[Our Program] Our Position on 17th presidential election of South Korea/2007

by 볼셰비키 posted Nov 01, 2018


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This was translated from Korean to English. Not so polished. However, this article contains the skeleton of our program and the Korean situation.


Our Position on 17th presidential election of South Korea


Present situation and presidential election

--The meaning of Soviet revolution’s victory and defeat

--The ultra exploitation in South Korea

--The crucial feeling of workers and presidential election


Election and illusion

--Bourgeois democracy and election

--Bourgeois workers’ party and illusion on election


The anti-working class policies of KDLP after grand election in 2004

-- Dokdo: falling into the frenzy of nationalism

--Anti-prostitution law: the confusion of KDLP

--“Income alliance strategy (strategy of income alliance?)”: the alliance of slaves

--Rejecting the registration of Lee Gap-yong as a candidate of internal election


The most important points on this presidential election; the political independence of working class and North Korea issue

1.     North Korea

--The process from national liberation to split

--The social revolution in North Korea

--The character and limitation of North Korean regime

--Reunification of Korea and the capitalist restoration policy

--Two Koreans summit talk

--The KDLP on North Korea


2.  Popular Front

--Disastrous policy

--United front and popular front

--The Progressive alliance: two kind of 2007 version of popular front

-Popular front tendency in KDLP: NL group

-Popular front tendency in KDLP: All-together (SK IS)


Kwon Young-ghil: the representative of the upper layer of working class who were conciliated by bourgeois


The Position of IBT on 2007 presidential election

For the Rebirth of the 4th International!
Our Position on 17th presidential election of South Korea


Present situation and presidential election

The Soviet revolution: The meaning of its victory and defeat

Just as the October revolution was the working class’s greatest victory of the 20th century, so was the collapse of the Soviet Union its greatest defeat.

The Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 was a political tsunami that stirred up the oppressed around the world. Its example to the European workers’ movement brought several countries to the threshold of revolution, and it inspired the oppressed peoples of the colonial countries in Asia in their struggles against imperialism. After the second imperialist world war, several countries which are occupied by the red army such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and East German joined in workers states group and North Korea, China in advance and Cuba and Vietnam later became the reformed workers state after the achievement the national liberation from the imperialism by long and fierce struggle. Besides these, capitalist governments in northern and western European were forced to make concessions to their working classes in order to becalm the inspired working class.

The counter-revolutionary changes in eastern European and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, was a massive defeat for the international workers movement. Those collapses dramatically changed the relationship of power between the world proletariat and bourgeoisie in favor of the latter. Prospects for socialism were deeply damaged, with sections of the aroused bourgeoisie announcing that they had won a permanent victory against socialism and that this ideological debate was finally over. The worst event for working class made the political defense line collapsed. The working class has consistently retreated in the face of the aggressive attacks of the bourgeoisie in the name of ‘rationalisation of management, making redundant, global competent’ while could not find the resistance line, losing precious gains that they had achieved through bloody struggle.

After the disappearance of the Soviet Union, which had been the strong rival in the competition on the system of state, the plundering of USA imperialism has become more plainly over the world. The US imperialists invaded Afghanistan in 2002 in order to reach supremacy in central Asia, and established a pro-US puppet government after the making Taliban government, which they used to support to retrain the influence of Soviet, broken down. In 2003, they invaded Iraq, to gain exclusive control of Iraqi oil resources and to stamp their dominance on the region generally.

Meanwhile, the standard of living of workers around the world has seriously declined. Government provision of education, health care, housing and transportation has been drastically cut. A tiny elite has grown rapidly richer, while the vast majority of humanity has been getting poorer.

In the neo-colonial countries, the exploitation of workers has continued even more vigorously. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Thailand and South Korea and so on went into economic panic in the late 1990s and early 2000s and became the temporary expedients which reduce the capitalist contradiction in the IMF trusteeship.


The super-exploitation of South Korean workers

On the other side of the ledger, capitalist profits have been progressing well. The bourgeoisie has accumulated considerable profits as a consequence of its attacks on workers, at the same time grumbling about recession to the press.

The global financial capitalists, which are mostly Americans, have easily achieved super profits in South Korea, using high-level information and the policies of the Seoul government, taking advantage of South Korea’s economic crisis. The ‘New-bridge Capital’ could buy the Je-il bank, which South Korean government had poured more than 8 trillion won into it to save, by 500 billion won in 1999 with South Korean government personnel’s help and sold it by 1500 billion won in 2003. The ‘Carlyle fund’, whose main members include former US Secretary of State James Baker, former US President George Bush Snr, current President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major and Shafig Bin Laden, the step-brother of Osama Bin Laden, bought ‘Han-mi bank’ in 2000 and escaped with US$701.7 billion profit in 2004. KT&G, which had been privatized in 2002 and Carl C. Icahn, who is well known as a corporate raider, was the major shareholder, paid dividend about 2.8 trillion won in 2006. ‘Loan Star’ purchased ‘Korea Foreign Exchange bank’ in 2003 as one of their investments and is about to sell it. The marginal profit is anticipated more than US$5 trillion.

According to Korean Exchange, the total surplus ??? of highest 10 groups, which is including Samsung, SK, LG, Lotte and Hyundai Motors, was 156 trillion won in March, 2007, therefore the rate of reserved reached up to 741.47 %.


The crisis of the working class and the Presidential election


The strengthening of exploitation in the countries, which have little secure system such as South Korea, means the direct threatening the lives of the people. The proportion of irregular workers has sharply increased under IMF trusteeship. The ‘irregular worker’, a term coined under the IMF trusteeship, has become the most important word to explain the situation of South Korean society because the irregular employments are taking more than 60% among the whole employments. The number of people bankrupted reached 4 million in 2004. Crime rates have rapidly increased, with property crime and violent crime increasing by 10% and 20% annually. The so-called ‘don’t ask murder’, which means the murder unspecified people to take small amount of money, has been popular word in the newspapers. The number of prostitutes has been increased up to more than 1 million according to the scholars. The birth rate has dropped from 1.58 in 1998 to 1.02 in 2006. In 2003, South Korea had the fifth highest rate of suicide in the world. The labors who want to pay the struggle against the attack of bourgeoisie have had to risk their lives. There have been many suicide or killed workers who were died in the struggle.

The frustration of the South Korean working class has continuously risen, even though their consciousness has not gone as far as rejecting the capitalist system. A series of significant strugglesincluding the long-time struggle of KTX (Korean Train eXpress) female crews against discrimination, and the fight of workers of retailers New Core and Eland for regular status—prove that the Korean working class is feeling the life-threatening crisis.

Against this political and social backdrop, the Korean presidential election is coming closer.


Illusions and elections


The meaning of bourgeois election

Bourgeois democracy is valuable to the bourgeoisie chiefly because it promotes the illusion that voters decide social and economic policy, and must therefore accept responsibility for the consequences. While specific mechanisms vary from one country to another, capitalist elections are always organized to ensure that the interests of the bourgeoisie are not threatened. At the same time they provide an opportunity for different factions of the ruling class to sort out their differences (IBT, Class politics and French election).

In addition, bourgeois elections are an efficient system for digesting and neutralizing the anger and frustrations of working people within the framework of the capitalist system. Elections disguise the fact that the source of the workers’ pain in not the particular capitalist administrators of the day, but rather the capitalist system itself. They create the illusion that if the President or Prime Minister were changed, the working class’s conditions of life would be qualitatively improved. The June Struggle and Great Labor Struggle in Korea from July to September in 1987 and the French anti-CPE struggle in 2006 were seemed to be the eves of revolution if we just look at the number and the passion of mobilized people. But the people’s expectation for the coming presidential elections, combining with the lack of the genuine revolutionary party, took a role as a barrier not to go toward further struggle and limit the struggle in the economical or in the request to change the law.

Social democrats, who believe (at best) that capitalism can be gradually transformed into a fairer social system, are key for the capitalist class in spreading that illusion. Their favorite slogan is not ‘strengthen the consciousness and organization of working class!’ but is ‘punish the bourgeois at this election!’ They have strengthened illusions in bourgeois democracy and the parliamentary to socialism among workers.

However, elections can also pose questions among workers about who are the masters of this society, who should be the masters, and what should the shape of a future society be. Elections such as the upcoming Presidential election in South Korean can therefore present an arena in which socialists can fight for a higher level of consciousness among the working class.

The illusion on the presidential election

Lenin used the term ‘bourgeois workers’ party’ to describe a party that has a bourgeois reformist program and also mass support from workers who see it as representing their interests as a class. This bourgeois workers’ party, which has been well known to socialist democratic party, can win the presidential or grand election. In the countries which have the long socialist democratic tradition such as the countries in western Europe or Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there have been frequent scene that those socialist democratic parties become the ruling party. Furthermore, it is not so strange anymore that those parties grasp political power even in the colonial countries, due to Lula in Brazil or Chavez in Venezuela.

