Column by Per Bylund.
Exclusive to STR
News agencies report on another potential nuclear threat from North Korea, which has developed an advanced program for enriching uranium. Granted, nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous – and they are especially dangerous in the hands of nutcases such as Kim Jong-il. However, the media misses the point as they urgently run in the direction pointed out to them by the White House staff of newsmakers. North Korea is a problem as much as the Soviet Union was a problem: that is, not at all.
Let me be clear: This is not an attempt to be apologetic to dictatorial regimes or rewrite history. It is also not one of the plentiful libertarian stabs at the American warfare state ignorantly disregarding the fact that the West is freer than the rest of the world. No, this is serious. North Korea cannot be a problem. But the United States is becoming more of one every day, and this is very troublesome.
We know for sure that planned societies do not work – socialism in the sense of a centrally planned, command-based economy will eventually implode due to its fundamental inabilities and impotence. We saw this with the Soviet Union, which did not even last half a decade in their very serious attempt to realize communism. The country literally went bankrupt in every sense of the world, forcing Lenin to adopt the New Economic Policy in 1921. The reason for this is exactly what Mises taught us already in the 1920s with his writings on socialism (a thesis that Lenin’s NEP ultimately confirmed).
The Soviet Union managed to exist for seven decades only because they took steps away from communism. The NEP is such a step, and an important one, as are many of the necessary reforms of the Soviet state during the remaining half century until its final implosion. Also, the Soviet Union was continuously propped up with aid from the Western countries. It could also rely on world market prices discovered in the West to make domestic planning closer to imitating reality (which Mises teaches us is not possible under pure socialism).
So why is North Korea a problem? Because they have nuclear weapons, we learn on CNN and other media outlets. But the only reason North Korea has been able to develop a nuclear program is because they receive foreign aid through a multitude of relief programs from the UN, the US, the EU, and so on. Without the access to such aid, the dictatorial state would have imploded a long time ago. Dictators around the world tend to loudly declare that they will bring down Western society, but can only speak such words because their regimes are propped up by the very Western societies they challenge. American and European taxpayers subsidize dictatorial rule of foreign peoples.
The problem, therefore, is not North Korea – Kim Jong-Il cannot do anything without our help. The country is bankrupt and his (and his father’s) dictatorial rule has pushed North Korean society back hundreds of years. Their workers are unproductive, they suffer from a great lack of capital and capital goods, and as a result they are dependent on the leaders who let them starve. Such a society is no match to any Western country and the abundance and prosperity we enjoy. They pose no threat and cannot threaten us unless we supply them with the means to do so.
Hence, the problem is the United States, which consistently subsidizes dictators around the world while leading the way down the road to serfdom through expanding the welfare-warfare state at unprecedented speed. The genital groping of the TSA is but a step down this slippery slope, and it will be far from the last, so prepare for more. While the media does its best at scaring us of the imploding state of Kim Jong-Il and the potential nuclear threat, we see the dictators of the West gradually, but at increasing speed, take away our freedoms and undermine our ability to produce wealth. The political class in Washington DC and Brussels eagerly and urgently trade our freedom for their security, and this necessarily creates a society that resembles both the Soviet Union and North Korea. We are but following the lead of these corrupt states, with the only difference being that we have more nuclear weapons in the hands of our rulers.