Vietnam, Venezuela Sign Co-operation Projects

Nhan Dan

Several Vietnamese and Venezuelan agencies and businesses signed a number of co-operation agreements, contracts and memoranda of understanding at the second session of the Vietnamese-Venezuelan Inter-governmental Committee that concluded in Caracas, Venezuela on April 20.

The second session of the Vietnamese-Venezuelan Inter-governmental Committee 

Under the agreements, Vietnam will supply solar power generating stations, solar powered kettles, public lighting systems, technical assistance and equipment for exploration of the Junin 2 oil field by the joint venture PetroMacareo.

The newly signed contracts also include the expansion of a cultural exchange programme for the 2012 – 2015 period, which will focus on the theatre, cinema and publishing. Continue reading

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On Authority

by Friedrich Engels

A number of Socialists have latterly launched a regular crusade against what they call the principle of authority. It suffices to tell them that this or that act is authoritarian for it to be condemned. This summary mode of procedure is being abused to such an extent that it has become necessary to look into the matter somewhat more closely.

Authority, in the sense in which the word is used here, means: the imposition of the will of another upon ours; on the other hand, authority presupposes subordination. Now, since these two words sound bad, and the relationship which they represent is disagreeable to the subordinated party, the question is to ascertain whether there is any way of dispensing with it, whether — given the conditions of present-day society — we could not create another social system, in which this authority would be given no scope any longer, and would consequently have to disappear.

On examining the economic, industrial and agricultural conditions which form the basis of present-day bourgeois society, we find that they tend more and more to replace isolated action by combined action of individuals. Modern industry, with its big factories and mills, where hundreds of workers supervise complicated machines driven by steam, has superseded the small workshops of the separate producers; the carriages and wagons of the highways have become substituted by railway trains, just as the small schooners and sailing feluccas have been by steam-boats. Even agriculture falls increasingly under the dominion of the machine and of steam, which slowly but relentlessly put in the place of the small proprietors big capitalists, who with the aid of hired workers cultivate vast stretches of land.

Everywhere combined action, the complication of processes dependent upon each other, displaces independent action by individuals. But whoever mentions combined action speaks of organisation; now, is it possible to have organisation without authority?

Supposing a social revolution dethroned the capitalists, who now exercise their authority over the production and circulation of wealth. Supposing, to adopt entirely the point of view of the anti-authoritarians, that the land and the instruments of labour had become the collective property of the workers who use them. Will authority have disappeared, or will it only have changed its form? Let us see.

Let us take by way if example a cotton spinning mill. The cotton must pass through at least six successive operations before it is reduced to the state of thread, and these operations take place for the most part in different rooms. Furthermore, keeping the machines going requires an engineer to look after the steam engine, mechanics to make the current repairs, and many other labourers whose business it is to transfer the products from one room to another, and so forth. All these workers, men, women and children, are obliged to begin and finish their work at the hours fixed by the authority of the steam, which cares nothing for individual autonomy. The workers must, therefore, first come to an understanding on the hours of work; and these hours, once they are fixed, must be observed by all, without any exception. Thereafter particular questions arise in each room and at every moment concerning the mode of production, distribution of material, etc., which must be settled by decision of a delegate placed at the head of each branch of labour or, if possible, by a majority vote, the will of the single individual will always have to subordinate itself, which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian way. The automatic machinery of the big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have been. At least with regard to the hours of work one may write upon the portals of these factories: Lasciate ogni autonomia, voi che entrate! [Leave, ye that enter in, all autonomy behind!]

If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, in so far as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organisation. Wanting to abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel.

Let us take another example — the railway. Here too the co-operation of an infinite number of individuals is absolutely necessary, and this co-operation must be practised during precisely fixed hours so that no accidents may happen. Here, too, the first condition of the job is a dominant will that settles all subordinate questions, whether this will is represented by a single delegate or a committee charged with the execution of the resolutions of the majority of persona interested. In either case there is a very pronounced authority. Moreover, what would happen to the first train dispatched if the authority of the railway employees over the Hon. passengers were abolished?

