[Marxism] Legendary Vietnamese general offers warning to U.S

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at theplanet.net.au
Sun May 2 02:01:31 MDT 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <Lanasnest at aol.com>
To: <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 2:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Legendary Vietnamese general offers warning to U.S

>I just beg to differ that ALL of Vietnam
>revere him, and that ALL of Vietnam benefit from how Communism in that
>country came to be and how it is implemented.  We can look at his
with ONE eye, and mistakes with the OTHER. I have the power of living in
Vietnam...and being a foster parent to an escaping Vietnamese family.  I
have seen these beautiful people victimised over and over. ALL communism is
not perfect...because of the LEADERS not the PRINCIPALS.  Unless we
>PURGE out the crap...we will make the same mistakes.

Of course it is true that not all Vietnamese revere Giap and that not all
have benefited from the actual workings of the revolution. Jim Craven has
given us quite a good list of some of the scum that fall into these
categories, all the Mafiosi filth from the Saigon regime, a regime which
claimed more cases of torture than anywhere else in the world, a regime
which murdered and thieved form its people at will, which needed to hire the
entire US arsenal in an unsuccessful attempt to hold power against the will
of their people.

But of course it's also true that there are others in these categories. The
Vietnamese revolution was made in the real world, and however much Lana
wants Marxism to 'go beyond materialism', the point about Marxism is that it
analyses events from the point of view of the material reality, not from the
point of view of some utopian ideal of how we might like to see the world in
hundreds of years or more.

The material reality that the Vietnamese Communists inherited when Giap
helped lead one of humanity's greatest achievements, defeating the second
major imperialist power in one career in 1975, was a country in ruins.
Marxists understand that building socialism requires a higher material
level, which capitalism creates through industrialisation; of course many
countries have also tried to build socialism in backward conditions with
varying degrees of success. But there is a difference between generally
economically backward conditions and in addition just having had
god-knows -how -many Hiroshimas dumped on your country for decades.

In this context, did the Vietnamese Communists make all kinds of really bad
mistakes? They sure did. Wouldn't you? Who wouldn't? Which leadership
anywhere in the real world, speaking materialistically, wouldn't? And in
such a situation, did all kinds of leaders at various levels take advantage
of their positions, pocket money that wasn't theirs, does a significant
amount of corruption exist, which distorts and if it goes too far can
destroy the very soul of socialism that the VCP aims to build? You bet all
that happened and happens. Do corrupt leaders push their weight around using
arbitrary means? Yeh they do.

None of this should be any surprise, it would simply be amazing if it did
not occur, because we are materialists. Let's say not long after the war
there is no medical equipment because everything has been destroyed and the
country has no money to produce enough or buy enough yet. You are in a
position of power because you have spent decades sacrificing your life to
free your country from the bloodsuckers of the Earth. Your child is sick,
and if you rip off some money you might be able to get your child treatment
overseas. That opportunity does not exist for some average poor peasant in
your area. And by ripping off some money you deprive the community of funds
for schools, clinics etc. What do you do? Some will stay absolutely true to
their beliefs and others will react in an incorrect but understandable way.
Can we judge them for that? We should be judging the system and the
imperialist powers that levelled their country and then blockaded them for
another decade or more when they went to the internationalist aid of their
Cambodian brothers and sisters and have never paid a cent in reparations
while millions still suffer from the effects of US chemical warfare and
people still get blown up every week by unexploded US bombs.

I don't know of the circumstances in which your fostered family escaped, but
I am completely sympathetic. In the impossible conditions of the late 1970s
and early 1980s, why not escape? There were a million god reasons to. And in
such impossible conditions, yes the leadership made ultraleft errors that
no-one in the Party or leadership now defends, and worse than that, lower
down leaders would have made many of the transgressions I have described
above. That is a long time ago.

There is plenty wrong with VN now, and as I have also lived there I know the
same as you know about that. But there is also a lot of good there compared
to the average third world capitalist country, especially those with about
$400 a year GDP per capita. It could be just like anywhere else if the
neo-liberal tendencies within the regime and the broader society have their
way, but in my opinion it is precisely because a lot of the people who
dedicated their lives to a better society are still alive, and taking part
in the ruling party, in economic organizations, in trade unions, in mass
organisations etc that VN hasn't gone that far, although I suspect it is one
the edge of a precipice. The fact that these people have all long ago died
in China might be one reason China is several steps ahead advancing outright

As for putting shit on Giap, the irony is that he is widely regarded in
Vietnam as the most upstanding of all the revolutionary, let alone
post-revolutionary, generation, for his honesty, his principles, his lack of
corruption. He is 92 years old and not in a position to be judged for
whatever is wrong in VN now. His achievements were long ago, and even after
the battles ended, he got involved in things like helping the first major
environmental institute get established in VN in the 1980s. He has also
criticised the crap out of a lot of things in his country these days. He was
actually pushed aside from the early 1970s onwards, then there have been
various period when he has been more in favour and out of favour again,
though for the masses he is still by far the most widely respected. He still
writes now, and is not averse to some criticism even at his age. In my
opinion, the fact that he led the defeats of the two imperialist powers has
a lot to do with the fact that he now acts a conscience of the revolution
against various current sins.

If you were going to 'revere' someone but not the whole system, it should be
him, but Marxism isn't really about 'revering' individuals anyway. I noticed
though that Lana said she 'revered' Marx. I just think that Marx had a lot
of amazing things to day, I don't know that much about him personally to
revere him, but Giap is another story.

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