Rhetoric and Reality

David W. P. Elliott

in Changing Worlds

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195383348
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979172 | DOI:
Rhetoric and Reality

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This chapter considers Marxist dreams in a capitalist world. It then considers a balance sheet of the impact of “new thinking” on Vietnam's political and social realities after two decades of reform. How much of the substructure of the “old thinking” and the political assumptions of the past remains today? How has Vietnam adapted its thinking and politics to the realities of integrating into a single world system which does not fit well with fundamental assumptions of Marxism-Leninism, which Vietnam's leaders profess is still the guide to Vietnam's future? Can Vietnam find a way of retrofitting this ideational structure which is central to legitimating the regime onto the realities of the world system, perhaps by redefining Marxism-Leninism in the blander and more pragmatic guise of Ho Chi Minh thought? How have globalization and economic reform led to a revival of localism and familism, which have (re)created a blend of identities that are unique to Vietnam, rather than the feared homogenization of Vietnamese economic, cultural life into a Western-dominated model? In the short run, this has reinforced interest-group politics and corruption in a way that suggests a continuation of authoritarian rule, coupled with increasing space for the pursuit of private interests. In the longer term, it may be that deep engagement with globalization may have allowed Vietnam to rediscover its distinctive identity.

Keywords: internet; epistemic community; legal reform; familism; localism; facing facts

Chapter.  27880 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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