Where We Stand

http://mltoday.com/where-we-stand?utm

Network of Communist Clubs (NCC)
Political Declaration
January 8, 2015
 
At a meeting in Pittsburgh on August 16, 2014, a group of Communist men and women, Black, white, and Latino, formed a Network of Communist Clubs (NCC). In so doing, we subscribe to the following ideas and principles. We invite those who share these ideas to join us to create local Communist clubs and develop a new Communist party with a program for the 21st century.
 
1. The social, political, and economic problems that plague the majority of the US people are ultimately rooted in the system of private ownership, corporate accumulation of wealth, class rule, and savage selfishness: capitalism.

The most transparent expression of this unjust system is the division of our society into two major classes: those who must seek employment to live and those who employ and exploit the others.

The underlying class contradictions of capitalism have not changed since capitalism appeared on the world stage. The world is entering a period when these contradictions are becoming more and more evident. The divisions between rich and poor in the world, most strikingly seen in the United States, become ever wider. The effects of pollution and climate change are growing. The climate crisis adds another powerful argument to the case for the transition from capitalism to socialism – human survival.

2. We live in the era of imperialism and resistance to it. Imperialism is capitalism in its monopoly stage. The U.S remains militarily the strongest imperialist country on the planet, though capitalism still develops unevenly, and other countries and blocs economically challenge the US.

Imperialist exploitation, occupation, and war dominate despite the fact that most nations have freed themselves from direct colonial control.   While most nations have freed themselves from being controlled outright, imperialist states still rule other nations through colonialism. This includes the US, which holds Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and US Virgin Islands under colonial subjugation.

Nevertheless, the resistance to US domination is increasing in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The class struggle in the US and the European Union promises to intensify.

3.   The science of Marxism-Leninism and its concepts of class struggle, state-monopoly capitalism and imperialism remain the best guide to understanding our world. Socialism — that is, a society based on productive property democratically owned and controlled by the workers for the benefit of all people — remains our goal, and the Leninist prescription of a “party of a new type” remains the best guide for successful struggles against capitalism.

4. The election of an African-American President convinced some that we had entered a “post-racial” era in which a person’s race was socially irrelevant and no longer played a role in determining their life chances. However, the racist legacy of slavery, genocide, and Jim Crow continues in the form of mass incarceration, Stand Your Ground laws, attacks on public education, the War on Terror, deportation, and other ongoing and increasing attacks on working people of color.

We believe compensatory actions, affirmative actions are essential elements on the path to erasing the legacy of slavery and the national oppression that came in its wake. Contemporary racism is not only a historical legacy; it is sustained by the drive for corporate superprofits.

Racist oppression diminishes the health, safety, income, and overall well-being of people of color. It pits white workers against workers of color, and stokes antagonisms among racially oppressed workers of different races and ethnicities. Yet, racism not only harms people of color, but also harms white workers who are encouraged to blame racial minorities for problems that are caused by capitalism and that can only be solved through the self-activity of a working class united across all ethnic, racial, religious, and national lines. The struggle against racism thus remains a central task of Communists, one inextricably tied to workers’ struggle in their own class self-interest.

Racial and national oppression started with the arrival of capitalism to these shores and the treatment of the Native American peoples. It will not end until the reasons for it are abolished. Genocide is not too strong a word for the treatment of Native American peoples.

5. As residents of the main imperialist power, U.S. Communists have a special obligation to fight against the military interventions, electronic spying, CIA operations, drone attacks, torture, and other affronts to peace and human dignity conducted by the U.S. Government. For the same reason, we have a special obligation to build international solidarity with Communists and others abroad fighting for peace, workers power, national sovereignty and socialism.  The War on Terror, like the big lie of the “Soviet Threat“ before it, is used to justify US aggression and boundless military spending.

6. The struggle for workers’ interests and workers’ power remains the fulcrum for changing the world. The cutting edge of this struggle remains the trade unions. Communists must not only resist the erosion of collective bargaining and union rights but must struggle within the trade unions for a program of class struggle unionism. Our notion of class struggle unionism does not concede the employers’ right to a profit. Nor does it separate the struggle of members for a contract from the larger issues that impact the community, the nation, or the world.

7.  The institutions of modern-day US capitalism — the criminal-justice system, the media, cultural production, the party system — tighten the grip of Wall Street and create profound crises for the rest of us. Millions now see that the two-party system sustains corporate power and is an impediment to majority rule. Democracy requires building political independence of the two-party system.

