As of June 2007, I have redesigned and relaunched the site at www.thedissidentfrogman.com/blog
This page won’t be updated anymore, and remains here for archiving purposes. After all, that’s a piece of my history.

I’m just next door, really. I have consolidated all the content of the site since 2002, and I’m running on a much improved software.

Please update bookmarks and blogrolls:
http://www.thedissidentfrogman.com (preferred)
or
http://www.thedissidentfrogman.com/blog

See you there.

A compter de juin 2007, j'ai redesigné et relancé le site en www.thedissidentfrogman.com/blog
Cette page ne sera plus mise à jour, et demeure à titre d'archive. Après tout, c'est un morceau de mon histoire.

Je ne suis pas loin, vraiment. J'ai consolidé tout le contenu depuis 2002, et je tourne sur un logiciel bien plus amélioré.

Merci de mettre à jour bookmarks et blogrolls:
http://www.thedissidentfrogman.com (de préférence)
ou
http://www.thedissidentfrogman.com/blog

Rendez-vous là-bas.

Previous: Yo! My Brother From Another Mother! • Yo! Mon Frère Né d'une Autre Mère!
Home
Next: Announcement • Annonce

September 10, 2003

What is Democracy? • Qu'est ce que la Démocratie ?

Fired from France by the dissident frogman

The most observant of my visitors probably noticed the small button that appeared in the left column last June.
Some of them might have wondered who this Pham Hong Son, designated as "Internet Dissident" could be.

I heard about Pham Hong Son last June, when the totalitarians ruling Vietnam set another row of those sadly famous political masquerade trials, specialty of the Real Socialism paradises around the world, if there was any.

At that time, Minky Worden, electronic media director at Human Right Watch noted:
« Vietnam's crackdown on critics who use the Internet to peacefully disseminate their ideas or communicate with democracy advocates abroad appears to be escalating... These harsh prison sentences and vaguely worded charges of spying appear designed to intimidate not only government critics, but everyone in Vietnam who uses the Internet. »
I put together that picture and labels and hung the Internet Dissident button on the wall of the dacha on June 19.

The day before that, at the end of a half-day closed trial in Hanoi, Pham Hong Son was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment and 3 years of house arrest on espionage charges.

« Outside observers were also barred from Pham's first trial, despite written requests to attend. The sole witness called was Pham's wife, who was only allowed to answer two "yes" or "no" questions. »
The crimes of Son "the Spy" are indeed horrendous and will repulse any conscientious Socialist despot or the average drooling clone volunteer of the French Politically Correct National Bloggade Brigade who usually see no harm in supporting the formers on the daily dissent crushing attempts, especially over the Internet.

Pham Hong Son, Internet dissident has been charged with spying because, according to the terms of the indictment (emphasis by myself):
« (he) took the initiative to communicate by telephone and e-mail with political opportunists in Vietnam and abroad (...) Son willingly supported the view of these mentioned political opportunists and became a follower of the action plan to take advantage of freedom and democracy to advocate pluralism and a multiparty system in order to oppose the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. »
Trying to use freedom and democracy to advocate pluralism and multiparty shall not be tolerated indeed.

Socialism never did, Socialism never will.

And what's worse for Son the Ungrateful Spy Who Tried to Use Freedom and Democracy Against Socialism (again, emphasis by myself):
« The indictment also says Son used email to "translate and send anti-Party and anti-government documents" to colleagues abroad. One of his alleged crimes was to translate and disseminate via email an article titled "What is Democracy?" which he downloaded from the website of the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam. »
Glad to see the Socialist Republic of Vietnam openly admitting that its government and Party are on the opposite side of democracy. Not that it comes as a surprise though (Kim Il Sung, as for him, still tries to hide awkwardly behind the smoke screen. Very funny Kim).

Anyway, you can find the original and so dangerous document here. It's actually a very interesting piece.

I certainly can't tell about you, but I know that reading it got me on board for a strange and rather disturbing experience: even though some in our liberal democracies tend to conveniently forget about it as soon as they feel like moving forward on their coercive agenda (by destroying private property and work tools for instance), we usually take democracy for granted and rarely think over its benefits and its constraints but to maintain its ways or clearly expose its enemies.

