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Samizdata quote of the day

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

Which everyone here knows, but it is worth repeating.

- Brian Micklethwait

28 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so.

  • Mr Ed

    The BBC’s Panorama managed to crowbar a certain Austrain corporal’s ideology into a documentary about North Korea, without mentioning the ‘S’ word, although Marx, Lenin, Stalin and GULAG were all referred to, with it being noted that portraits of Marx and Lenin had been removed from a building in Pyongyang. It is a ‘far-right’ ideology, we were told, although Communism got a mention.

    I thought that the hospital gave Md-Staffs a run for its money,

  • That North Korea is ‘late socialism’ is a meme worth spreading.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Good one Perry.

  • Steve D

    For North Korea, I would say either; ‘Socialism done well.’ or ;Socialism the way it was meant to be.”

  • Mr Ed

    North Korea is socialism as every lefty really wants it to be, as long as lefty is in charge. Although I think Pol Pot had the edge in sheer murderousness, Mao second behind Pol Pot.

    Here is a spoof Top Gun, North Korean style.

  • One thing that’s really heartbreaking is all the persecuted Christians in NK–you can find smuggled videos of them being executed by the Nork regime. Sad to think that 100 years ago Pyongyang was known as The Jerusalem Of The East, for all the Protestant churches that had been founded there.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – I had heard that about Pyongyang.

    Mr Ed – according to the BBC Mid-Staffs was not a failure of socialism either. It was all a failure of being obessed with being business like and……

    “Bullets are too good for them – use knives”.

  • veryretired

    When you construct an ideology which gets how humans function, how societies function, and how economies function all wrong, as any marxist variation inevitably does, you get exactly what the leadership of NK has achieved—a brutal social construct in a state of permanent collapse.

    The current little caligula, whom I doubt really has much to say about what goes on in the asylum, will last as long as he’s conveniently useful for his Chinese masters, and then will go away.

    Right now, NK is making the fuss its masters want it to make in order that they might estimate how far to push the current regime in the US. If it seems that the time is right, then the Taiwan adventure begins.

    That’s what is ultimately behind all this bloviating about nuking Arkansas and the rest. Push, push, push, and see if the little community organizer and his band of 2nd rate hacks will fold up, then go for it.

  • Paul Marks

    veryretired – as you know, the elite (both political and other) do not care about the threat in Asia (any more than they really care about the Islamic threat).

    For every minute they spend thinking about North Korea or China, they spend an hour thinking about how to make the GOLD PRICE fall – yes they really are that petty.

    Off they go, congratulating themselves that they have (at huge cost – and by the most corrupt rigging) caused the gold price to fall (gold will go up again by the end of this year) – whilst the forces of evil plan attacks.

    Attacks the West is not prepared for – because our rulers have their minds other things.

  • Jacob

    To say that falling gold prices are caused by the elites is a conspiracy theory.

    Okam’s razor says that market forces are sufficient to explain the gold drop.

    Whether it goes up or not by the end of the year I’m unable to tell. I’m no prophet.

  • Jacob

    About NK – why don’t these “pundits” go and ask what komrade Kim thinks – i.e. is his regime socialist or not? You probably can find the answer (what Kim says) in the official NK press, and maybe also on the web, and maybe also in English.

  • Jacob

    veryretired:
    There was an op-ed piece in the NY Times a few days ago, which said: bomb NK now! don’t wait until it’s too late. In the NY Times !!
    (Paul, in the NY Times!).

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob – I am indeed surprised.

    Pity that out rulers appear to be too busy reading the gold price section (and patting themselves on the back about the, temporary, success of their operartion) to bother reading about North Korea.

  • Paul Marks

    “To say that the fall in the price of gold is caused by the elites is a conspiracy theory”.

    Yes it is – so what?

    Many things ate conspiracies.

    I have been part of a few conspriacies myself.

    As for “market forces” – market forces are human choices.

    If people are prepared to cold blooded spend (other people’s) money making the price of something fall – it will fall (at least for awhile).

  • veryretired

    NK is not the threat, they’re a stalking horse, nothing more. The Chinese don’t want a nuclear exchange right on their border, and they also don’t want to display to the world how obsolete and outgunned the military of NK, and by derivation, China, really is.

    Any conflict would be totally counterproductive for what the Chinese really want, which is to see if the US and SK will fall for more payoffs to keep the NK’s quiet.

    Saw article yesterday that talks are already being bandied about, as if that’s going to do any good.

    The whole point is to look for weaknesses and exploit them as much as possible.

  • 2dogs

    The point here is that while the free market can be outlawed in a country, capitalism itself can never be eliminated.

    All you can do is change the form of capitalism. If you prescribe that the state owns all assets, then a person’s capital is measured by the extent to which they are able to influence political decision making.

    If socialism’s description of capitalism is accurate (as causing and perpetuating inequality), then the form of capitalism that exists in socialist states means an increasingly centralised political elite. Hence, North Korea’s situation is inevitable.

