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Our Standpoint Towards the Peoples Republic of Korea

What is our standpoint towards the Peoples Republic of Korea -  Solidarity with the anti-imperialist struggle - but there is no "socialism" in North Korea. About some tendencies of Marxist-Leninist parties.

The conflict in South Korea, where students were terrorized by brutal state power, because they advocated the reunification of Korea and the withdrawal of the thousands of US soldiers, the incident with the stranded north Korean submarine etc. have moved this country into the centre of world public opinion. Before that permanent speculations were spread broadly about Kim Jong Il, the son of the dead leader of the Peoples Republic of Korea; as well the western mass media longed for the collapse of North Korea, which was hit by serious catastrophes and didn't receive international help.

The Korean people long for reunification

It seems strange: there is a people struggling for decades for the reunification of their country and the international media keeps silent. It is the Korean people. Since the division of the country forced by the US after WWII, the majority of the Korean people desires peaceful reunification. In South Korea a fascist dictatorship was established to repress this desire. Tens of thousands have been arrested, hundreds of thousands have been attacked with the batons of police and with tear gas etc. Many people died for this desire. A wall has been drawn through Korea from seaside to seaside. This wall is more cruel and even more perfect then the Berlin wall. It is guarded perfectly. It was constructed by the government of South Korea and US imperialism. No one is allowed to go to North Korea and no one is allowed to travel from the North to the South. At this wall shots are often heard - coming from the South. Only with this brutal wall could the South and US imperialism could repress the desire for reunification and the desire to visit relatives. Those who need such a wall must have a lot of fear. When people were shot down at the Berlin wall, when people from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were prevented from traveling to the German Federal Republic, this was pilloried as an injustice by the media. And this was right, we think. Because our party, the KPD, had rejected this wall, which was only built against ones own people. The wall in Korea, built by the dictatorship in the South and US imperialism is much worse, higher, merciless and bloody.

For which side the hearts of the Korean people are beating, you can see by the behavior of the Koreans in foreign countries. They are not under the pressure of the dictatorship which depends on US imperialism and they are not under the influence of the government in the North. They can decide freely. Above all thousands of Koreans live in Japan, who were taken there as slaves during the Second World War. About 90% of them support the North, the Peoples Republic of Korea, which annoys the Japanese government and US imperialism. They travel to the North for visits, they have contact with their families, they send money to the North. Japan many times has considered how to prevent them from having contact or sending money to the North.

Why does the majority of the Koreans support reunification and has a positive attitude towards the Peoples Republic?

Well, the choice is simple: the South suffers under a bloody dictatorship. Only a short time ago many people all over the world could see, how students who only expressed their desire for reunification were driven out of the university by brutal police attacks. At the same time hundreds of students and youth from North Korea were prevented by brutal violence from traveling to the South. When thousands of citizens from the GDR were prevented from traveling to West Germany, there were international protests - and this was right, we think. Now, when people from North Korea were prevented violently by the dictatorship in the South from traveling to the South the media accepts this and keeps silent.

The dictatorship in the South

Particularly the workers and the lower strata in the South have no social insurance, no medical care etc. Free trade unions and collective agreements are not allowed - there are only some trade unions created by the capitalists. Strikes are beaten down by the police and military. The country is a colony of US imperialism. The dictatorship has to hold down the people and wages, the US monopolies exploit the country. And the German imperialism wants to take part in this.

The independent development in the North

On the other side the North, the Peoples Republic could develop the economy and the society after liberation from Japanese imperialism and afterwards from US imperialism. In the beginning with the support of socialist Soviet Union and liberated China, later relying on its own forces the North was able to develop its own, independent national industry. Agriculture too was developed collectively. Great projects like irrigation and melioration were realized in this way. In the social sector all people received an education which was improved all the time. Culture was developed according to the development of the country. Free medical care was introduced. The right to work is a matter of course. Social security like pensions etc. are guaranteed. This was a clear and noticeable progress for the people. And the Koreans in the whole world could see the difference in the independent, national development of the economy and society in the North and the development dictated by imperialism in the South. This is a significant difference from the situation in Germany: West Germany was in the beginning a junior partner of US imperialism, later on it became an independent imperialist power. By this it could take advantage of the exploitation of foreign countries and could give some privileges to the working class (for example cheap imported goods, cheap travel to foreign countries). West Germany could give its working class a better living standard than the GDR, in the beginning to a limited extent, later more and more. Korea was always an exploited country under the control of imperialism. There was no way to give privileges to the working class. The country was plundered and for the masses there was only poverty. With the liberation from imperialism the North has stopped this and ended the exploitation. Only this made the progress in the social sector possible.

Isn't that socialism?

