- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Vietnamese Communism

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on August 25, 1999 at 14:27:17:

In Reply to: Don't know posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on August 25, 1999 at 11:22:26:

: SDF: I'm not clear that "actually existing socialism" in Vietnam amounted to anything more than rule by a syndicate (as in the USSR) or rule by religious fanatics (as in Maoism). If it is, I'd like to know how so. All of Tet 1968 and all of the "revenge" activity perpetrated afterward by US/ARVN forces (esp. My Lai) was a death orgy. That was most of what these debates were about. Stuart Gort, in his obsession with "stopping Communism," stupidly overlooked the fact that US policy in Vietnam deliberately set out to create a death orgy. Economic policy is an irrelevance when bodies are flying right and left.

Well, many in teh North Vietnamese Army certainly gave into their temptation for revenge and killed many innocent people, including teachers, intellectuals, woemn and children at Hue and other places. Vietnamese / Laotioan Communism was certainly seriously flawed. On the
other hand, I still think there was a major difference between Vietnamese Communism and what they had in the USSR and China.

1. The Communists were more than tolerant of religion, in Vietnam but especially in Laos; in both these countries they relied largely on the religious bodies to win power, and in Laos they actually steered clear of nationalizing the property of the Buddhist Sangha, instead cooperating with the Sangha in building social justice.

2. The Communists in both these countries chose to re-educate public enemies rather than to kill them; while of course I don't endorse this, it is a fact that Saigon was a broekn cities, suffering from a lot of prostitutes, drug users, profiteers, murderous policemen etc. and that these people, for their own good, needed to be intergrated somehow into the broader society. In some cases their policy may have been beneficial; in otehrs it was clearly a violation of freedom. but Frances Fitzgerald has argued that the belief in re-education, social conditioning, 'one truth", etc. is inherent in the Confucian worldview ratehr than stemming from communism. thieu and Ky would probably have indulged in at least as much re-education if they had won. they certainly did, whenever they got teh chance.

3. No genocide. The Vietnamese and laotioans did not indulge in a major bloodbath, in fact tehy SAVED cambodia from its mass murderers, while the crimes of Stalin and Mao are too familiar to repeat.

4. Minorities were repressed both in China (Tibetans) and in Russia (Germans, etc.). ZIn contrast, teh Laotian communists granted civil rights to their minorities for the first tiem in history.

5. Communism in Vietnam did not develop into dictatporship,a nd has always been open to popular participation.

6.. communism in both countries markedly improved education, health care, and social equality. Contrast w/ the Great Leap Forward, etc.

7. at least in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh had about 80% popular support, more than Mao or Lenin ever did.

So while the killings and reprisals carried out by the communists must be condemned, we shoudl also give them credit for the good things they did, and remember that they were better than Thieu, Diem and Ky.

Thanks for responding.

- NJ

PS. On the subject of ecology, apparently teh laotian Communists have done a good job of regulating foreign multinbationals and preserving their environment- that's all I know.

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