Written by Bill Bland for the Communist League
In his paper entitled ‘THE WPK’S STRUGGLE AGAINST REVISIONISM’, Comrade Dermot Hudson expresses agreement with a reported statement by Nina Andreyeva:
“As the Russian communist leader Dr. Nina Andreyeva remarked at the Copenhagen Seminar on the Juche Idea in 1995…” (Dermot Hudson: ‘The WPK’s Struggle against Modern Revisionism’; p. 1).
The statement concerned was to the effect that the critique of modern revisionism made by the Workers’ Party of Korea was
” … more throroughgoing and mature … ” (Nina Andreyeva: Statement at Copenhagen Seminar on the Juche Idea’ (1995), cited in: Dermot Hudson: ibid,; p. 1).
than that made by the Albanian Party of Labour.
Two short quotations are enough to demonstrate the questionable accuracy of Andreyeva’s assertion. In December 1960. the leader of the Party of Labour of Albania, Enver Hoxha, told the Central Committee of the PLA:
“Following his advent to power, Khrushchev and his revisionist group had worked out a complete plan: Marxism- Leninism would be negated and all those trends and persons that had been unmasked, attacked and defeated as anti- Marxists, or who had been liquidated by Marxism-Leninism in action, were to be rehabilitated … This meant that both Lenin and Stalin had to be attacked … Today it has become even clearer that these intriguers, liars, opportunists and revisionists are doing all these things openly … Our Party is fully convinced that such monstrous accusations and slanders were brought against Stalin to discredit both him as a person, and the work of this great Marxist-Leninist … Khrushchev and his group are on a revisionist course”. (Enver Hoxha: Closing Speech at the 21st Plenum of the CC of the PLA (December 1960), in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 3; Tirana: 1980: p. 167-68. 169).
In contrast, a Korean delegation in Moscow, signed in July 1961 a joint communique saying that the talks which had been been held there had shown
” … ‘complete identity of views’ between the Soviet and North Korean leaders on questions relating to the international communist movement” (Soviet-Korean Joint Communique (10 July 1961), in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13: p. 18,246)
while, for its part, the WPK accepted the Khrushchevite-led Communist Party of the Soviet Union as
” … the universally recognised vanguard of the world Communist movement”. (Soviet-Korean Joint Communique (10 July 1961), in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13: p. 18,246).
Furthermore, Comrade Hudson holds that the WPK saw
” … modern revisionism as originating in the 1950s … rather than … as a phenomenon of the late 1980s, associated with Gorbachev”. (Dermot Hudson: ibid,; p. 1).
And yet, when Kim Il Sung visited the Soviet Union in October 1986, he expressed support for the socio-economic reforms adopted at the 27th Congress of the CPSU and, in his banquet speech, praised Gorbachev by saying:
“This new change now taking place in the Soviet Union is unthinkable apart from the energetic activities of Comrade M. S. Gorbachev, a staunch Marxist-Leninist”. (Kim Il Sung: Moscow Banquet Speech of 24 October 1986, in: Dae-Ho Byun: ‘North Korea’s Foreign Policy: The Juche Ideology and the Challenge of Gorbachev’s New Thinking’; Seoul: 1991; p. 186).
Clearly, the attitude of the WPK to revisionism is not that of principled opposition since the 1950s suggested by Comrade Hudson.
THE DEFINITION OF REVISIONISM
Lenin’s definition of revisionism is that it is
” … a trend hostile to Marxism within Marxism” (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Marxism and Revisionism’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 11; London; 1943; p. 704).
Perhaps a more comrehensive definition of revisionism would be that it is an ideology which claims to be a development of Marxism but is in reality a deviation from Marxism which assists the anti-socialist aims of a capitalist class.
Clearly, revisionism has direct relevance only to people who believe they are Marxists. To the extent that it can persuade such people of its validity, it separates them from genuine Marxists and diverts them into anti-Marxist political activity.
