Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Fourth International, January 1946


The Indo-Chinese Revolution


From Fourth International, January 1946, Vol.7 No.1, pp.16-17.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


The following summary of the situation in Indo-China and the powerful anti-imperialist movement which is shaking the entire country has been written by an Indo-Chinese comrade. It is reprinted and translated from the Sept.–Oct.–Nov. issue of Quatrième Internationale organ of the European Executive Committee of the Fourth International.

The density of the essentially agricultural population in the North of Indo-China is extremely thick; it reaches 400 to 800 inhabitants to the square kilometer in the Tonkin Delta. The peasant of these regions cultivates his land with very primitive agricultural equipment and methods. The land has been partitioned to the extreme and most of the peasants do not possess more than a single hectare. On the other hand the complete absence of industry does not permit the peasants to secure a complement to their resources in the factory, a fact which entails extremely miserable conditions of life for the greatest part of the population.

In order to be able to exist and to pay their taxes, the small Indo-Chinese peasants are forced to borrow on their land and this is passing piece by piece into the patrimony of the Church or to the Indo-Chinese banks. The proletarianized peasants must then go to work as unskilled laborers in the mining pits or as agricultural workers on the estates of the big landed proprietors. Salaries are very low and barely came to 2 to 4 francs a day before the war of 1939-1940.

The middle peasantry (possessing an area of approximately some ten hectares) are likewise seeing their lands mortgaged and the medium-sized domains are also passing into the hands of the Chinese usurers and the agricultural credit banks.

On the great plantations belonging to the French colonists there lives an extremely miserable agricultural proletariat recruited from the overpopulated deltas of Tonkin and rather sold than hired out to the planters who, so to speak, have the power of life and death over the coolies in their employ. In the Southern part of the country the great Indo-Chinese landed proprietors to whom the French administration has conceded immense domains because of their “collaborative” attitude during the colonization possess almost the whole of the country.

In the towns there lives a population of little shopkeepers beside a restricted urban proletariat as miserable as the agricultural proletariat.

Domestic Uprisings

The special conditions prevailing in Indo-China cause revolutionary waves to come from the countrysides and then to reach the urban centers, contrary to what has generally happened in the West. Actually, there is no significant industrial proletariat in the towns which are inhabited above all by small shopkeepers. On the other hand the agricultural proletariat and petty proprietors constitute the greatest part of the population whose standard of living is extremely low.

The situation in Indo-China has been revolutionary since the last war and the study of the successive uprisings enables us to assert that when the Indo-Chinese masses demand their independence through an expulsion of the French colonizers they likewise have in view the expropriation of their own national bourgeoisie and feudalists.

In 1917 the Monarchy supported by the feudal layers attempted to recover its independence: Annam rose up. The years from 1917 to 1923 are marked by the success of the bourgeois nationalist movement.

The years from 1923 to 1927 witnessed the upsurge of the petty bourgeois and peasant nationalist movement which was climaxed by an insurrection followed by massacres in 1929.

The year 1933 is marked by manifestations of peasants and workers led by the Communist Party and followed by a ferocious repression.

The sweep of the workers’ movement in France in 1936 has its repercussions in Indo-China where there was seen great mass movements for several years and which were savagely repressed in 1939. The beginning of the war is marked by the arrest of the Communist leaders.

These uprisings do not stop with the Japanese occupation but nipponese imperialism aids French imperialism in the task of repression.

The departure of the Japanese finally permits the armed insurrection of the Viet Minh.

Despite the cruel repression of French imperialism which each time beheads the revolutionary vanguard, the recurrent rhythm of the uprisings shows very well that Indo-China has long since matured for the revolution.

The Workers’ Parties

The Trotskyist organization was, as you know, especially strong in Cochin-China.

In so far as the Communist Party, which is the principal political party in the country, is concerned, its influence differs according to the regions. In the North and in the Central section, its activity is clandestine, but despite unfavorable conditions in 1938-1939 it had reached a strength of around 300,000 members. In Cochin-China the Communist Party is semi-legal and even a Popular Front policy has not permitted it to assemble any such significant strength. Thus in spite of a restricted title-holder’s method of suffrage the elections gave 15 percent of the votes to the government party, 80 percent to the Trotskyist party, and only 1 percent of the votes to the Communist Party.

