TO MY FELLOW-PRO-LIFE AMERICANS, by Tom Hoefling

TO MY FELLOW-PRO-LIFE AMERICANS

Fellow Pro-life American,

To claim a right to ‘decide’ whether or not some individual, or class of individuals, should be protected equally under our laws, is to deny the unalienable, God-given nature of our rights, the basis for the American claim to liberty, the cornerstone for the rule of law, the very raison d’etre of human government, according to our founders:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”

A return to these principles, first and foremost by those who call themselves Christians, is the only hope for our country.

As the great Frederick Douglass said in 1852:

“I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”

In 1858, in a speech delivered one week before the start of his famous debates with Steven A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln said:

“Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of the Revolution. Think nothing of me — take no thought for the political fate of any man whomsoever — but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man’s success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that immortal emblem of Humanity — the Declaration of American Independence.” (Lewiston, Illinois, August 17, 1858)

This is my heartfelt message as well, to my fellow Iowans, and to all of America: Come back to the principles of the Declaration. Stop compromising them for any party or politician. Do it before it is too late.

For Iowa, for America, for our Posterity,

Tom Hoefling

2014 Candidate for Iowa Governor

Posted in Abortion, Biblical Worldview, Breakdown of Marriage, Christianity, Cultural Barometer, Death of a Nation, Death of Western Culture, Worldview | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Weakened Superpower: What is America’s Role in the World? by Dr. J. Eckman

A Weakened Superpower: What is America’s Role in the World?

May 24th, 2014 | By  | Category: Culture & WordviewFeatured IssuesPolitics & Current Events

In 1796, when George Washington decided not to seek a third term as president, he warned the young Republic about the dangers of foreign entanglements.  His counsel produced the policy of isolationism.  That policy was reinforced by the Monroe Doctrine (1823), which largely defined America’s world role well into the 20th century.  In the Spanish-American War (1898), the US grabbed territory, but was reluctant to be involved in major international areas of disagreement; it remained rather isolated.  The US belatedly entered World War I and then President Wilson sought to remake the world with his 14 Points (e.g., the League of Nations) at the Versailles Peace Conference.  His vision failed.  The Senate never ratified the Treaty of Versailles and the US never joined the League.  America slipped back into isolationism.  But with World War II, America became a world power, engaged on every continent.  With the rise of communism, the US adopted the policy of containment, which meant it would not overthrow communism, but the US would contain it.  The Korean War, the Marshall Plan, NATO and even the Viet Nam War all manifested this policy of containment.  Containment worked, for the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.  With the rise of belligerent, terroristic Islam, the US under President Bush redefined its role as the principal antagonist of this brand of Islam.

Under President Obama, the US role in the world is changing.  What is the vital center of US foreign policy?  What is Obama’s vision of the US position in the complicated world?  Is the world’s perception of the US changing?  Do US allies trust America?  How these questions are answered is important, for the world of the 21st century is very different.  China is in resurgence and clearly seeks to be the dominant Asian power.  For that reason, Japan is re-examining its role in Asia and is having a national conversation about rearmament.  North Korea is now ruled by a young totalitarian, whose delusions of grandeur are frightening and potentially destabilizing.  The Middle East is in total disarray.  Syria is destroying itself and Iran is seeking to dominate the eastern Mediterranean with its Shiite brand of Islam.  Although it is in discussions with the US and Europe about its nuclear program, few doubt that its ambitions to dominate have subsided.  Europe (the EU) is virtually pacifistic and eschews any kind of military confrontation with Russia or anyone else for that matter.  The EU continues to enjoy the umbrella of US protection (e.g., NATO) but is unwilling to pay for that protection.  Finally, of course is Russia under Putin.  Putin has grabbed Crimea and is fostering significant unrest in eastern Ukraine, all in clear violation of the 1994 agreement between Russia, America, Britain and Ukraine, which promised to surrender its unclear weapons in exchange for secure, recognized borders.  Putin is ignoring this 1994 agreement and the US and Europe are doing virtually nothing, except for a few sanctions on a select number of Russian leaders.

