International Women’s Day in the DPRK (North Korea)

The DPRK newspapers are full of stories concerning the celebration of international women’s day yesterday. KCNA has half a dozen reports, on a celebration at the People’s Palace of Culture, calls to continue displaying revolutionary mettle, the history of Juche-oriented women’s movement in a socialist country, and so on. Rodong Sinmun has an editorial on the theme, while the Pyongyang Times has a fascinating article from which I quote:

A ray of hope flickered for Korean women when President Kim Il Sung started the Korean revolution.

As he embarked on the road of revolution in his early years, he blazed a trail for a Juche-oriented women’s movement, regarding them as a powerful force that turns one of the two wheels of the revolution.

He specified the empowerment of women in the 10-point Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland during the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle, and made sure that a women’s union was formed prior to other social organizations and proclaimed the Law on Sex Equality after Korea’s liberation, thereby enabling women to participate in social and political life and economic and cultural life on an equal footing with men.

Thanks to the President’s benevolent affection and trust, Korean women could perform admirable feats for the Party, revolution and country at every period and stage of the revolution, including the periods of a new country building, the Fatherland Liberation War, postwar reconstruction and great Chollima upswing.

Today they lead an independent and creative life as masters and players of the country in accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche under the warm care of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

They take a large proportion of deputies to the people’s assemblies at all levels and render distinguished services to the building of a powerful socialist nation.

As they find their happiness in the country’s prosperity they give full play to their patriotic devotion, creativity and talents in all fields including national defence and building of a socialist economic giant. Their heroic exploits are incorporated in groundbreaking scientific and technological hits, achievements in light industry, agriculture and other economic sectors, sports and art and literature as well as lots of monumental structures including the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station and large-scale animal husbandry base in the Sepho area.

In the unprecedentedly arduous campaign to defend socialism and the present struggle to build a socialist power, Korean women have played their part in building happy families and bringing up their children to be pillars of the country with warm love and infinite devotion, smiling all hardships away, and volunteered to become spouses of disabled soldiers, adopt orphans and support childless old people.

As there are commendable women emitting fragrance all across this land, Korean socialism is firm and steady and the cause of building a powerful socialist country advances with great vitality.

To which may be added sections from other articles:

All women in the country enjoy respect and love as a powerful force pushing one of the two wheels of the revolutionary chariot and flowers of the country and the times for their important role in various sectors of social life.

Among them are servicepersons who defend the country with an ardent patriotism, officers’ wives who share the same destiny with their husbands in safeguarding the country, deputies to the state power organs, party officials, managers, scientists, actresses and innovators who dedicate their all to the prosperity of the country.

And many laws and social policies like the law on protection of women’s rights and socialist labor law have been enacted to guarantee their rights in the DPRK.

The Korean women’s movement has taken only the road of victory as a revolutionary and militant movement generation after generation and prided itself on being an example of the movement of world progressive women.

Let all women powerfully demonstrate the revolutionary mettle of the Korean women in the all-people general offensive towards the grand festival in September, single-heartedly united around the Party.



Engels and the Socialist State

As part of my preparation for the second chapter of my book on the socialist state, I am following good Chinese practice: to work carefully through the work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, before dealing with Chinese developments. Having completed my study of Marx – with some real surprises (summarised earlier) – I am working through all of the relevant material by Engels. Apart from the usual stuff people quote, from Anti-Dühring and Origin of the Family, on the ‘dying away’ or ‘withering away’ of the state (the term was coined by Engels only late in the piece), I have been drawn to his material from the late 1880s on the role of force. He broached this topic in Anti-Dühring, only to feel the need to return to it. The term is crucial for a number of reasons: Gewalt means force, power and violence; it becomes more central as Engels’s approach to the state develops; and it is borrowed (unacknowledged) by Weber in his definition of the modern bourgeois state.

What does Engels have to say about Gewalt. The most insightful work is ‘The Role of Force in History’ (1887), which is a worthy complement to Marx’s ‘Eighteenth Brumaire’. Engels gives the German side of the story, focused on Bismarck, whom he constantly compares to Napoléon III (Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte). Here we find analyses of sovereignty in the modern bourgeois state; how such a state attains a distinctly bourgeois form even when the bourgeoisie does not have direct political power (so the state is not merely a somewhat neutral weapon in the hands of the bourgeoisie); and indeed how military matters are important, drawing from his earlier and insightful military analysis.

But for now I am interested in his observations concerning the developments of bourgeois democracy, with all its constraints and limitations:

If this demanded that the Prussian constitution be treated a bit roughly, that the ideologists in and outside the Chamber be pushed aside according to their deserts, was it not possible to rely on universal suffrage, just as Louis Bonaparte had done? What could be more democratic than to introduce universal suffrage? Had not Louis Napoléon proved that it was absolutely safe – if properly handled? And did not precisely this universal suffrage offer the means to appeal to the broad mass of the people, to flirt a bit with the emerging social movement, should the bourgeoisie prove refractory? (MECW 26, p. 477)