The struggle against revisionism is thus of particular importance in the period of building a Marxist-Leninist Party in countries where such a party does not yet exist. Some comrades have no difficulty in recognising the revisionist character of Khrushchevite revisionism of the type of ‘The British Road to Socialism’, which is clearly anti- revolutionary, but cannot understand how other types of revisionism may support revolution. But when we say that ‘revisionism assists the anti-socialist aims of a capitalist class’, one must understand that the anti- socialist aims of all capitalist classes do not follow an identical pattern, and we can identify different brands of revisionism corresponding to these different aims.
In particular, the aims of revisionists in developed capitalist countries differ from those of revisionists in colonial-type countries. Thus, the former is anti-revolutionary typified by Khrushchevite revisionism of the type of ‘The British Road to Socialism’. However, revisionism in colonial-type countries is to a certain extent revolutionary, reflecting the desire of national bourgeoisies of colonial-type countries to carry through the national-democratic stage of the revolutionary process in such countries, but to halt the revolutionary process before it proceeds to the socialist stage; this second form of revisionism is typified by ‘Mao Tse-tung Thought’ and, as we shall see, by ‘Kimilsungism’.
THE MARXIST-LENINIST FACETS OF KIMILSUNGISM
In some important respects, Kimilsungism is fully in accord with the Marxist-Leninist principles of the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries. These principles are:
Firstly, that the revolutionary process in such countries consists of two stages: that of national-democratic revolution and that of socialist revolution.
In the first stage,
” … the Korean people … are … faced with the tasks of carrying out an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘On the Building of New Korea and the National United Front’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; Pyongyang; 1975; p, 3).
“Comrade Kim Il Sung … pointed out the need to continue the revolution after the completion of the anti- imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution so as to build socialist, communist society”., (Kim Han Gil: ‘Modern History of Korea’; Pyongyang: 1979; p. 34).
Secondly, that the Marxist-Leninist Party should strive to mobilise the maximum of class forces objectively possible for each stage of the revolution:
“It is possible to conquer the more powerful enemy only by … necessarily, thoroughly, carefully, attentively and skilfully taking advantage of every, even the smallest, opportunity of gaining a mass ally, even though this ally be temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional. Those who do not understand this fail to understand even a grain of Marxism”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘”Left-wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder’; in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946: p. 112).
“The Communist Party of each country must unfailingly avail itself of even the smallest opportunity of gaining a mass ally for the proletariat, even if a temporary, vacillating, unstable and unreliable ally”. (Josef V. Stalin: ‘Notes on Contemporary Themes’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 337).
Thirdly, in the first stage of the revolutionary process, the democratic stage, these forces include the national bourgeoisie:
“To build a Democratic People’s Republic, a united front must be formed of all the patriotic democratic forces, including … the national capitalists” (Kim Il Sung: op. cit.; p. 4).
“The national capitalists participated in the democratic revolution”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang: 1977; p. 20).
Fourthly, that the Party should strive to gain the leadership of this stage of the revolution:
“In the struggle to establish a Democratic People’s Republic, the Communists … should be at the head of the masses of the people and lead them forward”. (Kim Il Sung: op. cit.; p. 5).
THE REVISIONIST FACETS OF KIMILSUNGISM
The revisionist facets of Kimilsungism relate to the period of transition to the socialist revolution, and to the socialist revolution itself.
The Question of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
According to Marxism-Leninism, socialism can be constructed only through the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat:
“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. To it there corresponds a period of political transition, in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”. (Programme of the Communist International’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943; Documents’, Volume 2; London; 1971; p. 490).
“The revolution will be unable to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, to maintain its victory and to push forward to the final victory of socialism unless, at a certain stage in its development, it creates a special organ in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat as its principal mainstay”. (Josef V. Stalin ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow: 1963; p. 112).
According to Kimilsungism, however, the dictatorship of the proletariat is unnecessary in a colonial-type country like Korea:
“The democracy we aspire to is fundamentally different from that of Western capitalist countries, nor is it a slavish copy of that in a socialist country … Ours is a new type of democracy most suited to the reality of Korea”. (Kim Il Sung: “On Progressive Democracy’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Pyongyang; 1980; p. 257).
“The establishment of the power of the proletarian dictatorship by force was followed as a last resort in some countries, … In the northern half (of Korea — Ed.) … this was not necessary”. (Baik Bong: ‘Kim Il Sung: Biography’, Volume 2; Beirut; 1973; p. 176).
