Via China, a Capitalist Restoration in the DPRK? A Marxist Perspective

By | December 20, 2011 | No Comments

Excerpting an entire chunk below of John Peterson’s work, which itself quotes at length a certain Minnesota reporter, in a worthy essay on

[begin quote]

Capitalist Restoration?

Capitalism has succeeded in prying open nearly the entire world. In an epoch of economic crisis and dog-eat-dog competition, every possible inch of market real estate will be fought over like hungry jackals over a bone. North Korea, despite the many complications, is one of the “last frontiers” for capitalism, and all the big players in the region—the U.S., China, Japan, and South Korea—are scrambling to stake their claim if and when the regime falls apart. They all want “their” capitalism to get the upper hand.

Due to the extreme secrecy of the North Korean state, it is hard to form a clear picture of the situation in the country. It is difficult, for example, to know how deep the inroads of capitalism have gone. As explained in previous articles, the gradual restoration of capitalist property relations has been proceeding in “Hermit Kingdom” for some time—via China. A September 2012 2010 article titled Chinese Capitalism Floods North Korea, published in the Duluth Tribune News, had this interesting commentary from a reporter on the ground:

“While domestic acceptance of a possible Kim Jong Un regency appears unclear, much more open is North Korea’s growing embrace of Chinese tutelage and investment. The Chinese Communist Party has been steadfast in its support of North Korean economic liberalization, not merely to avoid a North Korean collapse, but because China can make money in the process. Leaders in Beijing are continually dispatching trade and tourism delegations to the North, dumping tons of industrial waste in North Korea, and helping Chinese firms to snaffle up lucrative contracts in the mining industry. Having surveyed nearly the entirety of the 800+ mile length of the North Korean border with China over the past several years, I can state with confidence that no amount of American prodding is going to move China into the US camp in opposition to North Korea, or bring China to support vigorous sanctions against its neighbor. The Chinese model is gradually winning in North Korea, and a class of North Korean entrepreneurs has developed along the border. Moreover, China’s own local needs mean that developing the border region takes priority over punitive steps which might slow North Korea’s nuclear development.”

One thing is certain: there are tremendous interests at stake, whatever the outcome of the transition may be. The ruling bureaucracy has everything to lose if the country implodes. There are surely those who wish to keep the status quo, in order to continue benefiting from the state-owned sector of the economy. Others are clearly interested in adopting the “Chinese road”—with direct help from the Chinese capitalists themselves. This is a process that appears to have been accelerating in the recent period. [end quote]

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