Monday, 28 May 2012

North Korea – warning or weird?

North Korea seems to fascinate and appall in its grotesque parody of a country which starves its own people as an instrument of repression. According to its own official view, North Korea is both democratic and socialist. Okay we know all about totalitarian regimes claiming to be democratic, but how should we view it - as an outlier or a warning?

In spite of its hopelessly ramshackle economy and the almost unbelievable evil with which it conducts itself, North Korea is still with us. It is said that China could pull the plug and initiate regime change if it chose to do so, but it doesn’t.

North Korea has missile technology and an unknown level of nuclear technology. It has cars on the streets, a TV network, computers and mobile phones. All strictly limited and controlled of course, but North Korea is still a modern country in many senses - however vile.

So does North Korea belong in the past? Will any other country anywhere in the world evolve into another North Korea? Or is it just an outlier, a weird one-off that nobody in their right mind would copy?

Nobody in their right mind?

Okay, this is all a bit far-fetched, but is the world trending away from or towards North Korea? How far will regimentation go? Think Olympics as a stage-setter, then think EU, UN, global governance, global regulations or almost any other political trend.

Now let's forget for a moment how appalling North Korea is and recall how facile our lot are. Imagine a conversation somewhere in the bowels of the EU or UN.

"What do you think of North Korea?"
"Bloody appalling - what else can one say?"
"Yet if they were less vicious towards their own people - what then?"
"You mean if we could do business with them?"
"Different kettle of fish entirely old boy."

I think this is where the appalled fascination lies. George Orwell wasn't fantasizing - these things can happen and North Korea shows just how bad it can become. I don't actually think this is where we are headed, but quite apart from the humanitarian angle, which is dreadful enough, I'd rather not have North Korea as a constant reminder of what is possible.


James Higham said...

Like North Korea, like Syria. We go into Egypt, we go into Iraq, we go into Rwanda. We don't go in and stop these abuses in the other two.

dayzero said...

@ James - Without particularly wishing to bring controversy . . . but I must take issue, if I may . .

You are articulating the 'arab spring' 'domestic news narrative' version of events. NATO [I do not count NATO as 'we' by the way] did not, cannnot and will not 'stop abuses' anywhere; it perpertrates unending abuses and Balkanises [in the name of greater, loftier, globalising and militarised hegemonic ideals . . naturally . . . depending on the prevailing political climate] . R2P is an awfully clever head trip from the Ministries Of Truth. In short, it is a despicable con, which allows much innocent blood onto the hands of good people who want to see 'things done' and 'badness stopped'. [these days, via enthusiastic consent for militias, terrorists and their sponsored 'interventions' and 'uprisings' replete with blitzkeig NATO air support, which always manages, strangely, to take out enormous amounts of civillian infrastructure cf the Libyan water pipeline . . - all completely illegal].

The same trick worked for the [generalised] right wing under the Bushes . . and, um, Blair, whatever he was . . under a different guise - the guise of fear & perceived threat. Which also turned out to be a gargantuan lie [Iraq / Afghanistan]. Kosovo is still a basket case all these years later, and that entire region is now *the* global haven for drugs and people trafficking. Ooops. Or is it ooops accidentally on purpose? Is the Afgh Poppy crop back up to 95% accidentally also?

In addition, there's not much r2p for Palestine is there! Oh, wait, they're terrorists . . or freedom fighters . . ah me . . maybe you can be both . worked for the Irgun. . plus ca change . . . .back to the gardening . . :)

I have a r2p against the veg-eating beasties in my garden . . :)


Demetrius said...

Was it one of the "Likely Lads" who had a thing about women in uniform? North Korea is a place where a highly centralised political machine control the media and economy using a quasi monarchical system as the head. Now where else might we find a state like that?

Woodsy42 said...

A worrying thought, that North Korea may be the shape of the future rather than a hangover from the past. My suspicion is that the reality will see us moving together as they gain more freedom and we get less.

A K Haart said...

James and dayzero - I'm not sure why we go in or don't go in, what calculations are made. Never seems to work though.

Demetrius - and look at the length of those skirts. Hmm.

Woodsy - yes, I don't see us standing on our principles to prevent drift. Nothing to stand on.