L’ouvrage est disponible en anglais en ligne sur le site Ai Huu Luat Khoa.com (Nguyen Manh Tuong, An Excommunicated – pdf – Bich Hop Publishings, 2008).
A FEW NOTES FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD
It is, indeed, a great privilege for us at BichHop Publishings to have the opportunity of making available this English version of Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong's book An Excommunicated, written and published in French more than fifteen years ago under the title Un Excommunié. The foremost reason for this challenging task is our wish to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong, not only among his fellow countrymen but also to other literary circles outside Viet Nam. The English language is now an international vehicle of communication, and it is our hope that this effort of providing an English version of Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong's book will surely help people throughout the world know and appreciate the kind of life and ideas he lived through.
Nguyen Manh Tuong is an outstanding witness of his time with an exceptional intellect which goes well beyond the borders of his native land. With two doctorate degrees in Law and Letters from the Université de Montpellier at the age of 22, his case is quite unique for a Vietnamese and even rare for French nationals! Nguyen Manh Tuong's fight for what he believed to be his country's independence and sovereignty against foreign presence is an interesting lesson for explaining the fratricidal conflict between Vietnamese from the 1950s to the 1970s, then followed by his intellectually unyielding struggle in the 1980s and 1990s for human rights, dignity, freedom and democracy against political oppression and social discrimination, together with extreme physical hardship, is an extraordinary, tragic but enlightening experience which is worth sharing with others. To read the book "An Excommunicated" is quite an exciting adventure of the mind when one tries to understand Nguyen Manh Tuong's thoughts and feelings but it is equally an enriching, beneficial and most entertaining journey.
To translate is always to betray a little and we do not have the ambition of escaping from this inherent difficulty when dealing with languages, especially with Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong's tremendously emphatic manner of expression, almost a kind of speaking language to a friend but with its touch of elegance from La Belle Epoque and its fashionable style of writing so rich in reminiscence of words and terms from the French literature of the "entre les deux guerres," the between-war years of the 1920s and 1930s, a remarkable period with highly distinguished French writers and thinkers, with Nguyen Manh Tuong among them. The only way to do justice to the numerous writings of Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong is for us to encourage and welcome comments from his former colleagues, students, friends, acquaintances and readers who might have known him well, are more familiar with his works, and possess a deeper comprehension and surely a better knowledge of his inner thoughts and sentiments.
There is always an endless quest for improvement and, therefore, we wish to express hereby our profound appreciation for any assistance, suggestion and advice which may help make this first English version of Professor Nguyen Manh Tuong's book "An Excommunicated" more meaningful and useful to the public at large.
BichHop Publishings is totally free of any affiliation to any trends of thinking, whether political, social or literary. Its sole purpose is to create opportunities for ideas and thoughts to flow and interact freely among all the people of goodwill in the world.
THE RISE TO THE CAPITOL
A few months after Dien Bien Phu I was summoned to present myself to the Northern underground organization. I thought that I would have to attend a political course, as usual. Our leaders were very concerned about their task of educating the masses and liked to evangelize to the intellectuals by instilling them into Marxist-Leninist notions which they believed to have the monopoly. By playing this trump card of theirs, they thought they would be able to impose respect to the intellectuals and, in that way, liquidate their own complex of inferiority. It was quite naïve but all the great men must have their naivety. Therefore, I braced myself to spend many long hours of listening to some stumbling orators who would not prevent me, in my usual chosen little dark corner, from yawning if not sleeping, and dreaming whatever could please me. But the resounding victory that we had achieved recently did lead me to think of something. My anticipations were confirmed when I saw a thousand cadres belonging to various services gathered in the Tan Trao region. Then we knew that we had to learn "politics" - that was the established word, in Viet Nam everything was "politics" - which would regulate the ceremonials for the return of the resistance government in Hanoi. The colonial troops were clearing off and had to hand over to the proper administrative agencies the premises with their equipment and even the Vietnamese personnel who were employed there.
The studies which we had been invited to undertake were about our attitude with regard to the civil servants who were assigned to transmit to us the services where they used to work during the time of French occupation. Our secret agents in Hanoi had already set up the file of the cadres staff, with their curriculum vitae, family status, attitudes about the Resistance, feelings about their French superiors and about France, as well as their capabilities and aspirations. Such information proved to be precious and helped us assess the level of trust that we could give to each of them, the support that we might have from each of them and what could be expected from them. Thus, we did not have to venture into unknown territory where we could stumble over obstacles, and fall into traps.
But the sensitive question was to find out how to behave with these people whose sentiments were hidden behind the screen of politeness and smiles. Members of the Resistance must watch themselves with vigilance about their language, their way of looking at people, their gestures, in order to avoid expressing the slightest hint of contempt or condescension for their subordinates. The high dignitaries of the Party had also understood this and worked out their attitudes; unfortunately, the pack of valets making up their following did not fail at any time to display a ridiculous and harmful haughtiness. They glorified themselves for having endured pain and sickness in the resistance underground, and wanted to be paid back for their sacrifices by the unfortunate people who did not have the chance to participate in the Resistance! The harm caused by such criminal recklessness was very great. The gulf between the two sections of the population deepened even more. Among the dissatisfied, there were those who emigrated abroad, depriving their own country of their belongings, of their patriotism, offering their possessions as gifts to the countries which gave them shelter and the conditions to edify a new life much more suitable to their desires and wishes. Others, already worked up by an endless fire of hatred against communism, were looking for the right opportunity to exacerbate their resentment, constitute secret associations, establish relations with our enemies overseas, received financial aids, advices and even military support from them, with the aim of fomenting disorder, uprisings and, if possible, even a coup d'Etat. The majority of the population stagnated in indifference, wait-and-see, without much thinking or looking forward to a change of regime; they remained silent, observed, listened, refrained themselves from taking any action or showing any enthusiasm in the work given or assigned to them. Whenever an activity was done heartlessly, without joy, without enthusiasm, it could not generate effective results, and all the more so when the socialist government in spite of its proclamations - which turned out to be laughable bragging - was incapable of giving its civil servants the vital minimum of subsistence. These government employees, previously well paid by the French colonialists, were able to hang on to their sumptuous salaries for a while. But a few good souls among them, who were duly "advised" and given chapter and verse by the authorities, gave up under either threats or wonderful promises and initiated a motion for the equalization of the remunerations, not in the sense of bringing up the low wages but that of pushing down the high salaries. In order to make their colleagues eat humble pie, the instigators of this motion whispered into their ears: "During the Resistance, we did not have to confront hunger or cold, to risk death; we led a warm, happy and comfortable life in our homes. Is it not logical, reasonable that we give up our prerogatives, and reduce our incomes to the levels of our colleagues in the resistance? We will thus accomplish a deed of justice, we will manifest our capability of accepting a sacrifice, we will no longer be the object of other people's scorn, we will bring about unity in the body of civil servants and, equal to one another, we will toil together for the task of national reconstruction." More than one person was shivering from the cold while listening to these words which were inspired from high above, and all felt in their mouths the bitterness of an unknown gall. It was the taste of misery in which all the government employees were rotting!
For their part, the population themselves nurtured in their hearts a friendly curiosity for us. The same blood was flowing in our arteries, our past provoked in us the same pride and the same humiliation. Dien Bien Phu inflated our hearts with the same exaltation, the same enthusiasm. But, whatever, the resistance underground was a separate world, members of the resistance made up an original humanity, probably afflicted with customs and habits which could surprise a civilized society. One may not go so far as to think of us as savages without the use of a comb or rubdown with Eau de Cologne for our hair, or toilet soap for our skin, savages without knowing the proper way to manipulate forks and knives, but one would look at us wide-eyed while offering us flowers: one was waiting for our moves and words to see if it would be proper to give us sympathy or simply some frightened deference, if not to say indifference!
