Friday, April 21, 2017

President Kim Il Sung and Britain



by Dermot Hudson

The highly significant 105th anniversary of the birth of the great Korean communist leader, comrade Kim Il Sung, is a reminder of how important it is to reflect on the relevance of his teachings and ideas to Britain. How are the ideas of Kim Il Sung applicable to Britain?
Firstly, the great Juche idea is applicable to Britain because it teaches that every country and every people should be independent and masters of their own destiny. The Juche idea is expressed in practical terms as Juche in ideology, independence in politics and self-reliant in defence. These are policies that a new progressive government could and should implement. Although Britain is an imperialist country it is at the same time deeply subordinate to US imperialism and pursues the so-called special relationship.
A new government in Britain could apply Juche by leaving NATO and kicking out
US troops. This would be a basic prerequisite to achieving independence in politics. Kim Il Sung understood the need for capitalist countries to be independent, saying:  "Ours is an era when the people demand independence. Today even the people of the capitalist countries, to say nothing of the socialist countries, want to take the road of independence and especially the people of the Third World who were exploited and oppressed by the imperialists over a long period are advancing under the uplifted banner of independence."
            Kim Il Sung showed the way to independence for the peoples of the capitalist, socialist and Third World countries. Indeed, the Juche idea reflects the aspirations of the peoples of all countries for independence – this is an undeniable fact.
            To establish Juche and achieve both political and economic independence, Britain would need to break with international capitalism and imperialism by leaving the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The British people recently voted, decisively, to leave the hated EU. President Kim Il Sung condemned the predecessor of the EU, the Common Market, pointing out that: "The ‘European Common Market’, the ‘integration of the world economy’ and the like, loudly advertised by the imperialist powers today, all pursue the heinous, aggressive aims of strangling the economic independence of the newly independent states and subordinating these countries to their rule."
Indeed, as Britain prepares to withdraw from the EU the teachings of Kim Il Sung on building an independent national economy are highly relevant to the British people. When some big power chauvinists and revisionists tried to force the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to join the former Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA or COMECON), a Soviet-led economic bloc dominated by the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies, this was opposed by President Kim Il Sung. The leader of the Workers Party of Korea upheld the banner of self-reliance and the independent national economy, saying later that: "It has become more clear today that our decision to build socialism by our own efforts on the principle of self-reliance and not enter the CMEA was quite correct."
He defined the building of an independent national economy as: "Building an independent national economy means building a diversified economy, equipping it with up-to-date technology and creating our solid bases of raw materials, thereby building up an all embracing economic system in which every branch is structurally interrelated so as to provide domestically most of the products of heavy and light industry and the agricultural produce needed to make the country wealthy and powerful and to improve the people's living conditions."
            Instead of trying to strike free-trade deals with countries such as the USA (who will only exploit and plunder Britain through so-called ‘free trade’) and lowering wages in order to be 'competitive', Britain could take on board the Juche idea, the line of self-reliance, and build an independent national economy like the DPRK.
              The example of Juche-based socialism, which is the fruit of the leadership and teachings of the great leader Kim Il Sung, is an inspiration to the people of Britain in their fight for socialism. Democratic Korea has provided people with the right to work, housing is provided at a very low cost or even totally free (one could only sigh when you contrast this to the recent headline about house prices in London going up even faster). Education is also free up to all levels, including university and post-graduate study. School clothes and other things for children are either free or sold at 50 per cent of cost price. Mothers with more than three children can work a six-hour day but be paid for eight hours. The retirement age is 60 for men and 55 for women. Taxation, including local autonomy tax, was abolished in 1974.
            Free medical care was introduced in 1953 and buttressed by further legalisation in 1960 and 1980. All treatment including medicine is free and the state even pays travelling expenses to the sanatorium!
Such measures have not been taken in all socialist countries nor in rich countries, but have been taken in the DPRK because of the profound concern of the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung for the people and the belief that the country should shoulder full responsibility for the destiny and well-being of the people. President Kim Il Sung made sure that improvement of the people’s living standards was enshrined in the principles of both the Workers Party of Korea and the DPRK. Juche Korea became the model of socialism for the world, including Britain.
            Lastly, President Kim Il Sung always supported the struggle of the working people of the capitalist countries, including Britain, for their rights and for socialism. In 1983, for example, he declared: "firm solidarity with the working classes and peoples in the capitalist countries battling against oppression and exploitation by capital."
            At a time when many British progressives and communists had lost heart because of the overthrow of socialism in the USSR and the people’s democracies of eastern Europe, the DPRK stuck to the socialist road, showing that socialism was alive and not dead!
President Kim Il Sung met with a delegation of the New Communist Party of Britain in 1990 and also with a delegation of the Communist Party of Britain at a later date, as well as a leading British social scientist. Twenty-five years ago on the 20th April, 1992 President Kim Il Sung unveiled the Pyongyang Declaration: Let Us Defend and Advance the Cause of Socialism, which was adopted by 70 parties. Now over 258 parties, including five British communist parties, have endorsed it.
            In conclusion, the revolutionary activities and teachings of the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung are vitally relevant to British people today. The Juche idea authored by comrade Kim Il Sung lights the road of independence for the British people.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Gem of a Tower



By Carole Barclay

The Palace of Westminster is what we call the Houses of Parliament today. It was originally a feudal royal palace, although little remains from the middle ages apart from Westminster Hall, where Charles Stuart was tried and condemned to death for treason by Parliament in 1649, and a tower that was built around 1365 to house the personal treasure of Edward III.  By the 1600s the Jewel Tower, once part of the wall that surrounded the royal palace gardens, had been reduced to a public records store-room, and it remained an obscure part of the past until it was restored and opened to the public in 1956.
Sadly the moat, which was filled with water between 1963 and the 1990s, has been drained and the Parliamentary history exhibition was closed a few years ago. The Jewel Tower, a World Heritage site, is now run by English Heritage. The current displays include a model of the medieval Palace of Westminster, replicas of precious objects and areas of set dressing, including an 18th-century clerk's office. Whether this justifies the £5 admission charge for non-English Heritage members depends on how keen you are on the medieval period. But entrance to the garden, the small cafĂ© and bookshop is free, so it’s worth a visit just for that if you’re in the vicinity.
The Jewel Tower is easily missed in the hurly-burly that surrounds the Westminster ‘village’ but it still gets around 30,000 visitors a year, mostly overseas tourists who have come to explore Westminster Abbey and Parliament. It is located on Abingdon Street, opposite the southern end of the Houses of Parliament (Victoria Tower).