Work, livelihood, education, social security for all - these are very important attributes of socialism, when it is put into practice correctly. But these are not the only attributes of socialism! Socialism is more! The most important attributes of socialism are the dominance of the working class and the struggle for a society without classes. It is possible to make compromises and for there to be shortcomings, but in essence the workers must have the power and their interests must rule the life of the country. In essence the struggle for a society without classes, communism, must be noticeable. This characteristic was and is not fulfilled in the Peoples Republic Korea!

The ruling party in North Korea calls itself Party of the Working People and pretends to build up socialism on its specific way. We have criticized the ideology of this party four years ago in the theoretical organ of KPD "Weg der Partei" in the article "Juche ideology of the North Korean leadership: Incompatible with Marxism-Leninism". We want to summarize this once again.

The leadership of the Party of the Working People claims to be Marxist-Leninists; at the same time they declare Marxism-Leninism to be insufficient and they "complete" it by the Juche ideology of the dead Kim Il Sung. "The classics of Marxism-Leninism... defined the nature of men as 'ensemble of social conditions'..." (Kim Jong Il, On Juche ideology, Pyongyang, 1989, German edition, page 2) In contrast to this they assert "It considers the position and the role of men, which they have in the world, as the principal question of philosophy and has created the principle, that man is the master of all nature and decides everything." (ibid., page 2) So man is no longer "chained" to the social conditions, but on the contrary he is free and "master of all nature". Kim Jong Il maintains that is new - created by Juche ideology. To us this idea does not seem to be very new. This idea originates from the time before Marx. Its an idea of the bourgeoisie, who saw itself as the "master of all nature". Such ideological additions to Marxism are not new as well. We remember that Professor Dühring wrote about all the free volition of men. And Engels refuted this 100 years ago. Especially today in a period of crisis of the workers movement and a temporary retreat such "holy ideologies" appear, that want to "renew" Marxism and that want to convince the individual, that everything depends on his own will. In Germany for example the Maoist MLPD developed the theory, that the petty bourgeois or rather proletarian consciousness decides everything. The similarity to Juche ideology is obvious. All these ideologies have one thing in common: You need someone who has to decide about the "correct" consciousness - the leaders. "The essence of Juche ideology about revolution is the loyalty towards the party and the leader." (Kim Jong Il, ibid., page 77) "In daily life we feel deeply, that the ideas and intentions that correspond with the respective actions of the leader are of high conscience and are moral, because the leader represents ideally the demands and the interests of the popular masses. Because of this one calls loyalty towards the leader the highest expression of communist morality." (Ibid., page 193) But this is clearly no communist morality! Communists have a clear programme and aims. All actions can assessed by this. Any cult about the leader is contrary to these aims. Especially this the communists want to overcome. And when social relations of power are still necessary they want to overcome this. But in the quote of Kim Jong Il nothing is said about this or about the temporary necessity of it and the necessity to overcome it. He praises and wants to establish everlasting the rule of men over men, what else is the "loyalty towards the leader".

Juche ideology clearly is no ideology of emancipation, but the ideology of a ruling class, that wants to remain in power. Unfortunately we have not the means to investigate the economic and social conditions in North Korea deeply. But it is clear that every idea - as well the Juche ideology - has its roots in class relations. Korea was liberated at a time when socialism was strong and had a great attraction for the peoples. In consequence of this strength and the successes of socialism a lot of leaders of national liberation movements called themselves "socialists", though they were not, but they were close to the national bourgeoisie. We cannot criticize them because of this. Often they were convinced of their way. And anyway they desired a positive development of their liberation struggle and sometimes they reached their aims. We remember the liberation struggle in Algeria, in Palestine and in Nicaragua. The removal of the colonial oppression, the liberation from imperialism was a necessary step and for the benefit of the respective people. The strength of socialism often forced the national leaders of the liberation struggle, to promise social progress and to realize it in the case of victory to mobilize the masses for the struggle against imperialism.

But social progress, even when it is great, is not "socialism", when it is not connected with the struggle to advance to communism and with the power of the working class.

In Korea it seems that under the special conditions of support by the Soviet Union under Stalin and the closeness to liberated China, such a national system, independent from imperialism with a national-revolutionary strata at the top came into being. This strata was forced in the struggle against the permanent and great threat by imperialism to give a lot of social progress to the people. Because without the support of the masses this system would not be able to survive for more than some weeks. And from the beginning it was clear that this is a struggle of life and death. Because US imperialism until now has murdered or attempted to murder all national revolutionaries, even when they were bourgeois. You may take the example of the bourgeois-national "socialist" Allende. For such forces there is almost no possibility for a peaceful arrangement with imperialism, because imperialism hates and persecutes any kind of liberation as mortal sin. You must be ready to accept any humiliation like Arafat and make yourself a sheriff of imperialism, to come to a "peaceful" agreement for which the people has to pay. In the critical situation in Korea with the bloody, fascist dictatorship in the South this never was possible. So the curious situation appeared, where the system in North Korea could develop which has partly characteristics of feudalism (for example the heredity of power from the father to the son), but which has on the other hand some characteristics of socialism (for example the right to work, social rights). And though this is not socialism it has brought progress and options to the people, which were impossible in the South under the rule of US imperialism and the cruel dictatorship. The independence from imperialism and the independent economical development, proves that North Korea makes possible the development of the national economy, social progress for many small countries, because imperialism gives them no chance for development.

