democracy,” as countless Democrats tried to emulate Jackson.

If that wasn’t enough, showing that his claim of representing the working class (then called the “common man”) to be phony, consider his ruthlessness toward indigenous peoples. After he took office in 1829, gold was ” discovered in Cherokee territory in Georgia” and thousands of White settlers came in, destroying Cherokee property, staking out claims. While Jackson originally “ordered federal troops to remove them,” ordering Cherokees and Whites to stop mining, he removed the troops, White settlers returned, “and Jackson said he could not interfere with Georgia’s authority.” [20] Basically, his use of federal troops was a ploy to support imperial expansionism and also undermined his later “state’s rights” claim although this would likely have been denied. Furthermore, when the Supreme Court of the U$ declared that Georgia law violated the treaty with the Cherokees, and that a missionary named Samuel Worchester be freed, Georgia ignored this, as did Jackson, who “refused to enforce the court order.” [21] His views on the indigenous seemed to partially supported by popular sentiment of white-voting-males, who gave him an easy re-election in 1832, after which he sped up removal of indigenous people. In summary, during his time in office he broke “93 treaties with Indian tribes” since White men wanted that Indian land even though the Cherokee nation was well-established, not “savage” as they claimed. [22] He also enacted the the Indian Removal Act, with indigenous peoples driven “West across the Mississippi River” with thousands dying on the Trail of Tears of Natchez Trace.

In the end, even with the Democrats saying the represented the common person, disagreeing with the Whigs on banks and tariffs, they agreed with the Whigs “on issues crucial for the white poor, the blacks, the Indians.” [23] Despite this “some white working people saw Jackson as their hero, because he opposed the rich man’s bank” even though Jackson only opposed it because Nicholas Biddle, the head of the Second Bank of the United States was of the opposing party, the Whigs, that favored the bank. The Federal Reserve, in their official history of the bank, claims that Jackson had a strong “distrust of banks in general, stemming, at least in part, from a land deal that had gone sour more than two decades before” and he also believed that “a federal institution such as the Bank trampled on states’ rights.”

By the 1830s, few felt that  “territorial expansion should proceed at the cost of war with a neighboring Republic.” Even Andrew Jackson wasn’t “willing to propose the annexation of Texas.” [24] At the same time, workers took inspiration from Jacksonian Democrats, whom some turned two, as artisans “waged a war on monopolies” while propagandists for temperance “played upon a powerful blend of patriotism and middle-class dismay at Jacksonian politics” since they would defend debtors and were “disdainful of moral crusades such as temperance” even though some of them were wealthy speculators. Basically, the political style of Jacksonian Democrats who “rallied against the repressive goals of evangelicals and warned darkly about an alliance of church and state,” while they played upon “traditional American political values and appealing to the fears of Catholic voter,”inspired groups of the working class, as they mounted “their own campaigns against economic privileges enjoyed by their employers and men of wealth.” [25] Even so, saying that they inspired the working class does not mean the Democrats stood for the working class but rather than what they did was symbolic, which is telling.

By 1837, the political landscape was changing. The “Panic of 1837” that year, with preceding speculation in cotton and land, followed by monetary expansion from wildcat banks and retention of silver, according to Charles P. Kindleberger’s Manias, Panics, and Crashes, hit the Democratic Party hard as “Whigs argued that Democratic legislation had destroyed the economy and that it was time for new ideas” with Democrats in no position to argue otherwise “after eight years of Jackson in the White House.” [26] Hence, the Jacksonian trait of being the “first President to master the liberal rhetoric–to speak for the common man” did not save them in the 1838 elections.

In March 1837, Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s “protege and successor,” took power as President. While he faced “a well-organized opposition” called the Whig Party,” he stayed in office until March 1841. [27] Under his administration, the genocide of indigenous people continued, with 70,000 indigenous people “forced westward” of the Mississippi. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson opposed this, writing a letter to Van Buren in the spring of 1838, “referring with indignation to the removal treaty with the Cherokees” by saying that the removal is a crime, and that he dishonors the presidency, making it “stink to the world.” [28] Unfortunately, 13 days before Emerson sent the letter, “Martin Van Buren had ordered Major General Winfield Scott into Cherokee territory to use whatever military force was required to move the Cherokees West.” By December 1838, Van Buren spoke to Congress declaring that the removal of the Cherokee had ended,with their removal to their “new homes west of the Mississippi” and saying that the removal, allowed by Congress, “had the happiest effects”! [29] Such racism most probably didn’t even bat an eye about.

Chapter 4 of J. Sakai’s “Settlers,” adds to this. He writes that Van Buren’s supporters, in 1821, “swept away the high property qualifications that had previously barred white workingmen from voting” in New York, allowing him to “became the hero of the white workers.” However, this effort also raised property qualifications for Black men so high the entire community was disenfranchised! Van Buren, once president, built of Jackson’s effort to “enrich not only his own class” (the planters) and the “entire settler nation of oppressors.”As such, Jackson was a bourgeois politician” who was “an apostle of annexation and genocide,” showing “how profitable genocide could be for settlers,” which they kept in mind for years to come as they “knowingly embraced the architects of genocide as their heroes and leaders.”

By the 1840s, the Democratic Party had transformed. It had turned from one, at its founding in 1828, united part of the planters “and a substantial part of the farmers”to that of the planters, along with a sect of the “banking and merchant bourgeoisie.” [30] As the party used demagoguery and other means to stay in a position of strength, there were clashes between the slaveowners and bourgeoisie. They usually ended in compromise over slavery like the fated Missouri Compromise of 1820 or the Great Compromise of 1850. [31] In the years that passed the Democrats became expansionist in nature, as they advocated the seizure of Oregon, for example.

By May 1844, matters for the Democratic Party looked bleak since the party ” had been adrift since the economic panic of 1837 and…[the] victory of William Henry Harrison in 1840″ and a question remained: “without Van Buren, what chance did the party have against Henry Clay?” [32] As “Old Hickory” believed that the “time for annexation” of Texas was necessary, while as president he “kept Texas at arm’s length despite believing in his heart that territorial expansion was America’s destiny” and despite his “close relationship with Texas president Sam Houston,” he endorsed a “dark horse” candidate: James Polk.

While he had been a “dedicated Democrat” for 22 years, Polk was “still an obscure figure even within his own party, a nobody outside Tennessee” and was “smart enough to see the great opportunity before him” as a President. [33] He even lacked charisma and was “an uninspired public speaker,” but he “perfected a public persona of direct honesty that stood in stark contrast to his private reticence.” Adding to this, he married a woman named Sarah Childress, who came from a family of wealthy “slave-owning Presbyterians” in Tennessee society, and had “unusual intelligence,” helping Polk with her “political maneuvering” in Washington, which was dominated, by the 1830s, “almost exclusively” by White men. [34] Sarah, who was “as much a Democratic stalwart as her husband,” and throwing herself “into her husband’s work” since she was childless, helped out Polk through his political career up to that point: seven “straight terms in the House of Representatives” (14 years) and serving as Speaker of the House for two of these terms (4 years). He was an established politician by the time he took office.

As for Polk himself, he was nominated at a time that the Democrats were divided, with John Tyler even having a competing convention across the street from the Democrats in Odd Fellow Hall in Baltimore to “blackmail the Democratic Party into embracing Texas,” wanting a candidate who “had no enemies and was a true believer in annexation,” making him the first “dark-horse presidential candidate” in U$ history. [35] The opposing party, the Whigs was so over-confident in their victory they commissioned “an enormous suite of solid rosewood bedroom furniture” for use in the White House. This was a time that the Senate rejected Tyler’s treaty to annex Texas with Democrats divided with the vote (35 opposed to 16 in favor). [36] However, Polk united the divided party, running what some say was a “very good campaign,” with his opponent Henry Clay only running on domestic issues, offering his “countrymen the same compelling program of industrialization, modernization, and market growth” which they had advocated for years, even inspiring Abraham Lincoln, who became a Whig at the time. In contrast, the Democrats focused on lower taxes, a reduced federal government, even as supporters in key manufacturing states were promised a “a protective tariff to support industry,” so-called”state’s rights,” and territorial expansion since ” Manifest Destiny was everything in 1844.” [37] Racism was evident during the campaign with Polk broadcasting his “determination to remake the American map” with his campaign the ” most uncompromisingly expansionistic in American history,” making Henry Clay and his message seem “faded,” while his good friend Sam Houston saw Mexicans as “no better than Indians,” incompetent “at governing and administering.” Even with this, the results were very close with a “difference of just 38,000 votes out of more than 2.7 million cast” even though “Polk carried the South, with the exception of North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee” and did well in the Northwest and West, with Clay feeling the “death knell of his political hopes and lifelong ambition” when he read that Polk won the election in the newspaper. [38]

In his inauguration in March 1845, Polk spoke mainly about Manifest Destiny, saying that  he promised “to bring the annexation of Texas to a speedy close,” and was being handed the “opportunity to dismember Mexic0.” This meshed with his wariness of the “growing power of the North and the agitations of abolitionists,” with men such as him scorning the inference of the central government, hence their desperation for “new slave states to buttress the strength of their “peculiar” institution,” as he and other Southern Democrats not believing in a “nation of liberty in which all men were literally free” which he would reinforce as he stood as “the instrument of Manifest Destiny.” [39] These ideals were reinforced by his political appointments for which he looked for subservience and loyalty in his cabinet (sounds like the orange menace). He picked “dapper bachelor James Buchanan” as secretary of state, “brilliant Massachusetts historian” George Bancroft as as secretary of the navy, and “aggressive and proslavery ideologue” Robert J. Walker as secretary of the treasury, showing that he “strove for consensus in his cohesive  cabinet which he made the most of” while he solicited advice from others “appear to asset to it, and then, as often as not, do the exact opposite.” [40] As such, he snubbed “important members of his party with seeming reckless abandon” with Democrats feeling that he was “a liar” but they would not say it publicly. This sounds more like a person who serves the Southern planters and their interests than one who cares at all about the working class. Once again, the “support” the Democratic Party gave to the working class is seen to be an utter joke without a doubt.

Polk was clearly a person who wanted to go to war with Mexico. This was evidenced by the fact that he sent a “party hack” named John Slidell to “negotiate” with the Mexicans, with a “known spy” named William Parrott as his assistant. As a result, this incensed the Mexicans, as they had cut off diplomatic relations, and with the failure of their mission (seems that it was meant to fail), Herrera was overthrown by a hardliner named General Mariano Paredes who wanted to take Texas back from the US. [41] As such, war seemed the only inevitable way of “settling out affairs with Mexico” was Polk wrote in a letter. Even as Zachary Taylor, later a Democrat but then a Whig, did not want to follow Polk’s orders to antagonize the Mexicans and march to the Rio Grande, even though the border between Texas and Mexico was traditionally the Nueces River,  150 miles north, he allowed himself to become “an instrument of Mr. Polk” as one soldier remembered. [42]

With such provocation and incitement of war, it is no surprise that the Mexicans fired the first shot. By doing so they did what the U$ government wanted, and Polk was able to claim to Congress, falsely, that “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded out territory and shed American blood upon American soil.” [43] Even though the Whigs were presumably against the war, this was another joke. Since they were for expansion of the empire and wanted California but preferably without war, they “joined Democrats in voting overwhelmingly for the war resolution” which passed the House 174 to 14 and 40 to 2 in the Senate while those opposing it were “a small group of antislavery Whigs.” [44] In a way that foreshadowed the way that war funds are dived out now, Democrats bundled “the authorization of war funds  with a declaration of war with Mexico,” ensuring that those who opposed the measure “could be accused of betraying the troops” (think of the bumper sticker today saying “support the troops!” or even “War Is Not the Answer“). With Democrats stifling dissent in the House by “limiting date to two hours, an hour and half of which was devoted to reading the documents that accompanied the message” only one Whig representative from Kentucky spoke in opposition, saying that Polk began the war, not Mexico. [45]

As the war went on to 1848, it is no surprise that it defined Polk. This war, which was his “great project,” and he micromanaged, was also advanced by his wife (and “political partner”) as well, with both working to “advance what they believed to be America’s destiny.”  [46] Even as the Polk is said to be “a complex character, a deeply conservative man in a surprising modern marriage” with his success in large part “due to his dependence on his wife, Sarah,” he was a blatant expansionist. He gained Oregon after drawing the boundary between the US and Canada, and defeated Mexico, with the US gaining California and the “Southwest” as its called, with the nation now spanning the continent as a whole. [47] Even as the war came to a close after becoming widely unpopular and the Democratic coalition shattering “over the the Wilmot Proviso” with the Democrats losing “control of the House of Representatives” to the Whigs whom they had accused of being abolitionist even though they were just as willing to support slavery, the Polk had got what he wanted. The Mexicans had been defeated and slavery had triumphed, with the admission of Texas as a U$ state in December 1845 with a “republican” form of government, with a constituton which guaranteed the right of citizens of the state to “life, liberty, property [enslaved Blacks], or privileges,” and only allowing the right to vote for white men over age 21. The treaty that ended the war with Mexico promised some civil rights to Mexican inhabitants of occupied lands (later the Southwest U$) but this was ignored. In years to come, the Democrats who adopt a position that each state should decide if it should be “free” or “slave” by a vote.

The road to Civil War (1850s-1861) and the conflict breaks out

The above quote shows that Pierce was OK with slavery in the South

By the 1850s, the Democrats were in disarray. The Compromise of 1850, passed after the sudden death of Whig president Zachary Taylor, admitted California as a free state , denied the outlaw of slavery in the U$ southwest (as in Utah), enacted a stringent Fugitive Slave Law (see here and here), the US government taking on Texas’s debt (also see here), with the compromise divided into varying bills.  While some say it delayed the Civil War for decade, there is no doubt that these measures maintained the brutal institution of slavery in the South, making Democrats and Whigs both responsible for its maintenance. Even so, the issue of slavery ultimately “broke up the Whigs, divided the Democrats, and produced the Republicans.” [48] It is worth adding to this that since Lincoln was originally part of the Whigs, which organized opposition to “the Jacksonian Democrats” he later abandoned the Whigs after his party lost its “life,” joining the Republican Party but not as one of its founders. The Democrats were willing to accommodate the white slaveowners, with Stephen A. Douglas (who Lincoln famously debated) proposing in the 1850s a legislative measure “to organize territory west of Iowa and Missouri” but decided, in an effort to “secure Southern support” that settlers should decide “for themselves whether the newly formed territories would be slave or free.” [49]

The Democratic representation of White slaveowners and not the working class was represented by Franklin Pierce, a Democrat who was president from 1853 to 1857. In his inaugural address, in 1853 (also published on pages 243- 245 of the Congressional Globe), he blatantly endorsed imperial conquest, declaring that

“…the policy of my Administration will not be controlled by any timid forebodings of evil from expansion. Indeed, it is not to be disguised that our attitude as a nation and our position on the globe render the acquisition of certain possessions not within our jurisdiction eminently important for our protection, if not in the future essential for the preservation of the rights of commerce and the peace of the world. Should they be obtained, it will be through no grasping spirit, but with a view to obvious national interest and security, and in a manner entirely consistent with the strictest observance of national faith.”

While he wanted to do this, within “constitutional” means, he also sai that the U$ had a ‘god-given’ right to the continent, even claiming that slavery “is recognized by the Constitution” and can only be addressed through “constitutional provisions.” Hence, he showed his pro-slavery and expansionist views in this speech, as he outlined his “position on territorial expansion” or “extraterritorial claims,” as some interpreted it as a “veiled announcement of a resolve to make a fresh bid for Cuba and…the Hawaiian Islands.” [50] Yet he rejected the treaty to annex Hawaii because it made Hawaii a state, not a territory controlled directly by the U.S. government. It should be no surprise that The United States Magazine and Democratic Review (for short, the Democratic Review), published by John L. O’Sullivan, who had coined the words ‘manifest destiny’ in 1845, endorsed Pierce’s speech.  [51] The article titled ‘The Inaugural,’ (pp. 368-381) the DemocraticReview, likely by the editor (O’Sullivan), was such an endorsement:

 “The fourth of 1853 [March 4, 1853, Pierce’s inaugural speech]…was the commencement…of a new era in the history in the United States. The democracy resumed their empire, and destinies of the country have…passed under their hands…The Southern States having been “compromised” out of their share of the territory, partly purchased in blood…and had every reason to apprehend, that they will in like manner be compromised out of all share in future acquisition…[the] faculty of expansion…is…the destiny of the United States, because it has an unoccupied world for its sphere of action [and] would continue to be…the great instrument not only of our power but our happiness and freedom…we deeply regret that abolition has thrown almost inseparable obstacles in the way of the great faculty of expansion…we have…a clear explicit pledge that the President will studiously refrain from all intervention in…Europe…[and] resist any such intervention on the part of those powers [in Europe]…at renewing the old system of colonization…we cordially wish him a long life of happiness and honor.”

Pierce’s expansionist views make sense when taking into context that during his administration, for one, he bought “a strip of land along Mexico,” for $10 million dollars (later called the Gadsden Purchase) in order to create a “transcontinental railroad through Southern states and territories,” which was part of a broader plan to “expand the Southern empire.” [52] Add to this the fact that Pierce was engaging in yet another attempt to purchase or take Cuba from the Spanish. In 1854, after the so-called Black Warrior incident where Cuban officials seized the cargo, the crew and the ship itself, a few American diplomats went to France to meet with the US’s Minister to France and James Buchanan. The report of their proceedings, became what was known as the Ostend Manifesto. It was eventually leaked to the press, and damaged the foreign relations of the Pierce Administration, with the manifesto by James Buchanan, J.Y. Mason and Pierre Soule written in October 1854:

“We have arrived at the conclusion, and are thoroughly convinced, that an immediate and earnest effort ought to be made by the government of the United States to purchase Cuba from Spain at any price for which it can be obtained…We firmly believe that, in the progress of human events, the time has arrived when the vital interests of Spain are as seriously involved in the sale, as those of the United States in the purchase of the island, and that the transaction will prove equally honorable to both nations…The United States ought, if practicable, to purchase Cuba with as little delay as possible…Cuba is as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present members, and that it belongs naturally to that great family of states of which the Union is the providential nursery.From its locality it commands the mouth of the Mississippi and the immense and annually increasing trade which must seek this avenue to the ocean…Indeed the Union can never enjoy repose, nor possess reliable security, as long as Cuba is not embraced within its boundaries. Its immediate acquisition by our government is of paramount importance, and we cannot doubt but that it is a consummation devoutly wished for by its inhabitants…The system of immigration and labor, lately organized within its limits, and the tyranny and oppression which characterize its immediate rulers, threaten an insurrection at every moment which may result in direful consequences to the American people…Extreme oppression, it s now admitted, justifies any people in endeavoring to relieve themselves from the yoke of their oppressors…should the Cubans themselves rise in revolt against the oppression which they suffer, no human power could prevent the citizens of the United States and liberal-minded men of other countries from rushing to their assistance…It is certain that, should the Cubans themselves organize an insurrection against the Spanish government, and should other independent nations come to the aid of Spain in the contest, no human power could, in our opinion, prevent the people and the government of the United States from taking part in such a civil war, in support of their neighbors and friends…does Cuba, in the possession of Spain, seriously endanger our internal peace and the existence of our cherished Union? Should this question be answered in the affirmative, then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain, if we possess the power…We should, however, be recreant to our duty, be unworthy of our gallant forefathers, and commit base treason against our posterity, should we permit Cuba to be Africanized and become a second St. Domingo, with all its attendant horrors to the white race, and suffer the flames to extend to our own neighboring shores, seriously to endanger our actually to consume the fair fabric of our Union…But this course cannot, with due regard to their own dignity as an independent nation, continue; and our recommendations, now submitted, are dictated by the firm belief that the cession of Cuba to the United States, with stipulations as beneficial to Spain as those suggested, is the only effective mode of settling all past differences, and of the securing the two countries against future collisions.”

With this manifesto saying that the US had a right to Cuba, it had fundamental racial/White supremacist undertones (i.e. “permit Cuba to be Africanized” and fearing the establishment of another Black republic like Haiti) showing that racism was inherent within the Democratic Party, including that of future President James Buchanan. If the Confederacy had included Cuba it is likely that the Civil War may have not ended in Union victory, to the detriment of the population at large.

By 1854, in his second annual message in 1854 Pierce talked about a “naval expedition…[with] the purpose of establishing relations with the Empire of Japan” that he said had been “aptly and skillfully conducted.” [53] The expedition he was talking about was also called the ‘Perry Expedition’ and people’s historian Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States described it as “the use of warships to force Japan to open its ports to the United States.” In the CRS document, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014, it describes further three visits by US warships in 1854 as making a “a naval demonstration, landing marines twice, and secur[ing]…a coaling concession from the ruler of Naha on Okinawa” in order to “secure facilities for commerce.”

Again, it is clear that the Democrats, while they were inherently racist and white supremacist, were more concerned about the interests of slaveowners than that of the working class. Yet, the Whigs were no better, supporting the interests of the northern bourgeoisie. But this should surprise no one.