Accordingly, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, established in North Korea in September 1948, was officially described as a state based on the joint dictatorship of several classes, including the national capitalists:
“A Democratic People’s Republic … must be built by forming a democratic united front … which embraces … even the national capitalists”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘On the Building of New Korea and the Mational United, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Pyongyang; 1980: p. 298).
According to Marxism-Leninism, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state in which the proletariat holds power alone, and does not share power with other classes:
“The class that took political power did so in the knowledge that it was doing so alone. That is intrinsic to the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It has meaning only when one class knows that it is taking power alone”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Speech Delivered at the All-Russia Congress of Transport Workers, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 273-74).
“The class of proletarians … does not and cannot share power with other classes”, (Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Questions of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volue 8; Moscow; 1954; p. 27).
However, in violation of these Marxist-Lenininist principles, by 1958 the leadership of the WPK was presenting this state of the joint dictatorship of several classes, including the national bourgeoisie, as ‘belonging to the category of the dictatorship of the proletariat’:
“Some people say that our people s power is not one that exercises the dictatorship of the proletariat because it is based on a united front. This is a completely erroneous view. Today our people’s power is a state power that belongs in the category of the dictatorship of the proletariat”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘For the Successful Implementation of the First Five-Year Plan’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Pyongyang; 1983; p. 115).
The Transition to the Stage of Socialist Revolution
Marxism-Leninism holds that, in the transition from the national-democratic stage of the revolutionary process to the socialist stage
” … the proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie”. (Josef V. Stalin: ‘Questions of the Chinese Revolution’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 225).
In violation of this Marxist-Leninist principle, Kimilsungism holds that the transition to the socialist stage of the revolutionary process can be carried though in continued alliance with the national bourgeoisie:
“The entrepreneurs and traders of our country are fellow- travellers … not only in carrying out the democratic revolution but also in socialist construction”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘On the Immediate Tasks of the People’s Power in Socialist Construction’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 37).
“From the beginning our policy in regard to the national bourgeoisie was not only to carry out the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution together with them, but also to take them along with us to a socialist, communist society”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘Let Us further Strengthen the Socialist System of Our Country’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 6; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 317).
“The national capitalists … came out in support of the Party’s line of the socialist revolution”. the Party’s line of the socialist revolution”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 20).
Peaceful Remoulding of the National Capitalists
Kimilsungism, while accepting that there is the ‘risk’ of class struggle between the working class and the national bourgeoisie in a colonial-type country, maintains that this can be resolved peacefully, by remoulding the national capitalists, by education and persuasion, into working people:
“The capitalist elements still remaining in town and country will have to be … remoulded along socialist lines, instead of expropriating them”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘Every Effort for the Country’s Reunification and for Socialist Construction in the Northern Half of the Republic’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 9; Pyongyang; 1982; p. 201).
“The socialist transformation of private trade and industry … proceeded in close combination with the remoulding of men, with the result that private traders and manufacturers were reshaped into socialist working people”. (Kim Han Gil: op. cit.; p. 387).
“Since our Party adopted a policy of transforming capitalist traders and manufacturers peacefully, instead of expropriating them, the form of class struggle could not but assume a specific character. Class struggle attendant on the socialist transformation of capitalist trade and industry was unfolded mainly by means of persuasion and education”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 26).
Already in April 1929, Stalin was pouring ridicule on the revisionist thesis of ‘remoulding’ capitalists:
“Until now, we Marxist-Leninists were of the opinion that between the capitalists of town and country on the one hand, and the working class, on the other hand, there is an irrencilable antagonism of interests. That is what the Marxist-Leninist theory of the class struggle rests on. But according to to Bukharin’s theory of the capitalists’ peaceful growth into socialism, all this is turned upside down, the irreconcilable antagonism of class interests between the exploiters and the exploited disappears, the exploiters grow into socialism … One thing or the other: Either Marx’s theory of the class struggle, or the theory of the capitalists growing into socialism. (Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Right Deviation in the CPSU (B)’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 32, 33).
