March 15, 2008


What happened to the revolution?: Vietnam is getting rich. For Tom Hayden and other 1960s-era Marxists, that's bad news (Robert Fulford, 3/15/08, National Post)

Why aren't the Vietnamese more grateful to Tom Hayden? Recently, he returned for the first time in 36 years to the country that he and his then-wife Jane Fonda tried to save from American domination in the Vietnam war. The trip disappointed him. As he writes in the March 10 issue of The Nation, Vietnam has turned capitalist. [...]

An article such as Mamet's probably won't shake the faith of many liberals. Tom Hayden, for instance, stands firmly by his prejudices. Not even Vietnam can shake him. Its economy grows swiftly and so does its per capita GDP. It's a single-party state, still using the name Communist Party, and it has economic freedom without the other kinds of liberty. During his trip, a leading Vietnamese novelist told him, "Some Americans may sympathize with communism, but I lived under it and couldn't stand it." The novelist has a son making millions travelling for a high-tech corporation.

Is it possible, Hayden asks himself, that Marxism and nationalism won the war but capitalism and nationalism won the peace? Are "the supposedly scientific models of history long embraced by the left being replaced with a kind of chaos theory of unpredictability? Is this all that was ever possible?" [...]

"Far be it from me," says Hayden. "to question the desire of the Vietnamese to share our globalized consumer culture like everyone else." But of course that's precisely what he wants to do, and does. He made his trip, he writes, because "I wanted to understand the long-term lessons." Considered in that light, his journey was a failure.

Not least because, like all such liberal sight-seeing trips, it ends with him returning to the bosom of the consumer culture he supposedly disapproves of.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2008 11:57 AM

Well, Tom, we know you're hurting. Imagine, those darn, ungrateful Vietnamese, and this after all you and Janie did for 'em.

Anyway, for ideological solace, you've always got Cuba. Zimbabwe, too, is sure to bruise that battered ego, but it's a bit further away, it's true; and Venezuela, if Chavez is running true to form (and one has every confidence that he is), is only a matter of time.

Let's all hope so, eh?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 16, 2008 4:09 AM