Isn't this its own answer? It's prized precisely because it is unattainable for most.
Not anymore. Now women can't depend on their family or partners for subsistence. If they do embrace their femininity, become softer, or forego job time to be more time with children, they earn less, they provide less for their kids. And worse, what if the relationship ends? What then? Now she has to be full the provider. A typical man role.
So it's too big of a risk to be soft and feminine.
I don’t know what your age is but this is far from my experience.
In a professional context, no more or less playful / joking than men (this varies a lot by context, of course). But outside work, yes, in public, sure.
I don't have an answer as to why that is, but the "scarcity" theory is consistent with my observations. The "social organization" theory is not. That's not to say that "scarcity" theory is correct, only that it isn't contradicted by observation in the same way that "social organization" theory is.
> A good Asian woman is supposed to shine dimly, like a moon, and reflect her husband’s sunlight.
Not that she's completely sold on that model either.
> Not that she's completely sold on that model either.
As I read it, that is the "softness" / "stoicism" she's talking about. She's just exemplifying.
I'm probably reading too much into this, but there tends to be a tradeoff between 'hardness' and 'toughness'. 'Endurance' requires some flexibility and ability to absorb/disperse energy that may require some degree of 'softness'.
No, the question is why value softness so highly when you cannot survive without "hardness", when as a soft woman, you cannot even feed your children.
Softness will lead to death.
Reading this was gripping. I understand my mother better. Maybe in some ways the author being 9 allowed her to talk freely about the time that is too traumatic for someone of my mother's generation.
But, you know, wow. What an amazing piece of writing.
Pro-USA government didn't last long, and Pol Pot took its place.
And, BTW, the most well hidden secret is that USA supported Pol Pot and even provided financial support to his government.
USA: making a better world through revolutions, coups and military invasions for more than a century!
According to Wikipedia, the USA did not materially support the Khmer Rouge, though they did vote in favor of certain UN resolutions which favored the regime. Do you have some evidence or support for your claims?
They couldn't politically support the cause of their former enemy, so Cambodians suffered for longer, until Vietnam got bold enough to invade and liberate them (Edit: I don't know whether the aim was to liberate, the aim probably was to invade but it resulted in liberation).
But yeah, I don't remember any material support either. But the political support was deciding in keeping the madmen going in the country.
 "A Problem from Hell" by Samantha Power
In terms of support, it seems you can even quote Kissinger on it:
"You should tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs but we won't let that stand in our way."
"The Thais and the Chinese did not want a Vietnamese-dominated Indochina. We didn't want the Vietnamese to dominate. I don't believe we did anything for Pol Pot. But I suspect we closed our eyes when some others did something for Pol Pot." (Edit, others meaning China in the context) 
But the Khmer Rouge were the communists! They were officially the “Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK)”.
It was a complicated time to be deciding who to coup.
It's not true. Pol Pot was a madman that created his own crazy theory that included parts of Marxism.
Where does Marx said that the city populations must be evacuated to the villages and teachers killed?
Anyway, the point is not in the details. My point is that USA meddling with politics in remote countries usually results in civil war, millions of dead people and economical decline that lasts for decades. It was true for Cambodia, it's true for Arab Spring countries, it's true for Ukraine which is the last known victim of USA backed revolution to this day. How many more victims this world needs?
>Pol Pot and his government were responsible for the death of 1/4 Cambodian population in a short amount of time, not counting deaths from neighboring countries.
Adolf Hitler and his government were responsible for the death of 1/4 Belarussian population (a third of them Jews) in a short span of time, not counting deaths from neighboring countries.
A lot of Belarussians joined the partisan effort, the largest guerilla warfare of that war (including the writer of Come and See, an acclaimed film about those days):
The history about this period is interesting if you're looking for a good read. It's not being widely taught, even in Russian K12 education.
Both Vietnam and Belarus were liberated by the Communists across the border, who have ruled both countries until the collapse of the USSR in 1991-1992. Ever since that, both countries have been under a de-facto dictatorial rule of a former communist official (though holding "democratic elections" on paper) - Hun Sen in Cambodia, Lukashenka in Belarus.
There are many differences, of course, but there aren't many countries that lost 25% of their population to genocide, were ruled by communists after that for decades, and have been ruled by the same person since 90s.
The Act of Killing is the most brutal documentary I've seen and in fact could not finish it. On Indonesia's executioners of communists.
For a take on the Cambodian travesty see The Killing Fields.
What's noteworthy, though, is that the Khmer Rouge was fighting against the puppet government installed by the hostile foreign power; and that the king displaced in the coup sided with Khmer Rouge as a result, which meant quite a bit in terms of support.
That's to say, the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge would have not been there, if not for the US meddling. You don't have to take my word - take it directly from them.
I always found arguments that makes the point that "X is responsible for more deaths than Y" weak and invalid when they fail to mention the time frame.
mortality/(time x population)
For example, the Nazis killed 11M over 12 years and the German population was about 70M in 1939. Thus, their deadliness is 11/(70x12) ~ 1/70
The USSR killed 40M (a middling estimate) over about 70 years and the Soviet population was 170M in 1939, so their deadliness is 40/(170x80) ~ 1/340 or about 1/5 as deadly as the Nazis.
This intuitively makes sense to me since the Nazis actively sought to exterminate people, whereas most (not ALL) deaths in the USSR were accidental because communism is useless.
You included the most liberalized (less hard core communist) years of the Soviet Union.
> This intuitively makes sense to me since the Nazis actively sought to exterminate people, whereas most (not ALL) deaths in the USSR were accidental because communism is useless.
The Holodomor was caused by explicit policies. The purges were intentional. People who pointed out problems were considered anti-revolutionaries. Skilled laborers were purged or fled.
I don't have real numbers, but I'd guess at least 95% of the people the Nazis killed were foreigners. So that math makes little sense.
Ignoring Jews, Germans were more ruthless and murderous toward Polish or Russian people then toward western ones. And they much more ruthless and murderous toward western then toward Germans themself. (And yes they were ruthless and murderous toward German population too.)
They may have killed less people per year compared to Nazis but that doesn't make them less deadly. In terms of sheer human loss for society, they were 4 times worse than the Nazis (according to your estimate).
If you consider how much freedom and how many lives they ruined with forced labour, it's even more egregious.
I've always considered Nazis and communists to be in the same bucket: authoritarian killers.
Communists often get a moral pass somehow, unlike Nazi and I wonder if it's because most schools and history teachers are biased; they teach about Nazi concentration camps but don't teach about gulags.
I had to read books and books in school about Nazis and I didn't even know Solzhenitsyn existed.
One can dispute this belief, and no doubt they were both brutal, but there is a difference between a genocidal policy with the aim of extermination, and the state exerting its power to punish those it thinks are working against its interests.
Put another way, you could, in theory, avoid punishment in the Soviet Union by avoiding certain actions (although I know this is stretching things quite a bit), whereas those who were targeted by the nazis had no hope of escape.
sure, as long as we admit that in practice you really couldn't because punishment, although supposedly for crimes, was irrational enough to be essentially random.
> the state exerting its power to punish those it thinks are working against its interests
is as bad and wrong as saying the same thing about the Holocaust.
> Put another way, you could, in theory, avoid punishment in the Soviet Union by avoiding certain actions
No, you couldn't. You're implying that the millions of people murdered, tortured, dispossessed, and imprisoned in gulags under Stalin somehow had it coming and could have avoided their "punishment" by just behaving better. Stop spreading lies, and stop trivializing the crimes against humanity committed by the early Soviet Union.
This does not explain why the Nazis were also targeting the disabled and blacks, for example, does it? What crimes had the disabled and blacks committed against the state? Also, how could people not living in Germany, the Poles and Slavs, have committed crimes against the German state?
See, the Nazis were not motivated by any good faith belief that the groups they targeted had committed any specific crimes against the state. They believed that these groups should not exist at all, and they were prepared to, ultimately, hunt them down for extermination anywhere in the world.
I think equating the Communists and the Nazi is rather repugnant. Yes, both were brutal, but to downplay the unparalleled evil of the Nazi regime betrays a lack of critical analysis of what actually happened.
The whole system was set up to routinely fabricate absurd evidence against innocent people and send them to Gulags (or straight against the wall). It was needed, because the rulers needed their population to be terrorized (less chance of a rebellion) and also because it provided huge amounts of free labor for the Gulags.
I don't think anybody up high believed for a second that any significant fraction of people they condemned to death, torture or lives destroyed in Gulags were guilty of anything.
I see echoes of this kind of thinking everywhere in the present.
I think there is a simpler explanation (assuming you went to school in a Western country). The USSR under Stalin was allied with the western powers during WWII. Presenting Stalin as "just as bad" as Hitler would cast doubt on the whole moral justification of the war and would undermine the image of the western powers as the good guys who fought the evil Nazis to save the world from tyranny.
So, who's more evil?
"This contained official records of 799,455 executions (1921–1953), around 1.7 million deaths in the Gulag, some 390,000 deaths during the dekulakization forced resettlement, and up to 400,000 deaths of persons deported during the 1940s, with a total of about 3.3 million officially recorded victims in these categories. The deaths of at least 5.5 to 6.5 million persons in the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 are sometimes, though not always, included with the victims of the Stalin era."
How many exactly? West operate lies of notorious propagandists like Solzhenitsyn (which never had access to any statistics).
E.g. in the books published on the west you can find absurd numbers like "Stalin sent two millions to the camp X", and later historians prove that you can't place more than 1200 persons in camp X, and there weren't enough houses even for the guards for such absurd amount of people and there weren't roads or waterways to transport that many people, and there're no even you know payment sheets for the number of guards required to guard two millions prisoners.
But the West continue to regurgitate the same old lies over and over because who would want to know the truth? The best truth is that USSR was evil, so every tiny piece of evidence saying otherwise should be well hidden from public.
It's not like in the contemporary Russia there are powers willing to open that truth either.
Most people don't realize how dangerous philosophers actually are, with their entitlement to enshrine great value in their musings without any requirement for them to be backed up with actual knowledge or existing data.
When you look at all the bloody revolutions you'll find philosophers inspiring and often guiding them.
Interesting thing to watch is "Power of nightmares" by Adam Curtis. It tracks the history of islamists and US neo-conservatists starting from their respective (very similar) philosophical roots.
There’s some tech NGOs that probably pay more, but I don’t know how much more.
Two years of that has been covid where luck, circumstance, and hard work combined to leave Cambodia nearly unscathed. Now we’re one of the most vaccinated countries in the world and Phnom Penh is almost at 100%.
 2034: A Novel of the Next World War
by Elliot Ackerman, Admiral James Stavridis USN
What about all the ICBMs, long range bombers, subs etc etc which would be used if something like that happened ?
They won’t be able to undo the invasion, and there’s no threat to the US directly. So there’s not much incentive for terrible retaliation.
The US might prefer to keep its promises to Taiwan, but at that point it would be choosing to let that go, or escalate into war with a nuclear power.
But China is a very long ways from being able to try and take on the US directly anywhere near North America.
Perhaps they'd want to keep the existing infrastructure for themselves? That's hard to do if you turn Taiwan into a pool of lava...
Others here write about the beauty of the article. All I read are convoluted, never ending paragraphs that don't tell me anything.
I stoppend reading carefully after 1 minute, started jumping ahead to see if this is leading somewhere. Finally, hopped to the comments here in hope they'd tell me the gist of what the core message of the article is about.
It's funny, I like reading fiction, well written sentences with grand narratives and all of that. But not in an article.
Now she's back in her still devastated home country, created an organisation helping women acquire skills they could use to earn money in a country that's about two tech-levels behind advanced countries of this world.
Most enthralling parts of the piece are memories of her luxurious childhood, which most modern kids in western countries would already abhor as abject poverty.