The foremost difficulty was to make contact with the intellectuals in Hanoi who had already been warned against communism, but their expatriation would cause considerable prejudice to our country if deprived of the grey cells which will surely benefit the foreigner instead. It was in this sector that it was necessary to avoid the blunders made by the cadres who have come out from the molds of education by the Party, and due to their presumption, arrogance, and lack of culture in the intellectual and social field!
But, according to the leaders' assessments, the worst catastrophe would be the one which was threatening the cleanness of the soul of the resistance cadres who, during more than a decade, had benefited from the education of the Party. When they arrived at the resistance underground, all of them or almost all of them were carrying the stigmas of the bourgeois, reactionary civilization! The stains which had soiled their spirits more than their bodies, degraded them, misrepresented their perceptions, distorted their judgments. It required many long years of Marxist studies, yearly courses in politics, criticism and self-criticism, manual labor, and frugal "Spartan fillings," to clean their suppurating wounds, to cure them of their disabilities, if not to give a new virginity to their human metal, a guilelessness which made them malleable in the hands of their leaders!
Now that they were going to return to their old place of infection, the Party, which was imitating China, and tried to spare them of the "sugar-coated balls," to equip them with the condoms against the political SIDA with its deadly infection, as in the case of the ordinary AIDS. What temptations would assail these Saints Antoine released in the capital? A gourmet dinner with champagne, French liquors, English cigarettes, languorous Strauss waltzes, seductive looks and captivating smiles of an alluring beauty could lead astray the savage coming out of the jungle into the maze of evil and make him sell his soul to the devil!... But were the wisdom and motherly foresight of the Party capable of containing the black tide of the repressed desires the compression of which intensified the explosive power? In those years of disgrace in 1989-1990, public opinion in the whole country was shocked with indignation and horror in face the cynic criminality of the licensed members of communism, the high dignitaries of the Party and of the State who, by their gangster-like looting and highway robbery, had gulped down billions from public funds to satisfy their despicable passions. Never before, under any regime, such a scandal had happened, and the face of the Party was reddened by shame and blackened by mud! The sugar-coated balls had a swell game against the political education!
On October 10th, 1954, at 10 o'clock in the morning, The Resistance made its solemn entry into the recaptured capital. The military units opened the march, with the unfolded flags and rolling drums! The civilian cadres, standing on their trucks, saluted the crowd that were massed by the roadsides, shouting hurrahs at the top of their voices and waiving small paper flags. All the houses were decorated and a frenzied jubilation stirred up sparkles in people's eyes. Now and then, the parade made stops for young girls to present flowers to the soldiers. The popular enthusiasm reached its highest peak: it was filled with sincerity and warmth! Even those whose hearts trembled a little with some regret for the masters of yesterday, who provided pleasant relationships through their generosity and civility, applauded the victors of Dien Bien Phu: their feat warmed up Vietnamese pride and restored the national reputation!
During a fortnight, the cadres were confined to the premises for their stay. We did not know the reasons for this. Was it due to security requirements? Besides the sugar-coated balls which one might have thought that they would violate our regenerated candor, was there a fear that the firearms of the fanatics or spies could bring an inglorious death to the lives of the beings that the Party had spent a decade to educate and turned them into the servants of communism? Was it a kind of fantasy which had sprouted in the mind of some leaders who were filled with the superpower of the Party and wanted to be obeyed blindly by their subjects? Whatever! Whether it was to ensure our physical security or to remind us that we ware just vulgar pawns in the hands of the leaders, we bowed down to the despot's dictates which we executed, like robots, without trying to comprehend the why of things. While we could have gone home, in Hanoi, to finally find good lodging and soft bed, we were forced to sleep on the bare floor, rolled in a straw mat, not different from the convicts who were waiting for the hour to put their heads on the bloc of the guillotine! We continued to be fed with the "Spartan fillings" of the resistance underground and, once the meal finished, we went to wash our bowls and spoons at the faucet! It did not make any sense to impose such inhuman cruelty which was to prolong for another fortnight the separation between the members of the Resistance and their families which had already lasted during ten years? Just a few additional hundreds of steps and the kids would have been able to hold the parents in their arms and weep together because of the dreadful separation which they felt having lasted an eternity. Was the commonly held opinion not right in saying that the communists were heroes with tearless eyes and a heart in which the sense of the family had disappeared and been annihilated by the fervor that inflamed a dehumanized soul for the sake of a doctrine or religion?
As far as I was concerned, if, on the one hand, I was thrilled by the joy of setting foot on the ground of my native town which reminiscence had haunted me throughout my absence, on the other, I was languishing in sadness for not being able, in the first moments of my return, to see again my parents who were reaching the age that made it pressing for them to cast a loving look at their eldest son, knowing well the risks he had to endure for so long, and contesting neither their necessity nor their legitimacy.
Our misfortunes ended when I was notified that I was assigned to reception the Faculty of Law. Once the ceremony had been completed, I immediately rushed home where I found my parents who were in tears with joy to see me alive!
The next day, I gathered my entire staff in my director's cabinet, an enormous room, of great stature, located on the right side at the top of a monumental staircase, facing the large auditorium where, ten years ago, I used to give my lectures and annual conferences intended for the general public.
The teaching staff had disappeared, except one, Dao Ba Cuong. The others had taken the road of emigration to go to France and were enjoying a luxurious career of jurists. I was left with three secretaries and a driver who took pride in having successfully salvaged his truck from the investigations by the colonial police. While waiting for new orders about the Faculty, whether to reorganize or disband it, we were not killing ourselves with work, particularly, after having put order to the Library and shelved the manuals of law lectures by the side of the Dalloz and Sirey Repertoires, the volumes of which used to impress very much the laymen. I tried hard to reduce the number of hours for
the presence of my secretaries to only two but we could not stay there longer simply to do nothing or yawn for all day long - collectively, of course - according to communist practice. Therefore, in order to avoid the stress of idleness, my collaborators asked me to initiate them to Marxism. Nothing could upset them more than having to listen to some oafs holding forth about Marxism and displaying an arrogance good for some slapping in the face by others. I assured my interlocutors by reminding them that the empty barrels make more noise, most of the people who cited Marx have not read him and, if by any chance they happened to have a peep at the "Capital," they could not understand a thing! The best proof being the fact that the enthroned Marxists were committing formidable errors which caused suffering to the people and provoked doubts about the knowledge of the doctrine which they claimed!
Since I had not obtained any certificate in Marxism, or gained any grades in this field, I felt too much respect for the doctors es- Marxism to interfere in their specialty. I just limited myself to satisfying the curiosity of my collaborators. I presented them with questions to which they easily gave answers. And thus, by an effective "maieutics" I was able to pass on to them the little Marxist knowledge I had acquired during my ten years of stay in the
resistance underground. I made it clear to them that the Marxism I possessed and transmitted to them had the weight of less than an ounce but would allow us to unmask the learned blockheads Trissotin and disentangle the errors of the certified Marxists.
Time dragged on. The Party procrastinated and delayed its decision to either reopen or close the Faculty. I understood these hesitations. During many years of having practiced law at the Courts of justice as an attorney designated by the State authorities, and also thanks to the follow-up contacts with the so- called responsible officials, I was able to assess within the maze of their subconscious their sacred horror about the law! First, during the time of their clandestine agitation, the revolutionaries had hard time with the colonial legislation and magistrates. Therefore, they linked together their sufferings and sacrifices with the Judiciary and the Law which they considered as instruments of oppression in the hands of the capitalists. However, had they pushed their curiosity to consult the Soviet legislation and law, they would have seen that the instruments of oppression against the working masses could perfectly be turned into the means of defense and protection of the State and the Revolution against the bourgeois reactionaries. This only needed a change of hands and objective!
But, in my opinion, the communist hatred of the law has a more profound reason! There is a difference of viewpoints between the politician and the jurist, difference in mental habits and intellectual practices.
Politics is a world with fuzzy frontiers which one can cross without a passport and often without even knowing it. The ground is unstable, covered with sandy dunes which the winds shift at will, with marshes where the deadly sinking must be avoided! Here is the triumph of ambiguity. The imprecision of action and language allows the most diverse interpretations, often contradictory ones. The traveler who ventures into it must renounce the need for logic, clarity and precision, must think in the present time without reference to the past or future, must ban all morality or sentimentality and, above all, must profess a sharp and dynamic sense of opportunity!
The world of the judiciary, on the contrary, is surrounded by mountains and rivers which act as natural borders. Here, there are geometric rigor, rational logic, Cartesian precision and clarity. Between legality and illegality, there is a clear line of demarcation, as the one between white and black. Terminology identifies the ideas, defines the content, and does not permit any margin of shadow to float around them and make it possible for the equivocal to hide or a verbal act of magic to be pulled, a juggling of words! Legal reasoning provokes the clash of ideas, and the award belongs to the person with logic firmly based on the principles of law, on legal texts devoid of vain "logomacy," in the cold serenity of the dialectics, under the freezing sun of reason!
Therefore, the two worlds confront each other in an irreducible antagonism. While the politician affirms his voluntarism, the jurist prevails in his rationality. One of them is posing the problem in the concrete, proceeds with an analysis of the elements, an examination of their relationships and interactions, tries to bring out a gamut of solutions from which the most advantageous is chosen, and makes use of his power to carry out its execution. Such a person is not tied up by any principle, obligation, believes he is free like a wild horse galloping in the steppe, powerful like a tornado releasing its furors, decapitates the roofs off the house and drowns the fishermen in the abyss of the sea. Carried away by such a delirium, the political power takes advantage of favorable conditions to play its trump card and manifest an unbridled will. But his opportunity collides with the rigidity of the judiciary and the rule of law: therefore, he decides to sweep away the legislation and trample on the law; however, he continues to have the sleep of the Just because, in the resistance underground, the State only talks to the trees and animals of the jungle since the people, who are moved by a patriotic goodwill and aware of their duties, do not disturb the rulers' rest.
But everything has changed after the return to Hanoi. Here, the urban opinion has retained its turbulence and even its silence which is bothering the authority. Such opinion manifests its respect of the legislation and the rule of law. Whenever its interests are harmed, it knocks at the doors of the attorneys, and the Bar Association is the rampart for justice and legality. To show its goodwill, the communist State does not see any inconvenience to keep the Bar Association since the Bench, once replaced by members devoted to and educated by the Party, decides on the outcome of any lawsuit. The internal problem can be resolved without much difficulty. But, after the return to Hanoi, the whole world is interested in Viet Nam which now have relations reaching beyond the "brother" countries to reach the capitalist ones as well. The latter have expressed passionate taste for the rule of law and are setting up agreements which are signed in a legal framework. Besides, the international institutions and organizations are looking intensely at Viet Nam and are capable of making it benefit from their favors or bear their disadvantageous decisions. By the international route, the rule of law has made its tempestuous way into the Vietnamese existence and the rulers are forced to take this into consideration.
Following Dien Bien Phu, everybody knows that Accords have divided Viet Nam into two zones, the one in the North subject to the communist Government, the other in the South put under the pro-American government of Ngo Dinh Diem. These Accords, however proper in their legal form, violate the will of the people who, since time immemorial, have always lived in a unified State. Soon, armed resistance is organized throughout the region against the ruling power, to make its first steps towards the reunification of the country. In counter-attacks, the government in the South imprisons the intellectuals, lawyer Nguyen Huu Tho and professor Pham Huy Thong, accused of being the heads of these movements, and organizes bloody repression against the population suspected of nurturing favorable leanings for the unification of the fatherland.
The cause for the unification of Viet Nam must be pleaded before an international forum and world public opinion must be informed of what is going on in South Viet Nam. In 1956, the Association of Democratic Jurists convenes it Congress in Brussels. The opportunity is magnificent, and the Vietnamese rulers set up a delegation to go to Belgium to plead our cause. In my functions of President [Batonnier] of the Bar Association and Vice-President of the Association of Vietnamese Jurists, I am promoted to be the head of the delegation which also includes the catholic lawyer Nguyen Huy Man, President of the martial Court, and Bui Lam, a high Party dignitary and assessor of the martial Court. Our mission is to get from the Congress a resolution approving the struggle of our people for the reunification of the country.
When the Sabina plane puts us down to Brussels, the day has reached its sunset. A secretary is meeting us at the airport and takes us to the hotel. The time to refresh ourselves and change clothes, we then go to the immense and radiantly lit restaurant. All the round tables, set with spotless napkins and decorated with flowers, are occupied. We are the last ones to come and sit at the unique table still vacant. With dinner done, we find ourselves in the hall and are approached by a delegation: that of North Korea. We sympathize quickly with our colleagues: our two countries have to bear the same fate.
The members of our delegation share the task of contacting the other delegations and obtaining their interests in our cause. Personally, I have to make a courtesy visit to the President [Batonnier] of the Bar Association of Brussels and discuss with the Presidium of the Congress to include our problem to the agenda. I am met by an opposition with a polite refusal: the working program is already too heavy and, furthermore, the Congress has given itself the duty of safeguarding peace and not of supporting armed struggle, even for a just cause! I am not losing courage and seek to convince the Heads of the delegations, those I consider to be the most influential, of the necessity to take into consideration a matter which is dear to our hearts. Our efforts are finally crowned with lukewarm success: the Vietnamese problem is included in the agenda but at the very end of the list! We are distressed. Experience about international congresses has taught us that, when they are nearing the end, a great number of the delegations have already picked up their return tickets and packed their suitcases! It is with a rather heavy heart and depressed faces that we are attending the closing session. We have surely made the trip for nothing. What would we say to our leaders?
A surprise awaits us. When the last intervention has been read, the Vietnamese delegation is invited to take the podium. We have not expected such a gracious gesture since closing time has arrived; I simply take the floor as soon as the presidium announces that the closing session will be prolonged for fifteen minutes¼ My heart is overwhelmed with joy and beating wildly, and it is with a voice filled with emotion that I go on to develop my thesis.
A struggle, even an armed one, with the aim of rooting out the wrong, or eradicating injustice, oppression, barbarism, and all the obstacles blocking the way to the progress of peace, very much constitutes the prelude, the first stage of the journey to reach peace and to safeguard it. Latin wisdom teaches us that, in order to have peace, one has to prepare for war. Is it not that no antinomy opposes war to peace, that when a war of aggression is killing the peace, a just war is, on the other hand, the means to acquire peace, to win it and protect it. Only a bleating, infantile pacifism institutes between war and peace a struggle in-contrario,
an irreducible antagonism, as between day and night. Who can accept such an absurd viewpoint of things? I present the sentimental, racial, historical, linguistic, economic and social reasons which campaign for the just cause of the Vietnamese people. In my peroration, I address my audience in the following terms: "Dear Polish and Hungarian friends, only yesterday, you were suffering from the tearing up of your countries; dear Korean and German friends, you are presently victims of the same misfortune! But luckier than us, you do not have to see with your own eyes the contortion of the faces, to hear with your ears the screams of human beings with the same blood running in your arteries, the same heart sharing your loves and hates, of those who are now twisted in pain in the hands of the executioners!