8. In an era of deteriorating economic conditions, cutbacks in education, health and social services, environmental crisis, and rising Right-wing and religious fundamentalist ideologies, class struggle takes various forms. Communists not only need to join these struggles, but also bring to them a class perspective. This includes the struggles of women, members of the LGBTQ community, students, the aged, and immigrants. It also includes the struggles to preserve the environment and protect privacy, voting rights, civil liberties, and to create a health care system that serves people, not profits.

Oppression in the US takes many forms. The largest category of special oppression is women who still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gap is much greater for African-American and Latina women. The oppression they suffer is not only economic. The continuing attack on the reproductive rights of women particularly affects working class and women of color. Therefore, we recommit ourselves to significantly increase the fight for women’s equality.

9. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist countries represented the greatest setback in the history of workers’ and peoples’ struggles. Though these countries were not without problems, the Soviet Union represented the strongest curb on imperialism, the greatest support for the economic well being of workers everywhere in the world, and the greatest aid to countries and movements struggling for national independence and socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union has caused many Communists or former Communists to become confused, cowardly and ashamed of their own history.

10. The Communist Party USA, in spite of its glorious history and many decent members, has irretrievably lost its way. It has abandoned most of its former ideology and organization, forsaken the struggle against racism and international solidarity, eschewed change in the trade unions and action in the streets, and tried to channel all discontent into support for the Democratic Party.

11. As the crisis of capitalism deepens, as people’s economic uncertainty and suffering increase, the Right wing may continue to grow, but we believe one of the reasons for its influence is the lack of a Left-wing alternative. The best answer to the unrelenting rightward drift by the Democratic Party and much of the leadership of the trade unions and other organizations is to rebuild a real Left movement and political independence around such issues as peace, ending racist oppression, economic justice, environmental protection, and class-struggle trade unionism.

12. As Lenin taught, and the history of the Communist movement has proven, the two greatest impediments to successful struggle are opportunism (giving up principles for short-term gain) and sectarianism (a dogmatic unwillingness to work with others because of differences). We believe that resolving differences in tactics is achieved through engagement with others in the crucible of struggle.

For more information contact: TCC.NCC2014@gmail.com

Framing the DPRK: the US Still Cannot be Rational
| January 29, 2015 | 9:59 pm | Analysis, DPRK, International | No comments

The US Still Cannot be Rational when Dealing with North Korea

http://mltoday.com/framing-the-dprk-the-us-still-cannot-be-rational?utm

By Stansfield Smith

January 13, 2015

When it comes to North Korea, for the US government and its media, time stands still. They remain fixated in the 1950s Joe McCarthy worldview: the Red-Yellow peril, a monster capable of unimaginable evil, threatens our civilization and freedoms.North Korea’s Kim family is presented as three reincarnations of a Communist Dr. Fu Manchu.

Jakob Petterson recently wrote in MRZine Imperialism and The Interview: The Racist Dehumanization of North Korea: “The news media, for their part, abandon all journalistic integrity when reporting on the DPRK. On a regular basis, respected and widely read publications publish baseless, sensationalist, and racist stories about the country. Many of these stories are easily sourced to satirical sites — others to right-wing Fox News-esque South Korean newspapers.

Stories that hundreds of thousands of people read include Kim Jong-Un feeding his uncle to 120 starving dogs, forcing all North Korean men to get his haircut, and sending the DPRK soccer team to work in the coal mines after failing in the World Cup — stories which were all fake.” http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/pettersson271214.html

The US now makes a racist comedy about murdering a foreign head of state, and with a straight face, calls it an issue of “artistic” freedom. Obama showed himself happy to push this line, and pressed for its distribution after Sony withdrew it. What war hysteria would grip the US political elites if Putin endorsed a Russian comedy about murdering Obama, or if Iran made one about killing Netanyahu!

Deliberately unmentioned in the noise around North Korea is the long history of US intervention in Korea. In 1945, the US, divided the Korean peninsula in two, with no Korean input, even though Koreans were allies in the struggle against the Japanese occupation.

The US then pushed for separate elections in the South in 1948, and then invaded the country to back its ruthless dictator Syngman Rhee. During most of the Korean War, the United States held near-total aerial superiority, which it used, according to General Curtis LeMay, to kill one quarter of the north’s population, and to raze every city and structure in the north. An estimated four million Koreans have been killed, seventy percent of whom were civilians.

