Looking out on Saigon from the Rex Hotel Roofgarden Bar, where Western luxury hotels fight for space with the world’s biggest banks, you can’t help but wonder: what ever happened to communism? Ridiculously biased (but not necessarily untrue) war propaganda in the Army Museum in Hanoi, Hoa Ló prison (Hanoi Hilton) and the War Remnants Museum Saigon aside, the only Budenovkas seen are sold on the markets to tourists for “wan dolla”.

image
View from the beatiful rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel, home to the “Five o’clock follies” the American briefings during the Vietnam war.

When the Americans had to bow their heads to failure in 1973, and accept Vietnam falling to communism, they still kept an ace up their sleave; a sneaky back door and a sure way to infiltrate the communist dogs – McDonalds! They may have had to wait a few years but this war the Vietnamese couldn’t win. Communist or not, everybody wants a Big Mac, Nike sneakers or an iphone.

image
A poster for the “Glorious Communist Party” next to the epitome of American capitalism: the golden arches

Even at the beautiful Ho Chi Minh Square in Saigon, where Uncle Ho smilingly greets his people in front of Ho Chi Minh People’s Commitee Head Office, he is flanked by the not-so-peasantlike shops of Chanel, Burberry and Chopard. Life goes on. As Daniel says: maybe this is communism version 3.0. However, I’m not sure this is what “He who has been Enlightened” had in mind…

image
Chanel and Burberry to the left…
image
Chopard and Boss to the right…

I wonder what Lenin, Mao and Uncle Ho would say about their countries of today. Even if I can be convinced about certain theoretical merits of communism, I believe people are at heart capitalists. People will always try to find a way of making their own life just a little bit better: better food, nicer clothes and bigger house. True communism just can’t work. Personal greed and hunger for power will always stand in the way. Maybe Communism 3.0 is the only way forward in a modern society. But at least the three old revolutionaries can rest in peace in their mausoleums. These monuments are a true homage to communism.

image
Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place: a truly fitting piece of Soviet-style architecture