"I do not know if, among the colleagues who are listening to me, there are people who have to witness through their professional obligations the execution of their clients. It was during the time of the colonial occupation. The Court in Hanoi condemned to death a Chinese pirate who, in the Ha Long Bay, had killed a dozen passengers on a motor launch. I was assigned for his defense and had to be present at his execution. His face of a brute did not inspire sympathy, but his final look, when he put his head on the bloc, did give me feeling of pity. I looked away when the blade fell and neatly cut his neck. The blood gushed out, the head dropped to one side and the body to the other, into two coffins filled with sawdust.
"Well, dear friends, this guillotine, dated from the last century, is now used to cut the throats not of criminals but of patriots who are fighting for the reunification of their fatherland and, even more so, to terrorize the population and curb their patriotism! "And the Hien Luong river, with such a gentle name, which splits up Viet Nam in two, is it not but a sword plunging into the live flesh of our people, taking apart families that, from one side of the riverbank to the other, cannot see themselves with eyes flooded by tears. The river is not moving water but tears of women and mothers, and also the blood of all those who, at the risk of their lives, try to cross over that river and have fallen under the bullets of the patrolling swift-boats.
Dear colleagues, in the course of our careers, we have had more than once the opportunity to assist espouses in divorce. At the preliminary session of conciliation in the chambers of the President of the Court, you surely do not forget the depressed appearance of the parents, and even more so the eyes filled with distraught and tears of the children looking at the father then the mother, again from the mother to the father, with a certain feeling about the painful tragedy caused by the separation of their parents, the breakdown of the family's happiness, the drama of the mounting sufferings which will sweep away a human community which members, only yesterday, endowed the home with noisy joy but tomorrow will go and weep each one in his or her corner over the irreparable misfortunes. How can an attorney remain unmoved by the disintegration of a family, especially when the burden of sadness falls on the children?
"All the more so, dear colleagues, in Viet Nam right now, it is not a single family that is strickth but millions who are lamenting en, in distress, in anguish! The 17 Parallel is not an abstract line, of a purely geographic nature, but a Hertzian wave which is diffusing throughout our country and the world the moans, complaints and cries of millions of people who are torn apart from one another, without any plausible reason, and who accuse the human cruelty of having imposed on them the martyrdom of separation and solitude! The same wave is broadcasting the shouts of anger and hatred of the patriots who, by tens of thousands, have died under the bullets and on the scaffold, solely because they wish to realize the dream of a life in a unified country, in pace with themselves and with others!
"I just pronounce a sacred word: Peace. We are gathered here to assume the guard for Law and Peace. It is in the name of this Peace that our delegation has been denied the inscription of the Vietnamese problem into the agenda of the Congress. Certain comrades, surely motivated by good intentions, but concerned more with the sounds than with the profound meaning of words, have claimed that an armed struggle cannot be supported by a Congress for the defense of Peace! Fortunately, they have returned to their senses in time and common sense has triumphed; here I am at the podium to present my wishes to your high consideration for support to the efforts provided by our people of establishing peace in Viet Nam by way of reunifying our fatherland!
"We understand well that, following the heavy sacrifices endured during the Second World War and particularly after the proclamation by the atomic bomb, the times of the Apocalypse have come, humanity - which is paralyzed with fear - now feels the pressing need for peace and for its safeguard! But this fear, turning into obsession, the War-Peace antinomy being spread among the population, is being simplified through its vulgarization, is becoming hazy, is reinforcing the opposition between the two terms which forbids the dialectical passage from one to the other, in both ways. The ordinary people cling to the superficial aspect of things and set up an insurmountable barrier between the vocabularies, one denying the other! It belongs to us to overcome an approach which is purely phonetic and semantic, to penetrate into the living and moving content of the terms, to conceive them in their concrete realities and their mutations! We have mentioned the Latin saying: Si vis pacem, para bellum [if you want peace, prepare for war] must be understood, not in the sense of a harmful council, but one which has no frontier between peace and war.
"We can remember that in 1938 Neville Chamberlain brought back to London the Munich Agreement and declaimed that peace was saved! Error: that peace was only the prelude to the war which broke out in the following year! On the contrary, when a war is carried out with irrefutable legitimacy, with the aim to defend the just cause, against a foreign aggression, to regain the independence of a State and the freedom of a people, to suppress the division of a country into two zones and to transform the tears of suffering into tears of joy, is such a war not the prelude of an equitable, stable and proper peace which brings and reunifies scattered family members back to their common homes, ends the weeping of the innocents, makes the withered flower of the smile blossom again on their lips, returns happiness and hope to their hearts, enables the martyrs regain the taste of life, be reborn to the human condition! In the language of the humans, or at least of our souls, this kind of war calls itself PEACE!
"Is it not our duty, we, the democratic Jurists, to facilitate the establishing of such peace on earth by giving support to the struggles having this final outcome, and magnificent conclusion: I take the liberty to submit this problem for your high consideration! It is hoped that our people will not be deceived in their aspirations and receive from you a precious encouragement which will allow them to provide new efforts, to bear new sacrifices for the sacred cause of justice, the rule of law and peace!"
Our efforts are crowned with success and we obtain the resolution expected by our people!
On the way home, we are invited by the Czech delegation to stop over in Prague for some working sessions. We acquiesce to its desire.
Dialogue with the Czech Jurists
The exchange of views is done in French and concerns the bar association which is a problem of great concern for many jurists in the communist world. Our host opens the discussion:
- In a country where there is the functioning of the separation of powers, the judiciary power, through the intermediary of the Courts of Justice, applies the law and punishes the delinquency. But, in order to set into motion the judiciary activity and obtain the application of the law, in all conscience and responsibility, the ordinary people are not capable of defending their interests. Therefore, there is a need for them to have recourse to the good offices of the bar association, all the more so when the State intensifies its coercion, when the social relations are complicated, increasing in numbers and intersecting among themselves. The first problem that we raise is to know whether it is necessary, or fitting, to be granted an authorization by a political Organ for the exercise of the profession of lawyer.
- I am in the position to satisfy your curiosity. In France, in 1931, when I took the oath before the Court of Appeal in Montpellier, no authorization of any kind was required. In order to undertake a profession considered liberal, it would be ridiculous to alienate one's liberty to beg for some sort of authorization¼. Even the matter of nationality was not necessary, at least for those who were called French subjects. The only two required conditions were: a law degree, this is to say, proof for a minimum judicial education and no criminal record, that is to say again, poof of good morality.
- That seems to be judicious. Why then, in the communist countries, does the political power have the pretension of putting the hooks on the bar association and rule that the profession of lawyers is subject to its goodwill?
- That can be explained. In a communist country, the Party possesses the monopoly of power. At all times, during the period under absolute monarchy as it is under Communism, the possessor of power never accepts any sharing of it!
To perpetuate the function, maintain it with its privileges, expand its range to infinity, drill its depth to the extreme limit, in short, set up a tridimensional despotism, the most complete autocracy possible, the sharpest, the harshest, the most absolute of any other thing in the world, and in history. Under such a regime, liberty is an aberration, an insanity which must be extracted from the people! Therefore, there is no career whatsoever in the liberal professions, no lawyers, no medical doctors, only civil servants on the State's payroll and executing punctually its orders! Since the Party and its head can neither ensure their omnipresence nor exercise their omnipotence, they are forced to have recourse to the services of people whose unique virtue, if there is virtue here, is to obey blindly, automatically the master's orders! The resulting effect being that all those who are holding positions in the administration, from the highest to the lowest levels, excel not by their knowledge or competence but through their lack of culture and ignorance! In some countries, the ministers of Education have not even graduated from their secondary grades, the ministers and vice- ministers of Justice have never attended a Faculty of law. How, then, in such conditions, can a genuine bar association function? Enslaved completely to the ruling power, a bar association cannot fulfill its traditional mission.