In spite of that genocide, Koreans fought on, inflicting on the US its first post-World War II defeat. In the US the war is referred to as “The Forgotten War,” whereas in North Korea, no one is able to forget. The inflammatory twist to the comedy, The Interview, blowing the head off evil enemy No. 1 Kim Jong Un, came from the CIA. An email from Sony’s senior vice president Marisa Liston, indicated that it came from Sony through the intelligence agency. “They mention that a former CIA agent and someone who used to work for Hilary [sic] Clinton looked at the script.”

Sony CEO Michael Lynton reveals that he checked with ” someone very senior in State” who, confidentially, encouraged him to finish this film representation of the assassination of a living head of state, a first in U.S. film history. http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2014/12/sony-hack-state-department-recruit-studio-chiefs-battle-terrorism/ Sony emails also show that Ambassador Robert King, incredibly enough, called “U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights” provided advice on the film. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/18/exclusive-sony-emails-say-studio-exec-picked-kim-jong-un-as-the-villain-of-the-interview.html

Who knows if King was instrumental in bringing the report to the UN Security Council that claimed North Korean prison guards were accused of cooking a prison inmate’s baby and feeding it to dogs, a story reminiscent of those the Nazis spread about Jews. Other abuses claimed to have taken place in North Korean prisons sound identical to what we have learned of US conduct in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

This so-called UN “Report of the commission of inquiry on human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” asserted: “These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, forcible transfer of populations…. a socioeconomically and physically segregated society… Violating the right to food, which were applied for the purposes of sustaining the present political system…. The State has consistently failed in its obligation to use the maximum of its available resources to feed those who are hungry. Military spending – predominantly on hardware and the development of weapons systems and the nuclear programme – has always been prioritized.” And so on.

Clearly, anyone with knowledge of US history and society today, knows this report could be written about the US, footnoted with abundant verifiable examples. Not to mention of its barbarity overseas.

Needless to say, the UN has not conducted a “commission of inquiry” on the United States’ own human rights situation. The political purpose of the Korea report, to smear the DPRK, is evident in that it makes no mention of US barbarity during its invasion of Korea, nor of US sanctions on North Korea, even those blocking international food aid in times of starvation.

Jimmy Carter had the honesty to say, “We’ve been destroying the economy of North Korea for 64 years. We’ve done everything we could to prevent their having a healthy economy…. I’ve been there several times, out into the rural areas where people live, and see horrible starvation because we refuse to give them any food assistance, even our surplus food.” http://news.yahoo.com/katie-couric-interviews-former-president-jimmy-carter-200847726.html

After Sony was hacked and embarrassed by what was revealed, the FBI quickly determined, based on secret information only they possess and cannot share with us (for our own safety) that the DPRK was behind this evil deed.

Then, Obama denounced North Korea and declared there will be consequences for threatening our freedoms and national security. It is remarkable how fast they operated here, compared to the laboriously slow – and unfinished – process the US government took over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the case of Troy Davis.

And let’s recall that North Korea has been dubbed a “black hole” by former CIA director Robert Gates, and “the longest-running intelligence failure in the history of espionage” according to ex-CIA Seoul station chief and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg. http://kpolicy.org/stranger-than-fiction-the-interview-and-u-s-regime-change-policy-toward-north-korea/?utm_source=Democracy+was+murdered&utm_campaign=Jan52015&utm_medium=email#_ednref4

A variety of computer analysts have disputed the claim that North Korea was involved in the hacking, but the Obama administration brushed it off with claims of safeguarding their “sensitive information” that allegedly proves North Korea’s guilt.

In response to the US accusations, The Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK said on December 20, http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm “They, without presenting any specific evidence, are asserting they can not open it to public, as it is ‘sensitive information.’ Clear evidence is needed to charge a sovereign state with a crime….We propose the U.S. side that we conduct a joint investigation into the case, given that Washington is slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.”

A sensible request. They add, “We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture as the CIA does.” But it was beneath the dignity of civilized and freedom-loving America to even respond. The story given to us by the corporate U.S. media was clear: North Korea was responsible for the hack because the government said it was.

More than a few have noted the similarity of Obama’s story of North Korean hacking to Lyndon B. Johnson’s concocted Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to sharply escalating the disastrous Vietnam war, and to Colin Powell’s just-so story to the United Nations Security Council about Saddam Hussein’s hidden stashes of chemical weapons, which led to the present disastrous wars in the Middle East.

