Brand Communism, or at least its subsidiary in Kerala, is having a bit of trouble finding an ambassador. Lenin is dated, Stalin discredited, Fidel passed away and Che has been appropriated. Domestic leaders, including and especially CPM politburo member and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, need allies and icons in the fight against “global capitalism” and the “neoliberal imperialist order”. And creeping his way into the pantheon of the champions of scientific socialism in Kerala is, wait for it, Kim Jong Un, the hereditary authoritarian ruler of North Korea.
It began last month when the CPM local committee in Pampadumpara in Idukki district put up flex boards with Kim Jong Un’s photograph to publicise the area-level party conference. Idukki district secretary K.K. Jayachandran had said then that “the party does not attest to the stand” that the North Korean despot is someone who should be revered as challenging the US. Something has changed in the new year. Both Vijayan and CPM Kerala secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have held up Kim junior and North Korea as an example. Vijayan stated the US has been exerting pressure on North Korea because of “its strong anti-American stance”, yet “that country could effectively resist US pressure”. Balakrishnan went a step further to declare that “to prevent North Korea from emerging as an economic force” and for its socialist policies, the “US is arming South Korea”.
In its “enemy of my enemy” logic, the CPM seems blind to the excesses of a ruler who is neither scientific nor socialist, and is an authoritarian megalomaniac who shows off his hand on the “nuclear button”. The “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” is, Marxist ideologues say, the basis on which policy and postures are formed. Blind valorisation of Kim illustrates the growing gulf between that lofty maxim and actual party practice.