File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-29.113, message 58

Subject: Re: M-I: Korean "Stalinism" Reconsidered
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 16:52:48 -0500 ()

    Louis G. de facto presses me to define "Stalinism," a 
category he defines as apparently irrelevant.  I shall try 
to comply.  There appear to be several elements, although I 
am not certain how many of them a system must exhibit 
before it is "Stalinist."
     1)  A simple political-ideological one is to praise 
Stalin and view him as a great leader and role model.  This 
certainly holds in the DPRK big time.
     2)  Cult of Personality.  Holds in DPRK with Cult of 
Kim Il Sung, who always praised Stalin and was installed by 
him, with the Cult now shifting to Kim Il Chong.
     3)  Emphasis on strong centrally planned command 
planning with few market set prices.  Applies to DPRK more 
than any nation on earth, and did even ten years ago, with 
the possible exception of Albania, then also clearly 
Stalinist, but not anymore.
     4)  Adherence to "socialism in one country."  
Certainly applies to DPRK with its "juche" self-sufficiency 
doctrine.  Yes, there are and have been some outside 
openings, but they were and remain mighty few, even if for 
the reasons enumerated by Louis G.
     5)  Emphasis on heavy industry and military.  
Certainly applies again to DPRK.
     6)  Total suppression of dissent or democracy.  Again, 
applies to DPRK.
     There were some ways that DPRK was more Maoist than 
Stalinist, notably a greater use of "moral incentives" in 
the "Flying Chollima" campaigns and a greater emphasis on 
agricultural communalization and more emphasis on 
agricultural production in general, as well as some other 
elements.  But the DPRK sure looks Stalinist to me.
Barkley Rosser
On Mon, 27 Jan 1997 16:48:19 -0500 (EST) Louis R Godena 
<> wrote:

> Stalinism,  according to Barkley,  far from being deceased,  is in his view:
> >very alive, if not well, in the DPRK [North Korea] both 
> >ideologically and in fact on the ground.  Indeed, one 
> >argument for Stalinism would be that the DPRK is the one 
> >socialist nation not to have made any significant movement 
> >in the direction of either markets or capitalism.  Even 
> >Cuba has done so lately.  
> Again,  we are plagued with the old logistical problems of definition.
> "Stalinism" is -- what? -- resistance to economic "reform"?     An
> implacable reluctance to part company with State-owned enterprises?     One
> party rule? Is "Stalinism" dead and decently interred,  a mere skeleton in
> the national cupboards of socialist societies?    Or a creature that has
> gone into hibernation only to re-emerge when the conditions are right?    
> It is no answer,  *pace* Barkely Rosser,  to point to socialist societies
> that have survived from earlier and more spartan forms of socialism.    The
> survival of kingship in Great Britain does not prove that the British system
> of government is a monarchy;  and institutions Barkley would almost
> certainly call "democratic" survive in many countries today -- some survived
> even in Hitler's Germany -- which have little or no claim to be called
> democracies.    Similarly,  "Stalinist" institutions persist in modern-day
> Poland,  Hungary,  and the Czech Republic, among others;  yet,  who would
> seriously refer to these States as "Stalinist" in any meaningful political
> sense of the word?      
> In the case of the DPRK (North Korea),  resistance to capitalist "reform" is
> motivated primarily by resistance to both US imperialism and its mightily
> armed surrogate to the South.    After all,  the US invasion in 1950 was
> quite as traumatic and devastating as the first year of Hitler's invasion of
> the Soviet Union.    Subsequent US activities in Southern Asia,  including
> in Vietnam and the Philippines,  has only confirmed the worst prognoses of
> hardliners in the North's military establishment who,  even today,  remain
> the main stumbling block in Pyongyang to Barkley's precious "economic
> reform" (cf. "Long Korean winter shows signs of thaw" in *Financial Times*,
> January 3, 1997).    This,  together with the North's ambiguous relations
> with both Japan and China,  has been the chief source for its attitudes
> toward outside investment capital.    
> Korean economic policy since the late 1970s has see-sawed between
> (relatively) younger technocrats and an older,  more ideologically
> conservative cabal of senior military officers who view the political
> results of "reform" in eastern Europe with a mixture of awe and
> mortification.    In the early 1980s,  Korea actually *led* China in the
> number of letters of intent signed with foreign firms (mostly Japanese and
> Swedish) for the creation of joint State/private enterprises.    Bitter
> opposition within the leadership of the North Korean Army led Kim Ill Sung
> to come down on the side of the hardliners.     Providentially,  a period of
> record harvests (1982-86) acted to further eclipse moves toward opening the
> economy,  and it wasn't until the early 1990s that the move for economic
> reform was re-started,  a trajectory that has now gained substantial
> momentum  (see "Signs of the market make a provisional appearance in
> Pyongyang",  *Business Asia*,  January  9,  1997).     
> It is time,  Barkley,  that you abandoned the old "Stalinist" canard as an
> explanatory tool for socialist economic behavior.    
> Or,  at least *try* to fashion some alternative explanation.
> Louis Godena       
>      --- from list ---

Rosser Jr, John Barkley

     --- from list ---


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