North Korea’s supreme “leader”, Kim Jong Il, has died. There are scenes on television of people in North Korea breaking down in tears over the news. It is hard to know for sure if these scenes are staged, but it is not difficult to believe that people would be that brainwashed.
Kim Jong Il ruled with an iron fist, but don’t think for a minute that that is the sole reason for the misery in North Korea. A dictator can rule over people with brutality, but this is only possible by having the consent of the people being ruled.
This is not supposed to be a collectivist statement and paint everyone the same. For sure, I’m sure there are a few people living in North Korea who want actual freedom and cannot speak up for fear of being punished or even killed. However, for someone to be able to oppress a group of people like that, there is no question that the majority of the people there are giving their consent to be ruled.
The same situation exists in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world. It is not hard to imagine Americans weeping if something happened to a politician in America.
While most Americans say they value freedom, they still consent to being governed. Most people think we absolutely have to have government for certain things. I am not just talking about the few minarchists who believe we need government for courts and police. I am talking about the large majority who think the government should provide education, healthcare, business regulations (aside from those simply to protect against force and fraud), retirement, libraries, etc.
A government can only rule with the consent of the people. If enough people change their opinion and believe that big government is completely unnecessary, then the government will eventually shrink or collapse.
The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union completely fell apart a couple of years after that. Don’t think that Gorbachev was the reason. I can credit Gorbachev for not using violence in the collapse, but I don’t credit him with breaking up the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was a communist and I’m sure he would have been more that happy to continue the communist system. But the system fell apart because of the vast number of people who no longer believed in the system. People living in the Soviet Union realized that communism was a horrible way of life and they could see this by catching a glimpse of the relatively capitalist western countries.
It is hard to know what will happen next in North Korea. Kim Jong Il’s son is supposed to be taking over. If he is less oppressive than his father, then he can certainly make things better. But ultimately, it is up to the people of North Korea. They have to open their eyes and see that their neighbors to the south are rich and prosperous compared to them. They have to realize that freedom is the answer to many of their problems, not another thug dictator.