But the necessity of authority, and of imperious authority at that, will nowhere be found more evident than on board a ship on the high seas. There, in time of danger, the lives of all depend on the instantaneous and absolute obedience of all to the will of one.

When I submitted arguments like these to the most rabid anti-authoritarians, the only answer they were able to give me was the following: Yes, that’s true, but there it is not the case of authority which we confer on our delegates, but of a commission entrusted! These gentlemen think that when they have changed the names of things they have changed the things themselves. This is how these profound thinkers mock at the whole world.

We have thus seen that, on the one hand, a certain authority, no matter how delegated, and, on the other hand, a certain subordination, are things which, independently of all social organisation, are imposed upon us together with the material conditions under which we produce and make products circulate.

We have seen, besides, that the material conditions of production and circulation inevitably develop with large-scale industry and large-scale agriculture, and increasingly tend to enlarge the scope of this authority. Hence it is absurd to speak of the principle of authority as being absolutely evil, and of the principle of autonomy as being absolutely good. Authority and autonomy are relative things whose spheres vary with the various phases of the development of society. If the autonomists confined themselves to saying that the social organisation of the future would restrict authority solely to the limits within which the conditions of production render it inevitable, we could understand each other; but they are blind to all facts that make the thing necessary and they passionately fight the world.

Why do the anti-authoritarians not confine themselves to crying out against political authority, the state? All Socialists are agreed that the political state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result of the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their political character and will be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society. But the anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough?

Therefore, either one of two things: either the anti-authoritarians don’t know what they’re talking about, in which case they are creating nothing but confusion; or they do know, and in that case they are betraying the movement of the proletariat. In either case they serve the reaction.

Chinese-Vietnamese Relations at a Glance

*note: Both articles from Nhan Dan Online, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Vice Premier Affirms China’s Strong Ties with Vietnam

 At the meeting   ( Image: chinhphu.vn )

China attaches great importance to developing the friendly and neighbourly relations and mutually beneficial co-operation with Vietnam in all fields, said Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

Li made the statement in Hainan on March 31 during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Hoang Trung Hai, who is there for the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2012.

Li welcomed Hai to the forum, saying this shows the Vietnamese Government’s desire to boost economic cooperation in the region, as well as economic and trade ties between the two countries.

Both host and guest acknowledged recent positive developments in bilateral relations, especially those made after the China visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong last October and the Vietnam visit by Vice President Xi Jinping last December.

The two countries should work closely in grasping and strictly implementing common perceptions reached by their senior leaders to foster the development of the two countries’ friendship and cooperation, they said.

They agreed that both countries should continue to maintain high-level contacts and visits, considering them a decisive element in strengthening bilateral relations.

They proposed relevant Vietnamese and Chinese agencies quickly identify and sign the list of joint cooperation projects in 2011-2015 for early and effective realisation towards two-way trade to US$60 billion by 2015.

Regarding the sea issue, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai emphasised that both sides need to strictly enforce the two countries’ common perceptions and the agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Vietnam and China so as to satisfactorily resolve arising sea-related disputes and issues.

Deputy PM Hai requested China to unconditionally release two fishing vessels and 21 Vietnamese fishermen aboard seized by China, and not to take action to further complicate the situation.

The same day, Deputy PM Hai met with Lou Baoming, Secretary of the Hainan provincial Party Committee, who noted that trade, investment and economic ties between Hainan and Vietnamese localities have grown rapidly, with two-way trade last year increasing by 50%.

However, Lou Baoming said that Hainan and Vietnam have great potential for stronger cooperation and that the province wants to increase friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation with Vietnam.

(VNA)

Vietnam condemns China violating sovereignty

China holding a yacht race to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty, said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi.

In response to the Hainan authorities organising a yacht race, called “the Sinan Cup” from Sanya to the archipelago on March 30, Nghi stated unequivocally that this is contrary to China’s commitment not to raise tensions in the East Sea.

“Vietnam is strongly against the race taking place and demands that China calls it off and complies with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea in order to maintain peace and stability in the area,” he said.

(VNA)