Dear Reader Almost Passes the Ideological Turing Test
By Bryan Caplan
Michael Malice‘s Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il is not what I expected. I thought it was going to be a hilarious mockery of North Korean totalitarianism. Instead, it’s an almost pitch-perfect simulation of the autobiography Kim Jong Il would have written. Except for the conclusion, Malice’s book comes close to passing my Ideological Turing Test. He writes North Korean propaganda like a true believer. A typical passage:
Day and night, I read the Marshal’s works on the Juche idea and made it the sole criterion for the rest of my thinking. But in order to understand the origins of the Marshal’s works, I studied the Marxism-Leninism that inspired him. And in order to master Marxism-Leninism, I studied the bourgeois philosophers which the founders of Marxism-Leninism read so critically. I enjoyed reading the classical German philosophy which culminated in Kant and Hegel – and I was put off by the many fallacies preached by the English economists and the French Utopian socialists.
After all my study, I concluded that, in fact, Marxism-Leninism was wholly correct. It was an indictment of the inhuman nature of capitalism, and it put the worker class on the stage of history. It was an inspiration, a call to drive bourgeois exploiters and plunderers to destruction. Yes, Marxism-Leninism was wholly correct – but only under the historical conditions under which it had been founded.
I rejected dogmatism in learning and upheld creativity – and I deduced that Marxism-Leninism was not a dogma but a creative theory. It had been necessary to creatively apply its principled to develop a new system meeting the new requirements of the new revolution. And that was precisely what Prime Minister Kim Il Sung had done.
How good is Malice’s mimicry? Compare the text above to Kim Jong Il’s Giving Priority to Ideological Work is Essential for Accomplishing Socialism. Random passage:
To maintain socialism and lead it to victory, we must intensify ideological work. Only when we have solidly armed the popular masses with socialist ideology and strengthened the ideological bulwark of socialism can we consolidate and develop socialism and firmly defend it from any storm. This has been clearly proved by revolutionary experience. If it secures ideology, socialism will triumph; it if loses ideology, socialism will go to ruin. This is a truth that has been substantiated by history.
The downside of Malice’s skill is that book isn’t very fun to read. You really feel like you’re listening to a Communist dictator rambling on and on. But if you want to learn how to accurately state views that any sensible person would reject, read Dear Reader!