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The Original Vietnam War

Tony Alicea
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    5
UPDATE: You can get a 15-day FREE trial period with the Encyclopedia, BTW. Just follow the link below, and read.

Since I don't, by default, trust the "hits" from a Google search, when it comes to historical accuracy I trust the Britannica more than I trust an anonymous page from a failing high school student that happens to know how to create a decent looking web page and who has never had sex, etc., etc... I don't mind at all paying $50 a year so that I can access the Encyclopedia from any web browser.
I also have the full 4+GB data DVD installed in both my notebook and desktop PCs such that I don't need to insert the data DVD-ROM every time I want to use it.
With that said, here is the link to the article on the Vietnam war:
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=77300
[ April 19, 2004: Message edited by: Tony Alicea ]

Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
John Smith
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Talking about education, -- I was listening to today's news, and a comentator referred to Abdel Aziz Rantisi who was assasinated today as "gentleman". The same word was used in reference to Osama Bin Laden in other reports, by the American media. My question is, has the word "gentleman" become identical to words "male" and "man", or is it the journalists who use the word "gentleman" without giving it a second thought?
Axel Janssen
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Am no expert in your american english, but in my rheinlaendisch english its perfectly allowed to use the term "gentlemen" in a sarcastic/ironic way.
Its question of accentuation/stress the speaker puts.
John Smith
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Axel: Am no expert in your american english, but in my rheinlaendisch english its perfectly allowed to use the term "gentlemen" in a sarcastic/ironic way.
That I understand. However, there was not a shadow of sarcasm or irony when the political comentators on American TV programs said something like "Osama Bin Laden is a gentleman who orchestrated the 911 and other terrorist attacks." But if these commentators were educated in the UK, would they ever put it that way? Any British ranchers out there to comment?
Max Habibi
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Don't know if this is relevant, but some marines will say 'gentleman', with a straight face, when they mean 'scumbag'.
M


Java Regular Expressions
Tony Alicea
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Original post updated.
Warren Dew
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Okay, one more try. I feel like Michael Ernest's last post in that other Vietnam thread was actually a start towards getting more light and less heat, and I'd like a chance to explore it further. Max, if you disagree, feel free to summarily delete this post.
I think I'll avoid things that touch on wars other than Vietnam, at least initially.

Tangent: the other point that came to mind was the one that got me going. Anyone who has every heard of My Lai would not, I think, be so quick to applaud US military effectiveness in Vietnam....
Now: if anyone wants to talk about giving the enemy reason to fight no matter what, let's talk about making sure the people we are supposed to be fighting with have material reason to hate our guts. And good luck pinning that on a politician. Nowhere, as I see it, for the "good military bad politicians" argument to run and hide.

I guess I draw the line between "military" and "political" in a different place than you do. I would characterize the massacre itself as a failure in military discipline, yes - but in that respect, I thought and still think it was, in fact, an isolated incident. And while I think it reflected very badly on the good/bad scale, I'm not so convinced that it was far from neutral on the effective/ineffective scale.
I do agree with you that it was but one example of a very prevalent prejudice against all Vietnamese by most of the U.S. forces on the ground at the time; certainly I can remember many people calling all Vietnamese "gooks". I also agree that that made the military's job more difficult in many ways. However, I didn't and don't see that as a military problem, I see it as a political problem. Presidents Johnson and Nixon (and perhaps Kennedy, though I was too young to be paying much attention to politics when he was still alive) didn't see the war as primarily something that was fought for the benefit of the Vietnamese people; rather, they saw Vietnam as basically a pawn in the greater struggle between the free world and the communist powers. This attitude at the top of course percolated down all the way to the lowliest Private, who the looked on the Vietnamese as objects rather than people.
I see that as a political problem, because I think it came from Johnson and Nixon, who had fundamentally political mindsets, and who, as Presidents, were of course the highest ranking politicians in the country. On the other hand, they were also each Commander in Chief at the top of the military ranks, so I guess that could also be seen as a military issue. Is that what you are saying?
Even then, though, I don't think the support of the population played that big a part in the military equation in Vietnam - if only because the communists acted with about equal disregard for the average Vietnamese and were about equally reviled by them.
Max Habibi
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Hi Warren,
I think what you're doing is expletory of what we do want in here. You're stated your case, you've justified your statements, and you haven't been nasty to anyone. This isn't the sort of thing I need to moderate.
Personal snips, political generalizations(aside: these days, some people identify with their political party as if it were their football team), etc. That we can do without.
Thanks,
M
Michael Ernest
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Warren -
This is one other point I didn't explore, preferring that it come up on its own before I addressed.
Insofar as anyone views the military aspect of war as simply technical -- the winning and losing of conflicts, control over territory, neutralization of enemy assets, etc. -- I don't see how the concept of 'military victory' means much. But I'm unclear on the perspective that sees such a nuts-and-bolts issue as the preparation and conduct of one's fighters categorized as a political problem, and I'm not sure what I would ask to understand it better.
I assume by military elements we mean the winning and losing of battles, the means by which we gain advantages over the enemy, the methods by which we win and hold key positions in an ongoing conflict, and the underlying aspects that impair or promote those objectives. I assume by political elements we mean the ability of our government to inform the people what's happening, and persuade them that the effort is important and requires their support.
If the choosing of lines between what is 'really military' and what is 'really political' is at the heart of it, then we're down to abstractions that by themselves might be interesting to consider. I'm wary of some gerrymandering of terms here, though. If training to soldiers to do their jobs properly is a political question, and not a military one, what part of the military can possibly be called nonpolitical?


Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
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Michael Matola
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EK: My question is, has the word "gentleman" become identical to words "male" and "man", or is it the journalists who use the word "gentleman" without giving it a second thought?
"Gentleman" has been emerging, for at least about five years or so that I've noticed, as a default for the male of the species when any other name you might call him seems potentially controversial, offensive, or legally actionable.
You hear it from tv newscasters and law enforcement types. From the newscasters it's not about irony; it's partially about covering their asses. From the law enforcement types, I can't decide. There probably is some irony involved (like Max said about the Marines). Overall weird and incongruous? Yes.
You'll hear
- Three gentlemen were apprehended at the scene of the crime. Police are not releasing information as to what specific charges they may face.
- One gentleman managed to escape as the [prison] guards were distracted by the explosion.
So they're using "gentlemen" in place of "suspects," "alleged suspects," "perpetrators," "criminals," "prisoners," etc. You sometimes used to hear "individuals" for that. "Individuals" sounds so military-speak, but "gentlemen" sounds even weirder.
[ April 20, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Matola ]
Warren Dew
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I guess I'm having a hard time getting my head around the difference between "the winning and losing of conflicts, control over territory, neutralization of enemy assets, etc." and "the winning and losing of battles, the means by which we gain advantages over the enemy, the methods by which we win and hold key positions in an ongoing conflict, and the underlying aspects that impair or promote those objectives." Is the difference that you are excluding "means", "methods", or "underlying aspects" from the former?

If the choosing of lines between what is 'really military' and what is 'really political' is at the heart of it, then we're down to abstractions that by themselves might be interesting to consider. I'm wary of some gerrymandering of terms here, though. If training to soldiers to do their jobs properly is a political question, and not a military one, what part of the military can possibly be called nonpolitical?

I tend to think of things as "military" when they are the result of decisions made by military men, and as "political" when they are made by politicians. Tactics and tactical doctrine are almost always military, as politicians rarely understand them well enough to interfere with them. My few years of military background cause me to believe that operational doctrine and weapons procurement ought to be military, though in the U.S., the latter at least tends to be heavily influenced by what I would consider "civilian interference" - as when a weapons system that the military considers ineffective is nonetheless procured because its manufacturer is in the district of a key congressman. The decision about whether, when, and where to go to war is nearly always a political decision, and ought to be.
I would differentiate between the training of the soldiers and the definition of what their job is. At the time of the Vietnam war, a soldier's job did not include relations with civilians; that was not considered a military issue. Instead, their training focused on how to do the things that were considered parts of their jobs - how to shoot, tactical maneuver and coordination, maintenance and supply. I feel it's unfair to blame something on the military that was not part of what they were tasked to do.
On the other hand, it's not clear that there was any explicit political decision about it, either. Perhaps people hadn't thought about the interface between soldiers and civilians much because everyone had gotten used to wars - like the Civil War, World War I, World War II - where the civilians almost always stayed out of the combat zones. So maybe this part of the problem isn't really political, either. Maybe the problem was that nobody took responsibility for it, that noone even really thought about it much.
Again, I don't think that in the case of the Vietnam war, civilian relations really made that big a difference. Winning battles and holding key positions was something that the military was able to do whenever they were allowed to do so by the politicians, irrespective of how the local civilians felt about it.
I do think that in the 21st century, civilian relations will become more important. The conflicts in the third world today are not against forces like the Viet Cong that were ultimately supported, funded, and supplied by a major strategic enemy like the Soviet Union. They are against enemies that are locally supported, making relations with the local civilian population far more important.
Michael Ernest
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