A SPURIOUS SOCIALISM
If a new society was established in North Korea in cooperation with the national bourgeoisie, then, according to Marxism-Leninism, it could not be a genuine and must be a spurious socialist society.
However, Kimilsungism differs from Maoism in rejecting the strategy of forming joint state-capitalist (joint state-private) enterprises in favour of forming ‘cooperatives’ in conjunction with the national capitalists:
“Our country was the first to transform capitalist traders and manufacturers along socialist lines by using the cooperative economy … This is an original experience”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 28).
“Comrade Kim Il Sung held that, different from some socialist countries, it was wholly unnecessary for the peaceful transformation of capitalist trade and industry to assume the form of state capitalism”. (Baik Bong: op. cit., Volume 2; p. 520).
This process of cooperativisation was not enforced upon national capitalists, but was an entirely voluntary process:
“Our Party adopted the line of transforming capitalist trade and manufacturing along socialist lines and saw to it that the capitalist traders and manufacturers were drawn into diverse forms of cooperative economy in strict observance of the voluntary principle”, (Kim Il Sung: ‘Let Us further Strengthen the Socialist System of Our Country’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 6; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 317).
“The important demand of the voluntary principle is … to strictly guard against coercive methods in cooperativisation and conduct this movement according to the free will of private traders and manufacturers”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 31).
Of the three forms of cooperative introduced into Korea, two forms were open to national capitalists to join if they wished. In the second form, the national capitalists received what amounted to interest on the capital they brought with them when they entered the cooperative:
“The second form (of cooperation –Ed.) was a semi- socialist form in which the means of production were under both joint and private ownership and both socialist distribution according to work done and distribution according to the amount of investment were applied. The third form was a completely socialist form in which … only socialist distribution applied”. (KIm Han Gil: op. cit.; p. 387).
As has been said, the national capitalists were empowered to choose not only whether to join a cooperative, but which type they would join:
“The essential requirement of the voluntary principle is to make private traders and manufacturers … choose the forms (of cooperation — Ed.) of their own accord, instead of imposing any form on them”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Industry and Industry nd (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang: 1977; p. 72).
“The voluntary principle and the principle of mutual interests were observed in the cooperative transformation of capitalist traders and manufactuerers”. (Baik Bong: op. cit., Volume 2; p. 520).
Thus, most national capitalists tended to choose the second form of cooperation, since in this way they received
” … reasonable dividends upon the investments”. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 143).
“The second form (of cooperation — Ed.) was popular in the cooperation of capitalist trade and industry. It was a rational form which was readily acceptable to capitalists because it applied distribution according to the amount of investment”. (Kim Han Gil: op. cit.; p. 387).
However, according to the WPK, the mere act of joining a cooperative transformed national capitalists into ‘socialist working people’:
“By joining the producers’ cooperatives, the entrepreneurs and traders … were transformed into socialist working people”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘The Democratic People’s Republic is the Banner of Freedom and Independence for Our People …’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 151).
By August 1958,
” … the ratio of private traders and industrialists who joined cooperatives stood at … 100% by the end of August 1958″. (‘Socialist Transformation of Private Trade and Industry in Korea’; Pyongyang; 1977; p. 153).
So that, on this basis, Kim Il Sung felt able to declare in September 1958:
“The socialist transformation of production relations has now been completed … Thus, our society has become a socialist one”. (Kim Il Sung: ‘Against Passivism and Conservatism in Socialist Construction’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1975; p. 233).
Loyalty to the Leader Marxism-Leninism condemns the concept of loyalty to an individual. As Stalin said in a letter of April 1930:
“You speak of your ‘devotion’ to me… I would advise you to discard the ‘principle’ of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals”. (Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Comrade Shatunovsky (August 1930), in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 20)
and in a talk in December 1931 with the German writer Emil Ludwig:
“Decisions of individuals are always, or nearly always, one-sided deisions… Out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided”. (Josef V. Stalin: Talk with the German Author Emil Ludwig, in: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 109).
