Wednesday, February 15, 2006

From socialist to capitalist globalisation

Interesting BBC story on the plight of Vietnamese in eastern Germany who came to the old GDR as guest workers, an example of the chronic shortage of labour under state socialism (reflecting the soft budget constraint and overinvestment described by Janos Kornai) and now find themselves struggling. Strange echo of an alternative globalisation:
Both traders came to East Germany as Vertragsarbeiter (contract workers) in the 1980s. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese took secure jobs in state-run industries - a different group from the "boat people" who came to West Germany as refugees. But ever since communism collapsed, they have struggled for economic survival - working 12- or 14-hour days, mostly selling cheap textiles from Asia.
State socialism was assimilationist, as described by a community worker:
"Because these people had to work such long hours they put their children into German day-care institutions - so most of the Vietnamese children grew up with German language, socialisation and culture. While their parents had no time to learn German, for these children Vietnamese is a second language."
Has their freedom increased since 1989?


Post a Comment

<< Home