Therefore, the simple idea that this kind of comprehensive and didactic document on such an obvious and trivial issue - again, at least for us - still finds a craving audience whose daily life and perspective of future are doomed by the deprivation of this basic knowledge opened in front of me a wide and vertiginous abyss of understanding.

Standing on the edge of the abyss, one starts measuring the full extend of the destructive effect on civil society. What's more, one starts apprehending the magnitude of the task, when such long-standing dictatorships fall.

Reconstruction means going back to basics. It's not only about roads, electricity or running water. It's not just about teaching people their most basic right, freedom, and teaching them how to respect their fellow citizen's so they can eventually grow and defend it together. They know about that wherever they are. They can feel this burning flame, even when the ruling princes, juntas, commissars, ayatollahs or mullahs exerted themselves to stifle it for decades.

Going back to basics means giving them the necessary hope so they can believe in the strength of this flame, in front of the political or religious polices.

Yes, I'm thinking "Iraq" right now, where hope took the form of divisions of Marines, but not only. One look at Russia, still mixed up and fragile in the disastrous Communist legacy, one look at China and South East Asia, in no small part still crushed under the Communist boot, one wide, combining look at the Muslim world and Africa, concocting a diet of murder and oppression with the worst of the dying Socialist ideology and the worst of the growing third totalitarianism. Replacing the gammate cross with a crescent that evokes so many fond memories among the former hammer and sickle followers.

At this very minute, and without a doubt, from Iran to Vietnam there are people using the media on which you're currently reading, to learn what they miss about the roots of freedom in human societies. Most of them were born under the oppression. They were misinformed with the lies of their respective regimes.

Yet, despite what the enlightened and self-proclaimed "morally superior" Western "elite" would like us to believe, they're not stupider than anybody else and they're certainly not more "accustomed" to oppression than anybody else. They feel that something is wrong with what they've been told. Maybe they simply cannot put names on the ideas, as a result of their oppressors' efforts.

Using the Internet just as their Eastern European counterparts did when listening to Radio Free Europe, some of them can see that something is wrong indeed and they can find the right words to conceive the political implementation of their aspiration to freedom.

Unlike the limited opportunities of action offered by the radio medium, they can take an active part in the struggle for their own freedom.

If the Internet is an American invention and not a Russian, Chinese - or even a French one - and moreover, if it's one that initially emanated from the US military (not the Russian, Chinese... All right, you get the point) and yet has been opened to all and made its way up to the heart of the worst dictatorships, contributing to their brittleness - and consequently their fall - this is not, this can't be coincidental.

There are those who protest against the worldwide diffusion of American values and culture but as far as I'm concerned, there's little to complain and much to rejoice. To put it bluntly, all in all, it brought me more freedom - especially when looking back at the tragically uniform voice of the whole French press during the Iraq crisis.

Guess what? I have the feeling that even from his jail, Pham agrees with me. I'm sure his hope started to take shape, no matter his current situation.

On the other hands, his jailers and my enemies certainly have to worry about it, and they do.

His imprisonment proves it.

I would therefore say that besides the intrinsic value of this text, I do find particularly interesting and revealing to learn where a Vietnamese dissident (yes, "dissident" deserve your attention, but the really important word here is "Vietnamese"), isolated in one of the ultimate achievements of the Left, a Socialist dictatorship, and looking for references on democracy in the vast and meandering Internet, will spontaneously go to find them.

He obviously won't turn to any of the French government websites, knowing that all the genocides who murdered people and freedom - including his - in the South Asian peninsula, from Ho Chi Minh to the Khmers Rouges developed their skills at collective solutions leading to mass murder in French universities and referred to the example of the Great French Revolution, fertile womb of the modern bloodbaths and paragon of oppression "in the name of the people".