The white supremacist foreign policy continued under the next Democrat, James Buchanan, who was in office from 1857 to 1861. As noted earlier, he had served in Polk’s administration as secretary of state, and as a minister to the UK under Pierce from 1853 to 1856. At the time it was believed that “while territorial expansion did not violate America’s democratic republican principles, imperial conquest did. For this reason, purchase was the preferred method of obtaining foreign territory.” [54] Buchanan, although he was a bachelor, directly led to the Civil War. While he believed that secession was illegal he did “not believe the federal government had any right to prevent states from seceding,” showing the weakness of the limited government philosophy of the Democrats at the time, failing in times of crisis. Basically Buchanan is seen as one of the worst presidents in U$ history because of his “apparent indifference to the onset of the Civil War,” saw the issue of slavery in U$ territories to be an issue that isn’t that important, was obsessed with Cuba, and had a war with Mormon settlers in Utah. One historian, Michael Todd Landis seems to disagree with the mainstream interpretation of Buchanan. [55] He writes that

Polk was indeed successful in achieving the majority of his goals as chief executive, but so was Buchanan. The fact that secession occurred during his administration should not cloud our assessment of his political skills and ability to accomplish his aims. If we judge him a failure because his actions led directly to the Civil War, then we must judge Polk likewise, as his invasion of Mexico was arguably the match that set the house aflame…we need to appreciate the fact that Buchanan and his operatives wrested the 1856 Democratic nomination from the hands of Stephen Douglas, the architect of the Appeasement of 1850…Buchanan worked to maintain the allegiance of the slave states, alienate Douglas from partisan leaders…As president-elect, Buchanan moved quickly to assemble a cabinet that suited his needs and leadership style….Buchanan’s cabinet was lackluster, full of pro-slavery cronies and mediocre minds. But that is exactly what the confident Buchanan wanted…He sought to use his appointive power to heal the internal party divisions wrought by his predecessor Pierce…While he selected his cabinet, President-Elect Buchanan also worked behind the scenes to achieve a long-held personal and partisan goal: a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against black Americans and against Congressional authority over slavery. Buchanan, ever the skilled wire-puller, achieved exactly that with the infamous Dred Scott decision…It was a major victory for the Slave Power, and an epic accomplishment for a man not yet even inaugurated..As president, Buchanan continued to achieve his goals: he reduced U.S. participation in the trans-Atlantic anti-slavery naval squadron; forced Nicaragua to grant transit rights across the isthmus; bullied Mexico into accepting U.S. occupation during times of civil disturbance; sent nineteen warships with 200 guns to Paraguay to force acceptance of U.S. economic interests; purged his Democratic Party of any lingering anti-slavery elements…forced the defiant Mormon community at the Great Salt Lake to recognize and accept U.S. authority. More famously, Buchanan, in an unprecedented exertion of executive influence, was able to push the fraudulent, pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution of Kansas through an uncooperative Congress full of anti-slavery Republicans and anti-Buchanan supporters…Buchanan did not expect or plan on the “secession winter” of 1860 to 1861, and his failure to act in defense of the Union is rightly condemned by most historians…Like Polk, he achieved most of his goals, served only one term, presided over a dramatic party split, and watched Democrats fail in the next presidential contest.

If we consider this, it makes Buchanan not only devious but a skilled politician who was white supremacist and imperialist. That should make him one who is condemned even more than what people usually despise him for: not using federal authority to defend the Union from succession. Lest us forget that he was a Democratic president who wrote in a letter that “I have taken care that I shall yet be truly presented to my countrymen. I entertain no fears in regard to their verdict” (basically that history will “redeem” him) but remained strongly against abolitionism.

During the presidential elections in 1860, planters, allied with the Democrats, tried “to surmount a crisis of the plantation economy” was they took over new lands and by forced diffusion of slavery across the U$. However, Abraham Lincoln won, and the planters seceded as part of the Confederate States of America  (which wasn’t legally a state or country) as they wanted to protect their “property” which constituted enslaved Black individuals, showing their inherent inhumanity. [56]

Civil War (1861-1865)

This map shows the outbreak of the empire when the Civil War broke out.

With the Civil War, the Democrats mainly were among the secessionist Confederacy as southern representatives and senators from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee (fully by 1862), Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina were no longer part of the U$ Congress. As such, Republicans held the legislative bodies (House and Senate) with a majority, with unionists filling vacant seats in the House. With Democrats mostly out of the picture, the following legislation was passed:

  1. First income tax measure in U$ history (the Revenue Act of 1861)
  2. The Confiscation Acts which were “designed to allow the federal government to seize property, including slave property, being used to support the Confederate rebellion” which was only loosely enforced by Lincoln
  3. Homestead Act of 1862 which those “owning and residing on land may, under the provisions of this act, enter other land lying contiguous to his or her said land, which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres.”
  4. Passing the first “federal legislation…designed to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the U.S.”
  5. Creating the office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, levying excise taxes, adjusting the income tax (Revenue Act of 1862)
  6. Laws to support the creation of the transcontinental railroad
  7. Laws to create land-grant colleges (Morrill Land-Grant Acts)
  8. Allowing “enrollment of the militia shall in all cases include all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and shall be apportioned among the States according to representative population” (Militia Act of 1862)
  9. Laws to establish a system of national banks but not a central bank with a “common currency” and having bonds
  10. Passing a law called the False Claims Act or “Lincoln Law” which has become the “primary weapon in combating fraud against the federal government. “
  11. Passing a law for the draft of able-bodied “male citizens of the United States, and persons of foreign birth who shall have declared on oath their intention to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws thereof, between the ages of twenty and forty-five years” while allowing “draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them.”
  12. Passed a law which “suspend[ed] the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any case throughout the United States”
  13. Passed a coinage act authorizing the minting of a two-cent coin
  14. Passing the Freedman’s Bureau Bills which established the Freedman’s Bureau, an organization to help enslaved Blacks in the South (see here and here)

The essence of these laws was to maintain capitalism in the North by supporting the bourgeoisie with new markets (like the bill about a transcontinental railroad and ones about the income tax), instill certain “republican”values (i.e. bill about land-grand colleges), support the war effort, and somewhat help enslaved Blacks (Freedman’s Bureau bills). For the idea of homesteading, embodied in the Homestead Act of 1862, as it turned over “vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens” and would populate the territories, gained “more popularity among farmers than among workers,” with Northern Republicans and Democrats endorsing it in 1860 and it becoming law in 1862. [57] Martin Luther King, Jr. himself addressed these laws in a strident Black nationalist way, which he turned to in the last years of his life, at the National Cathedral in D.C. in April 1968, saying it was endemic of institutional (and historical) racism in the U$:

…In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful…the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest [Homestead Act]. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm [Morrill Land-Grand Acts]. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.

Hence, the Republicans and Democrats are both part of the deepening of the “roots of racism” within the murderous empire. In the 1864 presidential election, the Radical Democracy Party led by John C. Freeman, challenged Lincoln, called for

the continuation of the war without compromise…a constitutional amendment banning slavery and authorizing federal protection of equal rights…protection of the rights of free speech, free press, and the writ of habeas corpus…confiscation of rebel property…enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine…a one-term presidency; and, integrity and economy in government.

But the party collapsed as they did not want to see the Democrats win. There is a reason for this. The Democrats, who had a candidate named George B. McCellan (whose Vice-President was George H. Pendleton) called for the end the war with a federal union with “the rights of the States unimpaired,” while paying lip service to “the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy,” meaning that they were OK with slavery being preserved in the Union! Lincoln won 55% of the popular vote, winning a total of 212 electoral votes to McCellan’s 21. So the “Peace Democrats” lost and the U$ is better for it.

After the war and Reconstruction (1865-1876)

An illustration criticizing the power of plutocrats in U$ society

As the war ended, a new economic order was in place. As Cornel West puts it, “triumphant industrialization ran amok,” as the country birthed a new “breed of plutocrats” called robber-barons “who ran unregulated monopolies and accumulated obscene financial fortunes.” [58] As such rights of corporations of those said plutocrats were enhanced “in the name of the Fourteenth Amendment” to help Black peoples, and that “transcontinental expansion and plutocratic wealth should not go unnoticed.” This should be no surprise because although the Civil War, which was “won by the widespread people’s masses” and led to a series of bourgeois-democratic reforms,” it created conditions favorable for capitalism’s “development in the country,” leading to the upper bourgeoisie profiting from the “fruits” of the war. [59] This makes it no surprise that the living standard of laboring farmers and workers sharply declined as class struggle intensified. The Democrats were nowhere to be seen except for supporting the old order of the antebellum South to which they wanted to get back to by whatever means possible.

By the 1870s, “corporate leaders first thought about providing private corporate pensions,” rather than  government pensions. This as because old-age pensions were most often “seen as a way to replace superannuated workers with more productive younger workers,” which was put in place by a railroad company named American Express in 1875 and others after the 1877 railroad strike. With the advent of the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Northern bourgeoisie betrayed Black and working masses, entered “into an agreement with Southern planters,” whom were associated with the Democratic Party, an agreement “aimed at suppressing the movements of the working class, the farmers, and the Negro people.” [60] This agreement was a success and showed that the Democrats again didn’t care at all about working people.

Up the 20th century (1876-1900)

Grover Cleveland sometimes tried to act progressive, like the above quote indicates, but he actually slavishly favored the corporate community.

By 1885, Grover Cleveland took the helm, which he would hold until 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897. When beatings by the two thousand deputies hired by the railroad companies and court injunctions against those railroad workers boycotting (or striking) against Pullman, Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to Chicago, even though Eugene Debs had been a lifelong Democrat who even campaigned for Cleveland. [61] This went against the general impression “in the country” that Cleveland “opposed the power of monopolies and corporations, and that the Republican Party…stood for the wealthy.” After all, “one of Cleveland’s chief advisers was William Whitney, a millionaire and corporation lawyer” who became Secretary of the Navy, immediately going about creating a “steel navy” by buying “steel at artificially high prices from Carnegie’s plants” and Cleveland assuring industrialists that his election should not frighten them; this was no surprise since the election “avoided real issues.” [62] That wasn’t all. In 1887, Cleveland vetoed a bill appropriating “$100,000 to give relief to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought,” even with a huge surplus in the treasury, and he “used his gold surplus to pay off wealthy bondholders.” [63] The Interstate Commerce Act passed the same year was supposed to “regulate the railroads on behalf of the consumers” but instead the Interstate Commerce Commission was utilized to benefit the railroad companies. Additionally, even though support for “Cuba Libre” grew among the population, with Democrats and Republicans in favor, President Cleveland “refused to aid the rebels.” [64] Finally, when Cleveland was elected again as President in 1892, the manager of Andrew Carnegie’s steel plants, Henry Clay Frick, said that their interests would not be effected, which was proven by the fact that Cleveland used troops to break up a “demonstration of unemployed men who had come to Washington,” called “Coxey’s Army,” in 1893,  and a national strike on the railroads in 1894. As the Great Soviet Encyclopedia put it, a rapprochement, by the 1890s, had taken place “between the Republican and Democratic parties, which had turned into the parties of the upper bourgeoisie” with the Democrats only winning twice after the civil war with Grover Cleveland winning twice. [65] This was also evident in 1893 when Democrats opposed the tariff because it was “class legislation.”

Even with all of this, Stephen Kinzer says that Cleveland was “anti-imperialist” because of his rejection of Hawaii’s annexation, after the “revolution” in 1893, while President, even as his administration, including his Treasury secretary (John Carlisle), supported the grabbing of new foreign markets to benefit the empire. Such annexation was only completed under the McKinley administration that followed him. [66] He seemingly supports this by adding his opposition to the Spanish-American War in 1898. However, there is a problem with this. While annexation of Hawaii did not occur on his watch, other interventions did, as one government report makes clear:

  • 1893:Hawaii. January 16 to April 1. Marines were landed ostensibly to protect American lives and property, but many believed actually to promote a provisional government under Sanford B. Dole. This action was disavowed by the United States [government led by Cleveland]
  • 1894:Brazil. January. A display of naval force sought to protect American commerce and shipping at Rio de Janeiro during a Brazilian civil war.
  • 1894: Nicaragua. July 6 to August 7. U.S. forces sought to protect American interests at Bluefields following a revolution.
  • 1894-1895: China. In March 1894, Marines from the gunboat USS Monocacy provided an honor guard for the Chinese viceroy’s official visit to the U.S. consulate at Tientsin
    (now Tianjin).
  • 1894-1895: China. A naval vessel was beached and used as a fort at Newchwang (now Yingkou) for protection of American nationals.
  • 1894-1896: Korea. July 24, 1894, to April 3, 1896. A guard of marines was sent to protect the American legation and American lives and interests at Seoul during and following the Sino-Japanese War.
  • 1895: Colombia. March 8 to 9. Lieutenant Ben Hebard Fuller led a landing party at Boca del Toro to protect American lives and property threatened by a political revolt.
  • 1896: Nicaragua. May 2 to 4. U.S. forces protected American interests in Corinto during political unrest.

From this, I think calling Cleveland’s views “anti-imperialist” is an utter joke. Errors like this are common when progressives, without a radical understanding, write books.

Then we come to the election of 1896. William Jennings Bryan, who had been previously nominated by the Democrats for president, advocated for gold as a basis for currency, apparently terrifying industrialists, but but big business ultimately won with McKinley’s victory as a Republican. [67] As such, the Democratic Party had taken over “the most popular Populist slogans in order to undermine their chance of success” meaning that the Populist Movement, which benefited the working class (whether black or white), was no more, with both parties not caring about them in the slightest.

From McKinley to Wilson: 1900-1921

Wilson was a hard-card segregationist as the above quote makes clear

In the dawn of the new century was another initiative to appease the working class: unemployment insurance. Originally it was “based on what were considered to be sound business principles that would appeal to moderate conservatives” and came from a “small group of experts,” who were mostly university professors, called the American Association for Labor Association (AALL) founded in 1906. As they aimed to promote “uniform progressive state and local labor laws and, where possible, national labor legislation” and many of their founders were part of a group formed by corporate moderates called the National Civic Federation (NCF),experts in the group felt some “corporate moderates might be sympathetic to unemployment insurance, as well as some of the other labor law reforms that reformers and progressives” had been working for since the 1880s. Additionally, while the AALL had leadership and financing overlap with the NCF , it also included “reformers…a few socialists…[and] progressive women reformers” even though it was “financed by a small number of wealthy individuals…who came from well-to-do family backgrounds.” Again, this means that efforts like unemployment insurance did not come from the working class itself but from the planning community, as G. William Domhoff calls it. For the next 40 years, AALL worked on varying labor legislation including “old-age pensions…unemployment insurance…accident insurance…[and] health insurance,” having a strong impact on worker health through legislation “it helped write to combat industrial diseases,” even though it was not widely successful generally because of “resistance from the corporate community.” Even so, it attracted some support on “workmen’s compensation” and this became the seed, “by a circuitous and indirect route, for the Social Security Act.”

While some have lauded Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909, for having the “nerve to condemn dangerous concentrations of economic power, battle the meatpacking industry, and win passage of the nation’s first food safety law,” the reality was that he was a harsh and dedicated imperialist. [68] Not only had he been a major advocate of the Spanish-American War in 1898 but U$ troops intervened in the following locations, as noted in a CRS report:

  • 1901:Colombia (State of Panama). November 20 to December 4. U.S. forces protected American property on the Isthmus and kept transit lines open during serious revolutionary disturbances.
  • 1902:Colombia. April 16 to 23. U.S. forces protected American lives and property at Bocas del Toro during a civil war.
  • 1902: Colombia (State of Panama). September 17 to November 18. The United States placed armed guards on all trains crossing the Isthmus to keep the railroad line open, and stationed ships on both sides of Panama to prevent the landing of Colombian troops.
  • 1903: Honduras. March 23 to 30 or 31. U.S. forces protected the American consulate and the steamship wharf at Puerto Cortez during a period of revolutionary activity.
  •  1903: Dominican Republic. March 30 to April 21. A detachment of marines was landed to protect American interests in the city of Santo Domingo during a revolutionary outbreak.
  • 1903: Syria. September 7 to 12. U.S. forces protected the American consulate in Beirut when a local Moslem uprising was feared.
  • 1903: Abyssinia. Twenty-five marines were sent to Abyssinia to protect the U.S. Consul General while he negotiated a treaty.
  • 1903-1914: Panama. U.S. forces sought to protect American interests and lives during and following the revolution for independence from Colombia over construction of the Isthmian Canal. With brief intermissions, United States Marines were stationed on the Isthmus from November 4, 1903, to January 21, 1914, to guard American interests.
  • 1904: Dominican Republic. January 2 to February 11. American and British naval forces established an area in which no fighting would be allowed and protected American interests in Puerto Plata and Sosua and Santo Domingo City during revolutionary fighting.
  • 1904: Tangier, Morocco. A squadron demonstrated to force the release of a kidnapped Americans Ion Hanford Perdicaris and Cromwell Varley. Marines were landed to protect the consul general.
  • 1904: Panama. November 17 to 24. U.S. forces protected American lives and property at Ancon at the time of a threatened insurrection.
  • 1904-1905: Korea. January 5, 1904, to November 11, 1905. A guard of Marines was sent to protect the American legation in Seoul during the Russo-Japanese War.
  • 1906-1909: Cuba. September 1906 to January 23, 1909. U.S. forces sought to restore order, protect foreigners, and establish a stable government after serious revolutionary activity.
  • 1907: Honduras. March 18 to June 8. To protect American interests during a war between Honduras and Nicaragua, troops were stationed in Trujillo, Ceiba, Puerto Cortez, San Pedro, Laguna, and Choloma.

After William Howard Taft continued these imperialistic interventions, then came Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, who was “conservative from the start.” He won thanks to a split in the Republican Party as some joined Teddy Roosevelt’s “Progressive Party” as he received a “small plurality of votes.” [69] Like those before him, a “financial oligarchy” determined foreign policy. This was demonstrated by the fact that he supported the “righteous conquest of foreign markets” with one of his first military actions being the ordering of U$ warships to “attack Veracruz, Mexico” so they could defend Standard Oil’s investments. [70] He became the “chief enforcer for the great financial districts” with the invasion of Haiti and Mexico during his presidency. Furthermore, during his time in office, Wilson organized inventions in [71]:

  • Mexico (1914, 1916-1917)
  • Haiti (occupying it 1915-1934)
  • Nicaragua (occupying continuing to 1933)
  • Dominican Republic (occupying it 1916-1924)
  • Cuba (1917-1922)

This imperialistic positioning was reinforced by his anger at women agitating for the right to vote and his compliance with restoring order after the Ludlow rebellion by mine workers. [72] There were some “reforms” such as the creation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to control monopoly growth and the Federal Reserve Act to regulate the U$ “money and banking system,” but these again benefited “large-scale monopolies.” This was evident by the fact that the FTC carried out its work to benefit big business, not consumers and the Federal Reserve System was established under direct instructions of capitalist monopolies as strikes of workers were suppressed. [73] Around this time, Democrats seemed content “to confine themselves to equitable cotton grading and ignore the broader speculative problem in grain and securities,” others as governors posed as progressives.

Then there was World War I, said to be the “war to end all wars.” While Wilson won re-election as a “peace” candidate in 1916, the same year that there was a “peace scare” selling in 1916, led the bankers into a panic,  the “neutrality” of the murderous empire was an utter joke. Not only had Wilson and Robert Lansing,  his secretary of state, planned to  allow private bank loans to the allies, with much U$-manufactured war material going to Europe, but U$ monopolies provided loans, ammunition, and foodstuffs to Western European countries, making huge profits. [74] Even on the RMS Lusitania there were many boxes and cases of ammunition and other armaments, proving that the U$ was “shipping great amounts of war materials to Germany’s enemies.” In April 1917, the murderous empire entered the war in Europe. Not only was a Committee on Public Information set up by longtime newspaper man George Creel, to be the “government’s official propagandist for the war,” put in place with the sponsoring of “75,000 speakers, who came 750,000 four-minute speeches in five thousand American cities and towns” to convince the public of the value of war, while the national press created a culture of fear as it cooperated with the national government. [75] Additionally, during the war itself there was transition to “a military economy,” and government authority was further submitted to monopolies while the living standard of workers declined. Also, Hoover, at the time, a food administrator, was criticized by Democrats who “suspected him of a lack of sympathy with farmers.”

While an imperialist “program of peace” called the Fourteen Points, was was put forward in Jan 1918, the U$ tried to broaden the intervention in the newly-formed Soviet state. [76] This was evidenced by the fact that the U$ government was successful in removing Reed “as the Soviet’s representative” but also was closely watching the Bolshevik Revolution, with the diplomats more concerned with “the implications of Soviet Russia making a separate peace with Germany and ending the war on the Eastern front than with the Petrograd Revolution spreading to the American masses” as noted by the bourgeois National Security Archive. Perhaps because they knew that they could contain revolution in the U$ but could not control the conditions on the ground for the war itself.

After Wilson and to Hoover: 1921-1933

Lenin speaking to a crowd of Russian (soon to be Soviet) comrades

As the years passed, Republicans tried to link Bolsheviks and drug traffickers together. This included the celebrated mayor of New York City, James John “Jimmy” Walker, accused by the New York Times of using “used a portion of his drug profits to finance communist-sponsored strikes in the city’s garment district,” marking the first time in US history that “politicians and policemen were linked with Bolsheviks and drug traffickers.” [77] Such a store gave Republican US Attorney Charles H. Tuttle an upper hand, as he demanded the “immediate dismissal of all officials associated with [the Democratic headquarters in NY] Tammany Hall…including a number of judges,” followed up by anti-narcotics crusaders such as Republican representative Stephen G. Porter and Col. Levi G. Nutt of the Treasury Department’s narcotics division.

In other news, in the 1920s, a “so-called Progressive bloc was formed.” It represented the “interests of farmers and petty urban bourgeoisie” while being supported by trade unions, with its origin “provoked by the dissatisfaction of the workers with the policy both of the Republican and Democratic parties.” [78]

Also, during this time period, certain Democrats, in 1928, advocated or a lower stock transfer tax from 2 cents per $100 to $1 cent. However, this failed and the tax at the 2 cent rate was retained by a 48-30 vote, meaning that the anti-speculators won. [79] Additionally, in the 1930s, Democrats  publicized the Federal Reserve Act as a “major achievement of the Wilson administration” in contrast to those who criticized the Federal Reserve.

The Years of FDR: 1933-1945

Taking the quote above, the New Deal was not “by accident” but was planned in ways to avoid a revolution that would have overthrown the capitalist system.

