USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Ho Leaves Paris

By the mid-1920s, Ho had to face a stark reality: the priorities of the French Communist Party were distant from his own anti-colonialist goals. There would be no independence for his people or even a significant betterment of their situation by working from within the party. The party itself had limited power in France and the French workers were not about to bargain away their chips for some distant cause. A much more fruitful strategy for Ho was to join the center of the international revolutionary movement in Moscow, the Soviet Comintern. In 1923, he moved to the Soviet Union. We see the influence of his new Soviet-centric position in an article he penned in 1924 called “Lenin and the Colonial People” – written after the announcement that the father of the Soviet Union had died. Ho displays a blend of Soviet thinking and anti-colonial rhetoric in the introduction to the article:
“Lenin is dead!” This news struck the people like a bolt from the blue. It spread to every corner of the fertile plains of Africa and the green fields of Asia. It is true that the black or yellow people do not yet know clearly who Lenin is or where Russia is. The imperialists have deliberately kept them in ignorance. Ignorance is one of the chief mainstays of capitalism. But all of them, from the Vietnamese peasants to the hunters in the Dahomey forests, have secretly learnt that in a faraway corner of the earth there is a nation that has succeeded in overthrowing its exploiters and is managing its own country with no need for masters and Governors General. They have also heard that that country is Russia, that there are courageous people there, and that the most courageous of them all was Lenin. This alone was enough to fill them with deep admiration and warm feelings for that country and its leader.
In this piece, Ho is doing his best to expand the anti-colonialist message and to connect the colonial world together into one domain: the oppressed. We see Ho at his most internationalist here. He has accepted the Leninist position that the revolution is necessarily a world revolution and that the plight of the workers from around the world is inherently a connected one. Moreover, the case of the Bolshevik Revolution offers Ho the guiding light. It is the key example of how an oppressed people can stand up to autocratic rule and exploitation. Two important themes are reinforced here: 1) the enormous impact that the Bolshevik Revolution had around the world and 2) why the industrializing world would have been so frightened by Bolshevik rhetoric. The industrial powers were faced with the very real prospect of an international movement to wrest away their valuable colonial territories. France, as Ho points out in another article from his Moscow period, was a nation of 536,000 square miles and a population of 39,000,000 and yet ruled over an empire of 10,250,000 square miles with a population of 55,600,000. The disparities, of course, were far greater for Britain.

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