Meanwhile the North Korean leadership has made a lot of compromises with imperialism. Even a socialist country would have been forced under the changed conditions in the world to make compromises. But it is shown clearly that the ruling national strata in Korea is not principally against exploitation: they create "special industrial zones" for foreign capital. This is not surprising with a national strata. The national bourgeoisie always vacillates in the national liberation struggle and is ready for compromises and even betrayal. We don't criticize the North Korean leadership because of this attitude. But we state, that this is according to their class interests and that they do not act in the interest of the working people, as they pretend with their party's name.

We as communists don't assess anyone by his words but by his deeds and by reality. If anyone calls himself "socialist", we are not forced to parrot this. But even when we refuse the ideology of leaders of the North Korean leadership and their way of compromises with imperialism, we see the reality and the progress their system has brought to the people. Therefore we reject all attempts of imperialism to overthrow this system and to spread its claws all over Korea. We defend the right of the Korean people to reunification, to its own way and to independence. Therefore we are in solidarity with all anti-imperialist efforts in Korea.

The Pyongyang declaration

About four years ago the Party of Working People of Korea gathered a lot of parties who call themselves socialist, communist or Marxist-Leninist in Pyongyang for a meeting. Most of this parties came from the national liberation movements and were to some extent social-democrats and to some extend revisionists. Together with these parties the Party of Working People of Korea passed a "declaration of Pyongyang" with a call to defend "socialism". The resolution does not declare which "socialism" is meant. But it seems to be obvious, that it is this strange semi-feudal "socialism" in North Korea, which is not socialism, but an anti-imperialist, bourgeois society with specific characteristics. In the declaration they regret the setbacks of socialism and call to continue to fight for socialism. This sounds good. As cause for all the setbacks they argue poorly: "On the causes for the unsuccessful construction of socialism in some countries is that they didn't succeed to create social structures to fulfil the needs of the popular masses and that they didn't build up socialism according to the theory of scientific socialism." These are only phrases! In the Soviet Union the social structures to fulfill the basic needs were already created in the 1920s and 1930s. These structures were destroyed! And even if this false thesis were true, every Marxist-Leninist, every materialist had to pose the question: Why? Why were these structures not built up? And that the scientific theory of socialism was not applied, is not a explanation but only a surface appearance! To hear such explanation from Korea from the Party of the Working People, is not surprising to us. A party that is not Marxist-Leninist, following the idealist Juche ideology, can not work out a materialist explanation of the failure of socialism and can't really call for the defense of socialism. This party needs support for its anti-imperialist struggle, for the struggle to survive against US imperialism and the dictatorship in the South. This is all right! They must and shall receive this support. But not by accepting their ideology and their concept of "socialism".

But it seems strange to us that some Marxist-Leninist fraternal parties signed this declaration one after the other. They say this is solidarity with the Peoples Republic of Korea and with the Party of the Working People. Meanwhile some of them go so far, to call North Korea a "socialist country". How can the concealing of reality, an absurd "socialist" masquerade, the signing of phrases be "solidarity"? Solidarity for Korea in the fight for reunification and for national self-determination - of course! But for this to speak of "socialism" or sign a declaration "for socialism" together with North Koreans? Making oneself ridiculous in front of the progressive workers? No! Thank you! But we not only think that this is a danger of making Marxist-Leninists ridiculous in front of the progressive workers, but more to dissolve Marxism-Leninism with different, curious, sectarian trends and in the end to give it up. After the collapse of the degenerated states of Eastern Europe and of Albania we don't need blurring and confusion about "socialism", but we need a clarification of its character, its basic essence and a clear materialist investigation and explanations about its failure and about the necessary consequences in the future. Declarations like the Pyongyang declaration don't help to advance, but on the contrary they move us backward and damage Marxism-Leninism.

A final remark: In its efforts to receive support the North Korean leadership not only co-operates with Marxist-Leninists. In 1995 a group of NEONAZIS visited North Korea by invitation. These were NEONAZIS from the most evil terrorist fascist groups existing in Germany. They call themselves "national socialists" and use the old fascist demagogy of a "national and social movement" and of "German socialism". They wanted to get to know the "national socialism of Korea". By invitation of the "Academy of Juche Science" these fascists, who all are members of the "Society for the Propaganda of Juche Ideology in Germany", could visit North Korea in April 1995 for two weeks. They were even welcomed by a secretary of the CC of the Party of Working People. Afterwards the fascists praised the "national socialism" of Korea in all of Germany. Nice friends!

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