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the Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK abbreviates itself to ASSPUK. I suspect nothing more really needs to be said. Except they are regarding their sinking of a RoK corvette as an “act of war” by the South. There is gonna have to be a reckoning and it shall not be pretty. Though the result will be inevitable because civilisation always wins. At least I hope so.

And I have a Samsung telly to prove it. Stuff from the North of the DMZ…. Yeah, right, whatever.


  1. mike says:

    “Though the result will be inevitable because civilisation always wins.”

    No it doesn’t. And the only time-scale I care about is the next three or four decades I might yet live to see if I’m lucky (or otherwise).

  2. Sam Duncan says:

    Too true, Mike. Civilization usually wins in the long term, on the large scale, but I wouldn’t want to be SoKo right now.

    On the other hand, my guess is that China won’t let Fido Jong-Il off the leash: he’s too useful to them in the good-commie-bad-commie routine they have going there. As long as he’s starving the Nork population and threatening to turn Seoul into the world’s second-biggest hole (after his own capital), it makes their own rights abuses and threats against Tawain look positively benign.

    Wouldn’t make me feel any better about having him as a neighbour, though. Or the ChiComs, for that matter.

  3. SaltedSlug says:

    From a KCNA (the North Korean news agency) press release, referring to South Korea as “that dumping ground of human scum”.

    In a conciliatory mood clearly, in their statement on the sinking of vessel of the “South Korean puppet navy”.


    “What is evident is that the sinking of warship “Cheonan” can never be construed otherwise than a “conspiratorial farce” and “charade” orchestrated by the group of traitors in a deliberate and brigandish manner”.

    I like ‘brigandish’. FYI, the South Korean government would be the people always referred to as ‘the group of traitors’.

    No one could accuse the Norks of making their views opaque.

  4. Andrew Duffin says:


    Civilisation always wins in the end.

    In Stalin’s case, it took seventy years. Not sure I really would like to wait that long – certainly not if I were living in the socialist paradise of North Korea.

  5. RAB says:

    It’s already taken 60 years Andrew, and besides the average Nork citizen has no idea what he/she is waiting for. They have been told that they ARE civilisation. That they are the most advanced people on the planet and all others inferior, and they are so locked in, brainwashed and repressed, they have no way of knowing any different.

    Unlike the East Germans and the Russians themselves, they have not an inkling of the untold riches out there over the border and the rest of the world. It will come as one hell of a shock, that may border on mental breakdown when they get to confront it.
    If reuniting East and West Germany was tough, doing it for N and S Korea may be nigh on impossible. It may be kinder to Nuke them completely and put them out of their misery like you would an old sick dog. God forbid.

    Everybody focus’s on Communism, but that is not what makes orientals tick. It is just a convenient bolt on control mechanism that turned up in the nick of time when their God Kings and Emperors where on their last legs.

    There is no denying that China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan etc all developed incredibly sophisticated and advanced civilisations, but not one of them ever came up with anything approaching Democracy.
    Orientals are hard wired differently to us in the West. We have focused our societies on individuality but they have focused on the collective. All these countries have always had a dictatorship of one kind or another and it seems to suit them just fine The paternal rule of a Kim Il or a Mao is merely a substitute for the God Emperors that they have known since the stone age, and they are comfortable with that.
    The West keeps making the same mistake that all people on this planet are basically the same and will organise themselves the same once we show them the light of our so called Democracy.Well they dont and they wont. Just like the Afgans, who know what democracy is, and they patently dont want it.

    Even a peaceable reunification is almost an impossible task, but war will be extremely messy. It is Nationalism that is the problem there, just like it was in Vietnam, and Japan in WW2. They will fight to the last man woman and child for what they have been told to believe in. Rationality just doesn’t come into it.
    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to one. We just cant afford that kind of mess right now.

