Vietnam: One-Party State and the Mimicry of the Civil Society
118 Pages
English

Vietnam: One-Party State and the Mimicry of the Civil Society

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Are the issues of civil society, “good governance”, and the role of NGOs in Vietnam part of a discursive discourse that is linked to a growing development industry in which development studies and economics dominate? Kleinen questions these issues based upon longitudinal research in Vietnam since the early 1990s. In this study, an effort is made to explain the concrete interactions between authorities of the Vietnamese one-party state and its citizens by introducing an attitude of participants to conceal their real intentions with the intent to disguise their actions in order to obtain benefits for their own. Using the concept of mimicry the author tries to grasp what it means to live in a society where political and economic life is dominated by elite groups and were social change is coming from different directions. Two case studies are presented here: one in which local stakeholders of home stay tourism achieve their goals to develop an acceptable form of co-habitation with ethnic minorities without questioning the state. Another case study focuses upon the rapid urbanization of the periphery of Hanoi where land grabbing and private economic gains of outsiders are at loggerheads with local experiences and perceptions of state-village relationships. The question remains what it means for Vietnam's modernization and the prospects of a civil society.


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Published 15 August 2018
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Vietnam: One-Party State and the Mimicry of the Civil Society
John Kleinen
DOI: 10.4000/books.irasec.1026 Publisher: Institut de recherche sur l’Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine Year of publication: 2015 Published on OpenEdition Books: 15 August 2018 Serie: Carnets de l’Irasec Electronic ISBN: 9782355960161
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Printed version ISBN: 9786167571256 Number of pages: 118
Electronic reference KLEINEN, John.Vietnam: One-Party State and the Mimicry of the Civil Society.New edition [online]. Bangkok: Institut de recherche sur l’Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine, 2015 (generated 06 septembre 2018). Available on the Internet: . ISBN: 9782355960161. DOI: 10.4000/books.irasec.1026.
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Are the issues of civil society, “g ood g overnance”, and the role of NGOs in Vietnam part of a discursive discourse that is linked to a g rowing de velopm ent industry in which developm ent studies and econom ics dom inate? Kleinen questions these issues based upon long itudinal research in Vietnam since the early 19 90s. In this study, an effort is m ade to explain the concrete interactions between authoriti es of the Vietnam ese one-party state and its citizens by introducing an attitude of participants to conceal their real intentions with the intent to disg uise their actions in order to obtain benefits for their own. Using the concept of m im icry the author tries to g rasp what i t m eans to live in a society where political and econom ic life is dom inated by elite g roups and were social chang e is com ing from different directions. Two case studies are presented here: one in which local stakeholders of hom e stay tourism achieve their g oals to develop an acceptable form o f co-habitation with ethnic m inorities without questioning the state. Another case study f ocuses upon the rapid urbanization of the periphery of Hanoi where land g rabbing and private econom ic g ains of outsiders are at log g erheads with local experiences and perceptions of state-villag e relationships. The question rem ains what it m eans for Vietnam 's m odern ization and the prospects of a civil society.
JOHN KLEINEN
John Kleinen is a retired associate professor in anthropolog y and history at the Am sterdam Institute for Social Sciences Research (AISSR) of the University of Am sterdam . He is specialized on Vietnam ese studies and visual anthropolog y. He published a num ber of books, am ong these,Facing the Future, Reviving the Past. A study of Social Change in a Northern Vietnamese Village(1999) andPirates, Ports and Coasts in Asia(2010). Recently he contributed to a special issue of the academ ic reviewMoussonsese intellectuals (1858-1954).on Vietnam
EDITOR'S NOTE
Série Enquête n° 3 / Investig ation Series n° 3
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
Chapter 1. The political system: state-party relations reconsidered. Changing state, party and society relations The political system: state-party relations reconsidered Chang ing state, party and society relations
Chapter 2. NGOs in Northern Vietnam: between public and private domains Defining poverty Pro-poor g rowth Defining tourism and community-based tourism Value chain analysis Pro-poor tourism strateg ies in practice: success or failure? Conclusions Postcript
Chapter 3. Constructing civil society? A tale of two villages Introduction A tale of two villag es-Lang To and Lang Lua Lang To villag e Social structure Land sales Villag ers’ point of view on urbanization Role of social org anizations Lang Lua villag e
Chapter 4. Conclusions Cyberspace and civil society An emerg ing civil society in Vietnam: what are the prospects?
References
Introduction