Fast forward to 1933. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) overwhelmingly defeated Republican Herbert Hoover in the 1932 Presidential Elections, ending the  reign of Republicans which had lasted from 1921 to 1933 (Warren G. Harding to 1923, then Calvin Coolidge to 1929, and finally Herbert Hoover to 1933). His big claim to fame were his “New Deal” reforms, which reorganized capitalism to “overcome the crisis and stabilize the system” while heading off “alarming growth of spontaneous rebellion.” [80] This was first addressed through the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which took control of the economy by creating a set of codes which would be “agreed on by management, labor, and the government, fixing prices and wages, limiting competition,” resulting in the National Recovery Administration (NRA) was dominated by big business, not serving organized labor. While the Supreme Court said that NIRA  was unconstitutional by arguing that it was not voluntary but rather coercive and reaffirming that “private property shall not be thus taken even for a wholly public use without just compensation,” other programs continued.

The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) favored large farmers while hurting poor farmers by encouraging them to plant less, or if they were tenants and sharecroppers, to leave their land. However, the newly created Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “gave jobs to the unemployed, helped the consumer with lower electric rates.” This ultimately proved that the New Deal’s “organization of the economy was aimed mainly at stabilizing the economy” and helping the lower classes enough to prevent the rebellion from becoming a “real revolution.” [81] Other laws, like the Wagner-Connery Bill, introduced in Congress in early 1934, regulated labor disputes, provided for “elections for union representatives, and created a “board to settle problems and handle grievances” (National Labor Relations Board), big business opposed because it was too helpful for labor, and it passed in 1935 with Roosevelt’s approval. This was because while it aided labor organizing, others saw it as stabilizing stabilized commerce or maintaining the capitalist system. [82] The same was the case with the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA) which some say was a “major turning point in American labor history” since it committed the U$ government to standing behind the rights of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers about wages, hours, and working conditions” but it has been undermined in years since.

The commitment to the government to labor seemed to be represented by FDR himself as he, in 1934, set up a board of mediation between striking textile workers and management with the textile workers union calling off the strike. [83] This conception is why those, such as Cornel West, believe that FDR was unique in his “determination to oppose this [corporate] power and might” making it “no accident that FDR is so vehemently hated by the evangelical nihilistic elites of the present-day empire” as he put it. However, FDR’s “New Deal” and seemingly “worker-friendly” policies which regulated “private-capital activity,” strengthened what some called  “government capitalism”with varying programs, like the National Labor Relations Board, guarding the interests of employers rather than those of the proletariat. [84] This was manifested in the creation of Social Security in the U$. With the Great Depression “starting to take its toll on even the best of the company plans” and more workers reaching retirement and living longer “when corporate profits had been flat or declining for three straight years” there was concern. The Roosevelt-appointed Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Roper,a former corporate lobbyist, created a new “governmental advisory agency in the early spring of 1933” called the Industrial Relations Committee (IRC) with its first task to endorse the plan of the anti-union Industrial Relations Counselors, Inc., funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Rockefeller Foundation. After a back-and-forth between the IRC, others in the policy planning network, and Roosevelt, the corporate moderates were convinced that a “narrowly circumscribed government program” of social insurance would benefit them. This means that “industrial relations experts,” not the labor movement or any other social movement (like those pushing for the “Townsend Plan” which was a narrow interest group rather than a “movement” and had “little or no impact” on the passage of the Socal Security Act), formed Social Security. No sooner did the law pass that “corporate moderates and their experts” made efforts for changes with most of the recommendations accepted at the time while Southern Democrats made sure the white supremacist order was maintained in the South.

To summarize, while the “New Deal” provided work for those who were unemployed with many great public buildings built at that time, along with establishing the forty-hour work week and outlawing child labor within minimum wage legislation in 1938, which excluded “many people out of its provisions and set very low minimum wages,” these provisions were “enough to dull the edge of resentment.” [85] It could be said to be, like the so-called “Great Society,” a “skillful mastery of the system.” More accurately however is the fact that once the New Deal had ended the capitalist system was still in place with capitalists controlling the wealth of the nation, the laws, colleges, police, courts, churches and newspapers, but FDR had given enough help to enough people to make him “a hero to millions.” [86]

What about foreign policy? Well, it was harsh and cruel to be clear. Not only was his “Good Neighbor Policy” was a disguise for intervention in Latin America (with some reactionary capitalists supporting the rebellion of General Saturninio Cedillo against the established Mexican government) but the U$ declared that the Republican Spanish government was belligerent, meaning it could not buy armaments from the U$ but it did not consider Italy and Germany to be belligerents, allowing them to buy armaments. [87] Additionally, in the 1930s the appeasement of Nazi Germany was official policy, U$ businesses were allowed to sell “huge quantities of oil to Italy” when it invaded Ethiopia, and did little to resist the invasion of Japanese fascists of the mainland of Asia until they entered Southeast Asia. At the same time, communists and progressives were being persecuted by measures such as the Smith Act (or Alien Registration Act) of 1940 which fines and imprisons (for up to 20 years) those who “knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of…any political subdivision therein, by force or violence,” making those who are said to commit such crimes “ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency…for the five years next following his conviction.” Some of those persecuted included Black female communist Claudia Jones, unionist Harry Bridges, and against varying other Communist Party leaders.

In September 1939, World War II began in Europe. At the time, leaders of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) began “to offer their services on postwar planning” with proposals to benefit U$ interests, with the Economic and Financial Group of the CFR developing ties with a “new policy discussion group” called the Committee for Economic Development (CED) which had been created by moderate corporate conservatives with “close relationships with the Department of Commerce.” At the time time, the Department of State “created its own internal structure for postwar planning.” The planners began to suggest the idea of creating a “single trading organization to market all surplus agriculture production in the Western Hemisphere” while studying economic warfare and conclding that Japan was vulnerable to trade sanctions against Japan while “a Japanese takeover of Southeast Asia would impair the British war effort against Hitler” with many viewing it as “the beginning of the disintegration of the British Empire.” Soon enough, FDR succumbed to his lust for foreign adventure, waging his own “presidential war against Germany, providing England with ships and arms” with the “unprovoked” attack by the Japanese in December 1941, leading to Congress declaring war. [88]

With a “powerful anti-Hitler coalition” forming between the U$, UK, and USSR, U$ capitalists were worried about Germany having a stronger hand in Latin America. With the U$ and UK capitalist, this showed itself through the fact that they did not want a rapid end to the war, even as the Soviets fought the full might of the Nazis on the Eastern Front, that that U$ took advantage of the difficulties faced by the UK during the war to gain more control, and planning the outlines of a new economic order which was “based on partnership between government and big business,” culminating in a war, for the U$ and UK at least, “waged by a government whose chief beneficiary…was a wealthy elite.” [89] As such, it should be no surprise that U$ troops were used to seize mines within the empire  during a strike by order of FDR, and that the latter interned, by executive order, 110,000 people of Japanese descent, 3/4 of whom were U.S. citizens (Nisei) and 1/4 of whom were born in Japan (Isei), in literal concentration camps for which the U$ government by the 1980s apologized for by distributing “$1.6 billion to internees and their relatives.” Additionally, the “plight of Jews” in the German-occupied parts of Europe was not treated as a main concern, with the same being said about the promise of self-determination with the U$ privately saying that France should have their colonies restored to them. [90]

As the war went on, the planners in the U$ government, especially those connected with the CFR, made their aims clear. The world capitalist economy was a major emphasis with a rejection of “free trade” as they saw the U$ as a “nation that should use its political and military power” so it can create “the international economic and political institutions” for an expanded economy worldwide  which would be “essential for the proper functioning of the American, British, and Japanese economies.” Hence, they were putting forward imperialist aims. Furthermore, these planners had shown that the U$ was concerned about Japanese domination of Southeast Asia because the U$ was “dependent upon supplies of vital materials” from that part of the world, including “supplies of tin and rubber and tungsten,” saying outright that U$ “imports from those regions are of vital importance to us…all interruption of our trade with that area would be catastrophic.” Other reports said that the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, and British Malaya are “prime sources of raw materials very important to the United States in peace and war,” with “special obiligations” to the Philippines (imperial domination of it). With the U$ entering the war, the definition of the national interest was “consonant with the aims of the CFR.” As the war even on, CFR planners were called “consultants” and were paid by the government, showing that the CFR “played a major role in defining the postwar national interest.” Later on, the CFR and government planners built off the “concerns, analyses, and goals of the CFR’s war peace study groups between the years 1940 and 1942.” While none of the planners like the USSR or communism, they even “suggested the creation of an Eastern European customs union” with little emphasis on Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union nor Eastern Europe seen as part of the “Grand Area.”

There’s more. While the British felt as they were being edged out, with the U$ seeming out to “weaken the British empire” with efforts to control much of the world’s gold supply,and not specifying the “general principles of the Grand Area strategy.” In 1941 what came to be the IMF (International Monetary Fund) was discussed in planning circles in the U$ (including Henry Morganthau) and UK with John Maynard Keynes proposing a “plan for international currency stabilization” which established “a very large international currency exchange and credit granting institution that could be drawn upon relatively easily by any country.” By the time Bretton Woods Conferende, with the “participation by the Soviet Union,” it was clear that countries lobbied for “larger contributions than their rivals and neighbors,” and that business and agricultural broadly supported the IMF and World Bank. Most opposition came from “big banks in New York” because they hoped to “maintain the large influence on monetary policy” but this would not be the case. It is clear that corporate and financial leaders in the U$ influenced foreign policy of the empire from 1939 to 1941 while working to shape the world “to their economic and political liking after World War II” while they later “financed and eventually openly fought an war to maintain British and French dominance in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975 as part of their larger vision.” Even with the Yalta Convention seeming civil between the U$, UK, and USSR, with the Soviets allowed to have “some Japanese islands” and Romania while the U$ got Japan and West Germany, FDR met King Saud of Saudi Arabia on a U$ cruiser after the conference, not only ensuring that the U.S. had a “secure supply of oil” with American businesses allowed to “penetrate areas that had been dominated by England” but that the crass imperialism of the wartime planners was a staple of the foreign policy of the empire for years to come. [91]

Truman to Eisenhower: 1945-1960

Truman advocates mass annihilation of Japan’s industry and its people, a horrendous statement to say the least.

On April 12, 1945, FDR died in Warm Springs, Georgia. In his place was his vice President, Harry S. Truman  who would stay in office until January 20, 1953 after being re-elected in 1948. Before the war was over, Truman declared that Hiroshima was a “military base,” claiming that the empire wanted to avoid the killing of civilians even though almost all of those killed were civilians. [92] As a result, not only was it evident that the Japanese were willing to surrender, but conditionally, the atomic bob was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 100,000 at least, with another dropped on Nagasaki, with both done for purely political means as an anti-Soviet measure. Compounding this was the fact that capitalists of the empire profited from the war with a concentration of industry and collective agreements between workers and employers routinely violated. [93] This push was compounded by the painting of the Soviets and communism as a menace, with Truman, a “capable, sharp, machine politician” pulled in by the need to maintain a war economy, which benefited the arms manufacturers. As a result, such phobia about communism led revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia to be “described to the American public as examples of Soviet expansionism” even though they were nothing of the sort. Some anti-communists likely believed the same as hard-card anti-communist Kyle Palmer: that Communists were not “anywhere and everywhere” but saying they did kept “Democrats on the defensive, and prevented them from using economic issues against his own people [the rich].” [94] Also in the postwar environment there was another effect : the “reformist spirit of the New Deal” was ended, and conservatives had new opportunities, with the “conservative intellectual movement” developing bit by bit, even as there was a “revitalization of a newly reformist liberalism” in the later 1950s and early 1960s.

There was another dynamic going on as well. The British lost out in the location of the IMF and World Bank, leading both to be  “clearly dominated by the American government and American bankers” as corporate moderates and planners thought that they could extend a loan to he British and reconstruct their economy, but their underestimated the devastation of the British economy. To sum up, basically the U$ imperialists edged out the British imperialists, as the murderous empire gained more influence in the postwar era. Also on the foreign front, the empire continue to intervene across Latin America and supported the Dutch war against the Indonesian people  from 1945 to 1948. [95] This was around the time that the so-called National Security state (or apparatus) was created, starting with the National Security Act of 1947 and National Security Council (NSC) Directive 68, creating a permanent Cold War. In Western Europe, the empire also concentrated its control with the “Marshall Plan” or European Recovery Plan (E.R.P), while profiting from the Korean War, or as it can be called the Great Fatherland Liberation War.

Before moving onto that war, it is worth talking about the Marshall Plan. Not only was it, as  Truman declared, about checking “the danger of communist subversion in Europe” but part of the plan was used to fund the Socialist Party, rivals of the French Communist Party, and the AFL which used its efforts to subvert the dominance of the Communists, break up Communist strikes with help from gangs from Corsica, and burn offices of the Communist Party to the Ground. [96] Additionally, this plan funded corruption of elections in 1948 in Italy where the Communists were expected to win, along with France and Italy, in weeks after the plan was announced, forcing Communists out of the governing apparatus. George himself saw  the Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine, and the CIA’s operations as part of a “grand strategy against Stalin” with underground groups in Soviet-affiliated Eastern European countries created. [97] It also aimed to strengthen those countries outside the realm of the Soviet Union, making it no surprise that it was inherently anti-communist,used to create a capitalist system in West Germany, and in elsewhere in Europe, to not only counteract the “European trend to socialism” but to make Europe “open to American business in the same way that we have known it in the past.” [98] Even those who were in the peace movement supported the plan even though they had some reservations, and so-called isolationists opposed it.  Albert Einstein, to his credit, argued that the Marshall Plan was a “political scheme directed against the Russian bloc” which could aggravate “existing tensions” between the Soviets and the empire, which was echoed by Henry Wallace who saw the plan as “an instrument of the cold war against Russia” which was undeniably correct.  While the Soviets began setting up what those in the West called “their own satellite” states as they saw themselves as vulnerable, while Western capitalists used covert and other means to push forward their aims, using the Marshall Plan to help U$ companies, undoubtedly to even keep the “Third World dependent on the First” which is part of what Walter Rodney talks about in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. [99]

The Great Fatherland Liberation War, as it should be called, was coupled with an intense arms race, and was a setback for the empire you could say because of the armistice in 1953 preserving People’s Korea. As Che Guevara put it, the war was brutal, especially in terms of the weapons that were used by the empire:

Under the discredited flag of the United Nations, dozens of countries under the military leadership of the United States participated in this war with the massive intervention of U.S. soldiers and the use, as cannon fodder, of the South Korean population that was enrolled. On the other side, the army and the people of Korea and the volunteers from the Peoples’ Republic of China were furnished with supplies and advise by the Soviet military apparatus. The U.S. tested all sort of weapons of destruction, excluding the thermo-nuclear type, but including, on a limited scale bacteriological and chemical warfare.

This was coupled by the fact, as I’ve written on this blog before, socialism advanced after 1945 in People’s Korea (northern part of the Korean Peninsula) with the creation of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in 1946 and unicameral Supreme People’s Assembly in 1948, while there was a brutal fascist puppet government in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. As was evidently the case, “US imperialists knelt before the people of Korea, signing the Armistice Agreement, with arguably a victory for the Korean people, with many losses for the United States” while in the post-war period, People’s Korea rebuilt itself in an effort led by President Kim Il Sung, with the second session of the SPA held in 1957 since the country was, during the war, “in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack.”

On the domestic front, people were suffering in the murderous empire. A protest movement against racial violence had sprung up after Emmitt Till’s killing, the workers’ movement was being suppressed with the Taft-Hartley Act and loyalty oaths, HUAC was running wild, and there were legal proceedings against supposed “subversives.” [100] Even though Truman himself criticized HUAC, his attorney general had “expressed…the same idea that motivated its investigations” showing that anti-communism ran deep. In opposition to such measures, like the anti-worker laws, progressive forces came together in groups such as the Progressive Party, created in 1948, uniting “representatives of progressive intelligentsia and several strata of of the bourgeoisie and farmers,” advancing a program fighting for peace and “democratic rights of the American people.” [101] While there were ” expansionary changes…made in old-age insurance” made to social security in 1947, the anti-communist fervor continued. McCarthy was being censured but all sorts of anti-communist bills went through Congress with liberals “acting to exclude, persecute, fire, and even imprison Communists.” [102] One example of such a bill was the McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950) with liberal senators proposing the “setting up of…detention centers…for suspected subversives, who…would be held without trial” (removed later in 1971 by the Non-Detention Act)  if the President declared an internal security emergency which was included in the final bill. This was enacted over Truman’s veto which was overidden 57-10, with many Dems voting in favor , with parts of the act later declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court cases of Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board (1965) and United States v.  Robel (1967) while the court had said parts of it were constitutional during the same time in 1956 and 1961!  Truman vetoed it saying that he was advised that the bill “would seriously damage the security and intelligence operations” of the empire  as it would help communists, allowing them to “create dissension and confusion within our borders,” and added that he partially agreed with the bill (and its underlying logic), but not completely, saying it would help communist, not hurt them. This showed that he was anti-communist like the others but in a different way.

Then we get to Eisenhower, the Republican, who was in office from 1953 to 1960. With large monopolies supporting Eisenhower and Adelai Stevenson, as the Democrat, it seemed that capitalism was moving smoothly along. [103] With Republicans winning control of the White House and Congress in 1952, the first time since 1928, ultraconservatives in Congress and the corporate community tried to “limit old-age benefits to a single flat sum for anyone over age 65,” but organized labor was ready to put up a major battle, and Eisenhower sided with “corporate moderates, who favored the strengthening of Social Security through raising the cap on the amount of a person’s income subject to the Social Security tax and slight increases in benefit levels.” By August 1954, amendments to the Social Security Act passed, with “self-employed professionals…removed due to AMA lobbying” and the next year, the so-called “liberal-labor alliance won its first victory on a Social Security initiative with an amendment to include disability benefits.”

In the realm of foreign policy, the empire marched on. By the mid-1940s, the post-war planners ruled out independence for Vietnam even as they soured on complete French country, arguing that the “area had to be returned to French control through British-American power,” basically saying that Vietnam would return into French colonial hands but “subject to international review” as they detested an “independent Vietnam led by communist-nationalists” even though there were close ties between these individuals like Ho Chi Minh and the “intelligence gathering activities of the Office of Strategic Services.” As such the policy was to deny the “area to communism for as long as possible” which was successful until 1975, with concern over the “importance of Southeast Asia as a source of food and raw materials” with escalation of support in the years to come.

Some argued that the 1960 presidential elections were a “watershed and offered a clear choice.” Richard Nixon was a Republican who had supported civil rights and John F. Kennedy (JFK) was a Democrat who was privileged, with both of them being diehard anti-communists without a doubt. Many young people turned out to cheer for JFK “if he were the new Elvis.” [104] The result was a slim victory for JFK as he won 49.72% of the popular vote and Nixon won 49.55% of the popular vote, even as JFK took 56.4% of the Electoral College vote. The process of getting there, for JFK, was filled with “legalized bribery” in the West Virginia primary to beat Herbert Humphrey and electoral fraud in the Chicago of Democrat “boss” Richard Daley’s “mighty political machine” (and Texas), including counting spoiled ballots as those for Democrats, with Nixon rejecting the idea of recounts. [105] As such the electoral victory seemed to be a result of theft, with Nixon saying privately that “we won, but they stole from us” with electoral fraud going in Chicago until the 1970s as uncovered by the Chicago Tribune in 1972 through investigative reporting. As for the 1960 presidential election, in Mississippi the white supremacist Citizens Council edged out the “slate of Kennedy electors” showing the poignant power of white supremacy in the South. [106]

The reign of Camelot: The Kennedy years (1961-1963)

JFK and his wife Jacqueline “Jackie” Bouvier, with this being an example of their wealth, which led them to the short-lived “Camelot” while in the White House, without a doubt.

Kennedy (called JFK for the rest this section) was a diehard anti-communist without question. His father, Joseph had already befriended Joseph McCarthy, seeing him as “a likable fellow Irish-Catholic who had all the right ideas on the domestic communist menace” while JFK liked that McCarthy went after elites he disliked, feeling that McCarthy might be onto something. Along with McCarthy also having strong ties with Bobby Kennedy, he considered JFK a supporter of his and was the “only Democratic Senator not to publicly declare support for McCarthy’s censure,” releasing a public statement in 1956 to support it but only “because his political future dictated it.” It is for this that liberals within the party, like Eleanor Roosevelt,”openly berated JFK…for not having taken a stand against McCarthy.” This was buttressed by the fact that  JFK  believed that the communist threat was real, wanting to win the Cold War “with a hot war somewhere or another,” wanting to be a war president,and he felt that Communism had won in China “because of softness on Communism in the American government.” [107] As an “active Cold Warrior” he “supported all of America’s overseas activities in waging the Cold War,” hammered on Eisenhower for being weak on the Soviets (when the opposite was the case), and had a hawkish inaugural address in which be bellowed that

let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty…To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends…To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny…we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves for whatever period is required…To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge to convert our good words into good deeds in a new alliance for progress…Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas and let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house…In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it…And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

This should make it no surprise he was actually conservative, with his rift with liberal Adlai Stevenson and closeness to Richard Nixon from 1946 to 1960, even defending Nixon from “from the standard liberal assaults” while the pressure of the presidential campaign ended their friendship, with Nixon, by the end, feeling betrayed and bitter toward the Kennedys as a whole. As for his brother Bobby, he was an “an arrogant and intolerant political operative” who was close to “the infamous anticommunist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s” and carried out the “particularly vicious persecution of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, gaining a reputation for ruthlessness in pursuit of his political enemies and rivals.”

