[Marxism] Greek Deal Prospects Slim as Crisis Talks Resume, Louis Proyect via Marxism,

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 12 16:15:57 MDT 2015

On 7/12/15 5:50 PM, Michael Yates via Marxism wrote:
> Louis, you say that the turn toward the market in Vietnam in the
> mid-1980s embraced an economic program similar to that of the
> Thieu-Ky government in power in the South at the end of the war. This
> seems pretty hyperbolic to me. What was the program of the last
> government in South Vietnam? Development through theft, corruption,
> and murder? Military Keynesianism? Growth through enforced
> urbanization?

You're right. I was too hasty. The reforms were not in themselves like 
the puppet government's economic approach. They were more like what 
China attempted in the early days when the Iron Rice Bowl was still 

It took Vietnam about 15 years before it caught up to China:

NY Times, Sept. 1 2012
In Vietnam, Message of Equality Is Challenged by Widening Wealth Gap

HANOI, Vietnam — She wore a pink outfit and matching high heels as she 
toured the dusty construction site. Soon after To Linh Huong’s visit in 
April, photos that captured the moment went viral on the Internet, but 
not because of Ms. Huong’s sense of style.

The daughter of a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Politburo, 
the country’s most powerful political body, Ms. Huong had only days 
before been appointed the head of a state-owned construction company. 
Commentators on the Internet expressed outrage that someone so young — 
she is reported to be 24 — held such a senior corporate post.

“Taking a little girl who just graduated from journalism school and 
making her the director general of a construction company is no 
different than making a one-legged man a soccer goalie,” read a comment 
on Pham Viet Dao, a popular blog by a Vietnamese writer of the same 
name. “Sorry to say — this is so stupid.”

Like the Communist Party leaders in China, Vietnam’s political mandarins 
are struggling to reconcile their party’s message of social justice and 
equality with the realities of an elite awash in wealth and privilege. 
The yawning divide between rural poverty and urban wealth has become 
especially jarring, now that a decade of breakneck growth has come to an 
end, dimming the prospects for the poor and middle class to fight their 
way up the social ladder.

“Up until now, growth has been wonderful, and to be rich was great,” 
said Carlyle A. Thayer, a leading expert on Vietnamese politics who has 
a database of Vietnamese leaders and their family members. “There’s a 
growing resentment, particularly among the have-nots, toward the wealthy.”

Much of the ire has been focused on Vietnam’s version of crony 
capitalism — the close links between tycoons and top Communist Party 
officials. This criticism has been able to flourish partly because news 
of abuses has leaked out as state companies, which remain a central part 
of the economy, have floundered, helping precipitate Vietnam’s serious 
financial woes. Activists and critics have also been able to use the 
anonymity of the Web to skirt tight media controls that had kept many 
scandals out of public view.

As criticism has mounted, some of the relatives of Communist Party 
officials have stepped back from high profile roles.

Ms. Huong left her state-run company in June, three months after her 
appointment, and the daughter of the prime minister recently left one of 
her posts, at a private bank.

Government officials, meanwhile, are sounding defensive.

Vietnam’s president, Truong Tan Sang, issued a blunt self-criticism in a 
recent article in the state-run media, writing about the “failures and 
ineffectiveness of state-owned companies, the decay of political 
ideology and morality.” He also blamed the “lifestyle of a group of 
party members and officials” for the country’s problems.

“We should be proud about what we have done,” he wrote, speaking of the 
economic boom under Communist leadership, “but in the eyes of our 
ancestors, we should also feel ashamed for our weakness and failures, 
which have been preventing the growth of the nation.”

On the Internet and social networks, much of the anger about nepotism 
and poor economic management has been directed at Prime Minister Nguyen 
Tan Dung, who was re-elected to a five-year term last year amid the 
turmoil of failing state-owned companies.

“People are concerned that he has too much power — they feel he needs to 
be reined in,” said Mr. Thayer, who is emeritus professor at the 
University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia.

Mr. Dung’s family was the focus of a diplomatic cable in 2006, the year 
he became prime minister, written by Seth Winnick, who at the time was 
United States consul general in Ho Chi Minh City.

The cable, made public through WikiLeaks, highlighted the corporate 
career of Nguyen Thanh Phuong, the prime minister’s daughter. “There is 
no doubt that she is talented,” Mr. Winnick wrote. “However, her rapid 
advance, and the many doors that opened for her and her two brothers are 
indicative of how the Vietnamese political elite ensures that their 
progeny are well placed educationally, politically and economically.”

Although her work was in the private sector, the cable noted how public 
and private tend to overlap in Vietnam, with its hybrid system of 
Communist one-party rule and burgeoning capitalism.

Ms. Phuong runs an investment fund called Viet Capital Asset Management 
and a brokerage firm, Viet Capital Securities, both private companies. 
In June, amid criticism on the Internet of her wealth and influence, she 
stepped down as chairwoman of Viet Capital Bank, a position she had held 
for four months.

While Ms. Phuong is among the better known of the so-called “children of 
the powerful,” the list is long. It includes her brother, who is the 
deputy construction minister, and Ms. Huong, the young woman who headed 
the construction company and is the daughter of To Huy Rua, a powerful 
member of the Politburo. Others have moved up in the party. The son of 
Nong Duc Manh, who retired as general secretary of the Communist Party 
last year, is a member of the party’s Central Committee.

Because of tight controls on the media — and severe punishment for 
dissent that can include jail terms — criticism of the leadership has 
been largely anonymous, on blogs and Facebook pages, often driven by 
rumors and unsubstantiated gossip. But as state-owned companies struggle 
with scandals and mountains of debt, details of nepotism and shady 
dealings have also slipped into the public domain.

In reporting the collapse of one of the largest state-owned 
conglomerates, Vinashin, the state-run news media revealed that at least 
three family members of the company’s chairman, Pham Thanh Binh, held 
senior positions in the company, including his son and brother.

The total cost of these scandals to Vietnamese society remains unknown. 
But the billions of dollars in debt are likely to be a huge burden for 
the economy for years to come.

Given Vietnam’s history of revolt, it is perhaps fitting that many of 
the bitter comments online about the scandals have often been 
accompanied by an ancient Vietnamese poem taught to schoolchildren:

The son of a king will become king

The son of a temple janitor will sweep the leaves

When the people rise up and take over

The son of a king will lose power and sweep the temple.

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