>I ran to visit my friend Yet, who lived in the village behind my parents’ house in Battambang, Cambodia.
will come off as innocuous to many, but my immediate impression was, "Wait... like a plantation?". I'm not intimately familiar with Cambodian history, but I had some understanding of it having been a French colony. With that colonization must have come a sharpening of class lines, as in many Western colonies, like Cuba, and the American South. Some quick research confirmed that. And then, after independence, a coup, with alleged but unconfirmed American backing; and then, after that, a vicious response by radicalized communist entities. Familiar trappings of the first tumultuous global century.
...I'm trying to figure out how to articulate this feeling. It's a sort of anger at the lionization of Western, Capitalist claims and ideals, at the whitewashing of the means by which they were asserted, at the implacable sneers towards anything in opposition to this story of glory. Not because I myself dislike freedom, and variety, and eating; but because the movements that rise up to challenge that status quo rise out of the muck-like detritus it generates and then plops right onto the heads of the poor and marginalized. I skim this piece and see not any sort of understanding of how the French Indochina, as a tentacle of the Western imperialism kraken, that produced the things the author lauds also sowed the seeds of its destruction; I see almost a willful and zealous blindness to this, in fact. When I talk to Castro's diaspora, same thing. When I talk to Lost Cause pushers, same thing.
All of this scares the sh*t out of me. It's yet another example of how suffering - true agony as far as the eye can see - can come from and produce the same sort of skewed priorities and world-view, over and over again, all around the world. When the world has wronged us so utterly - at least from our perspective - we're unable to see the wrongs we participated in, and how they could have contributed to the slow gestation of our despair. You see shades of it even here, today. I want us to get it right for once and this essay is stealing hope from me.
I think I deserve an expansion of the accusation of willful zealotry on my part, at least.
Stopping at paragraph one to "yeah but she's a bouge...." is a mark of zealotry.
As to "sightedness," which I take as meaning obligatory mentions of class issues, imperialism and foreign cultural influences... it's sprinkled liberally throughout the piece. Even the title. The "softness" she's talking about is bourgeois softness, compared to peasants who had been living almost as hard before.
Here's one passage: "It would be tempting to affect a survivor’s bravado, as if I had achieved my continued existence through will and wit. But my chief survival advantage was being born to a family that could afford to fly to Saigon. We used our dwindling gold to flee to a place where wearing eyeglasses did not put our lives in immediate danger."
I suspect this does not suffice, given my first paragraph. This is not an essay about how capitalist greed and imperialist arrogance are the ultimate culprits. This is a story where ideological zealots play the roles of crusader, conquistador and slaver.
The willful element is turning the story around. Capitalism and Imperialism the root cause, even if the actual atrocities were committed by anticapitalist anti-imperialists. This is always true and if it isn't, just "dig deeper" and find that it is true. That sounds like willful zealotry to me.
It's equivalent to blaming the caliphate for the inquisition, berating a muslim or jewish victim for blindness to the true underlying cause... Also, refusing to read something because it doesn't start with a declaration that ideologically conforms to your position is willful.
Have I met my obligation?
My contention is that this is a problem, given what we know about the history of Capitalism and Western imperialist arrogance and its direct and deleterious effects on many (most) of the 3rd world countries these principles touched during the 19th and 20th centuries, and the ways in which those effects (predictably) hardened the hearts and ways of dissenters. Even in, as an adult, remarking on one's experience as a nine-year-old girl suffering at the hands of anti-Capitalist regimes. Maybe especially so, in an essay about survival being predicated on the weathering away of comfort(able biases). Maybe even more so, if the goal is to not have anti-Capitalist backlash repeat itself.
With that in mind, if you came away from my comment with the impression that I believe that a violent class purge, let alone the institution of capital-C Communism, is the answer, I have to think that you did not read very carefully.
In any case, this is her story, her perspective. Write your own story, and it'll be the story you want.
Meanwhile, how dare you, who wrote what you wrote demand that others read your comment carefully and generously for nuance... especially when you are taking the position of the kmer rouge yourself.
>Meanwhile, how dare you, who wrote what you wrote demand that others read your comment carefully and generously for nuance...