He won't go to the UN because he probably knows, by now, that besides irrelevant French foreign ministers and presidents or their Thirld World totalitarian supervisors, no decent person or government should care more than necessary about this worldwide country club of dictators and spineless downtrending European powers (only when in need of extra trucks and foot soldiers to regulate crossroad traffic once some of the aforementioned totalitarians suddenly decide to roll up their leggings and start running in zigzag between the 3rd Infantry Division and the First Marine Expeditionary Force).

As for the European Union, well, don't get me started with the European Union.

No, when Vietnamese Internet dissidents are looking for a pertinent and rightful source on democracy, they apparently trust the US of A.

Having observed that Uncle Ho is eventually beaten by Uncle Sam, I must unfortunately come to the reason why I'm telling you about Pham Hong Son now.

Two weeks ago the Vietnamese Supreme Court (whatever its legitimacy) heard exceptionally Pham's trial in appeal.

As usual, all international observers, diplomats or journalists were barred from the proceedings, but this time, the Socialist justice has been "merciful" and reduced Pham's sentence.

5 years in jail.

For translating "What is democracy?" from English to Vietnamese, and using the Internet to send it around.

I can't even tell if this very site will still be here in 5 years, when Pham is supposed to be released. But Pham - at the very least, his picture - will stay with us in the dacha nonetheless. He'll be just fine here.

For the dissident frogman, he will be another personal beacon of the true aspiration to freedom, alongside the American flag on top.

They certainly can do us bad, but in the end, the authoritarians can't take that away from us.
Les plus observateurs de mes visiteurs ont probablement remarqué le petit bouton qui est apparu dans la colonne de gauche en juin dernier.
Certains se sont même peut être demandé qui pouvait être ce Pham Hong Son, désigné comme "Internet Dissident".

J'ai entendu parler de Pham Hong Son en juin, lorsque les totalitaires dirigeant le Vietnam ont organisé une autre fournée de ces tristement célèbres mascarades procès politiques, spécialité des paradis du Socialisme Réel de par le monde, s'il en fut.

A l'époque, Minky Worden, directeur pour les media électroniques d'Human Right Watch notait :
« La répression au Vietnam des critiques qui utilisent l'Internet pour propager pacifiquement leurs idées ou communiquer avec les défenseurs de la démocratie à l'étranger semble s'intensifier... Ces lourdes peines de prison et ces accusations d'espionnage vaguement articulées semblent conçues non seulement pour intimider les critiques du gouvernement mais également quiconque utilise Internet au Vietnam. »
J'ai assemblé cette image et ces libellés et accroché le bouton Internet Dissident sur les murs de la dacha le 19 juin.

La veille, à l'issue d'une demi-journée de procès à huis clôt à Hanoi, Pham Hong Son avait été condamné à 13 années d'emprisonnement et 3 ans en résidence surveillée pour espionnage.

« Les observateurs extérieurs n'ont pas été autorisés à assister au premier procès de Pham, malgré leurs demandes écrites. Le seul témoin fut l'épouse de Pham, qui fut uniquement autorisée à répondre à deux questions par "oui" ou "non". »
Les crimes de Son "l'Espion" sont atroces en effet et répugneront tout despote socialiste consciencieux ainsi que leurs clones baveurs de la Bloggades Brigade Nationale Française du Politiquement Correct qui ne voient habituellement aucun mal à soutenir les premiers dans leurs tentatives de musellement de la dissidence, particulièrement sur l'Internet.

Pham Hong Son, dissident Internet a été accusé d'espionnage car, selon les termes de l'acte d'accusation (souligné par mes soins) :
« (il) a pris l'initiative de communiquer par téléphone et email avec des opportunistes politiques au Vietnam et à l'étranger (...) Son à volontairement soutenu les opinions desdits opportunistes politiques et il est devenu un partisan du plan d'action pour utiliser la liberté et la démocratie afin de plaidoyer en faveur du pluralisme et d'un système multipartis s'opposant au gouvernement de la République Socialiste du Vietnam. »
Tenter d'utiliser la liberté et la démocratie afin de plaidoyer en faveur du pluralisme et d'un système multipartis ne saurait en effet être toléré.

Le Socialisme ne l'a jamais admis, le Socialisme ne l'admettra jamais.

