Kim Jung Il’s Kakistocracy

June 3, 2009

[first published May 17, 2005] Kakistocracy is government by the worst, most unprincipled citizens of a state. It’s from the Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad.

Some frequent visitors may have noticed that I seem to be obsessed by Kim and his North Korea. Yes, and if you’re not, you should be also. It is the deadliest, most repressive, worst ruled of all countries, and since Kim Jung Il is the absolute dictator of the totalitarian state, he is the one to focus on, as we do on Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

I received from Colleague the three links below, to which I responded:

Read them and I say, as I wrote in my blogs, assassinate Kim as we would have a SWAT Team sniper do to a bank robber holed up with his hostages.

I can’t believe we live in the same world and at the same time with Kim, and he is allowed to continue his evil.

Colleague responded:

As I teach my international relations students, this is a legacy of Westphalia, which was a “good thing” in that it protected princes from the interventions of others — and since no one was reliably democratic, it brought some sense of order — if not justice — to the world. And I remind them that International Law privileges sovereignty, as most cases involve one country violating the sovereignty of another — of course the reasons are not important (as in the case of Nicaragua taking the US to the World Court for mining its harbors, even though there was war stuff coming into the harbors). But then I introduce the idea that democracy is emerging as a universal right and even a basic human entitlement — thereby warranting violation of sovereignty to protect humans — just like your analogy of the SWAT team and the bank robbery. The neat thing is that most of the students see no problems with this idea of humanitarian intervention for democracy. Is there hope????

The next step is to start holding accountable those who claim moral authority in international matters (especially the UN, but certainly the Euro-moralists and the church). I’m not sure HOW you hold them accountable, but a first step is plain and simple condemnation for not having done their jobs (misfeasance — improper execution of laws), and more stringent condemnation (with calls for firings and changes) for having not done their job because they were protecting their personal interests, and outright wrongdoing (malfeasance)… Unleash the lawyers!

So far, what are the solutions offered: Cozy up to Kim, provide food and material aid, meet with his henchmen one-to-one, then maybe he’ll compromise on his development of nukes. Yes, but tell me, how does this help the poor North Koreans suffering this enslavement, and that is what it is, pure and simple slavery under the worst of masters.


Links of Note

“The Hidden Gulag” (5/15/05) By Young Howard

Howard says:

Grandsons are condemned to life-long terms as slave laborers alongside their grandfathers, both equally helpless in the brutal surroundings. Prisoners are arbitrarily murdered by security guards. Women suffer from forced abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors. Newborn babies are beaten to death. And sons and daughters are publicly executed in front of their mothers.

“Horrific conditions and suffering make it the last worst place on Earth” (5/15/05) By Jack Rendler

Rendler says:

There are 23 million people living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and all of them – men, women and children – suffer every day under the heel of the most repressive regime on Earth. Their plight has been abandoned and ignored by most of the world for nearly 50 years. But there is now new hope and opportunity to restore their freedom and dignity. . . . First, we must accept the fact that there will be no reform in North Korea until the new leadership in China makes it happen. . . . Second, it is not productive or humane to contribute to the starvation of the North Korean people. . . . Third, we must not be distracted from our human rights objectives while Pyongyang threatens to develop nuclear weapons. . . . Fourth, we must find ways to bring outside information into North Korea. . . . Fifth, educators, students and health-care workers should be actively seeking exchange opportunities with their North Korean fellows. . . . Finally, each of us can simply communicate to our elected congressional representatives that we cannot in good conscience tolerate the suffering of so many North Korean men, women and children . . . .

“World must act” (5/15/05) The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial

The editorial says:

When Europe’s Jews were being murdered by the millions during World War II, the world paid too little attention until it was too late. When 2 million Cambodians were dying in their country’s auto-genocide in the mid to late 1970s, hardly anyone deigned to notice. When 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were being slaughtered in Rwanda in 1994, the world knew but did nothing.

A repeat of this shameful neglect must not be permitted as North Korea’s slave state brutally suppresses all dissenters, real and imagined, and millions remain at risk of starvation.

So, what can the world do?

