You can tell how this article is going to go, can’t you?

Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption

After the military victory, Vietnam’s socialist model began to collapse. Cut off by US-led trade embargos and denied reconstruction aid, it plunged into poverty. Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption


Sigh
.

Always that excuse, that it’s external factors that lead to the socialist poverty.

83 comments on “You can tell how this article is going to go, can’t you?

  1. The problem was, the communists didn’t kill enough people and a few freedom loving crazies slipped through. Next time, though…

  2. It always particularly amuses me when trade embargoes are blamed for the failures of communism.

  3. “Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption”

    So people are getting richer despite inequality and corruption? The logical conclusion would be they’re not much to worry about then?

  4. A not unsurprising article from a predictable source. Oddly Davies has done some excellent exposes in the past – the 90s book, ‘Dark Heart’ was one of the most memorable I have read – certainly next to some of the other Guardian journos he comes across as a heavyweight, but this article is really drearily ‘by the numbers’
    – it’s all the fault of the US, even after they lost militarily
    – Vietnam would be better off under ‘true Socialism’
    – It’s deeply regrettable we weren’t able to ‘build Utopia’

    A shame – some of the observations are good – but the conclusions drawn are a classic illustration of to quote Bastiat ‘what is unseen’.

  5. If embargoes and economic sanctions don’t work to destabilise regimes or force international compliance, why does the ‘west’ insist on using them?

    If you’re correct that certain ideologies would fail in themselves, why waste everyone’s time, and just let them implode?

    Indeed, the harder the sanctions bite, the more likely you are to get an even more vicious totalitarian blaming the sanctions and starving the populace whilst seeking a significant military deterrent.

  6. Was there really little or no corruption in Vietnan before? Or was there just no money available to grease palms?

  7. “If you’re correct that certain ideologies would fail in themselves, why waste everyone’s time, and just let them implode?”

    Which we know now. But didn’t at the time.

  8. @Arnald – intertia, habit.

    You expect politicians to be entirely evidence-based and rational?

  9. Andrew M,

    “Was there really little or no corruption in Vietnan before? Or was there just no money available to grease palms?”

    Or was there no free press and no courts to deal with it? If you blew the whistle on it, did you end up dead in a ditch?

    This doesn’t even have to be about money. Who gets the nicest houses? Who gets tickets to the ballet? Who gets a few soldiers to leave their duties and help to dig their garden?

    I’ve been reading about North Korea recently and there’s basically a Department of Prostitutes. Pretty girls can get jobs and a nice living and end up working for the top party people. And that’s an incredibly poor country.

  10. “Are you saying they don’t work then?”

    Not necessarily – I can think of examples in each direction. Probably depends a lot on the nature of the regime.

  11. @ Arnald
    Trade embargoes chiefly affect those imposing the embargoes unless they are collectively the sole source of some key material or the overwhelming majority of customers for the country’s main export. So the UK/US-sponsored sanctions on Rhodesia which blocked purchases of the leading competitor to American tobacco and the US?EU sanctions on Iran wre quite effective. But US-led sanctions against Vietnam didn’t block any significant imports or exports since Vietnam’s immediate neighbours were its main patron and two client states and Vietnam had negligible trade with the west until some time after it introduced “capitalist-road” reforms.
    So (a) sanctions can work (b) but not for Vietnam. Blaming ineffective sanctions for corruption in China’s immediate neighbour is something only The Guardian would try on – corruption is endemic in one-party totalitarian dictatorships.

  12. John77

    But Arnald’s second point sticks (In can’t believe I’ve written that): Western s
    anctions didn’t work but they did give the Vietnamese government the perfect foreign monster on which to blame all their ills.

  13. To turn Arnald’s question around, why is it that most communist countries have employed armed guards to machine gun anyone who wants to get out?

  14. I liked the “denied reconstruction aid” bit.

    Apparently there exists a refreshing stream of reconstruction aid and the beastly west diverted it from reaching Vietnam.

