The following post was originally written as a reply to discussion on Facebook. It is reprinted here to aid wider circulation and facilitate discussion on this important topic.
Kim Il Sung indicates the way to national liberation after the Pochonbo Battle
We are all agreed about the need to support the DPRK. The questions that have arisen here seem to be mostly attributable to the prejudices that we find hard to shake given the overwhelming anti-Korea propaganda to which we are all subjected on a daily basis.
While we may have recognised this in theory, it still leads to all sorts of spurious allegations being easily accepted as fact. For example, Comrade L’s allegation that there is “very little development of Marxist education among the masses” or that “the party meets very infrequently”.
I can see no basis in fact for these statements. Quite the contrary, evidence from comrades and friends who have visited the DPRK rather points the opposite way. They have found the people to be exceptionally well educated and informed about local, national and international matters - and Marxism is a central plank of the education system.
Here is a short video clip from the National House of Class Education in Pyongyang, for example.
There is an excellent article about north Korea from 2006 by Stephen Gowans that I would recommend everyone to read if they haven’t already. It gives a really comprehensive framework for thinking about and judging all information regarding the country and its leaders.
Growing up infected with imperialist arrogance it is easy for us to dismiss or ridicule the achievements or difficulties of others, and exceptionally difficult to really appreciate how far they have come and against what odds and at what price.
We are helped in this by all those on the fake left who, under the banner of ‘concern’ for the fate of the revolution, are always ready to agree with the imperialists that the socialism of any particular country is not true to Marx’s or Lenin’s aims or ideals - and to provide 101 unfounded assertions by way of proof that this is the case.
But what are the aims and ideals of socialism? Not to conform to some dogmatic formula for Leninist purity, but to free the toiling masses from imperialist and capitalist exploitation and build a society where production and distribution are collectively planned and based on need. To establish firmly the dictatorship of the proletariat to that end and to educate the masses so that they may fulfil the position of rulers while keeping the expropriated exploiters down.
In what way do comrades believe that the Koreans are failing to do this? Are they not rather to be congratulated on keeping closer to these aims than any other socialist country has managed to do, despite the hugely powerful forces ranged against them?
Despite the partition of their country, the hostility between their hugely powerful socialist neighbours (the USSR AND China - a conflict they were alone in managing not to get dragged too far into) and the permanent state of war between their country and the 37,000 US troops in the occupied south, they have developed industry and agriculture, built a strong army and a nuclear deterrent, weathered natural and political/economic catastrophes (floods, collapse of the USSR etc) and still managed not only to keep everyone fed but to provide them with jobs, houses, excellent education and modern health care.
All this in a country that was flattened by more bombs than Europe saw in WW2 and poisoned with more napalm than Vietnam.
I personally worry that the Koreans seem to have abandoned the recognisably scientific terminology of Marxism Leninism in favour of the apparently more fuzzy terminology of juche, which seems to me to lend itself more easily to revisionist or nationalist manipulation.
There are certainly plenty of charlatans masking their flunkeyism in ‘jucheist’ terminology. But should we necessarily blame the Koreans for that? In Stalin’s day, plenty of flunkeys inside and outside of the USSR masked counter-revolutionary positions behind pure ‘communist’ rhetoric. It’s just one aspect of the class struggle after the revolution. And we cannot deny that the Koreans have made use of their juche formulations to masterly effect.
When the USSR collapsed, the USA confidently predicted that the DPRK would follow within a few years - and did everything it could to accelerate the process. And yet the imperialists have consistently failed to bully, blackmail or otherwise coerce the Korean people into giving up their freedom.
One has only to look at Syria to see what kind of methods the imperialists use to divide people and set them against their leaders. Small divisions are made use of and amplified, and unlimited military and financial assistance is channeled to those that can be persuaded to turn against an anti-imperialist government. It is a phenomenal achievement of the Koreans that they have not allowed this to happen. Despite all the difficulties they have faced in the last 20 years, they have maintained a united front against the forces of the enemy - much to that enemy’s chagrin!