JFK was a hawk in every meaning of the word, as was his brother. Starting with his brother, Bobby led a “special White House committee” (Executive Committee of the National Security Council or ExCOMM) overseeing the “Operation Mongoose” program, a “wide-ranging covert program of sabotage, assassination, blackmail and other activities directed against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government” and he never “advocated unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Southeast Asia.” To sum up, he remained the “chief watchdog over US intelligence” for JFK, with the “Kennedys…determined as ever to oust Fidel Castro from power” and Bobby believed “it could work and that he fully desired such an outcome.” JFK wanted an overthrow of the Cuban government as well, as he supported a revolt of “the Cuban people” against such a government, and endorsed Operation Northwoods which included the staging of assassinations of Cubans inside the empire, creating a  fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign” within the US, a real or simulated sinking of a “boatload of Cuban refugee,” the faking of “a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner” and blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters, then blaming it on the Cubans so that there was a “Remember the Maine” incident to lead to war. In later years, in the 1968 Presidential campaign, his “chief political goal, like Eugene McCarthy’s, was to capture the support of the antiwar movement and to deliver it into the safe confines of the Democratic Party.” Lest us forget he was “a shrieking anti-Communist” who reportedly “bullied Lyndon Johnson into continuing the Vietnam war”!

As for JFK, he (like his brother) became fascinated with “counter-insurgency, assassination and covert action” with Vietnam a laboratory for this, with a proxy war fought by the empire there by the time of his death, with “15,000 military advisors …leading combat operations and bombing missions in a faltering effort to prevent the victory of the National Liberation Front (NLF).” In sum, JFK had no intention of ending the war in Vietnam, despite what revisionists like Oliver Stone say, but rather wanted to expand “his hot war in Vietnam” which was a war about “imperial and presidential vanity,” for one, and resources on the other. [108] The latter was noted by U. Alexis Johnson who told the Economic Club of Detroit in 1963 that “the countries of Southeast Asia produce rich exportable surpluses such as rice, rubber, teak, corn, tin, spices, oil, and many others.” It is worth remembering that JFK himself greenlighted the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. This was connected to his embrace of “strategic doctrine, which theoretically incorporated a capability to engage simultaneously or serially in irregular, conventional, or nuclear warfare” which was supported by his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, with the idea of waging “wars of suppression against revolutionary guerrilla upheavals in the Third World” leading to the “doctrine of counterinsurgency.”

This was only the beginning of his hawkishness. As a person who not only began the anti-communist “space race,”  criticized by Gil Scott-Heron who said it was a deep cost to put “whitey on the moon,” but he declared in Seattle, in 1960, that “in a world of danger and trial, peace is our deepest aspiration…it is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war” and made a Republican, named John McCone, head of the CIA who recommended military force to remove the missiles from Cuba in 1962. This anti-communism was deeply rooted in his so-called “New Frontier” speech in which he accepted the nomination, scowling that “Communist influence has penetrated further into Asia, stood astride in the Middle East and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida…We must prove all over again whether this nation, or any nation so conceived, can long endure; whether our society, with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives, can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.” Such beliefs were enshrined in the transformation of international broadcasting with the build up of the anti-communist gray propaganda outlet, Voice of America, to broadcast in socialist countries ,ordering “squadron of fighters to Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom from Egyptian air assaults” and telling the murderous Shah in 1962 that the empire “greatly appreciates the highly important strategic location of Iran and your steadfastness in remaining vigilant against the pressures of international communism.” This disgusting nature was only amplified by the fact that training of Tibetan guerrillas at Camp Hale by the CIA continued during his term (from 1959 to 1965 at least), while the CIA under his watch had “quite extensive Agency involvement with the plotters” who overthrew Rafael Trujillo. This was followed by a show of force: warships of the murderous empire appeared with “4000 Marines…just outside the three-mile limit” while a “jet fighter flew overhead,” with the remaining “members of the Trujillo family” fleeingthe country, living, “thereafter on savings from Swiss banks.”

Most directly was the economic assistance of the CIA of the coup by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party in 1963 since they thought that “the Ba’ath Party would be the best for U.S. policy in Iraq going forward in 1962.”Additionally, top diplomatic advisers believed that “if the coup is successful, relations between the U.S. and Iraq will be considerably improved and the internal situation in Iraq should gradually improve” with the empire looking for the “assurance that the new regime will safeguard American citizens and interests in Iraq” and adding that “US statements cannot be disseminated without distortion within Iraq, and shortwave broadcasts would not have impact on wide group…Should harassment of mission operations accompany rise in Qasim’s critical propaganda, Department would wish consider counter moves.” This was because Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim (or Qassem) enacted a land reform program, constructed a massive urban development for Revolution City “to provide low-cost housing” and partially nationalized the oil industry, with the idea of driving Iraq into “the American orbit” and away from the Soviet one. As a result of the coup, Qasim was assassinated and “Saddam’s Ba’ath Party came to power for the first time” with the CIA providing “the new pliant Iraqi regime with the names of thousands of communists, and other leftist activists and organizers…[who] were soon dead in a rampage of mass murder” with Andrew and Patrick Cockburn saying that this was “in retrospect, it was the CIA’s favorite coup.” Beyond this, JFK’s administration also pushed UN efforts that would “prevent outside assistance from entering the Congo” which meant Soviet assistance to the Lumumba government, the overthrow of which he was not opposed to.

With JFK born into “a rich, politically connected Boston family of Irish-Catholics” with his family enjoying “a privileged childhood of elite private schools, sailboats, servants, and summer homes” it is not a shock that he favored the capitalist class. In his first year he office, he declared on national televison that “we need a tax cut to keep this present drive from running out of gas” and that the “tax system must be adequate to meet our public needs…I therefore recommend that capital gains treatment be withdrawn from gains on the disposition of depreciable property…In the absence of such legislation, the corporate tax rate would be decreased 5 percentage points, from 52 percent to 47 percent.” The following year, upon signing the Trade Expansion Act, he declared it the “most important international piece of legislation…affecting economics since the passage of the Marshall plan” and that in put in place “mutual lowering of tariff barriers among friendly nations…[causing] our industry, our agriculture, our mining industry [to]…benefit,” adding that since “a vital expanding economy in the free world is a strong counter to the threat of the world Communist movement [the law]…is…an important new weapon to advance the cause of freedom.” This law granted the Kennedy administration ” the widest-ever negotiating authority” on trade, with the sixth round of GATT named after him as a result, and liberal Democrat Morris ‘Mo’ Udall in May 1962 saying that the law sought authority to cut taxes by having the ability “reduce tariffs by 50 per cent…in exchange for concessions from other nations” and have the “special authority to reduce or eliminate all tariffs on those products where the United States and the Common Market nations dominate world trade.” Latter that year, Kennedy told the New York Economic Club that

This administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963…The federal government’s most useful role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities of private expenditures…The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus

He followed this up by proposing a “permanent reduction in tax rates” with reduction of individual, and corporate tax rates.  This was, as a horrid liberal, who hates Gore Vidal, declared, was a tax reduction which lowed the “top tax bracket significantly” with many liberals disliking it, even as he “never gave up his spending idea.” It was these tax cuts which were called the Kennedy Tax Cuts. They specifically lowered the top rate from 90% to 70%, called for corporations of the empire to be “taxed on all their profits,” cutting preferences for oil & gas industries, and limiting “itemized deductions for the rich.” Even with these restrictions, conservatives in the present (and undoubtedly then), have endorsed the Kennedy Tax Cuts, which passed under LBJ but were JFK’s idea. Some have said that they make JFK “the first Reagan” since he was against high tax rates on the capialist class, which favored the corporate community as well. Others said that the tax cuts benefited those at the top the most, claiming they “ushered in the great bull market and non-inflationary boom of the mid-Sixties” (highly unlikely), that Reagan’s first months in office”were eerily similar to Kennedy’s” with his own tax reform, and claiming they led to “economic growth.” Even conservative economist Thomas Sowell endorsed the tax cuts while others said that JFK is to blame for the current budget deficit, which isn’t a surprise to say since the “Kennedy tax cut reduced the top marginal rate from 91% to 70%.” In sum, the Revenue Act of 1964, which embodied the second phase of the tax cuts (first phase passed in 1962), was even “less unevenly distributed” than the Bush tax cut as some claim, which may be hard to believe, even if one considers that JFK argued that “tax-rate cuts…would eventually pay for themselves by increasing government revenue” and that Reagn modeled his tax cuts on “JFK’s across-the-board rate reduction.”

All of this was partially summed up by Howard Zinn. He noted that when presented his first budget, it was clear there “would be no major change in the distribution of income or wealth or tax advantages” and then quoted New York Times columnist James Reston, who argued that JFK

agreed to a tax break for business investment in plant expansion and modernization. He is not spoiling for a fight with the Southern conservatives over civil rights. He has been urging the unions to keep wage demands down…he has been trying to reassure the business community that he does not want any cold war with them…During these twelve months the President has moved over into the decisive middle ground of American politics.

Such favoritism of the capitalist class would help the Democratic Party at a time that many  Mississippians and Southern whites had excommunicated themselves from the Democratic Party as a whole, even though many still used the label, with the state party more conservative than that nationally, as they saw themselves as”true democrats.” [109]

In later years, the Keynesian or New Deal policies “of fiscal and monetary management of the capitalist economy, in so far as they were ever applied” would collapse in the 1970s, with the “neoliberal policies of financial deregulation, globalisation and the reduction of the welfare state” coming in. As Michael Roberts put this, this is because (and that was limited indeed), collapsed in the 1970s “not because politicians decided to ‘change the rules’ and ‘rational’ Keynesian policies” but was the “result of forced circumstances for capitalism from the late 1960s onwards” since the “capitalist mode of production got into deep trouble as the profitability of capital plunged everywhere” and as a result, a “drastic reversal of economic policy was necessary.” As such, while this “this worked for capitalism for a whole generation and profitability recovered…at the expense of labour” the now-“Long Depression” and the Great Recession showed that “neoliberal policies were no longer working.” This means that it was “not the ‘excesses’ of neoliberalism and globalisation that caused the rise of nationalism and Trump, but the failure of the capitalist mode of production to deliver.” That is important to remember going forward.

The turbulent 1960s and the years of LBJ

After JFK was shot and died, on November 22, LBJ was sworn in on Air Force One as the Acting President

In 1963, LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson) took the helm of the presidency. Apparently, he wanted to complete FDR’s New Deal, and was able to “get through an astonishing amount of domestic legislation” after Kennedy’s assassination. [110] By 1964, he won over 60% of the vote, in an overwhelming victory, by implying he was for “peace in Vietnam, unlike his openly hawkish Republican challenger,” Barry Goldwater. However, nothing was further from the truth.

Some, like Gore Vidal said that LBJ was brought down by the hawkish advisers he kept on including Robert McNamara. However, this is letting him off too easy. When the Gulf of Tolkin Resolution passed unanimously in the House (which will be discussed more in a later section specifically about purported “antiwar” sentiment of Democrats), there were only two dissenters in the Senate, with the resolution “giving Johnson the power to take military action as he saw fit in Southeast Asia.” [111] By that point he was broadly committed to the war. Che Guevara directly challenged this and LBJ’s so-called Great Society in a speech in which he called for “two, three or many Vietnams”:

In Vietnam, the patriotic forces of that country have carried on an almost uninterrupted war against three imperialist powers: Japan, whose might suffered an almost vertical collapse after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; France, who recovered from that defeated country its Indo-China colonies and ignored the promises it had made in harder times; and the United States, in this last phase of the struggle…Almost two years ago the United States started bombing systematically the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in yet another attempt to overcome the resistance of the South and impose, from a position of strength, a meeting at the conference table…There is a sad reality: Vietnam — a nation representing the aspirations, the hopes of a whole world of forgotten peoples — is tragically alone. This nation must endure the furious attacks of U.S. technology, with practically no possibility of reprisals in the South and only some of defense in the North — but always alone. The solidarity of all progressive forces of the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory…U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression — its crimes are enormous and cover the whole world. We already know all that, gentlemen! But this guilt also applies to those who, when the time came for a definition, hesitated to make Vietnam an inviolable part of the socialist world…Not for a long time shall we be able to know if President Johnson ever seriously thought of bringing about some of the reforms needed by his people – to iron out the barbed class contradictions that grow each day with explosive power. The truth is that the improvements announced under the pompous title of the “Great Society” have dropped into the cesspool of Vietnam. The largest of all imperialist powers feels in its own guts the bleeding inflicted by a poor and underdeveloped country; its fabulous economy feels the strain of the war effort. Murder is ceasing to be the most convenient business for its monopolies…The United States had no colonies in this region but is now struggling to penetrate its partners’ fiefs. It can be said that following the strategic plans of U.S. imperialism, Africa constitutes its long range reservoir…America, a forgotten continent in the last liberation struggles, is now beginning to make itself heard through the Tricontinental and, in the voice of the vanguard of its peoples, the Cuban Revolution, will today have a task of much greater relevance: creating a Second or a Third Vietnam, or the Second and Third Vietnam of the world…How close we could look into a bright future should two, three or many Vietnams flourish throughout the world with their share of deaths and their immense tragedies, their everyday heroism and their repeated blows against imperialism, impelled to disperse its forces under the sudden attack and the increasing hatred of all peoples of the world!

By the later 1960s, “non-Southern Democrats, most newspapers editorial pages, and public opinion opposed greater involvement in the war” while, in 1965, Indonesian leaders had “decimated the Indonesia Communist Party, by then the third largest Communist Party in the world, which eliminated communism as a threat in that large and resource-rich island empire.” Adding to this, by 1967, leaders of the CFR called “for a gradual withdrawal from the war [in Vietnam] or continuing dominance of Southeast Asia that they and their predecessors had supported since the mid-1940s.” As a result, by 1968, the war was very unpopular meaning that LBJ could rarely appear in public places apart from military installations and chose not to run again. [112]

Other than Vietnam, LBJ’s administration directly supported and knew that the “the Indonesian Army was conducting a campaign of mass murder against the country’s Communist Party (PKI) starting in 1965,” keeping a record of which “PKI leaders were being executed,” while officials of the empire “actively supported Indonesian Army efforts to destroy the country’s left-leaning labor movement.” Not only is this utterly disgusting but it is the m.o. of the empire itself, which aims to crush any challenge to the murderous empire, even if that involves killing people.

Comparing LBJ and FDR

Quote from Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p 35.

This section aims to reply to Cornel West’s comparison of LBJ and FDR as represented in the picture above.

It is known that the new agencies “created to administer New Deal programs” were originally seen as temporary, and outside the structure of the government, but that “in the mid-1930s Roosevelt moved to make them permanent features of the American governmental system.” [113] As a result of this, such reforms, from 1935 to 1938 inclding the Social Security Act and National Labor Relations Act, helped “institutionalize the power of the Democrats by establishing direct links between the administration and a mass constituency” through the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security Act. After this point, Democrats tended to rely more and more on “administrative rather than party channels to establish links with their constituencies” with strengthening of bureaucratic institutions, tied to the cause of the New Deal creating a “national apparatus” through which FDR “could mobilize political support and govern.” This centralization and control of the national government was directly “supported by middle class liberals who had a particular interest in substituting bureaucratic for partisan modes of organization.” [114]

By the 1960s, the situation had changed. JFK’s “New Frontier” and LBJ’s “Great Society” were drafted not to respond to the demand from “black slum dwellers” who were the purported beneficiaries but were rather the “initiative of presidentially appointed task forces” mainly composed of those who could be considered “professional reformers.” [115] As such, President LBJ and FDR were “receptive to proposals of this sort if for no other reason than to retain the support of this important element of the party’s national constituency.” With this, it should be surprised that the “federal grant-in-aid programs initiated” created by their administrations allowed “upper-middle-class professionals and their political allies,” with their White House access, “to extend their influence over the policies, programs, and hiring practices of municipal agencies.” [116]

From this, you could say the similarities are that both the New Deal and “Great Society” benefited those deemed “middle class” while not helping those who were dispossessed as much as has been claimed. They provided some benefits to those in “lower rungs” of society, but that was not their chief focus. The New Deal was meant to stabilize capitalism, and the “Great Society” was meant to build out the party base, with the same idea enshrined in the New Deal.

After Johnson, 1968-1977

Police brutality in Chicago in 1968 near the Democratic National Convention

The 1968 presidential election was a calamity for the empire. People like Hunter S. Thompson were appalled by Democratic Party corruption and “outright evil” of the GOP, so he told friends to vote for Nixon, to, in his mind, cripple the Democrats, forcing it to change by the next election. [117] This was not a strategy which had the proletariat in mind but was another version of the discredited “lesser evil” idea. As for Nixon, as it was clear he would have the nomination, he put up a wall between himself and the press, restricting press access as the “Nixon people became preoccupied…with not making a mistake” and in November he won in what has been described as a landslide. [118] This was evident already from the Democratic Convention of 1968 where there were “young rioters in the streets of Chicago” with alienated Democrats in the South and blue-collar northern areas voting for Nixon as they were horrified by social changes, especially in racial relations, even resenting the “relentless reporting of the war in Vietnam.”

The years after LBJ led to turmoil in the Democratic Party. While some Democrats refused to take responsibility for their part in the Vietnam War, saying it would be a “political bloodbath,” they held onto control of the gubernatorial seats of the “mountain states” of Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Arizona. However, by 1998 the governors of all of these states were Republican, “as were three-quarters of the U.S. senators” in that region, making  the region “more staunchly Republican than the American South.” [119]

The 1972 election, between Richard M. Nixon and George McGovern was a disaster for the Democrats. As some didn’t like McGovern “shilling for votes” the fact he expressed an antiwar position, at least publicly. [120] With Nixon spies inside the McGovern campaign, it is no surprise that Nixon won in a landslide. Like Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, McGovern was trying to pull the antiwar energy to the Democratic Party which partially succeeded but was not fully a reality because McGovern was defeated. Such spying on McGovern was the Nixon sabotage of the 1968 peace talks, pre-longing the war in Vietnam until 1973, despite his claim in the campaign that he would scale-back the war, in order to help his presidential campaign and ensure his victory. As David Halberstam argued, the reason that Nixon won in 1968 and 1972 was that LBJ had lost control of the country, there was too much disorder, and inevitably…people connected that chaos to him.” [121] However, this viewpoint seems to ignore the shenanigans the Nixon operators pulled to win both elections, engaging in unsavory methods, to say the least.

Other than this, those in the feminist movement considered ways to play the Democrats off the Republicans, as stated by the Hyde Park Chapter, Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, in pamphlet titled “Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement” put out in 1973. At the same time, while Nixon went through the Watergate scandal, in which the CIA was involved, top Republican and Democratic leaders gave “secret assurance to Nixon that if he resigned they would not support criminal proceedings against him”! [122] Even so, during his time in office, Nixon supported Social Security “in the context of a general concern on the part of moderate Republicans to improve social insurance and welfare benefits as a way to reduce inner-city tensions and gain more support for their party among the elderly.” As a result, Congress put “benefits for low-income, blind, disabled, and elderly people into a new program, Supplement Security Income, which was funded out of general revenues and administered by the Social Security Administration” with such changes, at the time, “acceptable to corporate moderates.” With that, the contrast between the support of corporate moderates  “for government insurance programs” to their “campaign against unions at the time could not be more dramatic, continuing a pattern that began in 1935.”

The system in general, however, seemed to work the same way, whoever was in power.  Democrats, Republicans, newspapers, and television closed ranks “behind Ford and Kissinger,” after the the Mayguez Incident, and behind, fundamentally, “the idea that American authority must be asserted everywhere in the world.” This meant that even those who had been “critical of the Vietnam war now seemed anxious to pull things together in a unified show of strength to the rest of the world.”

Jimmy Carter: the fake “populist” (1977-1981)

A quote showing that Carter was willing to accept the corrupt idea of a “just war”

Under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, there seemed to be an attempt “by one part of the Establishment…to recapture a disillusioned citizenry.” However, Carter protected “corporate wealth and power,” maintained a huge “military machine that drained the national wealth, allying the United States with right-wing tyrannies abroad.” He also “presented himself as an ordinary American farmer” even though he was a millionaire-peanut grower. Even though he supported the Vietnam War until its end, he presented himself differently, while he had varying cabinet appointees with “strong corporate connections” and an approach “combining practical strategic needs with the advancement of civil rights.” This  meant the support of horrendous, murderous government in the Philippines, Iran, Nicaragua, and Indonesia,  even declining to “give aid to Vietnam for reconstruction, despite the fact that the land had been devastated by American bombing.”  Additionally, he stayed with the Shah until the end,with broad anger against those of Iranian descent, with the “sudden” hostage crisis (as seen by those in the empire), lasting for 444 days, and “economic distress felt by many… largely responsible for Carter’s defeat.” All of this is no surprise since Carter was trying to “reverse the damage” of Watergate, and seeming to “represent the simplicity and decency” restoring faith in the system itself, but he was utterly insensitive to Congress itself. [123] Carter’s “crisis of confidence” over energy would be pushed aside in favor of the nation’s lack of confidence in Carter himself by the end of his presidency.

By 1977, Congress worked, in a bipartisan way, to raise the “maximum income that could be taxed for Social Security purposes and increased payroll taxes equally on employers and employees” even as this involved some “slight long-term cutbacks in benefits.” However, by 1978, the Republicans gained in he elections, declaring that “Social Security was both a big part of the budget and another reason to worry about future government debt, even though it was funded by payroll taxes, not federal income and excise taxes.” This gained “dramatic coverage in the media” with the “inviolate nature of the trust fund established by Congress in 1939 was now ignored or forgotten.” By 1980, Congressional conservatives made a change in Social Security “by reducing disability benefits on the grounds that they were overly generous.” The assault by the conservative forces, the reactionaries, was at full force more than than ever.

