It perhaps seems a bit inappropriate, but I could not help but laugh aloud as I watched the ridiculous scenes of elaborate public mourning being beamed on our TV screens from North Korea. There is something deeply unsettling about seeing crowds of otherwise sensible adults crawling along the ground weeping at the death of their “Dear Leader”. The demise of Kim Jung Il has been greeted across the world with mixture of joy and unease. Joy at the death of one of the planet’s most vicious, anti-human dictators, and unease at who will take his place.In my last blog, I spoke of the Orwellian tendencies of the West’s leaders, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. Now that people’s minds are very much focused on events in North Korea, the world’s last bastion of Stalinism, my assertion might seem exaggerated. However, I stand by what I wrote and believe it is a fair assessment of the West’s attitude to rapacious wars and colonialism.
North Korea is an exaggeration in itself. It’s an exaggeration of George Orwell’s classic book 1984. Almost everything Orwell wrote has been brought to life in this nightmarish, other-worldly state. Speaking after his visit to the country, the late Christopher Hitchens said:
“One tries to avoid cliché, and I did my best on a visit to this terrifying country in the year 2000, but George Orwell’s 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il Sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. Actually, North Korea is rather worse than Orwell’s dystopia. There would be no way, in the capital city of Pyongyang, to wander off and get lost in the slums, let alone to rent an off-the-record love nest in a room over a shop. Everybody in the city has to be at home and in bed by curfew time, when all the lights go off (if they haven’t already failed).”
Kim Jung-Il’s ideology was based on his father’s “Juche” idea, a philosophy which promotes “self-reliance”. Stemming from this was his “military first” policy, which led to widespread hardship in the country. In the 1990s, more than 2 million people starved to death during an entirely avoidable famine.
It’s hard to believe that anyone outside North Korea would support this inhuman dynasty. However, a range of strangely named groups across the ultra-left have voiced their grief at the death of the dictator, regurgitating the propaganda of the state broadcaster who outlandishly claimed that Kim Jung Il died as a result of “working too hard for the Korean people”. For instance, the uber-Stalinists of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) sang his praises earlier this week. (And yes, that is their real name). On their website, Proletarian Online, it said: “It is with feelings of deep and profound grief that we have learned the shocking news of the sudden passing away of one of the world’s most respected and beloved anti-imperialist leaders, Comrade Kim Jong Il.” They aren’t the only ones. Chris Coleman, of the fantastically named Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), expressed his “deepest sadness at the untimely passing of the great leader”. Andy Brooks, the general secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain, described Kim Jung Il as devoting “his entire life to serving the Korean people”.
One wonders what forces these fundamentalist micro-groups to take these insane positions. What’s revolutionary about supporting a backward Stalinist monarchy? How does the Kim dynasty promote socialism in any way? Do they really believe this is a dialectical approach to world politics?
To finish off, I will leave you a selection of the freakishly Orwellian titles that were bestowed upon Kim Jung Il during his horrific reign, which I, with my strange sense of humour, found mildly amusing:
Sun of the Communist Future
Guarantee of the Fatherland’s Unification
Beloved and Respected General
The Great Sun of Life
Great Sun of The Nation
World Leader of The 21st Century
Bright Sun of the 21st Century
Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven
Invincible and Ever-triumphant General
Guiding Star of the 21st Century
Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love
Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have