In international affairs, perception is reality, and the world perceives that the US is weak, or at least unwilling to act decisively in all these areas of international crisis.  The respected columnist David Ignatius has summarized this perception correctly:  “Under Obama, the United States has suffered some real reputational damage.  .  .  This damage, unfortunately, has been largely self-inflicted by an administration that focuses too much on short-term messaging.  At key turning points—in Egypt and Libya during the Arab Spring, in Syria, in Ukraine and, yes, in Benghazi—the administration was driven by messaging priorities rather than sound, interests-based policy.”  As a result, the perception of weakness haunts Obama.  While in Manila at the end of April, President Obama tried to defend himself and his policies.  It was actually rather sad to watch him become overly defensive and essentially quite irritable.  But when Obama speaks of due caution, the world hears reluctance—“especially when it comes to the most basic issue for any superpower, its willingness to fight” (see The Economist of 3 May 2014, p. 9).

There are two fundamental reasons for this perception of weakness, of an unwillingness to act decisively.  First, the world universally views America as a superpower and a superpower must keep its word, or it can never be trusted.  In Syria, Obama drew his famous “red line” over Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its people.  When Assad used such weapons, Obama did nothing.  No one forced Obama to draw this “red line.”  But once Assad so blatantly and arrogantly crossed that red line, American credibility was on the line as well.  In response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, he threatened fierce sanctions, “only to unveil underwhelming ones.”  The cumulative message of such things is weakness.  Second, Obama has failed to build the kind of coalitions among like-minded democracies “to police the international system.”  His diplomacy with Iran and Russia has led to concessions that are disturbing and worrisome.  As The Economist muses, “Credibility is about reassurance as well as the use of force.”  Credibility is easily lost and most difficult to rebuild.  That is where America is under President Obama.  Some may argue that this is unfair, but it is nonetheless true.

It is in the Middle East that American timidity is most serious.  Primarily because of Syria and the infamous “red line,” there is the widespread impression that the US has turned into a pussycat.  American foes are rejoicing but American friends perceive abandonment.  The Economist captures the result: “It . . . has spurred allies to look out for themselves.  Israel has cultivated military and economic ties with China and India.  Gulf states are arming themselves:  Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have all recently ordered huge arsenals.”  In addition, as Iran continues to make progress toward nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia has openly talked of seeking atomic weapons as well.  None of these developments are especially welcome in the volatile Middle East.

In short, America as a superpower is still the most powerful nation of the planet militarily.  Yet, the perception now is that the US lacks the will to exercise that power, that it will no longer deter the destabilizing forces in the world.  The power to deter evil and/or contain it has been a mainstay of American foreign policy since World War II.  After the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe, a new international order emerged.  The US was the key to sustaining that new order.  If the US is indeed losing its will to deter and enforce the elements of this international order, there is no one else to do so.  Arguably, Americans are weary of this role and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars explain this weariness.  But if the decline of America’s ability to deter is real, what will this new order look like?  The growing power of China, the resurgence of Russia and the growth of Shiite Islam (principally Iran) are hardly positive aspects of this new order.  The Economist concludes, “Some will celebrate the decline of America’s ability to deter.  But wherever they live, they may find that whatever replaces the old order is much worse.  American power is not half as scary as its absence would be.”

Posted in Biblical Worldview, Cultural Barometer, Death of a Nation, Dr. James P. Eckman, Politics, Western Civilization, Worldview | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BLUE: Exposing the Green Movement for what it Truly is

BLUE is an excellent documentary that exposes the green movement for what it truly is, a scare tactic fueled by propaganda to empower and enrich those who’ll profit from it. With beautiful cinematography and an inspiring ending, BLUE is a rare treat that celebrates the natural elements of earth as well as the humans that inhabit it and the God who created it.

Review:

BLUE is an excellent documentary that exposes the green movement for what it truly is, a scare tactic fueled by propaganda to empower and enrich those who’ll profit from it. Jeffrey D. King, a filmmaker and nature enthusiast from Montana, couldn’t accept the idea that human population is the enemy of nature, something that government leaders and the media have been proposing for decades. So King decides to travel the world to interview scientists and activists who oppose climate change hype for both scientific and theological purposes. Interviews with figures such as Lord Christopher Monckton (politician, journalist), E. Calvin Beisner and Robert Zubrin uncover the facts regarding carbon dioxide increases, population growth, capitalism’s positive effect on the environment and the real motivations behind the green movement.

BLUE also explores small towns and counties that used to have a thriving community and natural environment before the environmentalists came in with government regulation. Communities that sustained their life on lumber are now struggling to survive because of the endangered owls that live in the trees. Dams that give energy to entire counties are being threatened to be demolished for “environmental” purposes that do nothing but enrich the very people that want it destroyed. The left’s attack on capitalism, human growth and freedom itself is not only hurting people, it’s also hurting God’s creation. The movies uses example after example to show that, when people thrive, nature thrives.

BLUE is an important movie because it balances the need for innovation and human growth while understanding the stewardship necessary to take care of the environment, not only for man’s sake, but for God’s glory and for the benefit of each person’s neighbor. It also reveals the attacks on prosperity and freedom that are being made by those in the media and in our government. With beautiful cinematography and an inspiring ending, BLUE is a rare treat that celebrates the natural elements of earth as well as the humans that inhabit it and the God who created it.

In Brief:

BLUE is an excellent documentary that exposes the green movement for what it truly is, a scare tactic fueled by propaganda to empower and enrich those who’ll profit from it. Jeffrey D. King, a filmmaker and nature enthusiast from Montana, couldn’t accept the idea that human population is the enemy of nature. So King traveled the world to interview scientists and activists who oppose climate change hype for both scientific and theological purposes. He uses example after example to show that, when people thrive, nature thrives.

BLUE is an important movie because it balances the need for innovation and human growth while understanding the stewardship necessary to take care of the environment, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s glory and the benefit of neighbors. It also reveals the attacks on prosperity and freedom that are being made by many in the media and government. With beautiful cinematography and an inspiring ending, BLUE is a rare treat that celebrates the natural elements of earth as well as the humans that inhabit it and the God who created it.

 

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April 18, 1521. Martin Luther “Here I stand.”

“Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.”

Perhaps the most notable words spoken in the Reformation, this according to early printed reports, was Luther’s reply at Worms when urged to recant. He uttered the memorable lines in German on this day, April 18, 1521, and then, upon request, repeated their gist in Latin for those who did not understand his native tongue. He was sweating, said witnesses. With a victory gesture he slipped out of the room.

Frederick the Wise, Luther’s supporter was uneasy. Did the scriptures condemn Luther or not? “He is too daring for me,” the elector admitted. Nonetheless, on the next day, when asked to stand against Luther with the emperor, he did not sign the condemnation although the other four electors did so.

As for the Emperor, he reasoned that a single friar who went contrary to the whole church could not possibly be right. Descended from a long line of Christian emperors, he felt that to accept Luther’s view was to betray the faith of his fathers. He would take prompt action against Luther, he vowed. But since Luther had been given safe conduct to Worms, he allowed him to depart in safety.

Luther did not leave Worms at once. For several days a committee reasoned with him, begging him not to rend the church in two. They pointed out that war would surely come to Germany. Melanchthon, his beloved associate, might be killed. Luther could not help but be moved, but his determination held. God’s word must be followed whatever the cost. To this confrontation his stand against indulgences had finally brought him.

There are grounds to doubt that Luther said “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.” Although the earliest printed versions contain these lines, the official transcripts do not. Whether spoken or not, the words convey the brave monk’s attitude. When Luther left Worms, the Reformation was irrevocable.

Martin Luther was at his noblest at Worms. His bold words have stirred men’s imagination through subsequent centuries, for they have the same ring to them as Peter’s famous defiance of the Sanhedrin. “Judge for yourselves whether we ought to obey God or men.”