First, the cause of human rights in North Korea should be put prominently on the international agenda. . . . Second, a more aggressive effort must be mounted to assist North Korea’s people. . . . Third, pressure must be brought on Kim Jong-Il’s government to improve its ghastly record of abusing, indeed denying, all basic human rights of its citizenry. . . . Above all, don’t let it be said that the world knew of North Korea’s horrors, and did nothing.

Strange, isn’t it? Kim’s beastly enslavement and murder of his people, and their abject pain and suffering is recognized, but no one suggests the equivalent of secretly sending in a SWAT Team sniper.



War/peace docudramas
War/democide Docudramas


“No, God, I Can’t Believe It”–A Ducudrama Of The Forced Ukrainian Famine

April 28, 2009

[First published in May 18, 2005] In 1932, Stalin went to war against Ukrainian nationalism and resistance to collectivization. His weapon of choice was enforced famine. Stalin won. The “war dead?” About 5,000,000 Ukrainians who starved to death or died of associated diseases. Want to know what it was like for a Ukrainian villager then? Here is one possible story.
***

“We were starving to death,” Viktor suddenly blurted as I placed another beer before him. “My father, Petro Pynzenyk, was powerless to do anything about it, which made him very angry. I remember him shaking his feeble fist in the air and yelling to my mother Olena, ‘How could he do this to us? How could he starve us to death? God, why? What have we done to him?’

“My mother wouldn’t answer. Skeletal and weak with hunger, she could no longer leave their bed.”

Ignoring his beer, his eyes turned inward, Viktor finally let it all out.

***

Drought had brought famine to the Ukraine. But this famine was nothing compared to what Stalin, the absolute dictator of the communist Soviet Union, or USSR, was doing. He had launched a total blockade that prevented any food from getting into that Soviet republic. The communist cadre even searched travelers to the Ukraine to make sure they carried no food with them.

According to Stalin’s fanatical communist reasoning, Ukrainian peasant nationalism was a danger to his power that had to be subdued. The peasants also had strongly resisted giving up their homes, farms, and livestock to be collectivized into factory farms. Stalin’s weapon against such stubbornness and nationalism was starvation. He sent the communist cadre, activists, and security forces into the region to enforce his own man-made famine.

Petro Pynzenyk’s anguished outbursts against Stalin would almost exhaust him. He had been a handsome man in his youth, taller than most other peasants, with a round, open face and a strong brow. Even when age had grayed his hair, he had been well muscled, as heavy farm workers usually were. Now his ribs showed and his stomach was caved in; his arms and legs had grown bony, their muscles raped by his body for sustenance.

Viktor remembered watching him pry the soles off his shoes and then drop them into a pot of boiling water hanging in the fireplace. “Maybe they’ll add some flavor to the tree bark,” he rasped. It seemed that he could no longer say anything normally.

He was nonpolitical, tried to stay out of trouble, and did what the local communist functionaries asked. Except that, with all his being, he dreaded the demand he knew would soon come from Kiev—that he give up his one-acre farm and small home to collectivization. His father had worked all his life to develop and build this small farm. Petro did not want to give it up, but if he resisted, the communists would shoot him and his family.

Viktor was fourteen at the time. He spent the days hunting alone, because Petro, much to his shame, had grown too weak to join him. With a long-handled net, Viktor tried to catch any animals he saw around the village or in the unplowed fields, even former pets that the communists had missed when they came through, shooting them and stuffing the dead ones in sacks to be carried or trucked away. They’d also taken all the livestock, and had gone house to house looking for food, even seizing warm bread off the tables. When they learned that the villagers had started catching birds to eat, the communists again came through, shooting the birds out of the trees and bagging their little bodies.

When they came to the Pynzenyk home, they poked around the grounds outside the house with long rods, searching for buried food. They thus found the seeds Viktor’s mother had hidden by the pump, which they’d planned to use for planting if they survived.

Finally, as much as he didn’t want to believe it, Viktor realized they would not survive much longer.

One late afternoon when Viktor returned empty-handed to their house, he was just pulling the door shut behind him when he heard a distant scream. Alarmed but too weak to move himself, Petro waved Viktor outside to find out what was happening. Petro and Olena waited in tense silence as Viktor left the house. Viktor could tell they were scared. He followed the sound of the screams, which were soon punctuated by loud moans and gasps for breath.

