October 05, 2022

Last of its kind: The Workers’ Party of Korea keeps the Leninist model alive

In North Korea, like its Leninist/Stalinist forbearers, the party is designed to encompass all authority

On October 10 North Korea lavishly celebrates what is officially described as “the day when the North Korean Communist Party was founded by the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.” Well, as historians know – and curiously, North Korean official media itself used to admit – in this sentence only the verb “to found” is correct, while everything else, including the date, is wrong. However, let’s forget about it for the time being and talk about another issue: what is the Communist (or, broader speaking, ruling Leninist) Party? What does it do? Where did it come from?

When in 1848 two young Germans penned a booklet, entitled Manifesto of the Communist Party (known today as The Communist Manifesto), they did not aim at creating a monolithic structure determining everything in the society under its control. On the contrary, both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would probably have seen such a scenario as rather nightmarish: They were unhappy about the world around them, and wanted to make it better which, for them, included making it more democratic and egalitarian. Many people on the left still believe that the subsequent emergence of the Stalinist party/state was just a stroke of bad luck, brought about by the vane ambitions of some individuals, unfavorable circumstances and other factors beyond human control. Well, let them believe this if they like; people need to maintain their cherished illusions.