Vietnam Subject Index | Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Vietnam & Trotskyism

A series of articles by Simon Pirani reprinted from the Workers Press together with supplementary material.

Written: 1986 / 87.
First Published: 1987.
Source: Published by the Communist League (Australia).
Transcription / HTML Markup: Sean Robertson and David Walters for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Copyleft: Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line ( 2013. Permission is granted to copy and / or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons license. Please cite any editors, proofreaders and formatters noted above along with any other publishing information including the URL of this document.

Battle for Trotskyism

Excerpt from Vietnam & the World Revolution

By M. McLaughlin (p. 16-19).

The repression of the Vietnamese Trotskyists and the murder of Ta Thu Thau was an abominable crime committed by the Vietminh leadership. It dealt a powerful blow against the working class, especially in the Saigon region where the Vietminh was much weaker than in Hanoi, and undermined the struggle in the South against French imperialism for many years. The Trotskyist leaders in Saigon were arrested by the Vietminh on Sept 14 1945. Eight days later, the British troops, whose entry the Trotskyists had opposed, armed the French colons and unleashed a reign of terror against the Vietminh themselves. Hundreds were massacred. Saigon was to be controlled by imperialism or its stooges for nearly thirty years.

Above all, the murder of the Trotskyists deprived the Vietnamese masses of the perspective of permanent revolution which would have altered the whole subsequent development of the struggle. All the tactical ingenuity of Ho and all the military genius of Giap could not prevent the Vietnamese revolution from being repeatedly thrown back by the counter-revolutionary collaboration of Stalinism internationally with first French and then US imperialism. In all objectivity, it must be said that the Vietnamese Trotskyists committed a severe tactical error in pressing ahead with strikes and demonstrations in Saigon at a point where the revolution was threatened by the massive Kuomintang occupation force in the North, and the British-French force in the South, backed by both Stalin and the United States.

Their tactical error was connected with the failure of the leadership of the Vietnamese Trotskyists to heed Trotsky’s advice, given 15 years earlier, to pay much greater attention to the peasant and national questions and not concentrate exclusively on the urban centres, and primarily Saigon. His criticism of the sectarian weaknesses of the Vietnamese movement is contained in the document On the Declaration by the Indochinese Oppositionists, written in Sept. 1930 . . . (quotes from this document) . . .

The tragic result of the failure to learn these lessons was that the Vietnamese Trotskyists had no base of support in the countryside among the peasantry. When their urban stronghold came under attack from both the imperialist occupiers and the Vietminh, their organisation was smashed. Throughout 1946, Ho Chi Minh attempted to maintain the Vietminh regime in the north within the framework of the agreement with French imperialism. The French government had the support of Stalinism internationally, with Stalin’s backing for French repossession of Indochina, and the participation of the French Communist Party in the coalition in Paris. There was to be no ‘peaceful road’ to independence for Vietnam, however. In November 1946, open warfare broke out between the Vietminh and the French, with the infamous bombardment of Haiphong by French gunboats, killing thousands. French troops seized control of the major cities.

But the Vietminh was not exterminated. It retained its solid base of support among the mass of peasants, and the Vietminh leaders broke empirically with the Stalinist perspective of permanent collaboration with so-called ‘democratic’ imperialists within France. They began the armed struggle, a prolonged guerrilla war that was to continue in one form or another until the final liberation of Vietnam.

Back to Vietnam & Trotskyism

Vietnam Subject Index | Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive