- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Suharto vs. Ho Chi Minh

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on September 20, 1999 at 02:51:42:

In Reply to: The way a locust 'wins'. posted by Dr. Cruel on September 17, 1999 at 20:33:24:

: : (Check out the 1998 Red Cross Human Disaster Report; the #1 cause of refugees in 1998 was environmental destruction resulting from exploitation of the environment.)

: DC: Remember that industrial farming is frequently cited as ‘environmental exploitation’ by the Left. Thus, the clearing of forests in the Amazon, in favor of ranches and farmland, is deemed ‘environmental destruction caused by exploitation of the environment’. Yes?

No. Her reference was to refugees being forced to leave their homs from environmental problems, such as desertification. Clearing the rainforests is the opposite; it doesn't create refugees, but instead attracts people to Rondonia or wherever the forests are being cleared. So it doesn't fall under the rubric of what farinata was talking about.

: : So, are you really in complete agreement with Pinochet, Suharto, Hitler, Mussolini, Pat Buchanan, Ronald Reagan and various other famous right-wing loonies *ahem*...thinkers?

: Pinochet over Castro. Suharto over Ho (Lee Kwan Yew and Sygmun Rhee over Comrade . Hitler over Stalin (both left-wingers, but the latter out-did his contemporary in outright body-counts). Mussolini (wasn’t he an anarchist…) ? Pat Buchanan over Andrea Dworkin. Ronald Reagan over W.J. Clinton. And so on.

I won't comment here on your other comparisons (I'll assume the Hitler/Stalin one is some kind of bizarre joke). But your comparison of Suharto and Ho Chi Minh (the "Bringer of Light") is interesting. Ho Chi Minh actually died before many of the more bloody reporisals after the war, but to be charitable, I'll assume you used him as a symbol of the DRV and SRV in general. A point by point compariosn and contrast is quite revealing.

1. Political Prisoners. The number of political prisoners in Vietnam reached its high after the Vietnam War, as many innocent pro-western sympathizers were unjustly imprisoned along with pimps, drug dealers, war criminals, and foreign spies. the number of prisoners is in dispute; the SRV said 80,000 while even that right winger, Henry kissinger, set an per limit of 200,000 prioners of all kinds in re-education camps. Suharto, in the aftermath of the alleged 1965 coup, sent 250,000 political prisoners to prison camps, or at least 25% more than the worst days of Vietnam. While Indonesia's much larger population might be used as an excuse, this excuse falls when we consider the following differences.

a) The Vietnamese prisons included prisoners of conscience who should not ahve been there, as well as many people with lives broken by the long american occupation. saigon was a city with widespread vice, prostitution, crime, drug dealing, profiteering, and spies and policemen who had brutally repressed the peasantry. Some of tehse latter were in need of re-integration into society.
b) The Vietnamese, in some cases, made a sincere effort to educate the criminals discussed above; isn't education and rehabilitation better than killing them or imprisoning them for life.
c) Vietnam had the excuse of a long war which ahd just torn teh counrty apart. Indonesia sent 250,000 political prioners to jail in peacetime, after an alleged coup (always the favorite excsue of dictators, whether leftist or rightist).

2. Multipartyism. Both indonesia and Vietnam restricted severly the range of political participation. In Vietnam, however, a sincere effort was made to involve the people (through trade unions, womens' groups, etc.) in the government, via teh Fatherland Front, and to hear some criticisms. In Indonesia, tehy were content to rule on behalf of a small elite.

3. Religious freedom. Vietnam, in theory but not really in practice, has religious freedom. You can be a Buddhist, Catholic, or whatever, but in the religion you choose you must join the officially approved church. Today VN is one of the most religiously diverse ccountries in teh world. Even religions like the Cao Dai which were opposed to the North Vietnamese still ahve millions of followers; while they were persecuted to some extent early on, they have not been forced into extinction or obscurity.
In indonesia, even this partial religious freedom is absent. teh constitution requires Indonesians to believe in One God, therefore many sects of Buddhism, traditional Hinduism, polytheism, animism, Confucianism, ancestor worship, Taoism, any many other religions, as well as agnosticism, are all against the law. All Indonesians must belong to a state-approved church. Many animists were persecuted and killed fro their unorthodox religion in 1965. Some religions are now on teh brink of exticnction, or officially do not even exist. The Kaharingan faith in Borneo and the Hinduism in Bali were forced to
twist and turn their theology, and to say what Suharto's rightwing regime wante them to say, before being allowed to exist.

4. Genocide. I don't knwo how many civilians were deliberately killed by teh North Vietnamese, but certainly plenty, at Hue and elsewhere. ( Of course, let's not forget teh Americans at My Lai). But the North Vietnamese never exyterminated 1/3 the population of a sovereign country, as happened in East Timor. Add that to teh million or so killed in teh 1965 purge- mostly communists, animists, dissidents, and ethnic Chinese.

5. Social Conditions. The North Vietnamese made substantial improvements in health care, and education. VN now boasts one of the highest doctor / patient ratios anywhere. Their protege in Laos also introduced civil rights for minority people (the Kha, traditioanlly despised). Similar sttaements acnnot be said about indonesia. Instead, tribal people were routinely forced aside as their land was pillaged for its minerals and fertility. The New Guineans have not nenefited from teh rape of tehir land, but ahve been forced to deal with teh environmental consequences.

6. land redistribuion. his was carried out in Vietnam but quite teh reverse happened in Indonesia. In Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, and elsewhere there has been an attempt to settle the place with Javanese immigrants and enterprising farmers, frocing out the native people who ought to own the land.

7. invading foreign countries. The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979,
saving the cambodians from their genocidal leader, and attempting to bring peace to the land. They withdrew promptly 10 years later. there was clearly a reason, and a very good and defensible one, for teh invasion. They also exert an influence in laos, which si clearly however an independent counrty. Indoensia shamelessly annexed east Timor in 1975, and West New Guinea in the early sixties. In this latter so-called "act of Free Choice", they handpicked 1000 of their cronies, called them 'representative elders' and watched them vote unanimously to join Indonesia.

I think that teh record between tehse two is fairly plain. I cannot see why someone would prefer Suharto, unless they had a knee-jerk support of any right-wing dictator. Will the good Doctor really support teh right in EVERY capitalist-socialist conflict? Hell, I don't go that far- i think we were right in Korea, for example.

Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup