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16215Long Live Vietnam!

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  • Mato Ska
    Apr 9, 2005
      Thank you for you insightful and in-depth presentation regarding the realities of Vietnamese Australians and their perspectives. As a non-left Green, the character of the criticisms against Pham Minh demonstrates to me that many within the left have not evolved beyond the historical context of the 60s and 70s. In the US after the left  lost its base among workers and the dispossessed, many have chosen the path of isolation and ideological purity. Many have presumed to speak on behalf of a class that it does not represent in actuality. This is a reason that I have made no effort to re-engage with what remains of the left in the US.
      The US left is so often steeped in some of the most morally reprehensible justifications of history and current events as can be found anywhere that I find myself more removed from it and often can find little basis for unity. As a Green, I've chosen a different critique of both the existing power structure in the US and the preferred alternative and vision for transforming it. In doing so, I find myself often at odds with both the progressive left and the ideological left. So be it.
      The liquidation of Vietnamese Trotskyists was not a singular act, but a manifestation of the inherent weakness of a one-party state and a Bolshevik model for social change. I respect the fact that the leadership of the Vietnamese Workers Party grew in a different historical context then exists today. But as history moves forward, it is worthwhile for all to move forward with it and not be left in the pools of ideological stagnation that produces irrelevancy and dogmatism. The changes within other left parties and organizations demonstrate that it is possible to learn from history and not to continue to try and recycle it so that it fits into predetermined formulas of the past. (see Donald Sassoon, One Hundred Years of Socialism (Fontana Press, 1997).
      That does not remove the sense of obligation that I continue to feel towards the suffering endured by the Vietnamese people during their revolution and struggle for independence. I continue to feel that US government and other powers owe the Vietnamese nation and its people reparations for the damage that it did, as it agreed to do under the Paris Peace Accords. I do believe the same is relevant and just today in the case of Iraq and the Iraqi people.
      I hope some day to be able to visit Vietnam before I die, and see it as a country and not just a war. To meet the people and not just to idealize them as "heroes". To apologize in my own way for the deep and profound suffering that the US brought upon their people and their nation. It doesn't fix a thing, but it is simply a token of respect from one American.
      The words of Ngygen Van Troi as he faced his executioners are posted on the subject byline of this post. As the Vietnamese people of today work to address their national problems, including the impact of Agent Orange, let's not forget that we all must move forward and not become so enraged at the words of others that we fail to see the humanity behind them. And let's remember that prior oppression does not justify future oppressions.
      The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is just one of many nations that is seeking to reconstruct itself. I respect their efforts to do so. I am also confident that as they do so they will address the flaws of political and economic institutions that might enable them to address the concerns of their people. If they don't, then they will have only the Vietnamese people to respond to this time. This in itself represents a victory paid for by prior generations.
      Mato Ska

      bobgould987 <bobgould987@...> wrote:

      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

      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 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.

      There is a light that burns dimly today, an ember of justice that will smolder until one day it will ignite in the hearts of the people and bring forth the flame of liberty once again. Each of us holds that torch of freedom and each of us carries it as he or/she can.

      M. Zehr

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