But taking state power is totally different to winning election. There is a big and deep gulf which cannot be reconciliated between working class and bourgeois. And the organs of state are the organs which fulfill the interest of bourgeois. Therefore, the experiences of social democratic parties in European and Lula has showing us that the expectation that we can pursue revolutionary policies if we win the election, while let the state organs such as police, state army, information agencies, prison and parliament exist, is an stupid illusion. (see <Venezuela: state and revolution> to see the analysis on  Venezuela which is a country that there has not been the conclusion yet in the class struggle.) 

We can go toward the dual power situation in which we can ultimately compete for state power with bourgeois, if we organize workers militant, factory committee and national people’s (workers’) committee around the party which scientifically leads the working class to the correct way. Without the understanding for the relationship of power of classed and the vision for strengthening the power of working class, saying that we will do anything if we win the election is a deception or the consequence of naive mind which do not properly understand bourgeois system.



The anti-labor policies of KDLP after grand election in 2004

It is apparent that the foundation of the KDLP was a significant fruit which achieved by the fierce struggle of Korean working class for several decades. But it is also clear that the KDLP is the very bourgeois workers’ party which will ultimately lead the Korean working class into defeat, while stimulating socialist democratic illusion.

In 2004, the KDLP could finally get 10 MPs in grand election after the repeated defeats. However, the KDLP has conspicuously exposed their socialist democratic tendency after that win. Let us see several examples.


Nationalist frenzy over Dokdo

In 2005, the dispute between Japan and South Korea over Dokdo—two tiny islands roughly 200 kilometers east of the South Korean coast—was raised again. This has been a favorite issue for right-wing nationalists in both Korea and Japan. This is the issue that makes the right, who were staying under the water, rise like swarm and quickly makes both Korean and Japanese go to the summit of nationalist sentiment. Even the organizations of the working class, which should take an internationalist position, have been blinded by this nationalism. For example, the youth members of the All Together group, which is part of the International Socialist and who make up the student committee in the KDLP, joined this demonstration parade, winding the Korean national flag around their bodies. Sowing the illusion that the bourgeois regime represents the common interests of both bosses and workers, they demanded of the Roh Moo-hyun governmentDo not abandon your responsibility to represent the voice of the whole nation! (2005/3/21, The Student Committee in KDLP)

Although a little less vigorous, the KDLP leadership were not very different from their junior members on the Dokdo issue. Kim Hye-kyong, representing the KDLP, visited Ullungdo, the nearest island to Dokdo on [date], to encourage the guards at Dokdo and to show that the KDLP does not want to be left outside this cross-class movement of blind nationalist frenzy. Kim said:

“The unsettlement of the past history between two countries is the basic reason for that there has been so frequent conflicts and failures for fraternal relationship. The core point to improve mutual relationship is that Japanese government apologies and acknowledges the past invasion, with the revision of the basic treaty between Korea and Japan (2005/3/21, KDLP).”

The KDLP leaders believe that if the past history between Korea and Japan is settled, the relationship of both can be improved even in capitalist order. But the conflict between Japan and Korea does not come from the fact that Korea was the oppressed and Japan was the ruler in colonial age. The conflict comes from the facts that the greedy of capitalist has no limitation and state is a administrator of it, and both bourgeois want to use the nationalism of both Korean and Japanese as a cover for their domestic class conflicts.

The belief of KDLP is very contrast, in the way to view the things, to the class recognition of Trotsky as following:

“Theoretically and politically, pacifism has just the same basis as the doctrine of social harmony between different class interests.

The opposition between capitalistic national states has just the same economic basis as the class struggle. If we are ready to assume the possibility of a gradual toning down of the class struggle, then we must also assume the gradual toning down and regulation of nationalistic conflicts.”—Trotsky, Pacifism as the servant of imperialism

As the so-called representatives of the working class were falling over themselves in blind nationalist sentiment, the popularity ratings for Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi increased sharply, despite the fact that both were pushing anti-worker policies such as widening irregular workers area. The approval ratings in November 2004 for Roh and Koizmi were respectively 21.8% and 42%, but after Dok-Do conflict these respectively became 52% in April 2005 and 58% in May 2005 (Hankyoreh. 4 April 2005 and Joong-ang, 31 May 2005)

Dokdo issue is a joyful card game of bosses of both countries who want to cover their anti-working class policies and broaden their military equipment industry by stimulating the nationalist frenzy. Thanks to the KDLP and All-together group (SK IS), this issue was confirmed as a kind of issue that can get support even from the left wing of people. Therefore this issued was remained a card which both government can effectively use it again whenever they think it is necessary.

We do not support both Korean and Japanese governments at all and do not ask them to solve this problem. They are not the trouble broker, but the cause of this trouble. Dokdo is a property of world working class including working class in both countries and Dokdo issue will be solved when working class in both countries overthrow bourgeois regimes who are wanting to pretend to be the representative of ultra class by using this issue.

Both Korean and Japanese working class has more intimate relationship in their interest than with their domestic bourgeois! Block the capitalist attack of strengthening exploitation and the nationalist alienation by solidarity of both working classes! Overthrow both domestic capitalist states!


Anti-prostitution law: the confusion of the KDLP

In September 2004, the anti-prostitution law which was designed to “illegalize the behavior of selling, buying and introducing sex, while protecting prostitutes who are being compulsorily sold sex by violence, drugs and deception as victims” was passed unanimously in Korean parliament.

Korean working class women are in the lowest layer in Korean society. The unemployment rate of women is more than 50% and 7-10th of the employed women are working in irregular job. In case of married women, 80% of employed women are employed as irregular workers. The payment of women workers is 62% of men’s. These economical and social situations for women in lower layer in Korean society are the main reason for the prevalence of sex industry.

Anti-prostitution law shifts the main reason from that to the sexual eagerness of man, covering the real reason, and believes (pretends to believe) that prostitution industry can be reduced or removed by reinforcement of policing. Furthermore, more serious thing on this law is that this law makes the bourgeois government which is the root of problem the moralistic judge.

Therefore, we working class should oppose this law. We should claim that broadening of well fare and abolition the discrimination are needed in order to attract the prostitutes into more productive works, instead the bourgeois law and enforcement of police. We have to struggle for these demands in the solidarity between male and female workers in relation with the reality of women workers.

Regularization of irregular workers!

Same payment for the same work!

Socialization of house works.

Free ‘education, medical, bringing (children), supporting (parent)’!

Abolition of sexual discrimination on employment and working!

Free abortion!

No all involvement of state in private lives.

But the KDLP has the same position to the Ministry of gender equality and family (this ministry is translated in Korean as ‘the ministry of women’) of present government. KDLP has stated that they strongly support this law whenever the opportunity is available. In September 2005, the 1 year anniversary of legalization of the anti-prostitution law, women’s committee of the KDLP announced their statement again. The title of that statement was ‘By 1 year of the enforcement of anti-prostitution law: claiming strong enforcement of the law and asking more active measures to support victimized women.’ In this statement, the KDLP is asking the government to enforce the law more strongly, to decriminalize the victimized prostitute and to concentrate more effort on, while praising the law on the reason that this law “has made people think that prostitution is a crime and violence for the weak and asked the government to devote and involve in making the support measures for prostitute women.”

The series of statements of the KDLP on Anti-prostitution law show us that they are the prisoners of bourgeois ideology which believe that proletariat women and bourgeois women has the same interest, the oppression on the women does not come from the system of society but from male. Therefore, they argue in the same language with their feminist friends in the parliament and government that we can clean dirty things in capitalist house if we concentrate the public power (bourgeois force) on those problems.

However, there is so big and deep gulf of interest between working class women and bourgeois women while the interest of male and female workers are related firmly. The recent struggles in Korean Train (KTX), New-Core E-land and Kia Motors in which there are many number of female workers have been showing this clear truth to us. In such struggles, female workers has struggled with their male colleagues, but the bourgeois feminists in the parliament and government who are pretending to be the protector of the interest of whole women never listened to the scream of the women workers.

In conclusion, the KDLP has showed again in this issue similar to Dokdo issue that they have a serious tendency that they frequently confuse who are the enemy and the comrade.


“Income alliance strategy (strategy of income alliance?)”: the alliance of slaves

In December 2006, the ‘Theory and Practice’ which is the theoretical magazine of the KDLP published an article which was written by Jang Seok-joon who is a research worker in Progressive Politics Institute (the auxiliary organ of KDLP) and a main theoretician of Activists Alliance Advancing Toward Equal Society( the second majority group in KDLP after National Liberation group). The title of this article is “One way to go to the class and social alliance: Income alliance strategy (IAS).” This article introduces the main points of IAS that “the organized workers determine in advance the responsibility for extra charge of tax, and by this determination, force capital and the rich to accept the tax increase and put that source of revenue into the extension of welfare and the creation of jobs.” This suggestion to organized workers is based on the recognition that “there has been increase in the gap in standards of living in working class and because of this gap we cannot say at all that there is one class, rather we can just say that there exist the multiple working groups.”