When Viktor discovered what had caused the screams, he vomited up what liquid lay in his empty stomach. Sickened, revolted, he ran home and lay by his house and wept until too exhausted to cry anymore. Finally, he staggered inside.

He pushed the door shut behind him and stood there, swaying as if cornered. He could only gape at his parents, his mouth working. He started crying again, fighting to gulp air into his lungs, but dreading the news he had to tell his parents.

“What is it?” Petro demanded weakly.

Viktor ran over to his mother’s bed and threw himself down beside her, his whole body shaking. Olena put her bony arm around him, murmured some soothing words, and waited.

Finally, still trembling, Viktor blurted, “They ate her.”

“Ate who?” asked his father.

“Yana.”

“Yana? What are you talking about?” His mother looked from Viktor to Petro in confusion.

Viktor calmed down enough to explain, although tears still flowed. “Little Yana down the road. She went missing, and her father searched the woods and finally checked that crazy man Taran’s house on the other side of the stream. She was . . . ”

“What, Viktor?”

“She was . . . cut up in his . . . in his food pot. Her father grabbed a shovel and killed Taran and his mother with it.” Viktor’s stomach heaved at the memory, but nothing would come up. He whimpered, “She was such a fun little girl. She was always laughing and trying to trip me. She would make believe I was a horse.”

“My Holy God in Heaven,” Petro groaned. “I had heard this was going on, but in our village? No, God, I can’t believe it.”

Olena could only close her eyes and let the tears flow.

The days went slowly by, each a torment of hunger. Petro also grew too weak to leave his bed. Viktor continued to hunt, and captured some rats in the field. With the head of one he saved from the pot, he actually caught a starving dog whose own hunger had overcome its natural fear. His parents always gave him the largest part of any catch. They wanted Viktor to live to remember them, and what had happened.

Olena died two weeks later, and Petro the following week. With the death of his father, Viktor gave up all hope. He was lying on their bed, just waiting for the end, when Stalin ordered the release of grain from the military warehouses.

Local officials soon started going from village to village, looking for survivors. When they came to Viktor’s house, they knocked on the door. Receiving no response, they entered and, one told him later, were nearly overcome by the smell of urine, feces, and death. They found Viktor almost dead, lying next to the rotting corpses of his mother and father on a pile of filthy blankets. Viktor was not the first one they’d seen in this condition; they knew what to do. He was carried outside and propped on the ground to be spoon-fed thin soup.

***

Unlike all but a few in his village, Viktor survived. Five million Ukrainians did not.

Even this did not satisfy Stalin. He decided that the core Ukrainian culture had to be destroyed. And who was at the heart of this culture? The blind traveling musicians, who played and sang the classical Ukrainian music and folk tunes, and recounted tales of Ukrainian heroes. So, Stalin had communist officials call all the folk musicians together for a festival, and then had them all shot to death.

How can we prevent this from ever happening again? Through the democratic peace.


War/peace docudramas
War/democide Docudramas


The Commonplace Horror Of It All.

March 9, 2009

20th Century Democide

I find it more revealing to read the reports or biographies of escaped refugees and political dissidents from an evil dictatorship than what the country-experts write about it. This way I get a sense of the commonplace horror of it all. I just finished reading Kang Chol-Hwan’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang. Kang, you may recall, spent about 45 minutes with President Bush giving him a briefing on his experience. Taken in by North Korean propaganda, his whole extended Korean family emigrated from Japan to the “paradise of North Korea.” Of course, coming from a highly developed and free country to the bankrupt, rigidly control North Korea, his family was loose lipped. Eventually they were all arrested and sent to a forced labor camp when Kang was ten-years old. He and those of his family who survived spent ten awful years there.

This book as mainly about Kang’s experience in the camp, but enough about North Korea itself is described to show that life inside and outside the camps is a matter of degree. Trying to escape the camps means execution if caught; similarly, trying to escape the country means a fast death by execution or a slow one in the camps. A returned escapee is then one of the so-called irredeemables who along with those who spoke out against the regime, or the “revered Great Leader,” are purposely worked to death. And their children with them.

