Given that all hell seems to be about to be unleashed on the Korean pennisula - great for me because electronic components prices are going to go through the effing roof - I thought I’d check out what the Norks are up to…
The Korean people celebrate April 15, birthday of President Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), as the Day of the Sun.
The President, founder of socialist Korea, is likened to the sun, as he possessed at the highest level with light, heat and attraction, attributes of the sun.
He illumined the way for humanity to follow in the era of independence.
It was a historic event which ushered in a new era in human history, an era of independence, that he authored the Juche idea, which asserts that the popular masses are the masters and driving force of the revolution and construction, i.e., they are the masters of their destiny and have the force to carve it out.
By the evolution of the Juche idea, the oppressed peoples, who had writhed in the agony as colonial slaves, could emerge as the masters of their destiny, and the strong current of independence swept across the world.
The Juche idea gripped the hearts of the people of the world over. Organizations for studying and propagating the idea have been formed in many countries—over 1, 100 such organizations in more than 100 countries, national committees in scores of countries, an institute in each continent and the permanent International Institute of the Juche Idea.
President Kim Il Sung, possessed with ardent love of people, administered benevolent politics throughout his life.
Regarding “The people are my God” as his lifetime motto, he always mixed with his people. He ensured that free medical care and education were enforced across the country and taxes were abolished once and for all. As the father of the grand family, i.e., Korean society, he took affectionate care of all the members of the family. It is fortuitous that the Korean people addressed him by the “fatherly leader” rather than by his official title in his lifetime.
He also showed warm benevolence to foreigners in disregard of nationality, ideology, political view and religious belief.
Apart from Brits, Americans, South Koreans, Japanese, Aussies… The list could go on. As does this cringeworthy article from the absolute nut-fest that is the KFA website. And I do mean on and on.
Why does Communism always feel the need to deify it’s leaders? Whether it’s Che Guevara T-Shirts or students in bedsits reading Mao’s Little Red Book* as though it was scripture or the endless Soviet statues of Lenin pointing the way to the glorious socialist future (or hailing a cab - it’s hard to tell).
Why? It seems paradoxical. Note that quote, “The people are my God” is completely pi radians the wrong way round.
My first guess is the obvious one: a personality cult helps retaining the reins of power in perpetuity and note the Great Leader is still, despite being dead, technically the President of the DPRK. Yes, ordinary dicators have themselves made Emperor or President for life. Kim went one better - he had himself declared Eternal President. It’s hard to fault the fella on the hubris score! But perhaps there is something more…
Communism at a deep level requires a “God” and of course that “God” must be of flesh. Christ may have risen from the dead but Lenin was embalmed. Best they could do I guess. My wife saw him when she was a student in Moscow, lying there in his natty little three-piece suit contemplating the infinite or mouldering or whatever. Communism is always a religion and religions need gods. Perhaps what the Great Leader really meant was, “My vision for my people is my God”. I caused a fair comment storm when I discussed atheism a bit back. I’m not sure the Cats server down in the gimp room and behind the cask of Amontillado ever quite recovered. Anyway, the thing is one of the reasons I’m not as hostile as must sincere unbelievers are to (some) religions is that it does seem to be involved with a quest to find truth and that that truth is external to the seeker. OK, it’s not my way but I’m a liberal kinda guy and as long as it doesn’t involve human sacrifice or flogging rape victims then knock yourselves out! Similarly, Communism seems to be concerned with truth but - and this is a crucial difference - it seeks to create truth. To me Orwell’s 1984 isn’t so much scary because of the horrible privations, the meaningless (perhaps non-existent) wars or the vile methods of physical represion but because of 2+2=5.
Perhaps that’s just because of my background in astrophysics but I don’t think so. I think it’s more general because if you can control “truth” at that level you can control everything and one who can do that is within there own terms of reference de facto “God”. It’s almost beyond personal hubris because it is an intrinsic element of the system. It may be counter-intuitive but collectivism of any stripe inevitably results in personality cults. Every ant-hill must have it’s queen afterall. They are called social insects for a reason. “Society” is always put first and that sort of society can only be sustained with the total compliance of it’s citizens. There is a limit to what can be done with clubs and thumb-screws but there is no limit to what can be done via the invention of “truth”. When you define your ontology in terms of the “good of society” rather than what acually is then inevitably you create false gods. It may well (and usually does) result in crimes against humanity but they are always predicated on crimes against reality.
