Sergey Brin Takes a Stand

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google co-founder Sergey Brin elaborated on what was apparently primarily his decision for Google to withdraw from mainland China. Mr. Brin immigrated with his family to the U.S. at the age of 6:

The 36-year-old co-founder said he was moved by growing evidence in China of repressive behavior reminiscent of what he remembered from the Soviet Union. Mr. Brin said memories of that time—having his home visited by Russian police, witnessing anti-Semitic discrimination against his father—bolstered his view that it was time to abandon Google’s policy.

Of China he remarked,

with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.

We at the Independent Institute have had a close association with such dissidents, and our President David Theroux proudly displays the replica of the Goddess of Democracy from Tiananmen Square presented to him by remnant leaders of that protest. It is thus refreshing to see Google and Mr. Brin join these brave souls in standing up against bullying tactics.

It is particularly refreshing in light of accelerating corporate feeding at the government trough, when it has seemed as if such aligning of one’s moral code with one’s business practices had gone the way of the dodo bird. Such used to appear much more common, as for example, the late Bill Diehl of Defiance, OH, a principled dairyman who valiantly fought against milk price supports; Leroy and Ellen Hill, Rockford, IL manufacturers who resisted the conversion of their company to war production during World War II; and Robert Love of Love Box in Wichita, KS who provided his employees’ children the opportunity of attending an excellent private school with a curriculum heavily infused with Austrian economics, as well as summer seminars with Bob LeFevre.

In general, we agree wholeheartedly with Bastiat: When goods don’t cross borders, armies will, and of course China’s partial liberalization to date and economic improvement for its people is a direct result of such opening up to trade. Yet sometimes a statement that we cannot and will not produce under these circumstances is required, and we hope Google will be joined by others to push China—and any repressive regime—the rest of the way on a road to full freedom.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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