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View Diary: Are we blundering into a war with North Korea? (143 comments)

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  •  amazing how much you know of north koreans (1+ / 0-)
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    Frank Whitaker

    and their beliefs, given how little actual knowledge anyone has of what's going on there.

    people said much the same of maoist china, but after that period ended, it turns out there was a lot more complex and contested perspectives in the chinese nation than what the propaganda on either side portrayed.

    •  I get it all from B R Myers (1+ / 0-)
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      Frank Whitaker

      His argument comes from studying North Korea's own domestic propaganda. I'm sympathetic because it more closely fits what we see and hear from North Korea, versus other "communist" states like China and the Soviet Union, which for all their antipathy to the United States were never so hysterical and reckless.  And while Cuba is the last socialist state standing, tin pot military dictatorships are a dime a dozen, while ethno-nationalism is a widespread phenomenon.

      North Korean "Kremlinology", or speculation on what the politicians and generals are thinking and doing in their own world of power and scheming, is understandably ill-informed.  But there's no shortage of propaganda, and unless the DPRK is the most cynical regime in history, it's not unreasonable to assume that North Korean propaganda is a reliable reflection of what motivates the regime.

      •  I respect his spending years on his studies (1+ / 0-)
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        Frank Whitaker

        The results don't seem to completely line up with what refugees say, though of course relying on them is the mother of all cases of sample bias.

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:39:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  NK refugees come from least propagandized class (2+ / 0-)
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          Magster, Frank Whitaker

          North Korean refugees generally come from the lower socioeconomic strata of North Korean society, and not unlike 1984's proles, the lower classes of North Koreans are actually the least propagandized.  Combined with the institutional discrimination of the songbun caste system, they're the people with the least loyalty to the regime and the least emotional or material investment in its continuation.

          The fact that the educated and comfortable middle and upper classes are not fleeing this black hole of ignorance and oppression that could break down any moment suggests that the regime is effective at either winning their hearts and minds and/or buying their complacency Chinese-style.

      •  reading propaganda tells you about propaganda (1+ / 0-)
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        Frank Whitaker

        not about the worldviews or perspectives of millions of people. it doesn't even tell you about the variety of motivations and viewpoints of the ruling regime, so much as what the propaganda dept. for said ruling regime wants to portray itself as believing.

        it's pretty limited in utility, and is being seriously oversold.

        memes about hive mind brainwashed oriental masses are apparently rather hard to kill in the american imagination.

        •  what else do we have? (1+ / 0-)
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          Frank Whitaker

          We're always taken by surprise by everything North Korea says and does, and not only that, but we're always baffled by their motivations for the latest hysterical screed or provocative gesture.  There's little or no consensus on what North Korea wants and what will motivate it to embrace disarmament ... except among people who are only looking for an excuse to justify a policy they're already set on.

          It's our problem, in that this is the position we find ourselves in no matter who we're confronting.  But that's because we consistently fail to attribute agency to others.  The idea that the North Koreans have reasons of their own for doing what they do never enters our minds.  But this is because of our belief in a bunch of hive-minded zombies who only do what they're told or else ... and that the only thinking, feeling people in the picture are either named Kim or live in DC.

          We're trained to assume cynicism among foreign leaders and slavishness among their subjects.  There's no way the North Koreans could actually believe anything, especially not anything as absurd as the Kim cult, as disgusting as racial superiority, or as terrifying as military conquest of South Korea.  Obviously they're all just decadent egomaniacal kleptocrats and slaves living in fear and waiting for the great day when we liberate them.

          •  we don't have good information (0+ / 0-)

            the first thing is not to fill that lacuna, but rather to admit its existence and know that there are things we do not know, rather than filling it with what are undoubtedly ignorant assumptions.

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