Master of Uncertainty and Doubt
- Apr 6, 2014
- Reaction score
It's in human nature to, I think. The kicker is - everybody would have a different idea as to what constitutes "utopia" and one person's conception of utopia would be somebody else's dystopia - inevitable. And if one person is alpha enough to try to make their personal utopia work, with the assistance of others who buy into it, then a lot of other people end up on the receiving end - you end up with Pol Pot, Hitler, Branch Davidianism, the Worldwide Church of God.... and in this case, Juche.Oh why are we so not surprised?
All utopias are unpleasant. Yet, maybe we should strive towards them.
(Does that even make sense?)
Of course there's Swift's dictum, or perhaps it was Voltaire, that for every proposed Utopia, you have to measure this against the general inability of most of the human race to manage something as relatively simple as a chicken run.
One thing that's come out of even a cursory investigation of available material on North Korea is that it isn't as black-and-white as that. Something that has come out in my online viewing is that where objective outside observers have been able to get access to ordinary Koreans, people do still laugh, and dance, and live the best lives they possibly can. This does not appear to be stage-managed (although you can never be certain). I'm prepared to buy into Pyongyang, the capital, being a sort of "privilege zone" where people are not generally worked to death, where nobody starves (but only one person manages to get obese), where the standard of available housing seems to be on a par with, perhaps, East Germany as was (the most successful Soviet Bloc state), and available food and clothing is adequate-verging-on-good by Western standards. The "social compact" of communism appears to be working here - do not make waves or oppose the State and you will be looked after, cradle to grave. Even the candid unauthorised film material seems to show people here who genuinely do appear happy with their lot; it would be really hard for the State to force people to fake that degree of what could be called contentment, and for them to fake it all the time - especially when the people being filmed seem genuinely unaware of the hidden cameras. And this is really at odds with the received wisdom in the West, it has to be said. Even if you view the KFA as a bunch of idealistic dreamers at odds with reality - you still get the impression that we are not being told or shown everything about NK and the bits that do not fit the narrative are being edited out.
Not that I'd want to live there, and equally clandestine undercover fiming outside Pyongyang suggests a grimmer, more horrible, reality outside the "Potemkin village" of Pyongyang. But what you see of North Korea has a sort of stark aesthetic attractiveness to it; paradoxically, I got a sense of physical space and physical open-ness about it. In some respects, it is an extraordinarily beautiful landscape.
And... will the selective editing going on today become the history we are taught tomorrow - with the things which are carefully edited from the narrative now becoming the "forgotten history" of tomorrow, leading to a researcher discovering forgotten archive video of genuinely happy North Koreans, and having a "wtf!" moment at seeing something utterly at odds with the accepted doctrine?