I may be a hypocrite, but I'm not wrong.
And in any case, our circumstances are different: I'm not misrepresenting her words; you're misrepresenting mine.
It also happens to be true that the particular atrocities this story was about were committed by anti-western, anti-capitalists. The events she is describing really did happen... to her. That is the context. Preceding these events were other events. The story isn't about those.
Your comments are whataboutism.
And yes, it is tunnel vision. It is essentialism and it is zealotry. It is having one story in your mind that explains anything and everything. Everything boils down to capitalism and western colonialism. Any telling of events that doesn't conform to your one and only allowable story is rejected without inspection. As you said, you can't get past the first paragraph is it's not a simple anti capitalism/colonialism narrative. Who here is the one avoiding challenges to their comfortable biases? Who is the reactionary here?
In this case, it happens to be particularly awful, given that the perpetrators shared your specific tunnel vision. Even if the atrocities are committed by anticapitalists, an author has exactly one paragraph to clarify that colonialism that is the true culprit. It's like telling responding to a victim of fascism with a "but what about communism." There are parallels to every argument you bring up.
> I'm not misrepresenting her words;
> you're misrepresenting mine.
This argument doesn't make any sense: "$FOO is bad because the anti-$FOO people are violent madmen"
You can't always shift blame away from the violent madmen.
Further: these faults also tend to drive anti-$FOO people to violence - often not even simply as a matter of course, but as an explicit strategy. In almost every case, the first to violence is $FOO. $FOO then encourages violence from the other side, to legitimize a crackdown. When anti-$FOO survives this crackdown, their behavior has been altered forever by their initial experience with $FOO.
Nguon's hatred for Khmer Rouge is genuine. However, she isn't foolish enough to consider herself a capitalist. The work she does now is simply unrelated to authoritarians, whether of the communist or the capitalist variety. The women's development center is more authentically anarchist than anything else.
It doesn't seem charitable to compare her either to idiot Confederacy buffs or to Miami Cubans. I understand where you're coming from, but keep in mind that her enterprise is selling scarves and purses to rich Westerners. There's only so much she can say without upsetting the customers.
My concern is that pride in the "greatness" of what civilization has become blinds people to the discontent which could rock everything we hold dear. Again.
But sure, colonization. USA ultraviolent body-count military colonization was in a sense a continuation of French opportunistic get-rid-of-the-king-and-install-his-half-brother colonization, but it is more properly considered an escalation. Similarly, Khmer Rouge "To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss" dictatorship was in a sense a continuation of Angkor-era feudalism, but it was really an escalation.
Lots of humans are tired of the escalation. You have fallen for the armaments manufacturers' narrative, so you can't hear an old woman cursing her persecutors without finishing her curse with "...and this is why capitalism is great". She didn't say that. "America" or "USA" or "capital" are strings that do not appear in TFA. Nguon DGAF which flavor of authoritarianism we prefer. She wants to enjoy traditional Cambodian crafts, and also French food, and also a bit of peace. Why should she care to follow idiotic USA "security" policy? She doesn't get a vote on that question, and the votes we get don't make a difference anyway. Every authoritarian system feeds on human blood; that isn't up to a vote.
It is tempting to try to preempt the "USA #1 always right!" bullshit, but I don't think you've accomplished that ITT. In future, focus on the truth, and don't worry about correcting old people on what they should really think about their most harrowing experiences.
That definitely scares the shit out of me.
you neglected to mention the subsequent execution of 1.3m and the starvation of another million or so of these liberated people.
One can't help but be reminded — perhaps that was your intention? — of the classic quip attributed to Gandhi:
Journalist: “What do you think of Western civilization?”
Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.”
Alas, capitalism isn't all that popular in the west anymore. Perhaps you need to look further afield to find its champions.
Capitalism is not cool with novelty-seeking intellectual elites anymore. But nothing established is; the purpose of these elites is to look for and research alternative ways. Most if these ways are detrimental or are dead ends. But so are most mutations that drive evolution forward.
Eg minimum wages and tariffs are pretty popular.