Kim Il Sung’s assessment of 1989 in Eastern Europe

As part of my bed-time reading, I continue with Anecdotes of Kim Il Sung’s Life. Towards the end of the second volume is his assessment as to why the communist governments in Eastern Europe were overthrown by coups.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, an abnormal event took place in the world: Socialism collapsed and capitalism was restored in a number of countries.

The renegades of socialism, who had destroyed socialism, tried to justify their despicable betrayal, claiming that the ideals of socialism itself were wrong.

On the other hand, the imperialists asserted that the socialist system was in itself problematic, talking about the ‘bankruptcy of the socialist system,’, with regard to the collapse of socialism in those countries.

This caused ideological confusion among many people.

Are the ideals of socialism and the socialist system wrong?

A stream of foreigners came to Pyongyang to find an answer to this question.

Among them was the chair of the Worker’s Communist Party of Sweden.

On June 29, 1992, Kim Il Sung met him, and explained the cause of the collapse of the Eastern European socialist countries.

He said it could be explained in two ways: the first was that the leaders of those countries took to sycophancy and the worship of great power.

He continued: ‘In the past the East European socialist countries used to do everything the way the Soviet Union did; for example, if the Soviet Union uttered “A”, they said “A”, and if the former pronounced “B”, they said “B”‘.

He cited an example at this: the people of the former German Democratic Republic were said to have remarked that when it was raining in Moscow Berliners used to take an umbrella with them, although it wasn’t raining in their city. In this way Germans criticised the sycophantic attitude of their Party leadership towards the big power.

Secondly, the ruin of the East European socialist countries was due to the fact that the leaders of those countries were grossly bureaucratic.

He said: ‘In capitalist society, where state officials and economic officials are separated from each other, even if the ruling officials act bureaucratically and administer state affairs unskilfully, businessmen can still make money without much interference. In socialist society, however, the situation is different; in socialist society the masses of the people are the masters of state power and the means of production. Leading officials must therefore always go among the masses to learn about their demands and manage the state and economy to meet their will and demands; however, the leaders of the East European socialist countries failed to mix intimately with the masses; instead, they administered state affairs by looking up at the ceiling of their office or asking Moscow what to do. When their subjective opinion was not in accordance with the will of the masses or the reality was not accepted readily by people, they would enforce it in a bureaucratic manner. Consequently, they became alienated from the people and ultimately produced the serious outcome of destroying socialism’.

He continued: ‘It was because of such mistakes as the sycophantic attitude to the great power and a bureaucratic manner that socialism has collapsed in the former East European socialist countries; it was never because the socialist system is in itself problematic’.

After listening to the explanation, the guest from Northern Europe said confidently: ‘It was indeed the right option for me to travel a long way to see you’.

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3 thoughts on “Kim Il Sung’s assessment of 1989 in Eastern Europe

  1. Of course, there was also a concerted plan of destabilisation operated by the CIA, and other western intelligence agencies. Allied to a media circus of misinformation, the countries in question had too much against them to hope to survive..
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Agreed. I think his analysis is a little one-sided, although North Korea continues to have the knack of being able to survive – the longest lived socialist state in the world (with a little help now and then from a powerful neighbour).

  2. Coincidentally, I was reading Kim Il-Sung’s Reminiscences With the Century, just last week. I liked this:

    “One day I asked her quietly, ‘Mother, do you go to church because you believe in God?’
    She smiled, shaking her head.
    ‘I do not go to church out of some belief. What is the use of going to “Heaven” after death? Frankly, I go to church to relax.’
    I felt pity for her and loved her all the more.”

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