From Class to Culture: Reconfigurations of Vietnamese Communism (1925-2015)
This chapter examines the history of the Vietnamese Communist Party [VCP] from its origins in 1930 until contemporary times. I argue that, for a period of around forty years, the VCP tried to reconcile two antagonistic positions. It stressed the necessity of divisive, even violent, class-based struggles in politics and economic life and, at the same time, continually called for national unity against France and the US. At the Sixth Party Congress in 1986, the VCP resolved this tension by introducing the policy of ‘renovation’ (đổi mới), which is responsible for the shift in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam [SRV] from socialism to ‘market’ socialism (chủ nghĩa xã hội thị trường). No longer focused on the dynamics of class, the VCP now emphasizes morality and culture, even though some socialist structures remain in place. The circulation of two symbols clearly articulates this new path. The hammer and sickle signals reverence for Lenin, an indebtedness to his idea of the vanguard party, and respect for Soviet-style communism more generally. The lotus bloom alludes to more primordial patterns. Both icons are similarly pervasive. This chapter is divided into three parts. Part I clarifies the contexts in which Vietnamese communism emerged and the Party’s formative years. Part II concentrates on the Indochina Wars (1946-1975) and the period after national reunification in 1976 when the SRV tried to ‘protect’ socialism in the North and ‘build’ socialism in the South. Part III centers on the period since the Sixth Party Congress (1986), when the Government and Party systematically dismantled communes, cooperatives, collectives, and many state-owned enterprises as well. When the VCP was established in 1930 it had one principal goal: uproot and eradicate the status quo. Now its overriding aim is to maintain it.
Studi di Storia
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Patricia Pelley, "From Class to Culture: Reconfigurations of Vietnamese Communism (1925-2015)" in: "Words of Power, the Power of Words. The Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in International Perspective", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019, pp. 421-437
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