Freedom 29/6/National Liberation or Class War?

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National Liberation or Class War?

LET US SEE if the NLF (of Viet­nam) is a re­volu­tion­ary organ­isa­tion.

  It is evid­ent that the sole fact that the NLF sup­ports the armed strug­gle against US im­peri­al­ism does not prove that its views and ac­tions are re­volu­tion­ary (just as the Gaul­lists, in 1940, parti­cip­ated in the armed strug­gle against German im­peri­al­ism).


  Let us ex­am­ine the pro­gramme of the NLF, in par­tic­u­lar the fam­ous five points of its Central Com­mit­tee.

  The first point ac­cuses US im­peri­al­ism of having sab­ot­aged the Geneva Agree­ment. We al­ready have here the embryo of a false ana­lysis, since this im­plies that they need not have been sab­ot­aged, that is, that an agree­ment be­tween na­tions can be valid.

  The second point states that their aim is to cre­ate an in­de­pend­ent, demo­cratic, peace­ful and neutral state. This is not an aim which anarch­ists can sup­port.

  In points 1, 3, 4 and 5 they al­ways re­fer to the no­tion of ‘people’ and not of ‘classes’, which makes one think that it is not the world bour­geoisie that have made and broken the Geneva Agree­ment, but only US im­peri­al­ism, and that the Viet­nam­ese form a whole in them­selves, that is, that there are no domin­ant classes in Viet­nam, nor any aspir­ing to be such.


  Also let us look at the de­clar­a­tion of N’Guyen Hno Tho, of the NLF in L’Human­ité (28.8.66):

  ‘Our ob­ject­ive is to set up in South Viet­nam a united na­tional demo­cratic gov­ern­ment re-unit­ing the re­pre­sent­at­ives of all so­cial classes, of all be­liefs, and of patri­otic not­abil­it­ies and polit­ical parties. …’ (Even the French Com­mun­ist Party does not go that far on the road to re­form­ism.)

  For a re­volu­tion­ary to sup­port the NLF and its polit­ical posi­tions, in these con­di­tions, is to make the same mis­take as to sup­port the Gaul­list pro­gramme dur­ing the Re­sist­ance, the Pop­ular Front in 1936, and the CNT col­labor­a­tion­ists with the Re­pub­lic­ans in Spain.

  This is to fall into the trap of unit­ing against our privi­leged enem­ies in par­tic­u­lar, which is only one aspect of the gen­eral re­pres­sion, and it is to sup­port the theory of re­volu­tion by pal­li­at­ives.

  We will elabor­ate on this when we make a criti­cism of Front­ism. But before this we must re­fute another argu­ment. One often hears it said that the NLF is in fact sup­ported by a re­volu­tion­ary organ­isa­tion (the ex-<span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Indo-Chinese CP">Indo-Chinese CP) it­self sup­ported by the work­ers’ state of Hanoi, and that the al­li­ance is only tac­tical, be­cause after the vic­tory the bour­geois ele­ments will be jet­tisoned in order to con­struct the so­cial­ist order.

  Apart from the fact that we al­ways have the same at­ti­tude to a Com­mun­ist Party or a workers’ state, we must criti­cise more deeply the posi­tion of the Indo-Chinese Com­mun­ist Party and the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Viet­nam, in order to under­stand what Marx­ist-Lenin­ism is, that is, the strat­egy of com­prom­ise built into a pro­gramme, re­volu­tion by steps, that is, an ideal­ist vi­sion of his­tory, a sort of mes­si­an­ism.


  Since 1930 (see Solid­ar­ity pamph­let and Voix Ouvrier) the peas­ants (95% of the pop­u­la­tion) have been in a state of per­man­ent in­sur­rec­tion against feudal ex­ploit­a­tion. On the whole they sup­port the Viet­cong which they see as a force cap­able of break­ing the so­cial struc­ture. The first in­sur­rec­tions were sup­ported by the ICP; how­ever, after the 7th Con­gress of the Com­intern (1935) which ad­voc­ated the tac­tic of the Pop­u­lar Front (al­li­ance with the so-called pro­gres­sive bour­geoisie), the ICP took a step back­wards: it aban­doned the slo­gan ‘Down with French im­peri­al­ism’ and the strug­gle for in­de­pend­ence.

