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North Korea is a bonkers state, ergo they can not be leftists…

Samizdata lurker Mike Ritchie has an observation to share:

John Sweeney’s undercover report on North Korea for Panorama on the BBC contains this steaming turd of a quote from a contributor – one Bryan Myers – a “Professor”, we are assured:

“…so I think it’s much more accurate to look at North Korea as a far-right state, an ultra-nationalist state”.

North Korea Undercover from 4:00 to 6:00 if you can bear it – do not feel compelled to watch the whole thing, it is superficial pap.

Another witless bozo who can not seem to grasp the logical outcome of putting the state in the driving seat, whatever the superficial branding/flag colour/exact nature of dynastic succession.

Of course, the Panorama editorial team seem more than happy to include this statement – you would almost think they worked for a state broadcaster ;)

31 comments to North Korea is a bonkers state, ergo they can not be leftists…

  • Paul Marks

    North Korea is a socialist state.

    As for this absurd academic – he will continue to “educate” students with his nonsense, and the taxpayers will continue to be forced to pay to have their children brainwashed by him.

    In theory the government subsidies to the universities (and to students) could be removed (just as the BBC tax could be abolished – and the “regulators of unbiasedness” abolished for real private radio and television stations) – but no government will do this.

    So, yet again, we are left with the only solution – de facto bankruptcy.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    And of course such people are annoyed when the Nazis are described, to use their appellation, of National Socialist.

    It is all about the narrative.

  • Magdalena V.

    you would almost think they worked for a state broadcaster

    I LOL’ed when I read that line :D

  • Yes Guest Writer, I watched this, and noticed what you noticed.

    It certainly wasn’t pro-Nork propaganda. North Korea was presented as indeed being utterly mad. It was more a case of lefty or lefty-inclined Westerners trying to square all the circles whirling about in their brains. After all, the programme did at least show that the place is insane. Real pro-Nork propaganda would have said that it was splendid.

    In among it was the claim that that Grandpa Kim admired Hitler, and stage consciously Nuremberg type rallies. Which may well be true for all I know. Also, the Kims believe in Korean racial superiority. So, not left wing at all then.

    If you are a socialist, you are an egalitarian and an anti-racist. But actually existing socialism of the more influential sort, like North Korea, is savagely inegalitarian and savagely racist. So, you have to disown it as nothing to do with us! You have to imply that it was created by people all of whom believed in inequality and racism from the get-go, like the National Socialists of yore. You don’t actually flat out say that somewhere like North Korea is the ideological ally of all anti-lefties, up to and including classical liberals and libertarians, because that would be too stupid even for the BBC. Hence the use of the phrase “right wing” to describe all leftist regimes gone seriously bad. That vaguely includes all of us libbos in the barrel of tar, even if we were and are opponents of all versions of socialism, theoretical and actually existing. Libbos believe in bad things! Anti-libbos believe in good things, or say they do, so anything bad can’t be any sort of anti-libbo operation. Socialism is only involved, in places like North Korea, by being betrayed.

    No. North Korea is not socialism betrayed. It is socialism done.

    Which everyone here knows, but it is worth repeating.

  • Dan H.

    To be honest, the Nork regime reminds me more of a deranged medieval monarchy than anything else. The behaviour is similar to what might be seen after an usurpation in a royal succession; Kim 1 is liked by everyone who matters (everyone else is either dead or running away). Kim 2 is a chip off the old block, approved of by all the old guard generals. North Korea is a military state where the boss is head of the army, and the army is everything else.

    Kim 3 is a very different proposition. He ain’t a warrior, no matter how much his supporters play dress-up and let’s-pretend. Kim 3 is just this 30-year-old guy who likes baseball and girls and who was educated in Switzerland. He’s not local per se, but all of a sudden after his dad snuffed it this poor schmo is dropped in at the deep end into a completely barking mad regime. He doesn’t know very many of the generals, he doesn’t know how to run a country and he doesn’t know how to back out of the corner his dad backed the country into.

    What we are looking at is a desperate man searching for a way to get out without losing his life. The kindest way to sort this one out now would be to lean on China to offer him asylum and a comfortable and fully protected, immune from prosecution retirement in China somewhere, in return for quietly resigning.

    If he doesn’t take the offer (which we really need to keep open for him, come what may) then things are just going to fester. At the moment, we’ve got a rat cornered and it is busy showing its teeth at us. If America ever gets properly involved, then we just tipped a Jack Russell into the pen with the rat, and that only ends one way.