  6. CountingCats says:


    Not happy about that comment. Hard wired? Democracy may have arisen in the West, but have a good look at Taiwan and S Korea. Those guys have embraced it enthusiastically. There may not be much cultural history of individualism, but they seem happy to adopt principles of the enlightenment when they get a chance.

    I think the cultural influence of Confucianism may have acted as a barrier to development and to some ideas from the West, but the influence of Marxism isn’t helping us here either. Difference is, Marxism is very recent, came about after we started growing wildly in all directions. Confucianism acted as a brake for 2500 years.

  7. Sam Duncan says:

    By all accounts, NK isn’t quite as isolated as it was, say, ten years ago. China’s market reforms have had an indirect impact, and it seems that some Norks are well aware that people might be better off elsewhere, even if it’s only in their nominally socialist neighbour. Chinese and Southern soap operas are popular, apparently. Of course they’ll only be seen by those with TVs and I’m guessing that in a country on the verge of famine, that’s not many, and they’ll mostly be Party members, but it’s a start.

    And maybe Kim’s thinking along the same lines. My guess is that this current wave of sabre-rattling is a reaction against the recent thawing of relations with the South because of the fear of what might happen if the lies of the last 60 years become more apparent to ordinary Norks. The Nork commies may be dim, but they’re not stupid. They know what brought down the Eastern Bloc: as PJ O’Rourke put it, East Germans were sick of Bulgarian jeans. Especially once they saw Levis adverts on RTL.

    I’m not going to dismiss your argument, RAB, but what about Japan, SoKo, and Taiwan? Sure, they aren’t America or western Europe, but they do have democratic government and a certain amount of individualism, even if it isn’t the main driving force of their cultures as it tends to be here. They’re certainly different, but the difference to Anglo-Saxon individualism is more on the scale of Scandinavia rather than the PRC or DPRK. East asians do want to be free, within, perhaps, their own cultural parameters, and they certainly want to be rich. I’m not sure it is a mistake to assume everyone is basically the same; the mistake is to assume they’re exactly the same.

  8. Bod says:

    I for one would like to remind RAB that while the west has Democracy, it’s still the tyranny of 50%+1, and it’s not serving freedom too well at the moment.

  9. NickM says:

    From my experience the Japanese are seriously individualistic. You have a point RAB but it is to do with sixty years of vicious repression done by people who knew full well what they were up to and not underlying cultural issues or SK would merely be the capitalist NK the Norks think it is. There is a storm coming and Comrade Kim shall be hung by his bollocks if he’s very fucking lucky. When the average Pyongyanger sees the South blood will hit the fucking moon. A couple of years ago I watched a Youtube video made by some US students who got into Norkland. At one point they gave an iPod to one of their “guides” and she wept when she listened to Sheryl Crowe. That is how supremely fucked their society is. All “Western” – indeed all “non-Korean”, “non-Juche” music is banned in Norkland. The backlash will be horrendous and utterly justifiable. When they realise they have had three generations enslaved there will be Hell to pay.

    NK has 13 years military service. They have traffic wardens in the centre of their capital because the traffic lights can’t be relied upon because they can’t ensure ‘lecky to the central parts of their own capital. The word “cunts” hardly begins to cover it but it is a start.

  10. RAB says:

    Well that got you all talking in a slightly different direction didn’t it?

    Cats, the hard wired bit came from an article I picked up months and months ago, about some research nurologists and Brain specialists were doing. It seems that given a certain problem or set of circumstances, then different parts of the brain light up in a European than in a Chinese, say. I think I read it in Arts and letter daily, but it has gone now.
    The thing about it though, was that brain function can be changed by the way you do things and your lifestyle.
    So presumably a 20 year old chinese or Japanese would now be lighting up roughly the same brain areas as a European compared to that of their grandfathers.
    I dont think I am wrong though in saying that Western Societies have been based on the rights and freedoms of the individual, and Eastern ones more on the good of the collective whole at the expense of individualism. The whole not losing face and rigid seniority and respect for elders, irrespective of their actual worth, thing.