    That, and the implication that Vietnam of forty years ago was a newly industrialising country that could benefit from a Marshall Plan shows what can be achieved with the distorting mirror of ideology.

  15. Surely the point is that True Socialism™ doesn’t need nasty international capitalist trade, or evil foreign aid money? True Socialism™ allows everyone to have a pony and sh*t rainbows while eating lobster, doesn’t it?

    Doesn’t it???

  16. Thay isn’t turning Arnald’s question around; thay is asking an entirely different question. A question thay is very easily answered: because Socialism is a denial of liberty and economic reality.

    Now, Arnald ( for once) has raised a very good question…

  17. Interested,

    Because the miserable little buggers have all been seduced by the evils of neo-liberal market capitalist materialism and simply can’t grasp the necessary Courage to embrace the Socialist State and wait patiently for the sone are more equal than others Utopia that is the birthright of every bien pensant (auto incorrect was “born pendant”!). Or, at least, their great, great grand-children.

  18. “I liked the “denied reconstruction aid” bit.”

    Me too. As if China and Russia were prevented from providing the usual mutual support….

    As if it’s only the evil capitalist west that has the obligation to provide aid…

    The unspoken assumptions in that article are astonishing.

  19. I’ve spent some time in Vietnam; the people are pretty damn poor. I’d say scrubbing off some poem on a memorial is a good swap for a hospital.

  20. “If you’re correct that certain ideologies would fail in themselves, why waste everyone’s time, and just let them implode?” Yeah, maybe we should have tried that with the German National Socialists too. Idiot!

  21. What is has to do with the price of fish, Arnald, is that it’s no good moaning that nasty capitalists won’t allow goods and services to flow in to communist dictatorships if you couldn’t give a shit about the fact that the dictatorships are killing or jailing anyone who wants to leave.

    If we didn’t use sanctions against those places to hasten their collapse, many more people would be killed or jailed because the regimes would continue for longer and killing or jailing is what they do.

    I know that’s – as they say – a feature for you guys, not a bug, but the rest of us don’t much like it.

  22. Well the answer to Arnald’s question is that trade sanctions make both sides poorer. The justification for this particular type of sanction depends on the circumstances.

    For example, if you’re at war with another country you are hardly going to tolerate your citizens trading with the enemy, if only because you want as little contact as possible to reduce the risk of sensitive information getting into their hands.

    If you find a country has confiscated all the property of all your nationals the purpose is largely deterrence (assuming you aren’t going to go in with tanks and bombers to reclaim the property).

    If you find a country that’s systematically disenfranchising most of its population you probably want to encourage them to change that by making it more costly to carry on, with the promise that it’ll get less expensive if they change.

    If you dislike a country because a bunch of lightly-armed guerrilla peasants just whupped yur ass and instituted International Communism (boo hiss) the sanctions are probably retributive.

    So as with anything, Arnald, you need to remember that it’s flesh and blood human people making these decisions, not algorithms. Which can account for the wide variety of motivations and in some cases illogical application.

  23. “Now, Arnald ( for once) has raised a very good question…”

    Not really. Why does socialism need foreign trade? Foreign trade is free markets. Its willing buyer, willing seller. If that is verboten inside a country, and contrary to True Socialism™, why does that country need to deal with other countries (or indeed foreign private enterprises) on a basis that it denies to its citizens? Socialism is about distributing wealth according to need. How does trading with foreigners on a free market basis equate with that?

    Answer – it doesn’t. Socialist States wish to deny their citizens the freedom to trade freely within themselves, or abroad, but reserve the right to employ capitalist methods themselves to create enough wealth to keep them in power.

    Thus trade sanctions are merely denying socialist States access to a system that if they were True Socialists™ they wouldn’t want to use anyway.

  24. I wasn’t moaning, Inty, just wondering why there’s an assertion that ideology, rather than sanctions, are what make regimes fall apart, and whether international relations are made more brittle when certain areas of capitalism are with-held from those regimes. Also there seems to an assertion that socialists don’t like international trade, or is that because they’re not generally ‘allowed’ to because of the cut of they’re jib?

