The VCR killed communism - lessons for dealing with North Korea

For decades now political scientist and politicians have tried to figure out why the communist experiment in the Soviet Union failed when it did. That it was going to eventually was not as much of a puzzle as was / is why did it happen when it did and what were the proximate causes (as opposed to the ultimate causes if one adopts Jarred Diamond's terminology).

My contention has long been that the most destructive weapon against communist ideology was the VCR. With increasing proportion of the population being able to see "how the other side lives", all the propaganda simply could not keep the genie in the bottle. People wanted to have a refrigerator and became unwilling to suffer the trade-off involved in not having a refrigerator so that the country can afford more MIG-17s.

What Voice of America or Radio Free Europe could not achieve because they were considered mere counter propaganda and as such inherently not to be trusted any more than home grown propaganda, was accomplished by watching movies. This undermined the local propaganda (which told people that ordinary people in the West were suffering mightily on a daily basis) and unleashed the desire to have (fill in the blanks here as to what to have).

The lesson then, as it applies to North Korea, is that B-1 overflights might be noticed on radar screens by North Korean leadership but for ordinary people they are even more stealthy than in this case they are meant to be. No joint naval military exercise of the US with South Korea could possibly match the destructive, regime undermining pressure of making available free DVD players to the North Korean public and distributing secretly to them lots of movies. I would recommend comedies.


Liam Whalen said…

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