- How can this happen?
- In the first place, the ruling power chooses the persons to be assigned to the bar association: most of them are retired civil servants with starving pensions at a few illuminated youngsters just out of so-called law schools where the teachers with some scant knowledge of the Russian language dispense a varnish of soviet legislation. This bunch of people provides the State with a crowd of obedient valets in style. Likewise, those who are tormented by a certain desire of independence are immediately expelled from the bar association and lose a large portion, if not to say, the totality of their incomes. What else is needed to demand from these people an unchallenging servility?
Furthermore, the "people's defending officials" - appellation given to them and to remind them well that they are not lawyers with legal knowledge who are exercising a liberal profession - neither have the right, - nor possess the material means - to set up a private practice. They are part of a corporation having an office which is used as a place of work and reception of the clients. People just rush to each consultant as a swarm of flies does with a lump of sugar. The rates for the "fees" are set by the State. This organization responds to a double requirement. First, the principle of collective work is applied in this case as everywhere else. Then, the gathering in corporation is to the advantage of the Party direction that puts in its own creatures and names the President [Batonnier] of the Bar Association who, of course, is one of its dignitaries, completely devoid of any legal knowledge but an expert in the art of command and even of military command.
- Why is the Party so keen about the bar association?
- First of all, it is because any ruling power is conditioned by a certain trend, a vocation for absolutism. But the communist ruling power is much more subjected to this than others. To affirm its domination - which they may well be aware of its precariousness - communist power invents all sorts of subterfuges which include among others the collectivization of properties, but even more so that of people. By putting people together people in a common organization, the Party controls them more easily, more effectively, and obtains an economy of personnel composed of Argus and Cerberus henchmen. Besides, by depriving men of their use of reason and speech, the Party reduces them to the ranks of beasts, infuses in them the conditioned reflexes which turn them into robots. It is not without reason that Circé transforms his prisoners into pigs endowed with the unique behavior of jumping on their trough at a given signal. All the holders of power dream of possessing the wand of the magician.
But, if the Party is exercising an extreme rigor on the lawyers, it is before anything else because the lawyers are intellectuals and an object of hate by the autocrats, because the lawyers have a mind which thinks and a mouth which talks, and these two attributes indispose the rulers, complicate their functions, upset their planning. Yet, among the crowd of intellectuals, the lawyers stand out by their legal knowledge, fluency, handling of discussion and critique and, furthermore, they have the sense of dignity, honor and responsibility. They situate themselves at the antipodes of the robotic fauna which all the autocrats feel the obsequiousness of flunkies. And, then, in the exercise of their profession, quite often, the defense of their clients before the penal jurisdictions leads them to an attitude of disrespect, even of insolence, in any case to that of opposition against the governmental legislations and politics. With regard to the popular masses, while the "people's defenders" blend themselves into the multitude of the bowed heads, the lawyers themselves stand up to the height of their statures and draw attention and, therefore, become subject of the rulers' hatred. They follow the example of La Bruyere and put themselves on the side of the people.
- Can it be said that the lawyers constitute a group apart in the world of the intellectuals?
- God protect them! They have the shortcomings of the intellectuals, do not seek sacrifices, do not have the vocation of martyrs, avoid the coups, and often fall for opportunism. But, as intellectuals, they are democrats and democracy flows in their blood. I think I am able to affirm that the bar association is a criteria of democracy, that in a country where such a criteria prevails and a bar association of authenticity functions, democracy triumphs.
- Tell me, how can such a system exist?
- It is easy to understand. In the exercise of its activity, and enjoying the freedom of speech, this is to say, the freedom of opinion, the lawyer denounces the arbitrary of the authorities, the injustices of the legislations. No autocracy accepts the authorities to be questioned, the insanity of the legislation be exposed. It is only in the democratic countries that the people can see such a spectacle.
- But is it possible for a bar association, that is aware of its duty and able to brace up its courage, to demonstrate democracy and make the wheels turn?
- A good question! The bar association can only fulfill effectively its role as far as possible only when it has, facing it, a Bench with its independence proclaimed by the Constitution, and itself also conscious of its duties. The Bench must be fearless as well as upright, manifesting a fierce resolution to apply the law and defend justice, without any concern about career interests or personal fortune to be fed by corruption. The Bench and the bar association, with honor and dignity as their essential virtues, are the two pillars of democracy. The Bench and the bar association rejoin themselves in the same conception of their professional obligations, in the same respect of the law and legality.
- But the judiciary power only controls the execution of the law and sanctions the violations. It merely represents the third of the democracy.
- Furthermore, by itself, it is defending democracy only at the structure to which it participates. Democracy, which consists of "the government of the people by the people for the people," concentrates itself in the hands of the legislative power which draws up the law, and of the executive power which enforces it. The danger may come about when both of them claim the right, through their privileges, of putting themselves above the law. The fundamental principle of democracy proclaims equality for all under the law. The corollary is the coexistence of the three branches of power in their interaction of check-and-balance, with the mutual exercise of control and neutralization among themselves in a certain way, forbidding any one from going astray of the right path, falling into deviations and marginalizations, in order to guarantee the triumph and stability of a Government by the people and for the people.
Thus, the fracturing of power in three does deprive the dictatorship of the possibility to concentrate all power in the hands of one single person. The risk of economic and social catastrophes caused by the political monopoly of the Party, or more precisely by its head, is avoided or reduced to its strict minimum.
The Czech jurists are astounded by this intrusion of politics and monopolistic power into the rule of law and by the Party's seizure over the State, thank us for having dissipated their anguish. Previously, they were able to observe the harm but could not carry out the analysis of the causes, due to the fact that, in their closed world, they could not receive any information from the outside, and were looking at a population bent on their knees before their idol and singing together the same litanies to the glory of their master; they did feel the peril in a confused way but did not see the remedy to dispel it. At least, they now have a glimpse of the medicine for the illness with the ravages that they can observe. We have opened their eyes and brought to them the gospel of democracy. We have lit the fire of curiosity in their minds, they will search for ways to feed their thoughts from their research works, and when we part we nurture in our hearts the hope that they as well as their people will see the dawn of true democracy shines at the horizon!
Dialogue with the Soviet Jurists
Arriving in Moscow, on our way home, we are received by the democratic soviet jurists. Being the head of the delegation, I am put up at the Hotel Metropole, facing the Bolshoi. The apartment assigned to me is sparkling with ancient luxury. Cristal chandeliers shed light on sumptuous furniture of the tsarist epoch, but the bathroom is shining with modernity. A Zim Zis automobile is put at my disposal and in which I can even lie down on the ideally soft back seat. However, I am somehow apprehensive to speed at 120kms per hour although my driver is highly experienced and has full control of the steering wheel. Still, he often smells vodka¼
We are worked up by curiosity and wish to be informed of important problems. But we have to curb down our curiosity since we know that, in our communist world, it is improper to ask questions which our interlocutors are embarrassed to answer. The rule of silence applies to them as it does to us. Therefore, as usual, we abstain ourselves from questioning, we restrict ourselves to just listening to a report duly read and read again, surely corrected by the "responsible people" of the Party. One can easily know in advance its color, tone and content. After the usual diatribe against the rotten capitalism, comes the lauding of the success gained by communism and, particularly, the execution by one hundred per cent of the annual plan, and finally crowned by the praises for the Party and its leader. But this time, our soviet hosts have broken the tradition. First, there is no report on the activities of the jurists. Then, it is proposed to us to discuss the problem of State Responsibility. Astounded, we almost jump out of our seats. It is the first time that these two terms State and Responsibility are linked to each other, and that the problem about the responsibility of the State is raised. We ask ourselves if the ideas of the XXth Congress of the Bolshevik Party have made their way and if the influence of Khrushchev has gained around in the country. Whatever! We are happy that our conversation with our soviet colleagues starts under such auspices. There is nothing more attractive than to stroll along the paths of heterodoxy and toy with a heresy which, a few years back, would have led us straight to the execution stake or a prison in Siberia!