Some things that stick in my mind:

One is that it seems so easy for people’s minds to be so swayed by propaganda as to give up their freedom and wealth in a democracy to enter . . . hell.

Also, as in South Vietnam when it was taken over by the North, everything is a matter of bribes. They are not the lubricant, but the basis of order. Whatever one needs or wants to be done in North Korea was possible if one had enough money or precious goods to barter. Up and down the communist hierarchy, the currency was Omega watches, color TV sets, Japanese Yen, food, and anything else of material value.

Third, are the deaths. Deaths from malnutrition, deaths from lack of medical treatment, deaths from accidents, deaths from everyday beatings, deaths from overwork, deaths from the cold in winter, and deaths from executions. One vignette that sticks in my mind is of three boys that were put to work in a gold mine setting off explosives without adult supervision. They would light the fuses and run. Once they were not fast enough, and two were killed in the explosion and one had half his face blown off.

Fourth is the food, always inadequate, such that painful hunger would cause people to lose their decency, and even take food from their children’s mouths. The ever-present hunger stimulated creativity in catching and nurturing rats for food, catching insects, or finding something to eat in the woods around the camp.

Finally, is the ease with which people were sent to these gulags. No trial, no hearing, no interrogation. Perhaps word from friends or insiders that one was under surveillance would be a first clue of what was to come. But one day, the security police would arrive and haul a whole family, even babies and children, off to one of the camps with virtually no time for preparation or explanation. Or, one might be arrested at work without any chance of one’s family finding out what happened, even when it was separately arrested.

Is this gulag worse than Stalin’s? It’s like asking which is worse, torture with a burning hot iron, or with a knife.

Quite understandably, Kang condemns the South Korean government’s refusal to make human rights in the North an issue, and reluctance to help North Korean refugees, who when caught in China are returned to Kim Jung Il’s loving arms to be executed or worked to death in one of the camps.

His book should be widely read. But, it won’t be by those who need to be educated by it the most.

Link of Note

“N. Korea defector seeks help from Bush” (7/19/05) By Bill Gertz. In The Washington Times

Gertz says:

A North Korean defector who survived 10 years in a prison labor camp said he told President Bush last month that the United States should do more to help those who flee the communist regime. 
    “The people who are at the camps, the [North Korean] government wants to kill them all,” Kang Chol-hwan said in an interview with The Washington Times. “Instead of executing them, they kill them slowly, making them work in forced labor. That was the hardest part.”

What gets me the most about this horror is that it is happening now. Not 60-years ago under the Nazis, or Stalin, or 50-years ago under Mao, or 30-years ago under Pol Pot, but now.
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM


“Now, Dearest, You Are Here (A Docudrama on Moa’s China)

December 21, 2008

[first published May 23, 2005] A Docudrama About Pol Pot’s Cambodian Communist Revolution. This is from Rummel” Book 1 alternative history Never Again Series (link here). Note that while the characters are fictitious, their experience is based on known facts and refugee reports. This is unbelievable enough without having to invent any of the horror.

***
April of 1975 was a happy day for Tor as she waited for Nguon beneath the torn awning on the ramshackle building where they lived.

The war was now over. After successive retreats, General Lon Nol could no longer even defend Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, against the Khmer Rouge guerrillas. The Cambodian Army had declared a cease-fire and laid down its arms. Soon afterward, the government conceded defeat and opened Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge and their leader, Pol Pot. An army of 68,000 guerrillas achieved victory for a communist party of 14,000 members against an army of about 200,000 men.

Naturally petite, Tor was skinny from lack of food–a common problem in Phnom Penh at that time. Her face was still round, though–”Just,” Nguon always told her, “as I like it.” She had kept her black hair cut short to keep it out of the way as she worked in her cousin’s small restaurant. On this day, she wore an orange blouse and a beige sarong.

Nguon was teaching, but she was sure he had heard the news about the great victory. No doubt he would cancel class and join her to welcome the guerrilla soldiers. They were supposed to arrive within the hour.