The retreat of liberals and the age of Reagan

The inherent “limited government” idea of Reagan while he raised military budgets through the roof through his ruthless anticommunism

In the age of Reagan liberals and Democrats faced a retreat. There was a “right turn on Social Security by the corporate moderates,” as they were now ready to join with ultraconservatives to limit Social Security, facing up against the so-called liberal-labor alliance which was “able to hold on to most of the basic features of the Social Security program because it made concessions and played its cards well.” Later, the Reagan Administration overplayed its cards, withdrawing its efforts to “cut Social Security that were moving forward quietly in the House” with Democrats making “the earlier Republican attempt to cut Social Security a major campaign issue in 1982:  and the Republicans coming to a compromise, that they would create “a large reserve fund that might ensure the full stability of Social Security for 50 to 75 years.” As such, some argued the “liberal-labor alliance was able to restore public confidence in the system and give it legitimacy for the next 20-25 years in the face of a predominantly conservative Congress.”

By the mid-1980s, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) faciliated the “colonization” of the Democratic Party by the capitalist class which traditionally had dominance in the Republican Party. This involved the linking, through the New Democrat Network or NDN, with “dozens of corporate contributors from the Fortune 500 such as Bank One, Dow, DuPont, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Raytheon.” [124] This was complemented by the fact that by 1983, old-fashioned political machines still existed but mainly at the local level, with big contributors paying for staffs and “costly media campaigns” with the reach of television to every home, along with “fracturing of party organizations.” This meant that while there were differences within and between the two major parties, which seemed to be “worrisome enough” to induce millions to vote for one party or other, this allowed the two-party system to function as “a marvelous ruling-class device,” with the parties as fraternal “rather than identical twins.” [125] Michael Parenti described this well in his book, Democracy of the Few:

For the similarities between the parties in organization, funding, ideological commitment, and policy loom so large as frequently to obscure the differences. The Democratic and Republican parties are both committed to the preservation of the private corporate economy; huge military budgets; the use of subsidies, deficit spending, and tax allowances for the bolstering of business profits; the funneling of public resources through provide conduits…the concoction of palliatives for the less fortunate segments of the population; the use of repression against opponents of the existing class structure; the defense of the multinational corporate empire; and intervention against social-revolutionary elements abroad. In short, Democrats and Republicans are dedicated to strikingly similar definitions of the public interest…the lack of real differences between the major parties is evident to the corporate business elites

With this, the Democrats and Republicans not surprisingly cooperated to “maintain their monopoly over electoral politics and discourage the growth of progressive third parties” while they raised millions upon millions of dollars from big capitalist contributors, especially on “primaries, national conventions, and presidential electoral expenses.” [126] This means that if both parties “ignore public opinion, there is no place voters can turn” with both parties long joined in “bipartisan foreign policy,” especially in terms of imperial domination. This was even the case during the Gulf War where the Democratic Party “was pleased with the results” with only “some misgivings about civilian casualties” but did not “constitute an opposition.”

The Clintonites in the White House (1993-2001)

Clinton continuing to express the corrupt liberal dogma even in 2012, as he continues his arrogance as a mainstay of the Democratic Party machine.

We then get to the Clintons. They were “intelligent lawyers from the moderately well-off middle class,” listening to the rich and protecting their wealth. [127] However, Bill Clinton didn’t understand that the President is not a “man of power” and is rather used by corporate interests, as Gore Vidal claimed. Later on in his presidency the Clintons lost the case for healthcare which would have helped the healthcare industry, later to be resurrected under Obama in a different form.

During his first term, he made plans against People’s Korea. This was during the so-called “1994 nuclear crisis” with officials of the murderous empire saying they would win even as they recognized that the war would involve “many casualties.” As a result,”took a tough stance in meetings” with leaders of People’s Korea, warning of consequences of continuing the self-defense missile program, even as they had flexibility. However, when George W. Bush took office, he informed Kim that he “would be terminating all talks with the North.” Through all of this the Clinton administration “harbored no unrealistic hopes about a quick and easy resolution of the Korean security challenge… though U.S. policy included sanctions as both carrot and stick, there is little discussion of military options.”

When Clinton was re-elected in 1996, there was a “distinct lack of voter enthusiasm” with the electorate “not happy about its choices.” With Clinton demonstrating in his first term his confidence in capitalism, he also was fully supportive of using force. He had been “in office barely six months when he sent the Air Force to drop bombs on Baghdad, presumably in retaliation for an assassination plot against George Bush on the occasion of the former president’s visit to Kuwait.”He also worked to open up Russia, seeing it as “a market for American goods,” overlooking “bullying policies of Russian president Boris Yeltsin” and even overlooking the “invasion…of the outlying region of Chechnya.” As such, it is no surprise that the Democratic and Republican Parties led “in the mid-nineties to a number of attempts to create independent political movements.”At the same time, he  presided over the passage of the anti-worker NAFTA, in 1993, and vigorously supported “free trade” to the benefit of the corporate community, while enlarging NATO, expanding the tentacles of the imperialists. [128]

It is also worth noting that Clinton held a strong law-and-order stance, as did the Republicans. While as governor in Arkansas he “approved the death penalty and as a presidential candidate he accused Republicans of being soft on crime” during the 1994 midterm election campaign, he “supported a “three strikes” provision in a federal crime bill.” As anyone in their right mind would know, such provisions brought law and disorder, not law and order.

Also in the 1990s, Democrats became “far more willing than the Republicans to support tough food-safety legislation” and there were the “culture wars” into the 2000s. [129]. As Cornel West put it,

the well-financed right-wing convinced many fellow citizens that the Left–from progressive professors to neoliberal Clintonites, multicultural artists to mainstream feminists, gay and lesbian activists to ecological preservationists–was leading America over the abyss

In reality, the only people who were leading America “over the abyss” was the well-financed right-wing, along with those who supported the capitalist system with fervor.

The Bush era and “War on terror” (2001-2009)

While many liberals thought Bush II was “stupid” he was actually a deceptive manipulator (as this quote shows) who was able to fool people using propaganda into a “war on terror,” the second phase of the Iraq War, a war in Afghanistan, and much more.

Then we get to the Bush era. During the presidential elections in 2000, the Democrats and Republicans echoed each other’s position on crime, abandoning the “traditional liberal agenda” which included “prevention, community development, rehabilitation, and abolition of the death penalty.”

It was also during this area that the second phase of the war against Iraq, which had begun in 1990, began. Only a few days after the beginning of this phase in Marc 2003, Walter Slocombe, “a centrist Democrat who’d had the job for six years under President Clinton and was well known in the Pentagon” came to work in Iraq with Dough Feith to disband the Republican Guard and Fedayeen with the idea that “high-ranking Baathists” would be sent home while “mid-level officers and below” would stay. This was approved by Bush himself, but afterwards the regular Iraqi army “appeared to have vanished,” and later, Paul Bremer, on his own authority, issued CPA order number 2 which dissolved the army, air force, navy, ministry of defense, and intelligence service of Iraq. [130] This created, evidently, “legions of new enemies.” Once the empire had taken over the Republican Palace, “bumper stickers and mousepads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations” and while the CPA had a “small contingent of Democrats” which called themselves “Donkeys in the Desert,” they faced “regular harassment from hardcore Republicans,” leading most in the group to keep their membership secret. They tried to reach out to Republicans in Name Only or Rhinos but this was risky for their social standing. [131] Still, they were not fundamentally opposed to the war or the mission to force bourgeois democracy on the populace. As the Democrats wanted the Bush Administration to do more to get the UN back in Iraq while getting other countries to pay for “reconstruction projects,” it is no surprise that some of those hired to the CPA were prominent contributors to the RNC, with those interviewing potential candidates asking people who they voted for. [132]

As  the years passed, many voters saw “too little difference between two corrupted parties” of Democrats and Republicans. Not only were “blacks being taken for granted by the Democrats” but the majority of voting-age citizens who didn’t vote knew that “political leadership is confined to two parties that are both parasitic on corporate money and interests.” [133] This added to the fact that the prevailing conservative culture “made the Left–progressives and liberals–internal enemies” of a sort. Additionally, as Cornel West described it, there was “political nihilism…within the ranks of the Democratic Party ” which he called paternalistic nihilism” with such individuals possibly wishing “that the system could be made to serve truly democratic purposes,” but they have succumbed “to the belief that a more radical fight for truer democracy, battling against the corruption of the elites, is largely futile.” Such individuals have also “lost the conviction that corporate elites can be forced to make concessions under the pressure of organized democratic forces.” [134] Those who exemplify this, he argued are Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, describing them as those who “long to believe in a grand democratic vision yet cannot manage to speak with full candor or attack the corruptions of the system at their heart” and saying that they put forward a “weak technocratic vision of America as the economic engine of a global economy that uses soft (nonmilitary) power to ensure its hegemony while wealth inequality stabilizes (or slightly declines) at home.”

When John Kerry ran for president, in 2004, he was still one of these paternalistic nihilists, as Cornel West described it.Apart from John Kerry meeting with Hunter S. Thompson and joking that he would make him Vice-President, Kerry was far removed from his days as a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. [135] Perhaps Bush did rig the 2004 election, but the corporate community loved him with Citigroup, Microsoft, IBM, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America as some of his top contributors. This was because he supported the No Child Left Behind Act, favored harsh crime laws, supported the war in Iraq, and voted for NAFTA, to name a few positions.

Compounding this is the fact that “two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, were ready to accept long-term cuts in Social Security in an attempt to placate the corporate community and the conservatives in Congress.” Additionally George W. Bush  tried to “push a semi-privatization plan in 2005 in the aftermath of his 2004 election victory,” but the strong push back made him abandon this.

A continuation of Bush: Obama and the illusion of “hope” (2009-2017)

The text comes from his last interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes and shows the bankruptcy of his “hope and change” which translated into imperialism, platitudes, and “liberal capitalism”

With Obama’s election there was the claim there would be change. This was already invalidated by the fact that in 2010 Obama “appointed a debt-reduction commission…[that] wanted to cut the inflation adjustment built into Social Security pensions by a “mere” .03% a year” Obama spoke approvingly of this, even during the 2012 presidential campaign. It was only a “strong push by the liberal-labor alliance kept Social Security cuts out of the deal that averted the fiscal cliff at the turn of 2013.”

There is more than that. In 2015, in his State of the Union, he made various so-called “progressive” pronouncements including minimal raises in taxes on the capitalist class and free community college but not really because the plan “doesn’t cover fees, which schools routinely charge for using labs, campus health centers and computer labs” with students still having “to borrow to cover any additional living expenses under this plan” with states being asked to pick up a quarter of the coast of the bill. [136] Also consider that these proposals were coupled with support for continued oil and gas drilling to reduce dependence on “foreign oil” along with other proposals which tuck him well “under the corporate wing of his party, mightily beholden to the investment sector he occasionally decries to maintain his credibility.” Let us also consider that Obama is “a born again” evangelical Christian, whom allowed federal money to go “conservative faith-based groups affiliated with the Family Research Council, anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and an entire network of evangelical abstinence-only educators.” His speech also enaged in further calls for “illegal war” against Daesh which allows the “imperial war machine [to go] back on the offensive” which simply just feeds “war lust.” This was definitely the case  for the part of the speech he declared that the empire will “hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally…in Iraq and Syria” while opposing so-called “Russian aggression” (it isn’t that) by supporting those who oppose Russia, especially in Ukraine, including sanctions on Russia.

He also supported investor-rights agreements like the TPP, TAFTA/TTIP, and TISA, which goes against those in his own party, as he supported the “trade promotion authority” or “fast track.” Followed by this was his budget which “strengthen[ed] U.S. cybersecurity defenses after a spate of high-profile hackings,” and gave more money to “moderate” opposition in Syria which are literally terrorists. [137] There was even more in the speech. He supported the flawed  “all of the above” energy approach which proposes that fossil fuels be developed alongside “cleaner, alternative fuels and vehicles” as he stayed as “a care taker for the economic interests that he represents.”

All of this should be no surprise. Obama voted “voted yes on the war budgets while in the [US] Senate” while his speech about the second phase of the war in Iraq, in 2002, framed the invasion in ways the U.S. foreign policy establishment would have done. This is because, as Adolph Reed put it, he is “not a leftist” distancing himself from radical politics, engaging in “rhetorically pretentious, jingoistic oratory about the superiority of American political and economic conditions.” [138] Basically he was “no more than an unexceptional neoliberal Democrat…with solid connections and considerable good will from the corporate and financial sector.” The imperial foreign policy was evident. Not only, as of 2011, was the CIA was interrogating people in a secret Somali prison but a Somali man was interrogated for two months on a navy vessel while people were interrogated and tortured in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison. At the latter place prisoners were sleep deprived, “beaten by American soldiers,” kept small cells, and having no access to  lawyers, with men held there engaging in hunger strikes to resist “their indefinite detention and solitary confinement.”[139] All of this makes it no surprise that his executive order ending the “black sites” and Bush-style torture, declared that “federal law enforcement agencies” could use “non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements” while extraordinary rendition, the practice of sending  “terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation,” continued unabated. The same can be said for Obama not prosecuting any Bush administration officials for torture, including those CIA agents who destroyed tapes showing interrogations. [140] As for Obama himself, he defined torture as justified in the post-9/11 environment, saying:”…we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values…it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots…[still] we did some things that were wrong…after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.” Through all of this, Guantanamo remained open during the Obama years, which is still illegally occupied by the empire to this day.

Then there was Obama’s program of extrajudicial killings or those killings  “outside judicial or legal process…in contravention of, or simply without, due process of law” as a UN expert argued that the “use of force must be proportionate…and everything feasible must be done to prevent mistakes and minimize harm to civilians.” [141] Such killings are the  drone program, continued under the orange menace, are terroristic strikes determined by  metadata which is unreliable, in which all of those killed are considered “militants” even if they aren’t in reality, with a minimum of 7,085 killed, and maximum of 10,342, killed by CIA and JSOC operators between 2002 and 2017 in Pakistan (2004 to present), Somalia (2007 to present, including some air strikes), Yemen (2002 to present), and Afghanistan (2015-2017 at least) according to data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Then there’s the reality that Obama was cozy with oil companies. For one he approved the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline after he had rejected it in the past, with a rejection of the pipeline on the “arbitrary nature of a deadline” and saying that “an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico” may be developed. Specifically, on March 22 in Maljamar, New Mexico he declared that “we’ve announced our support for more [pipelines] including” Keystone XL and that he was directing his administration to make it a priority to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

This should be no surprise since almost $1 million dollars from the Oil  & Gas industrywent into his campaign coffers, with Obama receiving over $66,000 from employees of big oil companies, with two “oil industry executives…bundl[ing] money for Obama” with BP contributing a huge amount of money to him in the 2008 campaign and beyond. [142] While he seemed cautious on energy policy, he offered support to the autocrat of Chad, Idriss Deby, while slyly being on the side of Chevron, and criticizing ExxonMobil during the 2008 campaign because it was unpopular. Even with this, individual contributors from big oil companies preferred Obama, and one of his foreign policy advisers, Daniel Shapiro, was registered to lobby for corporate clients such as the American Petroleum Institute. From this, it no surprise that  Obama’s administration supported an Iraqi law which allowed foreign oil companies a 75% stake in oil development, even allowing the ” to use private security forces to protect their facilities” and “hire and train [non]Iraqi workers and…transfer…needed technology” along with Obama lifting, one months before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon removed a “20 year moratorium” on oil drilling, opening up much of “the Atlantic coast line, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling.” Others said that Obama went easy on BP after the “oil spill in return for a pledge to support cap-and-trade legislation” while some said that “Barack Obama and his Democrats passed no new laws, promulgated no new executive decisions to regulate Big Oil.” Then there was the use of the Corexit dispersent, which was green-lighted by the Obama administration and toxic to wildlife.

Most of all, there was the war in Libya in 2011. Officially it was claimed that the Empire was trying to “prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.” However, it really was about oil and international dominance as those varying from libertarians , University of London Professor Gilbert Achar, even Representative Ed Markey, Black Star News in a April 2011 post, and Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation, among others. Basically Obama was an “oiled” president, plain and simple. As Solomon Comissiong adds,

In 2011 the Obama administration bombed Libya into oblivion while using racist and terrorist rebel groups to do their dirty deeds on the ground. These terrorists often targeted Black Africans for rape, torture, and public lynchings, simply because they were seen as allies to Muammar Gaddafi — who had provided a safe haven for those same Black Africans…The Obama administration knew all of this. They used the CIA to deliver arms, advice and even cash to terrorist rebels, in an effort to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton desperately wanted to halt the advancements of Gaddafi and his government…African/black people’s ability to control their own destinies will not come from the Democratic or Republican Parties…The Democratic and Republican parties cling to the same white power structures that enable institutional racism to thrive.

In terms of GMOs, Obama was a huge supporter. During his administration, there was “regulatory capture” of important governmental positions by Monsanto, especially in the FDA and USDA, leading to favorable policy for them. This was enshrined in documents such as the Southern Africa FY 2010 Implementation Plan, in 2010 calling for “increased cooperation” on GMOs by having a “harmonized regional bio-safety framework, standardized regional sanitary and phytosanitary… measures”and supposed “oversight systems…[to] reduce any environmental risks” from GMOs. However, this is questionably because there was, by 2010, a  “close relationship between FDA personnel and private sector professionals that represent big agricultural companies” along with the head of the USDA at the time, Tom Vislack, favoring GMOs as Iowa Governor and Monsanto itself. Additionally, the FDA Commissioner, Michael Taylor, a former Montanto VP of pvlic polic, served as a person who determined “regulatory priorities, develop[ed] the FDA’s budget request” and implemented “new  food safety legislation.” By 2012, Monsanto had such deep roots in the empire that it spent over “$1.4 million lobbying Washington…and spent about $6.3 million total last year” especially with its PAC, the Monsanto Citizenship Fund, giving more to Republicans than Democrats but still favoring Democrats.

With this, one can review Obama’s supposed “accomplishments” or “legacy.” Not only did he love Reagan, promote the “Russian hacking conspiracy,” but he was the Black face of the murderous empire, but he, as I noted in January of last year:

  1. Voted  against UN resolutions which condemned “glorification of Nazi and denial of Nazi war crimes in 2014 and 2016,”
  2. Deployed “US special forces can be found in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” with elite forces deployed to “138 countries in 2016”
  3. Continuing the imperialist war in Afghanistan
  4. Increased the use of private mercenaries in Afghanistan and Iraq, to say the least.
  5. Bailed out Wall Street, following the advice of his “neoliberal advisers” while no Wall Street execs went to jail
  6. took a pro-police stance in response to Black Lives Matter with “with words about the difficult plight of police officers,” calling Black youth in Baltimore “criminals and thugs” (so did Jay Carney).
  7. Engaging in an education policy which “closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones,” continued under Betsey DeVos
  8.  Created a ” a market-based healthcare policy”
  9. Deported “nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch”
  10. Responding to Zionist aggression by funding the Israeli army with many more millions of dollars
  11. Keeping the mass incarceration system in place even with his “statistically meaningless” clemencies
  12. Overseeing “brutal force-feeding of untried prisoners at a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”
  13. Engaging in raids “against legal marijuana dispensaries”
  14. Granting “legal immunity to telecom companies that had conducted invasive spying during the George W. Bush years
  15. Expanded Bush’s drone program, creating a “kill list” where he would “select people to be killed in the world every Tuesday”
  16. “Normalizing” relations with Cuba and Iran, which could allow “US capitalists to salivate” even as restrictions remain on these ““new” markets ready for Western capitalist exploitation”
  17. Having an auto bailout in 2008 and 2009 which didn’t change anything about the auto industry at all  even though it was temporarily nationalized
  18. His legacy could be a “devastated Democratic Party”
  19. Ignored those at Standing Rock as he “champions fracking and tar sands oil pipelines”
  20. Pushed for war “or some sort of conflict with Russia
  21. “consistently supported Israel through its numerous bombing campaigns”
  22. Engaged in “US-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016)

There’s nothing else to say here.

The milquetoast “resistance” of the Democrats and the orange menace (2017-present)

From one of her commentaries on Black Agenda Report.

Liberals, since the ascendancy of the orange menace in 2017, have tried to act like they are the resistance. There was the science march, which “will have no effect on policy or direction of the reactionary Trump Administration” and Democrats engaging in hand-ringing, like Chuck Schumer. This false opposition is indicated by the fact that there is an “unsubstantiated and feverous phobia over Russia, propagated by the US intelligence establishment, desperate Democrats and complaint Republicans, and much of the bourgeois media” with the “never-ending “Russia conspiracy”” used by the Democrats to push the orange menace “out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him” as I wrote last year. More than that, “there is no doubt that the efforts of the Russophobes within the national security establishment and within the Democratic and Republican political parties will intensify their efforts in the coming days” as I said many months ago, but is still the case today. Such Russophobia is supported by liberal organizations and the Democratic Party who closed their ranks to defend James Comey, relying on weak “evidence” to implicate the Russians, with ““left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn
Greenwald, and other “respected” publications like Mother Jones.” As such,

Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and Marylander Steny Hoyer and Californian Nancy Pelosi in the House, not even Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the like cannot be trusted to stand against Trump. They are clearly milquetoast liberals and progressives, with the possibility of Trump and Schumer working together in the future, and the Clinton team (Bill & Hillary) attending Trump’s  inauguration…Bourgeois liberal commentators or Democrats won’t save us from Trump’s fascism. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, they can easily pass Trump’s agenda, and a good number of Democrats will likely fall in line.