Working class can emerge as the very class who stop to be being the wage slave and will creates the socialist country, just when they overcome all differences between nations, ethnic groups, genders, regions, incomes and cultures. That is why bourgeois desperately want working class to look the relative differences as the absolute differences and to split and oppose the other part of working class.

The South Korean mass media have raised the theory of ‘the working nobles’ always when there is a strike in the organized and big working place such as LG Caltex, Asiana Airline and Subway in order to alienate the workers in strike from the workers are not in strike. Then, the thought in that article that ‘because of the gap in the living standard, we cannot say at all that there is one class’ is the same logic of the mass media which have been raised. If we think along that logic we cannot get the consciousness of solidarity not only with the other Korean workers, but also with the North Korean workers who are paid just 1-20th of the average payment of South Korean workers and also with the Japanese workers who are supposed to be paid more than that. 

He say in that article that if the organized workers can decide the determination like this “we workers will pay tax more to raise a fund for redistribution of wealth, then you capital and the rich do your part.”, “we can take the aggressive position after a really long time in the ideological battle.” It is so uncomfortable to listen to his bullshit that “we can take the aggressive position after a really long time in the ideological battle.”, even though he is the only one who is the loser in the ideological battle. He seems that he does not know the fact that there is no much room even for organized workers to compromise. For last 10 years, the capital has not stopped in a minute to force the workers to the brink of lives in order to make relentlessly more profit. He is whispering in the ears of the workers, who have little room to the brink, like this ‘you have room to compromise more. If you take back only one step more, the capital will start to compromise to you.’

He concluded his article in this comment that “It is the very proper duty of progressive party to suggest something as a possible solution at now and here which has been thought as a dream for long time.”, whispering ‘the very reformist idea that the problems can be solved in the capitalist system’ to the working class who are frustrated in the capitalist system and really need revolution. 

In November 2006, a month before publishing this article, Kwon Young-ghil pronounced that the KDLP will actively push the very ‘the alliance of slaves’ at the parliament speech as the representative of the KDLP MPs.

Rejecting the registration of Lee Gap-yong as a presidential candidate of internal election

Practice Alliance for Workers’ Liberation(PAWL) is an internal faction in the KDLP which professes “conversion of the KDLP into socialist party”. This faction decided to run a candidate, Lee Gap-yong who was a former president of KCTU and a former president of East Ul-san Gu (a district). But the chair of the central election management committee of the KDLP, Baek Hyun-jong,  stated at an interview that he will reject to register a candidate who does not have eligibility for election in 16 July when Lee stated to be a candidate. And Baek actually denied registering Lee in 21 July.

The story that Lee lost the eligibility for election is this. He was a president of East Ul-san Gu in Nov 2004 when the National Office Workers Trade Union (NOWTU) took strike. At that time, the government ordered every chair of autonomous district to punish heavily all strikers. But the KDLP decided not to obey this order, and Lee did not punish them in accordance with that decision. After the strike, Lee was accused by the government, and he was found guilty in the court and lost the eligibility for election in 12 July 2007.

PAWL and Lee’s supporters immediately resisted against the decision of rejecting to registering, and asked to summon the Central Committee but this ask was denied by the Supreme Council.

The bourgeois law is for maintenance and strengthening bourgeois system, saying “all are equal in front of law.” Therefore, bourgeois law is generous for Bourgeois but so severe for people who challenge their interest. So working class has to see with the eyes of people, and expose the injustice and fight against bourgeois law which crosses the interest of people.

Lee has lost the eligibility for election in such struggle. Furthermore, he followed the KDLP’s decision which defends the strikers. By registering him as a candidate, the KDLP should have demonstrated the “anachronistic and violating the right of workers’ independence (KDLP 2007-11-12)” judicial decision and defended him who followed the KDLP and fought against the injustice order of government. It was so stupid that the KDLP rejected him as soon as he lost the eligibility for election, as if the leadership of the KDLP was waiting for it. This is not the problem whether he has socialist character or not, but is the problem of faithfulness.

The KDLP educated workers plainly with this incident that workers should be loyal to bourgeois law and their individual interest rather than loyal to class.


The key points in this election: North Korea and the political independence of the working class

In the 2002 Presidential election we critically supported the KDLP candidate of KDLP as a way of laying bare the contradiction in the KDLP between its procapitalist program and its working-class base. We pointed out its reformist essence and predicted that it would betray workers in the future.

But in this year’s election, … the case is quite different in this election, it is because two issues, one is the military defense of North Korea and the other is popular front, which has been raised since.


1.     North Korea

Some leftists in South Korea believe that the issue of North Korea, while theoretically important, is of little practical significance. They viewed the issue of how to characterize the Soviet Union in the same way.

But we have different idea because of following several reasons.

It is apparent that revolution is international. The victory and defense of the revolution of a country is affected by the international relationship of power. So, the South Korean revolution is not only affected by the domestic relationship of power, but also by international one. More concretely, the political situation of the USA, which is the main axis of the capitalist order, and the neighbor countries of South Korea such as China, Japan, Russia and North Korea will directly affect the South Korean revolution. And the eastern Asian revolution could burst out from the turmoil in China or North Korea like Tiananmen event. And this is more likely to happen due to the more unstable political situations in China and North Korea. And the major political change in North Korea will affect South Korea as both Koreas share national border and they are the same nationality. Therefore, the defining the characters of China and North Korea, and developing our position on those are not only an acute issue but also a life and death matter to South Korean workers.

Meanwhile, many South Korean left groups have state capitalist position on China and North Korea. This position is quite convenient. Tony Cliff adopted this theory in order to decorate his submission. And this theory has satisfied the idealism of the petty bourgeois doctrinarians who do not want to stain their hands. For them, the imagination has priority to the reality. They do not define it through the concrete analysis, but just adopt a false theory. They conceive their disappointment and embarrassment, which arise when they found that the Soviet in Stalinist regime, China and North Korea are not correspondent to their abstraction about socialism, by the state capitalist theory. They believe that their so fragile ideal of socialism was not impaired, by thinking that the ‘practical socialist countries’, which look shabby, are state capitalist countries.

It seems that the state capitalists conveniently think that ‘Those countries deserve to be collapsed. After collapse, we will rebuild them properly.’ However, we should remember that how many workers have died to defend those ‘shabby gains’ in the class struggle. Tens of millions of workers had to die in Soviet in civil war and the Second World War. It was 5 million who died in the civil war and the Korean War in the class struggle.

In fact, it is not easy to understand society itself because society is the highest and most complicated movement. Beside this, history does not proceed in abstract way. The abstraction is realized in reality but the concrete realization is not identity to the abstraction, and sometimes is seemed that it is contrast to the abstraction itself. The workers revolution in 20th was the very realization of the historical order. Even though Marx and Lenin left us theoretical means to understand social events, however, the victory, isolation and degeneration into Stalinism were the historical events which human have not ever experienced. Even the Left Opposition and Trotsky who were in the core of the events needed about 10 years to define those events.

It is easier to us than them. The theoretical heritages which left to us make us enable to explain the most main historical events in 20th. The events in North Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam were the events which were not in the former category, but the leftists could understand by the analogy of Trotskyist theory such as Revolution Betrayed.

China and North Korean issue is an urgent and life and death issue to South Korean revolution. To the leadership of IS, they perhaps have to insist the state capitalism at least because they have to hide their constant historical submissions committed in the name of that theory. But to other leftist, easily defining and dismissing China and North Korea as state capitalist countries could be crime beyond theoretical laziness. We have watched the vain blood which resulted from the false leaderships of working class in 20th century.



The process from national liberation to split

When the Japanese imperialist forces occupying the Korean peninsula were defeated by Soviet and US forces in 1945, the peninsula fell into a political vacuum. Into this empty political space surged the political aspirations of Korean workers and peasants, oppressed by Japanese imperialism for 35 years.

The majority of Koreans hoped to go the socialist way, and a socialist victory seemed quite possible. The Japanese capitalists, who had controlled about 90% of major industries, were kicked out of Korea; meanwhile the Korean ruling class had lost legitimacy due to their cooperative behavior for Japanese imperialist in colonial age and they were not having the power organ of the state. Meanwhile, the workers and peasants were supporting for socialist state by 77% and free distribution of land by 78%, in consequence of those eagerness, considerable number of them were supporting the leftist parties. So the way to go socialist country in Korean peninsula was seemed to be rather smooth way (Kang Jeong-gu, 2002, The Right to Live and Reunification of Nation).

But there was an anti-Soviet shift in US foreign policy when after the defeats of Germany and Japan the contradiction between imperialism and the deformed workers’ states became more important than inter-imperialist rivalry. US General MacArthur, commander of the US occupation of Japan after 1945, announced the ‘General Order No 1’, which demanded that the Soviet army not move below the 38th parallel, as a first step of US imperialist greed on the Korean peninsula, in order to take one more inch of their right of control. The Stalinist leadership of the Soviet Union accepted this demand, in line with its policy of diplomatic compromise with the imperialists and their anti-Marxist notion of ‘socialism in one country’. USA who took over South Korea started their imperialist policies on the one hand recollecting the native capitalists and landowners as subordinate partners and on the other hand relentlessly oppressing the demand of Korean workers and peasants who wanted socialism and one country. The regime of USA imperialist was essentially not different to that of Japanese, but only the facts that Korean peninsula was split and the boss was changed were the differences.