Bibliography:

  1. Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand; A life of Martin Luther. New York: mentor, 1950.
  2. Durant, Will. The Reformation. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957.
  3. Ganns, H. G. “Luther, Martin.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  4. George, Timothy. “Luther, Martin.” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Timothy Larsen, editor. Downers-Grove, Illinois: Intevarsity Press, 2003.
  5. “Luther, Martin.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
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ARE WE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS? by Dr. Thomas Ice

April 17, 2014

An important question that many Christians often ask is “Are we living in the last days or end times?” When people ask me this question, I usually respond with a clear “Yes and No!” Such an answer requires an explanation. My explanation is that the Bible uses such terminology in multiple ways, so that some references do refer to our own day, while others do not.

LAST DAYS VOCABULARY

Sometimes Christians read in the Bible about the “last days,” “end times,” etc., and tend to think that all of these phrases all of the time refer to the same thing. This is not the case, just as in our own lives there are many endings: there is the end of the work day, the end of the day according to the clock, the end of the week, the end of the month, and the end of the year. Just because the word “end” is used does not mean that it always refers to the same time. The word “end” is restricted and precisely defined when it is modified by “day,” “week,” “year,” etc. So it is in the Bible that “end times” may refer to the end of the current church age or it may refer to other times.

There are a number of different biblical expressions which appear to speak of the end times. The Bible teaches that this present age will end with the rapture, followed by the tribulation, which will end with the second coming of Messiah to the earth. Thus, we must distinguish between the “last days” of the church age and the “last days” of Israel’s tribulation.
Note the following chart, which classifies and distinguishes between passages referring to the end of the church age and the “last days” for Israel:

BIBLICAL USE OF LAST DAYS
ISRAEL

“latter days”—
Deuteronomy 4:30; 31:29; Jeremiah 30:24; 48:47; Daniel 2:28; 10:14

“last days”—
Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 23:20; 49:39; Ezekiel 38:16; Hosea 3:4–5; Micah 4:1; Acts 2:17

“last day”—
John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48

“latter years”—
Ezekiel 38:8

“end of time”—
Daniel 8:17; 12:4, 9

“end of the age”—
Daniel 12:13 CHURCH

“latter days”—
1 Timothy 4:1

“last days”—
2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3

“last times”—
1 Peter 1:20; Jude 18

“last time”—
1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 2:18

The Bible clearly speaks of a last days or end time, but it does not always refer to the same period of time. The contextual referent enables the reader to know whether the Bible is speaking of the last days relating to Israel or the end times in reference to the church.
Many believe that there are specific signs that relate to the end of the church age. However, I believe that it would be too strong to say that there are signs of the end of the church age. Instead, the Bible indicates what the condition of the church will be like—the general course of the age—and then warns about some general trends toward the later part of the church age. Passages like 1 Timothy 4:1–5, 2 Timothy 3:1–5, and 2 Peter 3:3 most likely refer to the second half or latter part of the church age. These passages warn believers about beliefs and lifestyles that are common in the world will enter the church and become common there as well. These passages do not speak about the general moral decline of society, which I do not doubt, instead, it is a decline that was predicted to occur within the church as part of the apostasy.
It can also be noted, that it is hard to quantify such decline. No matter how bad things get, they can always get a little worse. So it is impossible to know specifically how bad things must be in order for something to be a prophetic sign. It is the general condition within the realm of the church in which “evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).

THE CHURCH AGE

There are a number of New Testament passages where “last days,” “last times,” and “last time” clearly refer to the present church age in which we now live. The writer of Hebrews says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1–2). The contextual nuance of this passage demands that “last days” is a reference to the current church age in which we presently live. In the same way Peter says, “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you” (1 Pet. 1:20). These “last times,” to which he speaks, in that context, must refer to the last two thousand years in which we still live. John adds support to the two previous writers when he says, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Jude, speaking of things going on in his day says, “that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 18).
The Jewish view of Bible prophecy viewed history as consisting of two ages. The first was this present age, the age in which Israel was waiting for the coming of the Messiah. The second was the age to come, the age in which all promises and covenants would be fulfilled and Israel would enter into her promised blessings as a result of Messiah’s coming. The present age would be terminated by the appearance of Messiah, and the coming age would be introduced by His advent. The present age, then, was to end in judgment, and the coming age must be preceded by this devastation. The New Testament references the present age as the last days. The last days of what? The last days before the coming of the Messianic age.
We see that there are at least four clear references in the New Testament that use end times vocabulary to refer to their own day and the entire church age as the last days. Thus, in that sense, we are clearly living in the last days, since the entire church age is considered the last days. However, that is not what the average person means when they ask, “Are we living in the last days?” They want to know if we are living in a time when the final prophecies of Scripture are being fulfilled. Before I can answer that, we need to look into the use of Old Testament terminology and the last days.