  • Mr Ed

    The Dear(?) Leader’s half-brother lives in Macao, presumably watched by China and N Korea, (South too, probably), so he could have seen a way out.

    I don’t really buy into the ‘Generals’ power thing. Soviet generals lived in dread of the State, only Zhukov very nearly broke the bonds of Party and Police. I read in Suvorov of one Soviet Marshal who, after starting WW2 (their bit against Hitler) in the Gulag after being purged, and then rehabilitated, found himself finally re-promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union, and promptly shot himself when he got the telegram. How could anyone in North Korea show any disagreement without dying or disappearing shortly afterwards? Ever heard of a Chinese Bonaparte post-Mao?

    He seems like a less intelligent version of Bashir Assad, an ophthalmologist, with a similar dilemma, stay or go?

  • Jason

    I was struck by the chap making this distinction between ‘far left’ and ‘far right’ as well, and it set to me thinking: Of the examples we have had of both types of state, ignoring their stated ideologies and looking purely at the way such states have conducted themselves, how would you know which is which? And I must admit, I was stumped. The more I think of it, the less useful is the distinction between left and right.

  • Dan H: “He doesn’t know very many of the generals, he doesn’t know how to run a country and he doesn’t know how to back out of the corner his dad backed the country into. What we are looking at is a desperate man searching for a way to get out without losing his life.”

    This is pretty accurate.

    Back to the left/right thing: if you define left as wanting more equality of wealth and power and right as the opposite, then clearly North Korea, where one man has nearly all the wealth and power and the vast majority have nothing, is clearly a far-right country.

    Regarding the Nazis, their programme was solidarity within the group and hostility to outsiders, so “National Socialist” is not much of a misnomer, if it is noe at all.

  • Paul Marks

    Jason – if the Prof had said what you have said he might have a point.

    After all the National Socialists (Nazis) were called “on the right” and the Italian Fascists (“everthing for the state – nothing outside the state”) were called (although not by themselves) “right wingers”.

    However, the Prof is exactly the sort of person who would deny that either Hitler or Mussolini were socialists – on the contrary he would say that “big business” was really in charge (these regimes were “capitalist” you see) and that a “Corporate State” is a state where big business corporations are in charge (almost the exact opposite of what Mussolini meant by the term).

    This, the endless lies (to cover up for collectivism – a cause that has murdered over a hundred million people in the last century) is why the Prof should burn in the Hell.

  • Tedd

    …if you define left as wanting more equality of wealth and power and right as the opposite…

    Well, yes. But no sane person defines them that way.

  • JohnB

    Yes, the ‘left’,'right’ descriptions are fairly useless other than to confuse. We sort of know what they mean but because they are relative in their definition and can be used to demonize, they are often the tools of deceivers.

    The main divide is between collectivism and individualism. Collective responsibility and action, and individual responsibility and action.
    The collectivist removing personal responsibility and freedom and subjecting one to that which sets itself up as the controlling authority.
    Ultimately breeding thugs and serfs at the mercy of their whims, or the authority’s ever-loving big stick. UK today.

    It is interesting to note how the whole debate has been demonized in that the British MP who dared to suggest that National Socialism was socialist recently was almost lynched. He certainly did his career prospects no good.

    Facism was also Mussolini’s socialism re-worked.

  • a_random_guy

    In his defense, there is very little difference between the extreme left and the extreme right: the two tend to wrap around. Which would you prefer, Hitler or Stalin? The excuses and methods may be different, the results very much the same…

  • Paul Marks

    Tedd agreed.

    And Hitler (and Mussolini) often went on about equality anyway.

    There were even Common Meals – with the National Socialist “Folk Comrades” (including Hitler) each taking some gruel from a common pot…..

    Of course it was not sincere – but it was not sincere with Karl Marx either (he treated real workers with total contempt).

    And it would still have been vile – even if it had been sincere.

  • SC

    >if you define left as wanting more equality of wealth and power and right as the opposite, then clearly North Korea, where one man has nearly all the wealth and power and the vast majority have nothing, is clearly a far-right country.

    But it’s left-wing, in that the vast majority have the same amount of wealth and power, ie. hardly anything.

    It’s not like NK is a rich country, and Kim is hogging all the wealth. There’s bugger-all there. Even if you took away Kim’s wealth and spread it out amongst the people, they’d be hardly any richer.

  • SC

    >>if you define left as wanting more equality of wealth and power and right as the opposite

    This is also, of course, where leftists pull their fast one, as they have done for well over a century. (Always best to get tricks in early, before people are too alert to them). Everyone should have equal amounts of wealth and power. But just to make sure that happens, we need to set up an elite group of unelected officials who have absolute power and control over everything.