  The ICP faith­fully fol­lowed Stalin’s di­rect­ives after the <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Russo-German rap­proche­ment">Russo-German rap­proche­ment of 1939, de­fend­ing German fas­cism against French ag­gres­sion. Since 1940 the Amer­icans have been in­ter­ested in Indo-China. At Yalta (1945) Roose­velt pro­posed to re­place French oc­cu­pa­tion by an inter­na­tional (in ef­fect US) oc­cu­pa­tion. Stalin agreed.

  In March, 1945, the Japan­ese launched an of­fens­ive against the French gar­ri­sons. The USA re­fused to help; the French forces were decim­ated, the Japan­ese pro­claimed <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Indo-China in­de­pend­ent">Indo-China in­de­pend­ent, but con­tinued their oc­cu­pa­tion. The ICP pre­pared for the oc­cu­pa­tion of the coun­try by the al­lies. Amer­icans and Brit­ish oc­cu­pied the south of the coun­try, Ho Chi Minh took Hanoi; he sup­ported the USA. France in its turn de­clared Indo-China in­de­pend­ent and under­took to pull out its troops in five years. The ICP fol­lowed di­rect­ives of the USSR; a strict ap­pli­ca­tion of the Yalta Agree­ment; Indo-China was made part of the West. There was no ques­tion of so­cial re­volu­tion or of in­de­pend­ence.


  The na­tion­al­ists and re­volu­tion­ary milit­ants (Trotsky­ists espe­cially) were sys­tem­at­ic­ally as­sas­sin­ated by the ICP which sup­ported the pro-French pup­pet Bao-Dai ‘as the sym­bol of our desire to stay within the frame­work of the French Union’.

  Ho Chi Minh per­mit­ted French troops to pen­et­rate freely into the in­terior of the coun­try. He called on the pop­u­la­tion to cel­eb­rate the ar­rival of the new oc­cu­py­ing forces. So the French re­in­forced their posi­tions until the day when sud­denly they bom­barded Hai­phong (24.12.46). The French Com­mun­ist Party ranged itself on the side of French im­peri­al­ism.

  In Septem­ber, 1945, the French Gov­ern­ment (in which the Com­mun­ists parti­cip­ated) asked for a milit­ary budget of 100 mil­lion to re­in­force the ex­pedi­tion­ary forces. The Com­mun­ists voted for this. In January, 1946, a new milit­ary budget was ap­proved by the Com­mun­ists.

  In Decem­ber 1946 the 182 Com­mun­ist Deput­ies ap­proved un­anim­ously a mes­sage of con­grat­ul­a­tion sent to Gen­eral Leclerc for his ac­tion in Indo-China

  During the de­bates in the As­sembly (14.3.47 and 18.3.47) the Right-wing Deput­ies ap­plauded the Com­mun­ist Deput­ies for their sup­port of French ag­gres­sion.


  This is the not-too-glori­ous past of the French Com­mun­ist Party and the Indo-Chinese Com­mun­ist Party; the latter now con­trols the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Viet­nam, the ‘workers’ state’ which, in its sup­port for the NLF, re­fers three times, in its four points to the Geneva Agree­ment. That is, it plays the re­form­ist, dip­lo­matic and parlia­ment­ary game worthy of its past and of its polit­ical con­cep­tions, in par­tic­u­lar Front­ism as a strat­egy.