OLD TESTAMENT USE OF LAST DAYS

When we look at Old Testament usage of these terms, we see that they are used differently than those which speak of the church age. I believe that the Old Testament use of this language refers to the time leading up to the coming of Messiah to set up His kingdom on earth, which I would call the tribulation period.
A clear example of this is found in Deuteronomy 4:30, which says, “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.” The English word “distress” is the Hebrew word for tribulation—in this context, the tribulation—which means that this text equates the tribulation with the “latter days.” Thus, the “latter days” are the tribulation period, which we are not currently living in, but may be on the brink of entering. Of course, the church will be raptured before the world enters the tribulation. Deuteronomy 31:29 uses “latter days” as a reference to the tribulation when it says, “evil will befall you in the latter days.”
The term “latter days” is used of the tribulation period twice in Jeremiah (30:24; 48:47). Daniel also uses it this way: “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days” (Dan. 2:28). Daniel commences to reveal God’s plan for the future, which revolves around events that will unfold in the tribulation period. This is also the case concerning another passage in Daniel: “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future” (Dan. 10:14).
The prophet Daniel uses a whole cluster of other “latter day” terms that all refer to the tribulation period or prepare the way for the kingdom reign of Messiah. Terms like “end of time” (Dan. 8:17; 12:4, 9) and “end of the age” (Dan. 12:13) speak of the end-time, tribulation period, which is yet to come. These terms are used three times in Daniel 12, which is said in verse one of that chapter to “be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” “Distress” is the Hebrew word for tribulation. Thus, the entire context is once again a reference to the coming tribulation.
Daniel 12:4, says the teachings about the end-times in Daniel will be sealed up for the Jewish people until “the end of time.” Many prophecy teachers believe that shortly before Christ’s return the world would experience an increase in the speed of travel coupled with an explosion of information based upon Daniel 12:4, which says “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” No one would quarrel with the fact that the last one hundred years has indeed witnessed an exponential increase in both the speed of travel and the accumulation of knowledge and thus would be a sign in our time that the end is near. But is this really what Daniel is saying in the passage? I don’t think so.
The correct interpretation of the passage is given by Dr. Charles Ryrie in his famous Ryrie Study Bible when he says, “As the end approaches, people will travel about seeking to discover what the future holds.” Not just people in general, but the Jewish people in particular. This means that many Jews during the tribulation will study the Book of Daniel in an attempt to find out what is going on during this unique period of time. Harry Bultema says, “The movement of to and fro may refer to that of the eyes through leaves. . . . Thus considered it seems to us that the text here speaks of the diligent search of the Scripture at the end of time.” Thus, the scope would be limited to the future time of the tribulation and could not justly be applied to our own day.
There does not appear to be any real textual basis for the first interpretation. The meaning of the Hebrew words and grammar do not support such a view.

CONCLUSION

So are we living in the last days? As you can tell from the above discussion, we are currently living in the last days because we are in the church age, which is called the “last days,” “last times,” and “last time.” However, in no way shape or form are we in the last days, as the Old Testament says of Israel. Those terms, “latter days,” “last days,” “latter years,” “end of time,” and “end of the age” all refer a time when Israel is in her time of tribulation. This is a future time, which we could very well be on the verge of entering. I believe that we are seeing the stage being set for last days or end time events of the tribulation. But we are not currently in those times at the present time. Maranatha!

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a shroud of despair

Winston Churchill’s famous quip about Russia, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

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Chicago Tribune Praise for Absire’s “Lazarus. “…Blackness here is wrapped in gloom inside a shroud of despair within a veil of dreariness enveloped by a swath of nothingness.”