On the issue of the leadership, it seems to me that the choice of the successor has put to bed at least one of the common slanders: it is clear that the country is NOT a ‘one-man dictatorship’. Kim Il Sung was a revolutionary of exceptional calibre in world history, who inspired Koreans to incredible feats - he was a leading figure in the revolution and became a figurehead for the party that led Korea successfully through the most terrible trials. His son was an able successor, whose government was able to defend and sustain Korea’s independence when socialist countries were collapsing like ninepins.
Is it not possible that the people and the party have chosen the young Kim on the basis that he embodies their love of the revolution, as well as on the basis that they believe his life training has given him total loyalty to them and to the revolutionary cause? It is perfectly clear that, whatever his personal qualities, he is not governing alone - he is a figurehead for the dictatorship of the workers and peasants against all imperialist interference and capitalist roading. Hence the popular Korean slogan that the leader represents their ’single-hearted unity’.
Why should we sneer at these ‘undeveloped’ Koreans swearing ‘fealty’? Is it not possible that the love the Koreans show to their leaders is merely a symbolised form of their love for their revolution? Who are we, who have done so little to hurt the cause of imperialism, to damn those who have done so much and for so long? How can we, from our comfortable armchairs, appreciate what it means to have peace for your children after generations of genocides?
And how can we, the product of an alienated, fragmented society, imagine what it means to start to rediscover your collective humanity under socialism? We are so used to imagining that our inculcated cynical detachment is the pinnacle of sophistication that we don’t recognise a society that is socially in advance of our own!
The Koreans are proud of the things they have achieved and determined to protect the gains they have made, and it seems to me that their choice of leader is a reflection of that.
Comrade L asked about the lack of great Marxist texts forthcoming from Korea in the last few decades. But where have great Marxist texts come from instead? What is there that needs to be written that has not been covered for our era by the great founders of our movement?
Marx and Engels comprehensively analysed class society, defined scientific socialism and outlined the tasks of the proletarian movement. Lenin masterfully updated their theories for the era of imperialism and revolution. Stalin documented the struggle of the dictatorship of the proletariat before and after the seizure of power and outlined the economic problems of socialism. Mao set out tactics and principles for peasant countries fighting both feudalism and imperialism, as well as working out the principles for successfully waging guerilla warfare.
All revolutionaries since then have merely worked, in their own countries, to explain the principles set out in the works of the aforementioned - to apply the scientific approach to particular situations. Kim Il Sung was particularly talented in this regard, and his writings resonated with many all over the world. He was a great Marxist Leninist. In fact, despite all their brilliance, neither Mao nor Stalin saw themselves as adding to Marxism Leninism, but only as students of the subject - applying the science to the concrete conditions in which they found themselves.
Kim Jong Il wrote long articles on many topics, especially on the arts under socialism, in which he took a particular interest, but his works are ignored in the West. Then again, so are his father’s. And so are Stalin’s, so he’s in good company!
Mostly though, I think we need to remember that people generally, and leaders particularly, write about what is in front of them - writing is not something they sit down to do in the abstract; they do it because it answers a need.
Kim Il Sung wrote during a period of the advance of the world revolution, and much of his writing was concerned with the overthrow of imperialism and the development of revolutionary forces - mainly in Korea but also elsewhere. Kim Jong Il was writing at a different time, and his primary concern was with defending socialism in Korea in an increasingly hostile world, so it is not surprising if his work has less resonance elsewhere in the world. More to the point, neither of the Kims’ works are circulated widely because most of the so-called revolutionaries in the imperialist world don’t actually support Korea.
But their rejection doesn’t prove that Korea is ‘inward facing’, any more than imperialist attempts at economic strangulation prove that it is ‘isolated’. It is not Koreans who are isolated from us, but we who are cut off from them. Koreans know what is going on in the world, they study languages, geography, history and politics and they make a point of understanding the machinations of imperialism. They have had to to survive!
I really don’t think any of the above is particularly controversial to the comrades who are discussing here, but the tone of the discussion leads people to imagine a far greater disparity between their views than there actually is. Perhaps we need to learn a lesson from the Koreans and show some restraint. A little more humility would well become us all!