In contrast, Kimilsungism holds the leader to be the the determinator of policy, to whom loyalty is a cardinal necessity:
“The party’s line and policies, strategy and tactics, are put forward by the leader… The leader is the supreme controller of the party, and the party’s leadership is precisely his leadership. Remaining unwaveringly loyal to the leader … is a natural communist obligation”. . (Kim Jong Il: ‘The Workers’ Party of Korea is a Juche-type Party …’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 86, 96, 106).
“The leader … plays the decisive role in shaping the destiny of the popular masses… Loyalty to the leader is the highest expression of the party, working-class and people-oriented spirit”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On Some Problems of Education in the Juche Idea’ in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 160).
“The revolutionary struggle is conducted under the guidance of the leader and in accordance with his ideas and will… The more we are faithful to the leader’s ideology and will, … the more worthy a life … we shall enjoy”.(Kim Jong Il: ‘On Establishing the Juche Outlook on the Revolution’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 195).
This anti-Marxist-Leninist conception gave rise to an exagggerated cult of the personality of both Kim Il Sung and his son and designated successor Kim Jong Il:
“The personality cult as practised in North Korea is unparalleled. For example, birthdays for both Kims are internationally celebrated. The 1992 celebration of Kim Il Sung’s 80th birthday required many working days of preparation by thousands of people, young and old, and lasted well into May. The cost was estimated to be almost $1 billion, including many millions spent on some 3,000 performing artists from eighty different countries”. (Pong S. Lee: ‘The North Korean Economy: Challenges and Prospects’, in: Sung Yeung Kwack (Ed.): ‘The Korean Economy at a Crossroad: Development Prospects, Liberalisation and South-North Economic Integration’; Westport (USA); 1994; p. 183).
For example, Kim Il Sung’s biographer declares:
“The national histories of all countries tell of celebrated heroes and leaders. Looking through them all, it is hard to find any record that compares with such a national hero and outstanding leader as Comrade Kim Il Sung, who has rendered such distinguished service to the revolution of his own country and to the world revolution… Where else in history can you find another leader like him?… Where is there any such leader equipped with all these qualities, an outstanding leader with such rich experience that has performed the greatest revolutionary exploits even during the hurricane of the long-drawn revolution, to compare with our Comrade Kim Il Sung, equipped with the wisdom of genius and indomitable fighting spirit and stamina, profound revolutionary theory …?”. (Baik Bong: op. cit., Volume 3; p. 621, 633).
For his part, Kim Jong Il is described in a recent biography as
” … the great thinker and theoretician, outstanding genius of leadership, boundlessly benevolent teacher of the people, and the great man of the century”. (Choe In Su: ‘Kim Jong Il: The People’s Leader’, Volume 2; Pyongyang; 1991; p. 374).
Sometimes, indeed, it is implied that the Kims possess divinity. On the occasion of Kim Jong Il’s appointment as General Secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party, the official Korean Central News Agency reported miraculous events around Mount Paektu, Kim Jong Il’s birthplace:
“At around 05.10, when the special communique informed the people of the election of General Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the WPK, a coloured cloud appeared on Mt. Paektu… Its rims were dyed with seven colours… At that moment, mysterious sounds reminiscent of cheers and applause came from the surface of Lake Chon… Witnessing these wonderful natural phenomena, its inhabitants said that nature also celebrated Kim Jong Il’s election”. (Bulletin of Korean Central News Agency, 20 October 1997; p. 3).
From the 1930s on, the Workers’ Party of Korea increasingly used the term ‘Juche’ to describe its overall policy. This is a Korean word usually translated as
” … self-reliance”. (‘Europa World Year Book 1999’, Volume 2; London: 1999; p. 2,061).
According to Kim Jong Il, in June 1930 Kim Il Sung
” … explained the principles of the Juche idea at the Meeting of Leading Personnel of the Young Communist League and the Anti-Imperialist Youth League held at Kalun in June 1930″. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On the Juche Idea’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 13).
In its early years, Juche was officially defined as a development of Marxism-Leninism:
“The Juche idea inherits all the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism. … It does not abandon the ideological and theoretical achievements of Marxism- Leninism, but further develops and enriches them”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On Some Problems of Education in the Juche Idea’ in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 148-49).
