Monday, December 19, 2011

The Persimmons of Memory

Kim Jong Il looking at persimmons; Kim Jong Il looking at a leaflet. From

The Dear Leader looked at things, as we know; looking at things was virtually his whole life as leader, his chief and almost only duty, the way he took care of his people. Indeed, you could say that his commitment to looking at things was what killed him in the end: according to state media he
died on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" during a "high-intensity field inspection" Saturday
between looking-at-things stops, as it were. He had perhaps looked at last at all the things he could manage, and something snapped.

I wanted to bring it up as an example of thug rule at its most formally constructed, of the creation of a perfectly stable picture of the distribution of power (to which reality then hastens to attempt to comply) on a hierarchy of thugs, each acknowledging the supremacy of the thug above and in turn receiving the dispensation to do whatever they like, in North Korea to take all the food, all the cash, and all the trips outside the country.

The Kim family take thug rule to lengths that have perhaps never been seen before: they are god-kings, who retain power even when they are no longer alive. Kim Il Sung, for example, continued to serve as Supreme Leader for eight years after his death, when his son finally succeeded him in the post, and even today he is the Eternal President of the Republic, as he has been since he was appointed in 1998 (he died in 1994). (Wikipedia's editors fear this may be an exaggeration, but I think it's OK.) It will be fun to see what positions Jong Il occupies in the hereafter to make way for the advancement of young General Jong Ŭn in the here and sort of now.

But it isn't after all that different from poor Speaker Boehner, except as a matter of degree. And except for how remarkably poor Boehner is at playing any hand he is given. It's as if he were an exceptionally American sort of prime minister who keeps losing confidence votes while the other institutions cannot nerve themselves up to giving him the sack. Really, I am normally against expansions of presidential power, but I wish Obama would try inviting somebody new to take over as Speaker and see what happens.

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