[Marxism] WSJ column by Vietnamese ambassador to U.S

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 17 12:14:15 MST 2006

One issue here is that some people are opposed to the right of
the Vietnamese to determine their own form of society today.

Vietnam succeeded in organizing a united national movement
which drove Washington and its army out of Vietnam after a
decades-long struggle. Once Washington was driven out, it
dried to starve Vietnam into submission by blockading it, but
that didn't work either. Later, it decided to do two separate
things. Some U.S. figures/businesses/thoughtful capitalists
decided that the carrot rather than the stick would be a way,
a better way, to try to bring capitalism back to Vietnam by a
more indirect route. Other business people, who probably do
not think in the grandiose historical terms in which Marxists
like to think they think, simply see Vietnam as a business
opportunity, as they think of China: Vietnam's big, educated
population, and so on.

Think of what's been said here: Bush says Vietnam is a model
for Iraq. Well, Vietnam drove the United States out of Vietnam.
Iraq hasn't yet succeeded in booting out the United States.

Unlike some people, I don't have a clear idea what Vietnam's
Communist Party leadership is thinking. Perhaps Proyect knows
better, though he denounces movies he hasn's seen and thinks
it fine to attack books he hasn't read. With that approach, it's
easy to have clear ideas regardless of whatever facts might be
actually taking place.

Truth is, people who think like that say the exact same things
about Cuba, which also invites private foreign capital to invest.
The goal of investment by private businesses is to be able to
MAKE A PROFIT. Any understanding of the Cuban system needs
a careful look at the founding documents of ALBA, the Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas, and the close economic ties which
are projected, and which are actually occurring between Cuba
and Venezuela. In time they will probably also develop with

The Grant group and the World Socialist Web Site, from which 
some here derive their thinking, all point to the investments by
foreign companies as a big danger for the Cuban Revolution, 
but they don't really have any alternative to offer. Others here
think exactly the same way, but they allow others say for them
what they're unwilling to say for themselves in their own words.

Basically, the unending assault which some people engage in
against Vietnam and China, and other against Vietnam, China
and Cuba, all reflect the same kinds of thinking: a rejection of
the idea that these countries have the right to do things which
Big Country thinkers don't approve of. We read an unending
stream of gleeful attacks in the capitalist media against China
and Vietnam over their wide use of the private market. We see
the same thing against Cuba, too, though the process in Cuba 
has taken a rather different form and hasn't proceeded to the
extent it has in China and Vietnam. 

But think about this: if the blockade against Cuba ends, that
will mean more, not less foreign investments in Cuba. More,
not less people from the U.S. visiting the country and staying
there and some of them teaching at the University of Havana.
Less than 100% of those teaching at the University will be
teaching English to Cubans. Some will even teach history,
from their U.S.-centric point of view. That will be a good idea,
just as Cubans will be teaching in U.S. universities from their
Cuba-centric point of view. These are some of the things we
can imagine happing if the blockade is ended.

Some people really fear an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba.
They think Cuba is better off being isolated, but at least it's
pure. This is wrong, of course. If the blockade is ended, and 
hopefully in time it will be, there will be new challenges and
new changes. Some people will attack Cuba when the blockade
is ended, and for similar reasons, unfortunately. And a few of
them will do so "under the banner of Marxism."

Trotsky's REVOLUTION BETRAYED was and remains a great
book, describing the state of the Russian Revolution as it 
was in a certain time and place, in 1936. The analysis which
the Old Man made then was excellent. It provides outstanding
refence points to consider later on. But the world is a very
different place now. For one thing, the Soviet Union doesn't
even exist. The Chinese and Vietnamese Revolutions have
not been overthrown, even though lots of new contradictions
have arisen through their use of market mechanisms. Cuba
has used less of those mechanisms, but the acceptance of
foreign investment and tourism has brought Cuba problems
of its own. If people really believe that the blockade should
be ended, and that it should be ended at some point prior
to the triumph of the world socialist revolution, then it's
imperative to understand that other problems will then be
certain to take place. 

Really, underneath the rhetoric, some people oppose ending
the blockade of Cuba, preferring that it be poor, but pure.
Such people tend to be writing from the comfort of their
offices in the United States and other advanced capitalist
countries. Perhaps there's a relationship between these
two facts? Frankly, I believe that there is.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

I am all for countries going to bat for Cuba, but the issue
is whether Vietnam is moving toward capitalism or not. I
think the fact that George W. Bush now holds Vietnam up as
model for where Iraq should be heading should make people
like Michael Karadjis stop and think for a minute--not that
this will actually happen.
So Paul Burkett and Marty Hart-Landsberg were dealing with
parsnips and butter when they wrote a book-length article
on China's transition to capitalism. Or Leon Trotsky when
he wrote "The Revolution Betrayed". Or maybe it really
doesn't matter what mode of production exists in
Cuba--state capitalist or socialist. That's so Talmudic...

More information about the Marxism mailing list