The liberals currently on the stage of “political discourse” was undeniably toxic. Matthew “Matt” C. Taibbi, is a bourgeois commentator who misses “the point that Venezuela is bad straits because of the murderous empire,” mocking the idea that “Venezuela’s problems are part of a US “economic war” and calls the government of that country “Maduro’s regime,”” evening saying he “is glad Marx is dead is anti-communist in the fullest extent.” He also said he is against “progressive efforts to stand against fast food industries or even moves that increase government control in a way to help people’s lives,” seems to accept the “goodness” of corporations, and has a developed ego. Then there’s David Swanson, a former press secretary for “bourgeois Democratic “peace” politician, Dennis Kucinich” who is a progressive but undeniably bourgeois, celebrity left personalities Shaun King, and Deray, along with Obamabot Ta Nehisi Coates. Additionally there’s Bernie Sanders who is a “downright imperialist” who has “supported sanctions against Iran” and basically doesn’t “oppose the imperialist agenda of the murderous empire” but is ultimately a “pimp for empire.” To top it off, there is Naomi Klein who sidelines  the reality that “Obama set the foundation for Trump” or that Obama is a brand engaging in faux environmentalism, is a Berniecrat, doesn’t even try to defend Venezuela, and engages in  progressivism which ignores that she is a brand just like many other progressives,and groups, like 350.org, or people such as  “Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander…Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges” or progressive media like “Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation,” foundations, and non-profits. In sum, she is “a brand, a commodity, and a “heat vampire.”” Others who seem to be outside of this, like Rania Khalek, does not inspire much confidence.

Beyond such personalities there  are vapid groups which claim to be part of the “resistance.” This includes Reset the Net, with their supporters being either for-profit companies or non profits for the post part, Fight for the Future which is supported by “the Democratic Party and important foundations.”There is also the reality thatDemocrats in 2016 pushed forward a “gun control” measure aiming to “demonize Muslims by pushing to exclude those in on “watchlist” that the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains” and continue to push for “their sacred cow of Obamacare” rather than universal healthcare. With all of this, it is clear that “Democrats are not an opposition party, but are easily falling in line…[and are] not really resisting Trump,” beginning with the “Obama administration…giving Trump and his cronies more power!” As such, we should recognize the following about such forces:

While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting Trump, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by.

Democrats: “the one party [in the U$] that cares for black Americans”? [143]

Just take the race of Democrat Doug Jones facing Republican Roy Moore, with Blacks overwhelmingly favoring Jones, as an example.

Liberals have said that Republicans still “don’t care about black people” as it tries to “soothe enough whites’ discomfort with voting for a racist party” while Democrats act “more boldly on race issues” than Republicans and “care about people” so much so that Obama called on Blacks to turn out in the 2014 elections. [144] Conservatives fire back  by saying that “Democrats are fighting hard against the supposedly racist voter ID laws,” claiming that they are making “sure that blacks remain dependent upon Government handouts,”that people only need “jobs and education,” and that there has been “continual destruction of the black family as a result of liberal policies.” Others claimed that the Democrats’ best strength is to “present itself as empathetic, caring and compassionate while simultaneously pushing policies that hurt the very people they claim to represent,” calling out what they claimed was “leftist hypocrisy” or that “liberals are all about a will for power, not about caring for the poor.” Without getting into the weeds on this, it is worth noting that conservatives within the murderous empire are the biggest chearleaders, along with a host of liberals, neoliberal phase of modern capitalism which is fundamentally racist. Of course, they don’t recognize that in their quest to see their argument as superior to the “horrid” liberals. That doesn’t mean that liberals are off the hook however. This section aims to look at the history of the Democrats to determine how much (if any) they care about Black people and advancing them forward within the murderous empire. There is some truth to their claims based on the fact that corporate Democrats or the Clintonites supported mass incarceration of Black and Brown individuals, but conservatives were also gung-ho about it as well. Is a surprise that Black women are seeing the Democratic Party as not serving the interests of Black people?

Let us first acknowledge when Blacks began voting Democratic, as noted by an article by FactCheck 9 years ago:

Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all. The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats. It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment. Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a large slice of the black vote for several elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960. But then President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson got 94 percent of the black vote that year, still a record for any presidential election. The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.

You may ask, what about Blacks before 1932? After all, the Democratic Party was formed in 1824. The following two sections address that:

  1. From 1824 to 1932
  2. 1932 to Present

From 1824 to 1932

When the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified as part of the Reconstruction Amendments on February 3, 1870, it declared that Black men have the right to vote, saying that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” making Blacks an electoral consistency. As a result of that, in all likelihood, by 1870, all Blacks were mostly supportive of the Republican Party for a number of reasons:

  1. “”Jacksonian Democracy,” started by Andrew Jackson,  “had tried to create a consensus of support for the system to make it secure” but clearly, “Blacks, Indians, women, and foreigners were…outside the consensus” [145]
  2. Whigs and Democrats, by the 1840s were seen as “corrupt and chained to Southern votes” by abolitionists, including “free” Blacks in the North, resulting in the formation of an “antislavery organization” called the Liberty Party, formed in 1840, which fielded its own candidates while those who wanted to “stay within the Whig or the Democratic Party” were purged from the abolitionist movement [146]
  3. Whig President John Tyler, a “slaveholding Virginia aristocrat who had allied himself with Clay and his Whigs in the 1830s out a shared distrust of Andrew Jackson’s Democratic agenda,” vetoed legislation “to centralize the banking system,” and ultimately became a “president without a party,” trying to make overtures to the Democratic Party but this failed so he saw “salvation in Texas, favoring its annexation, even committing U.S. troops to Mexico in the spring of 1844 [147]
  4. James Polk, who was seen by Andrew Jackson or “Old Hickory” as “salvation” of the Democrats, had a career “as an offshoot of Jackson’s,” was born in Western North Carolina to “wealthy, slave-owning parents,” with his faith in “territorial expansion…grounded in his history” with his parents and grandparents prospering “at the expanses of Native Americans” since “Westward expansion was the source of the family’s riches.” Furthermore, he made his “real money off westward expansion and slavery” rather than being a lawyer, paying “more attention to his investments in land than to his investments in human flesh” and even using “slaves to grow cotton on a plantation in Mississippi” and later announcing he favored the “immediate reannexation” of Texas…[while] the United States had no legitimate prior claim on Texas” and the fact that adding Texas would increase the number of slave states without a doubt [148]
  5. “Whigs and Democrats fought on fairly equal terms for more than a decade, but after 1848 the former disintegrated over the issue of slavery,” with Democrats holding “together–often tenuously–until 1860, when they, too, split” and faced “a formidable challenge from the Republican Party,” after 1854, with the Democratic candidate, Abraham Lincoln, capturing the Presidency in 1860. [149]
  6. In 1848, “disaffected Democrats, Liberty [party] men, and a few stray politicians looking for a home–formed the Free-Soil Party” putting forward former President Martin Van Buren as its candidate, “once obnoxious to abolitionists,” with a platform advocating for “the non-extension of slavery” and was not “truly antislavery” as it did not demand “immediate emancipation.” [150]

After that point the Republican loyalty of Blacks was further cemented. With many Blacks fighting for the Union in the Civil War, the “first modern war” in which “the fight over race and empire literally pushed the American democratic experiment into modernity” and 600,000 died on both sides while thousands more deserted, they gained loyalty to the country and not those trying to undermine it. [151] As the Reconstruction went forward, with the story told well by Eric Foner in the Short History of the Reconstruction, Democrats worked to uphold white supremacy. While some saw Black Republican politicans, at the time, as gentlemen on par with Democrats in the antebellum South, those who voted for the Republican party were sometimes whipped while voting for the Democrats led to praise, even though Democrats in the South pushed for a “white man’s government.” [152] These Democrats also called the elected Black politicans “devils,” systematically disarmed Blacks, manipulated the ballot box even training cannons at polling areas while Whites fled the Republican Party and joined the Democrats. Even as Black Republicans and their allies put up a fight, they had few resources since “white Democrats controlled the money, the land, and credit factories.” Furthermore, in “response to the democratic agenda of the Mississippi Reconstruction government,” with universal male suffrage, eradication of “black codes,” establishment of public education, elimination of vagracy laws, taxes for mechanics and artisans were reduced, married women given the rights to control income independent of their spouses, and husbands being required to receive “consent from their spouses on the sale of family domiciles” as put forward in the 1868 Mississippi Constitution and implemented in years afterward, a number of groups came together: “former Confederates, the White planter class, and their allies” who worked to undermine and defeat “the Republican government.” [153] The arm of these reactionary, bigoted groups was the Democratic Party while White supremacy was their mobilizing tool, as they used “extra-legal violence as a major vehicle to achieve their interests,” with the development of White terrorist organizations, with intimidation of Black farmers and laborers. Ultimately with the Democrats able to defeat the Black militia in the courts, with the demobilization of the militias weakening defense and resources “available to Mississippi’s Black communities ten years after the end of chattel slavery,” and the Reconstruction being doomed to failure “in the face of a White supremacist armed rebellion, insufficient federal intervention, and the decision not to provide arms to the Black majority,” the stage was set for the 1876 compromise. [154]

By 1876, the Democrats worked to further consolidate their control. After organizing governments in the South like the Republicans, they made sure that “orderly counting of electoral votes” in the disputed 1876 Presidential Election couldn’t happen because of a filibuster, leading to the Great Compromise. [155] This agreement, also called the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, was the following:

…Southerners refused to back the filibuster efforts of Northern Democrats on Tilden’s behalf, thus insuring the selection of Hayes as president. In return, Hayes and leading Republicans agreed to remove federal troops from the three “unreconstructed” states, appoint a Southerner to his cabinet, support the expenditure of increased federal funds on internal improvement in these three states, encourage the construction of a transcontinental railroad with a terminus in the South, and have the president visit the South…Conspicuously absent…were safeguards for Southern freedmen.

With even Thomas Nast deriding the compromise, which ensured that “any pretesne of federal intervention in Mississippi and the former Confederacy” would be dropped for decades to come, the result was, as Cornel West put it, the Union had won “the most barbaric of nineteenth-century wars, but white supremacy and imperial expansionism won the American peace,” even thoughit was a violent order in the South. [156] With “terrorist violence unleashed to secure the White planter elite in power and to perpetuate a system based on White supremacy,” by the 1880s, a coalition of Northern Republicans and southern Dixiecrats was forming, with the Republican Party forgetting Black people by the end of the 19th century. Still, the Democrats were the party of the white supremacist order in the South, and the Republicans were not, so Blacks in all likelihood mainly stuck with the Republican Party due to its past history before the betrayal in 1876.

From the 1890s onward, the “potential political power of blacks” was recognized by the Democratic Party, including in South Carolina which had been “a predominantly black state since 1820,” with White political demagogues courting favor of the white population by not only “denying the vote to blacks” but by “appealing to whites’ fear of black leadership, which those in power viewed as domination by blacks.” [157] Such racist attitudes were part of the reason that by the 1890s, Blacks had “tied themselves to the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and civil rights laws” with Democrats as “the party of slavery and segregation.” The Democratic Party further played on racism of white farmers to gain those who would have favored the Populist party, which was enticed into the Democratic party, Bryan, the Democratic candidate, was defeated by William McKinley, the Republican for “whom the corporations and the press mobilized, in the first massive use of money in an election campaign.” [158] After McKinley won, any hint of Populism within the Democratic Party was purged, with the “big guns of the Establishment pulled out all their ammunition to make sure.” The Democrats, who styled themselves as the “party of white solidarity and region self-determination,” had manipulated the Populist movement, saying that the region’s woes were due to “newly enfranchised black voters” while the Spanish American War in 1898 “reinforced white racial arrogance” as widely popular social Darwinism “seasoned the politics of the Progressive era” to come in the next century. [159] As such, Black men and women met “white terrorism at the polls” in the South, where most of the Black population lived, with “federal endorsement of white hegemony” while the North was anything but the “promised land” for Blacks, with Blacks later gaining participation in urban politics there which became “a factor of national consequence.”

By the early 1900s, the racism was ingrained in the Democrats, but also the Republicans with their overseas imperialism. While Cornel West calls it the “American democratic experiment” it is more accurate to say that the murderous empire “entered the twentieth century…with overseas possessions [such as] Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa” meaning that the empire had “domestic racist systems of terror over black, brown, Asian and red peoples.” [160] By 1912, Jim (and Jane) Crow dominated the American South. It was time for Woodrow Wilson.

In November 1912, Wilson won election as a Democrat, even attracting the support of W.E.B. Du Bois. Some conservatives write that his “racist legacy…is undisputed” and the National Review, a neoconservative publication, writing about how he “brought Jim Crow to the North” by saying that the “railway mail service” should be segregated, that in 1907 he campaigned in Indiana for “the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded” which he signed into law when governor of New Jersey, that the civil service of the United States was segregated even with the NAACP and National Independent Political League objected. [161] Their viewpoints are complemented by those of liberals, who write about Wilson’s “racist legacy,”noting that he  “oversaw unprecedented segregation in federal offices” even throwing out then-civil rights leader William Monroe Totter out of the Oval Office despite the fact that Totter was a Wilson supporter, and even claiming that segregation benefited Blacks, an absurd idea! Furthermore, consider that Wilson “eulogized the antebellum South,” lamented the Reconstruction, felt that segregation is to the “advantage of the colored people themselves,” and snubbed a young Vietnamese nationalist named Ho Chi Minh at Versailles who had “an eight-point program that would result in his country’s liberation from French colonial rule.”  Minh was turned away at Versailles with the French wanting to preserve their colonial interests while Wilson would not “grant Minh a private audience.” As a result of this, Minh turned to “the Bolshevik Government in Russia for assistance” which was the beginning of “Minh’s lifelong association with Communism.”

All of this should be no surprise since Wilson was “Southern-born and Southern-sympathetic” who may have been seen as “a legendary advocate for expanding all sorts of rights and an inspiration to the world after the Great War” while he not only refused to extend those rights to Blacks but was “backwards and bigoted when it came to race,” drawing into question how “progressive” his politics really were after all. William Keylor, a Boston University professor, describes Wilson and his racism as follows:

…Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson became the first Southerner elected president since Zachary Taylor in 1848. Washington was flooded with revelers from the Old Confederacy, whose people had long dreamed of a return to the glory days…when southern gentlemen ran the country…Wilson is widely and correctly remembered…as a progressive Democrat who introduced many liberal reforms at home…But…Wilson was a loyal son of the old South who regretted the outcome of the Civil War…Wilson promptly authorized members of his cabinet to reverse this long-standing policy of racial integration in the federal civil service. Cabinet heads…re-segregated facilities such as restrooms and cafeterias in their buildings…A delegation of black professionals led by Monroe Trotter…appeared at the White House to protest the new policies. But Wilson treated them rudely

Fast forward to 1932, when the situation for blacks had changed.

1932 to Present

Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet via Wikimedia

During the Great Depression, “Blacks began to flock to the Democrats…abandoning the Republican Party with which they had stuck with since emancipation.” [162] In 1932, 25% of blacks voted for FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and by 1940, 52% of the Blacks in Chicago were voting for him! FDR, who was elected four times, was a “superb radio performer,” and had polio but the national media didn’t show it. [163] Even then, however, supporting the Democrats, as millions of blacks began to do, was a “leap of faith” since those who advocated for “racial equality came from the fingers of American politics” with the problems of Blacks a minor issue even among “the most enlightened northern Democrats” as it was evidently the case.

In 1933, Charles Goodwin Woodson wrote in “The Miseducation of the Negro” that Blacks should appeal to Blacks as a whole, rather than one political party, using their votes for action in the present, not something that happened in the past:

The Negro should not censure the Republican party for forgetting him and he should not blame the Democratic party for opposing him. Neither can the South blame any one but itself for its isolation in national politics. Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised. As a minority element the Negro should not knock at the door of any particular political party. He should appeal to the Negroes themselves and from them should come harmony and concerted action for a new advance to that larger freedom of men. The Negro should use his vote rather than give it away to reward the dead for some favors done in the distant past.

Under the Roosevelt administration Blacks did not fare well. Not only did the capitalist system remain in place by the end of the New Deal, but “most blacks were ignored by New Deal programs” since they were tenant farmers. [164] This was due to the fact that the New Deal itself “bolstered the power of Black Belt planters” in the segregationist South even as it challenged existing political relations in the South. Even Southern Democrats, by 19132, were pressing for government action, rallying behind FDR. The political upheaval created by the Great Depression opened up new opportunities for blacks to assert their citizenship, especially Black voters in Northern cities, such as Mary McLeod Bethune working to get Black professional people “placed in every bureau of the federal government.”  [165] Despite this, there were negatives, like Southern employers exploiting NRA (National Recovery Administration), to persuade Southern Black leaders “to endorse a lower minimum wage.”

Later, in 1937, southern Democrats joined to opposed the New Deal, arguing that there needed to be reduced taxes, a balanced budget, “states’ rights” restored, private property an “rights of capital” strictly observed, opposing the Fair Labor Standards Act which “promised to further erode regional wage differentials.” Young Southern supporters like Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) came to support the New Deal while Lucy Randolph Mason of the CIO called on Eleanor Roosevelt to abolish the poll tax in the South in order to change the makeup of the electorate since the poll tax and other restrictions kept most blacks and a majority of low-income whites from voting.” [166] In later years, even some Southern liberals were angry that FDR interfered in a state political contests by endorsing U.S. attorney Lawrence Camp to beat incumbent Walter George for Georgia’s seat in the senate, Olin Johnson for South Carolina’s seat in the senate, and William Dodd, Jr. for Virginia’s seat in the Senate. By 1936, Roosevelt had embraced “class-based politics” to such an extent that it “absorbed much of the energy created by nascent independent movements on the Left” with the battle for the northern Black vote a major feature of the 1936 campaign” with the so-called “Black cabinet”forming in his administration [167] Perhaps the former was purposeful as to stave off any progressive movements and strengthen the Democratic Party as it began support a “new industrial democracy” asserted by the United Mine Workers (UMW), CIO, and other unions, moving away from the “racially and culturally exclusive world” of the AFL. Then there was the symbolic action of Eleanor Roosevelt against segregation in Alabama in 1938, with such enforcement of discriminatory laws by none other than Eugene “Bull” Connor, tied in with the NAACP’s Crisis declaring in January 1944 that “the Dixie octopus strangling the rest of the country must be shaken off.” [168]

During this period, radical forces were organizing in the South. There were victories in 1932 elections for Communists in Elmore, Crenshaw, and Perry counties, in Alabama, where the Share Croppers’ Union (SCU) was active. [169] There were many skilled radicals organized in the South, some of whom came from “outside the South” but others who were native to the area. As the Popular Front, run by the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), retained rhetoric favoring Roosevelt, Southern Communists believed that a “progressive agenda could be realized through the Democratic Party” just like those in many failed “progressive” campaigns in years after. The Democratic Front, used by such Southern Communists was the only door into “the world of Southern liberals” whom Communists allied with to create a united front for racial justice called the Southern League for People’s Rights. [170] In years that followed, the CPUSA launched a campaign to enfranchise poor Black and White voters, with Black organizers, when they had the Popular Front, asked to “distribute literature in support of Democratic candidates or leaflets explaining progressive legislation” but, before 1938, no effort was made to “systematically challenge the Board of Registrars.” Interestingly, upper-class Black folks opposed extending the franchise of voting to the mass of Blacks, saying that they were “uneducated and illiterate,” not ready to vote, in their elitist way.

As the CPUSA’s hopes for “a legitimate place in American politics” ended with the so-called “Nazi-Soviet pact,” their “comrades in Alabama emerged with renewed strength” with the “pure folly” of creating a left-wing bloc within the Democrats discarded for something more radical: “a new culture of opposition derived from militant interracialism, socialist values, and democratic principles.” [171] As the Alabama Communist Party had become, by the 1940s, “a kind of loosely organized think tank whose individual members exercised considerable influence in local labor, liberal, and civil rights organizations,” Eugene “Bull” Connor declared in 1949 that he tried to get the Democrats to add a plank to their platform “calling for the deportation of all communists” saying that the ship back to Russia should sink on the way there! So not only was Connor a racist, but he was a hard-core anti-communist. With such talk, it is no surprise that Dan Smoot declared in his “right-wing newsletter,” titled the Dan Smoot Report, would declare that in 1930 began the “communist program of racial agitation in the United States” and that race relations deteriorated because Roosevelt and Truman adopted the “communist program of racial agitation.” [172] In such propaganda for the white supremacist Citizens Council, it is no surprise that blacks were said to be gained under segregation and Democrats painted as communistic even though they were anything but this, engaging in anti-communist viewpoints without question.

In 1936, about five years after A. Philip Randolph issued his challenge to Roosevelt there was a remarkable assembly “of civil rights activists,” Black and White, in Chicago, called the National Negro Congress (NNC). With thousands at the evening sessions, those ranging from representatives of New Deal departments, old-line Republicans, Young Republicans, Communists, proponents of the Forty-ninth State movement, Garveyites, Baha’ists, prominent bishops, the National Housewives’ League, and many others, met and discussed in the same place. [173] Many of these individuals “sought alternatives to white-dominated capitalism” and stood in contrast to the “serious and stodgy atmosphere” of Urban League and NAACP meetings, even as both had resentment and dissatisfaction with the existing “racial status quo.” As for A. Philip Randolph, as he was the “best-connected and best-known man in America” he made no idle threat “when he proposed the March on Washington” with Roosevelt’s advisers thinking he could possibly mobilize “thousands of black protestors.” [174] In the years to follow, he engaged in varying overtures to blacks but not make civil rights “a national issue” as it would have a “high political price” with Southern Democrats amassing control of many “key congressional committees.” Even when Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1939 because they refused to “allow Marian Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall,” she entered the small group of Whites “whom nearly every black admired.”

