Time To Forget Labour & Move On

Theresa May took the United Kingdom by surprise on the 18th of April when she called an early election for June 8th. She has, of course, said since becoming Prime Minister that no election would be held until 2020, and there are questions about whether parliament will allow the election to go ahead since the Fixed Term Parliament Act, introduced by the Coalition government in 2010, allows a General Election only once every five years. However, with the Labour Party so divided and the majority of its MPs willing to act against their Party’s interests to destabilise its left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the election may indeed happen and it is more than likely, despite the desperate hope among Corbyn supporters, that the Tories will win if it does.

The next few weeks will likely revolve around a single major question: who will push through a Brexit deal? While all parties, from MPs to grassroots campaigners, prepare themselves for the major political engagements to come, it is imperative that the British left take a hard and sober look at itself and ask some tough questions about its own tactics, objectives and politics.

The Inadequacy of Labour

Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in September 2015 (and again a year later, when challenged by Owen Smith) the parliamentary opposition has been thoroughly divided against itself. Two narratives about this division have been put forward; Corbyn’s opponents, those (somewhat questionably) referred to as ‘Labour moderates’ by the press, argue that Corbyn is too left-wing to be credible among the middle class electorate and are appalled by the shift of the Party leadership away from their own centrist politics towards a mild, social-democratic reformism. By contrast, Corbyn’s supporters challenge this narrative, suggesting instead that the centrist Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), termed ‘Blairites’ because of their alleged affinity to the politics of the Party’s former leader and pariah Tony Blair, is frightened of Corbyn because he threatens their comfortable and steady careerism, offering the only real chance of substantial, progressive change in the content and direction of British politics as well as in the field of the economy.

There are grains of truth in both these narratives, but both fall within an overarching ideological framework which is, at least, very problematic. Much as they claim to be polar opposites, both the ‘Labour moderates’ and the Corbyn camp are firmly committed to the strategy of parliamentary opposition whereby their ultimate objective is to acquire political power and influence by means of elections. While it is undeniable that all politics is reducible in the last instance to the struggle for and exercise of power, the left must ask itself whether parliamentary and electoral contestation is an effective strategy for the attainment of its ends and, furthermore, in whose interest power would be exercised if it were to be won.

Of course, even with its current internal divisions and lack of credibility among much of the Brexit-focused electorate (in spite of what Corbyn’s enthusiastic supporters would have us believe), it remains possible, even probable that the Labour Party will win governmental office again one day, if not in the near future. The more important issue is whether Labour is capable of representing a genuinely progressive alternative to the status quo.

Corbyn was elected Labour leader on the back of a wave of frustration among many young and low-income Britons (as well as nostalgic ‘Old Labour’ survivors) fed up with the monotonous life offered by late capitalism. Stagnating incomes, worsening inequality and what Antonis Broumas describes as “the destabilisation of societal structures by financial markets, starting from states and businesses and reaching all the way down to communities and families” had generated widespread dissatisfaction among many strata of the population, and while some turned to the proto-fascist far-right, others saw a left-wing challenge to the continuance of the status quo in Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership. Winning by a landslide against three other candidates barely distinguishable from one another, it was thought that Corbyn, McDonnell & co. would bring the Party ‘back to its roots’ in the working class with policies favouring state ownership, social investment & relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth.

There were, of course, several problems with this. Although many blue-collar workers had had a tendency to vote Labour before the scrapping of Clause IV, Labour was never a working-class or socialist Party in the proper sense. While the Party was once capable of offering some economistic comforts to working people, such as job security, relatively high wages and strong Unions, it never pursued the political power of the working class without which liberation from the systematic violence of market structures is impossible nor did it hesitate to suppress workers’ struggles when the power & profits of the bourgeoisie were threatened. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the traditional working class, centred around large-scale industry, which had formed the basis of Old Labour’s political strategy, has more or less disintegrated as a result of the outsourcing of industrial production to Third World countries with cheaper labour costs, and what remains of it can no longer be considered an effective collective agent of social change or the transcendence of the capital-labour relation.

