Book Review: Ho Chi Minh

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Book Review: Ho Chi Minh


Ho Chi Minh on Revolution, Selected Writings, 1920-1966
edited and with an introduction, profile written by Bernard B. Fall
Signet 1967


One of the first things that reached out and grabbed the interest of this writer is the revelation of Uncle Ho's humble beginnings. In contrast to such stalwarts as Marx and Lenin who lived the life of the middle class of their times, Uncle Ho, born on May 19th, 1890, lived the life of the lumpen proletariat.(p.v-vi)

Another thing of interest was his use of aliases. Ho Chi Minh, an alias itself, was actually born Nguyen That Thanh. Among a number of aliases used during the 1920s, Nguyen O Phap, used during his time in France, speaks volumes as to his attitudes and brazenness - so characteristic of the lumpen today - for in translation his name meant "Nguyen Who Hates the French."(pviii)

The opening chapters/writings of section one (In Search of a Mission) do an excellent job bringing to light Uncle Ho's awakening and rising of political consciousness, his move from nationalism to internationalism (Marxism/Leninism, socialism and communism), his love and deep admiration for Lenin himself, his intense interest and study of the New Afrikan Nation in the United $nakes, slavery, reconstruction, ku klux klanism and the such, and the atrocities that were committed by the French, that led to the liberation movement the U.$. tried so repugnantly to derail, but failed to do so - the raping, slavery, systematic introduction of opium and alcohol, forced inscription, decapitations, hangings, impailings, burnings, torture, ad infintum.

A quote brings to mind the crux of capitalist Christianity brought down upon the backs of all Third World peoples subject to First World colonialism, neo or otherwise:

"[T]he Annamese peasant is crucified on the bayonet of capitalist civilization and on the cross of prostituted Christianity."(pg38)

Another quote, in the complementation to U.S.S.R. practice at the time, catches the eye:

"Colonialism is a leech with two suckers, one of which sucks the metropolitan proletariat and the other that of the colonies. If we want to kill this monster, we must cut off both suckers at the same time. If only one is cut off, the other will continue to suck the blood of the proletariat, the animal will continue to live, and the cut off sucker will grow again."(pg43)

And then a third, in section two (The Comintern Way) which provides writings upon Uncle Ho's full embracement of the communist international, rings both artistic and still so true, to the colonized brood:

"Justice is represented by a good lady holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other. As the distance between IndoChina and France is so great, so great that, on arrival there, the scales lose their balance and the pans melt and turn into opium pipes and official bottles of spirits, the poor lady has only the sword left with which to strike. She even strikes innocent people, and innocent people especially."(pg105)

Section 3 (Revolution and Liberation War) goes into tactics and strategy, line, criticism and self-criticism, the counter offensive, the United Front and the formation of the provisional government, various committees and the such, from 1930-1954. This section also covers poems from Uncle Ho's prison diary. "Autumn Night," which encapsulates the prisoner's longing for home; and "word play," which discovers for the reader the origin of George Jackson's affectionate and personal title of "The Dragon," were of the author's most interest. This section ends by highlighting some of the statistical achievements of the revolution and then goes into section 4 (Reconstruction and Errors) where a healthy dose of criticism and self-criticism is spoke of to both the people and the party of the time.

And the book concludes with Section 5 (At War Again, 1960-1966) which goes into the "Vietnam War" most familiar to us already - the war of U.$. "intervention."

Overall the book is of an extensive value, Ho Chi Minh's (Uncle Ho's) writings are so difficult to retrieve. Not only does it touch on a number of socialist fundamentals throughout, but it provides a literary timeline of the Vietnamese/Annamese struggles not so commonly familiar to us, restricted to such our-story here in the belly of the beast. More specifically though, speaking to those of the USW and any and all LOs (especially) with a revolutionary intent, I recommend the following readings with great earnest: Letter to Comrades in North Vietnam, Twelve Recommendations, Instructions Given at the Conference Reviewing the Second Le Hong Phong Military Campaign, and the Speech Opening the First Theoretical Course of Nguyen Ai Quoc School.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The Vietnamese struggle was a heroic one that is still at the forefront of the global anti-imperialist legacy. After they defeated the imperialists, the most advanced political thinking of the time did not take hold in Vietnam's leadership, preventing socialism from developing. But Ho Chi Minh was a leader of both a revolutionary United Front and a communist party that successfully fought French and Amerikan imperialists. The United Front led by the communists in Vietnam provides an example for national liberation struggles today. We point readers to a book review of Ho Chi Minh: A Life for a more complete picture of the history of the revolution in Vietnam, and the political line of the post-revolution government.

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