Juche, the guiding ideology of the Workers’ Party of Korea, was formulated by Kim Il Sung to act as a unifying mentality which gives socialist Koreans the will to make their country self-reliant amid imperialist attacks against the DPRK. But Juche is about more than simply the idea of being self-reliant. Juche is the belief that the masters of the revolution and the construction of socialist society are the masses, and that the masses are capable of shaping humanity’s future. Kim Il Sung articulated what the masses must build under Juche in his work The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism and the General Line of our Party:
In the building of socialism and communism, the realization of a communist society is the ultimate goal; the establishment of the socialist system is the starting-point. When we say that the socialist revolution has emerged victorious and the socialist system has been established, this means that, with the establishment of a socialist government and of the socialist relations of production, the skeleton of a new society, in which the popular masses are the masters, has been set up. Viewed as part of the progress of human society, the establishment of the socialist system is a historic reform. But viewed as part of the process of building socialism and communism, it is nothing but a beginning.
In the case of the DPRK, Juche has created a deeply democratic civilization that’s dedicated to improving the living conditions of its people. Kim Il Sung was the last leader in the country to hold the power of a presidential figure, which is why he’s considered to be the “eternal president.” Power in the DPRK is jointly shared by the top officials, with Kim Jong Un merely being a diplomatic figurehead with one vote in his party. Increasing amounts of citizens are taking positions within government in the DPRK, utilizing the country’s fair and transparent multi-party electoral system to guide the country’s fate through popular democracy.
These facilitators of Juche have given the DPRK free healthcare, housing, food, and education. There are no homeless people in the country. Employment is provided to all who seek it. Even vacations are treated as a right in the country. Workplace democratization has been achieved through the Taean system, which makes it so that all management decisions are arrived at after consensus within the workplace committees. All DPRK citizens have full freedom of speech and assembly, and they can petition the government if they have complaints. The DPRK’s prisons are extraordinarily humane, with solitary confinement being considered a heinous form of torture that’s not allowed. Far from being the repressive autocracy that the Western media dishonestly casts it as, the DPRK is a true dictatorship of the proletariat, where the people have successfully improved their society and defended themselves from imperialist aggression for around three generations.
“The mode of development based on self-reliance is not new to us,” the DPRK writer writer Hong Jin Hyok assesses about how his country has achieved these improvements in its general welfare since the catastrophe of the Korean War. “The Workers’ Party of Korea that put up the banner of independence has put forward self-reliance as the lifeline of state-building in the whole period of revolutionary leadership and has neither known an inch of deflection nor a trifling deviation from the orbit of self-reliance and self-development. It is the fixed determination and will of the Party to build up national economic power in the shortest span of time and successfully attain the goals set by us by giving fullest play to the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance, the mode of struggle peculiar to the Korean revolutionaries and their stamina of creation.”
Given these accomplishments of Juche, the evidence is compelling that its principles can be used to the benefit of socialist revolutions in every part of the world. While Juche was especially designed as a tool for uniting the Korean people around overcoming imperialist attacks, pursuing Juche can benefit socialist movements throughout all countries, including the core imperialist powers.
This necessity of Juche is apparent from the importance that Juche has proven to have for the survival of socialist states. Namely, it’s a way of fortifying a country’s political integrity and commitment to class struggle. Kim Jong Il assessed that the USSR and the GDR collapsed “mainly because they neglected class education and abandoned the class struggle. After assuming state power, Khrushchev weakened the function of the dictatorship of the state as a weapon of the class struggle. As a result, socialism could not be defended in the Soviet Union.” If global socialists avoid the USSR’s counterrevolutionary path and embrace the Juche model, they’ll be equipped to win against the capitalists in the long term.
Unlike the DPRK, the Soviet Union’s educational and governmental structures became ideologically weakened when the USSR faced Cold War-era challenges from the capitalist world. This was not because of the Trotskyist scapegoat of “Stalinism,” but because of the presence of counterrevolutionary opportunists like Khrushchev. Khrushchev’s integrations of capitalism into Russia’s economy-which were arguably done to appease the imperialists-paved the way for the disastrous capitalist reforms of Gorbachev, which were explicitly done to appease the imperialists. These reforms put the nail in the country’s coffin amid the USSR’s period of collapse throughout the 1980s. Anti-revisionist socialist countries like Cuba and the DPRK, which resisted the process of capitulation to capitalist interests, were the ones which largely survived the 1989-1991 defeats for communism.
Kim Jong Il specified what the USSR’s counterrevolutionary bureaucracy refused to do in this passage from The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism:
Socialist society is a society in which the popular masses are the masters; it is a society which is developed through the creativity of the popular masses that are united as one. The essence of socialist society, which differs from all exploitative societies, and the driving force which promotes the progress of the socialist society lie in the fact that the popular masses work in comradely unity and with a high degree of consciousness of being masters and displaying their ability as such. Therefore, the basic way to promote the building of socialism successfully is to strengthen the motive force of the revolution by educating the popular masses in a communist way by giving priority to the transformation of the people and by rallying them fully behind the Party, as well as to enhance the role of the driving force by giving the fullest play to the revolutionary enthusiasm and creativity of the masses. There is no other proper way to promote socialist construction. The people of some countries, however, did not understand this.
In sum, the USSR collapsed mainly because it didn’t fortify itself through a Russian version of Juche. The DPRK, despite being liberal enough to allow the pro-capitalist Korean Social Democratic Party to hold seats in its government, has remained impervious to counterrevolutionary sabotage. A recent example of how the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party handles capitalist saboteurs is found in its actions from last year, which were reported on in this statement from the Chairman of the Juche Idea Study Group of England Dermot Hudson:
Recently, on the 8th of December an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Workers' Party of Korea was held under the guidance of dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un the First Secretary of the WPK. At the meeting the crimes of the counter-revolutionary anti-party factional clique of traitor Jang Song Thaek were laid bare so the meeting decided to remove Jang from all of his positions and expel him from the party.