To: Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Chairman Comrade Harpal Brar, Vice-Chairman Comrade Ella Rule, General Secretary Comrade Zane Carpenter
Upon the authorisation of the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of our Party, state and army, I would like to express gratitude for your condolence message to the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un on the occasion of the passing away of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il.
We feel grateful to the Central Committee of the CPGB-ML for visiting DPRK Embassy, expressing their deepest condolence presenting the wreathes of flowers to the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il and the Embassy, sharing the shorrows with the Korean People and holding the memorial meeting with solemnity during the mourning period.
Your Party’s sincere condolence supported and encouraged the Korean People’s struggle to build the socialist thriving nation, turning their sorrow and tears into strength and courage, closely rallied behind the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.
I take this opportunity to wish that a good and fraternal relationship between your Party, WPK and my Embassy will continue and develop in the future too.
HYON Hak Bong
Ambassador, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to UK
The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK notify with bitterest grief to all the party members, servicepersons and people of the DPRK that Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, passed away of a sudden illness at 8.30am on 17 December 2011 (Juche 100) on his way to field guidance.
He dedicated all his life to the inheritance and accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Juche and energetically worked day and night for the prosperity of the socialist homeland, happiness of people, reunification of the country and global independence. He passed away too suddenly to our profound regret.
His sudden demise at a historic time when an epochal phase is being opened for accomplishing the cause of building a powerful and prosperous socialist state and the Korean revolution is making steady victorious progress despite manifold difficulties and trials is the greatest loss to the WPK and the Korean revolution and the bitterest grief to all the Koreans at home and abroad.
Kim Jong Il, who was born as a son of guerillas on Mt Paektu, the holy mountain of the revolution, and grew up to be a great revolutionary, wisely led the party, the army and people for a long period, performing undying revolutionary feats on behalf of the country, the people, the times and history.
Kim Jong Il was an outstanding thinker and theoretician who led the revolution and construction along the path of steady victories with his profound ideologies and theories and remarkable leadership. He was also the outstanding and illustrious commander of Songun, a peerless patriot and the tender-hearted father of the people, who recorded the whole history of the revolutionary struggle with ardent love for the country and its people and noble dedication.
Considering it as his lifelong mission to carry to completion generation after generation the revolutionary cause of Juche started by President Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il pushed forward the revolution and construction in line with the idea and intention of the President and as his most loyal comrade-in-arms.
Kim Jong Il comprehensively developed in depth the Juche and Songun ideas, fathered by the President and glorified them as the ideas guiding the era of independence with his clairvoyant wisdom and energetic ideological and theoretical activities. He firmly defended and carried forward the revolutionary traditions of Mt Paektu, thereby giving a steady continuity to the Korean revolution.
Kim Jong Il, genius of the revolution and construction, developed the party, army and state to be the party, army and state of Kim Il Sung, put the dignity and power of the nation on the highest level and ushered in the golden days of prosperity unprecedented in the nation’s history spanning 5,000 years under the uplifted banner of modelling the whole society on the Juche idea.
Kim Jong Il set a great example in perpetuating the memory of President Kim Il Sung, thus making sure that the august name of the President, his undying revolutionary career and exploits always shine along with the eternal history of Juche Korea.
Kim Jong Il, great master of politics and illustrious commander, honourably defended the socialist gains and noble heritage bequeathed by the President, by dint of Songun politics despite the collapse of the world socialist system, the demise of the President which was the greatest loss to the nation, the vicious offensive of the imperialist allied forces to stifle the DPRK and severe natural disasters. He turned the DPRK into an invincible political and ideological power in which single-minded unity has been achieved and made it emerge a nuclear weapons state and an invincible military power which no enemy can ever provoke.
True to President Kim Il Sung’s behest, Kim Jong Il set a gigantic goal to build a prosperous and powerful country and led an all-people general advance for attaining it, thus making the drive for a great revolutionary surge rage throughout the country and bringing about great innovations and leaps forward on all fronts of socialist construction.
