John Paul Cupp, Chairman of the Songun Politics Study Group (USA),
shares views and pleasantries with a KPA officer at Panmunjom
An Interview with John Paul Cupp
N.b. We have conducted and published this (e-mail) interview due to the considerable public interest and geopolitical significance of North Korea and, in part, as a means of illustrating the wide variety of opinions related to it and its sociopolitical system. As always, the opinions expressed in the following interview are those of the interviewee and do not reflect the opinions or editorial positions of The Spartacus World Times. Furthermore, any opinions expressed on the Websites for which Mr. Cupp has provided links at the end of this article are the opinions of writers for those Websites and do not reflect the opinions or editorial positions of The Spartacus World Times.
The Chairman of the Songun Politics Study Group (USA) and the US Solidarity Committee to Support the AINDF and the South Korean People's Struggle conducts an Interview with Michael DeMarco, editor of The Spartacus World Times.
SWT: Where are you located? Where are you from originally?
John Paul Cupp: I am John Paul Cupp, currently located in Los Angeles, California, resided in Portland, Oregon a number of years, and was born in Angola, Indiana. I am 27 years of age and a member of the proletariat.
SWT: When and why did you become interested in the DPRK?
JPC: From a young age, I lived a harsh and difficult life beyond the scope of this interview and went through the nihilistic patterns of behavior and spiritual death which mark the general sentiment and social role of the bulk of youth in the US today. Sooner or later, I began to study communist, leftist and anti-imperialist ideas with great fervor. I studied all the classics of Marxism-Leninism, the ideas of many leftist and anti-imperialist leaders and theorists, and was mesmerized by the many great popular movements and upheavals of the world. From these lessons, I began to grasp the lessons of dialectical materialism and scientific socialism.
However, I was deeply bothered by the state of progressive and revolutionary forces in the US, the illusions they made about imperialism, and the mechanical way at which they view the role of humanity as a social force in the world. I fervently became a communist, and hoped to channel my energies towards bringing down the US imperialist regime in favor of a just socialist society by which man does not exploit man. I literally threw myself at the revolution, if in a reckless, then at least passionate way.
Initially, I supported the DPRK because it has maintained the socialist course and principled anti-imperialist stand. From their, I began to study the works of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il, at first out of mere curiosity. I noticed the thorough-going stand the DPRK took against modern revisionism, and that it does so without adopting the doctrinaire and stuffy feel of dogmatic Marxism-Leninism. While I had yet to fully grasp the significance of the Juche idea as an original revolutionary idea, I was already deeply impressed by its human-centered emphasis, its recognition of the flaws in the previous Marxist-Leninist idea without emasculating it, and its emphasis on self-reliance and each people being the masters of their own destiny.
I began digging up any work from great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il which I could find. Hence, I would go to university libraries and various bookstores searching and hunting for anything by or about the DPRK leadership which I could get my hands on. A number of comrades and I, who were doing work at forming an "Axis of Resistance" project to confront imperialism and support the revolutionary forces, began contacting the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, which at the time was called the National Democratic Front of South Korea, my close brother Comrade Dermot Hudson and a number of Korea solidarity organizations. We were always treated with the utmost care and affection, which is something unique for me to experience. Many of us, myself included, found ourselves firmer and firmer in support of Juche and Songun, until we began to steadily see ourselves as students and disciples.
SWT: What are the main reasons that you support the DPRK and its leaders?
JPC: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the most advanced model of socialist construction and anti-imperialist independence, which has stood the tests of time despite great obstacles and pressures from the imperialists. Were it not for the revolutionary guidance of great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader comrade Kim Jong Il, the mother party role of the Worker's Party of Korea, and the work of molding the whole of society on the Juche idea, none of this would be possible.
The Korean people, who once were colonial subjects and an afterthought in the minds of some, have become masters of their own destiny and today build a prosperous socialist society - one which people throughout the world respect and admire. The DPRK has successfully built and maintained the most advanced form of socialism in history. It is by far the most principled anti-imperialist regime today. This is happening even as socialism came to ruin in other countries, and a number of others take illusionary and conciliatory approaches to imperialism.
SWT: The DPRK is characterized by most as a dictatorship, even a totalitarian one. Scholar Bruce Cummings, in his 1997 book Korea's Place in the Sun, calls the DPRK "corporatist," while Korea analyst and Green Party activist Brian Reynolds Myers calls it "fascist." Many others have called it Stalinist. Its defenders, on the other hand, characterize it as a multiparty democracy. How would you characterize the DPRK's system of government? Tell us about its major branches and how it works.
JPC: The DPRK is an independent-minded society. I don't think they are bothered that much by what is put out by the imperialist press, and then later recycled on Wikipedia. I am, however, glad you asked about this since this is an excellent sample of the distorted view people have of the DPRK within the US imperialist epicenter and a number of other capitalist countries.
First, while the DPRK respects the noble revolutionary contributions of Comrade Generalissimo J.V. Stalin in systematizing Marxism-Leninism and defending the world from fascism, I don't believe it is accurate to characterize the DPRK as "Stalinist." As we shall speak more about later on, the theoretical and social basis of the DPRK is not strictly Marxism-Leninism, in the Soviet or other forms, but rather the Juche idea.
Second, I cannot possibly fathom as to how the imperialists can manage to dream up that the DPRK is a fascist society. It is a society which has radically progressive foundations domestically, which are centered on the masses. In fact the Tanean work system, invented by the great leader, made the workplace more democratic and less bureaucratic than any country that has ever built socialism. Furthermore, the DPRK does not have any sights set on subjugating, invading or plundering anyone, and has long held principled anti-imperialist credentials. Liberals and social democrats often like to slander anti-imperialist regimes and socialism by pretending they are somehow worse than capitalism and imperialism. They describe socialism as "totalitarian," and in opposition to human freedom and independence.
Marshal Kim Jong Il, in his work "Socialism is a Science", pointed out that trying to present socialism in such a negative light is sophistry without validity, and that the compromise on this principle by certain places that were building socialism led to their final ruin: "It is sophistry to call socialism "totalitarian", "barracks-like" and "administrative and commanding". Totalitarianism served as the political idea of fascist dictators. Notorious Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy used totalitarianism as an ideological tool to justify their fascist dictatorship. The fascist dictators stamped out even the most elementary democratic freedom and rights of the masses of the working people and enforced unprecedentedly tyrannical policies, behind the misleading name of "national socialism", claiming that for the sake of the whole nation and the whole state no working-class movement and no class struggle could be permitted. The reactionary nature of totalitarianism is that the interests of the working people are sacrificed for the sake of the rapacious interests of the reactionary ruling class under the pretence that the individual should be subordinated to the whole. What is meant by the whole in totalitarianism is not the whole of the popular masses but a tiny handful of privileged circles such as monopoly capitalists, major landowners, reactionary bureaucrats and warlords. Calling socialism, under which the popular masses are the masters of everything, "totalitarianism" is, ultimately, a preposterous lie which identifies the most progressive idea that reflects the demands of the popular masses with the reactionary idea of fascist rulers.
Denouncing socialism as being "barracks-like" is also absurd. The social way of life is defined by ideology and varies according to the social system. Socialism is the most progressive of ideas that reflects the intrinsic demands of people, and the socialist system is the most advanced of systems under which the popular masses enjoy an independent and creative life to the full. The restraint of their independence and creativity occurs not under the socialist system but under the capitalist system. Capitalist society, where the working people are the slaves of capital, cannot ensure a fruitful life, independent and creative, for them. Claiming that socialism is "barracks-like" is pernicious propaganda that attempts to turn black into white.