  25. Marxists are so credulous they make Mormons look rational. How can they continue to believe the same shit despite the evidence of decades?

  26. Having spent time in Vietnam visiting no end of shoe factories I have never met a working age person who didn’t think the United States was fantastic. I’ve never heard any resentment about the war; it was ages ago before most of the population were born. They all love America because they recognise that it’s the west that is providing all of these opportunities for them to increase their quality of life through working and, like the Chinese, laugh at the old communists.

    Mind you, they hate the Chinks.

  27. Arnald wasn’t actually moaning about anything – and trying to introduce a third concept.and ascribe ideas to him that he hasn’t expressed.won’t change that, not this time.
    He asked if sanctions worked. And if they did, then weren’t those socialist governments correct to blame international sanctions for undermining them.

    We might be made uncomfortable by the question; we do need to consider it.

  28. Eugene – you MUST be another of our favourite racist’s sock puppets.

    I.can.tell by the mad.full.stops and weird syntax.

    Arnald – if you’re not moaning, great. You’ve had it all explained to you. Now fuck off.

  29. Arnald,

    Me too: good to see you asking a sensible question and I hope you recognise that the commentariat here are engaging with it.

    My tuppence:
    Because trade sanctions are instituted exclusively by politicians and governments led by politicians. Generally, politicians tend to have poor information, poor understanding or poor incentives, often a toxic combination of all three.

    Generally, most on this site believe that, as a result, the powers of Government should be limited as far as possible to ensure that the damage they can do is as limited as possible.

    Trade sanctions may be an excellent example of this in action.

  30. If embargoes and economic sanctions don’t work to destabilise regimes or force international compliance, why does the ‘west’ insist on using them?

    Sanctions are normally applied to contain a regime, i.e. stop it trashing other countries, not to destabilise it.

  31. @TPG

    That’s a fair point (re government power).

    However, few of us are anarchists. Most of us (wouldn’t we?) would accept that life in a nominal democracy beats life under a communist dictatorship, and BiG has already outlined a long but not exclusive list of reasons why it’s OK for the government of a nominal democracy to refuse to trade with a dictatorship.

    The fact that our governments are hypocritical, stupid and often badly motivated is not news but it doesn’t mean they get everything wrong, and at least in theory we can elect a new one.

    (I appreciate this is deeply theoretical.)

  32. The P-G

    Unfortunately, what’s more typical of this site is:

    “Arnald – if you’re not moaning, great. You’ve had it all explained to you. Now fuck off.”

    When there’s not been much explanation that fits reality.

  33. If international relations were run by private corps, then we’d be selling arms and the like to anyone with any cash. Why embargo when profit is all that counts? Surely the market would determine where the safest places to settle down and start a family? Probably refugee camps run by volunteers.

    So embargos do work and they do polarise public opinion and the do encourage militaristic fervour on both sides.

  34. I’d agree that sanctions are often ineffective and counterproductive, but they are generally used against states we dislike enough to go to war against but that we can’t actually face war with.

    I also agree with BIG that it is hilarious when the failure of a centrally planned anti-market state is blamed on their being denied access to markets.

  35. Dunno in the case of Cuba, TimN.
    If Washington had simply ignored Casto’s existence & treated Cuba as any Caribbean island, Castro’s reign would have been fairly brief. A mere 90 miles off the coast, lots of vacationing Yanks with dollars to spend, Cubans hopping backwards & forwards to Florida on a regular ferry service, Cuba included in the mid C20th US prosperity boom. Castro & his thugs in Havana would have been an irrelevance. Probably would have seen the islanders petitioning for 51st state by the mid 80s.
    It was “Fortress Cuba” let the bastard export his crap all round Latin America

  36. Arnald,

    I see that you have typical leftist perception that private markets are evil and require governments to avoid war but perhaps also you could recognize that most wars are actually started by governments and not private companies?

