RES: a trip to North Korea

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sat Apr 22 15:55:09 PDT 2000


>Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
>>Isn't there a contradiction between the above two responses?
>>Reparations are a "fantasy" (tell that to the folks in Jubilee
>>2000!), you think, because American leftists would never, ever, be
>>able to control the American government.
>The question is what should about 4-5 billion people in the world do
>today and tomorrow, when American socialists - all 100 of us - don't
>control the U.S. government. Amin's proposals are designed for that
>world, not the world we'd like to see.

It seems that "Juche," China & Vietnam's respective capitalist roads, Cuba's turn to tourism, etc. are their various responses to this exact question. All sad indeed, but what are they to do?

>>(2) The North Korean personality cult is quite deplorable, but
>>North Korea is less obsessed with the personality cult than the USA
>>is, with its cult of the "Founding Fathers," "In God We Trust,"
>>love of "celebrities" of all kinds, slavish admiration of the rich,
>>the powerful, and the beautiful.
>You & Charles & others seem to think that when you point to some
>debased practice of the U.S. it gets a nominally socialist country
>off the hook for being similarly debased. I don't see it. All the
>U.S. cults you list are deplorable.

No, I'd criticize North Korea more freely, *if* I were a North Korean, but I'm *not*. It seems to me that for a Japanese or an American person to be yucking about North Korea & feeling oh-so-superior is unseemly, not to mention immoral, given Japan's & America's past & present imperial politics. Criticisms of & resistance to imperial politics are more important to me, Carrol, Charles, and many other socialists than criticizing North Korea.

>>On top of that, we got the cult of "branding" & "intellectual
>>property" as well, as Naomi Klein & Michael Perelman point out. If
>>you don't see the cult of personality here, you are quite out of
>>touch with American culture! As Zizek might say, you project what
>>you see but don't want to see here onto other nations. Scary
>>nationalists are always "out there"; likewise, worshippers of the
>>"Great Leader" are always "out there." How about some
>That would be true if I didn't see these things here, but I do, so it isn't.

I hope you _really_ think American imperialism is worse than North Korean "Juche." I hope you do.

>Here's what Zizek really has to say on a related topic, from The
>Fragile Absolute, pp. 33-36:

I was thinking of what Zizek said of the European tendency to see nationalism "out there." I think the same can be said about the "cult of personality." Anyhow, Zizek is so lucky to have his criticism of Stalinism -- a very marketable intellectual commodity indeed -- down pat, easy to reproduce at the drop of a hat. I heard him say the same in other articles & books as well; Stalinism is Stalinism is Stalinism in Zizek's mind, identical in the USSR & North Korea, I suppose. It gets boring, however, in that he has nothing new to say! When the world's last socialist regime goes fully capitalist, I wonder if Zizek will have one less topic to write about. Or will merely a specter of Stalinism do for the sale of anti-Stalinism?

BTW, Zizek also has this to say about Stalinism: "One must acknowledge openly what many a critique of the alleged 'totalitarian', 'Stalinist' nature of Lacanian communities makes a big deal of by allusion: yes, the 'spirit', the structuring principle, which expressed itself distortedly in the Stalinist Party, found its proper form in the Lacanian community of analysts....This homology between the Lacanian analyst and the Stalinist Communist can be unfolded further: for example, the Lacanian analyst, like the Stalinist Communist, is in a sense 'infallible' -- in contrast to ordinary people, he does not 'live in error'..." (_The Metastases of Enjoyment_ 171-2). Read the book?


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