Accusing socialism of being "administrative and commanding" is also unreasonable. In general, the administrative and commanding method of management is an old method of rule that serves the demands of the privileged classes by invoking legal authority in an exploiter society. In capitalist society where the economy is run spontaneously on the principles of the market economy, state and social administration is conducted by the administrative and commanding method and the popular masses, the target of control, are in duty bound to obey administrative orders. Contrary to this, in socialist society the popular masses, who have become the masters of the state and society, hold the position of masters and play the role of masters in the administration. The fundamental characteristics of state and social administration by the popular masses are that priority is given to political work in all activities and superiors assist those under them and cooperate with one another in a comradely manner. This is fundamentally different from the bureaucratic method of management in the old society whereby everything was imposed in accordance with administrative orders. The administrative and commanding method of management which was manifested in socialist practice in the past did not emanate from the essential nature of socialist society but was a legacy of the exploiter society. The renegades of socialism directed the spearhead of their attack against the principle of democratic centralism on the pretext of opposing the "administrative and commanding" method. Democratic centralism is an important principle in the activities of a socialist state. In socialist state activities democracy and centralism are organically combined, and herein lies an important characteristic of socialist state activities. Those who created a chaotic situation while emasculating centralism in the name of "democracy" destroyed socialism, and they are now openly moving towards bourgeois dictatorship."
It is impossible to compare socialism and the DPRK's Juche ideology to fascism. Secondly, the benevolent leadership of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il, who maintain the principle "the people are my god," has nothing in common with the behavior of authoritarian despots or to fascist rulers like Hitler and Mussolini. These are vicious lies and slander directed against the DPRK and its leaders which absolutely must not be tolerated.
The term" corporatist", according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, means "the organization of a society into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and exercising control over persons and activities within their jurisdiction".
Without going into a long diatribe on the matter, this term utterly fails to describe the DPRK.
The Juche system of the DPRK is human-centered, whereas this term "corporatism" seems to define a society in which people are just seen as tools of production, rather than masters of the revolution and construction.
I also would not categorize the DPRK as a multi-party democracy, at least not in the sense of liberal parliamentarian regimes. In the DPRK, the Worker's Party of Korea is the mother party, and the principle that "the party guides all the victories of socialism" is maintained.
The sole correct categorization of the DPRK's political system is that it is guided by the principles of immortal Juche Idea and Songun Politics, creative independent and original revolutionary ideas.
SWT: What are your reasons for admiring Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il? You've noted elsewhere that, when you visited the DPRK, you found that its people greatly revered these two men. However, the DPRK's critics have long insisted that this adulation is the result of brainwashing and that the two leaders built cults of personality. How do you respond to these criticisms? What, in your mind, are the defining characteristics of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in terms of their leadership, ideas, and cultural contributions?
JPC: The unwavering worship of and filial devotion to the leader is the most pure of all communist virtues, and for those of us as Juche Songun communists, it is the bedrock towards the collective and individual self-realization of our immortal socio-political integrity. Here we are talking about a vital social role being played and not the so-called "Cult of the Personality" or "dictatorship", as practiced in certain other countries or as the DPRK is attacked for by the imperialists and defeatist mouthpieces in the western left. The Juche idea brought about a fundamentally new revolutionary understanding of the masses as the driving force of history, but it also clarified that without a great leader the hopes for revolution will lead to ideological blindness and getting to nowhere. According to this correct new understanding of the role of the leader, the leader is the brain of the body, and that the unity of the masses, leader and party must be cemented with iron-strength. The role of the leader within the context of Juche idea is not that of an ordinary human being, but rather the acme personification and representation of the popular masses struggle for unity and independence, and it is the revolutionary leader which plays a critical and decisive role.
Leader Kim Jong Il clarified this in his "Selected Works Volume 9" quite clearly: "The building of socialism and communism is the historic mission of the working class, and the cause of socialism and communism is the essential cause of the outstanding leader of the working class. The glorious revolutionary history of our Party proves that the historic cause of the working class is, in effect, the cause of the leader and that the victory of the revolution depends on the esteem in which the great leader is held. Before the leader set out on the road of revolution the people of many countries were not even sure where in the world Korea was situated. Moreover, many even thought that Korea would never again rise from the status of a colony of the Japanese imperialists.
However, today our country is a brilliant beacon, a "model socialist country", the "country of Chollima" which the whole world looks to with respect, and our people take pride before the whole world in being the most dignified and the happiest, and the most diligent and heroically talented people in the world.
Our people enjoy all this glory and happiness because they have the great leader."
"The leader rouses the masses to the revolutionary struggle and construction by creating the guiding ideology of revolution and uniting the masses and leads their struggle in transforming nature and society to victory by setting forth correct strategies and tactics.
The practical experience of the international communist movement and our revolution has eloquently proven that the leader plays a decisive role in the revolutionary struggle.
Since the leader, the party and the masses constitute a single socio-political organism, the role of the leader in the revolutionary struggle is unified with the role of the party and the masses."
In Korea, the single-hearted unity of the people and leader and of the army and leader is in full bloom ever-more under the banner of Songun Politics. President Kim Il Sung has become immortalized in the grandeur of Kumsusan Palace, and the people unanimously agreed to name him the Eternal President of the country. Marshal Kim Jong Il, who is a lifetime disciple of the great leader, took exceptional care to strengthen the cause of loyalty to the path of the President. Now today the north Korean people and progressive mankind have determined that Marshal Kim Jong Il, who is none other than the supreme revolutionary headquarters of the Songun revolution, also is a peerlessly great man to be upheld in a spirit of filial devotion.
I have seen a beautiful children's musical on the revolutionary history of Korea. It ends with the children dressed as soldiers who are marching as they sing a vow to always uphold Marshal Kim Jong Il. Often I would spot large red banners, written of course in Korean, and hence ask my Korean comrades about this. These, they would tell me, are revolutionary proclamations of single-hearted unity. At other times I encountered the militant slogan "Let us defend the Respect Supreme Commander at the risk of our lives!" The Korean people sing the songs "No Motherland without you", "With you we're sure to win", and "Song of General Kim Jong Il", just as they have always sung songs of praise glorifying and upholding the great leader, such as "Song of General Kim Il Sung." We must fully and correctly understand that the leader is the pillar of the nation. This point cannot be made any clearer than that.
My personal opinion -- and I know that the north Korean people and a lot of my colleagues would agree -- is that great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il are the two greatest human beings in the entire history of the world. For us, it would be impossible to even wake up in the morning should we lose the ability to cherish them.
I think what is needed in the west is to tackle the issue of the role of the leader in a principled revolutionary way without embarrassment or fear of potential reprisals. Only then can we dream of properly understanding Korea or building successful revolutionary movements.
SWT: What is your assessment of other DPRK's top leaders, including SPA Presidium Chairman Kim and the recently deceased Pak Yong Sok?
Kim Yong Nam, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, as you mentioned, works actively to promote greater relations between the DPRK and the rest of the world and upholds President Kim Il Sung and Marshal Kim Jong Il as the leading quarters of the revolution and construction. When I was in Korea during the 80th anniversary of founding of the Down with Imperialism Union, I was able to see Comrade Kim speak on a local television channel in my hotel room. I do not know Korean, and hence missed the pleasure of understanding fully what he was saying but I will always remember his deep majestic narrating voice as he began his speech:
"Kim Il Sung Dongji! Kim Jong Il Dongji!" (Comrade Kim Il Sung! Comrade Kim Jong Il!)
I respect Comrade Kim Yong Nam very much as someone who upholds the Juche idea 100 percent and who is a brilliant and skilled diplomat of Korea to a world who receives him with great praise and excitement.
Comrade Pak Yong Sok passed on into eternity only in the last few months, March 17th to be exact, and will be remembered as a revolutionary paragon of loyalty to the leaders and the revolution throughout his lifetime of service in the CC of the WPK and the Supreme People's Assembly. For many of us in the West, he was seen as a great diplomat of the Korean revolution and his profound loyalty to the WPK, even at a very old age, strengthened our own resolve to worship and uphold Marshal Kim Jong Il. Marshal Kim Jong Il placed a wreathe on the tomb of comrade Pak and honored his revolutionary life.