It can therefore be argued that Corbyn’s appearance on the political scene, rather than the positive shake-up of the Establishment it was made out to be by his supporters, was in fact a negative and frustrating occurrence which prevented, or at least delayed, something which would’ve been much more progressive – the complete disassociation of self-identified socialists and progressives from the Labour Party. Let us be clear that Labour, no matter the rhetoric of its leadership, is a Party thoroughly integrated into the political apparatus of the capitalist State, and invariably behaves as such. The Party’s opposition to the very ‘austerity agenda’ it’s leadership claims to oppose has so far been ineffectual, with Corbyn ordering Labour councils to implement the budget cuts he claims to be so fervently against (Labour activists tend to claim that council officers will implement the cuts if Labour-controlled councils refuse to do so, as if cuts are somehow more humane when implemented by the Labour Party), and it is therefore difficult to believe, in the absence of complete self-delusion, that Labour, whether led by Corbyn or Karl Marx, could present a socialist opposition to capitalism.

Against Elections, For Struggle

There have been debates around the desirability of a new parliamentary Party of the left, but it is reasonable to argue that after decades of socialists and legal Marxists unsuccessfully attempting to utilise the structures & processes of bourgeois democracy towards socialist ends, the struggle against capitalism and imperialism must be centred outside the field of electoral or parliamentary politics.

As Lenin explained a century ago, the State, of which parliament and elections are an integral part, is not a neutral mechanism standing above the class antagonisms of society. On the contrary, the State is a product of the conflict between classes; its very existence is testament to the fact that the conflicting interests of the various classes cannot be reconciled unless and until the entire social formation which opposes classes to one another is transcended.

It follows that capitalism cannot be transformed into socialism by means of contestation of parliamentary seats. Participation in electoral politics (not to mention orientation of political strategy around elections) is counterproductive to those who seek an avenue for socialist and working class politics, because elections, far from being a valid method of contesting the power of the elites or “the 1%”, are in fact the principal means of restraining politics to the structures and ideological framework of the bourgeois State; their centrality to political discourse only obstructs the exploration of the alternative, mass-based political practices and forms of organisation, outside the bourgeois State,  which the proletariat will require to overthrow capitalist-imperialism and build socialism.

This is not to say that elections can’t have their uses. Socialists & revolutionaries can permit themselves to work with progressive candidates over issues of mutual concern, as long as they continue to advocate a proletarian political line and do not subordinate themselves to parliamentary/electoral considerations. In addition, the appearance of particular progressive candidates in electoral contests has the potential to open a more general space for debate and the advocacy of more radical ideas which we would do well to exploit. However, our political strategy must never be centred around elections or parliamentary politics which are, in the last instance, a spectacle whose purpose is the remove politics from the arena of the everyday lives of ordinary people (where it belongs) and place it instead into the realm of Parties, States and high politics.

What Can We Do?

As I said above, politics and political power belong among the everyday lives of ordinary working people, and it is imperative of communists and socialists to build it there. There are those who, whether openly or implicitly, treat community work and political agitation among the people as nothing more than a compliment to electoral politics, the ultimate aim of which is merely to encourage people to vote Labour, Green, etc.

Treating the masses as nothing more than voters and approaching community work as an exclusively local, short-term concern is an inexcusable mistake for anyone who claims the title ‘socialist’. It is the sinful, victimised, flawed, imperfect masses of real proletarians who are at the centre of politics, not the parties, politicians and statesmen about whom we hear so much. Politics is ours, not theirs, as is the world and everything produced (by us, by our class) in it. It is with us, among us, in our daily interactions with one another, with our bosses, with our work, with our families and friends, that power is to be found. Work among the masses is neither a hobby, nor a pastime, nor a way of securing votes; it is a vital means of building an alternative, revolutionary, working class political power opposed to that of the bourgeois State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Again, If You Think Anti-Imperialism is “Apologism”, You’re Missing the Point…

What do anarchists, Maoists and Marxist-Leninists have in common? No, this is not the set-up of a bad joke. What we on the revolutionary left share is the conviction that our aim is the overthrow of capitalism and the State. At least, that is the claim. However, when confronted with actual issues of anti-imperialist praxis, many self-proclaimed revolutionaries seem to turn into average, whining liberals making their excuses for imperialism.

