Archive for July 29th, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

“People Internalized their Fear” – Stéphane Courtois on Totalitarianism

Stéphane Courtois is a French historian, probably best known for his Black Book of Communism. The following is a quote from  Radio Romania International (RRI) of July 19.

[…] This is an important issue, all the more so as communism is one of the key phenomena of the past century. If we want to understand communism, we must understand the nature of this regime. If it was, as I personally believe, a totalitarian regime, we must draw some obvious conclusions. If it wasn’t totalitarian, then obviously conclusions will be different. However, given that now archives are open, and also considering the large number of papers by historians, who for twenty years now have worked the documents we didn’t have access to before, it is clear that nobody can deny the totalitarian dimension of that regime.

There is one more question pending, though: did communism remain totalitarian after the death of Stalin? I believe it did, because it maintained the same structures. A single party, a political police force, a civil-war army, the same ideology and same people. What is true is that after Stalin had died, repression was less violent, less intensive. There were no longer large-scale massacres, just a general control over society, carried out by the political police and the political party.

Unfortunately, what happened, was that people internalized their fear – and when people start fearing, there is no more room left for democracy. Because the basic principle of democracy is precisely freedom of expression.

Courtois visited the Republic of Moldova, and Romania, this month. He is rector of the Sighet Su­mmer School.


» Obituary: Yelena Bonner, 1923 – 2011, June 25, 2010
» China: Authoritarian or Totalitarian, March 9, 2010
» Le Rapport Khrouchtchev, FondaPol/Youtube, March 4, 2009


Friday, July 29, 2011

SID to End (Certain?) Special Funds “Misappropriation Investigations”?

I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly, but if I am, the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Division (SID) in Taipei would plan to put an end to investigations of special fund use by Taiwanese leaders. The BBC Chinese reports that after Taiwan’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan, had passed legislation to this end in May this year, the SID would now terminate its investigations accordingly. The report suggests that Ma Ying-jeou and Lien Chan might benefit from the arrangement, but it doesn’t mention former president Lee Teng-hui who is charged with embezzlement of a special diplomatic fund during his presidency, allegedly in or around 1994.

It seems that the special diplomatic fund which is the issue in the charges against Lee are counted into a different category than the special monthly allowances referred to by this China Post article.

The legislative arrangement of May would only apply to administrative chiefs at the central and local government levels. It does not cover grassroots officials, such as representatives elected to local assemblies., the China Post wrote in May.

Waiting for more coverage…


Updates / Related

From a Commenter on this blog, on July 9:

Thanks to the KMT-dominated judicial system, it is no longer illegal for politicians to use special funds for personal ends. If Ma were somehow reindicted today, he would certainly be not guilty even if he couldn’t find another accountant to take the fall for him. Under these circumstances, one might argue that a president or ex-president should receive the same treatment. In other words, your post is missing a bit of the context. I agree that some in the Green camp may be willing to overlook potential transgressions by Lee because he is their man. But the case itself highlights the ridiculous lack of fairness in the blue-dominated judicial system. Somehow, CSB and LTH are guilty. Yet Ma is not? And why stop there? Where are the calls within the blue camp to reevaluate the records and legacies of CCK and CKS?


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