    Further, if one sets capitalism aside, the free market is, of itself, a source of equality. For example, if one profession is too highly paid, more will seek to enter that profession, driving down incomes; in this way incomes are made more equal. No such mechanism exists under socialism. The elite give themselves whatever they want.

    Hence, the libertarian is a greater advocate for equality than the socialist.

    What was the point of socialism again?

  • Laird

    2dogs, the point of socialism is that those in charge of the regime get the all goodies without having to actually produce anything of value to anyone. The point of socialism is to be able to steal without running the risk of incarceration. (Unfortunately, that ignores the long term risk of lampposts.)

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    The point of socialism is that it sounds “good” to people who want “fairness” and like the idea of “social justice” but don’t want to think too deeply about what those things actually mean.

  • Paul Marks

    2dogs

    As you know – “capitalism” was orignially a smear term, used by collectivists to snear at private property based civil society as a “system” for the benefit of “captialists” – meaning people who owned capital (factories and so on).

    Later the term “capitalism” was (like the words “Whig” and “Tory” – which also started as smear terms) taken up by the supporters of private property based civil society and made their own.

    Now reject the word “capitalism” by all means – after all it was invented as a smear term, but if there are not private owners of capital (capitalists) there is no “capitalism”.

    If the state owns the means of production, distribution and exchange – this is not State Capitalism (a term that even most Marxists reject – although a Marxist faction invented the term), it is SOCIALISM (which is not capitalism).

    My own attiude to the word “capitalism” is similar to that of Ayn Rand’s view of the word “selfishness” – “I use the term for the reason you are afraid to use it”.

    People say (or imply) “do not use the word capitalism – people will think you are a supporter of the Koch brothers”.

    But I AM A SUPPORTER OF THE KOCH BROTHERS (and of Jon Huntsman senior, and so on).

    At least I am in relation to the people who declare themselves their enemies.

  • Paul Marks

    As for a society where half of the entire economy is government spending – i.e. the results of production are (half) under state control, and where the rest of the economy is dominated by Central Bank funny money (and endless pages of regulations) it is hard to see how it can be called “capitalism” any more that it can be called “free enterprise”.

    What would I call the present Western nations?

    “A mess” – and, soon, a self destructive mess.

  • I think some here may have missed 2dogs’ point, at least as I understand it: it is not about rejecting capitalism, but about realizing that ‘capitalism’ and ‘free market’ are not the same thing. If one defines ‘capital’ broadly enough to include “non-material” “goods”, all economic activity is based on capitalism. Whether that activity takes place in an environment free from coercion, and if so – to what degree – is a separate question.

  • 2dogs

    I am not rejecting the term “capitalism” in any way. Rather, I am saying it is impossible to get rid of it (unlike the free market, which is too readily disposed of by statists).

    I am not calling socialism state capitalism. Rather, I am defining the capital of an individual to be the influence that an individual has over decisions concerning scarce resources.

    Under any system, be it socialism, free market, distributism, or any other system, there is going someone who is making economic decisions. Their ability to make those decisions is their capital. They will negotiate selfishly, use and abuse that capital to preserve and increase it, and do everything which socialists see as being bad about socialism.

    Socialism does not stop capitalism. It just stops it from being a force for good.

  • 2dogs

    *going to be someone who is making economic decisions
    *do everything which socialists see as being bad about capitalism.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    “Socialism does not stop capitalism. It just stops it from being a force for good.”

    That is Quote Of The Day material.

  • Laird

    “I am defining the capital of an individual to be the influence that an individual has over decisions concerning scarce resources.”

    An idiosyncratic definition, to be sure, but an interesting one. However, I think it’s more a definition of “power” than of “capital”, at least in the conventional sense. The concept has validity, but I’m not sure that using the word “capital” (which already has a reasonably well accepted definition) helps advance the argument.

  • Laird, in the conventional sense, capital is more or less defined as accumulated resources (or their currency equivalent). Having influence or outright control over resource is the same as owning it, for any practical purpose.

  • Paul Marks

    Influence the same as ownership.

    So many people teach Alisa – the Financial Times for one (which celebrates the decline of owner managers and the rise of the executive class – thanks to regualtions and tax law).

    However, there is a difference between influence and ownership.

    Influence is about short term extraction – it has no thought to the long term (why should it?). It thinks in terms of the NOW.

    Oddly enough it is the difference between Western and Islamic civilisation.

    In the West the land was indeed (and you may jump on this) not formally owned – but it was held (and was passed down the generations – as early 877 it was accepted as an “old right” that even a King of France could not take a fief of land from one person and give it to another – or prevent son taking over estate from father).

    In the Islamic world land was polticial – it could be taken away (and given to someone else) at any time.

    That is, perhaps, why modern academics favour the “enlightened” Islamic rulers – the the Western Kings and Emperors (who could not crush the evil “Feudal” landed families – who intermarried with wealthy merchants, and even with prosperious farmers, over the centuries).

    My own point of view is rather oppsed to that of the academics. In spite of all its many faults – I prefer the “Feudalism” of the West to the state despotism of the East.

    I prefer ownership (in the true sense – even if the word “ownership” is used in the sense of “owning the freehold”) to political whims (to influence).