If you ever get amazed by the superstitions that people will accept and preach in order to justify big government, this testimony of a North Korean defector might help you understand that tyranny thrives on a kind of theology.
The government believes it is god and teaches the same.
In her, “I am a North Korean defector” essay, Yeonmi Park writes:
It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.
I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.
Then, when she finally ran away to China (where she had to remain in hiding to avoid being caught by the Chinese authorities), she eventually made her way with her family to Mongolia and got from there to South Korea. She writes:
This whole time, I was still so brainwashed that I thought Kim Jong-il could read my mind from afar. Even though I had escaped, I wouldn’t let myself think anything negative about the regime.
When we arrived in South Korea they took us to an Education Centre for several months. I learned that Kim Jong-il was a dictator, but I was still confused when I left – it wasn’t enough time to fully change my mind.
After I came out of the centre, I met new people, started to study using the internet, and read lots of books. I found out about socialism, communism and capitalism. I learned new things and finally saw the truth.
So even someone who wanted to escape the regime still could not make herself disbelieve the regime’s lying propaganda. She had to spend time in what essentially sounds like a cult deprogramming center. She also writes that her mother had a harder time shaking the grip of the regime’s religious faith. She refused to believe the news that Jong-il was dead because she believed he was a god who could not die.
While North Korea is extreme, I think we can learn a general truth from it. Tyranny requires superstition. How do millions of people accept that premise that the government can make healthcare cheaper and better? You have to believe in miracles to accept such things.