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Friday, January 18, 2019

Man, War and Nation

As published at Unz Review and TruthSeeker, 1/18/19:

Visiting Vietnam in 1953, Norman Lewis quoted a despairing French soldier, Captain Doustin, “It is the feeling I get at this moment that we are at grips with something ant-like rather than human. These unemotional people driven on by some blind instinct. I feel that my intelligence and my endurance are not enough. Take, for instance, those fellows they send up to dig holes close to the wire, before an attack. You’d expect them to show some human reaction when our supporting guns start dropping shells among them, but they don’t. They go on digging until they’re killed, and then some other kind of specialist fellows come crawling up and drag the bits and pieces away. Some time later that night you know the shock-troops are going to come up and get into those holes and then you’re for it. Losses simply don’t bother them. All they’re concerned about is not leaving anything behind. They actually tie a piece of cord to every machine gun, so that as soon as the chap who is using it gets knocked out it can be hauled back to safety.”

Vietnamese have often been compared to ants or other insects, and sometimes they also see themselves as such, but entirely positively, for the ant is much more powerful than its size would suggest, and working together, can move a much larger animal’s carcass. Every Vietnamese child has seen ants transport a dead gecko.

Captain Doustin’s foes are the Viet Minh. Though dominated by Communists, their appeal was primarily nationalistic, for the Vietnamese are anything but globalist or internationalist, which is essentially a Western delusion, as exemplified by Christianity, Communism and Neo-Liberalism. Orientals don’t try to save or convert strangers, and they certainly don’t think any system would constitute an ideal world. That’s a Western insanity or con, deployed to mask plunder and tyranny.

Like most ethnic groups, Vietnamese are only rooted and loyal to their family, language, heritage and native land, roughly in that order. Deeply provincial, they’re only willing to fight to the death to defend what they’ve always known and been, and not for any ideology.

Though the French confidently predicted they would be here for at least a thousand years, not many actually cared to settle in this sultry and deeply alien environment, and the Moroccans and Senegalese they brought were merely transients, not that they left very favorable impressions or would be missed.

Lewis, “A huge effort was being made [by the French] to strengthen the defences on this side of the small town, and engaged on this were several hundred Vietnamese civilian suspects, kept hard at it by a number of gigantic Senegalese soldiers who rushed among them screaming abuse and lashing out with their switches.”

In a year, the French, Moroccans and Senegalese would all be killed or kicked out, and most importantly, through a century of colonialism, Vietnam did not suffer any permanent demographic distortion or damage, but quite the reverse, actually, for many Vietnamese were moved into Laos and Cambodia, though many would be slaughtered or chased from Cambodia in the 70’s.

When French rule seemed most enduring in 1924, a leading Vietnamese intellectual, Phạm Quỳnh, declared, “Truyen Kieu [a 19th century epic poem] remains, our language remains. Our language remains, our nation remains,” so a nation is defined as people who speak the same language and cherish a common culture, as symbolized by their most famous poem, so where does that leave Americans and their nationhood?

Having met quite a few non-natives who tried to speak Vietnamese, I can only count maybe three, two Americans and a German, who have done so convincingly. By contrast, English is fluently spoken by people all over, especially in Iceland, Holland, Germany and Singapore, etc., so its near global status has actually weakened Americans’ sense of identity and nationhood. In language, so many aliens are sort of American. American culture is also too promiscuously disseminated, so it’s nothing special, really, just a soft drink constantly guzzled and pissed out by everybody and his near-blind, senile grandma. For you to meet in Budapest, say, some guy who speaks excellent English and understands tons of American cultural references is not the same as, for me, to run into a Vietnamese on Rakoczi Avenue.

English is also allowing America’s greatest rival, China, to benefit from America’s vast body of knowledge and its educational system, for thousands of Chinese are enrolled in American universities, studying the hard sciences. Terrified by these bright and committed students, Americans flee into departments of woke, woe me and fuck-you-whities studies, where they can more comfortably rub elbows with tight-jeaned posers, affirmative action idiots and jocks.

In Philly, I had a Hong Kong-born friend, George, who told me Chinese have set up American schools that enroll thousands of Chinese, so they can get a student visa to come to the US, so it’s a win-win situation, for every Chinese involved.

In Ann Arbor, I met another Hong Kong native. She sold houses to Chinese, so they could enroll their kids in local high schools for free. Working his ass off, a local tax payer can subsidize the education of a privileged son of a Chinese millionaire, so what’s not to like, if you’re Chinese?