Tor heard people celebrating all around her. Many intellectuals and middle-class Cambodians, disgusted with the everyday corruption of the government, were willing to try anything that brought change, even communism. Tor was no less happy. She was already thinking about bringing her own mother from the northeast, where she had been trapped by the war.

There Nguon was, all smiles as he approached her in his common black shorts. He took her hands and, looking into her eyes, said, “My dearest one. During all these years of war we prayed to Buddha for peace, and now it’s here. The world will change today. What a great moment.”

They walked to Sisowath Quay down which they expected the major force of Khmer Rouge to come on their way to the Royal palace. Many people were out on the streets, laughing, talking, all waiting. Almost every other building had white material–clothes, sheets, or towels–hung from windows or poles.

A low rumble grew into the mechanical roar of trucks. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and looked toward the approaching noise.

Down Sisowath Quay came the Khmer Rouge. Those soldiers in the vanguard rode in trucks and vehicles of all descriptions. Behind those, squads of guerrilla soldiers walked in single file down the center of the street. They carried an assortment of weapons. No guerrilla seemed older than eighteen. All wore black, pajama-like uniforms, sandals made from strips of tires and inner tubes, and black Chinese caps. Each soldier had wound a red-checkered headscarf around his cap or neck. None of them smiled or looked at the crowds of people lining the roads.

Some of the people cheered and clapped, but most just smiled and waited to see what the victorious guerrillas would do next.

After watching for a while, Tor commented, “They are so young. How could they defeat the army?”

“Well, they did,” Nguon responded. “Let’s go back to our place. I’ve seen enough.”

Tor and Nguon ambled back to their apartment climbed the worn steps and walked down the dim, unpainted hallway to their room. Although almost too excited to eat, they thought it best to get something into their stomachs before what surely would be an evening of celebration. As they ate some reheated rice and fruit and a little leftover ham Tor had saved from the restaurant, they discussed what they would do once the city settled down.

Shots echoed out on the street as they were cleaning up. Tor and Nguon rushed over to the small window and peered out. They saw people moving past their building, their faces creased with confusion. They were looking around and glancing often over their shoulders. Waving their guns and yelling, several Khmer Rouge soldiers pointed in the direction the people were moving.

Tor gasped. “What’s going on? I thought the war was over.”

“I don’t know,” Nguon replied. “Maybe some Lon Nol soldiers don’t want it to end. I’m going out to take a look as soon as we finish here.”

But when they finished cleaning up a few minutes later, the noise from the street had increased greatly. Babies cried; car horns blared; people yelled constantly. Nguon and Tor exchanged an anxious glance. They decided to take a look outside, but when they reached the street they couldn’t believe their eyes.

A mass of people of all descriptions, packed almost shoulder-to-shoulder, moved in the direction the soldiers indicated. The crowd eddied around the spots where the guerrilla soldiers stood yelling like a stream around boulders. Here and there, a crowded car, small truck, or motor scooter crawled along in the flow of humanity. Tor glimpsed several motorbikes loaded down with possessions.

“Move, move. Get out,” the Khmer Rouge soldiers shouted, waving their rifles.

Standing on their steps, Tor looked up the road in the direction all these people were coming from, and saw a body lying on the walkway two buildings down. Another body lay a little further away. Everyone in the crowd avoided them. The bodies created little eddies of their own in the stream of people.

A black-clad soldier with a red scarf around his neck rushed up, pointed an AK-47 at them, and screeched in the high, thin rasp of a teenage boy, “You must leave this evil place. Go now!”

He couldn’t be over fifteen years old, Tor thought.

Nguon didn’t understand. “Go where? Why?”

“Go! Go! Out of the city. Now!” he screamed at them, even louder.

Tor was scared now. Her voice trembled when she asked, “But can’t we get something to take with us? It will take just a–”

Nguon grabbed her hand and jerked her off the steps. He pulled Tor down the side of the crowded road. They were jostled and pushed by people and bumped by the heavy suitcases a few people carried. A short distance down the crowded walkway, Nguon, who was tall for a Cambodian, looked back. Not seeing any soldiers nearby, he pulled Tor into an alley with him.

“What are you doing?” she asked between gulps of air. She’d begun to shake.

“Don’t say anything,” Nguon urged, putting his finger on her lips.