I think its important here to suggest to my Western audience that they study the classic work by Marshal Kim Jong Il, "Respecting the Forerunners of the Revolution is a Noble Moral Obligation for Revolutionaries," in order for them to be able to fully appreciate the symbiotic relationship between the old guard and the new guard carrying forward the eternal path of the great leader.
SWT: What exactly is the Juche idea? When and why was it developed, is it coterminous with or merely a component of Kimilsungism, and how does it differ from traditional Marxism-Leninism? How applicable is it, if at all, to nations other than Korea? Why does it merit support in the US and elsewhere?
JPC: First we will briefly explain the Juche idea. Second we shall discuss its relationship to Kimilsungism. The Juche idea clarifies what the world as a whole is and how to approach it from the standpoint t of the role of humanity. It understands that for man (gender neutral) to shape his own destiny, he must be cognizant of the Juche idea and his role as master of the universe and capable of shaping his own destiny. It is unique from all other philosophies owing to its full elucidation on the role of man.
While the Juche idea is presupposed by dialectical materialism and upholds the revolutionary traditions of the previous Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory, and like Marxism, struggles against idealism and metaphysics, it is not dialectical materialism or Marxism-Leninism, but a new original revolutionary philosophy. The Juche idea is an independent revolutionary theory with its own distinct man-centered principles.
Our era is the era of independence. It is a time when the oppressed nations and classes are throwing off oppression and a fierce struggle is breaking out between imperialism and the independence forces. In this era, it became vital for the peoples of the earth to have a clear understanding of the role of mankind as master of the universe with the traits of creativity, consciousness, independence, and socio-political integrity.
Here is a definition of great Kimilsungism a defined by leader Kim Jong Il:
"The definition that Kimilsungism is a system based on the idea, theory and method of Juche means that Kimilsungism is consistent with the Juche idea in content and that it forms a system based on the idea, theory and method in composition. The Juche idea which constitutes the quintessence of Kimilsungism, is an idea newly discovered in the history of human thought. Kimilsungism is an ideological and theoretical system with the Juche idea as its core. The originality of Kimilsungism is derived from the originality of the Juche idea.
Yet, we should not regard the Juche idea in the same light as Kimilsungism. Some people now put them in the same category, but they are different in content. Kimilsungism comprises the Juche idea and a far-reaching revolutionary theory and leadership method evolved from this idea. We therefore have defined Kimilsungism as a system based on the idea, theory and method of Juche. (Excerpt from Marshal Kim Jong Il's "On Correctly Understanding the Originality of Kimilsungism.")
Furthermore, I would add that Marxism has it origin and component parts in the "classical philosophy of Germany, the classical political economy of Britain, and the doctrine of utopian socialism of France. " The dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il shows us that the three parts of Kimilsungism are the Juche idea, the question of revolutionary theory, and the Juche-oriented leadership method.
SWT: What is Songun and how does it fit the historical and cultural circumstances of the DPRK and the Korean people in general? How similar or different is this "military-first" philosophy from Marx's placing of the proletariat in center stage? Can Songun be applied overseas? Why does it have support in the US and elsewhere?
JPC: Songun politics is the general line, strategy and tactic of placing priority in military affairs in all circumstances, placing the revolutionary army as the main pillar of the revolution, and relying on it rather than the working class.
It is an idea put forward by President Kim Il Sung and inherited, systematized and developed by leader Kim Jong Il. According to my talks with the Korean Association of Social Scientists this past October, it is necessary to know three main things about Songun:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.) First, we need to understand the establishment of the Songun idea.<!--[endif]-->
During the Anti-Japanese Revolution President Kim Il Sung recognized the need for giving a particular place to rifles and overall concern for military affairs. Many people throughout Korea were looking for the correct dynamic force to liberate the usurped homeland, but often without a correct scientific approach. Some wanted to rely on outside forces for salvation, others for "cultivation of ability," or by demonstrations alone without the force of arms, and to the opposite end of the spectrum others wanted to rely solely on acts of individual violence without a scientific methodology or organization structure. President Kim Il Sung put forward the correct notion that the only way of liberating the nation in the face of the armed enemy was through the armed struggle resting on the tasks of arming the rank-and-file through the spirit of self-reliance..
President Kim Il Sung's father, the patriotic hero Kim Hyong Jik, from an early age handed over to the President two pistols and instilled in him the patriotic slogan "Aim High".
"Aim High" was to become a pro-active slogan and motto for all the Korean freedom-fighters and people from then on, teaching self-love and instilling in the Korean people the true nature of their greatness and capacity for achieving independence.
His father had organized patriotic activities much of his temporal life, establishing various base areas. This included one location deep in the mountains which I was able to visit, and taught the President from a young age the importance of loving Korea deeply and treasuring comrades.
Later, as President Kim Il Sung came into his own manhood, he founded the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) at Hwang Uisuk School on October of 1926. The platform of the DIU was the liberation of the country, the defeat of imperialismworldwide, and the eventual establishment of socialism and communism.
This platform stood behind the solid principles of self-reliance, independence and the scientific fact that the contradiction between imperialism and the colonial subjects of the world was a contradiction which could not be negotiated away, but rather that revolutionary violence was the bedrock of the people's struggle.
On June 30th, 1930, at a meeting in Kalun, were the President gave his historic speech "Path of the Korean Revolution", the root of immortal Songun idea was born. Here, he clarified the general line of armed struggle as the overall line for the Korean people's anti-Japanese resistance struggle.
Previously, the working class theory recognized the necessity of building the party before the army, and turned this formula, which has successfully worked in other countries, into an absolutist dogma.
"Lenin founded the Marxist Party in July, 1903 and established the government under its leadership, and then organized the Red Army in 1918.
China also founded the Communist Party1921 and only organized the Worker-Peasant Red Army in August of 1927, 6 years after the foundation of the Party."
Irrespective of the established formula, the President organized the armed rank in the first period of hewing out the revolutionary cause of Korea and achieved the historic cause of the country's liberation by depending on rifles, and built the Party and the government after liberation." - Excerpt from "On the Songun Idea and the Songun Philosophy," part of a seven piece study course created for me by the Korean Association of Social Scientists (KASS) October, Juche 96 (2007).
So as you can clearly see now the Korean revolution, since the origins of Anti-Japanese Guerrillas, has always followed a unique revolutionary line of giving priority to the army and rifle.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.) <!--[endif]-->Second, we need to understand the contents of the Songun idea
Songun is the idea of President Kim Il Sung with regards to military affairs. It has been deepened, developed and systematized by leader Kim Jong Il, acting as Chairman of the National Defense Commission and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to today's conditions.
At the core of Songun idea is President Kim Il Sung's Juche idea. The Songun idea is a revolutionary idea that places priority on arms and understands the revolutionary class position of the army. It affirms the Juche-oriented principle of self-reliance in military affairs. More than this, however, Songun idea places priority in the working-classization of the army and winning the ideological struggle amongst the KPA.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.) <!--[endif]--> Third, we need to clarify that Songun idea is the guideline of the Korean revolution and construction in the 21st Century.
In a nutshell, the Marxist-Leninist classics all recognized the universality of the role of working class violence in seizing power for the proletariat. Songun idea, under the brilliant leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Il, for the first time in history, recognized the necessity of placing priority in the working-classized army not only for seizing power, but as the pillar of socialist construction itself.
This does not negate the historical mission of the working class, but it does correctly address the question of building socialism in our era of fierce anti-imperialist class struggle, were the primary mode is the gun.
SWT: Why do you feel that Juche and Songun are improvements or advancements over "orthodox" Marxism-Leninism?
