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By George Novack

Marxism is dialectical, Novack explains. It considers all phenomena of their improvement, of their transition from one country to a different. And it truly is materialist, explaining the area as topic in movement that exists ahead of and independently of human cognizance.

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Strengthening of the coal supply and transport systems must go hand in hand with boiler rehabilitation if the amount of useful energy available in the DPRK is to increase. Coal supply system rehabilitation will require provision of basic systems in mines for providing ventilation, light, and motive power for water pumping and extraction of coal, as well as improvements in mine safety. Coal may or may not be the fuel of the future for the DPRK, but it is the fuel of the present, and it is hard to conceive of an economic improvement in the DPRK, at least in the short to medium term, that does not substantially rely on coal.

Even when the right people to work with can be identified and are made available, decisions on how to proceed may be made as much on political grounds as with regard to practical considerations, sometimes with suboptimal results in terms of project impacts. Finally, an existing culture where graft and patronage are commonplace means that it is highly likely that providing too much aid too soon—particularly in the form of very large projects with necessarily complex management structures—will result in inefficient use of resources and, at worst, failure of the projects altogether.

1 The economic, if not social and political, landscape in the DPRK changed markedly during the 1990s. Although only very limited and fragmented data have been available from inside the DPRK itself, information from outside observers of the country indicates that the North North Korea’s Energy Security 25 Korean economy was at best stagnating, and most probably in considerable decline, through the mid-1990s. This economic decline has been both a result and a cause of substantial changes in energy demand and supply in North Korea since 1990.

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