This is best illustrated with an example, and one of the most appropriate contemporary examples is that of North Korea. Every principled communist recognises the necessity of defending North Korea against the intimidation tactics of the US imperialists. This is because, though the world is complicated, communists recognise that US-led imperialism is still the primary enemy of the world’s masses and the principle obstacle to liberation. Communists therefore take it upon themselves to defend North Korea by any means at their disposal, including anti-war campaigns, working to improve cultural ties, and refuting the lies and half-truths spread about the country both by imperialist State media and by the ‘soft’ ideological apparatuses of imperialism such as “pro-democracy” NGOs. This last point is a vital and necessary component in opposing the ideological foundation of the imperialist war-drive.

It seems fairly obvious to a communist that no country can be bombed into freedom, particularly when those bombs are being dropped by the most ravenous and aggressive military in modern history. Whatever problems the Korean people have, those problems are for the Korean people alone to deal with, while we in the West must expend our efforts in opposing interventionism and aggression against any country, no matter which, no matter under which circumstances. As Lenin wrote over a century ago, “if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, India on England, Persia or China on Russia, and so forth [i.e. an oppressed, poor country against an oppressing, rich country – RC], those would be “just”, “defensive” wars, irrespective of who attacked first; and every Socialist would sympathise with the victory of the oppressed, dependent, unequal states against the oppressing, slaveowning, predatory “great” powers”. It was true then, and it is true now. However, mention North Korea to an anarchist, or a (supposedly anti-war) liberal, and all international context, all talk of imperialism and solidarity, all revolutionary comprehension is flung out, tossed aside, and our anarchist and our liberal starts spouting the same nonsense about the governments and regimes of the victimised countries as the imperialists. Intentionally or unintentionally, by choosing to emphasise the negative in the countries victimised, intimidated and attacked by imperialism rather than the conflict, the contradiction between these countries and imperialism, these so-called ‘revolutionaries’ become mouthpieces for the imperialist bourgeoisie little different from the warmongers on Fox News.

That the countries which are victimised by imperialism are not paradises, that many of them are governed by regimes which rule contrary to the interests of the popular masses, even that some of them have been terroristic bourgeois dictatorships, is not the point. The point is that no matter how anti-people a country’s government may be, the intervention of imperialism invariably worsens the situation. Not once in history has imperialist aggression or occupation improved a situation, in any country – on the contrary, imperialism multiplies the sufferings of the masses, manipulating politics, culture, economics and social organisation to its own ends with extensive and perpetual terror, whether physical or structural. No-one can claim, for example, that Saddam Hussein’s regime was popular, revolutionary, or that it stood on the side of the mass of Iraqi proletarians and peasants. Nevertheless, every left-winger worth his salt opposed the US-British invasion of Iraq and were right to do so, seeing that a puppet regime was subsequently installed and a murderous chaos swept over the country.

Neither North Korea, nor Syria, nor any other country subjected to the intimidation, blackmail, and aggression of imperialism is too much different: no matter what our opinion of their governments or political systems, it is the duty of revolutionaries to oppose the agendas of ‘their own’ ruling classes, to stand against the war-drive unconditionally and in all circumstances, and to stand in solidarity of the victims of imperialism. Whatever other problems the people of the world have, whatever internal issues they face, those issues and problems are theirs to handle, not ours; as citizens of the imperialist metropolises and revolutionaries at one and the same time, our policy, our duty, is not to spout “look how totalitarian North Korea is”, it is not to promote the spreading of bourgeois democracy into Syria or Iran. Positions like these disqualify anyone who holds them, whether ‘anarchist’, ‘communist’ or whoever else from the right to call themselves ‘revolutionary’ or ‘anti-imperialist’, because they are identical with the positions, standpoints, and agendas of imperialism. Our policy, our duty as revolutionaries is to stand against the imperialist bourgeoisie of our own countries, to work for the defeat of their class interests and their policies of aggression. As Lenin said, “during a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its own government”. This standpoint is true not only in times of war, but at all times: a revolutionary class cannot but desire the frustration of the reactionary, imperialist State’s aims, the weakening of its structures and the failure of its reactionary policies.