  Front­ism, or union with ‘ad­vanced bour­geois parties’ en­tails prac­tical con­ces­sions, more­over, it can only deal with one prob­lem lim­ited by time and space; it en­tails polar­isa­tion lim­ited to one as­pect of re­pres­sion; there­fore the or­gan­isa­tion is ab­sorbed in a short time by the bour­geois ideo­logy. It is in the same way, and by the same pro­cess, that a cen­tral­ist organ­isa­tion which has as its ob­ject­ive the tak­ing of that su­preme ele­ment of re­pres­sion, state power, be­comes in­teg­rated into the bour­geois world and there­fore counter-revolu­tion­ary. It is the polit­ics of na­tional unity and the pop­u­lar front which led the French CP to sup­port French im­peri­al­ism in 1946, Ho Chi Minh to sup­port Bao Dai against the Viet­nam­ese re­volu­tion­aries, and which will lead to a be­trayal of the Viet­nam­ese who fight to set up a Stalin­ist regime. So much for so­cial­ism!

  Besides, the world ‘so­cial­ism’ isn’t men­tioned once in the four and five points of the NLF and DRV.

  Front­ism is also the con­se­quence of a con­cep­tion of the role of an organ­isa­tion, that is that which pre­tends to rep­res­ent other things than itself such as the ‘ob­ject­ive’ inter­ests of a class or a people. Out of this grows the ‘in­fal­lible’ organ­isa­tion and every­thing must be sub­jected to its strat­egy; its strat­egy be­comes the Re­volu­tion. It be­comes an end in it­self, it is the bearer of Re­volu­tion, and it is not afraid of ally­ing it­self with the bour­geoisie, of sacri­fi­cing re­volu­tion­ary strug­gles in order to con­trol them better. It is it­self the Re­volu­tion.

  It is the com­mun­ist inter­na­tional di­rected by Stalin to which the Chin­ese and Viet­nam­ese re­volu­tions were sacri­ficed. It is the Bolshe­vik Party of Trotsky and Lenin against Kron­stadt and Makhno.


  Front­ism, we have seen, is the theory of re­volu­tion by pal­li­at­ives (the pal­li­at­ives are in ef­fect the pro­gress­ive march of the organ­isa­tion towards power).

  Thus Che Guevara af­firms cor­rectly that in order to aid Viet­nam it is neces­sary to open up new fronts of strug­gle every­where in the world, but he claims that these fronts must be above all anti-Amer­ican im­peri­al­ism.

  But im­peri­al­ism is only the arena, and not the su­preme arena at that, but only the most ad­vanced, of a cer­tain highly-devel­oped cap­it­al­ism; it is not the mark of other nais­sant cap­it­al­isms such as those of the third world. And so the bour­geoisie of im­peri­al­ist coun­tries enter mo­ment­ar­ily into con­flict with the ris­ing bour­geoisie of back­ward coun­tries who wish to de­velop the forces of pro­duc­tion for their own ends. Thus the slo­gan ‘Against Im­peri­al­ism’ finds its echo among the ad­van­cing bour­geoisie. Hence the neces­sary al­li­ance with them. Fin­ally it isn’t the pro­le­tariat which needs this al­li­ance to live, but the bour­geoisie, which in order to real­ise its na­tional re­volu­tion (its 1789) must lean on the op­pressed classes whose strug­gle is thus alien­ated and over­rid­den.

  In ef­fect the strug­gle of the op­pressed is against im­peri­al­ism and against the ris­ing bour­geoisie, which are only two as­pects of the same op­pres­sion.

  Even so, in the cases where im­peri­al­ism is de­feated and the so-called re­volu­tion­ary party takes power, the ap­par­atus of this party finds it­self play­ing the role of flat­terer to the ris­ing bour­geoisie (cf. Cuba) which al­ways finds a way of chan­ging so as to em­bed it­self in the sys­tem.

  The strug­gle there­fore must take place in the realm of the di­rect hold on the means of pro­duc­tion by the pro­du­cers and in their own au­then­tic con­trol.

  The only prob­lem is this: in the coun­tries of the Third World, are the work­ers cap­able, by them­selves, of real­is­ing prim­it­ive ac­cum­ula­tion (is it neces­sary in the set­ting of world re­volu­tion?) and of de­velop­ing pro­duct­ive forces and of di­rect­ing them in the sectors which they them­selves choose? Or is it neces­sary to en­trust this work to a gang of tech­no­crats sup­ported by the Party, or to a Na­tional Bour­geoisie?


