by James Corbett
May 11, 2019
As Corbett Report members who have watched the latest subscriber-only video will know, I spent the last two weeks in Vietnam visiting Corbett Report video editor Broc West for some sun in the tropical Asian sun. As you will also know from the video, it was a hot and humid trip, but it was definitely worth sweating it out for the chance to see another part of the globe.
As Broc observes in our chat about day-to-day life in Vietnam, the police presence in the country is neither as prevalent nor as ominous as one would expect in an officially communist state. It's not a boots-on-the-ground military dictatorship so much as a place where you're apt to see a communist propaganda billboard hanging right beside a Starbucks-like coffee shop, and unless you're causing trouble you're unlikely to have run-ins with the police.
Of course, "causing trouble" is open to a wide range of interpretation. Just ask the two journalists who exposed a major corruption scandal in the Vietnamese government's Ministry of Transport (who were subsequently arrested), or the Vietnamese blogger reporting on government corruption who fled to Thailand earlier this year seeking political asylum (who was subsequently abducted and transported back to Vietnam for imprisonment). Contrast those dramatic interventions with the myriad scams and swindles one is likely to encounter in day-to-day life in a place like Vietnam, where bribes of petty officials will often ensure swift processing of applications and groups of foreigners openly smoke "controlled substances" without interference from local police.
But counter-intuitive as it might seem, this is how tyrannies operate: They leave a lot of wiggle room for low-level, everyday rule-breaking to occur without intervention, but move swiftly and decisively when someone angers the tyrant. Naturally, my readers will know by now that I do not just implicate the Vietnamese government in this statement, but all governmental tyrannies of all stripes. They all play this game to some extent or other.
I've written before about the theory that the average American commits three felonies every single day just in the course of their daily routine. And while some of the laws that are being broken are patently ridiculous (lobsters in plastic bags, anyone?) or downright meaningless (ever try dueling in Tennessee?), the sum total of all these prohibitions is a web of laws and regulations that eventually ensnares everyone. All the state needs is a pretense to open an investigation on you in order to "discover" what a monstrous felon you are.
It's not hard to understand why this is so. Naturally, tyrants want to be able to crack down on any would-be Enemy of the State in whatever way they can, and they are only too happy to use lawfare to do it. Ergo, any tyrant knows that he needs to enact a dizzying array of laws (especially contradictory ones) in order to have a legal justification at the ready for arresting any would-be dissenters at any time. It's fully expected that everyone will be technically violating the law at some point; it's just that those laws will be selectively enforced.
But there's another level to this sanctioned rule-breaking: Some laws are made to be broken. I mean, how is the government going to ship in the drugs if the DEA and the FBI and the other alphabet soupers entrusted with keeping such substances out of the country actually did their job properly? How is a bankster insider going to become Secretary of the Treasury if the government actually enforced its tax laws on all citizens equally? How can the banks themselves continue to ru(i)n the phoney baloney economy if they suffer actual consequences for fraud or drug money laundering or other blatantly illegal activities?
There needs to be cracks in the system so that the tyrants themselves can exploit these loopholes.
This is as true in the technological tyrannies of the 21st century as it has ever been. Tyrants will enact a global tax grid to monitor all property exchanges and all transactions in the world, but their will always be quasi-legal tax havens for the elite (and those in the know) to take advantage of. They will bring about a cashless society to make sure everyone's every purchase is tracked, but you better believe that the transactions of the deep state's 007s will be scrubbed from those databases (and their accounts will be replenished with magical electronic money whenever needed). They will create a total internet surveillance grid to make sure all online communications are catalogued and monitored (and censored if need be), but they will also create TOR and other networks to cover their own agents' tracks from prying eyes. They will create a social credit system to keep the hoi polloi in line, but is anyone naive enough to think that the functionaries of the state will suffer from low credit scores (unless they fall out of favor of the current tyrant, that is)?
In some ways, this is a good thing. This is why I know that there will always be room for those who truly want to escape a tyranny to live on the edges of the system—to slip through the loopholes, as it were. People who are motivated enough will always be able to find ways to evade dragnets, to overcome censorship, to live the life of a vagabond and ignore the rules of polite society. The catch is that living a life on the edges of society is no mean feat, and most people (being of the go-along-to-get-along ilk) are simply not cut out for it.
But in some ways this selectively enforced is even more insidious than a rigorously enforced tyranny. If you know that any infraction will be immediately punished as proscribed, then the oppression of tyranny will be plain for all to see. But because people get to feel they are "getting away with something" when they break one of the unenforced laws (even something as petty as breaking the speed limit), they are lulled into a false sense of security. "You see, the system isn't that bad! It only goes after you if you're causing trouble."
Just ask those Vietnamese journalists.