What is the Juche Idea?

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il Sung. The Juche idea means, in a nutshell, that the masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction.
Establishing Juche means adopting the attitude of a master towards the revolution and construction of one’s country. It means maintaining an independent and creative standpoint in finding solutions to the problems which arise in the revolution and construction. It implies solving those problems mainly by one’s own efforts and in conformity with the actual conditions of one’s own POLITICS country. The realization of independence in politics, selfsufficiency in the economy and self-reliance in national defence is a principle the Government maintains consistently.”

Official Webpage of the DPR of Korea

A key point in Juche (and Marxism) is that man is the creator of his own destiny. It is the consciousness of man can shape the world that he lives in. The dogmatic and religious ideas of old that say God shapes the world or that the free market does is false. We are the masters of our own destiny. The greatest motive for in creating that is the masses of people. As Mao said, “the people and the people alone are the motive force in the making of world history”.

What do the masses of people need to shape their world? The need a progressive ideology that can guide them in such a task. When the people have such an idea they can be nearly unstoppable in the creation of history. However, we should keep in the fore of our minds that not all progressive ideas can play the same or a positive role in socio−historical development.

Many progressive ideas have limitations given that they are tied to particular classes which reflect the goals of that class. The bourgeoisie was a progressive class at the time of its inception over the Middle Ages. It overthrew the landlords and much of the church for the purpose of concentrating the means of production into modern commodity exchange and unlocking new productive forces. Because of this class limitation, despite being progressive, they have a clear historical limit to social development. Meaning they can only be progressive up to a certain point in the development of social history.

Their ideas lead only to the emancipation of the ruling capitalist class. They cannot reflect a further emancipation of the working class people’s as a whole. The bourgeoisie had its time of being progressive, that time has long since passed. To be progressive and take the world towards greater equality and to greater freedom we acknowledge this limitation and seek a new progressive ideology. That ideology is Marxism, the idea of communism formulated by the political economics Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto.

The next step is the emancipation of the working masses, this cannot be accomplished by the ideas of the bourgeoisie. This shows us that there is a need for a new ideology to perpetuate the socio−historical development through revolutionary struggle. Just as the bourgeoisie struggled against the aristocracy of the Middle Ages, we must struggle against the bourgeoisie of capitalism.

Truly revolutionary ideologies of the working class have been created by great people who had the liberation of the people are the fore of their desire.

The history of revolutionary working class ideas is stretched over a hundred years of debate and struggle to find the one true idea that will lead to liberation. Leaders of such ideas have applied them in attempts to change the world. They have appeared in the arenas of struggle to do battle against the forces of capital. The clear winner in this struggle has been the ideas of Marx and Engels. Their ideas alone created the most successful rebellions against the bourgeoisie and at times have torn down entire kingdoms they owned. It was Marx’s ideas that ushered in the era of communist struggle.

After many decades of struggle the content of capitalism had changed. Capitalism had entered the period (and said to be final) of imperialism. Globally the capitalist class had taken hold of almost the entire world and held it in a mighty grasp. The interest of the ruling had now reached the pinnacle in its spread across the world. This truth presented us with a new historical condition of imperialism. When this was acknowledged, the leadership of Vladimir Lenin rose and developed Marxism further to deal with this new historical development. Leninism was born and his revolutionary ideas inspired the working class to struggle against the imperialist strongholds towards freedom and liberation. This ushered in the beginning of the transition from capitalism to socialism.

The Eternal Leader of the DPRK, Kim Il Sung, created the Juche idea from insight he obtained from study and observation of the oppressed peoples of the world. He sought that the people should (as Marx had said) should be the masters of their own destiny and no longer be the humiliated and oppressed masses of people. It was from this that he developed the struggle for Chajusong onto a higher. This higher level was the beginning of Juche, a new era in the development of human history.

(Chajusong, a Korean word, is an attribute of social man who wants to live and develop in an independent way as the master of the world and his own destiny.)

Kim Il Sung saw the new developments that were taking place in the world as the imperialists reacted to the rise of the first true socialist state, the Soviet Union. The was the first beacon of hope for the masses that had shined signalling the first true victory of the people. It grew stronger from the reactionary attacks upon it and in turn made the people struggling around the world more bold in their efforts for socialism and revolution.

This event was not lost on the imperialists. This struck the fear of very real people’s liberation into their hearts. Because of the example of the Soviets, the imperialist powers began exploiting the oppressed countries and people’s more harshly. In many of those places the contradictions and antagonisms between revolutionary ideology and counter-revolution grew more intensified as the people began to rise up against their oppressors. Opposition to national liberation and class struggle was meeting real resistance after having been trampled down for so long. A new period of revolutionary movements had begun to make progress in broad and diversified way on a worldwide scale.

Kim Il Sung said that there needed to be advances under these new historical conditions. The working class and the peoples of every country need to be the conscious force guiding their lives and the masters of the world around them. He also saw that each peoples had their own unique situations and had to solve their own contradictions accordingly. He felt that Korea had its own particular historical development that arose out of the complexity and difficulty of the revolution. He said that the Korean revolution required urgently, immediately, that the popular masses forge their own path of revolution in their own “independent and creative manner”.

