"VĂN HÓA ONLINE-CALIFORNIA" THỨ SÁU 23 SEP 2016
Gs Lâm Lễ Trinh: Vấn đề trí thức Việt Nam
Lời tòa soạn: Giáo sư Tiến sĩ Lâm Lễ Trinh, Chính trị gia - nguyên Bộ trưởng Bộ Nội vụ VNCH, Giáo sư Luật ... sinh năm 1923 tại Cần Thơ, nay tuy đã trọng tuổi nhưng Giáo sư vẫn miệt mài làm việc từ viết sách, viết báo, dịch thuật cho đến việc thường xuyên thuyết trình trong các sinh hoạt cộng đồng Việt Nam hải ngoại.
Giáo sư là một cây bút chính trị quan trọng trogn tờ Văn Hóa Magazine trước đây, và nay ông tiếp tục gởi trước tác cho Văn Hóa Online-California. Những cuo56c nói chuyện của Gs Lâm Lễ Trinh cũng được chuyển lên YOUTUBE.
Dưới đây là nguyên văn tiếng Anh (tạm dịch) bài: Vấn đề trí thức Việt Nam; kính mời quý bạn đọc theo dõi. (VH)
VIETNAMESE INTELLECTUALS IN CRISIS
Gs Lâm Lễ Trinh
In an article widely circulated among the Vietnamese diaspora, dissident scientist Ha Sỹ Phu writes that “The (Vietnamese) people are currently facing a human crisis on a global scale. Society is in a state of upheaval because there has been a complete reversal of the system of values. Atheism has given rise to a frightening emptiness. From the points of view of culture, ideology and human dignity.”
It has to be said however that Marxism is only a contributing factor to a decline that started long before the advent of socialism. Vietnamese society, in which the intellectual class used to play an important role, has been adversely affected by a number of factors:
1) Chinese domination, which Viet Nam endured for more than a thousand years, created a class of apathetic, reactionary intellectuals deeply attached to China’s formalistic culture. The Chinese concept of the universe, of the human condition and of morality is limited and non-scientific.
This conservatism is slowing down our country’s development.
2) The French managed for a hundred years to bind to them, in the words of Huỳnh Thùc Kháng in the preface of his book Biography of Phan Tây Hồ “a class of intellectuals pro-Western to the tip of their tongue, half traditional, half modern, full of themselves, opposed to one another, unable to come together.” The influence of French culture dimmed after 1954, but nevertheless continued to be felt until 1975.
3) The U.S. was present in Viet Nam for almost two decades, yet American culture and civilization did not make a great impact because of the differences in temperament and traditions between the two countries. But during the 60’s and 70’s, a whole range of Western ideologies and tendencies found their way into South Viet Nam: the existentialism of Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty; the theory of the absurd of Albert Camus; the structuralism of Roland Barthes and Claude Levi-Strauss; the personalism of Emmanuel Mounier… These ideologies were seized upon by a generation of students and intellectuals who flaunted them like the latest fashion. The disenchanted protagonists of the novels written by members of the literary group Sáng Tạo led empty aimless lives, whiling away their time in nightclubs and whorehouses. The war, with its miseries and uncertainties, reinforced the ephemeral character of life and gave rise to a class of people whose only objective was to party and have fun. The Communists took this opportunity to infiltrate the ranks of journalists, writers, musicians and artists in the South and to foster anti-militarism and defeatism. South Viet Nam’s successive military governments were unable to neutralize this campaign of demoralization. The presence of American troops and their allies was accompanied by a mushrooming of nightclubs, ideal breeding ground for prostitution and smuggling. South Vietnamese society at the eve of the fall of South Viet Nam was in an advance state of physical and moral decay.