Kim Jong Il, father of the nation and lodestar of national reunification, led all the fellow countrymen to the road of independence and great national unity with his rock-firm will to implement the instructions of the President for national reunification and ushered in the 15 June era of reunification in which the noble idea of “By our nation itself” is materialised.
As a great guardian of socialism and justice, he conducted energetic external activities for the victory of the socialist cause, global peace and stability and friendship and solidarity among peoples under the uplifted banner of independence against imperialism, thus remarkably raising the international position and prestige of the DPRK and making immortal contributions to the human cause of independence.
In the whole period of his protracted revolutionary guidance, he valued and loved the people very much and always shared weal and woe with them. He continued to make difficult forced march for field guidance, making unremitting efforts and working heart and soul to build a thriving country and improve the standard of people’s living. He died from repeated mental and physical fatigue on a train in that course.
The whole life of Kim Jong Il was the most brilliant life of a great revolutionary who covered an untrodden thorny path with his iron will and superhuman energy, holding aloft the red flag of revolution. It was the life of the peerless patriot who dedicated his all to the country and its people.
He passed away to our regret before seeing the victory of the cause of building a thriving nation, the national reunification and the accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Juche so ardently desired by him, but laid a strong political and military base for ensuring the steady advance of the Korean revolution through generations and provided a solid foundation for the eternal prosperity of the country and the nation.
Standing in the van of the Korean revolution at present is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.
Kim Jong Un’s leadership provides a sure guarantee for creditably carrying to completion the revolutionary cause of Juche through generations, the cause started by Kim Il Sung and led by Kim Jong Il to victory.
We have the invincible revolutionary army of Mt Paektu faithful to the cause of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the great unity of the army and people closely rallied around the party, the best Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses and the solid foundation of the independent national economy.
Under the leadership of Kim Jong Un we should turn our sorrow into strength and courage and overcome the present difficulties and work harder for fresh great victory of the Juche revolution.
Our army and people will hold leader Kim Jong Il in high esteem forever with unshakable faith and a noble sense of moral obligation. True to his behests, they will make neither the slightest concession nor any delay on the road of the Juche revolution, the Songun revolution but resolutely defend his undying feats and glorify them for all ages.
All the party members, servicepersons and people should remain loyal to the guidance of respected Kim Jong Un and firmly protect and further cement the single-minded unity of the party, the army and the people.
Under the uplifted banner of Songun, we should increase the country’s military capability in every way to reliably safeguard the Korean socialist system and the gains of revolution and make the torch lit in South Hamgyong Province, the drive for the industrial revolution in the new century, rage throughout the country and thus bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power and improving the standard of people’s living.
We will surely achieve the independent reunification of the country by concerted efforts of all Koreans by thoroughly implementing the Three Charters for National Reunification and the north-south joint declarations.
Our party and people will strive hard to boost friendship and solidarity with the peoples of different countries, guided by the idea of independence, peace and friendship, and build an independent and peaceful new world, free from domination, subjugation, aggression and war.
Arduous is the road for our revolution to follow and grim is the present situation. But no force on earth can check the revolutionary advance of our party, army and people under the wise leadership of Kim Jong Un.
The heart of Kim Jong Il stopped beating, but his noble and august name and benevolent image will always be remembered by our army and people and his glorious history of revolutionary activities and undying feats will remain shining in the history of the country forever.
Esteemed Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz
Esteemed Comrade Raul Castro Ruz
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba
It is with the greatest joy and the warmest and most militant feelings of solidarity that we wholeheartedly offer you our congratulations and best wishes on the 50th anniversary of the historic triumph of the Cuban revolution.
The victory of the Cuban revolution half a century ago, and its triumphant subsequent consolidation and development, is a matter of the utmost importance not only for the Cuban people, but for the whole of the Caribbean, the whole of Latin America, Africa and Asia, the whole of the international working class, the global socialist cause and the international communist movement.