While claiming to be indignant about threats to the internet, in a move that only US does not find to be utter hypocrisy, the US then proceeded to disrupt North Korea’s internet system and cell phone service.

President Obama then escalated that unjustified provocation by imposing new sanctions on North Korea, which the Treasury Department claimed was a response to that country’s “efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.” Lost on them is that the US that is doing exactly this, to North Korea. And meanwhile, the actual guilty party, a woman ex-employee of Sony, gets off scott free. Such is the manner the US government “protects” our internet freedoms. http://boingboing.net/2015/01/02/obama-administration-north-ko.html

One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports…Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack. “All the leads that we did turn up that had a Korean connection turned out to be dead ends,” he said.

The information found by Norse points to an employee or employees terminated in a May restructuring and hackers involved in distributing pirated movies online that have been pursued by Sony, Stammberger told Bloomberg. http://nypost.com/2014/12/30/new-evidence-sony-hack-was-inside-job-cyber-experts/

Obama in his last press conference of the year, did use the occasion to push for the release of this racist comedy The Interview, using this issue to divert attention from the recently released report on CIA torture and his own refusal to prosecute the US terrorists-in-chief. The US then moved to reinstall North Korea on its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.

Simultaneous with Obama press conference attacking the DPRK, in actual real news from Korea, unmentioned here, the South Korean government banned the United Progressive Party, the only party advocating peace, reunification, and social justice, claiming “it was under orders from North Korea to subvert the South Korean state through violent revolution.”

Sometimes North Korean editorials go over the top, as the December 27 one after Obama held a news conference and pushed for the release of the film belittling North Korea and assassinating Kim Jong Un: “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” Yet US leaders themselves have a long history of habitually depicting North Koreans in a racist and sub-human manner.

The DPRK statement did go on to say:

“We’d like to ask if somebody made a film concerning terror, and if somebody intends to instigate terror, can Obama talk about freedom of expression and value of modern civilization?

“We take this opportunity to clearly announce once again: the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has nothing to do with us. We make it clear that our target is not such individual corporations as Sony Picture but the US imperialist brigands who keep a grudge against our entire nation.

“If the US intends to insist that we are the hacking attackers they must present evidence now. But the United States unconditionally connects the disastrous hacking attack with us, without evidence [and] without clear grounds. Actually, the big United States shamelessly began to obstruct the internet operations of major media of the DPRK.

“We have already warned them not to act in the way of shaking a fist after being hit by somebody.

“Of course, we do not expect our warning would work on the brigands because it is the United State that makes the truth recognized by all people into a falsehood, triggers wars of aggression, and unhesitatingly intervenes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state if it is to satisfy their aggressive ambitions…

“It [was] none other than the United States that ignited an aggressive war in Korea…[that] triggered off the aggressive Vietnamese war and that conquered Iraq, by fabricating a groundless conspiratorial farce, called ‘removal of weapons of mass destruction.’ If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite [the DPRK’s] repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed policies will face inescapable deadly blows.”

These are words that would strike one as worth consideration, if it were not that the US public remained so mired in Joe McCarthy’s worldview on Korea, where we are still the world good guys, and they, the evil red-yellow peril, are so evil that no one dare murmur that North Korea be taken seriously.

A shorter version of this article recently appeared in Counterpunch. Stansfield Smith went on a delegation to the DPRK in March 2013, and has written several articles on his visit.

Marx Engels Collected Works
| January 28, 2015 | 10:16 pm | Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, Readings | No comments
karl marxengelsA friend told me you can access 49 of 50 of the Marx Engels Collected Works and download them onto your iPad or computer at http://thecharnelhouse.org/2014/04/29/copyright-controversy-over-marx-engels-collected-works/
Not one more dime for the union-busting, billionaire outfit True North
| January 28, 2015 | 10:08 pm | Communist Party Canada, Labor | No comments
Communist Party of Canada – Manitoba
387 Selkirk Ave. Winnipeg MB R2W 2M3
(204) 586-7824 – cpc-mb@changetheworldmb.ca


January 28, 2015


Public letter to Winnipeg City Council

January 28, 2015

Dear members of City Council,

The media will probably insulate the public from my comments, but I want to say this about True North’s plan to build a hotel and, likely, retail space to link with the Convention Centre. More gambling machines could line the new hallways with funds going to True North.