Et ce qui est encore pire de la part de Son L'Ingrat Espion Qui Tenté d'Utiliser la Liberté et la Démocratie Contre le Socialisme (là encore, souligné par mes soins) :
« L'acte d'accusation indique que Son a utilisé l'email pour "traduire et transmettre des documents anti-gouvernement et anti-Parti" à des collègues à l'étranger. L'un de ses crimes supposés était d'avoir traduit et distribué par email un article intitulé "Qu'est ce que la Démocratie ?" qu'il avait téléchargé depuis le site web de l'Ambassade U.S au Vietnam. »
Content de voir la République Socialiste du Vietnam reconnaître ouvertement que le gouvernement et le Parti sont du côté opposé à celui de la démocratie. Même si ça n'est pas franchement une surprise (Kim Il Sung, lui, tente toujours maladroitement de se planquer derrière le rideau de fumée. Très drôle Kim).

Quoi qu'il en soit, vous pouvez trouver le document original et si dangereux ici. C'est d'ailleurs une lecture très intéressante.

Je ne peux certainement rien dire en ce qui vous concerne, mais je sais que le parcourir m'a embarqué dans une étrange et quelque peu déstabilisante expérience : même si certains au sein de nos démocraties libérales ont tendance à commodément l'oublier dès lors qu'il s'agit de faire avancer leurs visées coercitives (en détruisant des propriétés privées et des outils de travail par exemple), nous tenons généralement la démocratie pour acquise et ne réfléchissons que rarement sur ses bienfaits et ses contraintes, autrement que pour en maintenir les orientations ou exposer clairement ses ennemis.

En conséquence, la simple idée que ce type de document didactique et exhaustif consacré à un sujet si évident et trivial - une fois encore, pour nous - puisse toujours trouver une audience avide dont la vie quotidienne et les perspectives d'avenir sont condamnées par la privation de ces connaissances de base à ouvert devant moi un large et vertigineux abîme de compréhension.

Debout au bord de l'abîme, l'on commence à mesure l'étendue de la destruction de la société civile. L'on commence également à concevoir l'amplitude de la tâche, lorsque de telles dictatures chutent, après un si long terme.

La reconstruction signifie qu'il faut revenir aux bases. Il ne s'agit pas seulement de routes, d'électricité ou d'eau courante. Il ne s'agit pas seulement d'enseigner aux individus leur droit le plus élémentaire, la liberté, et de leur enseigner comment respecter celle de leurs concitoyens afin qu'ils puissent la cultiver et la défendre ensemble. Ils savent cela, où qu'ils soient. Ils sentent cette flamme, même lorsque les princes, juntes, commissaires, ayatollahs ou mollahs au pouvoir se sont efforcés de l'étouffer pendant des décennies.

Revenir aux bases revient à leur donner l'espoir fondamental pour croire en la force de cette flamme, face aux polices politiques ou religieuses.

Oui, je suis en train de pense à l'Irak, où l'espoir à pris la forme de divisions de Marines, mais pas seulement. Un regard vers la Russie, toujours empêtrée dans l'héritage désastreux du Communisme, un regard vers la Chine et l'Asie du Sud-Est, en grande partie toujours écrasées par la botte communiste, un large et englobant regard vers le monde musulman et l'Afrique concoctant un régime de meurtre et d'oppression avec le pire de l'idéologie socialiste moribonde et le pire du grandissant troisième totalitarisme. Remplaçant la croix gammée par un croissant qui n'est pas sans évoquer de tendres souvenirs parmi les séides du marteau et de la faucille.

A cette minute précise il y a sans aucun doute, depuis l'Iran jusqu'au Vietnam, des individus utilisant le medium sur lequel vous lisez en ce moment, pour apprendre ce qui leur fait défaut sur les racines de la liberté dans les sociétés humaines. La plupart d'entre eux sont probablement nés sous l'oppression. Ils ont été désinformés par les mensonges de leurs régimes respectifs.

