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The Political Exploitation of Grief And Death in North Korea, America, And Iran

Saman Mohammadi
The Excavator
December 20, 2011

“In politics, as Jacques Derrida reminds us, the dead are sometimes more powerful than the living. To invoke their ghosts can constitute an affirmative practice rather than an immobilizing regret; it is to speak of the future, of revenance as re-naissance or rebirth.” – Catherine Guisan, Of September 11, Mourning and Cosmopolitan Politics. (1).

“Every human society is, in the last resort, men banded together in the face of death.” – Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. (2).

“Communal loss can shape history.” – Tony Walter, The Sociology of Death. (3).

The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il led to an immediate outpouring of grief on the streets and public squares in North Korea by ordinary people.

Due to the nature of North Korea’s mass brainwashing and cult system, it is tough to tell if people are pressured to cry by the authorities or if they are honestly expressing their pain and sadness.

But that difference doesn’t really matter in the bigger picture because either way the collective outpouring of grief is a mass public ritual that is politically orchestrated to create the maximum propaganda effect in North Korean society. So whether the intense expression of emotion is fake or forced, the political effect is the same.

Based on this video, my guess is that North Korea’s collective grief over the loss of their Father is reflective of the religious devotion that many North Koreans are taught at a young age to show towards the State and the Great Leader.

All elites of totalitarian societies, including those in the present era like Iran and America, exploit the deaths of important leaders to generate mass emotion and use the potent and spiritual power of grief to advance the regime’s dictatorial policies.

The deaths of Khomeini, Reagan, and Kim-Jong il were all politically exploited by the totalitarian architects in Iran, America, and North Korea in the context of their different totalitarian systems.

The cult of Ayatollah Khomeini as Spiritual Father in Iran, the cult of President Reagan as Untouchable Icon and Celebrity in America, and the cult of the Great Dear Leader in North Korea, are all manifestations of the same terrifying and sick socio-political phenomenon.

Glenn Greenwald wrote about how the totalitarian U.S. media treated the death of the Untouchable Icon Ronald Reagan on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Here is a long excerpt from his article:

“One of the most intensely propagandistic weeks in the last several decades began on June 5, 2004, the day Ronald Reagan died at the age of 93 in Bel Air, California. For the next six days, his body was transported to, and his casket displayed in, multiple venues around the nation — first to a funeral home in Santa Monica; then to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, where it remained for two full days as over 100,000 people paid their respects; then onto the U.S. Capitol, where his casket was taken by horse-drawn caisson along Constitution Avenue, and then lay in state under the dome for the next day-and-a-half; then to a state funeral at Washington’s National Cathedral presided over by President Bush and attended by dozens of past and present world leaders; and then back to the Presidential Library in California, where another service was held and his body finally interred. Few U.S. Presidents in history, if any, have received anything comparable upon their death; as CNN anchor Judy Woodruffobserved the day Reagan’s body arrived in the capital: “Washington has not seen the likes of this for more than 30 years.”Each one of those mournful events was nationally televised and drenched in somber, intense pageantry. At the center of it all was the prominently displayed grief of his second wife, Nancy, to whom he was married for 52 years. The iconic moment of the week-long national funeral occurred on the last day, at the internment, when she broke down for the first time and famously hugged and kissed her husband’s casket, while holding a folded American flag, seemingly unwilling to let him go immediately before his body was lowered into the ground.

But the most notable aspect of that intense public ritual was the full-scale canonization of this deeply controversial, divisive and consequential political figure. Americans — including millions too young to remember his presidency — were bombarded with a full week of media discussions which completely whitewashed Reagan’s actions in office: that which made him an important enough historical figure to render his death worthy of such worldwide attention in the first place. There was a virtual media prohibition on expressing a single critical utterance about what he did as President and any harm that he caused.”

The devotion of the people to the leader in North Korea can’t be compared to the level of worship in American society or Iranian society. On the scale of totalitarianism, America is a three, Iran is a six, and North Korea is a ten. So I am not comparing America to North Korea, but there are freaky similarities, chief among them being the people’s worship of the State and its selected leaders.

The unquestioning acceptance of the government’s word is another similar characteristic that America, Iran, and North Korea all share. Questioning the U.S. government in the days after 9/11 was a social and political sin. Those who didn’t buy the official story of the tragedy were called mentally ill and paranoid. Even ten years later, telling the truth about the event is not a popular thing to do.

The political exploitation of tragedies like 9/11, which generate huge collective emotion, is a very evil and brazen act. But it doesn’t have to be terrorist attacks. Mass shootings are also politically exploited, mainly by Democrats, who use the deaths of innocents to attack the second amendment.

What we see in America, Iran, North Korea, Israel, England, and other totalitarian societies, is the State as the guardian of collective memory and the generator of collective meaning. People who express a different narrative of the 9/11 attacks are attacking the American Totalitarian State’s monopoly on the collective memory of that highly symbolic and political event.

All forms of top-down political and social collectivization are inherently evil, no matter if it is Islamic, Communist, Fascist, or New Age Luciferian. So, yes, America is not North Korea, but it is led by evil people who think the same way and use the same methods of control.

Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, repeatedly generates collective emotion in his political speeches to make his brainwashed followers cry. Scenes of Iranian military members and volunteer soldiers crying during government ceremonies and speeches are similar to the scenes of crying that we’re seeing in North Korea

The political use of emotion by power-possessed rulers is what keeps populations loyal to a totalitarian regime. Some people break out and think for themselves, but the psychological pressure to follow along with the herd and join the mass ritual of grief is hard to resist for a lot of people.

Public expressions of grief over the loss of meaningful and monumental individuals is normal and part of the human condition. But in America, Iran, North Korea, and other repressive countries, the natural process of grief is exploited for political purposes by totalitarian myth makers who desire collective obedience to the State.

The political exploitation of grief and loss is much more extreme in Iran and North Korea. America is nowhere on the same level. But the fact that America has the same characteristics of other totalitarian societies, along with the biggest military in the world, makes America the most dangerous country in the world.

Imagine if North Korea was a superpower. Or if the Iranian mullahs were in charge of an empire. The amount of military power and global reach that the totalitarian American empire possesses is the reason why I fear America above any other nation.

The treacherous hijackers of the American government are without a doubt the most demonic monsters walking the planet today. Let’s hope they all meet the same fate as North Korea’s Kim Jong-il in this decade and their evil empire collapses so that the world can be free and prosperous.


1. Guisan, C. (2009). Of September 11, Mourning and Cosmopolitan Politics. Constellations, 16 (4), 563-578. Pg. 565

2. Berger, P. (1969). The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Anchor Press. Pg 51.

3. Walter, T. (2008). The Sociology of Death. Sociology Compass, 2(1), 317-336. Pg. 326.


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