This week, Ellis Garvey of the Marxist-Leninist magazine Challenge wrote something about the DPRK that made me realize how many parallels there are between the story of how the northern half of Korea became socialist, and the steps that we on the continent currently called "America" are going to need to take in order to also reach workers' democracy. If you've studied the nature of the colonial contradictions within "American" society, you'll likely see what I'm talking about upon reading Garvey's words:
There are many differences in the establishment of people's democracy and socialism in the DPRK following World War Two which separates how it originated from others. The struggle took a longer period of time and because the status of Korea moving from a semi-colony in 1876 to a full colonial holding of Japan in 1910 meant gaining independence was paramount to any possible revolutionary cause. Early attempts to uprise failed due to the lack of an effective vanguard (many of which were inspired by Sun Yat Sen's use of secret societies to lead the 1911 bourgeois revolution in China) that could rally to castoff the yoke of Japanese occupation. In rallying and uniting the nation, they would have to understand the different contradictions of the anti-imperialist classes (primarily the proletariat, peasantry, petit-bourgeoisie and progressive intellectuals) of the day so that they could, in the future, lead to total independence therefore allowing for the construction of socialism.
The DPRK's journey towards socialism has required more steps than has been the case for other socialist countries because the colonial contradictions plaguing it have been so severe, and the imperialist reaction that confronted it upon its liberation was so violent, that it's had to work through (and continues to have to work through) a series of especially long revolutionary challenges. Even after a generations-long effort to free itself from Japanese colonialism and establish a socialist republic, the newly formed DPRK then had to rebuild itself after the U.S. burned down every town within it and killed 20 percent of its population.
Since then, it's had to fend off the perpetual threat of a new genocidal regime-change invasion while doing its best to build up an economy amid U.S. sanctions that are designed to kill its people. And it still has yet to reunify with the other half of Korea, which is controlled by the U.S. empire and thus acts as a counterrevolutionary and often antagonistic force towards the north.
The more I study the conditions of the U.S., the more I recognize that the obstacles to revolution we must overcome are similar to those that Korea has faced, and that therefore we revolutionaries must prepare for what will likely be a lifetime of intense fighting against the forces of capitalist reaction. Because the U.S. is the core of global imperialism, it's been able to use both wage bribery of its workers and an especially strong propaganda and repressive apparatus to keep the masses from so far forming an effective revolutionary vanguard.
And like was the case for Korea during its fight against Japanese colonialism, the revolutionaries here won't be able to succeed until they recognize the colonial contradictions they'll need to work through. Which, given the deeply ingrained nature of the colonial "American" identity, won't be easy both for the general population and even for many who call themselves Marxists.
The information that those within the core of the empire are given about the DPRK, and about other socialist countries, makes this task of detaching the masses from Americanism all the more difficult. Americans are told that the DPRK is a "hermit kingdom" where free speech is outlawed, there's no democracy, and the government abuses human rights to the extreme. They're never told that Kim Jong Un has been democratically elected through a voting process with privately casted ballots and foreign electoral-integrity observers, that freedom of expression and political assembly are essential parts of the country's political process due to the mass meetings the country has for nominating candidates, and that DPRK defectors themselves have confirmed that the country's human rights are among the best in the world.
In the DPRK, torture is strictly forbidden, with solitary confinement not being practiced and even juvenile-detention centers not being part of the justice system. Also unlike in the U.S., those convicted of crimes in the DPRK don't become disenfranchised afterwards, contrary to the outrageous claims of generational persecution that are put forth by the opportunistic defectors who've been paid to fabricate atrocity stories. Outside perceptions of the country are also manipulated when it comes to how DPRK elections work. As the Marxist blog W rite to Rebel has observed about the country's process for picking candidates:
No-votes arise when the discussions of the masses become too contentious. In a certain sense, the masses sometimes have too much power. The elections exist to mediate this and come to truly democratic conclusions, where the will of the majority is enacted. The elections are not a barrier to democracy, but rather an expression of it... Citizens in capitalist countries are typically only made aware of one aspect of the election process in the DPRK. They are led to believe that only one candidate ever appears on the ballot, and this is used to paint the DPRK as dictatorial. The same method of selective reporting could be used to misrepresent Western 'democratic' systems. If the media only covered the electoral college during an American election, for example, they could easily assert that just 538 Americans were allowed to vote for president. This reveals the importance of rigorous research regarding the DPRK. While there may be elements of truth to Western reporting on the DPRK, they never reveal the whole picture. It is vital that we strike out on our own and refuse to trust the bourgeois media in the United States.
Why does our media mislead us about the DPRK so blatantly? Because if those within the U.S. found out how democratic this socialist republic really is, and how this has allowed the republic to provide ample free food, housing, education, and worker-run employment despite brutal imperialist sanctions and a necessity for great military spending, the U.S. masses would see what they must do to get themselves out of their dysfunctional and undemocratic current society. They would look at how the DPRK has achieved this, and take up the decades-long revolutionary task that's going to be required to establish an equivalent paradigm of workers' democracy on the continent currently called "America."
Like was the case for Korea's revolution, first there's going to need to be an overthrow of the colonial occupation, which in our case will mean the abolition of the U.S. government so that all of the indigenous tribes within its borders can regain full jurisdiction over the lands that were stolen from them. Then there's going to need to be the establishment of proletarian democracy within the liberated territories, which will be more complicated; not all of these hundreds of First Nations are going to embrace socialism at once, nor at the same pace. And many of them will likely have to overcome neo-colonial rule before they can join the socialist alliance, much like is the case for the capitalist U.S. client state in the Korean Peninsula's southern half.
There will likely also be a war on this continent between the revolutionaries and the imperialists before the revolutionaries can sustainably hold control over territory, like was the case in Korea. Already, the colonial occupier U.S. government is preparing for this internal war, building up the militarization of its police forces, having its partner in colonial genocide Israel train its law-enforcement members for intensified violent repression, and making plans for the military itself to invade U.S. cities so that near-future rebel forces can be crushed. But ultimately, all of Korea and all of the colonized indigenous nations here will fully liberate themselves from imperial control. From there, the development towards communism's goal of a classless, stateless society will be easier than it's ever been.
(Article changed on Jun 23, 2021 at 1:33 AM EDT)