Our soviet host welcomes us with a smile: - "I see in your eyes a flash of surprise. Yes, very much so: we will discuss about the problem of State responsibility. When Stalin was still alive, this subject was taboo and one would run great risk by making a slight allusion to it: The State was never responsible for anything. Now, we are less tied up and can, within our circle of jurists, discuss many issues!
- We congratulate you for this and are happy about it. May we also, in the near future, enjoy full and complete freedom and have free-speech in the course of our discussions!
- Even today, as we are in a closed salon without any indiscreet ear listening to what we say, we can have free rein to our thoughts.
- Strange epoch, strange world! The jurists are behaving like conspirators, trying to hide themselves from the policemen and spies. But they are conspiring for law and justice. It would be extenuating circumstances in case they were to be arrested and arraigned before a court.
- Or aggravating circumstances when facing the communist judges whose intransigence, as it is well known, is caused by their sacred horror of law and justice.
- We are now at the heart of our subject. If the communist State, as in the time of absolute monarchy, declares itself irresponsible of its activity, it rests with us to dwell on the gravity of this problem. Man distinguishes himself from the animal and puts himself above the latter, thanks to virtues which are his own. But conscience, dignity and honor are related to morality and concern the individual being. The more his soul is enriched with moral values, the better he obtains respect from others. But the city, which honors the holiness, does not demand its members to come in. The community life, in which the human contacts take place and social relations are organized, demands that each person must be responsible, if not to say for his thoughts and feelings as long as he keeps it deep down inside himself, for at least his actions to the extend that they cause prejudice to the material, corporal and moral interests of the people around him. Public order can only be maintained if any violations of the law and damages to other people's properties are punished and compensated. Thus, in the civilized world, it is very much this individual and personal responsibility which constitutes the corner-stone of the social fabric.
But the permanent danger which hangs over the States in the world is the fact that all the despots on earth are putting themselves above their people, giving themselves privileges which monopoly they hold, setting themselves above the law and professing irresponsibility, that is to say, refusing to accept that their wills and acts could be subjected to discussions and critiques, that their errors be acknowledged and chastised.
- The despot is like the wife of Caesar: above all suspicion. Messalina, nevertheless, roams the streets of Rome at night! Of course, no despot proclaims his irresponsibility for he knows well that irresponsibility is the prerogative of children and lunatics. Even then, if the word is not used, this does not mean that the thing does not exist. In spite of his dull origin and lack of culture, as in the case of the despot, he is unaware of the abnormal aspect of the situation. In order to justify his privilege, he claims superiority: he exalts with connections which he claims to have with the supra-terrestrial. He declares himself the "Son of Heaven," the "Chosen by the Lord" or considers his own self as the incarnation of the State. Louis XIV declares: "the State is Me!" Four centuries later, De Gaulle, to whom the people want to award an honorific distinction, will say: "The State does not give itself a decoration"!
- By acquiring, cheaply and without proof, a divine origin or an identity of pure abstraction, by personifying the State, the despot imagines that he is above the people and, therefore, exempts himself from all responsibility. Communist despotism prides itself of atheistic materialism, does not claim having divine origin. It does not pretend to incarnate the State either. Popular forces have hoisted it up to power.
It would be interesting to analyze the process, which is not the same as the one at the time of absolute monarchy.
- In the 17th century, in France, when the monarchy just gained a
difficult victory over the feudalists, due to disruptions provoked by the system of feudalism (which did not yet accept defeat) and also by the bourgeoisie which was enjoying full ascent together with its voracious greed, the power of the State came down to earth from heaven. The emblem of the "Sun-King" [Roi-Soleil] was only the representation of the royal aspirations and did not carry any meaning from heaven. Louis XIV declared "The State is Me!" But,
when he considered himself the incarnation of the State, he did not acknowledge his duties with the people. La Bruyere and Fenelon denounced the horrible poverty-stricken conditions of the people but the monarch did not feel responsible for this situation. The historic words which he declared only maintained one single idea: he was firmly determined to use his personal power to quash any hint of rebellion, kill the infectious germs of dissension and division which were wearing down the still wavering unity of the country. The enthroning of Louis XIV was regulated by the dynastic laws, but the political struggle which he undertook against the feudalists was supported by the people, and the financial, intellectual and "parliamentary" bourgeoisie that took the direction. If he were not the victim of his own vain silliness, had a perception which was more concise and precise with regard to his present and future interests, he would have relied on the people, and France might have made the saving of a revolution.
- As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, the people have got out of the hardships which inflicted the masses at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. He was even given the benefit of enjoying the glory and greatness of a Superpower. But God knows at what price for this! Since the death of Stalin, thanks to the more or less orchestrated indiscretions, and also thanks to the lamentations of pain and outcries of hatred from thousands and thousands of families, throughout the country, who weep for their children or husbands executed or persecuted to death in the jails and prisons of Siberia, the truth about Stalin has become known. The revolutionary State, which just came into being, was staggering, and its enemies, from within and outside, aspired for its doom. It was necessary to have a man of iron fist to guide its steps, to enable it live on and grow. The results have exceeded its hopes. From a weak State, economically poor, backward, he has turned it into a military power capable of defeating Hitler's fascism and into an economic power as well which has occupied one of the forerunning places in the world. Stalin has well deserved the gratefulness of the people who have lived the most glorious hours of their national history. Unfortunately, he has also committed monstrous crimes of which the files are piling up year after year.
- The process by which the communist despot in Viet Nam has acceded to power took place in the usual manner. The multitude become aware of their misfortunes and understood the causes for this: the feudal exploitation and colonial oppression¼ On August 19thcircumstances on the international stage and, on the other hand, the catastrophic famine which has decimated the population, the agitation is pushing the survivors to rise up and destroy their enemies, to conquer through fierce struggle what is needed to feed and clothe them. The targeted objective is simple, concrete, it seems to be modest but, nevertheless, the communist despots have failed in their attempts to reach it. However, the slogan: "Rice to fill the stomach, warm clothes to fight against the cold" is sufficient to make the masses of peasants fanatical and prompt them to follow the revolutionaries. Therefore, the revolution triumphs thanks to the support of the popular forces. But the revolutionaries feel the necessity to confirm their victory, to legalize their power under the cover of elections for the National electorate are illiterate and ignore the meaning of the voting to which they are invited to participate, they give in to the call made through skillful propaganda and go to the polls. The legal formalities are honored, "democracy" rules and the revolutionaries are gloating for having sealed their union with the people.
- Is there a need for anything else?
- Apparently, that is enough. But one must go beyond the appearances and try to get hold of the reality of things. Although the voters may not be able to read or write, they have given their
votes and expressed their will. It is here that tragic misunderstanding, as some people call it, bursts out. The communists have imagined themselves as having conquered the hearts of the people. But it is an illusion that sooner or later they will have to get rid of. The good reason for this being that, in 1945-46, the number of people - less than the number of fingers of your hands - who, back from Moscow or China, consider themselves having some vague and cloudy knowledge of communism.
- But to whom have the people given their votes?