  37. Arnald,

    > If you’re correct that certain ideologies would fail in themselves, why waste everyone’s time, and just let them implode?

    Well, there are timescales involved. The USSR was always going to fail. Eventually. Pushed to the absolute limit of economic endurance by the arms race with the US, it collapsed after forty-four years (I’m only counting the length of the arms race there). Had it not been pushed, how long would it have lasted? Sixty years? A century? Considering that every year it lasted was a year of hellish enslavement for the populace, that matters.

    If sanctions shorten the reign of despotic bastards, they may be worth doing.

  38. Emil

    I didn’t say evil. I said give arms traders free will to trade with whom they like then war is inevitable, generally started by whatever group thinks it has the upper hand on another group. Not necessarily inter-national. Either way my comment was irrelevant to the thread.

  39. Hey Arnald, Pendant-General has it. Even I am wondering what you have done with the real Arnald. Keep it up.

  40. Some data:

    In the decade after the war, Vietnam had no increase in industrialisation under communism. In the period 1986-1991 after initial reforms, their economy grew by 4.5% per annum. From 1992-1996, this increased to 8.9% per annum. From 1986 to 1996, the first decade of reform. GDP per capita grew 1.6 times. They went from grindingly poor to just poor in a decade.

    If you look at the chart of GDP growth for Vietnam: https://www.google.co.uk/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_kd_zg&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:VNM&ifdim=region&tstart=483058800000&tend=956444400000&hl=en&dl=en&ind=false

    the US dropping trade sanctions had very little effect. So, the whole of Nick Davies’ perspective that this was the Americans fault is entirely baseless.

  41. Eugene: “He asked if sanctions worked. And if they did, then weren’t those socialist governments correct to blame international sanctions for undermining them

    Haven’t you missed something here? Those international sanctions weren’t applied by socialist states, were they? So Comecon states and PRC and all kinds of nominally non-aligned countries could merrily trade with Vietnam.

    Having tried to shift Romanian tomato paste in countertrade deals in those halcyon days, I can vouch for the absence in socialist countries of hard currency in which to conduct international trade and of decent products which anyone would choose to buy.

    Not really the fault of the West or of sanctions.

  42. @ Ironman
    I wasn’t disputing that – I was merely trying to explain to him the effect of trade embargoes.

  43. “Not really the fault of the West or of sanctions.”

    But everything was the fault of the West.

    Apparently…..

  44. Face it Arnie. Socialism doesn’t work–unless mass murder, torture and imprisonment is what you are after. Your gang leads the world in that.

    Private arms sales–ie guns- to private individuals are GOOD. The only market for arm sales that , as you put it, “guarantee war” would be selling weapons (mostly military junk rather than simple firearms) to those who intend to found or take over coercive institutions. The idea of private individuals and companies causing mass mayhem is a joke. The largest private commercially motivated war I am aware of was the Johnson County Range war that cost–what?– 15 or so lives–if memory serves and had about 150 involved. And the whole caper was quite possibly set up by Govt meddling in land rights etc.Contrast that with the last years memory of 1914. Just one of many thousands of costly wars brought to mankind by the state.

    Statism in general and socialism in particular are evil Arnald. While you are still in the grip of a modicum of reason–jack them in.

  45. If Washington had simply ignored Casto’s existence & treated Cuba as any Caribbean island, Castro’s reign would have been fairly brief. A mere 90 miles off the coast, lots of vacationing Yanks with dollars to spend, Cubans hopping backwards & forwards to Florida on a regular ferry service, Cuba included in the mid C20th US prosperity boom. Castro & his thugs in Havana would have been an irrelevance. Probably would have seen the islanders petitioning for 51st state by the mid 80s.