    It’s never put quite like that, of course, but that’s what it always amounts to. And that’s the bit that gets always conveniently gets left out when leftists say ‘But communism was supposed to be all about equality, so North Korea/USSR/China etc. aren’t really communist, they’re betrayals of communism’.

  • Jason

    Actually Paul, it was the Stalin/Hitler dichotomy I had in mind. But whatever nominal difference protagonists might claim between left and right, the difference between statism and liberalism lumps the two in the same category, whichever side of the notional divide.

    The reason I mention it is because, sitting watching that documentary, it struck me that the likes of Rudolph Rocker and William Godwin would probably be just as horrified as, say, Karl Popper, and for the same reasons.

    On a different note, I don’t think I learnt much more than I already know about North Korea from that documentary. I think I already knew it probably wouldn’t be much fun to stay in a hotel in Pyongyang (and I think I already knew John Sweeney can really get up people’s noses when he sets his mind to it). That said, a friend of a friend went some years ago, apparently you can get a Big Mac and coke, they just don’t call it that:

    http://bit.ly/17Gn5M2

  • roland

    I remember christopher hitchens also said that NK was ‘right wing’, though I dont think the left/right dichotomy is very useful when looking a such regimes.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/02/a_nation_of_racist_dwarfs.html

  • Paul Marks

    For Christopher Hitchens see David Horowitz’s essay on him (a not unsympathetic essay) in his book “Radicals”.

    “Hitch” good never free himself from the Radical (Marxoid) ways – including calling anything nasty “right wing” or “reactionary”.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Honestly I don’t think the left/ right distinction tells us anything at all really. I know lefties see it as synonymous with good/ bad, but that is just their narcissism talking.

    From the point of view of the person on the sharp end, the fact that your oppressors justify their actions with reference to a Juche workers collective or an Aryan corporatist body will make no difference at all. The kinds of behavior your government will display will be exactly the same.

    The authoritarian/libertarian dimension is much more informative. Is really only at the middle ground of this axis that any difference at all will be visible between left and right. At the extreme ends the governments will be functionally identical.

  • Julie near Chicago

    On Christopher Hitchens: There are a profile and links to a slew of FrontPageMag articles on him at

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=689 .

    (FPM is David Horowitz’s online magazine.)

  • Paul Marks

    Jason – I do not know the name “Rudolph Rocker” (I apologise for my ignorance).

    But as for William Godwin – did he not support the French Revolution? That involved hundred thousands of murders – especially in the provices (the stuff in Paris was minor in comparison).

    He also opposed private property – which must involve the extermination of the property owners.

    At least Bill (“I as much an anarchist as I am a Marxist”) Ayers was more open – he has his Comrades supported the sending of tens of millions of people to Death Camps.

    That does not stop the “liberals” of Hollyood making films to celebrate the “Weathermen” or the “liberal” media (in turn)celebrating those films.

    I suspect the “liberal” left is a myth.

    If it was not a myth then Barack Obama would not have been supported by all these “liberals”.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair – sometimes the “liberal” left are fairly open about what they really are.

    For example, a young lad a week ago who started a talk he gave by saying how he wanted to use a firearm to force people to jump into lakes (“to save a baby” – but it he was not a “Pro Life” person, the “baby” was mythical – he just wanted to threaten lethal force to get people to give him money) and then went on to explain how private property people were “sexists” and “racists” and so on (the standard academia and media tapdance).

    Not worth reporting – except that this person works for the “Adam Smith Institute” (??????).

    By the way – under the Common Law there is no legal obligation to put one’s self at risk to save others (includng not babies). Indeed there is no legal obligation to save others – period.

    To confuse moral duties with legal ones (to confuse the virtue of benevolence with the virtue of justice) is crass.

  • For example, a young lad a week ago who started a talk he gave by saying how he wanted to use a firearm to force people to jump into lakes (“to save a baby” – but it he was not a “Pro Life” person, the “baby” was mythical – he just wanted to threaten lethal force to get people to give him money) and then went on to explain how private property people were “sexists” and “racists” and so on (the standard academia and media tapdance).

    Which is why I am all for private ownership of firearms… When he points his gun at you, you say “Yes Sir! And do you want me to also save that baby over there who is on fire?”

    And when he turns to look, you pull your own samizdata approved 40 cal SIG-229 from under your jacket and you shoot the mother fucker dead with a double tap to the centre of mass and then one to the head.