- The answer you will get is that the people have given their votes to Ho Chi Minh, not to the communist who has well hidden his
game and does not make any allusion to the struggle of the
classes, but to the scholar of traditional billing, with the unavoidable goat-beard, who has only one word in his mouth: "National Union, Great National Union" which means that he places himself at the antipodes of the class struggle. Some old and well-informed communists have even whispered that he should have done his self-critique before Stalin! Whatever happens, the name of Ho Chi Minh has become a talisman which prevents misfortune and brings happiness. His personality cult is set up, he is idolized, his name is put on everything,his authority is used to make the masses eat humble pie as muchas possible (1). Thus, is it not the myth of Ho Chi Minh expressing a nationalist rather than communist meaning, while the Party - intentionally or not - tries to pull the blanket to its side and grabs the benefit of the popular trust!
- This is a misunderstanding but why is it tragic?
- It is so because the Party, deluding itself about its own self, thinks that it can edict its policies, products of its childishness, voluntarism and subjectivity, violates the laws of science, turns its back to reality, and sooner or later will precipitate the country into poverty and the people into misfortune. Besides, with the belief that it is invincible, the Party thinks it can tyrannize people, plays with their lives, indulges in injustices and acts of inhuman cruelty, as in the course of the agrarian reform, the painful souvenirs of which cannot be forgotten in the people's memory. Therefore, the problem concerns the responsibility of the State and, more precisely, the despot that is governing it.
(1) Even in the last epoch of his life, when he was assigned to his little wooden house at the edge of the Botanical Gardens, and even after his death, in his grey mausoleum, locked up inside his crystal sarcophagus, Ho Chi Minh has served as a sacred relic, offered to the devotion of the masses, to the curiosity of the pilgrims; his prestige is still exploited to impose on the people measures which may well displease him.
- The examination of history in the world and in time reveals constant traits which must be remembered. Firstly, even in the ancient epochs of absolute monarchy, the role of the people is predominant, even if it does not play at the fore of the political stage. All the coups d'Etat, all the revolutions, can only succeed with the support of the popular forces. Marxism is right when it proclaims that history is made by the masses. The doctrines, theories, can be drawn up in the brains of the individual beings, but the acts, in their effectiveness, are subjected to the capability and dynamism of the masses. The Marxists teach such a truth, but the despots forget or neglect it. The enthroned despots move away and isolate themselves from the masses, no longer listen to their voices, grievances and aspirations. They cause damage to the interests of the masses, turn a deaf ear to their complaints and claims, and even kill among themselves.
Therefore, it must be recognized that reciprocal obligations are generated between the despot and his people. The people hoist the despot to power but, he is there, he has to respect the interests of the people and, within his possibilities, must increase their interests both in number and importance. A synnallagmatic contract is created between them, not in written or verbal but tacit form, based on historical and social tradition. As soon as the despot has violated his obligation, causes prejudice to the interests of the people, he has freed the people of their commitment, is exposing himself to sanctions taken by the people which may go as far as capital punishment.
- Furthermore, in the course of his reign, no despot can fail to do both good and bad. But all the good deeds that he can offer to the people cannot exonerate him from the responsibility of his bad doing. It belongs to the people to pass a sovereign judgment on whether the good or the bad prevails. If the good wins, and the scales tip considerably to his side, then he will rightfully earn the gratitude of the people, and be in the Parthenon where future generations will honor his memory! But, if the scales dip all the way down with the bad, then, in the course of his life, he will be overthrown and, after his death, his name will be cursed forever!
- The case of Stalin is typical. He has done a lot of good things as well as a lot of bad things. But no one dare make an accusation against him for the bad things he did because the risk is too big. Worse still, people compete in praising him! But now justice is beginning to perform its task and the principle that we are formulating comes from the bitter and painful experience which we have lived through. From now on, no despot can claim that the good he has done should dissipate from people's minds the responsibility for the crimes which have unleashed horror in the honest souls. Such a responsibility is penal. Various circumstances may lessen or aggravate the fault but cannot
- It is not the despot who is judged here, it is the man who has to answer for his crimes. But, when it concerns the faults and errors which are related to a line of action or policy, the devastations can be widespread and disastrous, the responsibility of the despot is nevertheless considered only political¼ No wonder, on the scales of human values, the lives of people weigh much heavier than the material properties that they possess. However, there are cases when one deplores a person's loss of life caused by negligence, carelessness, or even the intentional offense on the part of an administration within the competence of the State. Of course, if the defendant acts intentionally, he has to bear the personal sanction provided by law but, often, does not have sufficient funds to pay damages to his victim or the latter's next-of-kin. The State assumes an indirect responsibility, by the fact that it is concomitant, and the culprit is acting within the limits of the competency given to him. Otherwise, it would then be a collective damage caused by an administration that, in the execution of an order given by the State or the despot, is causing prejudice to the material interests of one or several private citizens, without intentionally doing harm, therefore, the State normally must make compensation for the damages incurred by its employees. In France, the principle concerning the administrative responsibility of the State and its administrative collectivities is recognized. There are administrative courts with, at its highest level, the State Council [Conseil d'Etat] that is enjoying the right to cancel totally or
partly any administrative decisions which cause prejudice to the interests of the private citizens. Unfortunately, and I do not think that I am making a mistake in affirming that, in the communist world, the States refuse to assume an administrative responsibility and do not organize any administrative jurisdiction with the power to judge the State and administrations, in their attributes and administrative competences. Therefore, it is an immense domain in which the despot and the State act the role of Caesar's wife. The under-despots and mini-despots take advantage of this situation to oppress and exploit the people with whom they have daily contacts.
- The domain of political irresponsibility is even larger and the resulting damages are immeasurable and irreparable. The State is only an emanation of the Party and the despot holds in his hand all the power! The people are represented no where, and their tongues are severed. All the organizations are made up of creatures belonging to the Party, or to its devotion, and all of them are exercising the wooden tongue and offering to their Master the bended back. How is it possible in such conditions for a voice to be heard and asking for the overthrow and replacement of the despot, or even, to put forth a suggestion, to offer an advise, in view of stopping a racing car moving at breakneck speed on the path of the bad? Everything is decided at the shop and back-room of the Party, the Holiest of the Holy surrounded by the impenetrable Great Wall of China!
One cannot talk about responsibility, law, when it concerns a tiger ready to devour the set prey. Never before in the history of the planet, has it been seen that the thunders of Zeus and the magic wand of Circé are held together by one single hand, that such a perfect apparatus for domination and coercion has been set up and functions with terror to lubricate its wheels! Furthermore, at least up to now, no communist despot has ever been subjected to popular condemnation. They die in their beds. If voices are heard in the corridor of his death chamber, they are not singing the glory of his cold cadaver but trying to divide up his looting remains and, all the more so, to exchange some yellingand find out who will succeed him!
Our analysis has resulted in recognizing the failure in the responsibility of the communist despot while exercising the tri- dimensional activity of his power. It must be understood that the irresponsibility of the Master is due to, first of all, the sophistication of his methods of constraint and coercion, and also the inertia of the popular masses. If the mouth is muzzled, the hatred alwaysls in the heart; however, no one claims responsibility for the fate of the fatherland and dares hoist the banner for the revolt. The eastern peoples have simmered, during many long, long centuries in a comfort-zone where warmth and pressure are maintained by the authorities that have successfully infused into the soul of the masses the feelings of bulimia, apathy, a gloomy and heavy indifference to everything and everybody. The sense of responsibility is what is most lacking in the people! The dignitaries give the example, make abuse of their powers, for frivolities and embezzle public funds, practice corruption and despotism. Their example is followed by their off-springs. In the hospitals, the sick are dying for not having money to bribe those who have the duty of providing care to them. At the examinations and competitions, the subjects of the tests are sold to whoever is able to buy them. Everything is there for first come first served. The wind of irresponsibility blows over the whole country and the performance records of delinquency, cynicism, are broken! Immorality turns innocence and honesty into derision.
The irresponsibility of the leaders, in all the domains of political and administrative activities, does not constitute an abnormality. It adorns society with its crown of shame!