    Oh absolutely. That’s why I said “our so called Democracy” I am well aware of Democracy being the least worst system.

    Nick and Sam.
    I think you are being optimistic. The Norks are not going to get angry with the Regime, they are going to be completely traumatised. The brainwashing has gone too far. The East German and Communist bloc states situation is not analogous. For 99% of the Norks the outside world is another planet, no information is getting in at all. They dont even have the luxury of getting fed up with Bulgarian jeans.
    They will turn their anger and incredulity on us.
    I fear the truth of the situation is more like this…

  11. El Draque says:

    RAB – I think I saw a similar feature about different brains being wired up differently.
    But it’s not genetically driven but more embedded software -”firmware” – created by the dominant culture and customs.
    That’s why economic historians nowadays recognise that legal systems are fundamental – because they push people towards certain social behaviour norms. And a free economy backed up by private property rights is best of all, if you want wealth.

    But NK is so extreme Douglas Adams couldn’t have satirised it.
    Or did he? He did write about the planet in a dust cloud that didn’t know any other world existed. When they found out, they couldn’t accept it and tried to destroy the the whole universe.

  12. NickM says:

    I honestly, seriously, can’t be that cynical. We are talking here about a country with the evils to create nukes. They ain’t stupid and when they see what their friends and family have over the DMZ then hell will follow in it’s train. You are right. This is not about Bulgarian jeans. This is about the entire fucking country being a death camp. That is communism’s end-game. That is NK.

    I shall open a bottle of something expensive when those poor bastards rise and do something from the effing Dark Ages to Comrade Kim (rectum – they fucking well killed ‘im). The Norks have said if the RoK starts broadcasting over the DMZ they’ll shoot the speakers out. They are that scared. They are fucking terrified because they have nothing to offer and they fucking know it. For they are cunts.

  13. mike says:

    I’m sorry RAB, but this sort of comment…

    “There is no denying that China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan etc all developed incredibly sophisticated and advanced civilisations, but not one of them ever came up with anything approaching Democracy.”

    … is just not on.

    Look, your “incredibly sophisticated and advanced civilizations” belongs in a popular book on comparative history, but I am not interested in that, and nor, I might presume, is anyone else here. I happen to know a thing or two about Chinese history – and if I was to sincerely pronounce any of the various Dynasties “incredible”, I would first have had to erase from my memory a great proportion of what I know about western civilization, and since I cannot do that, there is only one possibility: to do so would be grossly insincere.

    “Democracy”… I could wipe my arse with that word all day long and still not be able to put a pair of Y-fronts on. I’ll go with Locke, through Shaftesbury and his mates arranging for Willy of Orange’s acceptance of limitations on Royal power in 1689. A great achievement. And then the American Revolution – Ethan Allen, Tom Paine, Patrick Henry. Western political achievements after that? I’ll grant you WW2 (a job left disgracefully only half done) and Reagan’s confrontation of the Soviets, but that’s about it. King was brilliant, but the legislative action that came about through his impetus was really only a reflection of what he had already achieved entirely without the power of government.

    The great majority of western achievements have been non-political; a great many of the most famous were made almost entirely by people like Counting Cats, PA and Nick – scientists. But there were also those countless “little” achievements which never received any kind of serious fame – achievements by the vast majority of ordinary people going about their lives peaceably in the market place or at home, or at work.

    “Orientals are hard wired differently to us in the West. We have focused our societies on individuality but they have focused on the collective. All these countries have always had a dictatorship of one kind or another and it seems to suit them just fine The paternal rule of a Kim Il or a Mao is merely a substitute for the God Emperors that they have known since the stone age, and they are comfortable with that.”

    Where do I start with this?

    First perhaps the oxymoronic tone and implications of “we have focused our societies on individuality”, should give you pause for thought? What happened to western individualism for example in 1913? In 1932? In 1945? In 1965? And on and on…

    Or consider this question I recently asked Jonathan at Samizdata: when has any western government repealed any significant law in the name of freedom in the last two decades? Perhaps you could even stretch that question over the Thatcher years right back to when…? Coolidge in the 20s? Gladstone even?