Pourtant, en dépit de ce qu'une "élite" occidentale éclairée et se proclamant "moralement supérieure" voudrait nous faire accroire, ils ne sont pas plus stupides que n'importe qui d'autre et ils ne sont certainement pas plus "habitués" à l'oppression que n'importe qui d'autre. Ils sentent que quelque chose ne colle pas avec ce qu'on leur a raconté. Ils ne peuvent peut être tout simplement pas mettre des noms sur les idées, leurs oppresseurs ayant fait en sorte qu'il en soit ainsi.

Utilisant l'Internet comme leurs alter ego d'Europe de l'Est l'ont fait en écoutant Radio Free Europe, certains d'entre eux peuvent voir qu'effectivement quelque chose ne colle pas et ils peuvent trouver les mots justes pour concevoir la mise en oeuvre politique de leur aspiration à la liberté.

Contrairement aux opportunités d'action limitées offertes par la radio, ils peuvent prendre une part active dans la lutte pour leur propre liberté.

Si l'Internet est une invention américaine et non pas russe, chinoise - ou même française - et qui plus est, si elle émane à l'origine de l'armée U.S (et pas russe, chinoise... Bon, vous avez compris) pour malgré tout en arriver à être ouverte à tous et faire son chemin jusqu'au coeur des pires dictatures, contribuant à les fragiliser - et en conséquence à les faire tomber - ce n'est pas, ça ne peut pas être une coïncidence.

Certains s'offusquent de la diffusion mondiale de la culture et des valeurs américaines mais telles que je vois les choses, il n'y a que peu à déplorer et beaucoup à célébrer. Pour exprimer cela sans ambages, cela m'a, l'un dans l'autre, apporté plus de liberté - particulièrement à l'évocation du ton tragiquement uniforme de l'ensemble de la presse française tout au long de la crise irakienne.

Devinez quoi ? J'ai le sentiment que depuis sa cellule Pham est d'accord avec moi. Je suis certain que son espoir a commencé à prendre forme, en dépit de sa situation actuelle.

A l'inverse, ses geôliers et mes ennemis ont certainement de quoi s'inquiéter, et ils le sont.

Son emprisonnement le prouve.

Je dirais donc qu'au delà de la valeur intrinsèque de ce texte, je trouve particulièrement intéressant et révélateur d'apprendre où un dissident vietnamien (oui, "dissident" mérite votre attention mais le mot vraiment important ici est "vietnamien"), isolé au sein de l'une des réussites ultimes de la gauche, une dictature socialiste, et cherchant des références sur la démocratie dans le vaste et méandreux Internet, va spontanément aller pour les trouver.

Il ne se dirigera évidemment pas vers l'un des sites gouvernementaux français, sachant que tous les génocidaires qui ont assassiné les peuples et la liberté - y compris la sienne - en Asie du Sud Est, d'Ho Chi Minh aux Khmers Rouges ont développé leurs aptitudes aux solutions collectives menant au meurtre de masse dans les universités françaises et se sont réclamés de l'exemple de la Grande Révolution Française, ventre fécond des bains de sang modernes et parangon de l'oppression "au nom du peuple".

Il ne se tournera pas vers l'ONU car il sait probablement maintenant qu'outre d'ineptes présidents ou ministres des Affaires Etrangères français ou les totalitaires du Tiers Monde qui les supervisent, aucune personne, aucun gouvernement décent ne devrait se préoccuper outre mesure de ce country club mondial de dictateurs et de veules puissances européennes sur le déclin (si ce n'est en cas de besoin de camions et de bidasses pour faire la circulation aux carrefours dès lors que certains desdits totalitaires ont choisi soudainement de relever les jambières et de partir en courant et en zig-zags entre la 3rd Infantry Division et la First Marine Expeditionary Force).

Quand à l'Union Européenne, bigre, ne me lancez pas sur l'Union Européenne.

Non, lorsque des dissidents Internet vietnamiens recherchent une source d'information pertinente et légitime sur la démocratie, il semble qu'ils accordent leur confiance aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique.

Ayant observé que l'Oncle Ho est finalement terrassé par l'Oncle Sam, je dois malheureusement en venir à la raison pour laquelle je vous parle de Pham Hong Son maintenant.

