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Lecture 14

History 1810E The Vietnam War - Lecture 14.docx

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Department
History
Course
History 1810E
Professor
Margaret Mc Glynn
Semester
Winter

Description
History 1810E The Vietnam War Wednesday February 26 Lecture 14 Revolutionary Origins: You say you want a Revolution Outline: I. Ho Chi Minh II. The Wilsonian Moment III. The Revolutionary Youth League IV. Con Dau Prison V. The Viet Minh a. The August Revolution *You are responsible for the reading in the Lawrence textbook Ho Chi Minh, 1919 • Ho Chi Minh was born around 1890 in northern Vietnam • He left Vietnam in 1911 and travelled the world (North Africa, New York, Boston, London, Paris, Moscow, Hong Kong) o He didn’t return until 1941 • When he was in Paris (shortly after trying to contact Woodrow Wilson) he lived with Phan Chu Trinh • Phan Chu Trinh thought they could learn from the French, but Ho Chi Minh thought they had to be driven out of the country • While in France, Ho Chi Minh wrote editorials for left-wing newspapers critiquing French imperialism and advocating Vietnamese independence. o He argued that rather than a civilizing mission, the French only brought misery. Instead of educating the Vietnamese, the French were indoctrinating them • Ho Chi Minh was aware of what was going on outside of Vietnam o He argued that the Vietnamese had to be wary of some of their neighbours (particularly the Japanese, the only Asian power to defeat a European power, the Russians) o He was concerned that if they got the French out, the Japanese would easily be able to move in The Wilsonian Moment • During WWI, the Vietnamese were brought to fight for the Europeans o When they came to the Western front, they started to question the idea of Europeans as being civilized (Was it really a civilizing mission?) • After World War I, the major European cities were weaker than they were before o This offered the opportunity for resistance within the empire o eg. the uprising in Ireland in 1915 (an example of decolonization) • Wilson talked about self-determination, which resonated among colonial agitators • Nationalists from Egypt and other places were also trying to petition Woodrow Wilson to advocate for national self-determination (like Ho Chi Minh did) • The problem was that Woodrow Wilson was a racist o He segregated the whites, told dark jokes o When he was talking about self-determination, he was looking to the empires in Europe, not other places • The Wilsonian Moment was an opportunity for the third world to have an advocate in their corner fighting for national self-determination o Without Woodrow Wilson, these nationalists looked elsewhere and found VI Lenin VI Lenin • VI Lenin was opposed to the capitalist system • While in Paris, Ho Chi Minh was drawn to socialist politics (which was opposed to capitalism) o Socialists were more concerned with undermining, reforming, challenging, and transforming the capitalist system than the question of imperialism • For Ho Chi Minh, imperialism was the central problem • In the summer of 1920, Ho Chi Minh read Lenin’s Thesis on the National and Colonial Questions o Lenin understood that those people in the colonial world could be helpful for the revolution (unlike Marx who didn’t have time for those in the periphery) o He said that in the struggle to overthrow the capitalist system, Communist parties should associate with nationalist movements in colonialist areas o He thought the imperial project was putting off world revolution (and was strengthening the industrial powers, advancing the capitalist system) o If they could undermine imperialism, that would weaken the industrial nations and allow world revolution • This was a revelation for Ho Chi Minh and explained the problems the Vietnamese were facing, and it provided a potential solution • After reading this, Ho Chi Minh became a founding member of the French Communist Party • In 1925, Ho Chi Minh was sent by the Soviet Union to Hong Kong to advocate against imperialism The Revolutionary Youth League • While in Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh established the Revolutionary Youth League, an organization that would trade youths in Hong Kong to organize a future Communist party • Ho Chi Minh didn’t believe the Vietnamese were prepared yet to form their own Communist party • They emphasized the national question: a 2-stage revolution for Vietnam o Stage 1: A national revolution  Get the French out  Establish Vietnamese independence o Stage 2: A socialist revolution • Ho Chi Minh thought this movement would relate to a lot of people, which Lenin had been advocating for (a lot of united people to overthrow the French) • The message was attractive to student radicals in Vietnam o These people had been taught the ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the French school system (and weren’t satisfied with the French imperial project) o Ho Chi Minh provided them with an answer, and they were anxious for change • By the end of the 1920s, the French began to see the Revolutionary Youth League as the biggest threat to their control in Viet
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