This never expected political situation made Korean people, who had believed that they can live in independent and good country after national liberation from Japan, stirred into resistance. The resistance against the USA imperialist policies, which want to make South Korea as a colonial and split country and outpost base of USA against Soviet, with the leadership of South Korean Labor Party and Preparatory Committee of Founding of a Country was gushed the supporting struggle on the Moscow talks in December 1945, Daegu(a city in South Korea) October struggle in 1946, and was erupted a military struggle in Yeosu-Suncheon and Jejudo in 1948 when the moving to build a separated government in South Korea was revealed clear.

USA imperialist reacted harshly on these resistances of Korean people with political mafias, police and army which were led by former subordinate partners of Japanese imperialism. The conflict between Korean people and the alliance of Korean native ruling class, who could not rule the South Korean by themselves alone, and USA became the civil war in South Korea, and developed a Korean war in whole peninsula (see ‘Korea: the forgotten war’). This war ended with the population loss more than 3 million and scorched land by air bombing by USA in 1953, but the eagerness of Korean working class and peasants who really wanted the one and socialist country was not achieved. South Korean people, who experienced how cruel the oppression of the ruling class and imperialist on their eagerness, became not to express easily their political desire after this harsh process. This might be one of the biggest fruits of the process to the South Korean ruling class and USA imperialism.


The social revolution in North Korea

In this period, North Korea pursued anti-feudalist and imperialist revolution with the leadership of North Korean Labor Party. Firstly, major means of production which had been the properties of Japanese capitalist were nationalized by the Law of State Ownership in 1946. This process proceeded rather smoothly without particular anti-revolutionary resistances in where the working class and peasants had overwhelming hegemony because the most capitalist had been Japanese and the native capitalists had gone to South Korea. Secondly, the land redistribution was another big task as much as nationalization of means of production because there were about 70% of peasants in whole population. The North Korean People’s commissar announced the Law of Land Redistribution and abolished the tenant farming system and built the independent farming system free from landowner. This was a huge step forward that freed millions of peasants from semi-feudal conditions. Besides these, North Korean government introduced the other reformations such as 8 hours work in a day, equal pay for same work, equal right of male and female. After those reformations and the transformation the small production system in farming and commercial industry to cooperative production system, the socialist production system was accomplished up to 1958. Through this process, the North Korean government could take the wide support from people because of these policies, even though they are Stalinists.

The capability of North Korean economy had been successfully developed up to late 1960s to the extent that it was quite ahead of that of South Korean. The fact that this could be accomplished after the devastation of the country by the imperialist bombing in the war was largely due to substantial material support from the Chinese and Soviet Stalinist regimes. But the sharp increase of defense expenditure (6.5 % of total social expenditure in 1955→32.4% in 1968, after generally 15%) due to the re-upsurge of the military tension with USA tackled the North Korean economy and the stagnation of the economy started (ibid). The collapse of workers states was naturally a serious disaster for North Korea as well. The collapse of old workers state countries struck North Korean economy strongly and, in addition to this, the natural disasters in 1990s made the North Korean economy cannot stand up by itself, combining the continuing economical sanction of USA.

There is a tendency which looks the present serious declination of North Korean economy as an example for the ultimate limitation of socialism. We can say the situation of present North Korea as an example of the limitation of Stalinist socialism in one country without spreading of revolution, run by a cultist and ultra- bureaucratic regime without workers’ democracy and the imperialist sanction, but we can not say that the idea of socialism is over.

The distorted shapes of present workers states show us the present level of socialist movement and prove the old expectation of Lenin and Trotsky that if the revolution cannot be spread to the other countries including advanced countries as a permanent revolution, it will be perished. Instead, the figures of North Korea up to 1970s show that the revolution in the distribution system itself can make the much better standard of life than that of previous capitalist society. Medical care, education and housing, which are the main concerns for South Korea working class, are free for North Korean. The benefit from social welfare for South Korean is under 2% in total family income, while it is 1-2nd for North Korea. South Korean have to pour whole income for more than 20 years to buy their own house, while the expenditure of housing of North Korean is under 1 % of total family expenditure (ibid ).


The character and limitation of North Korean regime

The North Korean regime which was represented by Kim Il-seong was not simply a puppet government which suddenly emerged by support of Stalin according to South Korean public education. It is true that Kim Il Sung served as an officer in the Soviet army for the last years of the war and was selected for leadership by Moscow, but he and his comrades were the militants who had genuine popularity because they had struggled against Japanese imperialism before 1945 and grasped the state power through the support from North Korean who supported the socialist reformations after national liberation.

But, North Korea is a deformed workers state, as like the other states such as China, Cuba and Vietnam. The deformed workers’ states established the workers government through the national liberations without workers revolution, were influenced strongly by Stalinism from the start, military part has been considered the prior part in the states to defense it from imperialist attack and thanks to the low production force the inequality of distribution has been remained. Therefore, the deformed workers’ states have economically socialist character while have politically bureaucratic character.

Let us analyze the major characters of North Korea.

Firstly, the popular front policy which North Korea leadership has preceded from the start was the one of the distinctive characters of Stalinism (and this has been the origin of the popular front tradition in South Korean politics). According to the order from Moscow, Korean Communist Party amalgamated with New Democratic Party (bourgeois nationalist party) both in South and North and made a Korean Labor Party in August 1946. The Korean Labor Party did not stand for Marx-Leninism in order not to get on bourgeois partner’s nerves, instead, that party made the program rather smooth.

The criminal popular front policy, which introduced to the countries in revolutionary situations by Stalinists who wanted to curry favor with imperialists, meant that the working class abandoned its class independence and collaborated with bourgeois political elements. This has generally brought the disastrous consequences wherever it was introduced such as China in 1920s, Spain in 1930s, Indonesia in 1960s and Chile in 1970S. The only reason that the popular front policy did not brought disaster in North Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam is the fact that there were not strong bourgeois, who could take on the revolutionists in those countries after national liberation because most of them escaped to the other places such as South Korea, Taipei, and North America after the defeat of their imperialist bosses.

Secondly, there is not workers democracy, which props up the planned economy and state and is the only power to precede the revolution further in North Korea. From the beginning, the broad engagement of working class has been limited in North Korea because North Korea was established not by workers revolution but mostly by peasant guerilla military struggle as like China, Cuba and Vietnam. Therefore, the people’s committee has not been really active political organ as like that in Soviet after the Thermidor. 

And there is not internal democracy in North Korea Labor party. The main principle of Leninist Party is democratic centralism which can be summed with ‘freedom of discussion, unity of action (Lenin).’ Therefore the opinion groups in a party are the natural and should not be oppressed unless it seriously violates the principles. However, there was a series of political purge in NKLP from 1953 to 1957. As a consequence of that sequence of purge, the one ideology formula was accomplished, and finally the worship for Kim Il-seong was appeared.

The destruction of internal democracy makes the party rotten and loses the ability to fight with the rotten anti-revolutionary ideas, and leads the party to collapse. The vitality of idea comes from continuous defining and making abundant through the verification in practices. That vitality of idea is expressed as a dialectical development which is including the split, unification and sublation of the various contradictory opinions. But the idea which does not have that vitality will be gradually paralyzed and ultimately rotten. In this point of view, there has been enough time to be rotten in North Korea. The behavior to build the status of leadership with solid material can be the certain proof for the fact that the idea was already solidly paralyzed. 

Furthermore, North Korea is actually one party dictatorship country. Proletariat dictatorship should be distinguished to one party dictatorship. Of course there is no room for bourgeois party in North Korea in which all industries were socialized. Even though there is just one class, there could be multiple parties along with the different level of class consciousness and different political lines, however. The competition of various parties in soviet can be the best condition to find correct way through the mutual criticism and check.

Thirdly, North Korea has been the military and bureaucratic state. The military pressure and economic sanction from imperialism (mostly the role of USA) on North Korea, since the establishment of anti-capitalist state, has been the one of the major reasons that North Korea has been the military and bureaucratic state. Trotsky’s comment in Revolution betrayed could be the explanation for this fact.

