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Thursday, September 24, 2009

What can we learn from North Korea?

This should be a rather short and simple post. Time and again, when people complain about how wretched various external agents are making their lives, they are countered with -- "These are just excuses. All of your problems actually stem from within, they are internal, and all you have to do is make an effort, and you would have a perfectly good life. All of your problems are due to your own laziness, and thus it is morally just that you are suffering from all of these perceived slights from the outside world. We don't have to do anything, it's all up to you to provide for yourself, regardless of how the system is set up."

This amazing argument is trotted out no matter how bad the environment is. You can point out statistics like 21% unemployment, and they'll still say it's your own fault for not having a job. You can point out statistics like 50% divorce rates, and they'll still say it's your own fault for your wife divorcing you. It never occurs to them that in the past, divorce was less than 1% of the population, illegitimacy less than 3% of children born, and so on. They are actually saying that over the last century, all people across the board became wicked, evil, lazy, morally depraved scum, and that is why each of them, individually, has come to such a bad end. If only they had made an effort, they too would've received a 1% divorce rate, a 3% illegitimacy rate, and so on. It is all due to a complete collapse in each individual's personal choices, he is at fault for everything bad that happens in his life. Just as his neighbor is at fault for everything bad that happens in his neighbor's life. And so on. It is merely a complete coincidence that people all became so morally depraved, evil, and lazy at the same time.

This theory is about as scientific as spontaneous generation. THINGS DON'T JUST HAPPEN. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. If, all of a sudden, half the country is out of work, when before they were working. If, all of a sudden, half the country is divorced, when before they were married. If, all of a sudden, half the children are bastards, when before they were legitimate. It isn't because 'Everyone at the same time became lazy and refused to make an effort and brought it upon themselves.' That is a non-answer. For such an epidemic of laziness and non-effort to occur, supposing that WERE the problem, there would first have to be some sort of LAZINESS SPREADING AGENT that could so heavily infect the population from OUTSIDE. Since internally, people have never been this lazy in the last ten thousand years, and they'd always made the effort in the past, what is the cause of their sudden laziness now? How can it be inborn? If not inborn, where did it come from? Yet again we are now searching for EXTERNALS. Externals, not internals, largely determine the success and well being of each individual in a society.

And here is my scientific, absolute proof: North Korea and South Korea. The exact same people. The same language. The same genes. The same starting conditions. The same natural resources. Except in fifty years, South Korea was rich, free, and thriving. Meanwhile, North Korea was starving, dictatorial, isolated, oppressed, and tanking. If that isn't good enough for you, there is also East Berlin and West Berlin. The exact same starting conditions, the same people, the same language, and so on. But one was bustling, rich, and free. The other was poor, oppressed, and starving. We were actually donating the poor East Germans beef and oranges we felt so bad for them.

If everything is due to internals, if everyone is to blame, individually, for their own problems, how is it that these sweeping plagues of laziness stopped exactly at the borders of East Berlin and North Korea? Why were only these groups of people affected, while people exactly like them, just meters across the border, somehow individually were not lazy, did make an effort, and did succeed in life?

Do I really have to listen to this kind of crap or give it any kind of respect? Are people really still making this argument with the facts spread out in front of them? What matters isn't the individual, it's the State. If the State has good laws, the people within its borders thrive and succeed. If the State has bad laws, the people within their borders decline and fail. This is why we have book titles like "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." In the past, everyone took it for granted that the problems facing the Roman Empire were the systemic failures of the State. No one wrote "The Decline and Fall of Individuals living within the Roman Empire who Failed to Make an Effort." When Shirer wrote the "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." He did not retitle it, with our new libertarian, individualist, objectivist, internal-only worldview, "The Rise and Fall of Individuals living within the Third Reich who Failed to Make an Effort and thus Lost the Battle of Stalingrad, which, if they just hadn't been Lazy, They Obviously Could have Achieved."

No one in their right minds has ever blamed the individual for the failures of a people or state. Perhaps it's reasonable to blame the individual -- if he's the dictator of your country -- SINCE HE'S MAKING THE LAWS. But no individual living under laws he hasn't written, is to blame for the effects of those laws on said individual. What we are seeing, is a wholesale effort by the victimizers, to blame the victims, for their own victimization.