In advancing to nationwide victory, the heroic revolutionaries, led by Fidel and Che, not only liberated the Cuban people – for the first time the Great October Socialist Revolution had been extended to the western hemisphere. As the great Korean revolutionary leader Comrade Kim Il Sung observed in 1968:
“The Cuban revolution is the first socialist revolutionary victory in Latin America, and it is a continuation, in Latin America, of the Great October Revolution. With the triumph of the Cuban revolution, the red banner of socialism now flies high over Latin America, which was regarded until quite recently as the hereditary estate of US imperialism; thus the socialist camp has been extended to the western hemisphere and has grown much stronger. Today the Republic of Cuba, marching firmly at the forefront of the Latin American revolution, is the beacon of hope for the fighting people of Latin America and it casts its victorious beam along the road of struggle. The triumph of the Cuban revolution shook the US imperialist colonial system to its very foundations in the western hemisphere and has thrown the whole of Latin America into revolutionary turbulence, dramatically arousing the people to join in the dedicated struggle for independence and freedom. Indeed, the triumph of the Cuban revolution marked the beginning of the disintegration of the system of US imperialist colonial rule in Latin America; it sternly judged and sentenced to destruction that imperialism which had exploited and oppressed the people in this area for so long.”
Over five decades of socialist revolution and construction, the Cuban working class and people, under the leadership of the Communist Party and Comrade Fidel, have overcome one difficulty after another, including the decades-long, illegal US embargo and blockade, the Special Period occasioned by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries due to revisionist betrayal, repeated armed aggression by US imperialism and its lackeys, and repeated natural disasters, to build a genuine socialist homeland. Today, despite all adverse circumstances and challenges, Socialist Cuba provides all her people with food, clothing and shelter. Cuba’s achievements in healthcare and education, in particular, are not only a precious gain of your working class, but also are rightly the envy of the people of the whole world, including, not least, the working people in the United States of America and elsewhere in the imperialist heartlands.
Socialist Cuba has from its very inception been synonymous with internationalism. From Ireland in the North Atlantic to Timor Leste in the South Pacific, no theatre of anti-imperialist struggle has been too small or too far away to be separated from the care and concern of the Cuban revolution. The bequest that the immortal revolutionary Che Guevara left his children not to be indifferent to the plight of a single oppressed person anywhere on earth has truly become an article of faith for your entire people. How fitting, therefore, that your Young Pioneers take as their motto: “Let us be like Che!”
In Africa, from virtually the first day that the patriots of Algeria and Guinea Bissau raised the banner of armed revolution, Cuban internationalists were at their side. Today, thousands of Cuban doctors and medical workers are to be found in nearly every African country, often attending to the needs of the poorest and most marginalised communities. Above all, we can never forget how your intervention in Angola, one of the most glorious pages in the glorious history of proletarian internationalism, not only saved that newly liberated country from apartheid slavery, but also played a decisive role in the ensuing liberation of Namibia and South Africa and the extirpation of that crime against humanity, racist apartheid.
Above all, as Comrade Kim Il Sung observed:
“Consolidation of the triumph of the Cuban revolution is not only an important question on which the life or death, the rise or fall, of the Cuban people depends. It is also a key factor in influencing the general development of the Latin American revolution.”
Today, thanks not least to the example and inspiration of the Cuban revolution, the US imperialist schemes to maintain Latin America as its “backyard” have imploded and lie in tatters. It is not Socialist Cuba but US imperialism that is isolated. Most importantly, with Cuba as the socialist fortress, today you are joined by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua as countries that are aspiring to socialism and which are taking the first steps towards the socialist transformation of the state and society and the building of a new life for working people. All this is a priceless gain and the greatest defence of your revolution.
Our party attaches the greatest importance to our work to support and defend Socialist Cuba, which we see as an integral part of our own revolutionary work. We highly value our fraternal relations with your party, which have been developing on very good terms during this last year in particular and it is our firm desire and steadfast determination to consolidate them further in this jubilee year of your revolution.
We take this opportunity to extend our special good wishes to Comrade Fidel and to express our ardent hope that he continues to make a full recovery from illness.
Please be assured of our full support and solidarity at all times.
LONG LIVE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION!
Harpal Brar, Chairman
Zane Carpenter, General Secretary
Ella Rule, International Secretary