JPC: Well, to be clear, Juche is not so much an improvement of Marxism-Leninism per se, and it is a gigantic advancement, but, rather, it is an independent mode and creative development, with its own unique set of principles, albeit ones that are presupposed by dialectical materialism. Many people consider Juche according to Marxism-Leninism to Korean conditions or the Marxism-Leninism of a higher stage, but these are erroneous ideas. Juche is a new revolutionary idea created by great leader comrade Kim Il Sung and systematized, enriched and advanced by Marshal Kim Jong Il.
Dialectical materialism, the theoretical basis and starting point of Marxism-Leninism, set about the principles of scientific socialism and defeated all sorts of manner of erroneous, idealistic and metaphysical notions, therefore laying the groundwork for proletarian revolution. This was according the era of Karl Marx as the proletariat struggled to find its vanguard role in social development. However, in our era of independence, its many limitations shown in the course of socialist construction have required the existence of a new ideology and method according to Juche principles. Dialectical materialism, when systematizing the science of change and development, failed to fully recognize the role of humanity properly. Humanity is the master of the universe with the traits of consciousness, creativity, independence, self-reliance and socio-political integrity. Unlike any other force in nature, it is capable of molding and shaping nature according to its needs.
Dialectical materialism, while often placing emphasis on material conditions, failed to sufficiently note the role of consciousness and ideology. It neglected sufficient emphasis on the fact that humanity is the subject of the revolution. These fatal mistakes lead a number of countries to see socialism in an overly mechanical way while neglecting ideological struggle.
In a certain smaller country, the leadership understood rather well the role of the army, placing at least some priority in military affairs and the principle of the party's independence, but they neglected the ideological and theoretical work in the army, thinking only having powerful weapons and a large number of soldiers were enough to defend socialism. Today as the popular masses struggle for unity and independence, particularly with imperialism being ever-predatory, I think it has become ever more essential that humanity is the starting point of the revolution.
SWT: How about religion in the DPRK? What is Chondo? How much religious freedom do North Koreans actually have?
JPC: First, let us define the Juche position on God and religion. According to the tenets of the Juche idea, God is neither an abstraction nor metaphysical being, but rather...the people themselves are god. The great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung pioneered the slogan "The people are my god.", and loved the people accordingly. However, the Juche idea is not a sectarian attack on religionists. Neither President Kim Il Sung nor Marshal Kim Jong Il ever mandated atheism.
"At present, as in the past, we do not consider religion as bad or persecute its followers. On the contrary, the state builds churches free of charge for them and provides them with living quarters. A few years ago a religious department was newly instituted in the faculty of history of Kim Il Sung University to produce religious specialists. In our country the activities of all religious organizations and men of religion enjoy solid legal protection as in other countries."-- President Kim Il Sung, excerpt from With the Century.
The requirement of the Korean revolution, with regards to religion, is not that the Korean people abandon their faith, but rather that should they so choose to worship, they do so in a Korean-first patriotic manner. The universal adaptation of Juche by the North Korean people came about through the collective advancement of the patriotic revolutionary struggle. Defeating two imperialisms in one lifetime and building a prosperous socialist society, not through the divine intervention of a metaphysical being, but rather through their own efforts, they steadily began to realize that mankind alone is god and the master of the universe.
Here of course, we are attacking bitterly the role of foreign missionaries in spreading colonialism, and of pro-imperialist mouthpieces today, but not the Christian religionists and others, who struggle for a world of unity and independence alongside their fellow brothers and sisters. It is a known fact that imperialism, as in a number of other countries, uses religion in Korea to mask counterrevolutionary plots, spread complacency and promote national nihilism. Many fanatical Christian Fundamentalist groups in the West complain about the widespread "repression" of Christianity, but this is simply not the case.
I personally spoke with a number of Korean Ministers who were in Pyongyang conducting patriotic reunification activities, while I was there. They gave me a much clearer understanding of the picture than I previously had seen. Christians in South Korea and amongst the overseas compatriots are a significant part of the massive anti-US and reunification mobilizations. They speak highly of the great leader and see him as a sort of Korean benevolent father who loved all his children and brought dignity to the nation.
One Christian minister, whom I spoke with at great lengths, seems to have found the compatibility of the Juche idea with his religious beliefs. He laughed to me of the complaints about the DPRK "repressing" Christianity and displayed a remarkable spirit of patriotism and reconciliation. Evidentially, before the June 15th reunification accords, a visit to the DPRK by ROK personalities was highly repressed and criminalized. Despite this, a number of people from all walks of life, including religious people, visited the DPRK and met with President Kim Il Sung.
Rev. Moon Ik-hwan, a Korean compatriot who translated the Holy Bible into Korean, made a special visit northward were he was received by President Kim Il Sung as a hero and compatriot. Following this, Rev. Moon was sentenced by the south Korean comprador to a number of years in prison. A few years after Rev. Moon later passed away, Marshal Kim Jong Il made special care to receive Pak Yong-gil, his beloved widow.
As you can comprehend for this, President Kim Il Sung and Marshal Kim Jong Il love and respect the Korean Christians, just as they do the whole nation, and many Korean Christians are earnest patriots who join hands with the north Korean brothers for reunification. You won't hear this from the imperialist media or western fundamentalist leaders, who simply paint a false picture of the Korean revolution being anti-religion, and particularly anti-Christian. In fact, just recently, a Russian Orthodox Church opened up along the Taedong River. What reporting did they give to this? Virtually none.
Also, Buddhism has a long and glorious history on the Korean peninsula. Many patriotic monks aided the resistance to Japanese colonialism. Today, Buddhist monasteries and hermitages, some of the most beautiful architecture in the world, abounds deep in the mountains of Korea, and this traditional Korean-style of Buddhist architecture can be seen as an influence on many popular monuments and buildings, such as the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang.
The Worker's Party of Korea teaches its cadre to respect the Buddhists, and the monks lead happy lives upholding Juche and Songun, alongside all of their brothers and sisters. The Buddhists participate in the building of a strong prosperous society under the banner of Juche and Songun. Buddhists also make up a sizable part of the south Korean and overseas Korean patriotic people's anti-US and anti-war struggle for reunification.
Chondo is an organic Korean patriotic spirituality which teaches the building of heaven on earth, and a particularly progressive force in modern Korean history.
"Chondoism is our country's unique national religion.
Choe Je U named Chondoism as Tonghak (Eastern Learning) to distinguish it clearly from Sohak (Western Learning--Roman Catholicism). This alone suffices to prove its national character.
Chondoism is a patriotic and progressive religion in its basic tenets and ideals. Its mottos 'Boguk anmin' (defending the country and providing welfare for the people) and 'Kwangje changsaeng' (Deliverance of the people), provide a graphic demonstration.
The adherents of Chondoist faith exerted themselves under these slogans for decades to achieve the country's independence and build an ideal society, where all people enjoy happy lives.
I began to take an interest in Chondoism when I learned about Jon Pong Jun, General Green Bean of the Kabo Peasant War. When my father told me about our forerunners, his name was mentioned alongside the names of Hong Kyong Rae, Ri Jun, An Jung Gun, Hong Pom Do and others.
My understanding of the Chondoist faith deepened during my Hwasong Uisuk School days.
There were many Chondoists in the school. In his recollections of the past, Choe Tok Sin, the son of Choe Tong O, the schoolmaster, said that his father was a disciple of Son Pyong Hui, the third leader of the religion. School superintendent Kang Je Ha and his son Kang Pyong Son were also devout followers of Chondoism. At the Hwasong Uisuk School many students displayed their learning, by reciting Tonggyongtaejon (Complete Collection of Tonghak Scriptures), Ryongdamyusa and other Tonghak scriptures by rote, while others eagerly read the monthly Kaebyok (Creation), issued by the Chondoist centre, taking it with them, and commented on the Korean rural community from the viewpoint of the Tonghak doctrine and Ri Ton Hwa's writings.