It has off course been done since God or “God”** knows when. Islam’s Ummah has been there since well before Marx grew the first whickers on his chinny-chin-chin. If you were to ask me what the two fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity are I’d have to say that the first is that Christianity is primarily concerned with personal morality and Islam with societal morality. Hence Arabia gave us the burkha and Brazil gave us beach volleyball in very little***. In short Christianity argues that temptation ought to be overcome personally and Islam argues that it ought to be banned by the Caliphate. The second is the Islamic idea that Allah’s hand is not fettered (Qu’ran 5:64). This is an outright rejection of the idea of an ordered and rational Universe amenable to human (or other species) inquiry. Allah, Big Brother and Lenin share a remarkable capacity therefore to just make things up as they go along. This denial of reality, or rather an attempt to engineer a new one always leads to a Hell on Earth. Whether it be the moral bankruptcy of Shariah law or the depravity of the Gulag doesn’t matter because it amounts to the same thing. Quite how the ontology and morality connect is an interesting question. I think I have a partial answer though.
Pulling together is the aim of despots and tyrannies. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.
From our own sidebar and paraphrased by Cats from Sir Terry Pratchett.
You see if you set-up a collective it has to divine (interesting double meaning there) the will of the people and the only way that can be done is to have The Man in charge do it like Hobbes’ Leviathan and of course the only way to “justify” that is the fiction presented as the truth of a “religion” and the elevation of The Man to the status of “God”. If you recall (and this is a long post, sorry) the Juche stuff at the start that is blatently written in religious language but the Soviets did the same only more subtly by hiding their religiousity under the blanket of the pseudo-scientific language of dialectic materialism.
All tyrannies are essentially, despite their cruelty and evil based upon something even more fundamental. They are based upon lies or more exactly the most profound lie of all which is that truth is not what happens to be but is a means to an end. How else could Plato envisage a perfect state run by philosopher-kings seeking after true and exact knowledge that had at it’s heart a noble lie? Of course Plato’s noble lie was about eugenics. We ain’t made much progress have we folks!
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying religion is a method of social control per se but religion or “religion” certainly can and has been used as a highly effective one. Real gilt-edged, copper-bottomed tyranny requires belief. In his book “The God Delusion” Dawkins cites someone saying that to get good people to do bad things requires religion. I agree but I think it generally requires the religion in question to be either perverted for the ill cause or to be constructed expressly for it. It’s the later that really interests me. The former is a bit dull. The former is of course just rhetoric****. The later interests me because it is the construction of “truth” and to the true believer “truth” is true even if it is demonstrably false.
Such thinking always, however wishful or benign in origin, always leads to the gates of Hell. It does that because it invariably ignores a very obvious specific truth - we are individuals. The appreciation of that truth is why I’m a libertarian. It’s also why I studied physics and astrophysics. I wanted to discover rather than create if you see what I mean.
Anyway. This one has been longer than the extended special edition director’s cut box set of the Lord of the Rings. So… I leave you with a bit of fun:
Alas, I think that clip says everything I’ve tortured my fingers and your eyes with! The problem is not religion as such but “religion” in the hands of knaves like Marx, Muhammed and Plato. And make no mistake the only way to get away with such gross peversions of reality is to create your own reality and who better to create the Universe than God?
*In an ideal world it would have been a little read book.
**This is a very difficult post to write in terms of the scare quotes.
***Nick’s Grand Unified Theory of Lingerie/Bikinis - “the less it weighs the more you pays”. Hat’s off to the fashion designers. They have created an inverse commodity! One day they will create via nanotech something so unsubstantial that you’d require a medium-sized European country’s defence budget to buy it. They won’t do an Experian credit check on you. They’d call the IMF.
****I mean if you could make a brilliant speech pointing out how x might reduce property prices you could mobilise the readership of The Daily Mail to commit horrific acts that would make Rwanda look like a play-ground punch-up.