I don’t want to see another dime of City money go to a union-busting, billionaire-backed outfit like True North. This is an outfit that receives at least $12.5 million in public money every year, and fails to say even a small thank-you on its website.

We are talking about a quarter-billion dollars in public money over twenty-five years being sucked up by True North with no accountability, calculated before we landed the Jets franchise. How fair is that to other downtown hotels?

I’m not counting the recently-installed gambling machines whose revenue goes to True North and subsidies to support the Jets franchise. How many more machines will True North want in the new development?

It is a private corporation that does not have to report its profits, unlike how the government forces First Nations (who are owed resources and funds) and trade unions (who are democratic, unlike corporations) to disclose all their spending.

This privileged outfit busted the union that worked at the publicly-owned Arena.

To me, you are allowing CentreVenture to get away lightly for signing a deal with True North.  You have the power to make True North give the stagehands their jobs back, show some gratitude, and disclose its finances.

If True North fails to do that right away, then it’s time for you to reverse the privatization of the Arena.

I am unable to make these comments in person to you today, but I hope the discussion at council shows you will put people before billionaires.

I’d put $12.5 million a year towards building houses and child care centres, not supporting an outfit like True North.

Darrell Rankin
Leader, Communist Party of Canada – Manitoba

CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted of Espionage
| January 27, 2015 | 9:37 pm | Action | No comments

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TVuuK76xorc

Happy Birthday Angela Davis
| January 27, 2015 | 9:34 pm | Angela Davis | No comments

http://kalamu.com/neogriot/2015/01/26/history-video-happy-birthday-angela-davis/

Empire Follies
| January 27, 2015 | 9:15 pm | Analysis, DPRK, International | No comments

