London: Communists, Vandalism, and Diversity

One of the things I wanted to do while I visited London was to go to a show. This isn’t the best time of year for tours, so the best I could find was a tribute band show: OutRage Against The Machine – UK’s Premier Rage Against the…, Nirvana UK, and FAKE NO MORE. By the time the second band took the stage, The Underworld Camden – a respected, below-ground music venue – was packed and everybody was having a great time.

I’m usually not into cover/tribute bands, but I have to admit, these guys were pretty impressive. Their hair, clothes, instruments, and of course, the music were very close to authentic.

They even subscribed to communism, just like the real-life Rage Against The Machine, as evidenced by the Che Guevara poster that you can see in the pre-show pic above. During their set, the singer said something that got a slight cheer from the crowd: “This next song goes out to anybody who supports Trump and Brexit. Ya’ll need to wake the [expletive] up!” [Read more…]

Visit Beautiful Pyongyang

pyongyang

I would love to go visit North Korea. Who wants to come with me? I hear the weather is lovely this time of year.

No, I’m not joking. I’m not crazy either. I’m not even using the above statement to make a long, convoluted point. I genuinely want to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, see the country, and meet and trade with its people. I’m sure our cultures could benefit immensely from a relationship.

But the DPRK is at the brink of war with the United States, their neighbors to the south, and possibly the whole Western world. Why? No good reason. Some disagreements between heads of state ever since that war a half-century ago. Various games and posturing. Utter trivial nonsense. Because of that, people who have never met each other, never wronged each other, never done anything except try their best to survive and thrive, these people are now mortal enemies.

It’s time to finally get angry. Not at the denizens of some faraway country. At the dictatorial leaders of said faraway country. Even better, at our own leaders. At those few who decided for hundreds of millions of us that we should hate another people, refuse peaceful trade with them, antagonize them with threats of total destruction, and ultimately prepare to carry out the aforementioned carnage. We should be quivering with rage at those who have fabricated destruction and human suffering from nothing, without our consent, using our own resources against our will to kill millions of innocents.

The hour is late. Before long, missiles will fly. Bombs will fall. Countless lives will expire. An entire beautiful country will be shaken to its very core. However, after the dust clears, after the cities are rebuilt, after the vicious specter of death passes from the land, I should very much like to visit Pyongyang in the springtime.

Photo credit: David Stanley

Nice Dictator

kim il sung

Poor dictators. They always get so much hate. If only we took the time to get to know them, if only we looked beneath all the theft, oppression, and killing of their own people, then we might see them for the gentle souls that they really are deep down.

At least that’s what Dennis Rodman would have us believe. Returning from a visit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Rodman has come to the enlightening conclusion that Kim is a peaceful, humble, and all around good guy. Who would have known? All this time he was putting hundreds of thousands of his own people in death camps and starving the rest, when he really just wanted people to see his softer side.

And who could forget the recently-expired president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez? After a courageous (or cowardly, who can tell?) battle with cancer, the poor old dictator passed on, leaving countless supporters grief-stricken. Apparently, a massive expansion of state power and destruction of the most basic liberties is a surefire ticket to popularity.

But beyond all the sarcastic comments, there are a couple of lessons to be learned from this. First off, there’s nothing about being a brutal dictator that precludes one from being charming and personable. In fact, such personality traits can actually help a ruler gain, and secure, power. Second, maybe totalitarian rulers aren’t violent psychopaths by nature, and would actually be decent folk were they living a normal life. Maybe it’s not the person that’s evil. Maybe it’s the power. Maybe giving a human being godlike control over the fate and fortunes of millions can make a man into a monster, and turn even the most mild-mannered Jekyll into a beast like Hyde. Maybe a truly saintlike and benevolent person, upon inheriting power, would have to choose between becoming a monster and completely dismantling the dictatorial apparatus of his or her country, truly setting the people free.

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game of playing with human beings’ lives like a cat toying with a rodent’s limp and helpless body.

Protect Happiness With Guns

tank barrel

Government is force, and everything relegated to its domain is enforced through the very real threat of violence. Why don’t socialists in the Western world get this very basic fact?

Just ask the North Koreans. They should know.

In this DPRK propaganda video, a young woman rips an “uncaring” United States for not providing for its poor, and extolls her socialist government’s mythical ability to care for its subjects’ every need. The video ends with the eerie statement that “socialism is superior and the great army protects our happiness with guns.” (emphasis added)

That’s the blunt reality of the matter: In a socialist society, the supposed happiness of the people is enforced under penalty of death. Use that much death and force to keep the people from living free and productive lives, and what do you get? Not the North Korea portrayed in that propaganda film. The REAL North Korea. That’s hardly anyone’s definition of happiness.