The worldwide reaction to the election of Donald Trump has been astonishing. Elation, grief, devastation, triumph, gloating and the resurgence of an irritating little man called Nigel Farage. But what does this mean in the grand scheme of things and how might it affect Vietnam?
Certainly there is a connection to the fate of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The general public became disillusioned with politicians, which led to the rise of popularism and a polarisation of Germans between the extreme right and the extreme left. The extreme right came out victorious.
But another concept — Spiral Dynamics — may hold even more clues.
Spiral dynamics provides a model of worldviews based on patterns of thinking called vMemes. These patterns, each given a colour, provide a schema through which we see the world and which can be applied to people as individuals and societies.
There are eight dominant vMemes — four of them are valid for this argument.
Red. Exploitative, rough, might-makes-right, harsh, feudalistic, rugged authoritarianism, nds expression in slavery or virtual slavery, exploitation of unskilled labour. Generally run by a top boss and a series of proxies, with strict division between haves and have-nots.
Blue. Authoritarian, loyal to the truth and absolutist. You’re with us or you’re against us. Purposeful and patriotic, leads people to obey authority and feel guilty when not conforming to group norms. Discipline is strict but fair and often public.
Orange. Entrepreneurial with an orientation towards personal success. Motivations are largely economic and the hallmarks are individuality, free markets, materialism, rationalism and personal freedom.
Green. Communitarian, sensitive and humanistic, this is the dominant mode of thought in Western Europe. Preaches diversity, cooperation, inclusivity and respect for nature. Leaders are facilitators rather than autocrats.
Back Home Again
Vietnam is materialistic Orange, with a strong input from authoritarian Blue. There are still many things you “don’t do” in Vietnam and while many of this country’s Western-in uenced youth have already made the transition to Green, as a country, Vietnam has yet to go down that route.
In part it’s an economic issue. Green is a mindset for the well-off; you don’t think about diversity, inclusivity and protecting the environment if you are a slash-and- burn agriculturalist. Green also dislikes materialistic Orange and clashes with authoritarian Blue; Green is community-building beyond their in uence. Blue likes to be in control.
The reason for the present outpouring of emotion towards Donald Trump is that he, like Vietnam, has a mindset that mixes Orange and Blue. In the US and Western Europe, the dominant, educated middle-class person with a ‘conscience’ is somewhere between Orange and Green. No wonder people are upset.
While the overriding mindset in Vietnam is similar to the worldview of Donald Trump, this country won’t be directly affected by whoever is in the White House.
As Vietnam gets more af uent, people will demand more say and there will be a greater drive towards environmental protection and conservation. But as long as the powers that be are stable, and people can make money, this country will continue along its own merry, development and construction-friendly route.
As to whether if it could, would Vietnam have voted for Clinton or Trump? Based on the concept of spiral dynamics there is one clear answer to that — Trump.