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North Korea: Empire of Madness by Vladimir Tismaneanu

Empire of Madness: Caligula in Pyongyang

December 17, 2013 by 
lpNorth Korea is Stalin’s ultimate dream come true. It is a most dangerous actor in world politics and a despicable tyranny where reason and moderation are treated as mortal enemies. Blind obedience is mandatory and so is infinite subservience to the Supreme Leader, the administrator of truth, memory, and universal poverty. It is the most hermetic regime in the world, an armed-to-the-teeth totalitarian despotism whose possession of  nuclear weapons  gives nightmares to all those who know how the Kim dynasty and its sycophants operate. It is, in fact, as the recent bloody purges made clearer than ever, a huge concentration camp run by a lunatic commander.

The mysterious, baby-faced monster Kim Jong-un has unleashed a Stalin-style onslaught on his own acolytes. It is like a re-enactment of the Soviet Great Purge when Stalin got rid of the whole Bolshevik Old Guard. It is not an exaggeration to predict more bloodshed to follow. No doubt the North Korean nomenklatura is now frightened and  humiliated. No one is safe in this universe of paranoid delusions and rampant suspicions.

The propaganda machine indulges in hysterical harangues against the alleged traitors, despicable vermin, “repugnant human scum,” “nauseating reptiles” and other surreal zoological metaphors. Until recently the regime’s number two, lionized as a wise advisor to the satrap, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was killed after having been swamped into an ocean of  morbid accusations. Is this the abysmal end or the frightening beginning of young Kim’s absolute rule?

As Nicholas Eberstadt has pointed out, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather and father avoided dealing mortal blows to the members of the highest communist aristocracy. They practiced a dynastic communism that blended nationalist mysticism with ferocious Stalinism. The Juche doctrine means the right of the communist Lidero Maximo to act as arbitrarily and erratically as he wishes. Initially, the enigmatic “Dear Leader,” a latter-day Caligula with a Swiss high-school background and the face of a hieratic, opaque deity, seemed to be just a puppet manipulated by his ostensibly omnipotent aunt and uncle. He has finally escaped their suffocating grip, or at least this seems to be his conviction. He acts ruthlessly and in perfect cold blood. Will he continue the carnage or will he be himself liquidated by an equally brutal backlash from those whom he wants to eliminate? Will this grotesque farce culminate in a settling of accounts that could somehow restore a minimal rationality in this empire of madness? What card will China play?

When Kim Jong-un was ritualistically anointed his father’s successor two years ago, and the world media were disseminating those mind-boggling images with teenagers hitting their heads and old ladies screaming as loud as possible their desperation, I predicted that the struggle for power would exacerbate to the point of assassinations and show trials. What is at stake is absolute power within an absolutist regime, a red monarchy if ever one was. For the time being, the “beloved aunt” and estranged wife of the executed “traitor,” has managed to survive. It is not sure at all that the vindictive Kim Jong-un will spare her. The logic of  unbound Stalinism is an ever-growing, endless purge. Still, it is hard to know whether in the dark corridors of the North Korean pyramid of power some of the alleged loyalists are not sharpening their daggers. This is not Hamlet in Pyongyang, but rather Richard III or Caligula.

I have written a lot on national Stalinism and dynastic communism in Romania, North Korea, and Cuba. There are striking similarities between Nicolae Ceausescu’s and Kim Il-sung’s experiments. In 1986 I published in the journal “Orbis” a study titled “Byzantine Rites, Stalinist Follies: The Twilight of  Dynastic Socialism in Romania.”  I explored the wedding between unbound Stalinism and nationalist delirium, the mixing of autarchic narcissism and ideological paranoia, the relations between party elite, secret police and army within a decrepit dictatorship.  I am tempted to write now an article titled  “Confucian Rites, Stalinist Follies: The Twilight of  Dynastic Communism in North Korea.” Ideological dictatorships, also known as ideocracies or logocracies, cultivate miracle, myth, and mystery (a point made by historian Fritz Stern).

In the case of North Korea, the miracle and the myth are totally exhausted. The mystery remains and this is most alarming.

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