Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Vietnam: Struggle Must Continue

(First of a two-part series analyzing events in Southeast Asia.)

First Published: Challenge, May 8, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The recent rout of the fascist U.S. puppet Lon Nol in Cambodia, the collapse of the Thieu regime in South Vietnam, and the assumption of power in these two countries by nationalist forces are important defeats for U.S. imperialism. These setbacks are part of the major international process now developing today: the accelerating decline of the U.S. ruling class as the world’s chief imperialist power and the takeover of that title by the “red” bosses of the Soviet Union.

However, this defeat for U.S. rulers should not be interpreted as a victory for socialism and the working class of Cambodia or Vietnam. Despite the hosannas now being trumpted about by various forces on the so-called “Left,” both the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam want capitalism in their respective nations–“national” capitalism, with Cambodian and Vietnamese bosses getting a bigger chunk of the take and Soviet moguls getting the lion’s share instead of their U.S. counterparts–but capitalism nonetheless. (The Khmer Rouge, who chose Sihanouk ruler for life, and the PRIG do not include socialism at all in their programs.) This means continued and increased oppression and suffering for the workers of Southeast Asia and will inevitably lead to violent inter-imperialist rivalry and intensified class warfare. A brief review of that area’s recent history may help to clarify this analysis.

The Vietnamese working class, which has done the greatest amount of fighting in Southeast Asia, has one of the most militant histories on record. In the past 40 years, they have organized heroic wars against Japanese, French, and U.S. imperialist armies. They defeated the Japanese, and in 1954 they smashed the French at Dienbienphu. The U.S. ruling class gave massive aid to the French colonialists. In fact, by the 1950s, 80 per cent of all material used by the French came from the United States, and the U.S. government was debating the use of nuclear weapons in order to prevent a Vietminh (Communist guerrillas) victory. After Dienbienphu, the U.S. decided to assume direct responsibility for stopping revolution in Vietnam There were several reasons for this: 1) U.S. bosses saw Asia as the “last frontier” of cheap labor power for their industries, and they also wanted its rich resources and vast potential markets; 2 Vietnam is strategically vital to the military contra of the region; 3) U.S. imperialism’s chief enemy was then-socialist China, and the imperialists needed Vietnam to surround and isolate China and also as a springboard for invasion in case of war.

First under Eisenhower and then under JFK, the U.S. tried to run things in Vietnam via the well-worn Quisling route. The puppet of the moment was Ngo Dinh Diem, a ruthless anti-communist who immediately restored all land liberated by the Vietminh to the original big landowners and ran the government at gunpoint. He didn’t work out too well. The South Vietnamese workers and peasants regrouped, re-armed themselves, and began fighting back. By 1963 Diem had become a liability, and so his bosses had him rubbed out, along with his brother Nhu.

Next, the U.S. imperialists attempted the strategy of “special war.” This was a plan to smash the growing revolt by developing a competent pro-U.S. South Vietnamese army and government. This didn’t work very well either. “Special war” turned into its opposite as a parade of Punch and Judy South Vietnamese generals (including “Big Minh,” the PRCs current Big Buddy) came and went ignominiously, and the insurgents inflicted more and more defeats on the puppet army and its U.S. “advisers.”