Il y a deux semaines, la Cour Suprême Vietnamienne (quelle que puisse être sa légitimité) à entendu exceptionnellement le procès de Pham en appel.

Comme d'habitude, les diplomates, journalistes et observateurs internationaux se sont vu interdire l'accès aux audiences mais cette fois, la justice Socialiste a été "clémente" et a réduit la peine de Pham.

À 5 ans de prison.

Pour avoir traduit "Qu'est ce que la Démocratie ?" de l'anglais au vietnamien et avoir utilisé l'Internet pour le diffuser.

Je ne sais même pas si ce site sera toujours là dans 5 ans, lorsque Pham est censé être libéré. Mais malgré tout, Pham - ou pour le moins son image - va rester avec nous dans la dacha. Il sera bien ici.

Pour le dissident frogman, il sera une autre balise de la véritable aspiration à la liberté, aux côtés du drapeau américain en haut de page.

Ils peuvent certainement nous infliger des coups, mais au final, les autoritaires ne peuvent pas nous enlever ça.

TrackBacks

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What is Democracy? • Qu'est ce que la Démocratie ?:

» Internet Dissident from The Conservative Crust
Find out who this man is.... [Read More]

Tracked on September 10, 2003 10:30 PM

Comments

Hello,

Merci à The Dissident Frogman de nous avoir rappelé, de belle manière ma fois, toutes les difficultés (geôles) auxquelles est confronté monsieur Pham Hong Son, et c'est avec le premier que nous nous faisons l'écho du soutien apporté au second pour son combat d'hier et sa résistance d'aujourd'hui.

Rappelons combien sont merveilleux les pays d'indochine-Cochinchine où les populations (Vietnamienne, Cambodgienne et Laotienne) sont d'une extrême courtoisie mais encore privées de l'élémentaire liberté d'expression, la censure toujours mise en oeuvre, ici ou ailleurs, d'ailleurs !

Quant à l'Europe, si si Mr D., le sujet nous anime : est-ce l'expression d'un rejet franc et argumenté ou bien s'agit-il d'un incommensurable amour où l'émotionnel et le rationnel s'entrechoquent ? Merci à vous.

Posted by: David Sohn | September 10, 2003 06:02 PM

YA baby Thats what IM talkin about. USA USA USA USA ... u get the picture

and thats why I read your stuff.

Posted by: Papertiger | September 10, 2003 07:39 PM

You amaze me.
I salute you.

Posted by: Tomcat | September 10, 2003 10:56 PM

RELATIVES OF JAILED VIETNAMESE PRIEST SENTENCED TO PRISON

Hanoi - Three family members of a jailed Vietnamese priest were handed prison sentences on Wednesday, officials said.

Court officials in Ho Chi Minh City said the two nephews and a niece of Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly were found guilty in one-day trials of providing "reactionary" organizations in the US with information about religious freedom in the Communist country. Nguyen Thi Hoa will be jailed for three years, Nguyen Truc Cuong for four years, and Nguyen Vu Viet for five years. They were arrested in June 2001, shortly after their uncle was detained.

Human rights groups have said the siblings' arrests were directly related to official ire against Father Van Ly.

Father Van Ly was arrested after a statement he wrote was read before Congress during debate over Vietnam's human rights and religious freedom situation. He is serving a 10-year jail sentence that was handed down earlier this year.

http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=39015

Posted by: Lilly | September 14, 2003 10:38 PM

Hi, I enjoy your page, it's very informative & it's very funny. I do have a question though, does France protect the Jews that live within it's borders as it does the Islamofacist? Or is there a double standard on that sorta thing?

P.S. Only two things I enjoy looking at outta France Laetitia Casta & his Blog! oi!

Posted by: Eric | September 15, 2003 01:11 AM

This is grim reading but not surprisng. Perhaps we can consider the actions of Vietnam's Stalinist regime "merciful" in comparison to what they might have done twenty years ago, which is to say, public executions or life terms in the Bamboo Gulag for not only Pham Hong Son but also his whole family. "Pour encourager les autres," as they say.