As the years past, many young blacks on the Left saw the “liberatory possibilities of the rights revolution” and  fought for “black political empowerment” including later anticommunist (and NAACP publicist) Henry Lee Moon. [175] Additionally, the CIO-PAC which stood on the “left-liberal side of the New Deal” pushed for “racial equality and published its civil rights efforts” in a booklet titled “The Negro in 1944.” It was at this time that there was a “remarkable sift of black voters to the Democratic Party,” even leading to FDR’s victory in 1944. While the Democrats had never shaken off their “association with slavery” or that leaders like William Jennings Byran and Woodrow Wilson had supported “segregation” Republicans sought to “win back Negro voters who had defected to FDR” with candidates like Wendell Wilikie but Republican moderates like him were marginalized within the party as a whole. [176]

With the heightening of World War II, conservatives took power in Washington with anti-New Deal Democrats from the South wielding “the balance of power.” Even some pointed to the “emergence of northern black voters as a constituency within the Democratic Party” as a reason to discredit the whole New Deal, saying the the programs were “wasteful, excessive, and possibly subversive.” [177] Even so, the campaign to repeal the poll tax heated up, with the poll tax an effective measure to restrict Black voting and also lending itself to “vote-buying and…a source of fraud and corruption.” These forces were victorious in getting the poll tax suspended during wartime for soldiers, as those in the South grumbled about the “creeping power of the federal government.” [178] However, in 1943, the bill to give soldiers the vote was defeated at first but a new bill was passed even as it caused divisions among those in the New Deal Coalition. With all of this, it is easy to say that the New Deal encouraged expanded Black political participation, leading to tens of thousands of Black votes in 1936, and Black Carolinians in the “vanguard of  the movement for voting rights and for full participation in the Democratic Party.” Some Democrats, however were angry by Black participation, especially those in the South, declaring that the party stood for “states rights and white supremacy” as it always has, leading to votes against Henry Wallace who felt the Democrats should be an “effective vehicle for advancing economic and political democracy,” of course. By the end of the 1944 convention, many Democrats felt betrayed as Truman was the Vice-President instead of Henry Wallace, but his showing at the convention gave such liberals “renewed hope and direction,” keeping them within the Democratic Party fold. [179]

Moving back to 1943, there were varied action that year. Civil rights activists flooded the White House with “letters and petitions” to keep the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) in place, while Randolph mobilized protests nationwide as part of the March on Washington Movement, or MOWM,  to save the FEPC. FDR was in a bind as Southerners wanted to eviscerate the FEPC but the “spectre of black-led protests threatened his goal of wartime unity at whatever cost.” [180] At the time time, wartime propaganda took in the black and leftist comparison of racism and fascism. This came from the Black activists and intellectuals who were “staunchly antifacist during the 1930s” who would be vilified by the McCarthyites many years later in the 1950s.

By the 1940s, Communists, at least those associated with the CPUSA, had a checked record, on civil rights, even as they exposed the hypocrisy of empire. During World War II the CPUSA was accused of backpedaling on civil rights for fear of embarrassing FDR and “jeopardizing the victory of America’s Soviet ally” and not joining in calls to desegregate the military since they opposed “aiding American armed forces in the Cold War.” [181] Even with this, as Thomas J. Sugrue writes, in an anticommunist tone,

…racial equality remained a central issue for postwar leftists. Communists saw protests and publicity as a tool to delegitimize the United States worldwide…as decolonization efforts, many of them Communist-led, were under way throughout Asia and Africa, many leftists interpreted the black freedom struggle in the United States as part and parcel of the struggles of non-white peoples worldwide…advocating fair employment practices [was central for]…political leftists…[like the] Communist-dominated Civil Rights Congress…leftist National Lawyers Guild, the Worker’s Defense League (Socialist), and various left-led unions.

However, by the mid-1940s,”leftists of all varieties came under siege” with organizations like the NAACP having the “dangers of the red taint” pushed upon them. From 1945 to 1964, 29 states, outside the South, enacted “fair employment practices laws” and while “states’ rights” was used by segregationists in the South to resist civil rights initiatives, in the North, “state and local autonomy gave civil rights activists new arenas for struggle.” [182] Even moderate Northern Republicans endorsed civil rights and in “politically competitive” Northern states, such as New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey, all was up for grabs, with prominent Communists and Socialists in New York pulling many leftward while New York Republicans were “among the nation’s most liberal” and responded to pressure from “the state’s well-organized civil rights organizations.” Even in some instances, Republican fought against Republican, with Republicans moving to a “probusiness, antigovernment campaign” as the years went on, as proposed fair employment practices acts began to supposedly conflict with business.

In the 1948 election, the Democratic Party held a different position than Henry Wallace on civil rights. While they framed “civil rights as a national issue” Wallace engaged in a third-party challenge and clear attack on segregation. It was then that A. Philip Randolph convinced Truman that racial segregation in the military of the empire was a potent issue “for Soviet propagandists”so he better desegregate the military. [183] It was then he moved to desegregate the military. He was possibly prompted by the election and by the “need to maintain black morale” in the military but it “took over a decade to complete the desegregation in the military.” [184] Before he issued an executive order providing for desegregation there was the “Dixiecrat revolt” with racist Democrats (“States’ Rights Party”) bolting from the national Democratic Party, but still saw themselves as “Democrats” and were tied to the party, expressing their “disenchantment with the Democratic Party’s civil rights plank as an expression of fundamental issues of American constitutionalism, a threat to local government and the right of states to determine their own social policy.” Many years earlier, civil rights activists had directly challenged Truman, who tried to get Blacks from “wandering off toward Henry Wallace” with black voters “entering into Truman’s calculations” despite the face that his “civil rights record” in the Senate, before taking office, was mixed. [185] However, be became concerned about the impact of the “Negro problem” on the reputation of the empire since the Soviets had “long reported on riots, lynchings, and racism in the United States” as he sought to deprive the Soviets of one of their weapons used in their propaganda: “America’s abysmal record on civil rights.” In 1946 he even announced the creation of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights or PCCR, a “blue-ribbon, interracial commission” to safeguard people’s civil rights, as it gathered “evidence about segregation and discrimination in the United States.” Even so, Henry Wallace took a further left approach to civil rights. The PCCR addressed whites, while Wallace “denounced Jim Crow to angry white crowds,” engaging in harsh attacks on segregation which gained him Black support, but Truman drummed up support in the North. [186] However, after he was elected, he “supported antidiscrimination laws for naught” and dragged his feet on “fair employment practices.” It was clear that no Democratic candidate for president could “again ignore black voters.”

By the time of Eisenhower, there was a liberal on the court: Earl Warren. As he handed down a decision “desegregating America’s public schools” in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, segregationists like Kyle Palmer were furious at such “liberalism” even as Warren still saw both of them as friends despite their differences. [187] In later years there was so much anger that  some, in the conservative Los Angeles Times, said that Warren was a communist and should be impeached, although this was obviously false without a doubt. Desegregation in Mississippi starting in the 1950s, which was influenced by a shift of political power away from “the rural Black Belt agricultural elite” tied to the national Democratic Party, changed the political landscape of the state to one with a urbanized business class which “aggressively sought federal dollars, advocated a pro-corporate, anti-union politics of…the Republican Party” by the 1980s! [188] This is a horrifying development to say the least, but it does not mean that desegregation shouldn’t have happened, but rather that it was part of a broader political shift.

Apart from what has just been stated, in the 1950s, the “Lily-Whites,” a faction of the Republican Party, gained power in Mississippi. In 1956 they registered before the “Blacks and Tans” rival faction of the Republican Party, with Republican leaders seeing the convention that year as an “opportunity to reclaim black voters” as so-called “states rights” solidified as a position of some Republicans. [189] With this, some in the South were disappointed that the Eisenhower administration was not a turning point, with his use of federal troops in Little Rock confirming “that the Republicans were and always be the party of Lincoln.” The same was even the case for Nixon, who discouraged a southern filibuster of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and held a civil rights platform, even as he voted against the Fair Employment Practices Commission. As such, it is no surprise that White pro-segregationist southern Republicans were angry at National Republicans not embracing their viewpoints in the broader party. [190] As for the Mississippi Democrats, many hardly agreed for what “passed for modern conservatism” even as they held segregationist views, supporting New Deal programs that “disproportionately aided southern interests.” However, in 1960, some unionists like the Trade Union Leadership Council (TULC) endorsed JFK, pushing him  to support fair employment practices, even after his election, while A. Philip Randolph refused to join the Democrats. [191] Despite this, it is worth noting that even though JFK had “endorsed the civil rights movement” on the campaign trail, his record on civil rights while in the House and Senate “had been spotty” and he gave few indications “that the problems of the northern inner cities would be part of his program” even as the Democratic Party “adopted a civil rights plank in its 1960 platform that was far to the left of Kennedy” but the platform “mattered relatively little” compared to the Democratic Party support for “a generous welfare state.”

From there there’s JFK. As a “gifted speaker and eloquent communicator” he positioned himself apart from the “liberal New Deal tradition,” understanding “the moral correctness of integration but…was reluctant to press too far in the struggle for racial justice.”Additionally, while the Kennedy’s needed “the Black vote to win the presidency in 1960″ the Democrats were “still a Jim Crow party” as Blacks were “almost entirely disenfranchised in the South and the border states.” In order to maintain the support of the South, JFK “appointed five supporters of segregation to the federal judiciary” while   his brother Bobby “authorized FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover to begin wiretapping Martin Luther King’s telephone conversations” on the grounds that MLK’s “King’s closest adviser,” Stanley Levison, “was allegedly a closet member of the Communist Party.” They also put “enormous pressure on the organizers of the historic March on Washington in August 1963 to cancel the event” and when that didn’t happen, they tried to “control it,” with the administration refusing to “provide federal protection to civil rights activists.” As a result, the March was a “sellout” with the white Kennedy administration taking it over, meaning that the march lost its militancy, was no longer anger, it became “a picnic, a circus” with nothing “but a circus, with clowns and all” as Malcolm X put it. [192] While much of the black press and white-dominated media called him a “Negro extremist” while Blacks were suspicious of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, he “articulated a powerful undercurrent of black discontent that few whites understood.”

This was no surprise because JFK “conducted a policy that was virtually a carbon copy of the one Dwight Eisenhower carried out” on civil rights, feeling that it had “to be kept at a gradual pace, lest a situation of unrest and backlash erupt all over the south” and were angry at CORE and Freedom Riders, with “the momentum for Civil Rights was possible only because of Johnson’s actions, not JFK’s.” Because of this, the Kennedy Brothers were not responsible for earlier successes in the civil rights movement and Bobby declaring to  University Of Georgia Law School in May 1961 that “we…must avoid another Little Rock…It is not only that such incidents do incalculable harm to the children…seriously undermine respect for law and order, and cause serious economic and moral damage. Such incidents hurt our country in the eyes of the world.” Anger at the Kennedys was evident in parts of speech John Lewis wrote to be delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, which includes text he was told to remove by civil rights leadership:

…In good conscience, we cannot support the administration’s civil-rights bill, for it is too little, and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality [which was changed]…This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromise…What political leader here can stand up and say, “My party is the party of principles”? The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party?… I want to know, which side is the federal government on?…We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence…The next time we march, we won’t march on Washington, but we will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own “scorched earth” policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground – nonviolently...I say to you, Wake up America!!

As such, JFK was not really standing against those segregationists who wanted to maintain “Mississippi’s and the South’s role within a viable Democratic Party.” [193] One can say that honestly even despite his baby steps on civil rights the creation of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (PCEEO) in March 1961 by executive order, which was seen positively even though it “lacked enforcement powers.”

After JFK’s death in 1963, from which some said conservative right-wingers like Carl McIntire, contribute to the “extremist hatred” fueling the assassination, LBJ came into the picture. While you could say, like Cornel West, that he “recognized that the interests of poor whites were the same as those of the vast majority of black people in America” this seems to distort the situation, giving him too much credit. [194] During Freedom Summer or the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964, where  Freedom School coordinators “approved the idea of a young peoples’ mock convention, coinciding with the statewide convention of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the young people took over,” with books like Lerone Bennett Jr’s book, Before the Mayflower used by teachers, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party or MFDP was created. This was projected to be a multiracial party challenging “the legitimacy of the Mississippi Democratic Party at the National Democratic Convention.”  [195] One Black woman, Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the co-founders of MFDP, would lead their delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention, challenging “the seats of the all-white Mississippi Democratic party delegation” and leading to a pledge that at their 1968 convention in Chicago the Democrats “would not seat delegations to the national convention that excluded black members.” But there was more to the story than this.

With Hamer’s presentation at the 1964 Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey “notable” and played a major role, giving her “a place in history,” the grassroots MFDP declared before a national audience at the 1964 convention that “Mississippi was not a democratic society and only serious federal intervention would make it so.” [196] For all of this, LBJ became obsessed with the MFDP, tracking its “every move and spoken words” during the convention, pressuring the Credentials Committee to “not side with the MFDP” as he did not want embarrassment or even a “walkout by white Southern delegates.” He even initiated FBI involvement with “background checks…on MFDP delegates” with 37 FBI personnel arriving in Atlantic City two days before the MFDP, using wiretaps, informants, some of whom posed as journalists (with the permission of NBC) to “obtain off-the-record information from the Freedom Democrats.” This is pretty nasty stuff, but it is only getting at the surface. As Hamer gave an “emotional recounting of the Winona jail beating,”  the MFDP received “hundreds of telegrams” supporting their efforts even though the television network (NBC) “hurriedly cut away from Hamer’s testimony to cover a press conference that President Johnson called to lesson the impact of her statement.” [197] But by the evening, television had “aired her full testimony.” As Hamer showed that a “vital segment of American society was being constantly and continually subjugated” and the MFDP favored “liberal policies of the national [Democratic] party,” this did not prevent internal conflict within those favoring civil rights.

As the days passed, and the majority of the MFDP initially seemed to favor a compromise, Hamer expressed her disgust with Democrats who would seat those who participated in sterilization of Mississippi women. [198] Even MLK, who had sided with the MFDP before, agreed with white liberals and other civil rights leadership to “push full-speed ahead in getting the MFDP to accept the administration’s compromise,” saying it was the best they could get, while he later said he would support the MFDP no matter what their decision was.  With this, Hamer and Ella Baker condemned the civil rights leadership, seeing them as sellouts, with Hamer saying “we didn’t come all this way for no two seats,” even trying to sit in seats allocated for Mississippi before they were escorted out. [199] While many condemned the MFDP’s decision, especially among the civil rights leadership, to not accept the compromise, they continued their “fight against the legitimacy of the lily-white faction.” Ultimately the failure to unseat the “all-white delegation” at the convention led to radicalization and disillusionment, with Hamer who lashing out at “tom teachers,” “chicken-eating ministers,” or what she called the “black bourgeoisie,” referring to the civil rights leadership who claimed to “be leaders of the people but…were so were so ready to accept compromise” and Hamer becoming “more disillusioned with the white power structure.” [200] Even with that, the stand in Atlantic City “was undoubtedly historically significant,” because it sent a message to white power in the South that “black Mississippians would no longer collaborate in their own oppression.” It also told “southern white supremacists and their sympathizers” that they would be challenged by opponents using “their own political institutions and legal system if necessary,” showed the “virtual powerlessness of black Mississippians to the nation,” marked Hamer’s “emergence on the national scence,”and was “important for Hamer’s evolution as a leader.” This challenge and Mississippi’s record vote for Barry Goldwater meant that 1964 “marked a watershed year in Mississippi and American politics.” [201] The Southern Strategy of the Republicans coincided with “dramatic change” among Mississippi Democrats, changing the “political realities.” This involved the creation of groups like the Mississippi Democratic Conference (MDC) which tired to restructure the “Democratic Party along biracial lines” starting in the summer of 1965 and the Mississippi Young Democrats consisting of “biracial moderates,” some of which walked a narrow line on racial issues, “too narrow for the taste of many Mississippi blacks.”

While Hamer was under surveillance by the FBI, as she, and many other Mississippi activists felt that “the FBI did too little to protect them” there were other groups like the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM). [202] They argued in 1964 that the government of the murderous empire “was a colonial government and the enemy of Black people also ran counter to the liberal reformist view of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), which saw elements of the Democratic Party and the federal government as allies.” Such views were common as “Freedom Struggle activists and Black Mississippians” were dissatisfied after Freedom Summer. the failure of the MFDP was a “serious disappointment to Movement activists” leading many activists to lose “faith in cooperation with White liberals and the Democratic Party as a means to secure the goals of the Struggle.” [203] Malcolm X expressed this in his famed “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech in April 1964:

I’m not a politician, not even a student of politics; in fact, I’m not a student of much of anything. I’m not a democrat, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t even consider myself an American…In this present administration they have in the House of Representatives 257 Democrats to only 177 Republicans. They control two-thirds of the House vote. Why can’t they pass something that will help you and me? In the senate, there are 67 senators who are of the Democratic Party. Only 33 of them are republicans. Why, the democrats have got the government sewed up, and you’re the one who sewed it up for them. And what have they given you for it? Four years in office, and just now getting around to some civil-rights legislation. Just now, after everything else is gone, out of the way, they’re going to sit down now and play with you all summer long — the same old giant con game that they call filibuster…I’m not trying to knock out the democrats for the republicans, we’ll get to them in a minute. But it is true — you put the Democrats first and the Democrats put you last…A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise. The titular head of the Democrats is also the head of the Dixiecrats, because the Dixiecrats are a part of the Democratic Party. The Democrats have never kicked the Dixiecrats out of the party. The Dixiecrats bolted themselves once, but the Democrats didn’t put them out… The Dixiecrats in Washington, D.C., control the key committees that run the government. The only reason the Dixiecrats control these committees is because they have seniority… If the black man in these Southern states had his full voting rights, the key Dixiecrats in Washington, D. C., which means the key Democrats in Washington, D.C., would lose their seats. The Democratic Party itself would lose its power. It would cease to be powerful as a party. When you see the amount of power that would be lost by the Democratic Party if it were to lose the Dixiecrat wing, or branch, or element, you can see where it’s against the interests of the democrats to give voting rights to negroes in states where the democrats have been in complete power and authority ever since the civil war. You just can’t belong to that Party without analyzing it…When you keep the Democrats in power, you’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. I doubt that my good Brother Lomax will deny that. A vote for a democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat…The black nationalists aren’t going to wait. Lyndon B. Johnson is the head of the Democratic Party. If he’s for civil rights, let him go into the senate next week and declare himself. Let him go in there right now and declare himself. Let him go in there and denounce the southern branch of his party. Let him go in there right now and take a moral stand — right now, not later. Tell him, don’t wait until election time. If he waits too long, brothers and sisters, he will be responsible for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of.

That same year, many Southern Republicans played a part in crafting the 1964 platform of the Republican Party, drawing fierce protests. The platform itself advocated for a “minimum of government interference,””weak” in fighting Communism, undermining the UN, has failed to create jobs, help the poor, betrayed the farmer, and weakened responsibility. However, the platform still called for “…full implementation and faithful execution of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and…improvements of civil rights statutes adequate to changing needs of our times.” Still, it seemed to be written in ways that would favor segregationists, but not completely, of course.

The Democratic platform that year had a different tone. While it was also anti-communist and favoring war (and imperialism), asserting that “as citizens of the United States, we are determined that it be the most powerful nation on earth” while saying that “the Civil Rights Act of 1964 deserves and requires full observance by every American,” adding that “we cannot and will not tolerate lawlessness. We can and will seek to eliminate its economic and social causes” showing that such support for Blacks only went so far, as one would expect.

Both mentioned the Civil Rights Act of 1964 since it has passed in July of 1964. While the ideas of the act had been proposed by JFK, covering “voting rights, public accommodations, school desegregation, some new agencies, and an end to race-discrimination in federal programs” it did not have “protection against police brutality, ending discrimination in private employment, or granting the Justice Department power to initiate desegregation or job discrimination lawsuits”! That is significant to say the least. As Thomas J. Sugrue writes, few believed that this law alone would “transform the economic status of urban blacks” but they held out hope that LBJ would enact a “comprehensive antipoverty program.” [204]

By 1965, Blacks “gave unanimous support to the MFDP candidates” rather than the white Democrats as part of the Freedom Vote initiative by the MFDP. This was coupled by direct challenges to the seating of white Democrats, highlighting efforts used to keep blacks in Mississippi from voting, using lawyers here and there, with the white Democrats saying the challenge was not valid because they were non-challengers even though the MFDP’s candidates “had made several attempts to get on the traditional Democratic party’s November ballot” many months earlier. [205] Unfortunately a 228-143 vote in the House of Representatives dismissed the challenge, with Hamer, Devine, and Gray of the MFDP feeling “again disappointed and disillusioned.” As the years past, national bourgeois media saw Hamer as “unwise, impatient, and irreverent rabble-rouser” with black moderates harshly criticizing her, while SNCC and MFDP had more strain as SNCC went “through an ideological and structural transition” which the MFDP would experience two years later. [206] This was because the failure at the convention in 1964 “left many SNCC leaders wondering if the organization could continue to be effective with its strategy of guerrilla-style mobilization of severely repressed and disfranchised communities.” Even some SNCC vets like Bob Moses and James Foreman persuaded SNCC to pull back and re-evaluate, with SNCC considering a motion in February 1965 to make only those who had a 12th grade education on the new committee which would discuss support for the poor, which didn’t pass. [207] Even so, it but made Hamer “hurt and embarrassed” as she felt disaffected, especially when the organization, December 1, 1966 voted by 19-18 to expel whites from the organization. Even as Hamer “remained devoted to black nationalism” but she “remained opposed to judging people on the basis of their race,” arguing that “white participation in a movement for racial justice was not at odds with the intentions and achievement of black self-determination.”