 

We Need Militant Anti-Imperialism, Not Pacifism

The international imperialist camp, headed by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, holds the permanent spectre of war over the heads of the world’s inhabitants. It is, for the most part, capable of maintaining itself through mechanisms of structural and systematic coercion, whereby institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank bind the majority of countries to economic systems and policies which are disproportionately favourable to the already-wealthy imperialist countries, while so-called ‘Third World’ countries which, owing to the abundance of natural resources (such as the Congo, a primary supplier of the valuable resource of Cobalt) are left to stagnate in poverty.

Imperialism, a word once on the tongues of proletarians from the largest cities to the smallest farms and factories, is not a conspiracy of the ‘looney left’. This is not the 1930s, when workers, to varying extent, recognised that their interests and the path to collective improvement was opposed to capitalism, nor the 1960s when, sometimes cautiously, sometimes adopting naïve and ultra-leftist political outlooks, millions mobilised, in their own ways, against imperialism, epitomised by US aggression against Vietnam. To secure oil, rubber, and suppression of the idea that a poverty-stricken people in Southeast Asia could openly defy US interests and voluntarily choose sovereignty and socialism over American capitalism were the aims of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations, all of which found themselves disgraced when farmers in sandals, shouldering twenty year old rifles and carrying their small pouches of rice with them, left the most formidable military machine in the world running from Saigon with its tail between its legs.

Forty-two years after the end of the War in Vietnam, the resistance of the Vietnamese people and the mobilisation of millions of ordinary folk all over the world against the US presence there still provide a striking example from which revolutionaries, anti-imperialists, and the honest and sincere advocates of liberation from the structural violence and systematised anarchy of international capitalism continue to draw lessons. Opposition to imperialism is an unconditional duty of anyone calling themselves ‘socialist’ or ‘revolutionary’. As Che Guevara said, anti-imperialism “is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to death or victory”, because we know that the same imperialism which today bombs the only force standing between the Syrian people and the overt, religious fascism of Daesh, the same imperialism which today crushes the lives out of poor farmers in Indonesia, the same imperialism which today reduces Venezuelans to going without basic necessities and Greeks to scraping a difficult and painful living…this same imperialism reduces social services to decay, piles hundreds of patients in hospital hallways for lack of staff, beds and room on the ward, drives thousands to prison or depression through debt. Though our country has become and remained rich through imperialism, while the nations of the Third World are squeezed, it is the same imperialism which bears down upon the proletarians of Britain, the oppressed nationalities in the United States, and the people of the Third World.

So-Called ‘Anti-Tankies’

At protests against war, conferences called to oppose budget cuts to important social programmes, and in all the four corners of social media, one can find without too much effort a petty, arrogant, self-absorbed type of individual who prefers to be referred to as “anti-tankies”. The typical anti-tankie is somewhat obnoxious, usually spending more time deriding anti-imperialists’ solidarity with the people of North Korea against the permanent militaristic intimidation imposed by the US (through nuclear blackmail, the occupation of South Korea by tens of thousands of American troops, massive yearly military drills which simulate invasion of the North, etc.), or with our support for the people and the Army of Syria against US-European proxy militias such as the FSA and religious fascists such as Daesh, than denouncing imperialism itself.

The ‘anti-tankie’ enjoys denouncing the alleged ‘crimes’ and ‘human rights abuses’ of countries like North Korea, China, Syria, etc. while remaining mysteriously silent on the crimes of the US. He (and from what I’ve seen they are overwhelmingly male) doesn’t understand that anti-imperialist solidarity, support for the peoples and countries which stand in opposition to the hegemony of the imperialist bloc, does not imply uncritical cheerleading for the political standpoints or governments of such peoples, movements or countries, anymore than the Chinese Communist Party’s agreement to a United Front with the Kuomintang against Japanese aggression implied the Mao was singing the praises of Chiang Kai-shek. Solidarity with the victims of imperialism, with, for example, the people and the government of Syria, is the recognition in terms of practical politics that the contradiction between the Syrian people and the regime which governs them is, under the conditions of an aggressive assault by proxies of the United States and Europe which has seen hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed, subordinated (reduced to a non-antagonistic contradiction) to the antagonistic contradiction between Syria and the fascistic proxies of imperialism. As Lenin emphasised, “to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology”. This is not dogmatism, this is not a suggestion that any criticism of any Marxist political position is bourgeois; it is, on the contrary, a recognition that Marxism is so far beyond the bourgeois ideology and the bourgeois ideological conception of society that the only legitimate criticisms of Marxism originate within Marxism’s own framework. I mention this to paraphrase Lenin and say that to belittle anti-imperialism, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree is, wittingly or unwittingly, to support and strengthen imperialism. This includes, in times when a certain country or a certain people is under attack from imperialism, consciously choosing to emphasise the internal contradictions between the government and the people over the contradiction between the oppressed nation and imperialism. To do so is to strengthen and support imperialism, and to oppose the oppressed, and to oppose socialist revolution.

