Forty years ago, on May 1975, the American imperialism was defeated in Vietnam by the resistance of the Vietcong and all the Vietnamese people. In 1967, before that defeat, the Argentinian Trotskyist and founder of the IWL-FI Nahuel Moreno wrote Chinese and Indochinese Revolutions [1] where he gives an account of both revolutions that changed the world.

The importance of such revolutions is evaluated in the introduction of his work: The Russian Revolution and the Chinese are, “the most revolutionary developments in the century. While the October Revolution opened the stage of world socialist revolution, the Chinese revolution finally broke the imperialist balance; temporarily moved the center of the world revolution to the backward and colonial peoples; liquidated the isolation of the USSR and thus posed an immediate possibility: the Federation of Socialist Eurasian States, and another, in the medium term: the World Federation… The fate of the Chinese and world revolution lies in the hands of the current Vietnamese war, an indirect consequence of the Chinese revolution. The Indo-Chinese workers and peasants have shown with weapons in hand that imperialism can be confronted and defeated. That defeat will mean possibly the beginning of its end.”

Eight years after this essay, the US imperialism was definitely defeated and had to draw its army out of Vietnam. The expression “Vietnam Syndrome” was coined, whose consequences endure until now, and the Vietnamese people showed that the US imperialism is not invincible. With the publication of this excerpt, we pay homage to the heroic Vietnamese people. We hope you enjoy it.

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The victory of the Chinese Revolution was followed by the National Liberation War in Vietnam. To some extent, the sequences of the Chinese revolutionary process are repeated here. The people and the peasantry fight back a continuing offensive by the colonial powers with determination and courage. They use the same method of the Chinese peasantry: guerrilla warfare. There are, however, some specific features that characterize this fight. The Stalinist influence is much bigger in the Indochinese Communist Party than in the Chinese one, because communism in this region is much more linked to the West, mainly the French Communist Party. This will give it a more opportunistic nature. Moreover, the influence of Trotskyism in Indochina and among the exiles in France is much stronger and more important than in China.

“The beginning of the Japanese occupation was marked by major upheavals: In October 1940, in Tonkin; in November 1940 in Cochin; in January 1941 in Annam. The Japanese and French imperialists came together to fiercely repress these popular movements. It is then that the Viet Minh is created: the League for the Independence of Indochina. It was consisted by two nationalist parties covering the petty bourgeoisie and the left wing of the liberal bourgeoisie, two communist parties (the Stalinist and Trotskyist), women’s organizations, farmers, workers, soldiers and youth. Its program, elaborated in 1941, is a program of democratic freedoms. The demand for agrarian reform is lacking, but it includes the confiscation of Japanese, French and Indochinese “Fascists” properties, as well of the Church. The result is the same because all these proprietary people have collaborated with the Japanese occupant and have yielded to the government of Pétain. The second major issue of the program is the armed struggle against any invader country,” said a document by an Indochinese Trotskyist published in 1945 [2].

The defeat of Japan causes the rise of mass movement and popular organizations take local government in their hands. The Viet Minh remains the only central government. Making efforts to demonstrate its “commitment” to French imperialism, it dissolves the popular organizations. In Paris, Ho Chi Min’s comrade, Thorez [both belonged to the Communist Party] was a minister of the empire and tried by all means to keep Indochina within it, as “associate member.” However, the negotiations between Ho Chi Min and the French government failed despite the position of the French and Indochinese Communists of not demanding independence. The Stalinist policy turns most Indochinese workers in France to the ranks of Trotskyism: this is the only party claiming total independence for Indochina.

French imperialism, which reflects the aspirations of colonial interests, cannot allow the existence of an independent nationalist government like that of Ho Chi Min, and starts the gradual military occupation of Indochina from the south. From November 1946 it enforces its offensive against the north, which is fully controlled by the forces of Ho, who strives to maintain the support of the shadow of the national bourgeoisie giving it a place in his national unity government. This reformist line leads to dangerously delay the launch of agrarian reform: the guerrilla struggle is made in the name of national unity with the bourgeoisie. “In 1953, the Party and the Government decided to carry out agrarian reform in order to liberate productive forces and give a more vigorous impulse to the Resistance,” Giap admits [3]. From that moment on, the Vietnamese guerrilla fight for national liberation turns into an agrarian revolution. The ultimate explanation for the mythological heroism of Vietnamese fighters is that turn.

The leadership’s strategic talent along with the militancy of farmers and fighters allow the Viet Minh to defeat the French imperialism at Dien Bien Phu. The Geneva Accords recognize this victory and divide Indochina in two areas until 1956 when general elections would be called to unify the country. In the south, a puppet government agent of French imperialism and, in the short-term, of US imperialism, is imposed.

The Yankees order this puppet government to disobey the Geneva agreements to guarantee the full colonization of South Vietnam. In response to this colonization, it is formed in 1960 the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), which wages a liberation war against the US imperialism agent. The rest is recent history: the White House, before the collapse of its agents and of the army of South Vietnam, uses its army and air force to exemplary smash the anti-colonial revolution and the bombing of North Vietnam begins. Before our eyes, a colossal counterrevolutionary war in history breaks out: neither the USSR nor China ever endured anything like that. However, the Southern masses under the leadership of the NLF and the Vietnamese not only resisted but began to slowly turn the tide of the war. This was achieved by a not numerous people in a small country. To create many Vietnams is possible and essential, as Che Guevara asserted [4].

The USSR and China have so far refused to unify their states and armed forces in a united front of full support to North Vietnam and the South guerrillas. Only Castro, Western revolutionary intellectuals, some black leaders, Korea and North Vietnam, along with the Fourth International have raised the necessity of this front. The USSR remains unfazed in its diplomatic strategy of peaceful coexistence with imperialism; aid to North Vietnam is only a tactical maneuver within that strategy. Mao’s China ignores the united front on the pretext of a supposed revolutionary policy that isolates China from the revolutionary forces of the entire world. The victory of the Vietnamese revolutionaries will mean not only a disaster for imperialism, but also to policies from Moscow and Beijing.

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Notes:

[1] – Ernest Mandel, organizer. 50 Years of World Revolution 1917‑1967, An International Symposium, Merit Publishers, New York, 1968. Published in Spanish by Ediciones Pluma (1973) and in Portuguese by Editora Versus (1979).

[2] – Quatrième Internationale, n. 22, 23 and 24, September, October, November, 1945.

[3] – Võ Nguyên Giáp, People’s war. People’s army, marxists.org/archive/giap/1961-pwpa.pdf

[4] – The whole quotation is: “How close and bright would the future appear if two, three, many Vietnams flowered on the face of the globe, with their quota of death and their immense tragedies, with their daily heroism, with their repeated blows against imperialism, forcing it to disperse its forces under the lash of the growing hatred of the peoples of the world!”, Che Guevara, Create two, three… many Vietnams, that is the watchword, 1965.