    Not worth reporting – except that this person works for the “Adam Smith Institute” (??????).

    And this twit would be who?

  • Jason

    Paul, is that so? My understanding was that Godwin supported the French Revolution initially (I seem to remember he was influenced by Rousseau) but became disillusioned with the aftermath and went to some lengths to distance himself after the murders became apparent. But I’m certainly no expert.

    As to Rocker, he was a Jewish trade unionist organiser in the East End. My only point was that he would probably have been as aghast at the historicist ideology behind North Korea’s current incumbent as would Popper. A sort of Fantasy Football league of anarchist writers if you will.

    Actually that sounds like a pretty neat online game. Anybody here know anything about game design?

  • Mr Ed

    Why would this ASI person wish simply to be the ‘middleman’? Why not jump into the lake himself? And a bit more clarity on the link between private property and sexism and racism might be fascinating, at least in another post perhaps?

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – well if he wants to jump in a lake I could help him…

    The sexism and racism thing is easy to explain – he was attacking Murray Rothbard and explained that Rothbard’s hostility to government welfare programs was because Rothbard was a white man – then the rant about racism and sexism really kicked off.

    Their was a picture of Ayn Rand (whom he had been attacking a few seconds before) was by the young chaps head, but he did not notice (even though he had put the image up himself). No doubt Rand was not a “real” women. Just like I. Patterson and Rose Wilder Lane were not really women either.

    Just as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are not “really” black and Star Parker is not really a woman or black.

    Ah “intellectuals” – do you not just love them?

    I do – especially with chips.

  • Paul Marks

    Jason.

    It is a bit pointless to call for the end of private property and then draw back from a few hundred thousand dead.

    And if Godwin’s true friends (B. and “The Society of Equals”) had come to power it would not have been a few hundred thousand people – it would have been many millions. Perhaps he would have been even more shocked and upset by that.

    So Mr Rocker was an East End socialist – what time period? My father may have known him (although I could always check on Wikipedia.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry.

    I think the name was Sam something (Sam Browne belt? no that is wrong).

    Anyways it had to do with a man in a wheelchair – accept the wheelchair turned out to be mythical as well……..

    Anyway the point is that it all justifies “Social Justice” (although defining what this means is “not important”).

    Still the real point is that people like thee and me are evil – and must die. Unless the target fights back of course – then one goes crying to the…..

    Anyway I could have listened to him for hours – if I had first removed his tongue and then got creative with a blow torch and my little box of tools…. Accept that this would have violated his freedom of speech – so I do not mean it.

    To be serious for a moment…..

    He did not seem to understand that principle victims of government programs are THE POOR (I know rather more about poverty than this young man does – partly because I have always been poor).

    Charles M. and “Losing Ground” really did seem to be closed book to this man. Rise of the underclass? Collapse of Civil Society? Did not register with his mind.

    As did the fact that the unlimited Welfare State is heading Western nations towards bankruptcy – and the principle victims of this will be the poor.

    Nothing, nothing, nothing – it was like being back in university listening to some moron lecturer.

    I am not making that up – it really was.

    And what I would tolerate when young (and from people I expected to be ignorant – academics) I will not tolerate at my age (sorry but I really have had had “a hard life” and I do not “take shit” anymore) – especially not from people who work for free market organisations.

    They should know better – and if they do not, it is not acceptable.

  • Andrew

    Paul’s talking about Sam Bowman, Research Director at the ASI.

    You can read more about the talk he gave here:

    http://www.thelastditch.org/2013/04/liberty-league-freedom-forum-2013-llff13.html

  • Mr Ed

    @ Andrew. Mr Bowman’s approach, as reported, is a claim on the lives of all, in the interest of the common good, as decided by the dictator ‘Gemeinnutz geht for Eigennutz’ as they used to say in Germany ‘The common good before the individual good’. Moustaches are still optional. There is no more to say about that belief, except that may I shoot the officious disabled dictator if his victim has a morbid fear of water or has been wired with a hygroscopically-activared explosive device? (To descend into Rothbardian puerility).

    But there is a common law duty on public servants not to commit misconduct in public office, e.g. Police officers failing to assist those in peril, not just shagging on duty, passing on confidential information etc. with criminal sanctions available. That has been the limit in English Common law.

  • Paul Marks

    If I believed the young man was being literal, that he really was passionatly interested in babies, I might give him a pass (although that is not the same thing as agreeing with him) – but I just do not believe that he was being literal.

    Really it was nothing to do with a baby in a lake – it was just a desire to use force (and if he was joking – his supporters certainly were not joking).