Research and study of ideologies of social and national emancipation and their application to conditions within imperialist society

Speech to the international seminar on

“Independence, sovereignty and social development”

on the occasion of the

75th anniversary of the founding of the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea


Rome, 3 September 2023


Keith Bennett



Dear Comrades and Friends

First, allow me to express my thanks to the European Regional Society for the Study of the Juche Idea, the International Institute of the Juche Idea, and the Korean Association of Social Scientists for everything they have done to organise and arrange this important seminar, which greets the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I am very sorry not to be able to be with you in person due to pressing commitments in London. But thanks to modern technology, I am very pleased to be able to join you online.

Greeting the 75th year of the DPRK, it is important to note that it is the world’s longest existing socialist country. Its very existence therefore carries profound importance and lessons for the working class and popular masses of every country without exception.

That the DPRK should be able to not only exist and survive, but to develop and prosper; that it should be able to build a socialist industrial state on the basis of self-reliance and a most powerful, self-reliant national defence, featuring even a nuclear deterrent and intercontinental ballistic missiles; and all this despite facing the world’s longest-lasting and most draconian sanctions, is all testimony to the centrality of the key inter-related themes that you have taken as the focus for today’s event, namely independence, sovereignty and social advancement.

These concepts together form a dialectical and inseparable whole. The DPRK is the world’s most independent country. In Britain, early in 2020, faced with the need to take measures in the face of the global pandemic, there was panic buying and scarcity of various essential goods and products not so much within days as within hours. But the DPRK can dynamically continue its socialist construction, building whole new villages and towns, despite maintaining preventive border closures for more than three years. It is precisely in the face of such a once in a century occurrence that we can more profoundly grasp the wisdom and far-sightedness of President Kim Il Sung’s insistence on independence and self-reliance – a policy that was carried on and developed by General Kim Jong Il and now by the respected supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

Moreover, the DPRK is the world’s most thoroughgoing socialist country. Its people centred socialism and way of life has entered deep into the soul of the popular masses, with the working class at the core. And it is only by building a socialist state centred on the popular masses, in which everything exists to serve them, that the DPRK has been able to maintain its independence and sovereignty, to an unparalleled degree, despite the unremitting hostility of the combined forces of modern imperialism, with US imperialism at their head, for every single day of the last 75 years.

Independence and sovereignty are therefore both the necessary precondition for social advancement as well as its indispensable guarantee.

The DPRK not only embodies this in practice. It has also crystallised it in theory in the Juche Idea and Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism. In this sense, it represents both a new and original revolutionary theory but also a significant application, development, and perfection of the theory of scientific socialism.

It is an issue that scientific socialism has grappled with since its creation. Too many Marxists, particularly in the imperialist countries, have been overly fond of repeating Marx and Engels’ observation from the Communist Manifesto, that, “the working men have no country.” They all too often ignore what Marx and Engels went straight on to write:

 “We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.”

Thus, far from taking a dismissive or nihilistic approach to questions of nations and nationalities, scientific socialism holds that the working class must, as its primary task, gain political supremacy and in so doing constitute itself as the nation. In other words, the project of building socialism is precisely, in its concrete form, a nation building project with the working class at the helm. This is precisely what the DPRK materially embodies in an exemplary way.

This, in turn, has to be understood in the context of the relationship between nations. And not simply between this or that individual nation but on a worldwide scale. It nevertheless retains its bilateral manifestations and has its origin in individual phenomena.

Marx and Engels expanded on and developed this idea primarily by studying and writing about the relationship between England and Ireland. Although they certainly also closely followed and wrote about events and trends in Poland, India, China, and many other countries.

On 9 April 1870, Marx wrote to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt as follows:

“After studying the Irish question for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the decisive blow against the English ruling classes (and it will be decisive for the workers’ movement all over the world) cannot be delivered in England but only in Ireland.”

And it was in Ireland that James Connolly first began to articulate the impossibility of completing even the national liberation struggle of a colonial or oppressed nation without putting the working class in the lead and taking the road to socialism.

In 1897, he issued this prescient warning:

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”

Still today, if we look at the situation across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, we can see the veracity of Connolly’s analysis, whether in the negative sense of those still enchained by the shackles of neo-colonialism as well as in the positive sense of those aspiring, and taking the road, to socialism.

As Comrade Kim Jong Il pointed out, it was the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia that pushed the national liberation struggles in the colonies and semi-colonies to the centre stage of world affairs, so that what Marx had identified in his study of the relationship between England and Ireland now pertained on a world scale and what Connolly had identified in Ireland now pertained in countries worldwide. Inevitably, this also meant, as Kim Jong Il observed, that the world revolution made progress in new and diverse ways and different roads to socialism emerged.

In September 1977, in On Publishing the Thesis on Socialist Education, Comrade Kim Il Sung pointed out that:

“After World War II in particular the chains of capitalism fell apart and the socialist revolution triumphed in a great number of countries, and many oppressed peoples won national independence, throwing off the colonial fetters of imperialism and they are now advancing along the socialist road.”

He continued: “Today the move towards socialism is the irresistible trend of the times. The countries of the third world and most of the newly independent nations are now declaring their intention to advance along the road to socialism. True, the socialism advocated by each of them may be different – whether scientific socialism or unscientific socialism. Some people are even claiming now that their socialism is a religious socialism. But whatever kind of socialism they may claim to be adopting, they all recognise that socialism is good.”

History does not proceed in a straight line and since these words were written, we had the bitter experience of the collapse of the first socialist state in history and of the European socialist countries.

But today, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Republic of Cuba are successfully building socialism. They are increasingly and practically demonstrating its superiority over crisis-ridden capitalism and as a result their international prestige is steadily increasing, as seen not least in the daily growing popularity of such initiatives and bodies as the Belt and Road Initiative, the BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which have socialist China at their core. Meanwhile, countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Eritrea, and Nepal, to take some prominent examples, are aspiring to socialism and embarking on the struggle to build it, while Belarus, in particular, retains many socialist gains and features.

Comrade Kim Il Sung’s wise and prescient words are clearly as pertinent now as they were in 1977.

Today, from Ukraine to West Africa, we are entering a new and heightened phase of the global struggle against imperialism. Seeing the footage of the masses in Niger expressing their determination to stand up to imperialism and build a new society by taking to the streets and proudly waving the flag of the DPRK, as has been seen just this week, shows that socialist Korea’s stand for independence, sovereignty and social advancement continues to inspire people throughout the world in their just struggles for liberation.

Thank you very much for your attention.





Writings of Keith Bennett