Last night was an interesting one. I attended a “Software Solutions” companies opening party at the Sofitel and met a few guys in the computer industry. It was only Japanese and Vietnamese except for me and one other guy. The presentation was also only in these two languages and it reminded me of my extremely poor vocabulary and how hard it is to maintain said vocabulary.
I had to duck out at 8:00pm to go meet two friends who were in town from America at the Saigon Saigon bar. One is a PhD. candidate at Yale and her boyfriend who is a civil rights lawyer also from Yale. We had a really great conversation drawing parallels between the “Communist” system here and the Capitalist system in the United States.
It was interesting to find that as they can search houses here and we think of it as “Communism,” the same thing happens in the USA, especially in minority neighborhoods. I guess the pretext is finding “illegal aliens,” but they could say that here as well since some foreigners have not registered their guests/residents in their house properly. So we foreigners tend to think of this as “Communism” but it’s not really that different from what goes on in the USA.
Another is corruption. Here, if you are connected your life will be easier on all fronts. It’s the same in the USA is it not? My lawyer friend informed me of much of the rampant corruption going on with the police especially in Chicago. We also discussed free speech. There are some things better off left unsaid here but I heard that some right wing companies in the USA refused to do business with the “lefties” and in certain parts of America it is taboo to speak about certain things. I don’t want to get more specific on this.
Finally, there was the idea about worker’s rights. Here the government has laws to protect the worker. In the US back and England during the Industrial Revolution things were not so good for the common worker. Also, in the 1920’s (not so long ago) there were also teams of police called “Strike Breakers” on the payroll of the big companies. I read an article once that Capitalism was able to adapt and get labor laws in place. However, the author was unable to see that Communism was also able to adapt as it is doing now with opening the economy and relaxing many laws. My own conclusion is simply that any system can work so long as you take out human greed which at this stage in our development is impossible. There will always be greed and therefore every system is a bit flawed.
After the Saigon Saigon bar my friends had to go since they had to catch a flight in 8 hours. On the way out I met some more friends who were going to a different bar. But on the way there I saw some other friends drinking at the Qing wine bar and sat with them for about 2 hours. Now I’m up at 10:40am and gotta be at the conditioning class at the gym. Hope I have the energy for it!
Without knowing exactly how your conversations went, allow me to try and expand a bit:
Also, I’m not sure what kind of human development you are talking about but I agree that all systems (even the non-articulated) are flawed and dangerous if you stick to one blindly.
That does not mean that all ideologies are wrong and therefore all the same and all bad. It means that all ideologies fit to a certain kind of circumstances and being able to see, which one is appropriate is very important. Some will never become appropriate.
The dangerous blindness to other options or consequences comes into the picture e.g. when people feel they are threatened.
In Marx’s theories, fear or struggle is an integral part of the ideology and therefore civil liberties in a communist society were always meant to be curbed.
The incursions of peoples’ rights happening in the US these days are not the result of adhering to Liberalism or Capitalism too strictly. They are the result of the sense of fear by having to struggle with terrorists.
Communism – being the path to Socialism as described by Marx – describes a struggle of the working class against the capitalist class as an scientifically proven fact and historical neccesity. In order to defeat the capitalist class a communist dictatorship is therefore necessary to control the struggle. Because that period was a scientific necessity in history according to Marx the communist leaders felt justified in doing anything they wanted. This was after all both an emergency AND destined by fate, they thought.
However, even though the dictatorship-period was only supposed to be transitional, and then develop into socialism, in the end it kept extending and extending.
This happened both because the leaders and ideology where corrupt but most of all because they felt that their mission took emergency precendence over everything else – even human life or liberties.
Marx foresaw that in a period of danger, tighter top-down control was necessary. And so did Bush go centralising power and curbing liberties in America as soon as he felt threatened.
You could argue that in the case of Soviet Russia their problems where due to sticking too much to an ideology and therefore we should be careful of sticking to ideologies as such.
In fact Soviet Russia’s failure was due to them building their system on the basis on an ideology, which perceived everything as an emergency situation. And *that* is what we should be careful of. Not stickng to an ideology per se. If an ideology helps in a given situation, then by all means… The important thing is to be able to look elsewhere when it doesn’t.
Danger comes when you blindly ignore what is happening as a second or third consequence of your emergency decissions.
You can hardly say that Vietnam is strictly communist in a pure sense of the word like Mao saw it when he instigated class struggle as a norm for society. Vietnam, rather, is a place where you get to use whatever work (in Danish: Det Forhaandenvaerende Soems Princip).
That is not “sticking to ideology”. In fact, it is the opposite.
BTW: say hi to Ali from me next time you see her 🙂
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