December 19, 2011

A Totalitarian Epigone

The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Il, has died of a heart attack. The economic policy of his regime resulted in 900,000 to 3.5 million deaths by starvation-related illnesses in the 1990s. Instead of allowing the North Korean people to make their own economic decisions, Kim’s regime used the country’s resources to develop and build several nuclear weapons while maintaining a standing army of over 1.1 million men, along with over 7 million reservists.

Kim’s ideology was militant Communism, which calls for the elimination of the global capitalist system. Maintaining a large war machine was therefore essential. War with capitalism was believed to be inevitable. As Oswald Spengler once wrote, “The coming of Caesarism [i.e., totalitarianism] breaks the dictature of money and its political weapon, democracy.” Mao Zedong had insisted that “all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

In the eyes of Caesarism a peaceful power is a contradiction in terms. Prosperity exists for the sake of plunder. The nations of the world exist to be enslaved. The modern form of Caesarism is called “totalitarianism.” Soviet Russian, Communist China, etc. were slave states organized for war and pillage. Nazi Germany was similarly organized, under the banner of National Socialism. All totalitarian regimes follow the same basic model, building up military power for the sake of future conquests.

Self-aggrandizement through the conquest and enslavement of whole countries is not a modern idea. In the first century B.C. , Gaius Julius Caesar became the richest and most famous man on earth by igniting violence on an unprecedented scale, by pillaging hundreds of towns and cities. During his conquest of Gaul alone, Caesar claimed to have killed a million human beings, while selling two million into slavery. The gold that Caesar robbed from the temples of Gaul came flooding into Italy, triggering inflation. Meanwhile, the price of slaves collapsed. 

As if the killing, looting and enslaving was not enough, Caesar also destroyed the rule of law in the nation that gave law to the world. He was a revolutionary who crippled Rome’s republican system of government. Despite being assassinated by senators who proclaimed freedom for the Roman people, Caesar left a legacy of military despotism which became the permanent condition of the Western world for centuries to come, leading to a slow and irreversible decline. The advent of the Dark Ages can be directly traced to the tyranny of “Caesars” who dictated wages and prices. Under this system a man could not choose his profession, but was compelled to follow a given trade. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion were eventually outlawed by the later Roman emperors. Along with all this, the ancient world’s economy was gradually strangled. Such is the true legacy of tyranny.

Like Caesar, North Korea’s Kim aggrandized himself at the expense of his people. A tyrant rather than a liberator, he lived the life of a rich playboy, reviling capitalism while forcing millions of Koreans into military service. His name belongs on the same list with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. Thankfully, Kim did not have Caesar’s genius for war. Yet he had something almost as good; namely, skilled technicians who could build nuclear weapons. Hopefully, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal will never be unleashed. Hopefully, the light of truth and freedom will shine in North Korea. Though it took the Western world more than 1500 years to recover the ideals of freedom after Caesar, perhaps it will not take as long in North Korea.

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