Workers Vanguard No. 1059
9 January 2015
Dimwit Film Fans the Flames
U.S. Provocations Target North Korea
Juvenile, witless, downright dumb, The Interview might be dismissed as just another piece of Hollywood trash destined to forever clog up cable channels. What cannot be dismissed is the U.S. rulers’ sinister use of the movie to further demonize and threaten North Korea, the target of imperialist war, relentless military pressure and starvation economic sanctions.
Everyone knows the plot of the movie, which was produced by Japanese-owned Sony: a CIA plan to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, last seen onscreen with his head exploding. Less widely known is Washington’s role in goosing the film along. A rough cut was vetted by State Department personnel; one of the film’s consultants was Bruce Bennett, a senior analyst at the RAND Corporation, a military think tank, who is known for his view that the way to bring down the Pyongyang regime is to assassinate its leadership.
In June, Pyongyang vigorously protested the planned film, as would any government whose leader was shown being blown away. But for U.S. imperialism, North Korea is not just any country. As with China, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos today, it is one of those parts of the planet where social revolution overturned capitalist property relations and won liberation from imperialist bondage—an outcome that the capitalist powers are intent on reversing by any means necessary.
The Obama administration seized on a November cyberattack against Sony to accuse the Kim regime of trying to prevent The Interview from being seen, concocting a phony “free speech” issue when Sony initially decided to pull the film from distribution. The White House leveled its charge despite the fact that the group that took responsibility for hacking Sony, Guardians of Peace, made no mention of the film when it e-mailed company executives on November 21 demanding monetary compensation. Only after Western media began linking the cyberattack to the film did the hackers denounce it as a “movie of terrorism.” Particularly embarrassing to Sony executives was the hackers’ release of e-mails containing racially loaded comments about Obama, insults of various movie stars and other dirt.
On December 19, Obama pronounced North Korea guilty for the cyberattack just hours after the FBI publicly presented its case against Pyongyang, which has denied any involvement. Numerous Internet security experts have expressed skepticism about the FBI’s purported evidence, calling it extremely improbable. But this is of little concern to the crazed rulers of U.S. imperialism, who have long cast the North Korean bureaucratically deformed workers state as an international outlaw and pariah. The North Korean government answered Obama’s charges by offering to conduct a joint investigation with the U.S., stating that it could prove its innocence “without resorting to torture, as what the C.I.A. does.” The White House dismissed the offer outright.
Following up his accusation, Obama directed the military’s Cyber Command, led by the head of the NSA, to develop “a range of offensive options” to go after North Korea. Three days after his public accusation, North Korea’s woefully tenuous Internet connections went down, as they did again a day or so later. The White House has also threatened to put the country back on the list of those supposedly sponsoring terrorism—a recipe for more imperialist skullduggery. Adding to the squeeze on a society already suffering what may well be the world’s heaviest economic sanctions, the Obama administration on January 2 announced further sanctions against high-ranking individuals and government agencies in North Korea.
As Trotskyists, we stand for the unconditional military defense of North Korea and all the remaining deformed workers states against imperialism and internal counterrevolution. The overturn of capitalist rule in North Korea, carried out with the military backing of the Soviet Army following Japan’s defeat in World War II, was a historic victory for the Korean masses and for the workers of the world. Our military defense of North Korea is a defense of the expropriation of capitalism, a necessary part of our program for international proletarian revolution. It does not entail the least political support for the ruling Stalinist bureaucracy, a deeply nationalist, weirdly nepotistic and brutally repressive regime.
The bourgeois media has made much of the North Korean government’s vile racist slur against Obama over The Interview affair. Calling the black president a “monkey” was a glaring demonstration of the Pyongyang Stalinists’ perversely retrograde worldview. Committed to “socialism” only in its half of the Korean Peninsula, the Kim regime disdains the class struggles of the international proletariat and calls for “peaceful reunification” of Korea, a setup for reunification on a capitalist basis. It is the task of the North Korean workers to oust the bureaucratic regime and create a government of workers and peasants councils committed to proletarian internationalism and a program for the revolutionary reunification of Korea: for proletarian political revolution in the North and socialist revolution in the South.
The opening scene of The Interview features a North Korean girl singing at an official event, a ballistic missile test-launch supposedly demonstrating the country’s ability to nuke the western U.S. She sings about wanting “the United States to explode in a ball of fiery hell” and for Americans to “be forced to starve and beg, and be ravaged by disease.... May they drown in their own blood and feces.” There is great, unintended irony in this scene, which describes to a tee the death, destruction and threat of nuclear annihilation meted out by U.S. imperialism during the 1950-53 Korean War. Under the aegis of its tool, the United Nations, the U.S. military invaded the Korean Peninsula in the summer of 1950, after North Korean armed forces entered the South and unleashed a powerful social revolution that came within a hair’s breadth of liberating the area from the imperialists and their puppets.
American professor Bruce Cumings recounts in The Korean War: A History (Modern Library, 2010):
“We carpet-bombed the North for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.... The air assaults ranged from the widespread and continual use of firebombing to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons, finally to the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the last stages of the war.”
Cumings notes that “oceans” of napalm were dropped on Korea, with even more devastating effect than in Vietnam, which was less urbanized than Korea. In the words of Curtis LeMay, commander of the air attacks: “We burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea, too.”
Some three million Koreans and Chinese troops were slaughtered in the effort by the U.S., aided by its local henchmen, to smash social revolution, with entire villages wiped out because their residents were suspected of being sympathetic to the Communists. It was the entry of China’s People’s Liberation Army that turned the tide in the war, throwing back imperialist forces that had nearly overrun the North and were threatening the Chinese mainland. That nukes were not used against North Korea or China was due mainly to the Soviet Union’s possession of these weapons. Today, possessing nuclear weapons and adequate delivery systems is necessary to the defense of North Korea as well as China, providing a crucial deterrent factor against imperialist attack.
The 1953 armistice hardened the division between the North Korean deformed workers state and the capitalist South. To this day, the U.S. keeps nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea. We demand: All U.S. troops and bases out of South Korea! Drop all sanctions against North Korea!
In the two decades after the Korean War, North Korea’s collectivized economy, aided by the Soviet Union, brought modern industry, infrastructure and relative prosperity. However, the counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR in 1991-92 cut off the North from its main economic partners while the imperialists maintained their embargo. Despite Chinese trade and aid since that time, North Korea has been plagued by widespread malnutrition, lack of access to resources and industrial decay.
Constantly menaced by the U.S. and its South Korean underlings, North Korea faces a further threat from the ramped-up U.S.-Japan military alliance, which principally targets China. For their part, the Beijing Stalinists have undermined the defense of both the Chinese and North Korean workers states by accommodating imperialist demands on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear deterrent, voting repeatedly in the UN for sanctions against North Korea. The UN is now increasing the pressure by debating whether North Korea’s leaders should be tried for “human rights” violations. The CIA torture exposed in the U.S. Senate’s highly expurgated report will surely not be cause for a punitive UN sanction.
We’ll say one thing for The Interview. In its own pitiful way, this offering from Tinseltown, on track to be a giant moneymaker for Sony, gives a measure of the utter decay of culture and education in the citadel of world imperialism. In calling on the working class in the U.S., Japan and internationally to oppose imperialist machinations against North Korea, we are driven by the need to build the multiracial workers party that can lead the struggle to smash capitalist imperialism from within, through socialist revolution.