It is widely acknowledged that in North Korea the people are subjected to constant brainwashing by the state. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence of how the regime uses media and various social media, by which it maintains a firm grip on the minds of its citizens- But could it in fact be true that the people in the West are brainwashed to an even larger degree than your average North Korean?
Too absurd to be true?
The mere question seems so ludicrous that it seems worthy of being dismissed at first glance, accompanied by a large fit of derisory laughter, – but is this not the point? Should the question not be analysed rather than consigned to the rubbish bin according to some emotional whim? After all, cool cold calculus and not emotional type thinking is supposed to distinguish the cultured inhabitant of the West from those uncouth peoples who find themselves beyond the boundaries of rationality.
It is this emotional reaction which sows the first seed of doubt from whence we may unfurl an argument. So, by what evidence can we supplement this debate still further? After all the West has both democracy and political pluralism, not to mention freedom of expression, all things the Koreans are deprived of (Kim Jong Un may beg to differ, the D in the acronym DPKR stands for Democratic).
The democracy illusion?
A fringe cynical and yet Western view might warn that the democratic nature of our world is illusory and that economic policy and hence the general political orientation is assured beyond the plebeian vote by a host of supranational treaties and organisations and that the political dichotomy as presented in the West is nothing more than an interplay of competing shades beneath a monochrome umbrella of liberalism. Technically this argument appears apt, providing a discursive examination of our governing structures, and yet it does not strike at the essence of a Western mindscape that to all intents and purposes appears to have been captured by two more fundamental ideals, namely a cult of individualism and by fanatical rationalism, both of which are subsumed in the all-encompassing notion of the enlightenment.
These ideals like the Juche ideology in North Korea are so omnipresent in our institutions that their socialising effect on the people is absolute. However, unlike in North Korea the sense of freedom, not to mention independence, afforded by intermittent elections (that in real terms are mere charades) diverts attention away from these overarching ideals, hence obstructing any challenge to them. More clearly the difference between a North Korean and a Westerner is found in that the North Korean worker is aware that irrespective of what the regime tells him, he does not live in a utopia. This realisation affords questioning, even if such questioning is kept to oneself. At times one even flees the country on the basis of such doubt. The Westerner by contrast may express exasperation at political elites or one party or another, nonetheless the true ideological footprints embedded in the dyad that is individualism and rationalism remain unchallenged on a conscious level, even if there is some heuristic which provokes apathy and disassociation among vast swathes of the population. The Westerner regardless is self-assured that he is the sole barer of social progression, that he is the lone gatekeeper to modernity and all roads to a better world must pass through him. That such visions based on individualism, rationalism and secularism will eventually prevail are neither questioned by their validity as ideals nor are they even momentarily considered anything but universal in appeal. Global application is inevitable, the barbarians will civilise with the progression of time. Millineraisim no less.
Shall the whole world be like the West?
Such universalism of Western belief systems are above all expounded by self-proclaimed cosmopolitans, that ironically pay not even scant regards to either the cultural, social, religious even historical contexts on which peoples and nations beyond their confines have structured their lives, but above all they ideologically deny others their right to establish their own modus vivendi, desecrating and denouncing all other forms of political system as inept. Thus perpetuating the internalisation of white Western values. For the academician and famed Revolutionary Frantz Fanon this is the very apotheosis of racism, which he defines above all as resting in the complete inability to see the other. In this regard the Westerner’s inability to even acknowledge that different cultures have a different vision on the substantive essence of man, not to mention the method by which he should live, is equitable with racism and is a symptom of the manner by which the Western mind has been moulded to ignorance.
It is therefore telling that Europeans are not exposed to the works of Fanon and his ilk. More they are exposed to a diatribe of “intellectual debate” that seeks to entrench the prevailing Weltaanschaung depriving them of alternative perspectives of man. Media invariably talk of or to Syrian democratic forces, Russian liberal opposition leaders or some dissident Chinese artists all of whom adhere to the “liberal enlightened vision”- That these people are not representative at all of the cultures on behalf of whom they are speaking is even omitted from deliberation, as indeed is even the mere contemplation that alternative visions of the essence of man exist. As a consequence primitive imagery of the “good” versus the “bad” are subconsciously evoked. Provoking primordial fears of a menacing “other” while once more confirming psychological biases that reject alternative world views. In this regard the Islamic fundamentalist plays a significant role in that he reiterates or more precisely confirms to the Westerner not only his moral superiority but also demarks where civilisation ends.
The Westerners mind therefore is brainwashed not as extensively to a clear political ideology representative of any political party as say the inhabitant of Pyongyang, rather he is brainwashed by an essence of man that is founded on a cult of individualism and fanatical interpretation of rationalism, while political in nature the charade of democracy appears on the surface to depoliticise its basis and hence protects the overall orientation. This brainwashing is so pervasive that even the cosmopolite is reduced to being a purveyor of Western liberal values, the very antithesis of his multicultural conscious self.
Perhaps another North Korean example may help illuminate the extent to which the Western mind has been manipulated. For more than the last 60 years the North Koreans have been lead by the Kim dynasty. For the last 60 years the Kims have been defined as insane, unstable a threat to the world, but in the last 60 years the Kims between them have not attacked another country or started a war. Now look at ourselves and spot the difference.