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Whatever Happened to 'The Vietcong'?

In the 1960s leftwing demonstrators used to chant 'Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh' and 'Victory to the Vietcong'. We look at what sort of society emerged following their victory in 1976.

In 1956, during a brief relaxation of censorship, a Vietnamese literary journal published a story by Tran Duy entitled The Giants. The giants in the story are created by God to help mankind fight the devils, but they end up trampling and killing more people than devils. The allegory was readily deciphered: the giants were the 'communist' party leaders, while the devils were the hated French colonialists, recently defeated at Dien Bien Phu (1954).
The history of the 'communist' movement in Vietnam cannot be summarised in a short article, but the timeline will help the reader place events in context.

Top-down organisation

"Better I die of radiation than my children of hunger..."

In the village of Orlovka, in the Chui region of Kyrgyzstan in post-Soviet Central Asia, there used to be a uranium mine. Its closure in the early 1990s led to massive unemployment in the area. But now the desperately poor local residents have found a new way to survive.

They sift through the waste dumped near the disused mine ­– "a moonscape of grey slag" – in search of material that they can sell to scrap merchants. There is iron and other metals, and graphite, but most valuable is silicon, which fetches $10 per kilo and ends up at electronics plants in neighbouring China. About a third of the diggers are children. Some of their teachers are there too, for they can't get by on the pittance called a salary. Injuries are frequent. Some people get buried alive when the holes they are digging cave in.


Is globalisation going into reverse?

A few years back we suggested (Material World, October 2008) that globalisation has lost impetus and may even have passed its zenith. Now, in the aftermath of Brexit and the inauguration of a protectionist American president, even the capitalist press talks about ‘de-globalisation’.  Some pundits (e.g.: Simon Nixon in The Wall Street Journal, 5 October 2016; Pierpaolo Barbieri in Foreign Affairs, 13 November 2016) still refer merely to a threat or possibility of de-globalisation, but others acknowledge that ‘de-globalisation is already in full swing’(Amotz Asa-El in MarketWatch, 31 August 2016).

Decision-making in Socialism: How to Meet Needs?

In January – February 2017 the journals of the American leftist organization Solidarity (Solidarity and Against the Current) published a stimulating article by Sam Friedman entitled ‘Creating a Socialism that Meets Needs’ ( The author considers how production decisions might be made in a socialist society.

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