Via Samizdata I find this article by Christopher Hitchens in Slate. He gives a first hand account of North Korea, notes a few interesting aspects of how North Koreans see themselves, and shows a couple of simple and eloquent consequences of the evil tyranny that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions in that country over decades, one of which is this starkly stunning photograph of the night sky over the Korean peninsula.
He discusses how it is that these people can accept, up to a point, their oppression. It is well documented that in the Soviet empire almost everyone hated it, but they didn't know what to do, or were afraid to do it. In the People's Democratic Paradise it is doubtless much the same, but it is easy enough to give people a fake identity to cling to, and easy too to make them fear that anything else will be even worse.
It's a genuinely interesting article, in which he gives informed data and perspectives, and some intelligent analysis, and he makes no attempt to defend the odious dwarf Kim Jong-il and his evil blood-stained father, nor even does he do what left-wing apologists for tyrants so often do, wring his hands about how, if only it had been done properly it would have been wonderful. Instead he uses a rather novel approach to not condemning communist murderers- he pretends they're not communists at all, but are in fact right-wing fascists.
The idea is not his, but comes from a book he has been reading, which also sounds interesting. He reaches the conclusion that communism is dead in North Korea because the word has been dropped from the constitution (of which more later) and they no longer speak of the people owning the means of production. The truth is simply that they have dropped all pretence that the people own anything at all, not even their own lives. Communist countries have never allowed any real ownership, whether common or individual, to the people; all ownership and control is reserved, necessarily, to the ruling elite. It is surprising, to say the least, that Christopher Hitchens fails to realize that, just because the dear leader has explicitly told his people what most communist tyrants hide behind meaningless words on worthless bits of paper- that they are nothing and have nothing- the country has not ceased to be a communist tyranny.
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