by Giulio Meotti
“The Khmer Rouge had studied at the Sorbonne, they were not uneducated savages,” said “Douch”, the just deceased Pol Pot’s torturer in chief. He was serving a life term. Kaing Guek Eav, known as “Comrade Duch”, was the chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison where thousands of people were tortured and murdered in the late 1970s by the Communist regime that controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. It is thought that 15,000 men, women and children passed through the gates of the former school-turned-prison.
Under Pol Pot’s regime, 1.7 million died, a fifth of the Cambodian population. In Rithy Panh’s book, “The Elimination,” the author asks himself: “I want to understand how educated people, intellectuals, have done this”.
Here is the list of the leading cadres of the Khmer Rouge: “Hou Youn: PhD in Economics from Paris,” “Leng Sary: university studies in Paris,” “Leng Thirith: studies in Paris,” “Khieu Ponnary: university studies in Paris,” “Khieu Samphan: PhD in Economics from Paris,” “Sakun: university studies in Parism” “Pol Pot: University Studies in Paris,” “Son Sen: university studies in Paris,” “Suong Sikoeun: university studies in Paris..
One of the main perpetrators of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Khieu Samphan, holds a doctorate from the Sorbonne. In his thesis, Samphan argued that the work done by non-farmers was unproductive: bankers, bureaucrats and businessmen had nothing to add to society. They suck like “parasites.”
“The distinction made by the Scottish economist Adam Smith between productive and unproductive labor deserves careful consideration here”, wrote Samphan in his ideological manifesto. In the name of these ideas, the Khmer hunted for those who did not have calluses on their hands. Meanwhile, Samphan’s ideas were considered favorably by the French intellectuals who awarded him his doctorate.
The Khmer Rouge evacuated the cities, pushed the inhabitants into the countryside, closed the banks, banned the use of currency and destroyed the markets.
“Year Zero begins. The past no longer exists.” Books were burned, schools abolished, cars, medical equipment and household appliances destroyed. Eyeglasses were also banned. Everyone was dressed in dismal black pajamas.
Before killing the victims with a blow to the back of the head, the Khmer Rouge repeated a ritual phrase: “Finally, you will make yourself useful for the revolution. No longer as a man, but as a fertilizer. ” It was in Paris, at the Sorbonne, that Samphan had discovered not only Marx, but also Rousseau’s “good savage” and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s “Humanism and Terror.”
A Le Monde correspondent in Cambodia in 1998 met Semphan in the jungle: “Pol Pot and I have been deeply influenced by French thinking,” he told the reporter. “In particular from the Enlightenment and from Rousseau.”
And in Europe, the intelligentsia applauded the new experiment implemented by the father of Parisian communism. But the “révolution de la forèt,” while it could be sung with naive impunity on the Rive Gauche became a slaughterhouse in Cambodia where it was implemented, a veritable Dante’s hell.
It is Europe’s heart of darkness. The same dark evil that happened in the Holocaust. The country of Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Schumann and Beethoven created gas chambers which killed 20.000 Jews per day.