Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You belive that totalitarian propaganda?

If you think this is going to be a posting about the US media you need to get some perspective dude. Try going to North Korea. Kristof of the NY Times did just that and did some ground breaking reporting, the highlights are covered in this insightful web chat. In particular it mentions the fundamental thing that I don't understand about North Korea: Why do people "still believe in a system that has failed so badly." This is central to understanding North Korea because this isn't Eastern Europe or even Russia where people were privately cynical about communism (in public fear commanded vast support) . There is fear to be sure in North Korea (and some private opposition), but there is also significant support for this terrible regime. Is it because the intellectuals have been co-opted? Is it the effective marshaling of Nationalism? Is it the way the state has morphed itself into a religion?

These questions are important not only because the Korean peninsula is a potential military disaster that would make Iraq look like a walk in the park, or because the people of North Korea are some of the most oppressed in the world. But also from a more academic perspective because before you can understand Freedom you have to understand North Korea. Any reasonable definition of a free society must exclude North Korea, yet many people there believe in the government and choose to support it. It is a bit exaggerated to do so but would someone else consider me to be similarly misguided when I proclaim myself free? Just how exactly do you draw that line? Education level? Non-Dogmatic belief system? How easy is it for a society to turn into a North Korea, and just how sustainable is it?

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