Ironies of history Dep’t

There is now a Ho Chi Minh stock index.

It wasn’t surprising when the victorious North Vietnamese decided to celebrate their conquest of the south by renaming Saigon “Ho Chi Minh City.”

Nor was it surprising that the city, far more wealthy, cosmopolitan, and populous than Hanoi, should become the financial capital and the home of the stock exchange as Vietnam went capitalist.

And it was only natural that the stock exchange in Ho Chi Minh City should be the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling a moment of vertigo when I read in the Financial Times that “the Ho Chi Minh stock index rebounded 125 per cent from its lows last year.”

Somehow

Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!

Long on copper, short on tin!

just sounds wrong.  Does anyone know whether Uncle Ho had a sense of humor?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Ironies of history Dep’t”

  1. I don't know an awful lot about Ho Chi Minh, but I am pretty sure he came in to public life as an anti-colonialist who sought and would have welcomed help from the West, but got it only from the East. (Soviet Communism did a hell of lot wrong between the Revolution and Perestroika, but on anti-racism and anti-colonialism in the earlier decades, not so terrible, comparatively. The fact that they were making points against us internationally actually helped the American civil rights movement in the 1950's.) So maybe Ho is smiling wryly rather than rolling over.

  2. Ho, like Fidel Castro, asked for U.S./Western help after his revolution but was rebuffed by anti-communist zealots, as was Castro.

    While I am clearly of an age to have marched against the Viet Nam war, I was always uncomfortable with praising Ho, as was often done using the chant Mark parodied. Just because I thought the war was an awful mistake for many reasons (my draft lottery # was 13!), I never felt that Ho was praiseworthy.

    My $.02.

  3. But he was a pastry chef at the hotel that developed Boston Cream Pie. He must have had a good side.

  4. While I am clearly of an age to have marched against the Viet Nam war, I was always uncomfortable with praising Ho, as was often done using the chant Mark parodied. Just because I thought the war was an awful mistake for many reasons (my draft lottery # was 13!), I never felt that Ho was praiseworthy.

    Ho was definitely no saint (among other things, he basically carried out a pretty brutal program of going after dissidents in the 1950s, and ruled over a dictatorship), but he had a fairly good relationship with the United States until Truman decided he needed French support in Europe enough to help them re-claim their empire in southeast Asia.

    Speculating on what would have happened is somewhat interesting. Ho Chi Minh was a pretty devout communist, but it's possible that had the US not backed the French efforts, we might have ended up with a Yugoslavia-under-Tito arrangement with Vietnam (although more likely is that we just ignore him while helping our regional client, Thailand).

  5. The urban legend among the history majors I knew 30 years ago was that Ho wrote a letter to Truman citing Jefferson &co and asking for help throwing off the colonial yoke, but that after Losing China no one in washingto could listen. Obviously there's a certain myth of the noble savage about that version, and it would be a perfect letter to write for rhetorical effect, but my understanding from further reading was that anti-colonialism was really pretty high on his agenda. And the folks we managed to back, by comparison…

Comments are closed.