“We may lay down approximately this sociological theorem: The strength of the compulsion exercised by the masses in a workers’ state is directly proportional to the strength of the exploitive tendencies, or the danger of a restoration of capitalism, and inversely proportional to the strength of the social solidarity and the general loyalty to the new regime. Thus the bureaucracy – that is, the “privileged officials and commanders of the standing army” – represents a special kind of compulsion which the masses cannot or do not wish to exercise, and which, one way or another, is directed against the masses themselves.”—in Revolution Betrayed, chapter 5: The Soviet Thermidor

Fourthly, North Korea is the country which has very low productive ability. Socialism is on the most developed productive ability. The society which does not have such ability cannot carry out socialist distribution, therefore will meet the anti-revolution crisis. This is why the Russian working class desperately waited the European revolution after 1917. The low level of productive ability has been one of the reasons to make North Korea has bureaucratized. Let us listen to Trotsky once more related with this:

If the state does not die away, but grows more and more despotic, if the plenipotentiaries of the working class become bureaucratized, and the bureaucracy rises above the new society, this is not for some secondary reasons like the psychological relics of the past, etc., but is a result of the iron necessity to give birth to and support a privileged minority so long as it is impossible to guarantee genuine equality.

The tendencies of bureaucratism, which strangles the workers’ movement in capitalist countries, would everywhere show themselves even after a proletarian revolution. But it is perfectly obvious that the poorer the society which issues from a revolution, the sterner and more naked would be the expression of this “law”, the more crude would be the forms assumed by bureaucratism, and the more dangerous would it become for socialist development.—ibid, Chapter 3: Socialism and State

In conclusion, there can be a big economic progress due to the collectivization of productive means in the limited term in the deformed workers states as like the degenerated workers state. But soon after the bureaucratic character of it becomes the wall to further progress. The present situation of North Korea does. Meanwhile, the Stalinist and bureaucratic North Korean regime which is seeking only the extension of its political life, does not have the possibility to pursue the socialist revolution further and even the ability to defense North Korea itself properly because of its parasitic character, class collaborationism and Stalinist wrong idea that socialist country can coexists with imperialism. So we support the political revolution which overthrows the North Korean regime, while we defense it militarily against the imperialist capitalist restoration maneuver. 


Reunification of Korea and the capitalist restoration policy

The reunification of two Koreas must be not only for the reunification of a nation, but also for the better life for both Korean people and for the international victory of socialism because the life of Korean people is apparently conditioned by the world political situation.

Just as like the relationship between proletariat and bourgeois, the relationship between socialism and capitalism a kind of relationship that can reach compromise temporarily and superficially, but cannot permanently and essentially. Therefore, the belief that there is another possible country between socialism and capitalism or two Koreas can be reunified as a federal country is just illusion. That’s the reason why both Koreas have pursued the reunification policy which absorbs the other Korea into its social system.

There is more possibility that capitalist power win in Korean peninsula at the moment. If it is, the capitalist disasters will be nationalized as we saw in Russia after its collapse (see ‘Russia: capitalist dystopia’). North Korean will be working slaves in a lowest layer similar to the present migrant workers in South Korea who come from Asia or China. At the same time, South Korean working class will be forced to work in more harsh conditions on the excuse of North Korean cheaper extra labor.

Therefore we cannot welcome all kind of reunification as a progress like National Liberation group, who has fallen in Stalinist ideas for long time and become politically blind to North Korean regime, is doing. The reunification of two Korea is a subordinate task to the victory of working class in both Korea and international.


The counter revolution maneuver to North Korea

It is the common purpose of the bourgeoisie of South Korea and US to overthrow the deformed workers state of North Korea, which has collectivized economy, and to restore capitalist order. It means that all industrial facilities are privatized; all welfare systems such as education, health care and housing and so on are abolished; whole North Korean people become wage slave.

If the counter revolution succeeds in North Korea, the capitalized North Korea will become the military and economic base of the US and the world to China which is a juicy prey for them and the morale of South Korean and USA capitalists will raise, and the oppression for workers and workers organizations will be strengthened.

Les’s analyze the political characters of US and South Korean bourgeoisie and South and North Korean working class who are involved in this would-be counter revolution in North Korea.

Firstly, USA is a country which consumes the military budget which is almost tantamount to the whole amount of the other 20 highest countries in military budgets. So the US military industrial complex has unprecedentedly become corpulence. The US military industrial complex has to make artificial devils in order to persuade the USA people the heavy military budget. And they need war fields where take experiments of their war products and clear the goods in stock. Therefore, the USA has not complied with a request of North Korean governments who wants the economical interchange, making every excuse. This is the reason why the USA has maintained the military tension against North Korea, prescribing North Korea as ‘the axis of devils, the rogue states and the terror supporting countries.’

However, the need of devils and war fields to prop up the military industrial complex is a subordinate purpose to the capitalist restoration of the whole world. So USA also supports the ‘Sunshine policy’, that means the advance of South Korean capitals to North Korea.

Secondly, the South Korean’s circumstance is little bit different to that of the USA. The influence of the military industry of South Korea is not so strong because much of the military industries are subordinated to the USA. The rising of the military tension affects negatively on the rate of profit and war will be a disaster to South Korean capitals as well. Therefore, South Korean bourgeoisie prefers the moderate capitalization of North Korea rather than the military tension. This attitude has been expressed as ‘Sunshine policy’ from Kim Dae-joong regime to Noh Moo-hyun.

North Korea, which has abundant cheap work forces speaking in same language, abundant undeveloped and relatively unpolluted lands and the transportation land roads which reach to the China and Russia, is a huge opportunity for South Korean bourgeoisie.

Meanwhile, the reactions of North Korean bureaucrats are the dual one. They strongly stand against the threatening of the USA, saying ‘Songun politic (the politic which sees the army as the main pillar of the state)’ or ‘Kangseong Daegook (the militarily strong country)’, while they proceed the anti-working class policies such as the popular front (Tong-il front), the illusion they can peacefully co-exist with capitalist countries and the market economy drive. The nuclear experiment in 2006 represents the former, while the critical support to liberal bourgeois party against Grand National Party, the federal reunification policy and the admission of South-North Summit Talk which means the advance of South and USA capitals in North Korea represent the latter.

These dual characters come from the conditions of the North Korean bureaucrats, that is that they are being parasitic on the collectivized economy as Trotsky described like following.

The bureaucracy has not yet created social supports for its dominion in the form of special types of property. It is compelled to defend state property as the source of its power and its income. In this aspect of its activity it still remains a weapon of proletarian dictatorship. ……It continues to preserve state property only to the extent that it fears the proletariat.—Trotsky. Revolution Betrayed. Chapter 9 Social Relations in the Soviet Union

The NL group, which has many activists in the South Korean social movement organizations including KDLP, believes that Kim Jeong-il regime is the defender of North Korean workers state and even the leadership of South Korean people. But the reality is totally different.

Stalinism is a viewpoint of the bureaucrats who fall in the political panic resulted from the military pressure of the imperialists. They pursue the immediate and short term interests of them rather than the long term and international interests of working classes, because they are suffocated by the threatens of the imminent imperialists attack. This is the reason why the Comintern led the Chinese and Spain revolution in 1925-27 and 1930s to defeat, in 1972, when the U.S. was raining bombs down on Vietnam, Mao sealed his anti-Soviet alliance with U.S. imperialism, which was a logical outcome of the bureaucracy’s working for “peaceful coexistence” with Washington. Mao’s policy was extended under the regime of Deng Xiaoping, who in 1979 invaded Vietnam, acting as a cat’s paw for U.S. imperialism (quoted and retrieved from Workers Vanguard. Defend, Extend Gains of Chinese Revolution), North Korean bureaucracy insists the critical support tactic, standing on the class collaborate policy, on the South Korean elections, instead supporting the KDLP.

If some elements of the North Korean bureaucracy think that they can survive even in the process of market economy, that is capitalization, they will go to that way.

Therefore, it is the South and North Korean working class who will relentlessly defend the past gains and fight the future fruit in Korean peninsula, allying with international working class. These are the duties of the South and North Korean workers and the revolutionary party which must be built to defend the collectivized economy in North Korea against counter revolution policy, to overthrow the North Korean bureaucracy through political revolution, to achieve the social revolution in South Korea and to contribute the international revolution.


The KDLP on North Korea

The KDLP stated ‘dissatisfactory feeling’ on the North Korea’s nuclear experiment in 2006.

 “The nuclear experiment of North Korea strongly injured the base of the people who have asked the denuclearization in Korean peninsula, furthermore the reduction of nuclear weapon of states with nuclear weapons. We KDLP confirm again that the denuclearization in Korean peninsula is a our firm principle which we cannot compromise in any case and affirm that we will strive for the denuclearization of North Korea and in Korean peninsula and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapon.”—KDLP.  24 October 2006. “Wish the peace in Korea”.

Meanwhile, many of Korean leftist organizations accept uncritically the state capitalist theory of Tony Cliff. Because of this, they did not support the North Korean’s nuclear experiment. Many so-called leftist organizations, including the pretending to be Trotskyist organizations, such as SK IS (All-together), Alliance for Workers’ Liberation and Workers in the Working field (the Struggle Committee to Build Revolutionary Party) announced their statement that criticize the nuclear armament of North Korea in 2006 when North Korea government announced that they experimented successfully the nuclear weapon. And the Practice Alliance for Workers’ Liberation in the KDLP which fell in pacifism joined this formation. Only two groups which were the Workers Political Committee and the Marxist Study Group (a student study group) announced the defensive position on the nuclear weapon of North Korea.