Jang is a counter -revolutionary criminal who schemed in a most two-faced manner to restore capitalism in the DPRK and make the DPRK either a colony of the US or a satellite state of a certain big power. Jang had been sabotaging parts of the DPRK independent national economy over a period of time, even selling off the resources of the DPRK at a low price and disrupting the production of Juche steel, Juche fertiliser and Juche vinalon.
Imagine if this were how the Soviet leadership had dealt with Gorbachev or Khrushchev. Further, imagine if the socialist parties of the capitalist world applied the equivalent amount of scrutiny to those within their ranks who advance anti-communist or pro-imperialist agendas. The socialist movement throughout the West, which is rife with ingrained colonialist attitudes that cause purported leftists to view countries like the DPRK as enemies, would benefit greatly from the principled anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism that Juche represents.
On the level of societal construction, socialists can apply Juche by sticking to its tenet of national self-determination. As Dermot Hudson stated in a speech this month about how Britain and other nations can benefit from Juche:
Supranational bodies such as the IMF, World Bank, EU and European Central Bank have imposed austerity and spending cuts in a number of countries. Some countries have become virtual appendages of bodies such as the EU, IMF and World Bank. Economic independence and self-reliance are not only desirable but is an absolute necessity.
To achieve real independence European countries should not only expel US troops and bases from their soil but also build independent, self-reliant national economies and build an independent national culture. In the past [when] we formed the Juche Idea Study Group of England, some backward and ignorant elements opposed us, saying what we were doing had no relevance to the country. But the Juche Idea shows the way to achieve independence and the experience of Juche Korea is a great example for an independent Britain and an independent Europe!
On the level of socialist movement organizing, Juche can be applied by prioritizing one’s worldview and activism around correctly understanding and liberating the Third World. By this, I mean supporting anti-imperialist countries like the DPRK.
Numerous anti-colonial liberation movements have aligned themselves with the DPRK. The DPRK has consistently sided with Palestine in its resistance against Israeli colonialism, and it’s even been arming Palestinian militants for decades to their gratitude. Huey P. Newton and his Black Panther Party established a relationship with the DPRK’s leadership, and the BPP’s Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver stated that the DPRK is the “Motherland of Marxism-Leninism in our era” after he visited Pyongyang in 1969. By embracing Juche, the modern pro-DPRK communists are following in a proud tradition.
Supporting the DPRK and all of the socialist nations that it’s allied with (such as China, Cuba, and Venezuela) should be seen as a litmus test for those who call themselves socialists and anti-imperialists. Care should be taken towards educating those who’ve been deceived by imperialist propaganda about these countries, and zero tolerance should be given to those who are obstinate in repeating colonizer talking points about them. We must counter the racist stereotypes and harmful myths that are used to demonize Juche Korea, because the advancement of the DPRK’s interests is the advancement of the interests of all colonized and exploited people.
For socialists throughout the capitalist world who haven’t yet been able to build societies in the Juche model, this anti-imperialist educational effort is vastly beneficial towards helping Juche spread. Not until we properly educate the socialist movement’s members will we be ready to build socialism, much less Juche socialism. As Kim Jong Il wrote about the need for revolutionary education in The Historical Lesson in Building Socialism:
An important strategic objective in carrying out the cultural revolution is to make the whole of society intellectually proficient. From the point of view of human transformation, the process of building socialism and communism coincides with the process of making all the members of society revolutionary and working class and, at the same time, of making them intellectual.
While the work of making the people revolutionary and working class is aimed at eliminating the gap between the ideological levels of people, the work to make the whole of society intellectual is aimed at making all the members of society people of a communist type who are possessed of ample knowledge and a high level of cultural attainment and thus at eliminating the gap in cultural standards. After the socialist system is established and class antagonism is abolished, efforts must be directed at imbuing all the people with revolutionary and working-class qualities and, at the same time, at making them intellectual.
At that stage, when we’ve overthrown the capitalist state and are carrying out the task of socialist development, our society’s unity and stability will depend on whether we’ve adequately educated the masses beforehand. We can achieve this by using the alternative media to spread class consciousness and expose imperialist propaganda, a task which is made easier by believing in Juche’s affirmation that the people are capable of absorbing and applying the ideals of socialism. As Kim Il Sung said: "Revolutionaries, believe in the people and rely on them at all times and you shall always emerge victorious; if you are forsaken by them, you will always fail. Let this be your maxim in your life and struggle."
If we couple our organizing work with this effort in promoting and defending the Juche idea, the socialist movement throughout the Western world will have the tools to succeed. Because ultimately, Juche’s agenda of self-reliance and unity in the class struggle will be what the Western world needs in order to survive.
If you think that the West doesn’t need Juche because Juche is a way of building socialism in the Third World, remember that neoliberalism and extreme inequality have essentially made the West part of the Third World. These factors have destroyed the middle class in the United States and other countries, giving the West’s poor and working people a similar status to the victims of colonialism in the global south. The West’s hundreds of millions of struggling lower class people, who will come under increasing threat in the coming decades from the effects of climate change, need Juche’s guidance towards building sustainable post-capitalist economies that are based on sharing and mutual aid.
Let’s make Juche into our tool for creating a new system and a new world. It’s what can make us proliferate the political situation that the DPRK has reached under Juche, a situation whose nature is captured in this quote from Kim Jong Un: “Officials should find their pleasure and happiness in people’s pleasure and happiness, and the greater people’s pleasure and happiness are, the farther the Party’s cause advances.”
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