- You are in agreement with us. But what are you getting at?
- We want to stress that the triumph of irresponsibility cannot last forever. We do not wish to be fortune-tellers or prophets. But life has taught us a lesson of dialectical change: from the worse, the best will come. Whenever a bad thing has been pushed to its utmost degree of intensity, it will by itself produce its own cure.
- Explain yourself, and give us reasons to hope!- There is no witchcraft here. Our revolutionaries exhort the people to insurrection, make them feel shame because of their inertia. A worm, the most insignificant animal reality, twists itself when it is tramped upon. To what extent will even the vilest people accept to be exploited by the feudalists and oppressed by the colonialists?
Such language castigates those who are entrenched in their lethargy, their cowardice. Let a "favorable" situation come! A famine which scatters the blackened cadavers in the fields and on the village paths! With all the weights, misery and death bear down on the living skeletons that will stand up and unleash their attack against the bastions of feudalism and colonialism. The Revolution scores an irrefutable victory.
There you are, we can ask ourselves whether or not the leaders will, after having made some concessions, continue to cling to their political monopoly and irresponsibility, continue to isolate themselves from the world, to push misery to its extremes! There is the time when millions of people can no longer remain with their folded arms, but will have to march against despotism and autocracy. Let us remind ourselves that people make history, do and undo power! Since the Party is no longer doing its duty, no longer carrying out its obligation to work FOR the people, it will be put back to its place BY the people who are taking back in their hands their own destiny. The tacit contract between the holder of power and the people is severed. The triumph of the Law without any logomachie or vain words! After the reign of irresponsibility, the accession of responsibility will begin its dawn.
- Perfect! This is within the logic, the norm. But, from our viewpoint, the problem may be looked at from another angle. The legal optic has its reason for being. But, the value of the social optic must not be denied either. You know that, in no other country, under no other regime, has morality been praised to the skies. Facing the rotten and agonizing capitalism with its corrupted rulers, the revolutionaries are posing themselves as incarnations of virtue, exalting the purity of their feelings, the spotlessness of their souls, the holiness of their morality and customs. The figurehead of the communist vessel is represented by Ho Chi Minh with his now legendary apparels, the two faded
kaki outfits and sandals made out of old tires. Indeed, the miserable proletarians seeking the peasant masses to their cause, have fair game in obtaining the support of people who share with them the same conditions and same aspirations. As for those who have the means to enjoy life, the task of impressing them is done by the personality of Ho Chi Minh, whose goatee beard of the traditional scholar can seduce and carry them away. Therefore, it is in a unanimous upsurge by all the people, uplifted by a common enthusiasm, that the revolutionaries pursue their struggle and achieve victory.
Through the trial, the thinking heads begin to realize that the revolutionaries, whose patriotism and heroism deserve praise, lack the culture and talent to lead the people to higher destinies! The often disastrous errors which they commit raise doubts about their intellectual faculties, but do not tarnish, lessen the trust that people have for their morality. Unfortunately, due to the irresponsibility for their power, which opens the door to all kinds of offenses and crimes, the dignitaries of the Part, whose signatures have their worth in gold, allow themselves to be infected by the virus of money and let themselves sink deeper and deeper into the stinking marshes of vice. Their subordinates, encouraged by the impunity of the Greats, will be their accomplices, and organizing themselves into gangs. The time will come when the gangrene will infect the Party in its ongoing endeavors: it will no longer enjoy the popular trust which it has given so much time to win over. Already devoid of talent and culture, and now without public confidence which is used as sole foundation for its domination, which was gained by its morality and will be lost by its immorality, I will present itself to the people as a poor and naked tramp, and we doubt that it would be able to retain its political monopoly. It is possible that the leaders of the Party may not be implicated in the same manner as their collaborators, but they have to be held accountable for the latter, and this responsibility, by other person's action, will cause the ruin of the Party which credibility will be dissipated by the wind of bitterness and contempt blowing throughout the country. As long as the guilt is limited to isolated cases or a small number of its members, the Party will sweep them under the carpet in order to preserve the whiteness of its ermine! But when the scandal reaches outrageous proportions and it is no longer possible to hush it, the Party will be compelled to lend a deaf ear to the political complaints. It will seek the degrading silence of convenience rather than the bursting into great daylight of multiple lawsuits with fallouts which will forever discredit and destroy its prestige from head to bottom. Whatever solution that the Party may then take, it will lose on two accounts. The political will give way to the moral, and the moral will call on the participation of the law to put a close to a past of sufferings in order to open at last an era where the lights of reason and justice will again shine on the reinstalling of the Law and the proclamation of State responsibility and of those who personify it.
Of course, this is not for tomorrow but it is worth our time to wait for it!
Let us hope that what you are saying is true. Let us hope that the day when we celebrate the return of the law and justice in the communist world will not be too far away!
When we part, we shake hands for the last time, we look in each other's eyes and feel that we all share the same thought. The same ideas meet and similar feelings are in communion: "We, the intellectuals, are a bunch that are cursed by those who hold power and, particularly, the communist despots. They are passionately filled with discipline, while our blood is boiling with indiscipline. They are the ones who delight in seeing bowed heads, breathing the incense of flattery, performing the illusionists' tricks, setting up acts of grandiose spectacle. As for us who have very stiff necks, we keep the face upright, the look straight forward, the observing eye and the critical mind. Instead of saying stupid things to please, we prefer to keep a silence which is known to be reproving. We see clearly through the eyes of the magicians, we can perceive the hypocrisy in the formalism, we can guess the knives hidden in the sleeves when they are doing their bowing and scraping. t must be recognized that we are impossible people. Furthermore, we do not know where we will be or what we will become tomorrow!"
The looks that we have exchanged with one another are filled with meaning. We know that we have understood one another.
Our two delegations are in agreement about the same wish to be conveyed to the Soviet and Vietnamese communist Parties:
"Allow us to present you with our wishes and propositions. The power which has been conferred to you must not be used to quash the people, to persecute and to batter the people: whoever claims the right assumes obligation, whoever claims power assumes responsibility. If you want the people whom you govern respect order and live within the legality, on your part you have the duty to ensure their well-being, to guarantee their happiness. Should you succeed in this, your glory will prevail over centuries and you will enjoy the eternal gratitude of the people!
But if struck by folly, insanity and madness, you let yourself plunge the people into poverty and misfortune, practice despotism, injustice and inhumanity, then you will not last long! Even if you die in your bed, the people's malediction will exhume from your grave your decomposed cadaver and give it to the jackals and vultures! Your name will be nailed down in History, your memory will be stained by an ignominy which will never be removed by the centuries to come!
In Rome, when the victorious general received the honors of triumph, to help him sober up from the intoxication of the applauds, a slave was put by his side on his chariot to whisper into his ear: "Remember that you are a human being!" Likewise, the Law murmurs to the ear of the Political "Your role is to serve and not enslave the people!"
Back in Hanoi, we are warmly congratulated for the unexpected success which we have achieved at the Congress in Brussels. A dinner is given in our honor by the minister of Foreign affairs.
It is during such events that we are informed of the arrests in South Viet Nam of two leaders of the Movement for the Safeguard of the Saigon-Cho-Lon peace: lawyer Nguyen Huu Tho and professor Pham Huy Thong. The father of Prof. Thong, Mr. Chan Hung has designated me as counsel to defend his son. The Foreign Affairs Minister and the President of the Supreme Court encourage me to accept this new mission. I send a telegram to the Court in Saigon to inform it of my assignment and request it to let me know the date of the trial. But the government of Ngo Dinh Diem refuses to let me enter Saigon. Fortunately, the matter does not have any further doing, and the trial does not have to take place because the accused have escaped from their prison.