Choe Je U lost his mother when he was six and his father at sixteen and roamed about the country for nearly twenty years. He sought a way to deliver the country and people from mismanagement and evil practices, and in April 1860 proclaimed the doctrine of the Chondoist faith, which exerted a great influence on the modern history of Korea and founded Tonghak.
Choe Je U called Chondoism Tonghak (Eastern Learning), in order to stress that it was a religious philosophy of the Korean people in the East, in contrast to Roman Catholicism, a "Western Learning".
It was only natural that in those days the pioneers of the times, who were sincerely concerned about the destiny of the country and nation, sought new thoughts and ideals. Choe Je U, leading the pioneers, enunciated Tonghak, whose basic ideas were "Innae-chon" (Man and God are one) and "Poguk anmin" and carried out energetic efforts to preach and propagate its doctrine throughout the world.
The Chondoist faith, along with the Christian faith, was one of the important religions in my consideration. Chondoism attracted our attention in those days and the activity of its followers became a matter of concern, for as a Korean religion, it consistently advocated patriotism and love of the people ideologically and in practice, and was widely propagated and had a strong permeability.
The Chondoist faith did not play a leading role in the anti-Japanese national liberation struggle, owing to its class limitation, theoretical and practical immaturity. That was the main reason why we did not support the omnipotence of Tonghak.
Although this was our attitude to the Chondoist faith, we valued its merits and believed there was a possibility for it to join hands with us ideologically and practically for the united front.
Chondoism's highest ideal is to build a paradise on earth.
In retrospect, proceeding from its religious doctrine, Chondoism waged a practical struggle for "defending the country and providing of welfare for the people" which aimed to secure public welfare by rejecting foreign forces and establishing national independence and people's sovereignty, and securing a peaceful world, that is, an earthly paradise by "promoting virtues in the world" and "delivering the people".
If the aim and ideal we communists have fought for, devoting our whole lives for the good of the nation, are realized, and if the 70 million compatriots live in lasting happiness in a reunified country, I think this is the very earthly paradise, which the Tonghak martyrs yearned for.
The ideal of Tonghak, the ideal of Chondoism, throbbing with national spirit, is the pride of our nation. The patriotism of these martyrs, who dedicated themselves to the motherland and fellow countrymen, will remain enshrined for ever in the history of our nation." -- Excerpt from the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung's "With the Century".
So to wrap up this long section on religion, the Korean revolution and its leaders respect the patriotic religious people and treat them with equal love and respect, but ultimately they and the overwhelming super-majority of the masses have correctly come to see that mankind alone is god and master of the universe.
SWT: There is much talk about the DPRK human rights situation and the aftermath of the 1990s famine. What is your assessment?
JPC: First, with regards to food shortages in the DPRK, I don't think the word "famine" is even remotely correct or accurate. Nothing like systematic starvation is occurring or occurred during even the most trying times of the Arduous March. Following the collapse of the Eastern European countries that were building socialism, the socialist market economy collapsed. This, coupled with a few natural disasters, made it difficult for North Korea agriculturally.
As I mentioned earlier, North Korea is on the border with Siberia, and is 85% mountainous. These are not the ideal settings for a self-reliant agrarian sector, meaning overall supplies were down in specific items not peculiar to Korean growing traditions or for which the Koreans previously traded or imported. However, this never constituted the mass starvation of north Korea, let alone systematically orchestrated by the regime, as claimed by the west.
Today, I can attest to the fact that the shelves of stores are fully of quality goods, that the people enjoy large rations, and that tremendous energy is put into agrarian technology and being self-sufficient in food stuffs. Whole projects have been underway a number of years to develop second croppings, to turn previously unarable land into cornfields, to develop industrial fish-farming and most of all to place priority emphasis on Korean People's Army (KPA) work in the agricultural sector.
I personally saw hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of farmland, even deep in the mountains. Everywhere, I was able to see the people as they harvest rice and corn during the autumn harvest, and can tell you that clearly the issue of food shortages is drastically exaggerated.
To the degree that the Korean people lack certain imported goods, this can be somewhat traced to the number of criminal embargoes and sanctions directed against them. Again, I repeat that they are not starving to death, and a visit to the countryside finds happy people working the fields and factories singing songs of praise.
With regards to so-called "human rights" violations, frankly, I'm just utterly sick of hearing about this. This is the same political line used to attack every single socialist and anti-imperialist regime. Because the DPRK is in the forefront of socialist and anti-imperialist regimes in the world today and the country least connected to imperialist "globalization," it receives a particularly harsh share of abuse, in hopes that the DPRK will "open up." The imperialists are dreaming, because the DPRK is an iron fortress.
Western leftists need to learn to stop simply parroting any and every claim by the imperialist media. They need to do more thorough, independent investigatory work. Furthermore, they need to break down for the masses of their country and the world why the imperialists, particularly US imperialism with the worst human rights record in world history, uses progressive sounding phrases like "human rights" and "spreading democracy" as part of its agenda. No two ways exist about the matter; this whole imperialism spreading "human rights" nonsense needs to be smashed mercilessly.
SWT: When and why did you start the Songun Politics Study Group (USA)? What are this group's goals, functions, and activities?
JPC: The Songun Politics Study Group (USA) was formed on August 25th, 2003, the anniversary of the foundation of the Revolutionary Party of Reunification, which was later to be renamed the National Democratic Front of South Korea and the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, just days after the Association for the Study of Songun Politics in the UK was formed. This was a tribute to their inspiring role in shaping our ideological understanding, in dedication to their filial devotion to the revolutionary leader, and an acknowledgement of their significance as a revolutionary force in the International Communist Movement.
Now many people from all walks of life, in almost every country on the globe, have formed themselves into groups for the study of Juche and Songun, but no such group existed in the United States, epicenter of world imperialism. As late as the early 1980's, apparently a Juche Idea Study Group existed, which was based in New York City, but is now defunct. I don't know what happened exactly to it, but in any case something was needed to fill its place.
Today, the US Juche and Songun followers have the capacity of organizing themselves for the purpose of more comprehensively studying and promoting the study of Juche and Songun, activities many thought would never occur in the United States again. That no such group existed for studying the profound wisdom of great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il meant for us that an immense vacuum must be filled though the militant and principled academic work of ourselves.
Our group is small, I will admit that, but its impact is gigantic far beyond our numbers. We have made greater strides internally and externally beyond what anyone could have imagined. At times some lose heart and drift away, but others always seem to be popping up with eager minds and earnest hearts. The Songun internet discussion forum has about 150 active members with people daily wanting to contribute to building the US Songun group. We are hoping to secure venues around the US and to have a bit of coffee or phone conversation with possible members or allies.
SWT: Tell us about Red Banner of Songun. When did it start and what are its features and goals?
JPC: Red Banner of Songun is an English-language theoretical e-journal and Website dedicated to promoting Juche and Songun. It is put out by the UK and US Songun groups, respectively. Its Editor-in-Chief is Dermot Hudson, who chairs the Juche idea Study Group of England and is President of the Association for the Study of Songun Politics in the UK, and who, might I add ,has an encyclopedic knowledge of Juche and Songun. He played a key role in the ideological development of a number of us in the United States and throughout the world.
Our efforts to build the Red Banner of Songun started last April just before Red Sun's Day, or the birthday of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung on April 15th, and we put out our first Red Banner of Songun Digest on June 19th, as that marked the 42nd anniversary of the start of Comrade Kim Jong Il's work on the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea.
Since then, our efforts have grown tremendously. We have produced three large digests, numerous statements and articles, uploaded a number of scholarly books, and created the Songun Video Room; a place were people can watch numerous vides and multimedia presentation. Our Songun Video Room is link to by a number of friendly websites and steadily increases its size and scope on a regular basis.