Of course, peace is a precious goal to should get for us, Marxists. However, we do not have the illusion that peace can be achieved in the capitalist order or imperialists can be tamed. And we do not think that all weapons are devil. We do not regard the weapons of peoples in colonial countries who are fighting against the invasion of imperialists and the weapons against the capitalist restoration in the same light with the weapons of the invaders and the counter revolution. (see ‘Touch off North Korea!’ 북한을 방어하자!)

The KDLP announced their reunification policy in the name of ‘Federal Republic of Korea’ in 28 Sep; the participation of people and national harmony, the switchover of DMZ (demilitarized zone) to peace zone, the equalization of the relationship between Korea and USA, the foundation of the united guard and the reduction of armament and the building Paju (a city in South Korea) industrial park. And the KDLP stated their active supporting position on South-North Summit Talk in 4 Oct as following.

“The KDLP, as an only political power for peace, will strive to cooperate for realization of this agreement between two summits and will plan to build the way for peaceful stability of two Koreas and the prosperity of reunification.”—KDLP’s 17th presidential candidate Kwon Young-ghil

The reunification plan of ‘Federal Republic of Korea’ is not so different to ‘Sunshine policy’ except for the demand for withdrawal of US forces Korea. “The peaceful stability of two Koreas and the prosperity of reunification”, which KDLP “will strive to cooperate for”, just means the absorptive reunification policy, which Noh regime, as a representative of South Korean bourgeoisie, is pursuing.

The KDLP has showed that they are not so different to the idea of bourgeois through these series of political activity.



2.     Popular Front


Disastrous policy

“The question of questions at present is the People’s Front. The left centrists seek to present this question as a tactical or even as a technical maneuver, so as to be able to peddle their wares in the shadow of the People’s Front. In reality, the People’s Front is the main question of proletarian class strategy for this epoch. It also offers the best criterion for the difference between Bolshevism and Menshevism. For it is often forgotten that the greatest historical example of the People’s Front is the February 1917 revolution. From February to October, the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, who represent a very good parallel to the ‘Communists’ and Social Democrats, were in the closest alliance and in a permanent coalition with the bourgeois party of the Cadets, together with whom they formed a series of coalition governments. Under the sign of this People’s Front stood the whole mass of the people, including the workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ councils. To be sure, the Bolsheviks participated in the councils. But they did not make the slightest concession to the People’s Front. Their demand was to break this People’s Front, to destroy the alliance with the Cadets, and to create a genuine workers’ and peasants’ government.

“All the People’s Fronts in Europe are only a pale copy and often a caricature of the Russian People’s Front of 1917, which could after all lay claim to a much greater justification for its existence, for it was still a question of the struggle against czarism and the remnants of feudalism.”—Leon Trotsky, “The Dutch Section and the International” (15-16 July 1936), in Writings of Leon Trotsky (1935-36), [emphasis in original]

If we agree that capitalist society in which we live is a class ruling society and the parties which aim to get power are based on the class split, the working class party should exclude the influence from bourgeois and strongly hold political independence.

Popular front which damages the principle severing politically and organizationally from capitalist class is a anti-class policy which leads proletariat to defeat.

In ordinary days, the upper layer of working class who are conciliated by bourgeois cover their pro-capitalist policies and take shield from popular front which is a programmatic and long term alliance with bourgeois elements. So this delay the time that working class recognize the essence of reformist leadership and tackle the emergence and development of revolutionary party.

In revolutionary epoch, the political disaster of popular front is maximized. In revolutionary crisis, bourgeois offer working class leadership to join the government. And they will avoid disastrous consequence such as the abolition of private ownership and state organization in the bunker of popular front. Then, they will patiently wait the time when working mass, who is disappointed because of the dragging revolution, turn their back on the revolution. So when the time, which bourgeois can make a counterattack, is upon the bourgeois, the popular front will be a strong leverage to annihilate the working class and the leadership. The very process of this was almost done in 1917 because of the class collaborationism of some part of Bolshevik, Menshevik and the Social Revolutionary party. But this process became real situation in China in 1920s, Spain in 1930s and Chile in 1970s because there was not Bolshevik.

The results of this were severe. The bourgeois, who had been in panic of demolition, made a cruel revenge on working class in the exemplary countries where the disaster of popular front became real. They did not show any mercy in contrary to the reformist and centrist part of working class who were falling in the illusion on bourgeois. They mercilessly slaughtered the advanced part and leadership of working class. Chinese Communist Party had to be exiled to far away from the cities and working class, even though Chinese bureaucrats beautify this as ‘the Long March’. And the fully emerged revolutions were miscarried in Spain and Chile. The revolution had to stay still for more than a generation and wait the new bud from wilderness.


United front and popular front

Of course working-class revolutionaries can struggle alongside reformist or centrist organization in temporary alliances for limited goals – for example, to resist specific government attacks against workers, or to defend a leftist militant who has been jailed by the state. This is the working-class united front, where the different political organizations join together in united action but under different banners. By entering a united front, the revolutionary organizations in no way gives support to the reformist or centrist programs of its coalition partners. On the contrary, the united struggle provides an opportunity for revolutionaries to show the limitations of those programs and tackle their influence on the working class, and to bring more workers into the revolutionary camp.

Giving critical support to a mass reformist party in a bourgeois election is an extension of the united front tactic. By calling on workers to vote the reformists into power, the revolutionary organization stands alongside those workers who back the reformists. This creates, in effect, a united front around the need for the working class to have its own political party. And like other united front around limited goals – such as defense of a jailed leftist – it provides a chance to expose the reformists’ bankrupt politics, to show that once in power they will inevitably attack the interests of their working-class base.

The united front tactic can play an important role in raising the level of struggle against the capitalist class. However, the tactic of class-collaboration often favored by reformists – the “popular front” – is something very different. The popular front – or according to the North Korean Stalinists, the “Tong-il front” – involves joining together with bourgeois parties in long-term political alliances for governmental power. These sow the seeds of disaster for the working class, by disarming the working class against the capitalist right. In China in the 1920s against the Kuomintang, in Spain in the 1930s against Franco’s fascists, in Indonesia in the 1960s against Suharto, in Chile in the early 1970s against Pinochet, workers suffered massive and decisive defeats, with tens or hundreds of thousands or working-class militants losing their lives.

The popular front acts as a roadblock to class struggle against the capitalists. When a reformist workers party such as the KDLP enters into a popular front like the Korean Progressive Alliance, the coalition with its bourgeois partners gives the reformists an excuse for failing to defend the interests of workers. If we are too radical, the reformists can say, we will offend our bourgeois coalition partners, and our coalition against the greater enemy – be it the far-right, the big landowners or the foreign imperialists, or a combination of them – will fall apart.

But time and time again, the working class has found that the popular front weakens it, not strengthens it, against the “greater enemy”, as the workers who followed Allende in Chile, for example, found out in the 1970s. Because of this, revolutionaries never call for critical support to a reformist party in a bourgeois election if the reformists are refusing to stand alone against all the bourgeois parties, if they are instead joining in a coalition with some liberal-bourgeois parties for governmental power. An essential precondition for giving critical support to reformists is that they stand in some way for the idea of working-class independence against the capitalists.

This does not mean that revolutionaries and the working class should not sometimes join in temporary, limited blocs with bourgeois forces against a greater danger. The Bolsheviks’ military defense of Kerensky’s popular-front government in Russia in 1917 against the reactionary General Kornilov is a good example of this. By preventing Kornilov from taking power, the Bolsheviks ensured that the working class preserved its strength. The defense of Kerensky was in fact a springboard for the working class taking power from Kerensky just a few weeks later. The Bolsheviks had exposed Kerensky’s unwillingness to further the interests of the Russian workers and peasants. Correctly, they had earlier called on Kerensky to expel the openly capitalist ministers – the Cadets – from his government, promising to back Kerensky’s government if he did so. If Kerensky and the other reformist leaders had done this, had they resolved the dual-power situation and taken power in the name of the workers, soldiers and peasants councils (soviets), this would have been an example of a very special kind of united front, where the united-front tactic is raised to the highest level. But of course Kerensky and the reformists were unwilling to break with their bourgeois partners, who they feared less than the radicalism of their own working-class supporters. This the Bolsheviks adeptly exposed.

The fact that revolutionaries always fight for working-class independence does not of course mean that revolutionaries are indifferent to the oppression of social groups outside the working class. The party must, for example, vigorously oppose discrimination against all women, not just women workers. The revolutionary working-class party must, as Lenin said, be “the tribune of the people”, defending all the oppressed under capitalism – farmers and peasants, the poor, women, students, gays and lesbians, and religious minorities. Revolutionaries seek to bring all these groups behind the leadership of the labor movement.

