Banishing Ideological Boggarts


My first instinct was to agree with the boys at Catallarchy that this story about the new ironic fascination of South Korea's hipster class with the communist North was "really, really creepy and nauseating." But then I remembered the characteristically insightful maxim of Isaiah Berlin that "ridicule kills more surely than savage indignation." Certainly, it would be grotesque to lose sight of the tragic consequences of communism, or of the threat someone like Kim Jong Il still represents. But this is probably, on the whole, a healthy sign. To hate and fear an ideology is to reveal that one still regards it as powerful and threatening—and, in a sense, to feed its power and mystique. What is reviled may become more seductive to some people precisely because it is reviled. North Korean communism, it seems, has been reduced to a punchline or a party theme.