    The fly in the ointment in that scenario was the Soviet Union. Castro initially appealed to the USA for support, and I think it was Eisenhower who turned him down believing – quite correctly, as it turned out – that he was a thug. So he turned to the USSR, who were only too happy to shower arms and money on anybody who claimed they were Communist since ten that morning. Once the USSR started the subsidies, the place became immune to the solution of showing Cubans how wealthy American tourists live, because the ordinary Cubans no longer mattered: the regime could survive on the subsidies alone.

    That said, I do think the embargo has been pretty self-destructive, certainly since the end of the Cold War. I’m not sure what effect they’ve had other than to condemn Cubans – most of whom probably can’t stand the Castros – to abject poverty, and to give demented lefties ammunition.

  46. Abject poverty but – one constantly hears – with a decent health service.

    Which bit of that will not be true of the UK in 2020?

  47. “Abject poverty but – one constantly hears – with a decent health service.”

    Which is typically a total f*cking lie. A bigger lie than those told about the NHS, who recently left my grandfather for 5 hours waiting for an ambulance to take him from Eastbourne to Hastings cos his broken arm couldn’t be dealt with there. And there was no sling (run out), and nobody thought to just call a f*cking taxi.

    Lots of doctors per capita, but few basic pharmaceuticals and shocking hospital conditions (google is your friend for photos).

  48. @Arnald, isn’t that what the west did with the Soviet Union ? We never directly attacked it, but instead adopted a policy of containment, and fought (either directly or through proxy) whenever it sought to expand.

  49. Its not the Arnold. I know this not because this is one is making some good points that we or may not agree with but they are worth considering, but because this one has gone more than 5 comments without hurling personal abuse around using just about every invective and swear word in the book.

  50. @Arnald

    ‘Why embargo when profit is all that counts? ‘

    You’re answering your own question, you prejudiced and simple-minded buffoon – clearly profit ISN’T all that counts.

    ‘Surely the market would determine where the safest places to settle down and start a family?’

    Erm, the market might help, if it weren’t for the fact that your side likes to build walls, and guard towers and cram them full of men with machine guns to prevent people from deciding ‘the safest places to settle down and start a family’, and acting on it.

    That said, no-one would ever want to leave Vietnam, or Cuba, or many other beautiful places ruined by communism if it were not for communism.

    If our political system and Cuba’s were the same, do you think people would be drowning on rafts fifty miles off Miami?

    No, you’d be accusing Cubans of racism for not allowing Anglos to emigrate there.

  51. Actually BiND is right. To be fair, Arnald isn’t being abusive, for once, so I withdraw my abuse and thank him for his relatively courteous discourse.

  52. Ironman – “But Arnald’s second point sticks (In can’t believe I’ve written that): ”

    I can. Birds of a feather.

    “Western sanctions didn’t work but they did give the Vietnamese government the perfect foreign monster on which to blame all their ills.”

    In which circumstance would the Vietnamese government *not* blame everything on the West? They would blame the lasting effect of French colonialism or the borders that they drew or the Agent Orange or Grahame Green. There is always something to allow them to blame everything on the West.

  53. On a more serious point. Like most commentors I find the left’s attitude odd on this subject most confusing.

    The were the ones that led the successful sanctions that brought down an evil regime that sought to oppress a large majority of the population in favour of a few. They were most vociferous against those who suggested there should be some lifting to help the poorest and babies.

    Yet here they are saying we shouldn’t be trying to speed up the end of a corrupt and evil regime that oppresses the vast majority of people in the country because its not fair on the poorest and babies.

    Its almost like the poor oppressed of Vietnam aren’t as worthy as victims as blacks and coloureds in South Africa.

    As for sending aid. If we must lets not mess about. The NSA must have the Swiss bank accounts of the regime’s leaders lets just pay 90% straight in and save the breast beating. The other 10% needs to pay for the cushy lifestyles of the NGO staff based in Vietnam so that they con continue to lecture us about how evil we are whilst they suck up to the regime’s leaders.

  54. “Its almost like the poor oppressed of Vietnam aren’t as worthy as victims as blacks and coloureds in South Africa.”

    Who, whom. The poor of Vietnam were being liberated by their progressive brothers.

