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16208Re: upload your updates to (Syd.Indy) SOVEREIGNTY: The Queen vs. Kevin Buzzacot

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  • bobgould987
    Apr 9, 2005
      Mike Karadjis loses his cool on Vietnam

      By Bob Gould

      Margaret A, the moderator of the GLW list, has an unenviable job and
      does well at regulating the list in sometimes difficult circumstances.
      She obviously has a mandate to defend the general interests of the
      DSP, which is not unreasonable since it's their list, but she tries to
      be sensible within this framework, mainly by only intervening when
      absolutely necessary.

      Having been dragged by some anonymous person on to Sydney Indymedia, I
      felt obliged to have a go at the people who run that list for their
      crazy toleration of incitements to violence.

      I'm also deeply disturbed by Sydney Indymedia leaving up anti-Jewish
      material, and Margaret A is very sensible to draw a hard line against
      that kind of material on the Green Left site.

      It's also quite reasonable of Margaret A to tick off the cyber-entity
      Minh for his anti-Aboriginal statements.

      I don't quite know what she should do about this new person, Pace, who
      incites violence against Minh, or about Mike Karadjis, who now says by
      clear implication that the victorious NLF and North Vietnamese forces
      in 1975 should have wiped out all their opponents (as, in fact, the
      Khmer Rouge tried to do in Cambodia).

      The protocol on any leftist list should be that direct incitements to
      violence of any sort should be excluded. The reasons for this are
      obvious: a) they're a bad substitute for serious political argument
      and b) they're a ticking time bomb in the current political climate,
      which is dripping with ostensible anti-terrorism laws imposed in
      recent times by the ruling class. Leftists need mindless appeals to
      violence of any sort like the proverbial hole in the head.

      (While she's at it, Margaret A should have a quiet word offlist with
      Nobby Tobby, and try to persuade him to drop the crazed, intemperate
      abusive language he throws around more or less at will. Tobby is a
      mature man in his thirties, who has been politically active overseas
      and in Australia and his abusive language is obviously a threatening
      political device and he ought to know better.)

      That brings me to the question of Minh and Mike Karadjis. I have much
      the same attitude to Minh as I had to Michael Berrell when he first
      appeared. I'm not entirely sure if he's a real person or a carefully
      constructed cyber-entity.

      The problem with the web, which is such a useful vehicle for serious
      argument and propaganda, is that there's little insurance against
      fantasists or provocateurs constructing elaborate cyber-entitites (or
      crude ones) as it suits them.

      Nevertheless, whether Minh is a real person or some smartarse, he has
      constructed for his entity a set of views that reflect the
      overwhelming point of view among Vietnamese Australians, and other
      Indochinese Australians, who are now nudging 400,000 of our 20 million

      In my bookshop, which has for many years been a very public place in
      which the leftist part of my stock is prominently displayed, I've had
      relatively civilised exchanges at the counter with literally hundreds
      of customers of Indochinese background.

      These people aren't mainly interested in the political material. They
      buy books on science, maths, business and general fiction, and they
      are caught up in the process of education as part of the rite of
      passage from the very bottom of Australian society into the middle layers.

      I always defend, to them, my activities against the Vietnam War, and
      they often defend the point of view of the losing side in that war.
      Such exchanges usually end up reasonably amicably. Mostly they've
      become so acclimitised to Australia that they've realised that many
      older Australian have a similar outlook to myself, as opponents of the
      Vietnam War.

      It's quite clear from where they live and from conversations I've had
      with them, that the overwhelming majority of Australian Vietnamese
      vote Labor, obviously as a result of their position as industrial
      workers at the bottom of Australian society. This is pretty important
      in class terms, but it won't of course impress the DSP leadership,
      with its artificial schema about two equivalent capitalist parties.

      Sometimes I have similar exchanges with Australian veterans of the
      war. In talking to the Vietnamese, I always stress that at the end of
      the war, while I generally supported the other to them side in that
      conflict, I recognised that it was a genuine civil war, a large number
      of people supported the losing side and as Australia had unjustifiably
      stuck its nose into Vietnam's affairs, along with the US, we had a
      moral obligation to assist those who wanted to leave.

      The attitude of Whitlam and the Australian government of the time in
      opposing Vietnamese refugees coming to Australia was repellant,
      particularly to me as a member of the Labor Party.

      My views on all these questions are very public, and are available on
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Vietnam.html. In addition to
      this I wrote a putative film script (see below), among 14 others I
      submitted to a Sunrise films pitching competition about four years ago.

      The viewpoint of Vietnamese Australians on the current regime in
      Vietnam hasn't been modified much by their recent experiences. These
      days, the direct flights back to Vietnam from Sydney are crammed with
      Vietnamese Australian citizens going back to take money to their
      families and to lobby for members of their families to get out under
      the family reunion program.

      Even allowing for the fact that these are people who generally
      supported the old regime, their reports have to be given some weight,
      and they uniformly talk about corruption in the government and the gap
      between the Vietnamese elite and the rest of the population.

      Another fact that Mike Karadjis also has to face is that the regime
      doesn't tolerate serious dissent very much. The fact that pretty well
      all figures from the NLF side who have expressed criticism of the
      regime and called for greater democracy, have been put under house
      arrest, speaks volumes.