A Chinese can own as many American houses as he wants, even if he’s not a resident. By contrast, an American can only buy a single home in China, after he’s been in the country for a year. Preempting a legal takeover, many nations don’t allow foreigners to own properties, period, and that’s why the late Joe Bageant, for example, had to ghost purchase his Belizean cottage. Thanks to favorable local laws, Chinese now own huge chunks of the San Francisco Bay Area, Vancouver, Toronto, Sidney and Melbourne, etc. Aukland was on this list, until legislators decided last year to block foreign property purchases, but hey, isn’t this, like, xenophobic and, uh, racist? Like muskrats, prairie dog or ants, men have always defended and protected land for their kind only, however that’s defined, so if you reject New Zealand for New Zealanders, then you yourself are doomed, unless you’re Chinese!

Speaking of xenophobia and racism, there’s an ethno, apartheid state that’s the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism since its violent founding, but don’t you dare kvetch about this most sacred of nations, for six gazillion of them were once fulminated to death by you all, if not actively then passively, but soon as you sniff for the evidence, you’ll find that it’s as gaseous as Elie Wiesel, Ann Frank or Jerzy Kosinski.

A common curse of empire is that your language, culture and, eventually, even land will become progressively less your own. Mere decades after their occupations of Vietnam, both France and the US have become more diminished and diluted than the nation they momentarily subjugated. As for Communism, its cultural and psychic violence have been all but neutralized, so that Vietnamese can more or less just be themselves, in all their glories and absurdities. Vietnamese have more control over their self-definition than Frenchmen or Americans.

The USA is doubly cursed, moreover, for even at its peak as an empire, it was also a colony, of Israel, so that American soldiers haven’t just been sent all over to kill and die for the American empire, which should not be confused with the American nation, but also for Israel. Duped into so many conflicts that did not benefit the American nation, many Americans have been sapped of the will to fight any war, even one that would save them.

In 1966, Robert Adrey argued that we share a territorial imperative with many other animals, and that’s why we “stake out property, chase off trespassers, defend our countries,” but this animalistic continuum has been disavowed by many Americans. To them, nation has become an outdated concept, nationalism is fascistic, borders are reactionary and since no man is illegal, there are no trespassers, just undocumented workers, a result of an unfortunate clerical gaff, perhaps, to be shortly rectified. This line of thinking makes no sense to Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Mexicans, Turks, Syrians, Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Palestinians and, well, all but the most progressive Western nations, so who do you think are best equipped to defend their soil and survive, those who embrace nationalism vs. those who shun the very concept of nationhood?

Though culture began as a mere a fig leaf over funky nature, it’s now striving to displace it, especially in the most advanced and progressive nations. An au courant man, therefore, may not just pretend he doesn’t look, smell or function like one, but claim he’s no man at all, as in, “I’m a woman,” “I’m a cyborg” or “I’m just an emoticon.” Since unreal men can’t defend anything, America is finished.



Unknown said...

It's good to hear the late, great Joe Bageant's name mentioned. His writing, sorely missed, reminds me so much of your "Postcards from the end of America". Tony Vodvarka

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Tony,

I taught a class at Penn for just one semester. They allowed me just $500 for an invited speaker, so I asked Joe Bageant, whom I didn't know. He drove up from Virginia, met me for beer before the talk, then gave a very warm presentation to an audience of mostly regular people, which is very rare for UPenn events. Afterwards, we drank and talked some more at another bar then, finally, my tiny apartment. My wife brought out the Chianti and rolled prosciutto, for we lived in the Italian Market. Joe then slept on my lumpy couch.


Rudy said...

A masterpiece as usual, your analysis is spot on.

Whinging about politically incorrect transgressions to distract attention from their machinations, the tribe goes about their business.

“America is a golden calf and we will suck it dry, chop it up, and sell if off piece by piece until there is nothing left but the world’s biggest welfare state that we will create and control. Why? Because it’s God’s will and America is big enough to take the hit so we can do it again, again and again. This is what we do to countries that we hate. We destroy them very slowly and make them suffer for refusing to be our slaves.” (Benjamin Netanyahu, 1990)

A testament to their progress, beggars populate the intersections of broken roads.

Meanwhile Gary Peters, U.S. senator for Michigan tells me:

"Israel is our closest friend in the Middle East and an important strategic ally."

grimychaz said...

The nexus of neoliberalism, Christianity and communism is creepy. You should see the cogdis among church folk who ascribe to Hillary Clinton/George Bush brand of America combined with a conservative but not devout adherence to fundamentalist Christianity. It's truly scary stuff


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.