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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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[Organizing] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 17]
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Time for Peaceful Revolution

Editor's Note: We receive many letters critical of lumpen organizations (LOs) from prisoners across the country reflecting the contradictory aspects of the lumpen class. Some are from alleged former members, wishing to do exposés of these organizations. For the lumpen to be internally critical is a necessary step for the development of a proletarian consciousness among the oppressed inside U.$. borders. However, to print public criticisms without providing real alternatives and leadership does more harm than good.

Our task is to develop a united front among those groups of people who have an interest in opposing imperialism. We must work with the material given us and not disregard the masses because of their backwardness. Not working for the pigs is a start, but we only print parts of this critique to allow our comrade to respond and illustrate a better approach for all who are facing similar situations.

Greetings Comrades,

It's time for a peaceful revolution here in the state of New York Department of Correctional Services because with violence we are not going to accomplish anything. Especially with all these rats running around who will sell their souls for an extra tray or a roll (cigarette). Speaking about rats, let's start with the ALKQN. The reality here is that this organization was founded in 1939-1940 by Lord Gino Gustavo to stop the abuse and terribly degrading way us Latinos were being treated in Chicago by the pigs inside and outside of the walls of lost souls, to stand up as people against the unjust government that was oppressing us and pouring drugs into the Latino communities. The ALK (ALKQN is for NY only, not Chi-town) was a revolutionary movement; a strong radical group of men who seriously believed in their people as a whole made up of Blacks, Latinos, and peoples of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

Nevertheless, here in NYS DOCS the ALKQN has become a major joke. These infidels work for the facilities' administration and closely with the pigs. This has been a trend for these pig-loving maggots in Attica CI. These so-called revolutionary dudes cut, stab, steal, rob, and intimidate prisoners just for the pigs. In return these pig-lovers get TVs, radios, or beat overdose tickets for their cooperation.

I don't understand where these dudes went wrong but one thing for sure is simple. They need to stop working for the pigs and administration and really rise up and make a positive stand for what we as a whole are supposed to be about: respect, honesty, unity, knowledge, loyalty and most of all love.

a New York prisoner


ECC.1:1 for ALKQN/PLF responds: In response to the above critique of the particular lumpen organization (LO), the question still remains as to whether or not this is an honest attempt at revolutionary criticism in the spirit of Maoism, or more blatantly just a simple expression of mummified discontent.

The beginning paragraph starts off with both a call for "peaceful" revolution and a mutual denouncement of violence because, based upon the writer's logic, "with violence we are not going to accomplish anything..." As debatable as any theory of "non-violent" revolution may be in the pages of ULK, there is still 1) an absolute lack of any kind of historical reference upon which to build from in the author's writing and 2) an immediate diversion of the topic into one that appears to be an attempt to dichotomize the LO in question based upon either A) the ill-perceived "Chicago-New York Complex," B) what the writer would/may have the masses believe to be the general practice of the membership of the latter and/or C) a convolution of both.

In direct response to A), the attempt to dichotomize the LO in question based upon either city of locale or a feeble attempt at label differentiation is a prime example of the type of demagoguery that only serves to disunite and confuse both present and future generations and the masses as a whole. As to both B) and C), the indication that police collaboration is a problem unique to the New York brand of the LO in question is one based upon both fallacy and a disillusionment of reality. Police collaboration is a threat to all LOs, their respective branches, sections, sets, chapters, etc. It is a threat to any organized group, party, etc. that opposes U.$. policy, period!

Assuming the writer is/was an actual member of the LO in question, the proposed solution to "rise up and make a positive stand for what we as a whole are supposed to be about: respect, unity, knowledge, loyalty and most of all love" is a solution nowhere apparent throughout the entire critique itself.

Finally, if one does not understand (as stated by the writer where s/he wrote that "I don't understand where these dudes went wrong") then the study of the class structure of the internal semi-colonies of the United $nakes is what one must understand. Three hundred sixty degrees of knowledge of revolutionary theory and practice. Anything else is just anti-King babble at its best, and pig work dividing the oppressed for the imperialists at its worst.

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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 14]
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Education: Still Much Work to be Done

I read ULK 9 and enjoyed the attention given to education in this issue. The political education of the lumpen should be central to the revolutionary movement of north amerika. There are three pillars in any true revolutionary process: organization, politicization, and mobilization of the masses. In other words, theory before practice and unity before everything else. I am in my fourteenth year of incarceration on a life sentence. I came in at the age of 18 and I have observed the forging of lumpen alliances for a number of various reasons over the years. Very rare is it to find a lumpen organization (LO) with a sound political line and/or agenda, and even more rare is it to find an LO of such a professed platform that actually practices what they pretend to preach. I am also a representative of the ALKQN and so I write from the same side of the battle lines as the rest.

It should go without saying that a movement absent foundational theory is bound to fail, but the truth is these things need to be said, explained, understood, and accepted. One of the primary and principle things that we, as individual and collective members of today's LOs have to establish is the question of political theory and exactly what kind of society we aspire to affect. The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons is aiding us in this way, yet there is much more political work to be done amongst ourselves. The ability to define the difference between capitalism and socialism is fundamental to our level of education. But so is the realization that we, in general, as the lumpen proletariat, referred to by Marx as the 'underclass,' have the task of eradicating the remnants of the former (that are so deeply planted in our subconscious that we more often than not fail to even realize or acknowledge) before we can truly even hope to successfully set out to establish the latter. Sufficient political work needs to be undertaken in the goal to raise collective political consciousness. Classes are essential to such a program. We need the demand for unity on every corner, and the serious dedicated attempts to effectively study and debate the materials we are afforded by such groups as MIM(Prisons).

Some of our respective LOs have histories that stretch back into the 1940s. Many of our LOs have revolutionary grassroot origins. There are those of us who realize this and who are struggling to re-align ourselves, and those around us, with the spirit of those beginnings. But it is a mistake and an unseen obstacle in our failing to analyze, consider, and take into account the opportunism so many of our leaders began to shroud themselves with at the beheading of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. This opportunistic spirit is what helped magnify the influx of both the drug and "gang-banging" culture we so readily embraced throughout the late 70s and all the way into the early 90s. It also resulted in the influx of brothers and sisters who were met with open arms, and empty heads. That era, for the most part, was declared a victory by the federal government. Our communities were war-torn, drug and crime infested, and the U.$. prison industrial complex was impregnated with more bodies of color than any other place in the world. And a new era began, the era of programming.

All these things need to be taught. If we are to become serious and elemental in the fights against imperialism we must come to accept ourselves, the lumpen, first as a product and consequence of capitalist society, and then, as the spear-head of the revolution - a true socialist revolution, for ourselves, and for the people of the Third World.

Every one of us has a responsibility and an obligation to the true meaning of our respective LO to manifest it in our every breath, action and thought. The label must become second to the representation. For in the end there can be no division nor dividing factors in the United Front. As revolutionaries, we are perpetual teachers. We must teach ourselves and each other, and in some cases even our very own leadership. A plunge in morale is a result of our own fears and failures to teach. As revolutionaries it is up to ourselves not to become discouraged or weary, and it is up to ourselves to muster the physical, moral, and intellectual effort it takes to dare others to learn and to teach. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Much work remains to be done among us all to raise the level of political consciousness so that every cadre, however high the position they may occupy, is schooled in the policies of our movement, its character, its strategy and tactics."

Education/political consciousness is key; unity in that line is the lock; the safe is the imperialist/capitalist mindframe that must be cracked; and the new man or woman, the turning wheel of change, the revolutionary, is the hidden treasure within.

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