If the Twentieth Century taught us nothing else, we should have seen that this is the nature of totalitarian regimes, whatever ideology they claim to espouse. It ashames me that so many Western nations, including the US, trade with genocidal police states like Vietnam, but it no longer surprises me. We--and by "we" I do not merely mean the US--have sacrificed all our dearest ideals on the altar of "free trade," which is to say, profits for the few at the expense of the many, even if it means importing goods made by political prisoner slave labor, even if it means trading with nations that arm and train terrorists.

"I used to be disgusted, but now I'm just amused." --Elvis Costello

Posted by: my name is unimportant | December 12, 2003 09:21 AM

Well of course. I might have known that we were guilty, corrupted and only interested in profits. And therefore responsible for all the sufferings in the world.

How vile of us.

By the way, I don't know where you found that "free trade" means "profits for the few at the expense of the many".
Free trade means trading between somebody who has something to sell and somebody who wants to buy it, free from the intervention, arbitrary regulation, spoliation (read "taxes") of a third party that's not relevant in the exchange (usually states, but not only. There are so many control freaks around, they just can't get ALL elected). That's all there is to it.

And since you're amused, you should be delighted to learn that "profits for the few at the expense of the many" is exactly the way it works in Socialist regimes.

And it's not new. According to Trotsky in 1939, "the 11 or 12% ruling class of the Soviet population receive 50% of the national revenue while in the United States, the corresponding 10% only receive 35%"

Don't know about you, but I'll take the free trade path anytime.

Posted by: the dissident frogman | December 12, 2003 09:52 AM

It is merely that I do not believe that workers in the First World ought to be forced into cutthroat wage competition against political prisoner slave laborers in China or Vietnam, or seven-year-olds in Mexico or Indonesia. I do not believe that free nations should trade with totalitarian regimes at all--this is not only because it is morally unacceptable to legitimize totalitarian regimes by having relations with them, not only because totalitarian regimes generally have little with which to engage in trade except a surplus of concentration camp slave labor (meaning that the net flow of wealth will be out of my society, rather than into it, as it should be), but also because, as a practical matter, Stalinist regimes are one and all hostile to my own free society, and "free trade" with them means a hemorrhage of hard currency flowing out of my society into the coffers of governments that hate us and will surely spend the money on weapons (Communist China comes to mind here). I believe that I have a moral right to exist without being forced into merciless wage competition against lao gai concentration camp slave laborers, a competition that can only end with my wages and standard of living being equalized with theirs (incidentally, it is not only manual laborers who are suffering this fate, but also millions of American technical workers who have watched all the computer programming and information technology jobs vanish to India in the past three years--no doubt it will be engineers and scientists next).

I believe that under the social contract a government's first obligation is to its own productive citizens. Surely one of the core values of conservatism is that the productive have the first claim on the wealth that their labor creates. I see no moral difference between one parasite and the next. Drug-addled welfare recipients far outnumber billionaire bankers who demand that my tax money be used to back their Third World investment schemes (and bail them out when they fail), but the latter may well do more damage to my society.

It is, I suppose, fashionable to call this stance "protectionist" today, as if that were an evil word, but I always thought that those who have the good fortune to live in free societies had something called a "social contract" with their rulers: a quid pro quo under the terms of which the rulers protect the lives and interests of the ruled in exchange for their loyalty.

I will not make the hysterical and ridiculous claims that those on the far left make; I do not believe either that I live in a fascist police state or that the social contract has been destroyed. But I do believe that a very powerful, very wealthy, very tiny minority here is attempting to do great damage to the social contract, by demanding that the government allow them to force American workers into cutthroat wage competition against six-year-olds in Bangladesh (a competition that can only result in higher unemployment in the US, more poverty, lower wages, and higher crime, all the inescapable results of exporting hard currency) so that the few can profit at the expense of the many. I am only 50 km from the smoldering ruins of Detroit, Michigan, and have seen what "free trade" has wrought upon the people of that unfortunate city.

