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Ian H. Birchall

No Politics Here

(Spring 1967)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.28, Spring 1967, p.??.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Vietnam: Between Two Truces
Jean Lacouture
Secker & Warburg, 35s

M. Lacouture believes it is possible to find a solution to the Vietnamese question – with Vietnam, in Cabot Lodge’s words, ‘an Asian Yugoslavia’ – which is in the real interests of both sides. This makes his book useless politically, but does mean that it is not hysterically propagandist, and tries to appreciate sympathetically and factually the position of both sides.

This work, translated (badly) from the French, outlines the history of Vietnam from the Geneva agreements to the beginning of the bombing of North Vietnam in 1965. It is thus already seriously out of date, but provides quite a lot of useful material. The religious question, crucial for Vietnam, is dealt with; in some detail, though not related to the whole historical and economic complex; there is material (though not as much as one would like) on the South Vietnamese trade unions, and their politically ambiguous leadership. An interview with an NLF leader shows that the Vietnamese revolutionaries have no illusions about assistance from either Russia or China. Most interesting of all are extracts from the notebook of a captured NLF soldier, showing the democratic spirit that prevails in the NLF, and the fact that political education is carried on regularly, even daily, in the most dangerous zones.

Here, however, the book’s utility ends. Like the British Council for Peace in Vietnam and the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, who confine themselves to moralising and atrocity-chasing, it does not attempt to offer a global political analysis of the Vietnam struggle.

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Last updated: 3.1.2008