  55. abacab:
    I think you’re saying “yes” to the abject poverty and “no” to the decent health service in which case we agree on which bit isn’t true.

  56. So Arnald does have a point after all. And whether or not it reads like a personality transplant, he comes across as far more coherent than some today.

    B (nin) S

    And for Fortress Cuba today read Fortress Venezuela. A news report the other night showed a queue for..something; they didn’t know what. And when they reached the end they found it had only been a rumour. Who did they blame? Barack Obama. He had only days earlier declared Venezuela a State Sponsor of Terrorism, explaining that it was actually only a technicality (?)
    “Obama is trying to destroy us” cried the people in the (non) queue.

  57. On a wider note, there is an inference – left otherwise unexplored it seems – that because the corruption appears once capitalism and markets arrive, that it must be the capitalism and market that have caused the corruption.

    I beg to differ: I suspect that its the preceding decades of collectivist nonsense and arbitary rule that has eaten out the institutions of a wider civil society/respect for the rule of law etc.

    The capitalism and free markets merely give the bandits an opportunity for (visible) graft that they didn’t have before.

  58. @ The Pedant-General
    NO – corruption is endemic under totalitarian states – it decreases after the introduction of capitalism. The *visibility* of prostitution increases when some of the girls who were previously coerced to provide services to the nomenklatura decide to market their services to cash customers, while others are glad of the chance to quit, but the amount decreases.

  59. @John77 AND @TPG

    Corruption is endemic in humans.
    What really matters is the level of corruption, and when and where it stops. I genuinely don’t think any English High Court judges are corrupt, for instance. I think a few politicians are. I think many bookmakers are.

  60. “And for Fortress Cuba today read Fortress Venezuela.”

    The word I get from the Venezuela border says the guards mostly face in. There ain’t no Colombians desperate to cross to join the revolution. Even what’s left of FARC are standing round looking embarrassed & saying “Hey. Nothing to do with us.”

  61. The P-G
    ” because the corruption appears once capitalism and markets arrive, that it must be the capitalism and market that have caused the corruption.”

    What we do know is you very rarely get a communist state stays one very long. What you usually end up with is some particularly vicious version of a free market economy with the state either running it or trying to keep a lid on it. Or you get something goes straight through liberalism & way out the other side. Hereditary tyrannies like N. Korea. You certainly rarely get what anyone would recognise as workable socialism

  62. @B(n)IS
    “The word I get from the Venezuela border says the guards mostly face in. There ain’t no Colombians desperate to cross to join the revolution”

    At the height of Apartheid in South Africa, they had an electric fence along the border of lethal dosage to keep foreigners out. One look at South Africa’s neighbours of the time and the economic and political theories they espoused explained why it was there.

  63. Gunker – “At the height of Apartheid in South Africa, they had an electric fence along the border of lethal dosage to keep foreigners out. One look at South Africa’s neighbours of the time and the economic and political theories they espoused explained why it was there.”

    South Africans present ethnic cleansing has its roots back in the days of Apartheid. When South Africa attracted illegal immigrants from as far away as Nigeria.

    Another generation and South Africa will have an electric fence to keep the locals in. Although quite where they would flee too except the UK escapes me.

  64. @ Interested
    My mind boggles. Corruption is only possible if there is some “individual” who can influence a decision that affects other people.
    Please think.
    This is noty totally restricted to totalitarian states, just far more prevalent therein.
    You say “Corruption is endemic in humans.” I say NO. I have known a lot of guys who would prove the opposite: when a team from the corrupt Dan Smith (Labour leader in Newcastle) tried to recruit the leader of the Conservative group on Tees-side, who had surpringly won the first election after the local government reorganisation, he just got up an opened the front door.
    Some of us are basically honest.

  65. Since john77 thinks it appropriate to attach party labels to the corruption, it’s worth mentioning that the most egregiously corrupt individual in the whole scandal was Reginald Maulding (Conservative minister), who subverted the UK’s overseas development budget for his own personal gain: Conservative MPs voted en bloc to save him from censure.