However, the Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was amended in April 1992
” … in order to remove mention of Marxism-Leninism and to replace it with references to Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 39; p. R73).
Article 3 of the new Constitution reads:
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea, a world outlook centred on people, a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses of people”. (‘Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’; Pyongyang; 1993; p. 1).
The demagogic character of statements that the WPK’s policy is one of promoting ‘self-reliance’ is shown by its actual policy, from the 1980s on, of encouraging foreign investment, joint ventures with foreign capital, and the establishment of ‘special economic zones’ on the Chinese model:
Article 37 of the Constitution of the DPRK adopted in April 1992 declares:
“The State shall encourage institutions, enterprises and organisations in our country to joint ventures and cooperation of enterprise with foreign corporations and individuals”. (‘Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’; Pyongyang; 1993; p. 9).
The new Constitution, in fact,
” … encouraged foreign investment and guaranteed the rights and profits of foreigners operating in North Korea”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 39; p. R73)
and in October 1992 the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly approved Korea’s first law on foreign investment:
“The new law permitted foreign investors to establish equity and contractual joint ventures within the country, and to set up and operate wholly foreign-owned enterprises in special economic zones. Foreign companies would be able to remit part of their profits abroad”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’,Volume 38: p. 141-42).
Then, in 1991,
” … the government announced the creation of a special economic zone (SEZ) totalling 621 square kilometres . . ., expanded in March 1993 … to 742 square kilometres, … A spate of additional laws followed, stablishing the legal framework for foreign firms operating in North Korea”. (Marcus Noland: ‘Prospects for a North Korean External Economic Opening’, in: Thomas H. Henriksen & Jongryn Mo (Eds.): ‘North Korea After Kim Il Sung’; Stanford (USA); 1997; p. 55-56).
“About 80 joint ventures have been established in North Korea. Most of them are run by Korean residents of Japan”, (Dae-Ho Bryn: ‘North Korea’s Foreign Policy: The Juche Ideology and the Challenge of Gorbachev’s New Thinking’; Seoul; 1991; p. 223).
Degeneration into Philosophical Idealism The pretext given by Kimilsungism for revising Marxism is that ‘it is now obsolete’:
“Marxism … represented the era when the working class had emerged in the historical arena and was waging a struggle against capital. … But the times have changed and history has developed, so Marxism has acquired inevitable historical limitations”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism and the General Line of Our Party’ , in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 293-94).
The main factor in this change is alleged to be the fact that it is now not objective conditions, but man that plays the decisive role in history:
“It is not objective conditions but man that plays the decisive role in the development of history”. (Kim Song Il: ‘On Some Problems of Education in the Juche Idea’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995: p. 144).
But Marxism regards the laws of science, including the laws of economics, as proceeding objectively, independently of the will of man:
“Marxism regards laws of science — whether they be laws of natural science or laws of political economy — as the reflection of objective processes which take place independently of the will of man. Man may discover these laws, get to know them, study them, utilise them in the interests of society, but he cannot change or abolish them. Still less can he form or create new laws of science”. (Josef V. Stalin: ‘Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR’; Tirana; 1979;p. 545).
Thus, to Marxist-Leninists freedom is not freedom from the operation of the laws of nature, but the recognition of these laws, the ‘appreciation of necessity’:
“Freedom is the appreciation of necessity. … Freedom does not consist in the dream of independence of natual laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends”. (Friedrich Engels: ‘Herr Eugen Duhring’s Revolution in Science (Anti-Duhring); New York; 1939; p. 125).
“What can this ‘appreciation of necessity’ mean? It means that, having come to know objective laws (‘necessity’), man will apply them with full consciousness”. ‘(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Ecomomic Problems of Socialism in the USSR’, in: ‘Selected Works’; Tirana; 1979; p. 546).
In contrast, Kimilsungism presents man as being above the laws of biology:
“Unlike biological beings, man is the master and transformer of, master of the world. He shapes his destiny on his own by transforming the objective world to meet his needs”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang; 1994; p. 12).
