[Marxism] Socialist Vietnam?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 3 12:15:30 MDT 2006

Counterpunch, April 3, 2006

Vietnam Diary, Part One

"What Socialism?"


I arrived in Hanoi in the late morning. The sun flitted through the clouds, 
and I couldn't decide whether I needed my light wind-breaker. The 
temperature hovered in the mid 60s, with enough humidity to let some 
reality into my brain to share space with older graphic images etched in my 
brain--from a very different era. The January 1968 Life magazine cover 
showed Lee Lockwood's photo of a Hanoi street covered with man holes and 
covers, where people took shelter when the B-52s conducted their daily 
bombing of the city. Who in my generation could forget the image of the 
napalmed little girl running naked down the road or the South Vietnamese 
general shooting a prisoner in the head with a pistol?

Most Vietnamese I talked to either in English or through an interpreter see 
the war as ancient history. Thang, a hotel manager, insists that "most 
Vietnamese have no memories of it." Indeed, the majority of the country was 
born after 1975, when the war ended. In the early 1970s Vietnam had a 
population of about 40 million. That number has more than doubled: 82.7 
million in 2004.

Unlike many of my students, who know only that the Vietnam War occurred 
sometime after the Greco-Roman era, several Vietnamese university students, 
one with an NBA T shirt had learned the details of war--such as the facts 
that US planes dropped 15 million tons of bombs on their country and 
sprayed huge areas of forest with agent orange in order to defoliate the 
countryside, which produced lasting health effects among the sprayed 
populations. I met an American expatriate who runs an NGO to help rural 
children incapacitated by the effects of that chemical.

One student, at a cafe near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake, sang a few bars of 
heavily accented hip hop. I laughed. Others joined her. They were 
disappointed that I didn't know about US youth music. Nor were they 
impressed that I recalled the 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu when General Vo 
Nguyen Giap surrounded twelve French battalions attempting to stop his 
armies' advance.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/landau04032006.html



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