      Vietnam is still a one-party state. As an anti-Stalinist Marxist, I
      believe that one-party states went out with straw hats. I share Ernest
      Mandel's view that the existence of multiple parties in a socialist
      system is necessary, as is a substantial relaxation of censorship, etc.

      Also, the absence of institutions of mass democracy that allow real
      argument and conflict, in a situation where a more-or-less super-NEP
      has been adopted (I don't object to NEP market mechanisms in
      themselves) must lead inevitably to a development like China.

      To put it another way, a combination of a rigid Stalinist one-party
      state with a more-or-less unchecked NEP leads directly to a China-type
      social development.

      As an aside, a big test for me of developments in Vietnam would be if
      the regime was capable of rehabilitation Ta Tu Thau and the other
      Vietnamese Trotskyists, even to the limited extent that the
      Trotskyists have been rehabilitated in China.

      There's no sign of that in Vietnam, unfortunately, and I'd be very
      interested if Mike Karadjis, who has been in Vietnamese for a few
      years now, could bring us up to date on some of those questions.

      Mike Karadjis says on the GLW list: "I'll say this Minh: Since you
      have revealed yourself, I'm sorry the heroic liberation armies of Vo
      Nguyen Giap from the north and Tran Van Tra from the southern NLF
      didn't deal with the whole bloody lot of you vile fascist scum in
      time-honoured fashion then and there in 1975."

      Mike Karadjis's extraordinary outburst implying his bloodthirsty
      retrospective desire for some kind of Pol Pot-like settlement of
      accounts with the losing side in Vietnam undermines his credibility
      considerably as a reporter on these matters, which saddens me greatly,
      because up to this point I've regarded him as a bit of an authority.

      His sweeping, blatant desire expressed quite clearly here for the
      repression, by implication, of the substantial majority of Vietnamese
      Australians because of their general political views has nothing to do
      with any model of socialist development, as I understand it. Happily,
      with all their warts and defects, the victorious North Vietnamese and
      NLF didn't do anything like what Karadjis now advocates. The people
      who did that were the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

      Film pitch. Vietnam Tet, 1968. (Written in 1999 for Sunrise Films
      pitch competition.)

      Possibly Australian/Vietnamese co-production. True story.

      1997. 10000 Sydney march against Pauline Hanson. Old Vietnam
      protesters, Vietnam veterans, Vietnamese migrants, left groups, many
      others, march together. Get on surprisingly well.
      Two Vietnamese pensioners, one formerly South Vietnamese colonel,
      other formerly leader of Vietcong "Sparrow" unit, go back to
      Marrickville Vietnamese Club, continue slightly acrimonious argument
      about Tet offensive.

      Fade to Feb 1968. Saigon, whole South Vietnam in turmoil. NLF have
      thrown all reserves into military offensive and national uprising.
      Americans and South Vietnamese caught by surprise. Vietcong have
      occupied citadel in Hue, central Vietnam, many small towns all over
      country. Vietcong Sparrow unit is even inside American Embassy,
      Saigon. City is a mad-house.

      Intense bunch of Australian journalists and photographers hire jeep.
      Try to find frontline. Discover it all around them. Get nervous, as
      gun fire suddenly surrounds them. Jeep goes around corner. They are
      face to face with nervous unit of young Vietcong irregulars, who start
      shooting. Aussies are yelling in English and bad Vietnamese,
      "Journalists. Journalists." Young Vietcong mow them down anyway.

      The Aussie at the back, with long legs, has the wits to jump out and
      run for life. They shoot but he escapes. All his mates are dead.

      Camera follows Sparrow unit which runs into regular unit of Americans
      a few minutes later.

      Most of VC killed, including their leader. A few escape.

      Aussie journalist is traumatised.

      The Vietcong Army have over-reached themselves. Many of their forces
      are killed. Have called out even their most well-concealed irregulars.
      Americans and South Vietnamese reassert military control of the
      country, but Americans have to put in many more troops.

      From the Victcong military point of view, it's a disaster.

      Nevertheless, the graphic illustration via TV satellite throughout the
      Western world, that the Vietcong have sufficient support to invade
      Saigon, main cities, the brutality used to suppress them, like awful
      TV image of the South Vietnamese Colonel shooting young prisoner in
      the head, is enormous political defeat for Americans.

      War drags on for another seven years until finally American nerve
      cracks, and Vietcong troops march into Saigon in 1975.

      New regime is, as Stalinist regimes go, fairly civilised. It's
      strongly nationalist, and brings peace, but it doesn't allow freedom
      or civil rights and rather rigorously attempts to "re-educate" its old
      opponents. Many thousands of Vietnamese escape country, mostly former
      South Vietnamese sympathisers, but also some who'd supported the
      Vietcong, and most end up in USA, Canada, Australia.

      Traumatised reporter tries to cope with rage and anger. No therapy
      works. His personal relationships disintegrate. Eventually goes to
      Vietnam to track down the Vietcong unit. After months of wrong
      turnings, he finds a Vietcong survivor. They sit in cafe. He asks,
      "Why did you shoot journalists?". The Vietcong says, "Journalists! To
      us, white men in jeeps were CIA." Aussie finds explanation reasonably
      persuasive and terrible, painful reconciliation occurs. Aussie writes
      interesting, moving book.
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