- from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Remember Saddam Hussein? Muammar Gaddafi? They were, like others before them, labeled international pariahs, thanks to Western officialdom’s demonization and an unrelenting media campaign painting them as evil incarnate. A careful observer may have noticed the contradictory shifts in elite opinion about these characters coincident with US and European interests. When Hussein was killing Iraqi Communists he wore a white hat. Similarly, when Gaddafi cooperated with Western oil interests, like the Italian Eni company, he wasn’t such a bad chap.
After making the top of the US/NATO wanted posters, both were summarily executed, one quasi-legally and the other butchered by “freedom-loving” bandits.
The curious thing about the demise of these tyrants, supposedly hated by their own people, is that their respective countries collapsed into sectarianism, death, and despair as a result of the Western campaigns. What were once among the most secular and socially and economically advanced countries in the Middle East and Africa are now failed states, with violence, inadequate health and welfare services, and deteriorating living conditions touching almost every life. Of course no Western humanitarian democrat will take any responsibility for this catastrophe. It’s a pity they can’t blame Saddam or Gaddafi.
Today, the top wanted poster, the top name on the hit list is owned by Kim Jong-un, the current leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Kim, the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the DPRK and a figure revered as a resistance leader against the Japanese occupiers, is the third generation of a family holding the leading post. Western opinion-makers invariably mock this penchant for hereditary secession, while conveniently overlooking over 80 years of hereditary rule in trusted ally, Saudi Arabia. The other Husseins, the family that has ruled Jordan since its independence, are never derided by the Western press, either. They, too, have been compliant friends of US and European leaders.
The DPRK has long followed a self-reliant, go-it-alone path that its leaders call Juche.
During the Soviet era, the DPRK maintained formal, but distant relations with the socialist community, insisting on blazing its own path. Many sympathetic observers saw this approach to Marxism-Leninism as excessively voluntarist, that is, overly confident in men and women’s ability to master objective conditions, material impediments.
That said, the foreign policy of the DPRK has been a consistent application of Juche philosophy.
At the same time, DPRK posture toward other countries has been shaped profoundly by the experiences of the mid-century Korean War. The near total destruction of the northern part of the Korean peninsula by the US’s air power and scorched earth policy left the DPRK with a determination to find a deterrent to a repeat of that catastrophe. They found that deterrent in the crash development of a nuclear-weapon capacity. Given the US and NATO’s attempt to reorder the world in the Western image since the demise of Soviet power that decision seems, in retrospect, to be both wise and effective.
Despite the fact that the DPRK has remained at peace for over sixty years, the US government and its servile, spineless media have maintained an unrelenting campaign of slander and bellicosity.
Not unlike the fear-mongering and fantasies concocted against socialist Cuba, the DPRK has been depicted as a land of prisons and deprivation. Much of the hysterical imagery comes from defectors, in particular, Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin’s story was compiled in a book by Washington Post writer, Blaine Harden, with the ominous title: Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West. The book was favorably reviewed by nearly every major journal. A member of the United Nations’ first commission of inquiry into human rights abuses of North Korea reportedly cited Shin as the world’s “single strongest voice” on the atrocities inside North Korean camps.
DPRK officials answered by releasing a video of Shin’s father and family members denouncing him as a falsifier, a fugitive from a rape charge.
Of course NO ONE in the toady capitalist media placed any credibility in this claim. Nor did any Western journalists seriously listen to the other defectors who challenged details claimed by Shin. The story is too good, too spectacular to question.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. And unfortunately, nothing short of a confession would convince the shabby Western media, the UN, or the predisposed human rights groups. They got that confession on January 16 when Shin reported that portions of his harrowing tale were fiction. Sheepishly, he withdrew from further public comment, anticipating that further exposure would come forth.
The UK Independent reported: “Human rights activists said this could significantly set back the campaign to indict Kim for crimes against humanity.” One would hope so! One would hope that the fact that the primary source for demonizing Kim admitted to lying might encourage human rights groups to actually rethink the campaign. Could it be that some human rights groups are as corrupted as the major Western media that foisted the Shin farce on the public?
With scant evidence, the US and European commentariat constantly reminds us that the DPRK is a bleak, gloomy landscape populated by starving, freedom-hungry people. A Singapore commercial photographer, Aram Pan, had read and heard these harsh judgments. As reported by the conservative UK Daily Mail last May:
When a man from Singapore had his wish to visit North Korea granted, he braced himself for the scenes of ‘barren lands’ and ‘really, really sad people’ that he had seen via a BBC Panorama documentary.
But what he found blew his mind – for all the right reasons.
Inside the communist enclave in 2013, photographer Aram Pan witnessed bustling markets, men and women enjoying themselves at a Western looking water park and miles and miles of crops ready for harvest, shattering all of his illusions about what a holiday to North Korea would entail.
Though expecting to find it difficult to get into the supposedly secretive state, Mr Pan explained: “I sent several mails and faxes to multiple North Korean contacts, all of which are easily available online if you do a search. Then one day someone actually replied and I met their representative. It was a lot easier than I expected.”
After two visits, the incongruity of official and media accounts and what he actually saw troubled Mr. Pan:
Coming back from my second trip, many things still puzzle me. I’ve travelled from Pyongyang to Hyangsan to Wonsan to Kumgangsan, to Kaesong and back. The things I’ve seen and photographed tell me that the situation isn’t as bad as I thought.
People seem to go about their daily lives and everything looks so incredibly normal. Some of my friends tell me that everything I’ve seen must be fake and all that I’ve photographed are a massive mock up.