Revolutionary Defeatism and Pacifism

In addition to systematic economic coercion, structural violence, and military force, imperialism can call upon agencies of ‘soft’ power, often NGOs such as Amnesty International, to reinforce its agenda and discourage opposition. Though formally independent from the institutions of policymaking, such as the State Department in the US, these NGOs spread the ideological outlook of the imperialist bourgeoisie, encouraging people to conceptualise certain phrases in a particular way under the influence of a bourgeois and pro-imperialist worldview. For example, we are not encouraged to view “human rights” as the right to shelter, the right to food, the right to medical care, clothing, education, a liveable wage, and a degree of control over one’s own life and the life of one’s community independent of market and profit imperatives. Instead, “human rights” means the ‘right’ to a British-American style parliament, to a competitive system of multiple political parties created and dominated by the ruling class, out of touch with most of the population and encouraging partisan divides over support for parties while obscuring the economic and social interests of the class as a whole, the right to free speech for racists, homophobes, and others whose worldview depends on the dehumanisation and victimisation of folk for their way of life, etc., etc.

One of the most potent ‘soft’ ideological agencies of imperialism is the nefarious viewpoint of pacifism. Pacifism supposedly discourages violence in all circumstances, insisting that peaceful solutions can always be found. Gandhi, an icon in the West, was a pacifist who advocated unconditional non-violence (and also a racist). In countries such as the UK and the US Gandhi is practically deified, the symbol of the claim that peaceful non-cooperation can defeat empires if used correctly. In India, however, Gandhi is not so revered, and he is actively despised by some, while Bhagat Singh, a Marxist and pro-independence militant who fought violently against the British occupation, is widely revered, his legacy being claimed and exploited even by politicians and political parties who standpoints the man himself would probably have despised. Gandhi, it is reputed by some, may, by his policy of non-violence, have delayed Indian independence by more than a decade.

In the United States, it is Dr King who is held up to the masses as a hero of non-violent change. However, it seems today that Dr King’s more radical statements, such as “my government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and “capitalism has outlived its usefulness”, are obsessively hushed up, as is the fact that he was most likely assassinated by someone within the very political Establishment with which he often tried desperately to cooperate. It is not unreasonable to argue that the gains made by black people in the United States were granted more out of white fear of the Black Liberation Movement whose figureheads were people like Malcolm X and the Black Panthers than because of the genuine effectiveness of MLK’s non-violence, while even today the non-violent, non-disruptive, largely private protests of Colin Kaepernick have provoked outrage from the white supremacist, chauvinistic liberal establishment.

The lesson ought to be clear: Pacifism is a poison, which keeps crushed, victimised and attacked people unarmed. It is a still-born attempt to fight against an enemy within his rules. Violence, the antagonistic clash of two irreconcilable aspects of the same thing, is an inherent part of change in nature, and society is no different. We must not begrudgingly, reluctantly accept that some force may be necessary to overthrow the violent, rigid, powerful and thoroughly trenched social, economic and political order of capitalist imperialism, but embrace revolutionary, liberating violence, a violence which restores humanity to impotent and pacified masses across the world, as a welcome and useful tool against the structural and reactionary violence of the system.

In Conclusion…

…The enemy is not ‘crony capitalism’, nor ‘the excesses of neoliberalism’, but capitalist-imperialism, a political, economic, social and cultural order so well entrenched that we cannot escape its influence even in the most private recesses of our thoughts. The way we think, the way we dream, the internalised belief-systems and ideological values which determine our behaviour patterns, are all shaped by imperialism – and that is especially true of people in the UK and countries like it, who live within the imperialist camp itself. For a long time, even after the overthrow of the ruling class, even after the construction of an economy designed to fully satisfy the needs of the whole population and elevate the masses above the animal concerns of food, shelter, and work, the traits of capitalist-imperialism will remain – not only in commodity production, in the necessity of certain forms of hierarchy, but also in our thought and behaviour patterns.

