Paradise of the Blind: Connections to Economic Systems
Novel Written By: Duong Thu Huong
“Paradise of the Blind” clearly portrays the ignorant oblivion that the citizens of Vietnam have been living in for approximately the past century. This novel, written by Duong Thu Huong, explores the life of a young woman named Hang and her obligated, filial responsibilities to her family and the government. Through this post we’ll look at Vietnam’s economic situations and how it’s applicable to the public good and the roles that scarcity has on an economic system.
Although communism is a more specific societal structure, it is basically another word for a planned economy. In regards to economic wellbeing, the government plays the central, authoritative role in maintaining a strict, regulated control on how business must be conducted. This then leads to no competition and no fluctuations in pricing or marketing. However, scarcity is an element that exists in all types of economies, due to the fact that every economy relies on land (resources and materials), labour (population for production), and capital (money). The limitations of each of these factors are evident through the living conditions present in “Paradise of the Blind.” As demonstrated in multiple situations, Hang and her mother struggle to meet their necessities in order to survive, which results from the lack of income. What is important to note, however, is the versions of scarcity present in “Paradise of the Blind,” which represents third world countries, and in modern, first world countries. When compared, the production of goods are completely different due to the nature of steps that must be taken in order to obtain the product. For example, Hang’s mother makes her profit from crafting the goods herself or by obtaining them from a local source, and then selling to consumers. However, in the modern, first world country, products must be obtained through exports and imports from various international locations. This may also be due to the geographic and economic conditions, as well as values, that are present within each society. The differences in these aspects influence an individual’s diet, traditions, and consumer choices, which then lead to differing consumer identities of people belonging to either society.
A highly regulated economy may appear to be beneficial, since the welfare of all citizens is taken care of, but in some ways, disadvantaged in other regards as the productivity of the country is restricted due to the lack of the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept. However, Duong Thu Huong does not explore the economic impacts of a communist structure, but instead, focuses upon the social effects.
Communism supports the values of everyone being equal and focuses on the need to abolish the social classes. The government has a central role in everything, including eliminating economic inequalities to ensure the wellbeing of individuals. As well, the government of a planned or communist economy will have the main responsibility of decision making that will be best suited for the public good. In 1953, civilians of Vietnam undertook a process of losing renowned land to the government. As a punishment for going against the ideology of communism these individuals were to be tried and punished in front of the entire village. The land was then distributed to all of the citizens, showcasing the equality amongst the people.This was a strategic action implemented to effectively reinforce uniformity, and thus, eliminate the societal hierarchies that existed. This lead to the lack of differentiating factors between the rich and poor. In fact, Uncle Chinh, a character in “Paradise of the Blind,” declares, “The entire family are landlords, the mortal enemies of the peasantry. These are exactly the people we must denounce and punish.” Uncle Chinh’s quotation illustrates how strongly some people of the time believed in communism, and more specifically, shows how far people were willing to go in order to uphold the values of communism.