WD: I guess I'm having a hard time getting my head around the difference between "the winning and losing of conflicts, control over territory, neutralization of enemy assets, etc." and "the winning and losing of battles, the means by which we gain advantages over the enemy, the methods by which we win and hold key positions in an ongoing conflict, and the underlying aspects that impair or promote those objectives." Is the difference that you are excluding "means", "methods", or "underlying aspects" from the former?

ME: I just repeated myself using different terms. I didn't mean to set these up as distinctions. Sorry 'bout that.
I'm generally with your insights on the lines between military and politicking can be blurred. It's not my perception, however, that the line between combat zones and civilian populations have been so clean cut. Fighting lines, sure, but what little I know about the Korean Conflict and World War II suggests that, combat aside, you walk past plenty of other people's stuff to get to the fighting.
My impression is that US soldiers might have thought they were coming to rescue Vietnam from Communism, rather than rescue Vietnam from occupation of any kind. This, I think, is another meaningful line to consider in discussing parallels with Iraq: it seems to me we're "fighting for freedom" in a country where the reception to our presence hasn't been mixed, it's been volatile and sometimes lethal.
WD: My few years of military background cause me to believe that operational doctrine and weapons procurement ought to be military, though in the U.S., the latter at least tends to be heavily influenced by what I would consider "civilian interference" - as when a weapons system that the military considers ineffective is nonetheless procured because its manufacturer is in the district of a key congressman.
ME: One of the annoying costs of democracy. So long as we're not voting ourselves the treasury, we're ok. But if we vote ourselves an occasional useless weapons system because we really want the jobs, or the cash for an important supporter, what can be done? To call it "interference" is a fairly reasonable expression of annoyance, but I imagine politically-motivated military spending happens everywhere. This is not, in our system, a problem to be solved, as I see it, but a condition to be observed. We just hope it gets stomped if it starts to get out of hand.
WD: The decision about whether, when, and where to go to war is nearly always a political decision, and ought to be.
ME: I want our leaders to have that authority, not our military. That said, you certainly want the military prepared to deploy for some emergency and extraordinary situations without having to wait for a call, and I think we have that. But I don't believe our military were prevented from hitting their targets, as was suggested elsewhere, that politicians were second-guessing each strike. We tried stuff that didn't work, for sure: defoliating to reduce ground cover, carpet-boming to intimidate the enemy, and so on. Didn't work. Ok, strategy backfired.
WD: At the time of the Vietnam war, a soldier's job did not include relations with civilians; that was not considered a military issue. Instead, their training focused on how to do the things that were considered parts of their jobs - how to shoot, tactical maneuver and coordination, maintenance and supply. I feel it's unfair to blame something on the military that was not part of what they were tasked to do.
ME: I'm back to "we lost." If someone wants to say the military was effective and could have been moreso under the right circumstances, I can only shrug and say "uh, ok." Still, "military victory" seems a bit strong. Perhaps "military defeat" is too.
WD: Perhaps people hadn't thought about the interface between soldiers and civilians much because everyone had gotten used to wars - like the Civil War, World War I, World War II - where the civilians almost always stayed out of the combat zones.
ME: I know most of what I know about all three conflicts by studying memoirs, records and of course the literature of those times. Things don't seem so distinct in those eras. In the actual fighting, sure, you don't see someone running across a trenchline to get a loaf of bread. But neither do you see clean, demarcated separation between civilians and soldiers in between armed conflict.
The cultural differences might be significant certainly. Once civilians are dehumanized as "gooks" -- a problem certainly not 'political' in my mind, but also not military -- you've got problems waiting to happen. I don't think anyone would disagree, then, that Vietnam was a resounding cultural defeat. We found out we could be as ugly and brutal and hateful as anybody. To make matters worse, the cameras were rolling.
WD: Again, I don't think that in the case of the Vietnam war, civilian relations really made that big a difference. Winning battles and holding key positions was something that the military was able to do whenever they were allowed to do so by the politicians, irrespective of how the local civilians felt about it.
ME: Yes, but we never went into Vietnam to prove that might makes right. We went in to fight Communism. We went, as I see it, with ideological hatred for Communism. Why?? Communism is not an enemy, it's a political system of economics, and it seems to favor countries predominated by subsistence living heavily dependent on agriculture. Vietnam seemed to be, at some point, merely the physical expression of that fight.
With that in mind, one could argue that having the better military issue is never the point, unless the point is that might rules. Following on centuries of another form of political economy that no one liked anymore -- namely, imperialism -- talking like lovers of democracy and failing to answer skepticism over one's imperialist tendencies was bound to get us into trouble, and it did. We failed to persuade the world -- many of our own people, even -- that our intentions were honorable, and that indeed was a political failure. I don't think that could have happened any other way.
For some people, the point was we were there, we had an alliance to honor, we have to finish the job. For others, the point was we were there and it made no sense, let's get out. "And it's one, two, three, what are we fightin' for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop it's Vietnam" I think sums it up pretty well.
WD: I do think that in the 21st century, civilian relations will become more important.
ME: I think they've always been important, but it's gotten harder, maybe even since Korea for us. Fact of the matter is, Soviet and Chinese incursions into "our" hemisphere aren't quite so pronounced as US "incursions" have been into theirs. We're a superpower, ergo a threat. That's the only reasonable way to look at it when a big hungry gorilla sits next to you at lunch and left his at home.
[ April 20, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
Warren Dew
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I think we're mostly in agreement, or at least not disagreement. A few things I wanted to comment on - again, not necessarily disagreement.

