Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Viet Nam

Two words please, Viet and then Nam; that's Viet on the left and Nam on the right; buy one, get one free. Available for twelve hour days in the factory, and/or additional "escort" services in the evenings. 

The mathematical probability is that you who are reading this did not grow up in the 1960s, the era of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, the era of "flower power" and experimental LSD, the era in which the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young were moving back and forth between those camps constantly, now protesting "Blowin' In The Wind" or "Ohio", now hallucinating "Mr Tambourine Man" or "The Needle And The Damage Done". To commit politically, or to practice escapism – that was the lifestyle choice of the period, and most people chose both, simultaneously. At the core of this was the Vietnam war, which led thousands of draft-dodgers along Highway 61, the old slave route to freedom in Canada, and thousands more into the prisoner-of-war camps around Hanoi, modelled on the European camps of Hitler and the Siberian camps of Stalin. The war changed America for ever, and yet, to this day, nobody in America will admit that America lost, was roundly beaten, failed in every single one of its objectives, and then went and repeated them in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, today, in Syria. Communist North Vietnam won, and absorbed South Vietnam into its territory, and remains an autocratic one-party state to this day, still committed to a collectivist agriculture based on five-year plans, though electronics and technology appear to be inducing change, by osmosis rather than by government policy.

Unable to defeat it militarily, America has chosen to reconcile with it economically, cemented by (pardoned draft-dodger?) President Clinton's visit in 2000, and the establishment of the US as the major buyer of the products of Vietnam's substantial textile industry - yes folks in the US, most of the slave-made clothes you are wearing come, not from Bangladesh or the Northern Mariana Islands, but from Vietnam, a land where human rights are not acknowledged, where opposition is not permitted, where religions have been outlawed, where there is no media that is not state-controlled, and where "subversion trials", a specifically Vietnamese version of the old Stalinist "show trials" and the Maoist practice of "Fanshen", were restarted as recently as 2013. I would love to know if John McCain, former Presidential candidate and senior Republican, but also a former POW in Vietnam, has an opinion on any of this; and does he ask where they came from when he buys his clothes?

The Nike factory in Vietnam - no worker rights, not even minimum wage

Marks for: 8.3 billion (the value of American imports from Vietnam of textile products; i.e most of the clothes you are wearing)

Marks against: less than 5 (the maximum percentage of this income that is believed to reach the people who make the clothing)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

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