While we are on the topic, I would like to definitely say that the more contributions to the Red Banner of Songun, the stronger it shall become. We welcome dialogue and exchange from all the friendly organizations and personages.
SWT: What, in your view, are the flaws of classical Marxism and Marxism-Leninism in terms of their application to countries such as the DPRK?
JPC: As I said earlier, Marxism-Leninism has a tendency to strictly define things according to objective material conditions without placing sufficient emphasis in the role of the subjective development of the masses. Many socialist states thought you could simply build socialism and increase the material gains of the people. They neglected sufficient work in the ideological sphere and spread illusions about "pluralism" rather than fighting for a monolithic socialist idea. Marxism-Leninism also had a tendency to make subservient the revolution of small countries to the current geopolitics of larger countries, without recognizing the need for independence in all matters. When certain countries would make rightist or "leftist" deviations, other countries would blindly follow suite. Korea is not only still building socialism, but even further enriching it, because of the struggle to establish Juche in the revolution.
SWT: The SPSG-USA's Website includes an essay entitled "The DPRK has the right to build weapons of mass destruction and to test them." Please clarify for our readers why you believe that the DPRK has this right. What is your response to the various government officials and leaders of international organizations who believe that the DPRK's possession of nuclear weapons threatens the safety, security, and stability of East Asia in particular and the world in general? What do you think of the current six-party talks? (Note: This question was written in February 2007.)
JPC: In our era, "international law" cannot be trusted to save the fate of a people in the crosshairs of the American enemy. Imperialism has become ever-predatory in its behavior. The law of the jungle prevails. Whole peoples risk total destruction and final ruin simply by making concessions of national self-determination piecemeal.
When we talk about the United States of America, we are talking about the greatest form of genocidal colonialism in the entire history of the world. Even within this epicenter of world reaction whole vanquished nations and diasporas brought on by race slavery bitterly struggle to maintain national Chajusong, the spirit of independence.
Ask yourself, would America even exist had the First Nations peoples possessed weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons? What if Africa, Asia, and Latin America always possessed the strong deterrent force?
Only through the strong deterrent force, built and revered by the ideologically and militarily prepared masses, can the fate of the nation be saved. Ours is an era of fierce anti-imperialist class struggle were the gun is the primary mode.
This must be made perfect from within the epicenter, because a lot of people kowtow to the line that nations have a right to independence, but while condemning the actual steps towards building and maintaining independence, or make illusions about the supposed "humanitarianism" of imperialist interference.
The lessons of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq teach us that, in the contemporary historical era, relying on other countries or upon the "international community", rather than the primacy of self-reliance, is utterly disastrous. In a specific era, one which has long passed, many members of the socialist and non-aligned bloc of nations used the United Nations as a tool for advancing de-colonialization, stopping imperialism and neo-colonialism, and for preventing the outbreak of a third World War, one which they presumed would lead in the annihilation of much the earth. During this era, rather than a unipolar world, whole blocs of progressive anti-imperialist forces existed and had large representation in the United Nations and the decisions of the "International Community". The conditions today, however, are much different and more complex.
I would caution those forces in the "international community" who protested the right of the DPRK to self-defense, for the whatever the various reasons they did so, that such self-effacing and defeatist behavior will get us nowhere in the world today. Any agreements reached must not be formed at the expense of principle.
The goal of the DPRK is not to use weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons to attack the United States or Japan, nor to forcefully annex the fellow Korean brethren in the south. Rather, this follows a general proactive strategy of the DPRK to ensure autonomy and safeguard socialism from the predatory wolves of war. The Korean people remember well having defeated two imperialisms [Japanese and US] in one lifetime, and the suffering of their nation as a consequence of war. As is their inalienable right, the DPRK has chosen to defend peace and stability by maintaining the principle of independence. The great leader taught that the Juche principle of self-reliance must be maintained within the sphere of national defense, also. Through the process of strengthening the ideological and military preparedness of the Korean People's Army, each soldier is taught to be "a match for a hundred foes." The Korean people, who do not seek another war, are however prepared to defend themselves and mercilessly crush the would-be American enemy aggressors.
War, by its inherent nature, is hell, bringing with it immense death and suffering. A war against Korea today would be a total war not fought solely on the Korean peninsula, but inflicting the same death and destruction to the epicenter of the American aggressors. For such a reason, the progressive and revolutionary forces in the world have a strong incentive to prevent such a needless calamity from every happening.
We must remember at all times, that the US imperialists who invaded Korea with the help of her satellites and the fascist ROK puppet regime, still today brutally occupy south Korea and have for decades aimed exponentially greater numbers of weapons of mass destruction northward. Even today, the US imperialists are technically still at war with the DPRK; having signed an armistice, but never a peace agreement with the DPRK.
The DPRK has always maintained that the whole Korean peninsula should ultimately be a nuclear-free zone, and that the just solution of the conflict rests with the US imperialists withdrawing their troops from the south, signing a peace accord with the DPRK, and that the two sides develop normalized relations.
Despite the goodwill of the DPRK, the US imperialists continue to clamor for war and remain an impediment to the reunification of Korea. We cannot then justly expect of the DPRK to leave itself vulnerable to attacks by a predatory imperialist force which in its history invaded the DPRK, violently occupies the ROK, and lurks around waiting for the right time to attack again!
With regards to the six-way talks, as a matter of principle, I maintain that the DPRK is in the best position to know how to navigate this process, being the masters of their own destiny.
From what we have seen the DPRK, ultimately sees the nuclear issue as an issue solely between the US imperialists and themselves, and rejects the internationalization of this conflict, or the use of the United Nations and "international consensus" to intervene against their just stand.
Recently, the DPRK has haulted further production of its nuclear deterrent, while also maintaining its Songun line, in a complicated series of back-and-forth maneuverings aimed at forcing the US to normalize relations with it and end the pattern of attempting to stifle the relations between the DPRK and other countries.
Ultimately, the revolutionary and progressive forces operating with the US imperialist epicenter and around the world, should maintain the position of supporting the struggle of the Korean people for reunification and against imperialism. We must demand that the US imperialists apologize and compensate for all past crimes, withdrawal their aggressor troops, pursue a policy of noninterference regarding inter-Korean reconciliation, and develop normalized relations with the DPRK.
SWT: On your group's Website, you include a great deal of material about South Korean leftists' support for the DPRK and the reunification of Korea. In particular, you devote attention to the efforts of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front (AINDF). In fact, you're the Chairman of the US Solidarity Committee to Support the AINDF and the South Korean People's Struggle. Tell us more about the AINDF and your committee. How much support do the DPRK and reunification actually have in the Republic of Korea (ROK)?
JPC: I have had a special and undying love for the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front as my comrade-in-arms and fellow soldiers of President Kim Il Sung and Marshal Kim Jong Il. As I stated earlier, a great many of us from a number of countries have a particular admiration for the AINDF.
The AINDF originates as the Revolutionary Party of Reunification (RPR). A Preparatory Committee for founding the RPR was organized on March 15th, 1964, and the organization then became official on August 25.
This was to become the vanguard and highest aspiration of the south Korean people's struggle for National Salvation, upholding the great leader even under difficult circumstances.
President Kim Il Sung is known to have toasted the RPP comrades on many occasions, and at the 4th Congress of the Worker's Party of Korea stated:
"They (south Korean people) must have an independent workers' and peasants' party- a party deeply rooted in the broad masses- and they must win legal status for it."
The AINDF throughout its history have always had a strong and clandestine mass base, always maintain the principled stand of Kimilsungist strugglers, and gave to Korea a number of martyrs.
Comrade-in-arms Kim Jong-tae and Choi Yong-do joined eternity as national martyrs, alongside a number of patriotic students and other people, in the course of the south Korean people's struggle.
The south Korean people have struggled hard, even spilt their blood defeating one fascist dictatorship after another.