But I don't believe our military were prevented from hitting their targets, as was suggested elsewhere, that politicians were second-guessing each strike.

The "rules of engagement" were pretty infamous among the Vietnam era military, but I agree, they didn't prevent the military from hitting its targets, and in truth, they did have reasonable goals - such as the minimization of civilian casualties. And it's also true that the military did its share of second guessing the politicians - for example when they only asked for permission to take out two of six Viet Cong bases in Cambodia in 1970 because they thought public opinion wouldn't stand for more. However:

We tried stuff that didn't work, for sure: defoliating to reduce ground cover, carpet-boming to intimidate the enemy, and so on. Didn't work. Ok, strategy backfired.

Er, there were undoubtedly some that didn't work, but defoliation and bombing in particular did work. Defoliation helped the U.S. to identify and interdict North Vietnamese supply lines from the air, considerably reducing their ability to fight in South Vietnam. Bombing Hanoi and mining Haiphong harbor in mid 1972 was a crucial part of stopping a major North Vietnamese offensive and bringing them to the negotiating table. And when in December they got cold feet about what they had agreed to, bombing Hanoi again caused them to remember their promises and finally sign off on the Paris peace accords. Not at all ineffective.
Ultimately, though, Congress passed a resolution in 1973 forbidding the use of U.S. military force in Indochina, which prevented us from enforcing the terms of the Paris accords. That's what lost the war, when North Vietnam reinvaded in 1975. I can't see it as a military defeat for us when our military wasn't even allowed to fight.

I'm back to "we lost." If someone wants to say the military was effective and could have been moreso under the right circumstances, I can only shrug and say "uh, ok." Still, "military victory" seems a bit strong.

I'm not defending the "military victory" part as factual. I think it's a rhetorical device to emphasize the "political defeat" part, and while I understand why others use the phrase, I haven't used it myself.

Yes, but we never went into Vietnam to prove that might makes right. We went in to fight Communism. We went, as I see it, with ideological hatred for Communism. Why?? Communism is not an enemy, it's a political system of economics, and it seems to favor countries predominated by subsistence living heavily dependent on agriculture. Vietnam seemed to be, at some point, merely the physical expression of that fight.