At Tonkin and in Annam on the contrary the Indo-Chinese Communist Party has a very strong influence especially in the peasant sections. Thus peasant unions, of communist inspiration, have been constituted to resist the mandarins and big landed proprietors. They defend the wages of the agricultural workers, organize mutual aid among the small peasants to enable them to fight against the mandarins and usurers and, by husbanding their products during the good years, to prevent a sale of their property during the years of scarcity. Moreover these unions often also acquire the form of cooperatives: with the resources of the union the peasants buy lands which they cultivate in turn and whose harvests they share.

The beginnings of the Japanese occupation were marked by very important uprisings. In October 1940, these occurred in Tonkin, in November 1940 in Cochin-China, in January 1941 in Annam. Japanese and French imperialisms united to ferociously repress these popular movements. The Viet Minh, league for the independence of Indo-China, was constituted at that time. It was formed by two nationalist parties embracing the petty bourgeoisie and the left wing of the liberal bourgeoisie, of two Communist Parties (Stalinist and Trotskyist), organizations of women, peasants, workers, soldiers and youth. The program it worked out in 1941 is a program of democratic liberties.

The question of agrarian reform is not contained in it, but the confiscation of the property of the Japanese, the French, the Indo-Chinese “fascists,” and of the Church really amounts to the same result, for all the possessors in Indo-China have collaborated with the Japanese occupier and have very easily accommodated themselves to the government of Petain. The second important point of the program is the struggle even by armed force against every aggressor country.

Peasoants in Indo-China

During the Japanese occupation the French bourgeoisie tried to obtain the support of the Indo-Chinese bourgeoisie which preferred to serve Japanese imperialism. Actually the absence of industrial development in Indo-China does not permit the Indo-Chinese bourgeoisie the hope of being able to dispense with a foreign imperialism. That is why the Indochinese bourgeoisie always tried to support itself upon the strongest imperialism. That is why it was pro-nipponese during the Japanese occupation, and now turns its eyes toward American imperialism, the master of the Pacific. The pro-nipponese parties led by the Indochinese bourgeoisie have not had any profound influence among the masses. An “independent” government was constituted by Japan. At its head was Bao-Dai who had covered the exploitation of the country by the French bourgeoisie with his imperial authority and who then put himself at the service of nipponese imperialism.

After the surrender of Japan, the Viet Minh took over the governmental authority, forced Bao-Dai to abdicate, and expelled his pro-nipponese ministers. All power has therefore fallen into the hands of the Viet Minh. French imperialism is very desirous of reconquering its positions in Indo-China, but left to itself it would be quite incapable of achieving its ends. It demands support from British imperialism. British imperialism also has aims in Indo-China but before openly opposing France is awaiting the eventual checkmate of the western bloc which would permit her to peacefully achieve the same ends. On the other hand the English bourgeoisie fears the effect of the example of the Indo-Chinese people upon her neighboring possessions: Burma, Siam, the Indian Empire. The Indian National Congress Party has actually passed motions of solidarity with Indo-China. A powerful anti-imperialist movement is developing throughout all Asia.

International Proletarian Solidarity

The imperialists of the United States wish as well as the others to impose their domination on this part of the world. They do not act openly but through the intermediary of China. They are trying on the one hand to limit English expansion in Indo-China and on the other hand to impose their creatures upon the Viet Minh to dispel the communist danger. For this purpose they support themselves upon the Revolutionary Union for Independence, the old Nationalist Party, right wing in the Viet Minh, which is seeking to extend its bases in the petty bourgeois class and in the bourgeoisie.

The Indo-Chinese revolution faces a double danger. It is menaced by the nationalist parties within, which support themselves upon Yankee imperialism and by the three imperialist sharks which are laying siege to the country. If the Indochinese revolution is isolated it cannot triumph over these difficulties.

The Viet Minh is menaced by the development of the nationalist parties on the right which are seceding in order to combat the revolutionary tendencies as soon as that will be possible and following a course similar to that we have witnessed in Greece. The Indo-Chinese revolutionists ought to demand of the Viet Minh that it carry out its program fully and demonstrate to the masses that neither the bourgeoisie nor the petty bourgeoisie can realize these reforms.

But the Indo-Chinese people alone cannot triumph over its powerful adversaries. The proletarians of all countries in the world must solidarize themselves in action with the Indochinese people and protest by every means against their governments to frustrate the crime which is being prepared against their Indo-Chinese brothers. The Australian workers have given the example by going on strike to prevent the English bourgeoisie from dispatching war materials to the Dutch Indies. The workers of the world must follow this example and never forget that the victorious Indo-Chinese revolution can soon spread throughout the Pacific and could even be the prelude to the European and world revolution.

Top of page

Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

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 Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Last updated on 8.2.2009