Profound chang es of Vietnam ese society in the first decade of the 21st century have g iven rise to new interest g roups testing their ability to advance their concerns in the political sphere. Old Stalinist m odes of political representa tion are being challeng ed by the em erg ence of vocal rig hts and justice m ovem ents. Ar ound the year 2000, Vietnam was seen as a “norm al” country being part of a g lobalization process that had set in during the late 1990s. By em phasizing the contrast with old im ag e of a country devastated by war, Vietnam g radually becam e a success story of the internation al donor com m unity. The political infrastructure rem ained larg ely intact with the Com m unist Party of Vietnam (CPV) at the helm of the one-party state.1 Unlike in China where the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution had uprooted the Com m unist Party, Vietnam ’s revolutionaries, who were young m en during the wars of the 1950s-70s, were still around in the late 1990s-in g overnm ent, business, academ ia, and elsewhere. Continuing social links between these “w ar heroes” m ay m ake the leadership m ore sensitive to ordinary people’s concerns. With the recent death of Vo Ng uyen Giap (1911-2013)2 this finally disappeared. Their influen g eneration ce on daily politics after the reunification of the country in 1976 ended in 2006 with the 10th Party Cong ress when a new m ore technocratic and prag m atic leadership replaced the old g uard.3 The sudden protests from the heartland of the revolution, the province of Thai Binh, in the late 1990s served as a wake-up call to the politica l leadership of the country, who tried to reconnect with the m asses with a num ber of g rassroo ts dem ocracy decrees and reform s of the m ass org anizations (see Kleinen 1999: v-vi). Th e one party-state was seriously challeng ed, but not in the way as in China where ri sing tensions am ong seg m ents of the population had caused China’s Tiananm en Square protests and were dealt with a violent crackdown. In Vietnam , beheading of protest m ovem en ts took place by using force in the form of prosecutions, evictions of protesters, and violence ag ainst protesters and journalists.4e.But the confrontation also led to a new stag Since then Vietnam ’s political developm ent has entered an extraordinary, if undefined and not yet form ally recog nized phase. Coercion and repression rem ain m enacing , thoug h not dom inant, features of daily social life. Politics in Vietnam has been chang ed in a way that echoes the discursive space of post-g lobalization: Internet and m obile devices served as a forum for dissent and contentious politics, which are m ore difficult to deal with than in the past when physical abuse in the form of harassm ent, arrest, and im prisonm ent were the hallm arks of the state’s repressive capacities. Wha t is left of the State is, according to Gainsbouroug h (2010: 182), “little more than a desperate g roup of actors with a weak notion of ‘the public g ood’, using uncertainty, not impartial rules, as the basis of order.” When com m on interests are threatened, these actors are able to react, defending a state of affairs that is characterized by corruption, state business interests, local politics, and applications of force rooted in culture and ideolog y.
 In this contribution, the relevance of anthropolog ical approaches to developm ent processes will be com bined with the study of civil society since the 1990s taking this concept as a point of departure (Olivier de Sardan 1995). T he principal objective is to explore the inherent difficulties of translating international developm ent-related notions of “g ood g overnance” and “civil society” into the historical Vietnam ese context of building a state-socialist society and econom y. I will start with th e question about the path that Vietnam took in the ‘70s and ‘80s, how it diverg ed, and why. This question is a necessary preparation for a larg er question about the kind of developm ent that took place after the socialist experim ents ended in Vietnam , and the role national decision-m aking ag encies played in the diverg ence. State socialist attem pts to m odernize econom y and society can also be reg arded as a form of ideolog ical m obilization: at the start, the arch itects of liberated Vietnam used a m odern ideolog y as Marxism to m obilize labor and capital in a g iven historical context in order to m odernize their societies, and as soon as the leade rs had achieved their aim s, “socialism becam e in their view synonym ous with m odernity. I will arg ue that it is unclear yet whether a pseudo reform or a real political liberalization with a civil society is em erg ing in Vietnam . The last com bination has not yet been achieved, but within the state the shaping of a kind of civil society is underway g iving individuals a certain m arg in to escape from a tolerant authoritar ianism . The CPV is still dom inating the national theatre of politics, but the g eneral audie nce is receptive to playing the g am e and learning the discourse and the techniques to adapt. More im portantly than the view from the top, the events at Vietnam ’s g rass roots are relevant to study. For this reason, chapters 2 and 3 take a different ang le of approach from the p erspective used in the introductory chapter 1. After a discussion of what the concept of “civil society” m eans for contem porary Vietnam , we present two case studies in which the w orking s of g rass root activities are presented and analyzed. In chapter 2, we show the results of an-depth research by the Dutch researcher Pim Verweij am ong local NGOs in a specif ic reg ion where tourist activities take place and where aspects of civil society surface in public and private dom ains in term s of brokerag e between clients and custom ers. Chapter 3 shows a classic exam ple of what Ben Kerkvliet once coined as a dialog ical interpretatio n of state and party relations reg arding land issues as a result of rapid urbanization and m odernization that takes place in Vietnam at the m om ent. Here we focus upon a long -term resea rch undertaken by foreig n and Vietnam ese researchers in an area near Hanoi.5
NOTES
1.2001 the French scientific journal, In politiques: études de pensée politique, Raisons  num éro spécial sur “Ce qui reste du com m unism e”, No 3, Aug ust 2001, pp. 37-64, published a critical article by this author about the working s of the Vi etnam ese one-party state entitled “La com édie de l’État-parti. Le Viêt Nam depuis la réun ification”. Mim icry was translated into comédie (simulation d’un sentiment, apparence trompeuse),but a better term m beig ht mimiqueor evenmimétisme.See also Brocheux (2004) for his com m ents.