Thus, Kimilsungism presents man as free from the operation of the laws of nature:
“Man … is a social being with independence, … whereas all other material lives maintain their existence through subordination and adaptation to the objective world. … On the strength of this quality, man throws off the fetters of nature”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On the Juche Idea’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 14, 15).
But this is to degenerate into philosophical idealism, which asserts
” … the primacy of spirit to nature”. (Friedrich Engels: ‘Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy’, in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 431). that is, in respect of ” … the relation of thinking and being”, (Friedrich Engels: ibid.; p. 430).
The primacy of the former, that is, the primacy of mind over matter. According to Kimilsungism, unlike the lower animals, man is not bound by the laws of nature:
“Animals are part of nature and their destiny is determined by the natural laws of change and development, whereas man… is not a being which obeys the natural laws of change and development”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On Some Problems of Education in the Juche Idea’, in: ‘On Carrying Foward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 144).
“Unlike all other living matter, which is subordinate to … the objective world, man dominates and transforms the world in accordance with his will and desire”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On Some Questions in Understanding the Juche Philosophy’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 5).
This idealist concept is embodied in the slogan of the Workers’ Party of Korea:
“When the Party is determined, we can do anything”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Our Socialism centred on the Masses shall not Perish’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p, 289).
Furthermore, Marxism-Leninism holds that the mode of production determines the consciousness of man:
“The mode of production in material life determines the social, political and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness”. (Karl Marx: Preface to: ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 356).
“Marxism pointed the way to an all-embracing and comprehensive study of the process of rise, development and decline of social-economic formations. People make their own history. But … what are the objective conditions of production of material life that form the basis of all historical activity of man; what is the law of development of these conditions — to all this Marx drew attention and pointed out the way to a scientific study of history”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Karl Marx’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 11: London; 1943; p. 20).
This principle is what Lenin calls
“… the materialist conception of history”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Karl Marx’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 11; London; 1943; p. 19).
However, Kimilsungism rejects this fundamental facet of Marxism-Leninism:
“The theory of socialism in the preceding age, based on a materialist outlook on history, was not free from historical limitations. The theory did not regard the social and historical movement as a movement of the motive force . . ., but as a natural historical process which changes and develops due to material and economic factors… Seeing material and economic factors as fundamental in the revolutionary struggle, the preceding theory of socialism failed to raise the task of strengthening the motive force of the revolution and enhancing its role as the basic way to carry out the revolution”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang; 1994; p. 5-6).
The Rejection of Objective Class Categorisation
According to Marxism-Leninism, social class is an extremely important objective social category:
“Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation … to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of their share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different place they occupy in a definite system of social economy”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Great Beginning’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; London; 1974; p. 421).
But here again Kimilsungism degenerates into philosophical idealism. In place of the objective division of society into classes, it divides society into ‘the masses of the people’ and others, purely on the basis of the ideas they hold:
“The basic criterion for deciding whether one is a member of the masses of the people or not is not one’s social and class origin, but one’s ideas. … Anyone who loves the country, the people and the nation … is qualified to be a member of the masses of the people”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang; 1994; p. 19).
In line with this philosophical idealism, Kimilsungism rejects the Marxist-Leninist principle that the Party should lay primary stress on changing the objective conditions of society:
“In the past, the founders of Marxism evolved socialist theory by putting the main stress on material and economic conditions”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang: 1994; p. 8).
Kimilsungism gives priority to the ideological remoulding of man:
“In socialist society, the transformation of man, his ideological remoulding, becomes a more important and primary task than that of creating the material and economic condtions of socialism” (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang; 1994; p. 7).
Indeed, according to Kimilsungism, the ‘frustration’ of socialism in many countries was due, not to the penetration of the international communist movement by revisionism but to the failure to give priority to the ideological remoulding of the masses of the people:
“The basic reason for the frustration of socialism in some countries is that they did not put the main emphasis on strengthening the motive force for building socialism and on enhancing its role”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism and the General Line of Our Party’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang: 1995; p. 293).
and Kimilsungism defines
” … the driving force of social movement” (Kim Jong Il: Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang; 1994; p. 7)
” … the popular masses”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘Socialism is a Science’; Pyongyang: 1995; p. 7).