The Democratic Party-dominated Congress wanted to implement law and order. In 1967, Congress responded to the riots that year by passing the Civil Rights Act of 196 which included a provision saying that those who engaged in a riot, “or an action by three or more people involving threats of violence” was prohibited, with H. Rap Brown the first person prosecuted under this law, and enforcers of laws excluded from provisions supposedly protecting blacks from violence. [208] In later years, efforts to discredit the MFDP led to a crescendo. As a result, there was an “eventual split of some from the MFDP to form a biracial coalition, the Loyalist Democrats of Mississippi,” with these members able to “unseat the Regulars at the violence-laden Democratic National Convention in Chicago.” As a result, the MFDP was beginning its “slow descend into obscurity” even as it left “its mark on Democratic Party politics.” [209] Even so, at the 1968 convention Hamer, who appeared “as a delegate with the the Loyalist Democrats…[with the] majority…black and white professionals” was angered by the participation of those who did not participate in Mississippi’s movement and was not pleased with efforts by the MFDP to join them but did so anyway. At the same convention, she spoke before the committee formulating the Democratic platform, calling for “the Democratic Party to support land grands and low-interest loans for cooperates” along with “guaranteed annual income, extended day care, comprehensive medical care, increased food programs…free higher education…an end to the Vietnam War and compulsory military service…renewed diplomatic ties with Cuba and China, an arms embargo of South Africa, and an end to Middle East arms shipments” while protesting the “gender inequities within the delegation and the entire convention.” Not surprisingly these progressive proposals were not adopted. [210]

In later years, Blacks became to be integrated in the Democratic Party structure. For example, Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist, was elected “vice chair of the [Mississippi] state Democratic Party and a member of the Democratic National Committee.” [211] There was also the rise of Black capitalists. As Fred Hampton put it in a speech in 1969, capitalists can be of any color:

We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist…Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed. If you don’t understand that, you can be a Democrat, Republican, you can be Independent, you can be anything you want to, you ain’t nothing.

Even so, as Democrats embraced more, in terms of civil rights, many “evangelical conservatives” who were White Southerners left the party, voting “against the Democrats because of civil rights” even started as far back as 1964. [212] As you could call, the “white backlash,” which was to be expected, had begun. In years to follow, even as Mississippi Democrats kept firm control over the governor’s mansion, the tenor of those elected changed. For one, in 1971 and 1975, Mississippi elected Democrats “characterized by their racial moderation and appeals to populist economic issues” with governors in later years in Mississippi continuing this trend. [213] This shows that the movement was not over and that the “impulse for racial equality” was not dead. In fact, during this period, it “thrived in the activities of thousands of grassroots organizations…and protest groups” but there were fewer “conduits of information connecting these groups” with such groups not having the resources to share information or combine their efforts, leading to “localization and fragmentation” which came at a price. [214] But there were some conventions where people came together like the National Black Convention in 1972. However, many were dispirited after Nixon’s re-election in November, and the National Black Agenda, formed at the aforesaid convention, was forgotten. Others Blacks who aimed to engage in “race conscious parties” on a local level failed, with the Black Panthers defeated in Oakland, the Socialist Workers Party and CPUSA selecting black candidates but led to “quixotic” efforts, with Blacks in most cities casting their “lost with the Democratic Party,” working to pull it leftward or even opted “out of the electoral process altogether.” In the years to come, Black Democrats, who were “left of center” would bring a “distinctive cast to liberal politics” with some even engaging in Black Power rhetoric but few calling for the “creation of a separate black nation or called for the revolutionary overthrow of the American government” even as interracial politics thrived in cities with a small Black electorate and liberal Whites. [215]

As for Jimmy Carter, the next Democratic president, 9 years after LBJ left the White House, attempted to use an appeal to Black voters. After all, his “strongest appeal was to blacks, whose rebellion in the late sixties was the most frightening challenge to authority since the labor and unemployed upsurges in the thirties.” For example, he used then-U.N.-Ambassador Andrew Young to “build up good will for the United States among the black African nations, and urged that South Africa liberalize its policies toward blacks.”However, it was clear that ” the United States needed was a stable government in South Africa; the continued oppression of blacks might create civil war.” Additionally, Democrats joined Republicans in denouncing welfare programs, which helped Black and impoverished people, supposedly to “gain political support from a middle-class public.” This was not a surprise since after not only had Northern Democratic liberals who were “sympathetic to the plight of blacks” used the issue “of civil rights” in order to discredit “their opponents within the Democratic party” while the so-called “civil rights revolution…destroyed the institutional foundations of the traditional southern Democratic regime.” [216] It is no surprise from this that Jimmy Carter would endorse public-private partnerships while his urban agenda foundered on the shoals of stagflation.”

In the later 1980s, with much pressure, the Civil Rights Act of 1982 was extended. This allowed for the “improvement in black voting strength and the number of black elected officials.” Such a vote may have “represented an important marker in the history of white opposition to civil rights in Mississippi” with several former segregationists voting for an extension of this civil rights law. [217] However, the general condition for Blacks, within the murderous empire, was not positive, especially on an economic basis, without a doubt, even with these improvement. By the 1990s,some Black politicians, like Roxanne Jones, felt marginalized in their own party as the Democrats moved rightward, endorsing welfare “reform” which took in Republican ideas line, hook, and sinker. [218]

Then we get to Bill Clinton. Not only did he abandon bold people of color from appointing to government posts, but the “Crime Bill” of 1996, supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans, “dealt with the problem of crime by emphasizing punishment, not prevention” and it extended the “death penalty to a whole range of criminal offenses, and provided $8 billion for the building of new prisons.” This was a time when Democrats tried to deal with racial divisions in the party by keeping “racial issues” at arms length and “black politicians,” hoping that the Clinton-Gore ticket would appeal “directly to southern white voters” as they wanted to expand the Democratic coalition into the “business and middle class” as they won at the polls. [219] However, even with their tactic of ignoring blacks and courting “conservative whites” black voters supported the Democratic Party while conservative whites reveled in Clinton’s “well-publicized conflicts with Jesse Jackson” for example. The policies against Black people were further embodied in the welfare bill signed by Clinton, which was followed by efforts by his administration to ” block a number of welfare changes instituted by the state of Wisconsin,” in an effort to “avoid handing the GOP a potent campaign issue for the 1996 presidential election.” [220]

Comes from a NYT article in Jun 2008 titled “Obama Sharply Assails Absent Black Fathers.” He repeated the same message in 2013, harping on “personal responsibility” an oft-repeated idea started by the right-wing.

As noted earlier in this article, Obama took a pro-police stance in response to Black Lives Matter, engaged in an education policy which “closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones,” continued under Betsy DeVos, and kept the mass incarceration system in place. Some may say he was good for the Black community as the “first Black president” (he was actually biracial) but in reality he was horrible for the Black Community. As Margaret Kimberley argued in Black Agenda Report,

Barack Obama’s Justice Department only prosecuted two cases of police brutality and Eric Garner’s was not among them. Obama’s response to demands was phony, meant to give the appearance of action when none was taken. He sent scoundrels like Al Sharpton to Ferguson, Missouri but only for show. Obama would even meet with activists and family members when he thought he could get political cover by doing so. But he never gave Eric Garner or his family the justice that he had the power to give.

Glen Ford added to this, in the same publication, writing in July 2016 that

President Obama, however, has diametrically opposite plans for these communities…Obama is preparing to reverse his decision to ban the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in armored vehicles, battlefield weapons and riot gear to local police departments. The president reportedly agreed to review the restrictions after meeting with leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations. Obama’s short-lived retreat from the federal government’s frenzied militarization of local police, announced with great fanfare in May of 2015, was his sole substantial concession to the movement that swept the nation after the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri. The sight of armored vehicles and battle-ready cops on the streets of American cities was an international embarrassment for the United States – bad “optics” for the First Black President’s legacy. However, the sad truth is that Obama is responsible for the biggest escalation in the history of the one-sided war against Black America…Even with the scale-back announced in 2015, Obama still managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to the cops – 14 times as much weapons of terror and death than President Bush gifted to the local police at his high point year of 2008…Obama escalated the war against Black and brown communities by several orders of magnitude. Based on these numbers, Obama is the biggest domestic war hawk in the history of the United States…What separates the current era of mass Black incarceration, and all of its attendant police atrocities, from the period before the 1960s, is that the “New Jim Crow” has been financed and directed by the federal government…since passage of the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1968, the feds have made suppression of Black people a national priority…The Obama administration marks a new stage in the street war against Black and brown people – a war he escalated before the emergence of a new Black movement, rather than in response to it….Clinton or Trump will surely build on Obama’s lethal legacy

Are the Democrats antiwar

From an article he wrote on Consortium News

Another one of the major claims about Democrats often used is that they are antiwar. Even looking up “democrats are antiwar” shows this is not true. For one, Salon, a liberal site, declares that the Democrats do not have an “antiwar agenda” but rather push for war while others say they are the “real party of war” and that those who were antiwar sold out, with the Democrats as an “aggressive war party” now. [221] This section aims to go more in depth on this topic.

First and foremost, the inhabitants of the empire are taught, “from an early age, through schooling, and [in phrases] used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments” their founding myths, which include those of war and peace. After all, Democratic desertion from the antiwar movement caused it collapse in the later 2000s, after Bush’s terms of office.

Within the history of the empire there have been a number of major wars. Since the Democratic Party was founded in 1824, Mr. Madison’s War or the War of 1812 (1812-1815) cannot be included here. However, since then there have been a number of major conflicts in the empire’s history. Of these, the following were initiated by Democrats:

  1. Mexican-American War (1846-1848), for which many Democrats voted for, along with most of the Whigs, the “opposition” party
  2. WWI (1917-1918)
  3. WWII (1941-1945)
  4. Libya War (2011)

And those carried out by Democrats and Republicans, meaning the were bipartisan:

  1. Vietnam War (1953-1975 at least), first by Eisenhower (1953-1961), then JFK (1961-1963), then LBJ (1963-1968), then Nixon (1968-1974), then Ford (1974-1977)
  2. Iraq War phase 1 (1990), phase 2 (1990-2003), phase 3 (2003-2011), phase 4 (2015-present), first by Bush I (1988-1992), then by Clinton (1993-2001), then by Bush II (2001-2009), then by Obama (2009-2017), then by Trump (2017-Present)
  3. Afghanistan War (2001-Present) by Bush II (2001-2009), then by Obama (2009-2017), then by Trump (2017-Present)

Then there’s the Spanish-American War (1898) which was backed by Democrats but initiated by Republicans. This was because public support for Cuba Libre, or free Cuba was growing in the United States, “with the two major  capitalist political parties (Democrats and Republicans) declaring their support” Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, “refused to aid Cuban rebels, at a time when U.S. business interests, which had $50 billion in
agricultural investments in Cuba, “feared a truly independent Cuba,” since Cuban revolutionaries at the time “were calling for social reforms and land redistribution.”” So, he was favoring the capitalist class. In essence, you could say that Democrats are the war party, although Republicans have their share of militarism as well.

While it is known that a number of Democrats voted for the declaration of war for the Mexican-American War, the original record does not record their party, just their names. We do know, however, from these records that it passed 40-2 in the Senate and 117 to 50 in the House, a rousing majority to say the least:

See the original page for the Senate vote and for the House vote for war with Mexico.

However, using this Wikipedia page we can determine the political parties of these individuals and come up with two charts of how they voted on party lines.

The “senators present” does graph, on the right, does not include the three senators who did not vote, as that is included in the other chart on the left. The chart on the left shows that even if all the people who were absent and not voting voted against the war, it still would have passed, by a 40-18 vote. The reality of the situation in the Senate, as shown on the right, shows that those in favor won by a 40-2 vote.
Notes on the above image. For one, Jefferson Davis was a Democrat and two, the one with the star, the American party, refers to the nativist “Know-Nothings”

Both WWI and WWII passed overwhelmingly in the houses of Congress. For WWI, as the The American Year Book reports, it passed the House 82-6 and the Senate 373-50 on April 6, 1917, with some denouncing Wall Street for stirring up war sentiment. What followed was a draft. I tried to find a more original record, but that doesn’t seem to be easy to find.Even so, a record on GovTrack shows that most of the Democrats and Republicans in the House voted for the war, with a similar result in the Senate. The declaration of war on Austria-Hungary in December 1917 had similar results: 74 voted for it in the Senate and 365 in the House, meaning it passed by a supermajority in both houses.

As for WWII, on December 8, 1941, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous day. Jennette Rankin, a feminist and pacifist voted against the war (as she did for WWI), for which she got a lot of flak for, the only person to so in the House for the war declarations against Japan, Italy, and Germany.  The specifics, according to GovTrack was a vote, for war against Japan, passing 388-1 in the House in favor and 82-1 in the Senate in favor. The same was the case for war against Italy, passing the Senate 90-5 (the five were not voting) in favor and the House 399-1 in favor. It was also the case for the war against Germany, passing the Senate 88-7 in favor, and the House 393-1 in favor. In all of these instances all the Democrats voted in favor of the war, as did all of the Republicans, except for those not voting.

During WWII, when Josef Stalin of the USSR asked for “American and British troops to open a “second front” that would draw German troops away from the massive invasion of the USSR” FDR refused to do so. As a result, the Soviets stopped, by spring 1943, the invasion by Nazis but only “at the cost of millions and millions of lives.” [222] By the end of the war, the empire emerged, as Truman put it, “the most powerful nation in the world” with military strength forming a part of the new postwar world order with a demand for free trade while the Soviets did not want an “open break with the West,” wanting to be respected, but this did not happen, with aggressiveness on the part of the capitalist world. These ideas were further reinforced by George Kennan’s doctrine of containment, which declared that Russians have an instinctive sense of insecurity with Soviet power not taking “unnecessary risks,” as he declared that Russia must be apprehended, see how much the public is educated to the capitalistic “reality” of Russia, ensuring the “health and vigor” of the empire, putting forward a picture of the world, and cling to Western “methods and conceptions of human society.”

Some claim that JFK was antiwar (those horrid revisionists) but they are dead wrong. For one, the year he was elected the military budget increased, and by the time his tax cuts, which benefited the capitalist class, was put in place, “defense spending constituted a whopping 42.1 percent of the federal budget.” [223] Additionally, JFK wanted the Limited Test Ban Treaty “chiefly for environmental reasons…not because he envisioned the long-term elimination of nuclear weapons.” This was because his Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara “came up with the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) principle” while JFK stuck with the containment policy of the Soviets enshrined in the Truman Doctrine, and he increased “America’s troop number from 500 to 16,000” thinking that a pull-out of troops “would be a mistake,” which was reinforced by the fact that he authorized “the coup that resulted in Diem’s overthrow and assassination on November 1, 1963” even though he didn’t desire the latter, but it was “extremely naïve for him to not foresee such a result.” Additionally,his “proposed 1000 troop reduction was not a done deal” and was dependent on conditions on the ground, with JFK leaving “Lyndon Johnson with the unpleasant dichotomy of either go-in full-scale or pull-out completely in 1964, when the decision had to be made.” As the National Security Archive put it

Top U.S. officials sought the November 1, 1963 coup against then-South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem without apparently considering the physical consequences for Diem personally…U.S. officials, including JFK, vastly overestimated their ability to control the South Vietnamese generals who ran the coup…the United States supported, remained in the throes of a civil war between the anti-communist government the U.S. favored and communist guerrillas backed by North Vietnam…The weight of evidence therefore supports the view that President Kennedy did not conspire in the death of Diem…The documentary record is replete with evidence that President Kennedy and his advisers, both individually and collectively, had a considerable role in the coup overall, by giving initial support to Saigon military officers uncertain what the U.S. response might be…The ultimate effect of United States participation in the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem was to commit Washington to Saigon even more deeply.

This was also expressed in JFK’s speech during the Cuban missile crisis on October 22, 1962. With the empire spying on Cuba and getting intelligence on “the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba” as he called it, the empire kept issuing warnings, saying that the missiles were an “already clear and present danger,” and put in place a quarantine around Cuba (including reinforcing of Gitmo). [224] He also claimed, in anti-communist fashion that the people of Cuba were captive of a nationalist revolution with leaders who are “puppets and agents of an international conspiracy” and no longer “Cuban leaders” which is utterly racist. All in all, the empire was really the danger, not Cuba or the Soviets! After all, as SDS put it in its Port Huron Statement the same year, few if any Democrats caelleged for a change in the system of the empire wich had “confused the individual citizen,” paralyzed “policy discussion,” and consolidated “the irresponsible power of the military and business interests,” instead engaging in policies to reinforce and aggravate these developments. [225] Through all of this, some saw the Democrats as “strong and firm in dealing with the Communists” while Nixon was seen as a “yes man for Kennedy.”

Additionally, the Kennedy administration rarely discussed  “basic assumptions as it gradually involved itself in Vietnam” with many commentators having the impression that involvement of the empire “was unthinking and almost accidental, with no real understanding of the risks and costs.” However the opposite was true. Instead, JFK “and his many appointees with longstanding involvement in the CFR believed they could do better than the French had done because they were not defending a colonial empire, thought of themselves as sympathetic to an independent non-Communist Vietnam, and had a hugely superior air force to that of France.” Such imperial arrogance has resurfaced in many years to come. If JFK had not been shot on November 22, 1963, some say he would have ended the Vietnam War. However, that is completely wrong, as the speech he would have given is imperialistic to the max, and anti-communist while talking blandly of “peace” which is absurd:

…this Nation’s strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained…In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings…our successful defense of freedom was due not to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend. This strength is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed–no one kind could do the job alone…the strategic nuclear power of the United States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days…In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by too percent the total number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons…We have, therefore, in the last 3 years accelerated the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60 percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe…We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces–increased by 45 percent the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased by 100 percent the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by too percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines…we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces…About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist bloc–nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communist aggression–Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran…success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles–on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny. That is why our Information Agency has doubled the shortwave broadcasting power of the Voice of America and increased the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from I to 9 hours a day…that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all space activities undertaken during the fifties…there is no longer any fear in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion of supremacy and the basis of military superiority. There is no longer any doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry, American education, and the American free enterprise system.

While LBJ was re-elected as “the peace candidate” in 1964, upper-middle-class Democrats, who were liberal, railed against the White House, wanting to “subject the military-industrial complex to stricter external control..disrupt the set of compromises that Presidents Roosevelt and Harry Truman had arranged” which liberals had then been enthusiastic participants in. [226] While the “attack on the national security sector” by such liberals after Vietnam was successful with legislation to place “limits upon the use of presidential power at home and abroad,” Republicans began to cultivate support in those regions of the empire and “interests in the business community with a stake in defense spending.” At the same time, moderate Democrats organized the Democratic Leadership  Council (DLC), engaging in a  version of the “southern strategy” used by the GOP.

The Gulf of Tolkin Resolution, like with previous wars, passed each house overwhelmingly, giving war powers to LBJ and was, at least formally, the first stab at Congress’s power to declare war, which it has acquiesced by the present day. In the House, 416 voted for it, with none voting against it (others said they were present and not voting) while in the Senate 88 voted for it, and 2 voted against it, those two being Democrats Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening. The latter would demand the withdrawal of the empire from Vietnam  while the former said it gave LBJ a “blank check” for war in Vietnam, with both being undoubtedly right.

As a result of the Vietnam War there were anger at the imperial footsoldiers, expressed by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, both whom fought in Vietnam (and held jingoist views) but also showing presidential continuity on the war itself:

…we were members of an elite, experimental combat division trained in the new art of automobile warfare at the behest of President John F. Kennedy…the class of 1965 [at West Point] came out of old America, a nation that disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the jungle backgrounds where we fought and bled. The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed. We answered the call of one President who was no dead [JFK]; we followed the orders of another [LBJ] who would be hounded from office, and haunted, by the war he mismanaged so badly. Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we fought. [227]

These views were contrasted by those of SDS, which called for “an immediate cease fire and demobilization in South Vietnam” in 1965, noting that the Vietnamese have the right “of nationhood” and that it is not the role of the empire to “deny them the chance to be what the will make of themselves” with questions of where the “leaders of the country” even posed by John Kerry, then of the Vietnam Veterans Against The War (in April 1971). This was followed by efforts in 1967 to “dump Johnson” from the Democratic Party as pushed by National Student Association, supporting Bobby Kennedy instead, who was anything but antiwar (he was just posing to pull in antiwar feelings). As by McNamara’s accounting, with figures supplied by the military itself, the number of troops went from 16,300 advisers in November 1963 to 23,300 advisers in late 1964/early 1965, then 81,400 troops by July 1965. Finally, this number rose to 184,300 troops by December 1965, 485,600 troops by December 1967, and 543,000 troops by January 1973. [228] The number of imperial footsoldiers in Vietnam had risen from 16,300 to 543,000 in a matter of 10 years, astounding to say the least. The so-called “sound…strategy of global military containment of the communist bloc” was said to lead to the escalation of the involvement in Vietnam, but it was actually about “prestige” resting on the “proposition of keeping SE Asia free” or open to capitalist exploitation as Eisenhower himself told LBJ in a meeting he had with him in February 1965, leading some to say that the Vietnam War was a “military defeat” but still just, an absurd argument but also wholly imperialist. [229]

Even with this, there was another reason for resentment against those protesting Vietnam, other than that expressed by the imperial footsoldiers earlier in this section. For one, “liberal wisdom about welfare, ghettos, student revolt, and Vietnam” had only a marginal place “for values and life of the workingman” flying the face of what many working people were taught to respect: “hard work, order, authority, [and] self-reliance,” and doing the “right things” in society. [230] This led to actions such as the hard hat riots and other acts of some working people supporting the war. At the same time, the war in Vietnam made the empire look “ineffective and divided” while Watergate showed the empire look ridiculous, even as “Watergate had flowed from Vietnam and from the polarized domestic politics the failed American war in Indochina had induced” as some commentators put it.

There were other measures by Democrats. As they sought “to block the Republicans’ use of the national security apparatus as a weapon,” after the defeat of the nuclear freeze proposal, they charge