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Title: From Class to Culture: Reconfigurations of Vietnamese Communism (1925-2015)
Authors: Pelley, Patricia
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: 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
Journal: Studi di Storia
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.
Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 978-88-5511-086-0
eISBN: 978-88-5511-087-7
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:06 Words of Power, the Power of Words. The Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in International Perspective

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