Still gripping her hand, he pulled her with him as he cautiously rushed down the narrow, trash-filled alley. When he came to an intersecting alley, he peeked around the corner.

“No soldiers,” he murmured, and turned the corner with Tor still in tow. Several old people milled around in the alley, asking about all the noise and what was going on. Nguon ignored them.

Within minutes they reached the rear of their building without seeing any soldiers. Obviously, the soldiers were stretched thin in trying to cover all the alleys, roads, and buildings in Phnom Penh. He guessed, however, that the soldiers would began to search these buildings soon.

A small step at a time, Nguon entered the building through the rear entrance, peering down the hallway to make sure there were no soldiers inside. He motioned for Tor to follow him, and they rushed to their room. The hallway was deserted–others had also gone out to investigate the noise in the street.

Once they were inside, Nguon allowed his own fear to show. Looking at Tor, he said quickly, “I think that kid was going to shoot us. I don’t understand it, but I think we should prepare for the worst and get away before they search the building.”

“Where are they sending us?”

“I don’t know, but hurry now, let’s pack what we might need. Pack food, of course, and blankets, clothes, and the money we’ve hidden.”

Tor walked to the corner of the room and pulled out from under a glass topped rattan table a large, battered French suitcase that had been in her family for two generations.

“No, no,” Nguon said, stopping her. “That’s too clumsy. Just two bags, one for each of us, and not too hard to carry.”

Tor fetched her wicker shopping bag from their small closet and Nguon picked up the school bag he used to carry books and papers, and they began to fill them. Just in case they lost a bag, they split the rice and fruit between them, and each took a small bottle of drinking water. They also divided between them their family heirlooms and their other few valuables. Tor kissed her old gold locket containing a photograph of her mother and father, then tucked it into the side of her bag where she wouldn’t accidentally pull it out. She also threw in a box of tissues.

Nguon looked around, stood thinking for a moment, and chided himself, “I almost forgot.” He took an old Cambodian tourist brochure from a drawer in their one cabinet, tore out the map inside, and put it in his bag.

He stepped over to the sink they had used for everything from washing dishes to their bodies, picked up an old Japanese chef’s knife and handed it to Tor. “Wrap this in some of your old clothes and hide it in the bottom of your bag,” he told her. He picked up a six-inch French carving knife, wrapped it, and deposited it in his own bag.

“Okay, let’s . . . ” Nguon trailed off as they heard more shots.

Tor rushed over to look out the window. “No, they can’t be doing this!” she exclaimed.

Here and there in the stream of people, invalids were being pushed in wheelchairs. Others staggered along on crutches. People pushed hospital beds with their loved ones still in them. Tor saw an intravenous tube stuck in the arm of one of the invalids. The tube was connected to a bottle hanging from a pole being wheeled along beside the bed by a woman who was probably a relative.

“The soldiers must also be emptying the hospitals,” Nguon said. “We can’t do anything about it. Let’s go.”

They hurried down the hallway and paused on the stairs to look both ways before plunging into the moving mass of people.

More here


Democide
Books, articles, statistics


Returning to the Democratic Peace

November 27, 2008

[Here I have used China under Mao as the worst example of what a life can be like for a people lacking a democratic peace--fear, insecurity, mass poverty, totalitarianism, and mass murder by the multimillions. Now, I will be more specific about the democratic peace itself. The following was first published December 13, 2004]

We have learned much about international relations and politics that provides new insight into old problems. We have learned that:

• Democratic freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.

• Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.

• Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines. 

• Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.

• Free people commit virtually no democide (government genocide and mass murder). Freedom is therefore a solution to democide; the only practical means of making sure that “Never again!”

• Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them. Globalizing freedom is therefore a solution to war.

• Power corrupts, impoverishes, and kills.

This constellation of inter-connected truths sums up the democratic peace and the consequences of excessive power. Fostering freedom is then a moral, Kantian imperative, as well as a practical and realist solution to many of today’s most pressing problems, especially war, violence, democide, famine, and national impoverishment.

I leave to my website the scholarly and scientific analyses establishing these iron laws of history. Here, I will use them to shed bright light on more light on what, how, and why of the democratic peace.


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