  66. SMFS – The influx only really happened post the fall of apartheid. The fence coming down was part of the negotiations pre the 94 elections IIRC. The current xenophobia is not just against African immigrants but also Chinese who have been entering in a big way in the last 5 years or so.

    As to countries they could go to, both Namibia and Botswana seem to be doing a pretty decent job.

  67. “My mind boggles. Corruption is only possible if there is some “individual” who can influence a decision that affects other people.
    Please think.
    This is noty totally restricted to totalitarian states, just far more prevalent therein.”

    Interesting to follow that line of thought. Corruption is more prevalent in a top-down system. In a more “market” driven system, what would be corruption just gets transparently priced-in as part of a market.

    To go further. it leads me to suspect there is no such thing as socialism. It can look as if there is if you’re seeing a system from a distance. But in the “fine grain” reality it’ll be full of individuals subverting the socialism by doing their own very “market” transactions with those around them. Corruption being part of it. In a sense, socialist societies are more market orientated than market societies. The transparency of market orientated societies means, much of the time, the players don’t have to make choices in a market. We shop at Tescos because we shop at Tescos. The market ensures there’s not much difference to be found at Sainsburys. Whereas in a socialist society, where the markets are much less transparent, market choice is much more important. The more socialist the system, the more important the choices.

  68. @ PaulB
    Certainly Maudling deserved censure but your comment is OTT: Maudling was only a bit player in the scandal and he did *not* subvert the overseas aid budget as a minister (or at all): while in opposition he persuaded the Conservatives to change their policy (not the government’s) on the split of Malta’s share between grant and loan which, if later enacted, could have partially compensated Malta for the losses it had already suffered from Poulson’s mismanagement: there was no expectation of any personal gain since he was bound to resign from Poulson’s companies when, if not before, the Conservatives returned to power (and the chances of Poulson ever getting another contract in Malta were negligible).
    T Dan Smith’s web of corruption included Poulson but was far wider and started long before he met the latter. To suggest that Maudling was anything like as corrupt, let alone more corrupt than T Dan Smith or Andy Cunningham, implies that you have never needed to study the subject.

  69. could have partially compensated Malta for the losses it had already suffered from Poulson’s mismanagement
    Oh look, you forgot to mention that Malta suffered the losses because Maudling pressured them into giving Poulson the contract.

    I think corruption at ministerial level is worse than corruption at council level, especially when it affects Britains international relations.

  70. @ PaulB
    “I think corruption at ministerial level is worse than corruption at council level, especially when it affects Britains international relations.”
    Arguably so, but Maudling did not do anything for Poulson while he was a minister. What’s more, he resigned as Home Secretary so as not to be in a position to influence or even be thought to influence the Police investigation of Poulson.

  71. ‘Was there really little or no corruption in Vietnan before? Or was there just no money available to grease palms?’

    I had a girlfriend who had to flee – along with her family – from Vietnam in 1979, being guilty of the crimes of being ‘bourgeois’ and ethnic Chinese.

    They were fortunate enough to be among the boat people who made it to Thailand without encountering storms or pirates.

    Her father told her that they had to grease a lot of palms in the process of making their escape, paying officials to look the other way as they split.

  72. @john77

    “My mind boggles. Corruption is only possible if there is some “individual” who can influence a decision that affects other people.
    Please think.”

    None of this is at odds with what I said.

    “I say NO. I have known a lot of guys who would prove the opposite: ”

    Ok. Firstly, the only person whose incorruptibility can be vouched for by you is you. Secondly, saying ‘No’ in capital letters doesn’t make it so.

    Most people are corruptible at some level in some way; it’s just easier and less consequential in some places than others because of custom and practice.

    Our judiciary are largely uncorrupt because of the kind of people that they have been raised to be and because of the institution in which they work.

    Bookies less so. Latin American judges less so. Communist authority figures less so.

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