Asia

We received a letter from Vietnam which gives a wider and more political view of the situation in Vietnam on the eve of the important forthcoming congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam on "market led socialism".

The events last week looked just like a re-run of the "People's Power" movement in 1986 when the hated dictator Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by a mass uprising in the cities of the Filipino archipelago. So it will surprise nobody that this extraordinary sequence of events has been dubbed the "People's Power 2" movement by local activists and by the media.

We publish this article from the Vietnamese press, translated for In Defence of Marxism by one of our Vietnamese correspondents which shows the conditions Vietnamese workers face in the Export Processing Zones through the example of the strike at the Tan A company in Ho Chi Mihn City.

An important political development has taken place in the left movement in Indonesia with the split of the Democratic Socialist Faction from the PRD (Democratic People's Party) during the first few weeks of November 2000. Although small in numbers (some 22 national leaders and organisers based in the capital Jakarta) the political reasons behind this split relate to fundamental questions of revolutionary socialist strategy for Indonesia.

Since the fall of the dictator Suharto, the Indonesian working class has been in a constant struggle to build up its own organisations. But they are seriously hampered in this by the economic crisis and the resulting mass unemployment, even more than before. On top of that comes the ongoing repression by the employers, the government and the military.

Today, we the Democratic Socialist Faction, a faction inside the People's Democratic Party, declare to split from the People's Democratic Party (PRD). We do hope that this split will give a new way for strengthening revolutionary movement in Indonesia, considering the fact that the internal conflict in the PRD has lead to fundamental difference and accordingly irreconcilable.

This article gives a picture of the appalling housing conditions of workers employed in the IZs and EPZs, the special industrial zones established to attract foreign investment.

After 14 years of "reform", with the introduction of the so-called "market economy under state control in a socialist direction", an economic boom is indeed taking place in Vietnam. However, its economy is obviously not immune from the financial crisis of its neighbours. Very few strikes have been reported, and most of them have attracted very few workers. However the strike of over 4,000 workers at the Hue Phong company (a joint-venture producing shoes) on 12-13th September may represent an important turning point in the workers' struggle in Vietnam.

Another General has completed another year of despotic military rule in Pakistan and the army has exposed itself even further.  A new wave of state repression is beginning to unfold, exhibiting the desperation of the Generals in their failure to solve anything. The patience of the masses is rapidly wearing thin. All the outlets for venting their anger and frustrations have been blocked. This means that the rage of the masses is building up very fast. The more their outburst is delayed the greater will be the explosion.

In this post cold war epoch one of the most significant phenomena which has come to the fore is Islamic fundamentalism. But what is Islamic fundamentalism and what are its real prospects? Although it is not a new phenomenon, in recent times it has attained a vicious and virulent character. Modern fundamentalism in reality is a reactionary culmination of the trends of Islamic revivalism in an epoch of modern world economy and politics.

In 1994, together with the other "Left" parties, including the "Communist Party", the leadership of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP, the traditional workers' party which was originally a Trotskyist party) entered the popular alliance (PA) government headed by Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) and have been carrying out an anti-working class policy of privatisation and cuts in line with the dictates of the IMF. This has led to the rapid rise of a left opposition inside the LSSP, associated with the well-known mass leader, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, the member of parliament for the Ratnapura district.