If we are ever to overthrow capitalist-imperialism, if we are ever to rid the planet of the systematically chaotic and anarchic rule of the market and push humanity towards the realisation of its full creative, productive, cultural and innovative potential, we must organise against imperialism, we must do battle with its ideology, with its conceptions and its worldview, and we must organise the masses of its victims against it as it actually manifests to fight against it as it actually is, as it actually exists. Militant solidarity between those trodden into the mud by imperialism, whether in Ferguson, Mexico, Syria or North Korea, seems like a good place to start.

 

You’re (Probably) Wrong About North Korea…

In light of the recent tensions between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it seems appropriate to produce a short piece about the little-known country in opposition to the hostility shown it by US-European policymakers.

Common Claims About the DPRK and Contrary Evidence

The following is a list of commonly-believed claims about North Korea which often come up in conversation, and the rebuttals of such claims.

“North Koreans are poor and often don’t have enough to eat”. While it is true that there are, sometimes, food and supply shortages in the DPRK, it is worth keeping in mind that the same is true of most countries in the world. Millions of people in India, Bangladesh, most of Africa, and even some parts of the United States and Europe lack healthy food, hygiene and basic services. The city of Flint, Michigan suffers from a water-supply which is so unclean that it quite literally poisons the people who live there, while slum-dwellers in India, in addition to often not being paid enough to buy food, often have to share such basic things as toilets between several dozen people. We in the west ought to remember that most countries around the world are poor and, unlike most countries, the DPRK is under one of the world’s strictest trade embargoes.

“North Koreans are subjected to constant pro-regime propaganda and lack unbiased information”. It is true that the DPRK media and information services can sometimes be restrictive, but we have to wonder whether our own ‘information services’ are too much better. Most people in our countries rely for their information on news outlets owned and controlled by multi-millionaires which provide partisan and low-quality reporting on both world affairs and our own countries. How many Americans, for example, know that their own government flooded neighbourhoods across the country with hard drugs to quell the political dissent of the Black Panthers, that the CIA effectively installed the Suharto regime in Indonesia which subsequently murdered up to three million people, that the US military sprayed Agent Orange, a lethal chemical weapon, over Vietnam which has left deformed babies being born even half a century after the war, or that it slaughtered upwards of 2 million Koreans during the Korean War? Now, compare the number of Americans who are aware of these documented facts, with the number who sincerely believe that North Koreans believe their leaders were sent from heaven and believe in unicorns, and you might start questioning your own information services before making claims about North Korea’s.

“North Korea is an oppressive dictatorship which imprisons anyone who questions or criticises the regime”. There is no reliable evidence of this whatsoever. First, defectors are not a dependable source of information about life in the country; their testimonies often fall apart with inconsistencies, all defectors are drilled by South Korean intelligence before they are allowed to speak to the press and, remember, there were Iraqi defectors who confirmed Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMDs, which turned out to be bogus. In addition, defectors often praise the United States, which is guilty of all the above-mentioned crimes and more, as a champion of freedom. Secondly, the United States has a habit of spraying peaceful protesters with tear gas, beating and severely injuring or even killing dissidents (such as Fred Hampton), and handing down outrageous sentences for petty crimes. Next time you’re about to claim that North Korea has hundreds of thousands of basically innocent people in prison camps, remember that the United States has two million people in the same situation, and the UK imprisons more people per head of the population than any other country in Europe.

“North Korea is an aggressive and unpredictable country”. Aside from a few minor artillery exchanges, as often as not initiated by South Korea, the DPRK has not attacked or been at war with anyone since the 1953 armistice which ended the Korean War, while the US has attacked around 30 countries in that same time, not including covert operations, and was usually the aggressor which initiated the hostilities.

“Foreign films and culture are not allowed into North Korea”. Frankly, I don’t think the Korean people are losing much because they can’t listen to Katy Perry or Justin Bieber. The DPRK does, however, host an annual International Film Festival.

