Under the exemplary leadership of Comrade Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people threw out the invading army of the world’s most powerful and dominant imperialist country – the United States – and vanquished their puppet South Vietnamese administration.
It was 35 years ago, in April 1975, that the world witnessed US diplomats, troops and puppets scrambling to be evacuated from Saigon. That image, the culmination of decades of struggle, inspired peoples across the world. And it continues to inspire those who long for the day when imperialist troops and their puppets will increasingly be sent packing from Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, etc.
The people of Vietnam fought for decades, with almost inconceivable heroism and determination, to free their country from the grip of Japanese, French and American imperialists. We in the imperialist heartlands need to know how this small country in Indochina achieved such a great victory and how if affects our struggles today.
On 22 May, the CPGB-ML held a Celebration of the life of Ho Chi Minh, born 120 years ago, in order to pay tribute to his life and learn more about the history of our anti-imperialist movement.
A film showing of Vinh Linh: the steel ramparts movingly depicted the revolutionary optimism of men, women and young children, living in tunnels under heavy US bombardment, using all their meagre resources to overcome the enemy. Lives were transformed – an expert female rice grower became a commander in the anti-aircraft gunners, children were educated for the future they would build, peasants used their crops for three purposes – to feed themselves, to feed the front and to plant the next season.
Harpal Brar, chair of the meeting, emphasised that the Vietnamese people were showing a new attitude to life, to freedom and independence which was making them indefatigable. Their power was strengthened by the Marxist-Leninist line put forward by ‘Uncle’ Ho and the Party. His farsightedness came from an understanding that the final goals of the Vietnamese people could only be achieved by following the path of the great socialist October Revolution. The peoples of Vietnam, along with those of China and Korea thus built a bridge between the revolutionary movements in the imperialist countries and those in the oppressed countries.
The comrade from the Vietnamese Embassy, brought greetings to the meeting and was delighted to be celebrating the 120th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Ho Chi Minh among friends. He spoke of Ho Chi Minh as the hero of the Vietnamese people who had devoted all his life to Vietnam and the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in August 1945.
Len Aldis, Secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, had just returned from the 35th anniversary celebrations in Vietnam and reported breathtaking cultural and military displays, with warm applause for the women’s contingents. He particularly recalled a huge changing display of a picture of Ho Chi Minh, then a picture of the Vietnamese tank coming through the Presidential Palace gates on the day that Saigon fell. Len also recalled the millions who gave their lives during these decades of wars and still lie in unknown graves.
In remembering the heroism, he spelt out the crimes of US imperialism – millions killed and a country despoiled. The crimes also included the non-payment of the $3.5 billion that Nixon agreed to pay in Paris in 1973 for the reconstruction of north Vietnam; the Nixon-led international embargo on Vietnam in 1973, remaining until January 1994 with the support of ‘our’ government; the unexploded cluster bombs etc still in the soil of the country, particularly in Vinh Linh, which could take years to clear; and the chemical weapons, like Agent Orange, which resulted in abnormal births and deformities of the children born in succeeding generations (nearly 4 million cases), and now reaching the fourth generation of Vietnamese. And still not a cent from Monsanto, Dow Chemicals and others, that were sued by the Vietnamese and found guilty. The soil, the water and the fish, for example, are still contaminated by the chemicals.
Iris Cremer, speaking on behalf of the CPGB-ML highlighted the development of Ho Chi Minh as a Marxist-Leninist. He had from a patriotic viewpoint come to read the works of Lenin and thus be excited by the path of the October Revolution when in France as a young man, exclaiming I have “entire confidence in Lenin, in the Third International”. Subsequently when presenting his views on the national and colonial question to the 5th Congress of the Communist International in 1924 in Moscow he was convinced that “the victory of the revolution in Western Europe depended on its close contact with the liberation movement against imperialism in enslaved colonies and with the national question, both of which form a part of the common problem of the proletarian revolution and dictatorship”.
Iris acknowledged that these words of Ho Chi Minh, written nearly a century ago, are still sadly an indictment of many parties in the present communist movement, both internationally and in Britain. She said it was disgraceful that parties which call themselves socialist, and even communist, should be prepared to trade off things like a rise in the minimum wage to give support to the imperialist Labour Party which has been waging wars and carnage against Iraq and Afghanistan, and was complicit in the brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people by the Zionist state of Israel.
She dealt with the crimes of the British government in relation to Vietnam. Just three weeks after Vietnam Independence was declared in 1945, British troops, under the orders of the Attlee Labour Government, landed in south Vietnam and helped the French regain a foothold in Vietnam.
The details of this British crime are available in a pamphlet entitled Saigon ’45: with the Japs in Vietnam written by Phil Kaiserman, a serving engineer in the RAF at the time. He set the record straight regarding British history because he, quite rightly, believed that “The subsequent attack by US forces [on Vietnam], the 3 million dead and the horror of Agent Orange can all be laid at the foot of the ‘honourable’ Attlee government.” Iris encouraged all to recount this history to all those who still have illusions in social democracy.
Iris concluded that the waging of the national liberation and socialist struggle in Vietnam led by Comrade Ho Chi Minh according to the principles of Marxism-Leninism is a lesson that all workers and oppressed peoples must for ever keep dear to their heart.
Victory to all the peoples struggling against imperialism!
Long live the memory of Comrade Ho Chi Minh!