When you consider what is the difference between the ideology of North Korea and that of the U.S.A., it is difficult to say. In practical terms, of course, the U.S.A. is still largely individualistic but our leaders, especially President Obama, embraces a rhetoric that stresses togetherness, "everyone being in the same boat," etc. In short, America's current administration has an ideology that is very close to what guides the North Korean communist government.
So when one tries to understand why these two countries are at loggerheads, why North Koreans are taught to hate America and why Americans see very little that's desirable about North Korea, it is difficult. The U.S. used to confidently differentiate itself from communist countries. Not that the so-called communists were pure or that America had been consistently individualist in the past but they did show loyalty to their respective messages.
When I was a kid in communist Hungary, one thing we had to do is march out to the Heroes' Plaza most Saturdays to pledge our loyalty to Joseph Stalin, "our dear father." If we didn't go along, our grades would reflect our rebellion and eventually we wouldn't pass our courses. We all had to be members of the Young Pioneers and fall in line with this communist youth group's ideology. I myself was even picked to be a member of a singing group of three youngsters and was sent around Budapest to sing communist songs at various schools. My only way to show my resistance was not to stand at full attention while singing, something for which I was repeatedly reprimanded. I stood at "parade's rest."
How did most Hungarian kids manage to fail to be indoctrinated? Mostly because the culture didn't take kindly to collectivism. And different individuals had their own ways of not falling in line, including based on their religion or ordinary history. The thinking among Hungarians had been pretty chaotic but that, too, helped. (I am not familiar enough with Korean culture to figure out whether it had prepared the people there for the gist of communist teaching!)
In America today, the official, White House rhetoric is pretty much in line with North Korean propaganda: "We are all in it together," to quote our president. Individualism is ridiculed and demeaned not just by Mr. Obama but by the major thinkers on political issues at prominent universities, men like Michael Sandel at Harvard and women like Martha Nussbaum at the University of Chicago and Paul Krugman at Princeton. These and many, many other widely published and almost revered teachers distance themselves from American individualism in virtually all their writings.
How can it be made clear to ordinary Americans why the North Korean regime is an adversary in how it thinks about political economic affairs? Go figure!
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