By 1930, Ho had spent considerable time in China among the Chinese Communist Party. He was becoming increasingly convinced that the answer to the colonial problem in Vietnam was not to be found through the traditional channels of either the French Communist Party or even through the Comintern – whose power had been severely limited through the intra-party struggles in the Soviet Union. Stalin was getting ready to move the Soviet Union into a new phase of its development: a collectivization of agriculture and heavy and rapid industrialization. Both of these priorities necessitated a reorientation away from world affairs and onto politics within the country. This is not at all to say that the Soviet Union ceased being the shining example of revolution, but rather to indicate that as the Soviet Union became more “nationalistic” so too did the movements it helped inspire. Thus, in 1930 we see Ho founding the Indochinese (Vietnamese) Communist Party. This blend of nationalist concerns and communist ideology is on full display in Ho’s “Ten Slogans”.
1. To overthrow French imperialism and Vietnamese feudalism and reactionary bourgeoisie;2. To make Indochina completely independent;3. To establish a worker-peasant-soldier government;4. To confiscate the banks and other enterprises belonging to the imperialists and put them under the control of the worker-peasant-soldier government;5. To confiscate all the plantations and property belonging to the imperialists and the Vietnamese reactionary bourgeoisie and distribute them to the poor peasants;6. To implement the 8-hour working day;7. To abolish the forced buying of government bonds, the poll-tax and all unjust taxes hitting the poor;8. To bring democratic freedoms to the masses;9. To dispense education to all the people;10. To realize equality between man and woman.”
These slogans were prefaced with the following statement – and remember that this is following a prolonged exposure to the communist movement in China:
If the French imperialists think that they can suppress the Vietnamese revolution by means of terror, they are grossly mistaken. For one thing, the Vietnamese revolution is not isolated but enjoys the assistance of the world proletariat in general and that of the French working class in particular. Secondly, it is precisely at the very time when the French imperialists are frenziedly carrying out terrorist acts that the Vietnamese Communists, formerly working separately, have united into a single party, the Indochinese Communist Party, to lead the revolutionary struggle of our entire people.
Despite the appeal to the “internationalist” nature of his movement, we see here a clear move away from the pan-communist perspective in Ho’s thinking and to a much more nationalist conception of revolution. He has already given up, for the most part, on any help from the French working class – despite what he says. He has also most likely given up on Stalin’s willingness to support any Southeast Asian revolution. Far more, the situation in Vietnam resembles the one in China – an anti-imperialist campaign aimed at the creation of a sovereign nation under a communist-style government. And I would argue that the case of Vietnam is even more in the anti-colonial template than China. Note the limited presence a domestic Vietnamese gentry or oppressor class in Ho’s statements. This is a very different piece that Mao’s “Investigation,” which was virtually all directed against the gentry and rich peasants. Ho’s targets are the colonial administration and the colonizers it supports by both imperial policy and force of arms. The revolutionary movement in Vietnam, then, is one of indigenous struggle against external oppressor – not primarily one of class, though of course Ho Chi Minh is trying to blend the two categories together.