Two Cents

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Fri Nov 3 15:12:35 MST 2000

Lou wrote:

>If you listen to Jim Devine, Robert Brenner's number one fan on PEN-L and a
>diehard "socialism from below" advocate, there is little to distinguish
>Cuba or North Korea from Jamaica or South Korea.

Lou, I myself defended North Korea at length from its superficial
critics on LBO-talk, but it is clear that socialism in North Korea is
coming to an end due to with its economic difficulties, the
"sunshine" policy of Kim De Jung, etc.

*****   The New York Times
October 31, 2000, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 12; Column 1; Foreign Desk
HEADLINE: North Korea Is All Smiles, And Bewildered by It All
DATELINE: SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 27

It is impossible for any outsider to know exactly why North Korea has
changed its tack so dramatically in recent months, inviting old
enemies from South Korea and the United States to the capital,
Pyongyang, and toasting them lavishly.

But it was clear last week that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il,
had impressed his long-skeptical guests as someone Washington could
work with when he made a quip to Secretary of State Madeleine K.
Albright about cooperation on missiles.

Speculation over the reasons for North Korea's campaign ranges from
sheer distress -- because of repeated famines and a collapsing
economy -- to a push from the country's Chinese benefactors, who are
eager to remove North Korea and its weapons programs from
Washington's list of justifications for developing missile shields.

But for all the attention to the reception given to Dr. Albright, the
scenes of conciliation and good cheer were merely the latest in a
gradually accelerating transformation that has been under way for at
least a year....

North Korea has been on a diplomatic blitz for a year now,
establishing or planning links with Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy
and France. "Meeting with North Korean officials used to be like
watching a man try to cross a river by feeling the rocks under his
feet one by one," said a diplomat from one of those countries. "The
only thing is that whenever the North Koreans reached a rock, you
could never be sure they wanted to proceed any further."

"Nowadays," the diplomat said, "you walk into a meeting with them for
the first time, and before you can even get acquainted, they are
saying, 'Great, how quickly can we establish relations?'"...   *****

No one desires autarky.  What may have looked like an autarkic
socialist country in the past was a result of Western embargoes,
diplomatic isolation, difficult relations with fellow socialist
countries (e.g., Albania), etc.  Socialism (especially in small
nations with poor natural resources and/or low levels of economic
development) needs at the very least a kind of socialist trading bloc
to survive.


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