You're an elite white liberal yuppie who drinks at starbucks every day, practicing at some law firm or brokerage house. You look down on the poor, the unemployed, the single, the divorced, the whatever, and you say: "Gee, I'd feel really bad if it were in fact my business, my voting habits, and my campaign donations that crafted the laws in which this type of society has been brought about. That would mean all their misery, all their blood and all their tears, is on my hands. I'd better not believe Communism was the cause of North Korea's problems, I'd better insist that it was because the North Korean people were lazy and did not make an effort. This way, I can continue drinking coffee and ignore the suffering of the masses underneath me."

I bet Kim Jong Il will agree with you. He isn't to blame, he did the best he could, he wrote all the right laws into his nation and zealously enforced them -- but his people did not make an effort. They were too lazy. That's the only reason Communism didn't succeed in North Korea. It isn't the lawmakers, or the law, or the culture, or the externals that hold North Korea back. Because Kim Jong Il is flawless, he is perfect, he can do no wrong. His laws are like the Koran's, straight from the mouth of God. No, it's because each individual North Korean, unlike their South Korean brothers and cousins right across the border, failed to make an effort.

This ludicrous libel, that anyone who suffers under a system, are themselves guilty of causing the suffering; that it's impossible to believe a system is unjust to anyone, or that anyone could suffer without having deserved it, is one of the greatest enablers of the status quo. It removes all guilt from the perpetrators. It removes all resentment from the victims, and replaces it with shame. Now people's anger is turned inwardly, against themselves, feeding on their own sores, driven into a frenzy of self hatred because no matter what they try, they just end up hurting themselves more. If that destructive force trapped in each heart of each suffering child without two parents, of each unemployed person, each soldier sent to far off Iraq, each victim of a woman's treacherous heart, each victim of crime, each guy who wasn't promoted because a lesbian handicapped black woman had to fill her affirmative action quota, was turned on the genuine perpetrators -- the people who voted for and crafted these laws, this culture, this system -- there would be a revolution and blood would flow in the streets. Instead we have the perfect system, the libertarian creed, that everything is just in our own heads. That we are imagining our persecution, inventing it out of thin air. That everything is actually perfect for everyone else, and we are the problem. Just some losers who can't get with the system, because of their own moral failings. This keeps everyone dormant, no matter how bad the world around them gets, no matter how bad their own lives get, they are shackled and tranquilized by the knowledge that they only have themselves to blame, that they just need to make an effort, and stop being lazy, and everything would come right. It is the perfect creed for slaves and slavers alike. But for free men, it is simply adding insult to injury. I may not have the power to stop your injuries, but I have the will, the moral strength, to utterly reject your insults. My problems are not my fault. They are your fault. I throw them in your teeth. I defy you. You cannot make me a slave inside my own soul.

Mind you, it is possible that people are insane, lazy, vicious, intemperate, or whatever, and that no system on earth could make them thrive. But we can never know whether that applies to our specific circumstances until we isolate the variables. Who isn't letting us carry out this experiment? You can guess these are the people most afraid of the answer that experiment would return. I'm perfectly willing to accept that all my problems are internal, caused by myself and nothing else. But before I admit that, I want to live in the environment of my choosing. Among the people I choose, among the culture I choose, among the beliefs I choose, among the laws I choose. I want to get rid of all the possible externals holding me back, and THEN SEE who is to blame. I won't accept any slurs until that day, just as I reject out of hand any slurs Kim Jong Il might throw at his North Korean people for 'not doing Communism right.'

Until every last individual is in the country of his choosing, reflecting the laws and culture he prefers, no one is to blame for their own problems. Romania understood who was to blame -- they dragged Cieucescu through the streets. And then their lives improved, the economy boomed, and the people were free again. Somehow, the 'malaise of lazy people who wouldn't make an effort' ended. It wasn't due to self-help books, therapy sessions, Jesus Christ, or Oprah. It was due to the overthrow of their government and the slaughter of their enemies. You can bet Romanians mocked anyone who blamed them for Communism's failure. When will whites mock and ignore anyone who blames them for liberalism's failure? Until we know where to place the blame, until we have the self-confidence to proclaim it is NOT OUR FAULT, we'll never have the courage to march on our enemies.

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