This is why I don't like to use the term "Communist". The label has just been applied to too diverse a set of ideas. Philosophically pure "Communism" is nice in principle and has never been achieved in practice.
The flavor we were talking about at that time - Stalinism-Maoism, if you will - was an extremely repressive form of autocratic government that involved periodic purges and killings of significant percentages of the population. Stalin had killed tens of millions of his people, Mao had and was still in the process of killing tens of millions of his people in the Cultural Revolution, the North Vietnamese government killed a similar proportion of its people, and after we left Southeast Asia, the Communist Khmer Rouge government took over Cambodia and killed over 2 million of its people - over 30% of the population. And I'm not including the intentional famines here.
Those deaths never seem to have impinged on the popular consciousness in the U.S., perhaps because they didn't get televised. That they didn't get televised, though, doesn't for me make them any less terrible. For some, yes, they formed the a sufficient basis for ideological hatred. For others, it was more a practical issue of preventing the growth of this "political system of economics" beyond its then current bounds. And some no doubt thought it was none of our business what they did to their own people, which was also a valid point of view.

Soviet and Chinese incursions into "our" hemisphere aren't quite so pronounced as US "incursions" have been into theirs. We're a superpower, ergo a threat. That's the only reasonable way to look at it when a big hungry gorilla sits next to you at lunch and left his at home.

Well, the Soviet Union doesn't exist any more. The cold war was real, but it's over - and that one we won. Russia is not the same nation as the Soviet Union, and China isn't at all the same nation as it was under Mao either. They are no more our enemies than Germany and Japan are, any more.
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:

Well, the Soviet Union doesn't exist any more. The cold war was real, but it's over - and that one we won. Russia is not the same nation as the Soviet Union, and China isn't at all the same nation as it was under Mao either. They are no more our enemies than Germany and Japan are, any more.
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]

-start of off topic ramble-
In international politics, terms like "allies" and "enemies" tend to be extremely temporary. Russia and China are not enemies of the US... for now. The trouble is that time and time again in international politics there has been the pattern of a country/bloc becoming very powerful and another country/bloc becoming increasingly belligerent to contain this power. It happened before WWI when the Entente Cordiale allied with Russia to contain the central powers. It happened before WWII when Japan and the US started building up fleets in response to each other. It happened in the cold war when the USSR and the US built up power. Even before this centaury its happened many times - Prussia vs. Austria, France vs. England etc etc. At the moment we have a situation where there is only one superpower, but this is not likely to continue - history has shown that a kind of "balancing" effect will most likely happen - another country will attempt to become stronger and counter the actions of the superpower. The most likely candidates for this are Russia (through resources), India (through population), EU (through trade) and most likely China (from both population and resources). This opposition may not be military - it could be economical, but either way this new opposition force will be seen as an enemy by the US. Although China is not longer an enemy of the US, its understandable to see why the US is slightly nervous of it.
-end of off topic ramble-
This is why I don't like to use the term "Communist". The label has just been applied to too diverse a set of ideas.

A similar thing has happened to socialism and democracy IMHO - they are just to large in scope to be labelled "good" or "bad". Unfortunately its quite often useful in politics to use black-and-white, good-and-evil rhetoric. Statements like "all Russian communists are evil" and "all American capitalists are greedy monsters" were regularly used in the cold war, and have unfortunately left slightly skewed viewpoints of certain terms. I'm sure not all communist Russians were evil and not all American capitalists are greedy monsters .
Philosophically pure "Communism" is nice in principle and has never been achieved in practice.
The flavor we were talking about at that time - Stalinism-Maoism, if you will - was an extremely repressive form of autocratic government

The so called "communist" states were only really communist in name, but were dictatorships in practice. Its similar to some African and Asian countries where the leader of the country calls himself a "democratically elected President". A country declaring itself to be democratic doesn't mean that it is (i.e. Kazakhstan), and similarly a country declaring itself to be communist doesn't means that it is (i.e. USSR).
--
Sorry for all the edits - should really spell check before posting :roll:
--
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Warren Dew
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At the moment we have a situation where there is only one superpower, but this is not likely to continue - history has shown that a kind of "balancing" effect will most likely happen - another country will attempt to become stronger and counter the actions of the superpower. The most likely candidates for this are Russia (through resources), India (through population), EU (through trade) and most likely China (from both population and resources). This opposition may not be military - it could be economical, but either way this new opposition force will be seen as an enemy by the US.

