North Korea is where oligarchical collectivism — a.k.a. socialism — has been taken to possibly the farthest extreme of any existing country. Yet even though the inmates of this slave state are sometimes reduced to eating grass and bark, they have not all starved yet. In part this is due to handouts from the capitalist West, but those have been cut back in response to nuclear weapons testing. So even the communist Norks have to allow some capitalism to keep their economy from collapsing altogether:
Hundreds of capitalistic markets, each with thousands of stalls, form the glue that holds North Korea’s socialist planned economy together, say defectors who sold medicinal herbs, skinny jeans, TV sets, foreign drama CDs and other goods there to make a living.
“People there say North Korean markets have everything but a cat’s horn. They truly have everything there,” said Cha Ri-hyuk, 31, who came to South Korea in 2013. “If North Korea shuts downs markets, it will collapse too.”
North Korea has tolerated — and taxed — some market activities since the country’s state rationing systems crumbled amid an economic crisis and famine that killed an estimated hundreds of thousands in the mid-1990s. The economic boost the markets provide has helped leader Kim Jong Un keep a grip on power and further his nuclear ambitions, leaving the North’s harsh political system and alleged human rights abuses largely untouched.
At last an argument against economic freedom has been discovered. If socialist tyrants didn’t allow a little bit of it, their dictatorships would collapse completely.
But some political analysts note that market activities are gradually infusing North Koreans with new ways of thinking that eventually could loosen the authoritarian government’s hold over its 24 million people.
Once people get a taste of what capitalism has to offer, they tend to want more — until they reach the point where they take economic freedom and its cornucopia of material blessings for granted. Then they want less of it, and support socialists like Bernie Sanders.
On a tip from Bodhisattva.