People from all walks of life, not simply communists, wish for the withdrawal of the US imperialist military and the peaceful reunification of Korea through the motto "by our nation itself".
On the question of the reunification of Korea, I would say that the extreme super-majority of the south and overseas Korean people fully support the June 15th Juche 89 (2000) accords; calling for the peaceful reunification of Korea. The South Korean people are thankful to President Kim Il Sung and Marshal Kim Jong Il for making this happen. Only a handful of pro-US traitors, like the Grand National Party (GNP), do not support the path of peaceful reunification.
SWT: Would you please tell us about the dynamics of overseas Korean communities and the recent crackdown by the Japanese authorities against Chongryon (the General Association of Koreans in Japan), an organization of Koreans in Japan who claim DPRK citizenship?
Chongryon is the primary organization of patriotic Koreans in Japan and has a long and glorious history going back to the struggle against Japanese colonial aggression. It promotes the healthy patriotic spiritual upbringing and continuation of Korean culture, and is loyal to the Korean revolution.
I have read several essays, though I do not currently have them with me do to Homeland Security confiscating a number of my books, where leader Kim Jong Il spent a great deal of time and energy giving proper guidance to the upbringing of the Korean youth and national spirit of the overseas compatriots in Japan. Recently, the Japanese militarists have continued the savage racist traditions of its samurai war criminals in repressing the democratic rights of Chongryon.
People around the world, including the Songun Politics Study Group (USA) and the US Solidarity Committee to Support the AINDF and the South Korean People's Struggle, bitterly condemn this behavior. The racist Japanese militarists must stop this anti-Chongryon behavior at once, and the progressive forces of the world should voice a clear message of condemnation.
SWT: You visited the DPRK last year. What were your general impressions of its topography, government and people?
JPC: The topography of Korea is absolutely the most beautiful I have ever seen on earth. It is a mountainous country with many well preserved scenic area and historic sites, a gorgeous coastline, and hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of farmlands and small mountain towns. Here, one sees the people happily farming and the pleasant habitat provided for them by the DPRK .
Pyongyang is a very clean city with happy people everywhere you go.
The social fabric of North Korea is the overwhelmingly most advanced on earth. I felt like I was in heaven the entire time, and felt the deepest form of reassurance that my support for the Korean revolution was the correct path to follow; that it should be followed ever-more dynamically and collectively within the US imperialist epicenter.
I could write a book about being in North Korea, but I would think it suffices to say that more American progressive and revolutionary forces should visit the DPRK.
SWT: During your visit, the DPRK conducted its nuclear test. Describe this experience.
JPC: This will live forever as a glorious time for the Korean nation. The mood on the streets was excited. The Korean people are proud of the way they have struck fear into the US imperialists.
I saw the anniversary of the Down-with-Imperialism-Union, from outside my hotel window, only a couple of days later. It was really beautiful seeing millions of people come together in single-hearted unity.
Homeland Security and the FBI detained me after my trip and seized most of my materials from the DPRK. I suspect this is owing to the political climate of the nuclear tests and my militant anti-American political positions.
SWT: What do you think are the prospects for reunification?
JPC: The greatest prospect for the reunification of Korea rests with the framework developed out of the June 15th, 2000 accords. The patriotic multitudes of North Koreans, South Koreans, and overseas Koreans support the June 15th accords and the prospect of the reunification of Korea under the banner of "by our nation itself."
This proposal mandates the formation of a Federated Republic of Koryo based on the equal representation of North and South and on the principles of patriotic reconciliation, peaceful coexistence of differing social systems, and joint exchange.
The main obstacle and author of division on the Korean peninsula is US imperialism. US imperialism and its GI savage dogs, terrorist scum who so frequently murder and mistreat the Korean people, must part with their brutal military occupation or be driven out.
Currently the US imperialists and south Korean reactionaries are conducting provocative military drills, even as they claim to be negotiating at the 6-way talks in good faith.
Today, the South Korean people from all walks of life, are waging a dynamic anti-US and anti-war struggle for reunification. It will inevitably win final victory.
SWT: What is your assessment of the policies currently being pursued by the other socialist countries - the People's Republic of China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos? How about Venezuela?
JPC: When I spoke with the Korean Association of Social Scientists this past year, they explained for me four basic traits of defining genuine socialism from that which is not genuinely socialism. To paraphrase in a nutshell:
All power of a genuinely socialist society is in the hands of the working class.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->A.) <!--[endif]--> Under genuine socialism, the whole of society is controlled by and geared towards benefitting the working class.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->B.) <!--[endif]-->The Communist or Worker's Party monolithically guides all the victories and provides direction of a genuinely socialist society.
C.) All essential land and resources, the means of production, etc are controlled by the
D.) The country takes a principled anti-imperialist stand if it is really socialist.
In my personal opinion, and the unanimous opinion, I believe, of all the members of the US Songun group, the DPRK is the most thorough-going and advanced socialism of our era and in all of history. Again, we credit this to the Juche idea of great leader comrade Kim Il Sung, and to the single-hearted determination of the Korean people to follow in his footsteps, even after his temporal demise; today under the wise leadership of leader Kim Jong Il.
Going back to your question, I think it has widely been acknowledged by communist and progressive forces, the dangerous consequences of modern revisionism.
The great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung was the first head of state to understand modern revisionism. In his 1955 classic speech "On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work," the Great Leader pioneered the road of Juche revolution, struggling against both revisionism and dogmatism.
Regarding how to properly assess and conduct ourselves towards the fraternal countries claiming to uphold socialism, I would start by affirming the rights of each of these peoples to conduct the revolution in their own countries from the standpoint of independence as masters of their own destiny. Should differences, even strong differences, exist, it is not correct to simply throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is also incorrect to pretend that from within the epicenter of US imperialism, we somehow have the right to wave a magic wand which gives orders and dictates to another fraternal people.
Determining that this or that regime, past or present, carries out a model of genuine socialism versus something that is not genuine socialism, on a theoretical level is another affair. One's actions speak louder than words. In general, I would say that I am highly critical of the concept of "market socialism," the tendency of certain countries to neglect ideological work, dominationist behavior within the past and present communist movement, and the pragmatic stand, rather than principled one, with regards to fighting imperialism.
I would however say, and I think the DPRK would agree with me, that the socialist bloc is far from completely dead. The friendship between the Cuban and Korean people seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. President Fidel Castro Ruz was awarded a Medal of Labor by the DPRK on his 80th birthday.
As regards the other places you mention which officially espouse socialism, we need to note that they all still have at least some positive aspects to their society which should be supported.
With regards to Venezuela, it has been noted that this country has seen widespread feelings of anti-American independence and is experience sharp class struggle. The DPRK and Venezuela have warm fraternal relations. This is an extension of the policy of the DPRK to develop relations with anyone who seeks unity and independence.
A while back, the International Institute of the Juche Idea (IIJI) held a large and highly successful summit in Caracas with the support of the Venezuelan people and state. I have also seen articles from Venezuelan IIJI delegates on the similarities of the early stages of the Venezuelan and Korean revolutions.
While we are on the subject of relationships between socialist and anti-imperialist regimes, I would note that the DPRK has built a number of ties throughout its history to the socialist and anti-imperialist regimes and parties. Unique to the DPRK's Juche policy on foreign relations, its solidarity with the friendly parties and regimes is based recognizing that each people make the revolution independently according to their traditions and conditions as the masters of their own destiny.
SWT: You are obviously an ardent socialist. In your view, what precisely is wrong with capitalism and liberal democracy?
JPC: Capitalism and liberalism are definitely reactionary ideas which plague the world today. I think we could add the globalist-cosmopolitan concept to that as well.
In our era, not only are the people of the world oppressed by exploitation of man by man, but they are finding the total extermination of their identities and national independence. Under the banner of "human rights", "democracy" and "New World Order", the reactionary forces of the world, led by US imperialism, spread illusions about the so-called "freedom" of capitalism and liberal democracy.