Meanwhile, working class can struggle with bourgeois on the bourgeois issue such as no National Security Law. That is another united front. However, it should be under the ‘in same front but under the different flags’ principle and be partial and temporary united action. But if it is a united struggle for government power or strategical and long term alliance, it is class collaborationism (popular front, according to North Korean Stalinist ‘Tong-il front’) and will be the seed for disaster.  


The Progressive alliance: two kinds of 2007 version of popular front

KDLP decided to join Korean Progressive Alliance(KPA) which is consisted of more than 30 organizations including KCTU, the National Farmers Alliance, the National Poor Men Alliance, Federation of Korean University Student Councils, religion organizations and NGOs in 19 August.

The other organizations excluding KCTU are not the organization of working class and are the petty bourgeois or bourgeois organizations which do not want to cross the limitation of capitalism. Besides this, KPA was organized for taking government power with united presidential candidate and is a permanent and long term struggle body which has the whole program. In these viewpoints, KPA is just an programmatic alliance with bourgeois i.e. popular front.

Of course the party of working class is the tribune of people. Working class party protects the interest of farmer, the poor, women, student, sexual minority and religionist who are suppressed in capitalist society. And it fights in the fore front to realize the interest of them. But the interests of them are not always same to working class. Therefore, that struggle should be in the condition of political and organizational independence.

-Popular front tendency in KDLP: NL group

Actually, the popular front tendency in KDLP is not a recent one. NL group which is majority in KDLP is a group which has developed in the ideological influence of North Korean Stalinist regime. Stalin was very representative of bureaucrats who were parasitic on collectivized economic system and made the Russian revolution degenerated into bureaucratic and socialism in one country. In the degenerated Russia, the Stalinist, who considered the protection of Russia is most prior task to all of revolutionary tasks, propagated class collaborationism and insisted popular front as an organizational conclusion of it in the countries wherever there were revolutionary scenes.

Stalinists, who were in ideological panic of the imminent imperialist invasion, pursued the short term and one country’s interest of bureaucrats rather than long term and international interest. Therefore, they asked the neighbor working class and peasants who were fighting against their ruler or imperialist to take hand of rather appease part of bourgeoisie against aggressive part on Soviet. The Korean Labor Party which was emerged from the fusion of the Korean Communist Party and the Korean Democratic Party was the first fruit of this policy in Korea.

The collaborationist policy with bourgeois which is called as ‘Tong-il front’ has been propagated as a constant Korean revolutionary policy by North Korean Stalinists on the excuse of neo-colonial situation of South Korea and anti-imperialist struggle. They has asked South Korean people to “unite regardless the differences in ideology, political opinion, belief, class , wealth and location (South Korean National Democratic Front).” In election, popular front policy has appeared as a policy which support the liberal bourgeois in order to block the winning of right section of bourgeois. The critical support to the liberal section of bourgeois has continued from 1987 when the direct presidential election was revived to 1992, 1997 and 2002 even when there was a working class candidate. 2007 is not an exception for this policy. The South Korean National Democratic Front (SKNDF), who has claimed that they are the leadership of South Korean revolution by themselves, emphasized to build another popular front in 15 September when the presidential candidate of KDLP was confirmed like following,

“The Grand National Party (GNP) is severely struggling to elect Lee Myong-bak at this election while taking the help of USA and anti-reunification group. …In order to demolish their ambition, we must build the anti-conservative front as an anti-GNP front. …We must remove the tendency which insist the vested rights or the party factious interest, and collaborate and unite on the principle that works for most fairness. The struggle in solidarity is a principle of ‘Tong-il front’. …Because there are various kinds of classes and sections, the work to build a program which reflects the interest of the various classes and sections is important task. –SKNDF, 15 September, “The anti-conservative front is a important task for solidarity and reunification of nation” 


-Popular front tendency in KDLP: All-together (SK IS)

The South Korean branch of International Socialists has involved in popular front which has been initiated by NL from 1992 presidential election. IS is a organization which was founded in British by Tony Cliff, who had surrendered to the witch hunting on the red in post second world war and Korean war, after withdrawal from the Fourth International. This IS refused to be side on working class, rejecting to defend North Korea against the allied forces in the initiation of USA. After this scene, IS has followed the trend of majority of mass rather than the truth and political principle of socialism, while avoiding the sharp conflict with the ruling class, for  example, Vietnam war, Solidarnosc, Iran Islam revolution, the collapse of Soviet and so on.

SK IS, who imported the Tony Cliiffism which is ideological inferior goods as Trotskyism, has not derailed from the tail following tendency and state capitalism tradition of IS. And such political tendency of them has appeared as popular frontist tendency in presidential election.

Popular front is based on the illusion that they encircle the far right of bourgeois by alliance with left part of bourgeois, even though it is reverse in reality. And they have to low the level of their program to the extent to satisfy the left part of bourgeois. Because of this point, the IS , who has followed the common program movement, has frequently been attracted to popular front. 

Choi Il-boong who is a founder of All-Together group (SK IS) stated that All-together does not join KPA, even though they had engaged in the discussion on that, in early September several days before when KPA is formally about to be built. However, the reason not to join it is not seemed because of the principle of class politic which we should not engage in class collaborationism. One of the reasons is that they do not want to follow KPA which is being initiated by NL group as he stated. More importantly, the other reason is seemed that after almost all members of the Vision of Future, which had been thought to be a partner in a progressive alliance, moving to the Great United New Democratic Party which newly emerged from old ruling party, they concern that they cannot build a wide election alliance with KPA, even though they did not state publicly.

Instead of KPA, they are pursuing the election alliance in the name of progressive alliance. The partners which they are seeking are mostly more right than KDLP such as petty bourgeois or bourgeois elements, because their purpose is that they will block the winning of GNP candidate by “filling the hole which was resulted from Noh Moo-Hyun government and the ruling party.”

However, All-together, at least Kim Ha-young, knew that popular front is a class betrayal policy until early 2006. Kim Ha-young, who is a news writer of Counter Fire (bulletin of All-together), correctly criticized the problem of ‘single alliance body’ (popular front) which was on the discussion like this.

“‘Single alliance body’ can be seen as a body for class collaborationism. …The idea that we should unite with middle class and some of bourgeois against the pro-USA conservative right is a main of this argument. That means that working class itself is not enough. …Many people can support ‘single alliance body’ on the naïve idea that ‘it is good to unite.’ But as I have been arguing, the demand for “great unity”, which is represented by ‘single alliance body’, is actually a class collaborationist strategy that is popular front. …The another bad effect of popular front is that this limits the independent struggle of working class. …The supporters for ‘single alliance body’ want to explain the relationship between KDLP and ‘single alliance body’ as the relationship between mass struggle and activity in parliament. But the main idea of them is that KDLP alone cannot win this election. Will it be a stepping stones of the winning in 2012 presidential election to ally with some liberal reformist bourgeois in 2007 presidential election? It is rather the time to strive to escape from the influence of reformist bourgeois—Kim Ha-young, 25 March, The Problems of ‘Single Struggle Body’: Class Collaborationism

However, she retreated to recognize conditionally the necessity of ‘single struggle body’ (or permanent alliance body) in August 2006.

“It is real that the left has the political task to fill the hole which is located in the left side of Noh Moo-hyun and was resulted from the fail of reformation of Noh Moo-hyun. …The permanent alliance body which is on the discussion will not be the popular front. There is no doubt that this is an alliance body of progressive camp. I has criticized that the permanent alliance body is planned to be class collaboration (popular front). That is that it is not popular front itself, but the project for popular front.”—The Position for permanent alliance body

In this article, her argument becomes to be complicated. Class was replaced to progress. The very logic which she has blamed becomes her logical base to recognize the existing of permanent alliance body that is popular front or class collaborationism according to her old argument and she tries to dazzle the listeners with the obscure argument that ‘it is not popular front itself, but the project for popular front.’ She completed her withdrawal from class front with the argument that “it should not be class collaborationism may not be the most important condition” in The Reason That All-together does not join KPA which was published in January 2007.

The reason that Kim Ha-young, who had known that popular front is a treacherous tactic leading to defeat of working class (and may be only one member in All-together), repeated her retreats and then finally stopped to criticize on popular front may be that she has recognized that it is not only NL group but also her leadership who have the pro-popular front idea.

Choi Il-boong, the founder of All-together, was unconstrained. He trusted out his hand even to present MP of ruling party while flattering the Vision of Future (VF) which was consisted of the bourgeois intellectual elements and NGO.

“If we reject Cheon Jeong-bae while striving to attract VF, it can be thought as a not only unnatural and arbitrary but also childish attitude.”—Choi Il-boong, 19 May 2007, The Issues on Progressive Election Alliance, <Counter Fire> No 44

Meanwhile, Kim In-sik, the publisher of Counter fire, is standing the foremost front for election alliance with bourgeois that is a kind of popular front. There has been rare class principle in his series articles. Instead, there are full of bourgeois election technology which is concerning on the distribution and change of supporting rate and method to get more support. He is strangely arguing that if he/she is not a MP of present bourgeois party he/she is not bourgeois, in Building the Election Alliance in the Movement <Counter Fire> No 42, one of his articles which stimulate the election alliance.