I agree. I actually see this as a good thing; I don't like the idea of one power ruling the world, even if it is the U.S.
I note that China does not have much in the way of natural resources; they're importing a lot of oil right now, and they're importing most of their metal in the form of scrap from the U.S. and others. They do have a lot of population. I think the E.U. is the most likely first candidate - they're already developed, and unlike the other nuclear powers, their weapons technology probably equals ours. I might add the Mideast to the list of candidates, because of resources.
A similar thing has happened to socialism and democracy IMHO - they are just to large in scope to be labelled "good" or "bad".

Agreed, especially relative to "democracy".
The so called "communist" states were only really communist in name, but were dictatorships in practice.

While I basically agree with this, I would note that the Communist dictatorships actually corresponded not too poorly with the stage that Marx called the "dictatorship of the proletariet", which was supposed to be a temporary dictatorship until the state "withered away". The latter part of his prediction never really came to pass, though.
Steve Wink
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Joined: May 13, 2002
Posts: 223
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
[QB]
I note that China does not have much in the way of natural resources; they're importing a lot of oil right now, and they're importing most of their metal in the form of scrap from the U.S. and others. They do have a lot of population. I think the E.U. is the most likely first candidate - they're already developed, and unlike the other nuclear powers, their weapons technology probably equals ours. I might add the Mideast to the list of candidates, because of resources.
QB]

And I note that there are an awful lot of natural resources, with very few people, a couple of hundred miles from China, in Siberia. At the risk of getting a bit Tom Clancey, a possible conflict of the 21st century?
I wouldn't worry about the E.U. and war with the US, we can't even agree on a constitution, let alone military action; half the countries would surrender on the first day, and the other half would get carried away and invade eachother.
As for the middle east, isn't that what Bin Laden and his mad friends want - a pan islamic state with the Gulf's oil and Pakistan's nuclear weapons?
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Warren Dew:

While I basically agree with this, I would note that the Communist dictatorships actually corresponded not too poorly with the stage that Marx called the "dictatorship of the proletariet", which was supposed to be a temporary dictatorship until the state "withered away".

This is quite an interesting subject. The phrase "Dictatorship of the proletariat" is probably one of the most debated ones of modern politics. The trouble was that Marx wasn't overly clear with what he meant. The most likely meaning was not that he wanted a dictatorship in the name of the proletariats (ie they appoint a dictator to look out for them), but a dictatorship by the proletariats. I think what we meant was that the entire proletariat class, would have a say in running the country, and that the bourgeoisie wouldn't - kind of a democracy where only the poor people can vote. Not a very good democracy, but not a dictatorship either.
Someone who could probably give more of an informed opinion of what Marx meant was Engels. He said:

Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat

and then of the Paris Commune:

In this first place, it filled all posts -- administrative, judicial, and educational -- by election on the basis of universal suffrage of all concerned, with the right of the same electors to recall their delegate at any time. And in the second place, all officials, high or low, were paid only the wages received by other workers.

Engels therefore saw the "Dictatorship of the proletariat" as most definatly not the strong rule of a single person. Its probably more to do with the theories of people like Lenin, and the power-hunger of people like Stalin who changed the role of the Soviets from worker councils forming a part of a government run by the people, to groups of people subjected to from above.
Why did this happen? Probably because it seems to be a factor of many revolutions that someone sees a power vacuum and gets in there to take it. Following the English Civil War, the French Revolution, the Chinese Revolution etc etc a dictator came to power. The American Revolution was one of the rare ones in which a dictator did not emerge. Unfortunately the Russian Revolution succumbed to the fate of most of the others, and a group of powerful people were able to get in control. In a way they had betrayed everything they stood for - Marx wanted the working classes to have more say, but in the end they just replaced one ruling class, the bourgeoisie with another, the Communist Party. The people who the revolution was most supposed to help had ended up not really helped by it at all.
The latter part of his prediction never really came to pass, though

This is probably the most flawed part of Marx's work. His ideas that the differences between the classes would fade away, and shortly afterwards the government would also ignores the simple fact that people would far rather look out for themselves than for society. This means that there are going to appear people who attempt to have more power than other people, and to have an increase in quality of life at the expense of other people. This makes a state-less society almost impossible to achieve and a society of people working for the best of society similarly hard to achieve. That's why capitalism is so successful IMO - it takes into account, and works on the bases that people are greedy .
 
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Rumsfeld's job 'on the line'
Vietnam war - Domino