    As for the collectivism of the Chinese – it is largely forced on them, the poor sods – and little thickets of individualism are rife everywhere among the cracks in the pavement. Some weeks ago, Ian put up an excellent post on here about the “petty capitalism” of The Old Vic area of London; much of what he rightfully admired about that is stuff I know here in Taiwan from first hand experience nearly every day. Poor people don’t go on the dole – they set up a stall at the local nightmarket and sell all kinds of things – little bracelets, soup, sandals, dresses, make-up, jewellry, toys, medicine, insects (collected from the local parks at dusk and sold as pets to children or made into medicinal wine). None of this trade is taxed or regulated by the government.

    As for collectivism suiting them… I speak from five years first-hand experience when I tell you that it’s not as simple as that. Individualism is rife everywhere the State turns its back and the people are not alerted by a blundering fool into consciously bringing their MSM-laundered anti-concepts to the political implications of what they are doing.

  14. Sam Duncan says:

    I’m not expecting the whole NK population to rise up à la Romania, largely because I don’t expect the whole population to find out the truth about us and the South any time soon. What I said was that some in the Party itself may be discovering that things are better abroad, and even that may be too much for Kim. It’s what did for Hungary: the younger Party hacks decided they’d quite like Mercs rather than Zils, and an F1 race might be fun, and the cracks started to widen from there. The argument could be made (and I think Helen Szamuely does make it) that that early dissatisfaction among young Hungarian communists was what precipitated the whole eventual collapse of European communism. It may have ended up as a popular movement, but it didn’t start as one. That’s what I think Kim may fear.

  15. RAB says:

    Sorry to be a bit tardy in my response Mike. I have been travelling since my last post, and have read your fisking of my, in my terms, rather broad stroked original post.
    Well I have read your contribution several times now, and am at a loss to understand some of it. So let me take yours para by para…

    Para 1. So you think these civilisations were not sophisticated? I was thinking of the buildings and structure of them, not their societal constructs obviously. People often confuse beautiful buildings and multi layered society with Civilisation. Think Aztecs. Great constructors lousy civilisation. The much reviled, gold hungry Spaniards did us all a favour there.
    Pa2. So you are well versed in Chinese history, one up on me there then, but I am at a loss to understand what the comparison with Western civilisation is all about. Please enlighten me.

    Pa3. Democracy….
    Yes agree with every word of that, except I have no idea who this bloke called King is?
    Oh and the half job done. I presume you mean smashing the Soviets a la Patten, via George C Scott… Hell mister President why wait?! we’re gonna have to do it sooner or later! we have the boys to do the job right here and now… (I paraphrase).
    Not very politic was it? that’s why some folk are soldiers and others politicians.
    I happen to agree with Patten by the way, but it would have led to much more grief when the world already had more than enough, and the politicians couldn’t stomach that.
    Pa4. Yup agree with that too.

    Pa5No idea what you are talking about. 1913? 32? 45? 65??
    I can make a pretty good guess, but it is for you to make the case isn’t it? This is off the cuff stuff without showing the working as they used to say when I took exams.
    Pa 6. Again agree totally. And as for petty capitalism, I am all for it. I mentioned Welcome to Lagos on a thread below, as being inspiring. A Libertarian culture, or at least a self regulatory culture, that would be despised by progessives and the state, but neither can do anything about it because they are too weak.
    Weak fascism or communism, or all the statisms in between cannot dampen the human spirit of enterprise and self developmenet.
    Only a totality of micro management that we have now in the western world, and especially Britain,pretending to be Democracy can do that.It has to die.

    I think we are singing from the same hymnsheet Mike. What’s the problem?

  16. CountingCats says:

    King = Martin Luthor of that ilk.