“North Korea distributes its resources poorly, spending disproportionately on the military while the people suffer shortages”. The DPRK has been the victim of nuclear blackmail by the United States no less than 7 times since the Korean War, and there are 33,000 occupation troops maintained by the United States just across the border, in South Korea. It is often claimed by Western media, news outlets, documentaries and such that North Korea is paranoid to suspect that the United States is hostile towards it and ready to attack, but that is overlooking the fact that the US and South Korean militaries hold yearly military drills which simulate an attack on the DPRK, and that the US was on the verge of attacking the country in 1994 over a nuclear research sight which it has a right to have under international law. It is likely that the DPRK would’ve been attacked by the United States and South Korea in the late 1990s, when it was at its most vulnerable, had it not been for the government’s “military-first policy”. Meanwhile, the United States spent $598.5 billion on the military in the fiscal year 2015, and recently launched a $29 million missile attack on Syria and dropped a $300 million bomb on Afghanistan, but cannot afford meals on wheels and is cutting social programmes across the country.

“There is no democracy in North Korea, the Workers’ Party and the Kims rule with an iron fist”. In addition to the Workers’ Party, the Christian Democrats and the Chondoist Party also sit in the Supreme People’s Assembly, the DPRK’s national legislative body. The Workers’ Party is, however, viewed to be above partisan politics and considered to be the leading force behind the country’s social, political and economic development, identified more with the ‘national spirit’ and the ‘national character’ than with anything else. It is true that the DPRK does not have a parliamentary political structure in the sense of the UK or the US, but to view any non-parliamentary political system as a form of dictatorship is, quite frankly, chauvinistic and racist.

“North Korea is often jealous of South Korea, a democratic country to which many North Koreans defect”. In South Korea, people are imprisoned for voicing left-wing political opinions of any sort, including pro-Trade Union, communist or socialist views, under accusation of “sympathy with the North”. South Korea has barely recovered from dacades-long military dictatorships which were killing between two and five thousand protesters a month by 1980, and remains rife with corruption, inequality and poverty. Furthermore, before the collapse of the Soviet Union the DPRK enjoyed considerably higher living standards than South Korea, which changed only due to the economic turmoil which any country would go through if it abruptly lost its biggest trading partner (imagine the turmoil in Europe if the United States suddenly collapsed as a country).

In conclusion, most of what we in the West know, or think we know, about North Korea is either fallacious or constructed out of a mixture of half-truths and subjective, unverifiable claims from unreliable sources. We must question the social and political nature of our own countries and the actual agendas of our own leaders before we mindlessly parrot falsehoods about any foreign countries, especially the DPRK, the most consistent victim of imperialist hostility and intimidation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991.

The Current War Drive Against North Korea

Recently the United States, supported by its allies, has stepped up its intimidation of the DPRK. It has, for example, sent warships to the region and threatened a pre-emptive strike against the country if it attempts to exercise its legitimate and legal right to test its defensive nuclear weapons (imagine if China threatened a pre-emptive strike against the US for weapons test, what international outrage there would be over such an affront to American sovereignty!). The recent Tomahawk missile strike against Syria and the dropping of the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US military’s arsenal, MOAB, on Afghanistan, have also been interpreted as ‘shows of force’ aimed at intimidating North Korea and China.

Many liberals and moderate ‘socialists’ have interpreted this as part of the aggressive foreign policy stance of the Trump administration (while other liberals, crying over the ‘violence’ of Black Lives Matter protests, have cheered Trump as finally acting in a presidential manner with these actions), but in fact it represents nothing more than an increase in the intensity of the long-standing US policy of maintaining its effective economic stranglehold and political domination over much of the world, whereby the planet’s poorest countries pay to keep the United States on its throne as the richest country in the world, by any means necessary, including military aggression. The very fact that a country which puts its own national interests ahead of those of the US/European bloc exists is considered intolerable by US policymakers, so imagine the fury caused by the mere existence of a country as fiercely and proudly independent as the DPRK. War against this country benefits no-one but the military contractors who tend to profit from sending young soldiers into the meat-grinder; the Korean people, especially, cannot be bombed, shelled and blasted into American ‘freedom’. Anyone committed to peace, democracy and human rights, instead of whining over false or at least unverified claims about life inside North Korea, should contribute their whole effort towards militant opposition to the aggressive, imperialist war-drive, opposition by any means necessary.