Total says it stays in Myanmar, and Bernard Kouchner (French Minister of Foreign Affairs) says he agrees:

“Talking at a press conference, he explained that any closure of business relations in Myanmar should be accompanied by a “perspective” of economic development there. “Imagine that we close Total’s tub [in Myanmar]. Who would suffer? The people of Myanmar and of Thailand. Who would take the place of the French? Others would”, did he state.” (from “Bernard Kouchner défend la présence de Total en Birmanie”, Le Monde, October 30 2007)

But shouldn’t a democratic country such as France foster economic pressure upon dictatorship, even if one corporation looses a market there? Isn’t it contradictory to pursue economic activities that will profit the ruling clique? Is the tub metaphor safe? Are Kouchner’s ideas correct? Let us turn to the teachings of Mao in order to understand this contradiction (the hypothesis here is that Kouchner kept something from his youth readings):

Are these ideas correct? Yes, they are. The interdependence of the contradictory aspects present in all things and the struggle between these aspects determine the life of all things and push their development forward. There is nothing that does not contain contradiction; without contradiction nothing would exist.” (from Mao Tse-Tung, On Practice and Contradiction, Verso, 2007, p. 72).

And this probably applies to gas and oil in general, and to Total’s fruitful and productive internal contradictions in particular.


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