  17. Locke says:

    The problem is, consumer goods aren’t ever going to satisfy the need to dominate others.
    North Korea is the perfect embodiment of the free market.
    I’m not too sure what can be done about that.

  18. CountingCats says:



    Would you care to explain how exactly NK is the embodiment of the free market?

    Is this this a little like slavery is freedom and ignorance is wisdom?

  19. mike says:

    “I have been travelling since my last post…”

    Oh christ… and I just got back from a weekend break with my girlfriend – so what? No need for apologies. Fuggedaboudit…

    “So you think these civilisations were not sophisticated?”

    Well your original choice was “incredibly sophisticated and advanced” and I put my marker through your word “incredible” – not the other two. “Sophisticated” or “advanced” compared to what standard? But look – the fact that someone who has been skydiving out of an airplane in Turkey while smoking tobacco can look back on say, the achievements of Qing Dynasty China as “incredible” – well… I mean it’s just not serious is it?

    Think of everything – big and small – that went into making that skydiving trip of yours in Turkey possible…. and then put it all back together again: the scale of that picture is worthy of its very own Beethoven symphony and it is entirely consequential to the application of principles of economic exchange – not democracy.

    “I was thinking of the buildings and structure of them, not their societal constructs obviously.”

    But it wasn’t obvious – particularly since you juxtaposed your description of these “incredibly sophisticated and advanced” civilizations with their inability to “come up with anything approaching Democracy.” But yes some of the buildings are, in certain contexts, worth a photo or two.

    “…but I am at a loss to understand what the comparison with Western civilisation is all about…”

    It’s to get you to stop thinking tripe about these “incredible” other civilizations in spite of their lack of democracy. And it’s to get you to stop idly playing all Tony Benn gets on a plane with his “democracy = pinnacle of western civilization” tripe. I live in one of these “incredible” civilizations and everything incredible about it to me is how they still manage real achievements in spite of both their predatory democracy and their ridiculous, 5000 year, long fingernail, firecracker temple bollocks.

    “I happen to agree with Patten by the way, but it would have led to much more grief when the world already had more than enough, and the politicians couldn’t stomach that.”

    I like the theory that the Soviets could have been pushed out of eastern Europe at least with little more than well-supported threats. The Red Army was knackered too, plus they didn’t have the same morale as the west, and (and partly because) they were led by Stalin. So the grief could have been comparatively minimal there. As for China: it was, overwhelmingly, a country of peasants and farmers with little or no formal indoctrination. They had no foreign enemies once the submission of the Japs had been achieved, and so (to take the perspective of a western government purportedly interested in freedom) the policy aim should have been the political disintegration of China or partial colonization, with both the Commies and the Nationalists extradited for war crimes.

    “This is off the cuff stuff without showing the working as they used to say when I took exams.”

    But this isn’t an exam and I’m not the student.

    “I think we are singing from the same hymnsheet Mike. What’s the problem?”

    Yes, but I say you’ve had too much cider and you’re buggering up the verses belching about democracy and incredible temples and whatnot.

  20. Locke says:

    North Korea is the perfect embodiment of the free market, because the idea that a completely free and non-coercive market can exist is complete baloney.
    Property rights, property rights… but what’s hidden behind those property rights, eh?

    Kim Jon Il is doing what the free markets are all about – getting what he wants (control over others) in the best way he can.

  21. Sam Duncan says:

    In one sense you’re right, Locke: the “perfect market” idea is one of the greatest fallacies of Leftist market converts like NewLabour and the former communists running the EU, the one that led to their mania of petty regulation.

    On the other hand, you make the mistake of assuming a free market is one without rules altogether. Kim is what happens when you ignore the primarly liberal principle of doing what you will without preventing others from doing so also. The best market (or society; same difference unless you’re a socialist) that can exist is the one that has the minimum of regulation while adhering to this principle.

