¨For many Asian intellectuals, the group ethic of Western socialist theory corresponded better to their own inherited ideals than did the individualist and profit-motivated ethic of Western capitalism. And nowhere was this more pronounced than in Confucian societies like China and Vietnam. Chinese and Vietnamese nationalists from scholar-gentry families often found the glitter of the new commercial cities more than vaguely distasteful. In the Confucian mind, Western industrialism was too easily translated into greed and an unseemly desire for self-aggrandizement. By contrast, socialism stressed community effort, simplicity of lifestyle, equalization of wealth and opportunity, all of which had strong overtones in the Confucian tradition¨ (Duiker 2000:63).
In an article written in 1960, “The Path Which Led Me to Leninism,” Ho describes his first encounter with Lenin’s analysis of the colonial question. Describing the debates in the French Socialist Party concerning whether or not the party ought to join Lenin’s Third International, Ho writes:
“What I wanted most to know—and this precisely was not debated in the meetings—was: Which international sides with the peoples of the colonial countries?
I raised this question—the most important in my opinion—in a meeting. Some comrades answered: It is the Third, not the second, International. And a comrade gave me Lenin’s “Thesis on the National and Colonial Questions,” published by l’Humanité, to read.
There were political terms difficult to understand in this thesis. But by dint of reading it again and again, finally I could grasp the main part of it. What emotion, enthusiasm, clear-sightedness, and confidence it instilled in me. I was overjoyed to tears. Though sitting alone in my room, I shouted aloud as if addressing large crowds: ‘Dear martyrs, compatriots! This is what we need, this is the path to our liberation!’
After then, I had entire confidence in Lenin, in the Third International” (Fall 1967:6).
As Nguyen Ai Quoc participated in the international communist movement, he did so as a true delegate of the colonized peoples, challenging the movement to fulfill in practice Lenin’s thesis on the colonial question. This will be the topic of our next post.
Bello, Walden. 2007. “Introduction: Ho Chi Minh: The Communist as Nationalist” in Ho Chi Minh, Down with Colonialism. London: Verso.
Duiker, William J. 2000. Ho Chi Minh. New York: Hyperion.
Fall, Bernard B., Ed. 1967. Ho Chi Minh On Revolution: Selected Writings, 1920-26. New York: Frederick A. Praeger.
García Oliveras, Julio A. 2010. Ho Chi Minh El Patriota: 60 años de lucha revolucionaria. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales.
Prina, Agustín. 2008. La Guerra de Vietnam. Mexico: Ocean Sur.
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