Vox: Hey, North Korea's Economy is Doing 'Pretty Well'

Guy Benson
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Posted: May 02, 2017 1:27 PM
Vox: Hey, North Korea's Economy is Doing 'Pretty Well'

Certain elements of the American Left harbor an enduring and grotesque soft spot for communism, a poisonous ideology whose practitioners are responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 million human beings.  For years, left-wingers stubbornly denied the reality of Soviet infiltration of elite American institutions, preferring an alternate story of paranoia-fueled witch hunts.  More recently, Michael Moore and his ilk have been ensorcelled by Cuba's healthcare system, turning a blind eye to its disastrous realities and the myriad ways in which the repressive regime manipulates credulous foreign leftists into taking the bait. Moore, like some of his Hollywood fellow travelers, was also a prominent cheerleader for the late Hugo Chavez -- whose autocratic statist project has predictably disintegrated into a tragic morass of human misery. This embarrassing gushing hasn't aged well:


The leftist inheritors of Chavez's imploding revolution are doing ever more favors for the people, mandating that they get paid more worthless money so they can buy non-existent food.  Fool proof:


Meanwhile, the New York Times has published a column waxing nostalgic about the good old days when the Communist Party imbued American workers with life-affirming passion, or something:

While it is true that thousands of people joined the Communist Party in those years because they were members of the hardscrabble working class (garment district Jews, West Virginia miners, California fruit pickers), it was even truer that many more thousands in the educated middle class (teachers, scientists, writers) joined because for them, too, the party was possessed of a moral authority that lent shape and substance, through its passion for structure and the eloquence of its rhetoric, to an urgent sense of social injustice...It is perhaps hard to understand now, but at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified.

In fairness, the piece isn't an unvarnished apologia for Communism. It chastises adherents for refusing to acknowledge the "police state corruption at the heart of their faith," and describes the writer's agony of discovering "the incalculable horror of Stalin’s rule."  Still, the romanticized reflection on the promise of coercive, far-left central planning created far less of a stir among the Times' readership than Bret Stephens' debut column -- which touched off a firestorm of fury and subscription cancellations because one writer wrote one column that questioned some elements of climate change orthodoxy (even while conceding the phenomenon's existence, and mankind's contributions to it).  Between pining for the Leninist glory days and rudely noting that alarmist climate modeling hasn't aligned with actual data, liberal readers see the former as a perfectly acceptable essay, causing nary an eyelid to be batted.  The latter is a heretic affront to "science," worthy of a five-alarm freakout.  Not to be outdone, the liberal (cough) "explanatory journalism" outfit Vox is out with a novel Voxplanation for its smug audience:


The social media headline is far dumber than the piece itself, which posits that marginal free market reforms and allowances by the cruel regime in Pyongyang have slightly mitigated the country's status as a hellacious dystopia. Nevertheless, it is pretty bizarre to tout alleged economic progress in a country where vast swaths of the population are confined to prison camps, malnourished, starving, or some combination thereof. North Korea's economy is closed, its government's declarations are ludicrous propaganda, and on-the-ground reports are unreliable. Resting on a mix of regime assertions, reported anecdotes and satellite imagery to piece together a positive narrative, even with major caveats, seems odd.  Attempting an analysis of incremental changes inside the hermit kingdom that could benefit its terrorized, brainwashed and abused people can be worthwhile.  Framing it in such a way that remotely downplays their suffering does a disservice to readers -- and claiming that the country's economy is doing "pretty well" by any metric is simply insulting.  I'll leave you by circling back to Michael Moore, who thinks he may have found the key to "bring down" Trump, or whatever. Resist:


The only question is whether this plan will be more or less successful than this sort of "comedy."