- By Christopher Hitchens
"...many of the slogans employed and displayed by the North Korean state are borrowed directly—this really does count as some kind of irony—from the kamikaze ideology of Japanese imperialism. Every child is told every day of the wonderful possibility of death by immolation in the service of the motherland and taught not to fear the idea of war, not even a nuclear one. ... Here are the two most shattering facts about North Korea. First, when viewed by satellite photography at night, it is an area of unrelieved darkness. Barely a scintilla of light is visible even in the capital city. ... Second, a North Korean is on average six inches shorter than a South Korean. ...[I]magine how much surplus value has been wrung out of such a slave, and for how long, in order to feed and sustain the militarized crime family that completely owns both the country and its people."
I would like to note how Hitchens, a well-known secularist and opponent of religious supersition, succumbs to the poetically atavistic urge to see something symbolic or 'spiritually' significant in the absence of light in North Korea. Is not the absence of light under Kim Jong-il simply a physical fact? Or is it actually symbolic of a deeper reality? Darkness and light have always been spiritual markers for pre-modern, non-Western human societies. Is Hitchens really free from their superstitious metaphysical bearing? Thoughts?