4) Mao Tse Tung had said, “Intellectuals who do not convert to Marxist-Leninism are nothing more than excrement”. The bourgeois spirit was purged by the Vietnamese communists by means of several bloody campaigns: the 1946-1954 drive to expunge French cultural influence, seen as romantic and retrograde; the Chinese-style 1954-1956 Agrarian Reform; the 1956-1960 campaign against reactionary intellectuals and artists; the 1986-1989 purge under the guise of a cultural glasnost called the “blooming of one hundred flowers”. In 1975, Viet Nam was reunited and turned into an immense gulag littered with re-education camps where human rights were openly trampled. Authoritarianism killed artistic inspiration and creativity. Hồ Chí Minh’s policy of “national eradication” for the establishment of a new Marxist man sacrificed three generations of Vietnamese on the altar of the Third International. Today, Viet Nam is plagued by the twin scourges of the political ideology inherited from Marxist China and the Soviet Union and the corrupt dictatorship of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
In spite of the limitations and hardship they have to endure, Vietnamese intellectuals have contributed a great deal to the national cause. The worst experience was the exodus of some 3 million Vietnamese following the fall of South Viet Nam in 1975. Most of them landed in the United States, a terra incognita, a bewildering multiracial, multicultural world. These Vietnamese intellectuals in the United States are currently undergoing a crisis. They were mentally and professionally unprepared and completely disoriented when they arrived. In search of a new identity, they had doubts about themselves and about the host society. The political changes in Viet Nam played havoc with their traditional spiritual and moral values. In most cases, the civilization of the host country was based on technology and science, brutally realistic and highly competitive. In this foreign land, individual freedom was prized above family solidarity, and material success was the criteria by which one was judged.
In the East, culture is what gives strength. In the U.S., strength creates culture, a culture of strength. In an article published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington speaks of the clash of civilizations. The Vietnamese intellectual is a grain of sand in this storm. He knows it. That is why in Vietnamese literature in exile, there is a note of pessimism, or even worse, of despair. Many call it “a culture of despair”.
In his quest to pull Viet Nam out of the Marxist impasse, the Vietnamese intellectual – if he wants to be worthy of that name – must not despair even though the road ahead is full of obstacles. The Vietnamese diaspora does possess substantial financial resources and more importantly, ample gray matter in the form of the 300,000 well qualified and well trained youth who grew up in a democratic environment. If these resources are used appropriately, and if we can work in cooperation with our brothers and sisters inside the country, then there’s a good chance that we will win.
It is of the utmost importance to teach the new generation pride in their inheritance and the desire to serve the community if we are to pull Viet Nam out of its stagnation. Our youth have an important part to play. Vietnam has to be jumpstarted. People have to come together and work hand in hand. Everyone has to commit to the survival of Viet Nam and agree to talk less, listen more, act more, and follow more instead of always jockeying for leadership positions.
Hồ Chí Minh did say one thing that made sense: “When you have the people with you, you have everything.” But how does one keep the trust of the people? That is the key question. Regimes, political parties, governments, ideologies, they shall all pass. The people alone remain.
Our ancestors gave us some shining examples, which we must emulate. When Phan Khôi heatedly argued with Tràn Trọng Kim about Confucianism, when Ngô Đức Kế criticized Phạm Quỳnh‘s political ideas, when Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Bội Châu disagreed, they all did so with great restraint and mutual respect. For these intellectuals, our country was the main objective, the Vietnamese people were the essence.
Unity of hearts and minds will put an end to the “waiting syndrome” (the old waiting for the young to act and vice versa, the diaspora waiting for people inside the country to act and vice versa) and to “popular allergy” to the formation of an effective front for the democratization of Viet Nam./
Thủy Hoa Trang
Vài hàng tiểu sử Gs Lâm Lễ Trinh
Born 18 May, 1923 in Cần Thơ, Việt Nam.
Bachelor of Law & Hautes Etudes de Droit, University of Law, Hà Nội, Việt Nam.
JD, Western State University, California.
President of the Court of Appeals, Saigon before being appointed Interior Minister in Ngô Đình Diệm’s cabinet (1957-1960).
Ambassador of the Republic of Việt Nam to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq & Jordan, Chargé de Mission to the Vatican and Israel (1960-1964).
Attorney at law, Saigon (1965-April 1975).
Professor at the National Institute of Administration, Saigon.
Professor at Faculty of Political Sciences, Dalat University, Việt Nam (1969-1975).
Evacuated to California, April 1975.
Eminence Teaching Credential in California. Nominated California 1989 Americanization Teacher of the Year (Sacramento Department of Education).
Editor in chief & Publisher of the French-English Human Rights-Droits de l’Homme Quarterly since 1994.
General Delegate of the Alliance Francophone (OIF), USA.
Advisor of the Human Rights Network California & the Institute of Vietnamese Studies, California.
Producer VN Oral History Series, Little SaigonTV Station, California./