It was from this unique situation of Korea that the Juche Idea was created. It requires that the revolutionaries go down into the masses and work among them. Revolution is the drive of the people using their own skills, their own efforts and talents to bring forth freedom. It is a struggle by the people armed with the revolutionary idea organized into a political force. This political force by the people, armed with the revolutionary idea and their own skills is what brings emancipation and freedom to the threshold of the people. This is accomplished by the revolutionary cadres going among the popular masses with the purpose of educating them in the revolutionary idea, organizing them into a revolutionary force and inspiring them to struggle.

The revolutionaries too must gain wisdom from being among the people. The problems that occur during the revolution should be solved using the experience of the masses and relying on their strength. A full unity should occur where the revolutionaries and the people are one all imposing force against reactionaries.

According to Kim Il Sung this is what communists in the 1920s failed to do all across Europe as they sought to engage in national liberation. They failed to go among the masses to educate, organize and then wage revolutionary struggle. They were divorced from the masses and instead got caught up in grabs at hegemony and “empty talks”. They failed to unite the masses, they in fact made the situation worse by dividing them into factions.

Kim Il Sung says he saw the mistakes in their struggle for revolution and decided upon a new road for the people of Korea that he felt was more revolutionary. He thought it so because it relied on him being among the masses and to rely on them for struggle. What he wanted was to make clear that the masters of the revolution are the masses of people and that it was absolutely paramount that any leadership go amongst the people to educate and mobilize them. This was the starting point behind the Juche Idea.

The revolution in each country must be carried out by its own people who are the driving force behind it. They must do it in an independent and creative manner that is drafted according to its own unique material conditions. The Juche path requires Chajusong and creativeness. The revolutionary activity, the communist revolution cannot be without them. Ignoring these will lead back to the failures that occurred in the 1920s.

The experience of the Korean revolution led Kim Il Sung to believe Juche needed to be formed. The Korean revolution contained many aspects that necessitated the formation of the idea; like the fact that their revolution contained anti-imperialist, national liberation and anti-feudal democratic aspects. Koreans felt they had a difficult path that taken them through conditions that were unique to their situation.

As a criticism, Kim Il Sung said he had noticed that during the revolution there was a tendency towards “flunkyism” that hindered the revolution. Too many Marxists had followed the old 1920s-style factionalism that had caused great harm in the country’s past. He criticized them for not relying on the Korean people as the masses for revolution, but instead wanted to rely on more developed foreign forces. Meanwhile several small groups clamoured for recognition as the true communist group in Korea, frequently running to the Comintern to get it. Even further, they mindlessly copied and pasted the experience and tactics of past revolutions without taking into account the specific conditions of Korea with its colonial and semi−feudal society. Kim Il Sung’s primary concern during this time was the flunkeyism and dogmatism that proved to be a severe, likely fatal, hindrance to revolution.

From this experience he deduced that all problems faced by the revolution should not be dealt with by a single man’s opinion. Nor one of a people who face different conditions yet a similar problem. Solutions should be carried out by the people taking responsibility and using their own independent creativity to devise them.

This was how Kim Il Sung was able to solve the problems facing the Korean revolution and anti-imperialist struggle. He ignored the old dogmatism, rejected the flunkies and recognised Korea’s own unique conditions. It was only by applying this independent creativity that he was able to create a revolutionary practise that was successful.

Kim Il Sung was knowledgeable in Marxism-Leninism, he had studied it quite intensively. What made him different was that he did not dogmatically apply it to the conditions of Korea, instead he decided that a “new phase” of revolutionary theory was needed, hence Juche. It was a very difficult struggle to get others to adopt this new ideology. Many of the flunkies and “bogus Marxists” were very resistant to it. The nationalists presented a tremendous obstacle as well. It was at the Meeting of Leading Personnel of the Young Communist League and the Anti−Imperialist Youth League held at Kalun in June 1930 that the Juche Idea was brought into the world. In struggle it became the official line for the Korean revolution. The correct Juche Idea won out over all the Left and Right opportunism and all other incorrect ideas.

The Koreans believe that the Juche Idea has been proven the right ideology for revolution in Korea. There is a great deal of evidence to support this, including the onetime greater development than South Korea before the loss of its vital trading partners. The Juche Idea did manage to do as it had promised and done so effectively.

They believe that the Juche Idea cannot be made perfect. It evolves through its use in the revolutionary situation of Korea. As time passes, as new challenges are set before the Korean people it will change the ideological and theoretical system as new truths are discovered. Doing so enriches the idea through protected struggle.

We can see that Kim Il Sung with the Juche Idea has been successful in all fields of struggle. Successes have been seen in politics, economy, culture and military affairs. These have not simply been victories, but they have been the collection of knowledge and experience that has made the Juche Idea all the more rich. For 50 some-odd years it has remained a solid idea of unity for the Korean people against the aggressions and sabotage of not only their brothers in the South, but of the Imperialists themselves. The history of the Juche Idea has shown us that the Korean people have remained the controllers of their own fate. The Koreans have bowed to no master, they have remained fiercely independent and done as they have seen fit for themselves. This speaks to what the Juche Idea stands for.