Yet, the reality is that the Western imperialist world, which harbors these ideas, despite its large development of the productive forces, experiences some of the most depraved state of culture in the world today. Nihilism runs rampant in these countries.
America has long passed the crisis stage and is now spiritually dead. Our prison population is one of the highest in the world. Racism runs rampant. Drug addiction and alcoholism are out of control. Our streets are dirty and crime-ridden. Homelessness abounds everywhere. Many people have no connection to ethnic identity and culture, but rather with corporate and "pop culture" symbols. Homosexual perversion and other degenerate abnormalities have become accepted as "normal." Sadly, I lament that our youth have long passed the stage of disillusionment and rebellion; becoming a sadomasochistic and misanthropic force.
This can all be accredited to capitalist globalism and the liberalization of the west.
The principle lesson in all of this is that any ideology preaching "pluralism" is a reactionary ideology, and any society that practices "pluralism" is an exploiter society or a society on the decline. The Juche idea manifests itself as a singular and monolithic system, centered on the masses, and rejects "peaceful co-existence" with predatory and reactionary forces and schools of thought.
SWT: What advice would you have a young person interested in helping or at least learning more about the DPRK? What would you say to the young people in the United States?
JPC: The DPRK is the most advanced outpost for socialism and anti-imperialist independence today and throughout history, whereas by contrast US imperialism, from which we are operating by contrast, is the epicenter of world reaction and the most fanatical perpetrator of genocide and human rights abuse in history and in the world today.
Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have repeatedly menaced me personally; detaining me for long hours and seizing me DPRK books and valuables upon entry to the United States. They will continue to be an impediment to DPRK solidarity work and to anti-imperialist organizing in general.
We need to conduct ourselves from the position of tight organizational principles because of this, and understand the very real situation we are operating in with maturity.
It is also true that the majority of supposedly "leftist" and "anti-imperialist" organizations in the US take positions which are opportunistic or even openly hostile to the DPRK.
However, we cannot become surrenderists or defeatists. We need to be militant and principled, but we also need to be confident in the eventuality of final victory and full of revolutionary optimism. Nihilism, paranoia, and self-alienation have the potential to devastate our revolutionary work only as it is beginning to get off the ground.
The theme this year in the DPRK is the slogan "Let's Uphold Bravely the Revolutionary Slogan "Usher in a Great Heyday of Songun Korea Full of Confidence in Victory!" This motto is a correct one which can be applied to our struggle within the epicenter of the enemy as well.
I think the young people need to begin their lives from the position of socio-political integrity and ideological purity. This is something I personally took harsh self-criticism of when developing a revolutionary understanding of the world, and continue to analyze myself with self-criticism today. The building of a solider for the revolution is no simple task developed overnight, but a lifelong ideological struggle.
We need to support the young people and encourage them to live lives worthy of human life rather than animal life.
We need to reclaim our strong family life, and in keeping with the Juche idea, see the family, with the mutual love of man for woman, as nothing less than the cell of society to be uncompromisingly defended through do-in-or-die struggle.
Womanhood, according to the Juche idea, is absolutely sacred. Unlike certain reactionary trends being propagated today, the equality of the sexes does not negate the obvious differences between the role of manhood and womanhood. Being a strong revolution woman certainly does not negate the beauty of femininity, and its natural compliment is strong masculine men who love and cherish womanhood.
In the DPRK, the Korean Democratic Women's Union celebrates the outstanding revolutionary legacy of anti-Japanese Guerrilla heroine Comrade Kim Jong Suk. Her service to the great leader and nation has become a revolutionary example.
The United States is a settler-colonialist project with its formation swallowing and enslaving whole peoples. As a natural consequence, the vast majority of oppressed people within the US express their revolutionary sentiment in a fiercely patriotic manner.
Their has been a tendency amongst certain cosmopolitan forces to condemn this, which I believe is absolutely erroneous. In his classic work "On Persevering the Juche Character and National Character of the Revolutionary and Construction", leader Kim Jong Il pointed out that all people on earth love their country and seek its betterment.
"A revolutionary must boundlessly love and value the country and nation. Apart from the country and nation, nobody can live and shape his destiny. As the destiny of an individual is inseparably connected with the destiny of the nation, our Party is exerting efforts to educate all members of society to have a correct view on the nation and producing such art and literary works as the multi-part feature film "The Nation and Destiny" expending much efforts. The basic content of "The Nation and Destiny" is that the destiny of the country and nation is immediately the destiny of an individual and that the life of the latter belongs to the life of the former. Those who want to shape their own destiny truly must consider the country and nation as the base of their life and the nest of their happiness and love them ardently they must find the worth and value of their life in devoting their all for the independence and prosperity of the country and nation. How people should approach their own class and how they live as a member of the class is an important question, but what is no less important is how they should live and fight as a member of the nation." - Excerpt from leader Kim Jong Il's On Preserving the Juche Character and National Character of the Revolution and Construction.
I think the trend of many patriotic revolutionary youths to fight for social justice while struggling to enrich and preserve their people's heritage and identity is a positive development.
I introduce to them the DPRK's own theme of "national in form, socialist in content," and seek closer ties with them toward forging work in solidarity with the DPRK. Many Black revolutionary fighters and others, from the previous era, had close relationships with DPRK. They deeply admired the great leader, and the great leader developed close ties with them and their people's struggle.
I think these bonds of friendship can be further strengthened today. It is clearly in the strategic best interested of the oppressed peoples and classes in the US, that we should build this solidarity with the DPRK and the south Korean revolutionary forces.
The possibility of forming closer relationships with the DPRK, supporting the south Korean people's just anti-US and anti-war patriotic re-unification struggle, and for propagating the rich theoretical foundations of Juche and Songun is alive and well.
I can tell you that I have seen the amount of interest in the DPRK skyrocket by leaps and bounds, even with in the last half decade or so. People are watching the principled stance of the DPRK against imperialism and admiring the purity of north Korean society as never before.
Quite often I get positive letters of support from people in the US and around the world. The se letters are often overflowing with curiosity about and support for the DPRK.
It use to be a much harder to find theoretical materials from the DPRK, or even honest reporting, but a number of sources, including some of the patriotic overseas Korean groups and a number of leftists who do not fall for the general anti-DPRK sentiment, have stifled this conspiracy. People really genuinely seem to want to know more and more about Korean socialism, and about great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il.
We need to develop substantially greater amounts of on-the-ground political activities in support of the DPRK. Complementing this should be more lectures and study course events for understanding Juche and Songun, but already great strides have been made. Any possible venues for such events are greatly appreciated.
I would advise the people living in the US, not simply just the youth, to never abandon the revolution in their hearts or in their actions. On the immediate level, the number one most pressing task is to work for the normalization of relations between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
As Chairman of the Songun Politics Study Group(USA) , The US Solidarity Committee to Support the AINDF and the South Korean People's Struggle, and a member of the editorial board of Red Banner of Songun, I would like to thank you, Mr. Michael DeMarco, for your time and energy. I sincerely and wish you and your family a long life filled with great happiness and joy.
SWT: Thank you for your time, Mr. Cupp.
This article originally appeared in the Spartacus World Times, an on-line journal edited by Michael DeMarco. It can be found only in cyberspace, and at http://spartacusworldtimes.com.
John Paul Cupp can be reached at or at . Those wishing to enquire about the various upcoming telephone conferences, and any other activities or questions should address messages to either of these addresses.
Organizational and theoretical websites of interest:
Songun Politics Study Group (USA)
US Solidarity Committee to Support the AINDF and the South Korean People's Struggle
Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front (AINDF)
Korea of Songun
Red Banner of Songun
Songun Video Room
Association for the Study of Songun Politics in the UK
Songun Internet Group
Juche Idea Study Group of England
International Institute of the Juche Idea