Rejection of Marxist-Leninist Principles of Distribution Marx held that it was essential that under socialism, the lower phase of communist society, workers should be given the material incentive of payment according to the quantity and quality of work performed:
“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary, as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth-marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society … exactly what he has given to it. What he has given to it is his individual amount of labour, … The same amount of labour which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another”. (Karl Marx: ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1943; p. 563).
But Kimilsungism denounces Marx’s position on this question as ‘anti-socialist and revisionist’, and demands that, under socialism, priority is given to political and moral incentives:
“The position of giving prominence only to the material incentive for labour can be attributed to the neglect of the communist character of socialist society. … Those who regard material incentive as the most important demand that the system of material incentive be introduced into the whole economic framework. They claim that stimulating the working people materially is the most effective method for encouraging their enthusiasm for increasing production and developing the economy rapidly. They argue that even after the establishment of the socialist system the remnants of the old ideology left over from the exploiter society remain to a large degree in the minds of workers. … This is anti-socialist and revisionist theory. … If we raise the question of which to lay emphasis on, . . . the political and moral incentive should be stressed”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘On Having a Correct Understanding of the Political, Moral and Material Incentives’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; Pyongyang; 1992; p. 211).
Opposition to an International Marxist-Leninist Organisation Contrary to Marxist-Leninist principles, Kimilsungism opposes the revival of an international Marxist-Leninist organisation:
“Times have changed and the days are gone forever when the communist movement needed an authoritative international centre. … This provides no room for the existence of any international ‘centre’. … Therefore, declared Comrade Kim Il Sung, no such relationship should be permitted to arise within the international communist movement”. (Baik Bong: op. cit., Volume 3; p. 600-01).
And brushes aside the achievements of the former Communist International:
“The time is long past when there was one centre in the international communist movement and individual parties acted as its branches. … In the past … the parties of some socialist countries did great harm to the development of the international communist movement by failing to rid themselves of the customs of the Communist International. The party of a certain country claimed to be the ‘centre’ of the international communist movement and ordered other parties to do this or that. It acted without hesitation to put pressure on other parties and interfere in their internal affairs if they refused to follow its line, even though it was a wrong one”. (Kim Jong Il: ‘The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism and the General Line of Our Party’, in: ‘On Carrying Forward the Juche Idea’; Pyongyang; 1995; p. 301).
Comrade Hudson’s claim that the Workers’ Party of Korea made a ‘more thoroughgoing and mature’ critique of revisionism than that which was made by the Party of Labour of Albania cannot be reconciled with known facts.
Indeed, Kimilsungism’s characterisation of the differences in the international communist movement borders on the farcical:
“The differences of opinions between the fraternal parties and fraternal countries … are of a transitory character which come from the difference in the historical and geographical conditions of the socialist countries. . . . The differences are an ideological and theoretical divergence between class brothers who have the same political and economic basis and who struggle against imperialism and colonialism for the same goal of building socialism and communism”. (Baik Bong: op. cit., Volume 3; p. 595).
IN FACT, AN ANALYSIS OF THE OUTLOOK OF THE WORKERS’ PARTY OF KOREA MAKES IT CLEAR THAT KIMILSUNGISM OR JUCHE IS ITSELF A BRAND OF REVISIONISM ELABORATED TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS OF A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY LIKE KOREA, A BRAND OF REVISIONISM WHICH AIMS TO HOLD THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS AT THE STAGE OF DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION AND PREVENT IT FROM GOING FORWARD TO THE STAGE OF SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.
3 thoughts on “Bill Bland: The Workers’ Party of Korea and Revisionism”
I would appreciate it if you could give me the exact reference of this article: date and place of publication and whether it was a pamphlet
Here’s the problem: I don’t know. This was given to me by a random commenter on this site, and I found it in raw, unformatted text on the internet. However, I believe it to be genuine, as it is lengthy and written in Bill Bland style and is far too much like his many other works to be a forgery.
Bill Bland wrote many things that were never published. Some of his books were self-published, and some others are still floating around out there, waiting to be found. Here is the link where I found it, I’m afraid that’s the best I can do.