La Vie Ouvriere, September 7, 1923
Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House
Transcription/Markup: Christian Liebl
Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2003
We are aware that colonial rivalry was one of the main causes of the 1914-1918 imperialist war.
What all Frenchmen should realize, is that colonial expeditions are largely responsible for aggravating the depopulation from which their country is now suffering. If one looks at the statistics of military losses in killed and wounded sustained in-the colonies, one is frightened by the gap they have caused in an ever decreasing population such as that of France. From January to June, 1923, in Morocco alone, 840 soldiers were killed or wounded for the greater glory of Marshal Lyautey!
What the French working class must realize, is that colonialism relies on the colonies to defeat all attempts at emancipation on the part of the working class. No longer having absolute confidence in the white soldiers, who are more or less contaminated by the idea of classes, French militarism uses African and Asian natives in their stead. Out of 159 regiments in the French Army, 10 are composed of colonial whites, i.e., semi-natives, 30 of Africans and 39 of natives from other colonies. One half of the French army is thus recruited in the colonies.
Now, an Annamese soldier is in service for four years and an Algerian for three years. Thus, according to the reckoning of French militarism, two native soldiers are worth almost five French.
Moreover, being ignorant of the language and politics of the country, thinking that all whites belong to the race of his exploiters, and finally spurred on by his white superiors, the native soldier will march forward submissively and blindly, where the French soldier, more conscious, might refuse to go. Therein lies the danger.
One wonders for what reason 31 of the native regiments will be stationed on French territory? For what purpose are they intended? Are the French going to be civilized by these natives? The intention of French capitalism is thus clear. It is up to the French workers to act. They should fraternize with the native soldiers. They should make them understand that the workers of the mother country and the soldiers from the colonies are equally oppressed and exploited by the same masters, that they are all brothers of the same class, and that when the hour of struggle strikes, they will have, one and the other, to struggle against their common masters, and not between brothers.