  The only re­volu­tion­ary view is the first, even if it leads to a cer­tain number of tem­por­ary fail­ures.

  Marx­ists of all ten­den­cies choose the other view. They prefer the NEP to Soviet power.


  To claim that since the NLF isn’t re­volu­tion­ary, what is hap­pen­ing in Viet­nam isn’t re­volu­tion­ary, and there­fore doesn’t inter­est us, would be a mis­take of the same kind as that which con­sists of sup­port­ing (verb­ally or course) the NLF for want of some­thing else. To group all the com­bat­ants in Viet­nam under the NLF is to play the game of the latter, that is to say, to claim the re­pre­sent­iv­ity of an organ­isa­tion out­side it­self. In the same way one could say that there were no longer Anarch­ists in Spain after Montsény, Oliver and others had entered the gov­ern­ment.

  It is this con­cep­tion of organ­isa­tion which makes cer­tain Trotsky­ists com­mit a grave error. Not being able to have a posi­tion on Viet­nam, to sup­port the strug­gle means for them to sup­port an organ­isa­tion at all costs, even if it has been openly op­posed to them (con­cen­tra­tion camps for Trotsky­ists on the ini­ti­at­ive of Uncle Ho).

  As far as the Anarch­ists are con­cerned there are those who con­sider the NLF and the Viet­nam­ese en­gaged in the strug­gle to be the same and re­ject them both, and those who sup­port the NLF.

  On one side there is ab­sten­tion­ism, on the other activ­ism, two at­ti­tudes aris­ing from the same Marx­ist and bour­geois con­cep­tion of organ­isa­tion, both of which feebly hide the fail­ure of re­volu­tion­ary per­spect­ive when one aban­dons the stand­point of class strug­gle.

  For us the valid point of view on Viet­nam is this; there is a con­front­a­tion be­tween two im­peri­al­isms from which a ris­ing bour­geoisie is try­ing to pro­fit, super­im­pos­ing it­self on an au­then­tic pop­u­lar re­volu­tion. The NLF has al­ways de­nied this re­volu­tion and pre­sents the strug­gle of the Viet­cong solely as a war of Na­tional Liber­a­tion.

  There­fore if we re­ject the con­cept of na­tion (which is a pro­duct of bour­geois ideo­logy) and use that of class, we can see that the only means of sup­port­ing the strug­gle of the peas­ants and work­ers of Viet­nam is to weaken the bour­geoisie where we are. The best help is for us to get rid of our cap­it­al­ists and our bur­eau­crats.

  It now re­mains for us to ana­lyse re­volu­tion­ary per­spect­ives in France and to de­fine our ac­tions there. In this re­spect the ana­lysis of the situ­a­tion in Viet­nam has been use­ful since it has al­lowed us to de­fine some posi­tions and some mis­takes we should not make.

  From our point of view the Viet­nam Com­mit­tees are the ex­pres­sion of a double theor­et­ical and prac­tic­al error.

  1. They sup­port un­con­di­tion­ally a non-revolu­tion­ary organ­isa­tion and an ideal­istic con­cept of re­volu­tion.

  2. They hide the true prob­lem which is the class strug­gle in France and make the people think they can do some­thing for Viet­nam out­side di­rect action.

  Of what does di­rect ac­tion con­sist in the con­di­tions in which we find our­selves, is that facing the French bour­geoisie and Amer­ican pen­et­ra­tion? It con­sists only of ac­tion against Amer­ican in­stal­la­tions which, more­over, would con­trib­ute to the de­noun­cing of re­form­ist and legal­ist organ­isa­tions, whose sup­port would only be verbal.

  We must there­fore de­nounce the Viet­nam Com­mit­tees and place our­selves on other ground. Of course we can also talk to people in the street, we can at­tend meet­ings and put over our point of view and start dis­cus­sions on im­peri­al­ism, the class strug­gle, etc. … which may cause the Viet­nam Com­mit­tee to split. We must al­ways de­fend the total­ity of our posi­tions.