Posted by: my name is unimportant | December 12, 2003 09:49 PM

superbe site mon cher ami. vous honnorez (enfin) notre pays par la justesse de vos analyses, votre humour et votre courage de faire briller la flamme d'un français libre au sein de notre cloaque national.
j'aimerais pouvoir lire plus de commentaires en français sur vos prises de position, elles témoigneraient que nous ne sommes pas seuls.
Bien à vous.

Posted by: jaegger | January 27, 2004 07:55 PM

My brother in law spent a couple years at a "camp" in Vietnam so I am familiar with the way they railroad suspects and then treat them brutally in the prison system of Vietnam. He was actually a police officer and was imprisoned for a mistake (seeking petty bribes) that was committed not by him but by his subordinate. The prosecutors publicly acknowledged after the arrest that the offender was the subordinate, but held my brother in law responsible anyway. I mean, hey, he was already under arrest. They couldn't just say "oops" and let him go. Nope. They had to save face by keeping him in prison for a couple years. He's free now, but he is a physical and emotional wreck. And he prbably got favorable treatment from the guards. Five years as a political prisoner (considered lower than all other living things in prison, including the cockroaches) for Pham might as well be life. The guards in those places are the type of country bumpkins who grew up kicking cats, slaughtering pigs and have now graduated to sadism's big leagues. They would love to shit on an intellectual like Pham.

Get the book "Vietnamese Gulag". You'll see how brutal and arbitrary the VN justice system is.

Posted by: TG | February 25, 2004 08:37 PM

This Mexican advices whomever wrote that thing about "seven year olds" working like slaves in Mexico, to stop smoking that kind of dope, it's really damaging for your brains, as I can see. Gee, that sure is a far-fetched idea, really amusing to see how some people will use any idiotic notion and treat it as a piece of truth LOL. After reading such bunk, I have serious doubts about the six-year-olds in Bangla Desh. And about everything else expressed by the poster.

Posted by: Miguel | May 8, 2004 09:29 AM

Free trade means not using the police power of the state to force consumers to buy goods & services only from approved sources. If you wish to boycott the exports of a dictatorship, do so, and encourage others to follow your lead. For that matter, you can boycott any nation or seller for any reason.

In general, it is best to expand trade and all links with the "developing" nations. Their inclusion in a network of commerce tends to militate against exploitation of their work forces.

Free trade is not just a goal, it's a process that opens societies up, brings change, enhances the flow of infomation and challenges the enemies of Liberty. No, it's not perfect, but it's better than discriminating against your own citizens -- using them as pawns in your ideological war against your perceived villains. In some cases, regime change should be imposed because the villain really needs to be removed and his people freed, but we do that with bullets and bombs, not boycotts. See The Pentagon's New Map, by Barnett, ISBN 0-399-15175-3, for more on this.

In short: withhold your money from specified vendors if you wish, but don't deny me the option to buy what I consider best for my purposes.

Posted by: L. Barnes | December 11, 2004 01:12 PM

I think you should not mix up Ho Chi Minh and the Khmers Rouges.
Ho Chi Minh fought the occupant and the "traitors" who were hnds in hands with the occupant. The Khmers Rouges killed his people.

Il ne faut quand même pas confondre Ho Chi Minh et les Khmers Rouges. Ho Chi Minh a fait la guerre aux occupants et aux collabos alors que les Khmers Rouges ont exterminé leur peuple.

Posted by: jesus2099 | November 10, 2005 11:28 AM

"I think you should not mix up Ho Chi Minh and the Khmers Rouges. Ho Chi Minh fought the occupant and the "traitors" who were hnds in hands with the occupant. The Khmers Rouges killed his people."

Tell that to the boat people - and to all the non-Communist vietnamese.

"Il ne faut quand même pas confondre Ho Chi Minh et les Khmers Rouges. Ho Chi Minh a fait la guerre aux occupants et aux collabos alors que les Khmers Rouges ont exterminé leur peuple."

Allez dire ça aux boat people - et à tous les vietnamiens non communistes...

Posted by: the dissident frogman | November 10, 2005 11:36 AM