From Spartacist No. 4, May-June 1965
To the Newsletter, London, England, 15 January 1965
The Article which appeared in the January 2 Newsletter under the title "Vietnam: workers face 20th year of war" by P. Desai, was deficient in both historical accuracy and Marxist criticism. It refers to the "heroic" struggle of Ho Chi Minh and the Indo-Chinese Communist Party from 1945 to 1954 without mentioning that this "heroism" expressed itself in a consistent policy of betrayal of the revolutionary workers' and peasants' movements which has served only to prolong the war. The article does not refer to the murder of Trotskyists by the Communists, the disarming of the workers and peasants, and the handing over of the population to the Allied occupation forces late in 1945.
Communist policy at that time was aptly described by Nguyen Van Tao, a top Stalinist: "Our government, I repeat, is a democratic and middle class government, even though the Communists are now in power."
The Trotskyists were murdered precisely because the stood in the way of capitulation to the Allied powers which then included a Soviet Union anxious not to displease its French ally. Thus, in Indo-China Stalin's policy of peaceful coexistence led to a bloodier and more costly conflict than would have been necessary had there been a Marxist and not Stalinist leadership.
And the outcome of the war against the French was another capitulation! At Geneva in 1954 the fat Soviet and somewhat leaner Chinese bureaucracies, together with the United States, Britain and France, decided the outcome of the war without the participation of the Vietnamese! The revolutionary forces, following the terms of the settlement imposed on them, withdrew from areas under their military control with the understanding that the imperialists would permit free elections!
Thus, the retreats and betrayals of Stalinism have been a determining factor in the nature and extent of the present war.
And yet another betrayal is being prepared by the Communists in the National Liberation Front. Their demand for a neutral South Vietnam leaves open the possibility of a settlement which will leave basic problems unsolved, and will thus require further armed struggle.
And this treacherous policy is not criticized in the Newsletter article! Nor is ther mention of the necessity for building a Marxist party which will lead the struggle not for neutralism, but for a Vietnamese workers republic.
What has happened to the Permanent Revolution? Do we now put our faith in Stalinists and petty-bourgeois nationalists? It is a Marxist's responsibility to expose the inadequacy of the program, as well as the treachery of the leaders, which have led the masses to suffering and defeat. The article by P. Desai in The Newsletter, however, fails in this respect. Instead, it leaves us with confidence in those same forces which have several times betrayed the Vietnamese workers and peasants, and are once against preparing a similar tragedy. I trust that this article does not reflect the editorial policy of The Newsletter.
Fraternally, P. Jen