But the more I think about that logic, the more it doesn’t make any sense… would anyone mock up miles and miles of crops as far as my eyes can see and orchestrate thousands of people to seemingly go about their daily lives?
Mr. Pan’s pictures can be seen here.
In another shining example of a US ally’s firm grip on human rights and democratic principles, the Republic of Korea (ROK), the DPRK’s capitalist neighbor to the south, was deporting Korean-American Shin Eun-Mi for “praising” the DPRK in lectures in Seoul. According to Deutsche Welle in an article last week, Ms. Shin, a California native and no relation to Shin Dong-hyuk, “… angered the South Korean authorities when she said a number of North Koreans living in South Korea would prefer to return to their home country because of the frustration with their lives in the South. She also said that many North Koreans were hopeful the communist nation’s young leader Kim Jong-Un would improve the quality of life in the hermit state.”
“The writer also praised North Korean beer, which she said was better than the South’s ‘tasteless’ brews.”
Apparently, preferring the DPRK beer could put you in ROK prison for up to seven years.
Earlier, in December, Ms Shin was attacked by a high school student who threw a home-made explosive devise at her in protest of her speech. You can see the attack here. A conservative journalist immediately raised $17,000 for the terrorist’s defense. Local police held Ms. Shin for questioning regarding her speeches, according to the Wall Street Journal. I suppose that’s how US allies honor human rights.
Not surprisingly, these counter-narratives, accounts at odds with officialdom, are absent or buried in the back pages of Western media. But in the forefront is the flap over the hacking of entertainment giant Sony’s internal data. After the bottom-feeding media squeezed all the scandal and gossip from the now-public data, a wave of indignation swept through the US. Through a tenuous link with another stupid, vulgar movie about to be released by Sony, officials and opinion-makers pointed an angry finger at the DPRK. They hacked Sony, President Obama proclaimed, and the government had the evidence.
Leading internet security companies, normally beholden to a prominent customer like the US government, insisted that the US government was mistaken. They cited many discrepancies that not only made it unlikely that the DPRK was involved, but that it could not have been the perpetrator. An inside job was indicated.
With its usual flippancy, the government countered that they knew differently, but they could not reveal how they knew without jeopardizing national security.
Later, government officials claimed that they had penetrated the DPRK’s internet some time ago and to such an extent that the evidence was irrefutable. Oddly, the penetration was not sufficient to warn Sony in advance.
In a fit of pique worthy of a school-yard bully, the US government shut down the DPRK internet for a day or two, while refusing to admit or deny their action. Other sanctions ensued.
By contrast, DPRK officials, often charged with irrational bellicosity, calmly suggested that the two countries establish a joint commission to explore the DPRK’s alleged role in the Sony hack. The suggestion was ignored.
An idiotic Sony film, The Interview, was pushed center stage in this dust up. Sony adroitly retired the film which depicts the gory assassination of Kim Jong-un supposedly out of fear that the DPRK would retaliate. Sony executives who travel in the same fantasy-movie world as former President Ronald Reagan sought to gin up the hysterical xenophobic madness of Hollywood’s earlier Red Scare abominations: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Red Dawn 1, and Red Dawn 2. In fact, you would have to reference Red Dawn 2 to conjure even the remotest idea of an improbable DPRK retaliation. Following the script of Red Dawn 2, Sony’s bosses undoubtedly foresaw fanatical paratroopers descending upon their studios to punish them for the virtual assassination.
Media mavens swallowed the Sony bait. A campaign emerged to release the vulgar, inane movie and urge attendance as an act of defiance against the DPRK. It was as though we were being asked to tell fart jokes to demonstrate our devotion to freedom of speech.
Everyone involved in this travesty should be embarrassed.
Demeaning the DPRK is a diplomatic obsession. But the DPRK does not take slights or insults lightly. Nonetheless, they have offered to unconditionally repatriate US citizens charged or imprisoned for various illegal acts (Evangelical proselytizers are a frequent violator, determined to bring Christianity to the heathens. Like the missionaries of earlier empires, they serve both masters– God and imperialism– to tame the heathens). They have only asked in the past that the US send high ranking officials to facilitate the repatriation. To anyone attuned to diplomatic niceties, this is a gesture designed to bring parties together without either party suffering the appearance of submissiveness. Clearly, the DPRK sought to open conversation or negotiation. In every case, the US has used the occasion to ignore or rebuff the offer. Sometimes a powerless public figure would attend the repatriation. Other times, they would send a lowly government figure.
In November of last tear, the DPRK sought to release the last two remaining US citizens– a provocateur and a religious zealot. They again asked for a cabinet-level official to receive the prisoners. Instead, the US sent James Clapper, the US national intelligence director. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Clapper made clear that the DPRK officials wanted to discuss serious matters: “The North Koreans seemed disappointed when he arrived without a broader peace overture in hand, he said. At the same time, they didn’t ask for anything specific in return for the prisoners’ release.” But Clapper had nothing. In his words: “They were expecting some big breakthrough. I was going to offer some big deal, I don’t know, a recognition, a peace treaty, whatever. Of course, I wasn’t there to do that, so they were disappointed, I’ll put it that way.”
After a three-hour dinner that followed his arrival, Mr. Clapper presented the officials with a curt letter from the US President written in English greeting the release of the prisoners as “a positive gesture.” “Gen. Kim Young Chol appeared to be taken aback when handed the letter, Mr. Clapper said.”
Is it any surprise that DPRK officials struggle to understand US motives? Are US administrators blunderers or unalterably committed to overthrowing the DRPK government? Decades of hostility would suggest the later.
Zoltan Zigedy
For three very good recent articles on the DPRK, please see:
(on The Interview) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/the-problem-with-the-inte_b_6456322.html
and Framing the DPRK: the US Still Cannot be Rational, forthcoming in Marxism-Leninism Today
(on the DPRK economy) http://mltoday.com/western-media-get-north-korean-economy-wrong


Posted By zoltan zigedy to ZZ’s blog at 1/27/2015 04:54:00 PM