    The thought crossed my mind while reading an analysis of the situation in yesterday’s Telegraph that Kim (who inherited power from his father, and whose son – one of them – will inherit from him) is the absolute monarch of a feudal state. There was a free market in medieval Europe, but only the nobility got to take part. Same with the Norks. King Kim is free, but his subjects are serfs.

  22. CountingCats says:


    Even in feudal Europe there were free men. And the cities and guilds were separate power centres as well.

    NK, and other communist states, are more like the monarchical absolutism which emerged in Europe, but not in England, following the end of feudalism.

    Locke, as is normal for him, is spouting drivel devoid of any basis in reality. He is ignoring the fact that parties to a transaction must be free of coercion and must be informed before it can be free. In NK transactions which meet these criteria are few and far between.

    I would call him an idiot if that weren’t an ad hominem attack.

  23. Locke says:

    You can only say that any market system is free of coercion if you accept the laws and property rights on which they are based.
    In wonderfully minarchist 19th century Britain, men fought duels to establish the right of things. So, if you’re good at sword fighting more power to your elbow. In the modern western world legal expertise or money to buy it takes the place of physical strength.
    When you say that a social-political system is without coercion you’re basically saying that you think that social-political system is good, and that those coerced should shut up.

    There is a limit to how far consumer goods will take us – at some stage we’re going to realise that love and power – control of other humans, is the most important thing to us. We’re all going to want to be Kim Jon Il.

  24. NickM says:

    I don’t Locke. I just want power and freedom for myself and desire none over others. It’s that “simples” said the meerkat.

  25. CountingCats says:

    I have known for a long time that discussions with that sadly misnamed Locke are pointless.

    Chum, you are more than welcome to attend this site. In fact, I will miss you if you ever desert us, but still, I find I must succumb to my baser nature – Locke, ad hominem or not, you are an idiot.

  26. Locke says:

    Counting Cats-
    Probably, but it’s not a wasted effort. I normally take things on board – even if I can’t bring myself to admit that I’m wrong at the time, I’m not completely immune to the powers of argument.

    Nick -
    The problem is that given how people are, the power to sit alone in a quiet room isn’t going to get us very far.
    Our lives only have meaning with reference to other people and once you remove love, our relationships are based upon the degree of power and control that we can exert over others.
    If in the future, when we live in a world of perfect abundance – what else will the human heart have to strive for except power?

    Love. That’s why the idea of relying upon the self interest of others to move our society is doomed in the long term – because we won’t need each other.
    The only solution is to move our society to one based on love rather than necessity.

  27. NickM says:

    Love and necessity are not exclusives. You seem to fail to understand the different forms of love. You also fail to understand the different desires humanity have. I know people who would love to improve their golf handicap, or own a yacht, or tickets for La Scala to see the final performance of their favourite diva. I want a T-38 Talon. People want different things. That is what matters.

    Locke – a thought experiment. Let’s say someone desires with all their heart the love of a girl they met. Obviously, at some point, that means they shall think about sex with her. Power could enable the latter, via the application of rape, but that is not the love or sex I have ever desired (or sometimes got). Mutuality is everything in human relations. It is not a power structure. Except for the depraved.

  28. mike says:


    What Nick said, but more…

    (1) None of us live in an environment of perfect abundance – and since that “abundance” must include the productive efforts of other people – then, ipso facto, we never will live in perfect abundance. That being the case, the self-interest of other people will always – for as long as human society exists – be the answer, and the only possible answer, to that problem.

    “The only solution is to move our society to one based on love rather than necessity.”

    (2) To move. That would seem to imply the use of political power. To echo Nick’s comment – neither you nor anyone else can force people to “love one another”. Freedom must come first, because it is only under the condition of freedom from the opinions of others that a man can achieve power over himself. Here’s a quote for you:

    “Are you a slave? If so, you cannot be a friend. Are you a tyrant? If so, you cannot have friends.”

    That’s the necessity that comes before love – but the prerequisite is and will always be freedom.

  29. Locke says:

    Hmmm… fair points!

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