Damn. Every insight brings its enlightenment and disillusionment.
This is a painful one, but it does have its silver lining.
Here is the insight, and the pain: Human beings are inherently illogical, and so is the world.
The silver lining: The insight led me to drink some mighty fine single-malt scotch. And this led me to a second insight.
The second insight: Spanish businessmen will do anything and say anything as long as they can keep shoveling the dough into their pockets.
The second silver lining: Some more premium scotch was required, to soften the blow of so much insight.
The disillusionment: I ran out of scotch.
Where did all of this enlightenment come from? Here you go:
Today’s edition of the Spanish newspaper ABC features a story about a Catalan businessman who is in love with “utopian communism” and is now doing business with North Korea, carrying on as an entrepreneur, making money through importing and exporting.
Huh? Say that again?
Yes, he is a die-hard communist who is also, at the very same time, making a living as a capitalist, probably also making a fortune by trading with one of the most oppressive places on earth, in which capitalism is considered evil.
And he has been living in Viet Nam for seventeen years, where his import-export business is thriving.
Among the gems spouted by this living bundle of contradictions named Josep María Gallén :
He was thrilled to be the only Westerner in Pyongyang after the death of “the beloved leader Kim Jong-il.”
He loves North Korea and its ruling dynasty because he hates “the abhorrent capitalist system which was held together with pins and has now crashed due to the bursting of the real estate bubble.”
He knows that all North Koreans “adore” the Kim dynasty because the soldiers on guard at the 38th parallel border with South Korea told him so. (Sound familiar?)
He thinks the United States is a worse violator of human rights than North Korea because it keeps terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo. And he thinks Spain is worse off than North Korea because – while no one starves to death in Spain – there are far too many Spaniards lined up at the doors of charitable organizations. (Sound familiar?)
He argues that all of the economic problems of North Korea are caused by “the international embargo, not by its government.” (Sound familiar?)
Then he boasts of having enjoyed a Coca-Cola in some North Korean cafeteria, where coffee costs three Euros, and turns around and blames the prices on “the embargo.”
(This echo is starting to annoy me).
“Yes,” he admits, “microwave ovens and televisions are a luxury here, but there is no illiteracy.” (Stop it already…. this echo is now hurting my brain)
And… he is thrilled to report that he had a chance to ride the subway in Pyongyang, and to visit all seven of its stations, rather than just one, which is all that most tourists ever get to see. He was even more thrilled to speak freely with North Koreans at these subway stops. “I got to ask them whatever I wanted to ask, and they asked me questions too.”
(Damn it, I think my head is going to explode from this echo).
Finally…. he and his business partner, another Catalan named Alejandro Cao de Benós have founded an organization, the Association of Friends of North Korea, which organizes trips to “the world’s most closed and isolated country.”
(Trips? Tourism? The exoticism of the forbidden and utterly backward? Stop this echo… I can’t take any more….).
Ka-Blam! There went my head……. Maybe it will grow back by the time I wake up, with more hair on top than it had before it exploded.