“The anti-capitalist does not support the alliance between the political representative of working class and the political representative of bourgeois because it spoils the strength of struggle against the system. But VF is not Uri Party (the former name of ruling party).”

In this article, bourgeois is reduced into only the political representative of bourgeois. This stupid logic is going to one-sided love to Moon Kook-hyun who was former CEO and newly appeared as a presidential candidate after when almost all members of VF fused with UNDP. He advises to the members of KDLP that it is a kind of propensity to exclude Moon on the reason that he was CEO.

“There are two propensities. One is just following Moon, the other is exposing and criticizing Moon to distinguish from him. It seems that the Latter is predominant in KDLP.—Kim In-sik, 15 Sep, <Counter Fire> No 58

But Moon’s negative intention to their suggestion was cleared soon, then in next issue, he heals his wound with the term ‘class’ which he has forgotten for so long time.

Moon Kook-hyun did not response to the suggestion of progressive alliance for months. We KDLP should expose accurately his class collaborationism. –Kim In-sik, 15 Sep 2007, <Counter Fire> No 58

Trotsky remarked, “opportunists are always acutely sensitive to which way the wind is blowing.” This comment explains the chaotic wandering of All-together who interpret arbitrarily the principle in accordance with the trend of mass, rather than lead mass in accordance with principle. Let’s see where this disgraceful wandering of All-together to win bourgeois’ love, departed from class line, will go.


Kwon Young-ghil: the representative of the upper layer of working class who were conciliated by bourgeois

In 15 Sep, Kwon young-ghil was elected as a presidential candidate of the KDLP. Kwon is not the representative of working class, who fight for the historical task of working class, from the outset. He is a representative of the upper layer workers who were won over bourgeois side and want to stand on the bourgeois political stage, taking advantage of the daily struggles and the political progress of workers as the buoyant force.

He does not think that he is a representative of working class who fights against bourgeois, but thinks that he is a representative of relatively more reformist party in the capitalist order. So his political models are not the immortal revolutionaries, but the politicians who were already rotten and disappeared behind the history or are leading working class to defeat.

“Do not afraid to be happy! I will overthrow the conservative politic like Mitterand, will be a worker president like Lula da Silva, will be the tribune of people like Hochimin and will make USA tremble like Chavez.”—Kwon, 15 Sep 2007

After the winning, he has tried to get out of the image of the working class party, rather than to promote the consciousness of workers. He visited Seoul National Cemetery in 17 Sep and Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business in 20 Sep, and appealed to “reconcilement”, “comradeship”.

And as mentioned above, Kwon and the KDLP stated ‘Federal Republic of Korea (FRK)’ in 28 Sep before the Two Koreas Summit Talk. There are full of nationalist concepts such as national sovereignty and national prosperity and so on in this FRK policy, which is similar to ‘Sunshine policy’, are seldom the policies of working class or socialism.

Moreover, in 15 Oct, the KDLP sent an apology mail to the Federation of Korea Trade Unions (FKTU) which has been the government patronized union from the national liberation. Kim Seon-dong, the secretary general of the KDLP, visited the FKTU and publicly apologized for the past critical comment of the representative of the KDLP. Moon Seong-hyun, the representative of the KDLP had criticized the FKTU like this “FKTU should abandon to be a workers’ organization” when the FKTU had contracted an illicit intimacy with the bourgeois parties on Labor Act in 11 Sep.

More than 1 year ago, Kwon appealed his past difficult, recollecting his two challenges for presidential elections like following.

“The sentiment of the dead vote. There was same phenomenon in 2002. More than before. That was the logic that we should obstruct the Grand National Party to win. The press on me, as well as the activists, was so considerable. I had the firm belief that we were helpful for Kim Dae-oong and Noh Moo-hyun to win the elections rather than was obstructions for them, but I felt so heavy pressure. I was troubled with the thought that “anyway, what I should do if the GNP win?”—Ohmynews, 29 May 2006

In this interview, Kwon hoped that he does not take disadvantage anymore in 2007 by the feeling of dead vote, worrying about the security of the liberal bourgeoisie. However, he is losing his supporters to the relatively more reformist bourgeois candidate to the eyes of voters, in the consequence of the right moving of himself. Perhaps he has to be troubled with the stronger the dead vote theory in this election, because he has forgotten the fact that he is a candidate of the workers party.

Position of IBT on 2007 presidential election


IBT stated our critical support position on KDLP presidential candidate in 2002. It was because of the political judgment and principles following this;

Certainly the DLP leader Kwon and company are deeply compromised by social-democratic politics, and certainly there are petty bourgeois elements nesting in the party, but there is no doubt that as a whole this party in its crude way stands for working class political independence from bourgeois forces. Furthermore there are anti-leadership forces within the DLP, opposed to the leadership’s as yet unfulfilled popular front appetites. We seek to expose the political nature of DLP party leadership while facilitating the opportunity for these working class militants to see for themselves the anti-working class nature of their leadership. This is best achieved in the current election campaign within the framework of critical support to Kwon.

Of course, bourgeois electoral processes are designed to bolster bourgeois political rule, and there is a limit to the possibilities within such processes for socialist revolutionaries. But we must use the limited opportunities that do exist to put forward the program that embodies the historic interests of the working class, and to facilitate the development of workers’ political consciousness and unity against the bourgeoisie. Lenin talked of revolutionaries’ critical support to a bourgeois workers’ party in elections as a "hangman’s noose" that will eventually finish off the lieutenants of capital within the workers’ movement. Marxists must use every opportunity to this end, which is why we critically support the labor faker Kwon in this election.-- South Korean Presidential Election, 18 December 2002

But KDLP has exposed so quickly their treachery character to working class since 2004 grand election as analyzed above. Furthermore, it is the class betrayal behaviors, which we cannot support even with term of ‘critical’, that they did not defense North Korean nuclear weapon against the capitalist restoration policy of South Korea and USA, and broke the principle of working class should be independent adapting popular front policy.

Firstly, it is because that the rejection to defend past historical gain of working class, even though it looks to be ugly and shameful to the eyes of the petty bourgeois idealists, is just the behavior falling into the line with South Korean and imperialist bourgeois who want to remove the physical and ideological gain of working class and the springboard for future struggle. IBT, same as Trotsky who struggled to defend degenerated Soviet against the attack from both left and right, defend the present workers states militarily even though those are the degenerated or deformed one against the capitalist restoration maneuver. In this point, we are distinguished from state capitalists and bourgeois pacifists.

Secondly, it is because that we cannot adopt critical support tactic anymore because KDLP went popular front. The critical support tactic, which can be adopted in election as a kind of united front tactic, is to maximize the internal conflict in bourgeois workers party, expose their anti-class character and take working class into revolutionary camp. But thanks to the political alliance with bourgeois, this conflict in KDLP was covered effectively. Therefore we have to retreat our critical support policy on KDLP and this is the point which we are distinguished from Stalinists and class collaborationists such as NL group and All-together.

In conclusion, IBT do not support at all the KDLP in this election. We support the split movement in the KDLP which has exposed clearly its anti-working class nature. And we ask the South Korean workers and the political organizations to reject actively this presidential election—using this election as the propaganda platform while reject the vote.


For the Rebirth of 4th International!


‘The interests of the [working] class cannot be formulated otherwise than in the shape of a program; the program cannot be defended otherwise than by creating the party. ‘‘The class, taken by itself, is only material for exploitation. The proletariat assumes an independent role only at that moment when from a social class in itself it becomes a political class for itself. This cannot take place otherwise than through the medium of a party. The party is that historical organ by means of which the class becomes class conscious.’’ —L.D. Trotsky, ‘‘What Next?’’ 1932

To build the vanguard organization based on the programs which has been achieved through the history of the international working class! this is the urgent task of South Korean and international socialist movement. IBT has fought to revive the 4th International. We believe that the followings should be the basic program along with the Transitional Program for the rebirth of the 4th international.

1)      Support for all the partial, defensive, economic and reform demands of the working class, but also placing before the working class a transitional program that poses the necessity for struggle.

2)      Defense of the former Soviet Union and the deformed workers states against imperialist intervention and capitalist restoration, but also the call for proletarian socialist political revolution in these countries.

3)      Defense of the workers movement (including particularly the trade unions) against the capitalist class, but also seeking to replace the pro-capitalist misleadership of the workers movement with a new leadership committed to the revolutionary program.

4)      Military support to those who fight to expel the imperialists from the colonies and semi-colonies, but also politically opposing bourgeois (and reactionary religious-obscurantist) politics and leaderships.

5)      Intransigent opposition to voting for or giving any kind of political support to popular fronts or representatives of liberal-bourgeois forces, but also defending them militarily against bourgeois repression.

IBT hopes that we join the struggle to build the South Korean revolutionary party and to rebuild the 4th international with the leftist individuals and organizations in South Korea.