The Vietnam War as a Classic Peasant Revolt

Mott 1969 writes:

Land reform would have been a great idea. But, I don’t think the South’s dictatorship would’ve done it, ever. Have the U.S. leave and just encourage land reform? That would have lasted only a few minutes before another military coup.

Most of these 3rd World “Communist” revolutions are just wars over land. Peasant revolts have happened all down through human history all over the world, and they tend to be bloody as Hell. There were very bloody peasant revolts in the Incan Empire.

If the revolt succeeds, and it has many times, typically the peasants simply simply kill every single one of the landlords. These are pretty much genocidal wars, and they always have been. Study history. Feudalism doesn’t work. Humans will simply not put up with it. Sooner or later it ends up in a bloodbath.

In Vietnam, a land reform was never done. That was Third Rail, the Rubicon over which the South Vietnamese regime would never cross. It was basically a government of rich landlords, feudal latifundistas. The state would have sooner commit mass suicide than give up the privileges of the landlords.

In revolutionary situations, this is typical. These wars are usually just a fights over land, but the state never does a land reform because that is the last thing on Earth that they will do.

The South Vietnamese did do a couple of fake land reforms pretty much because the US forced them to, but those were not even real. Fake land reforms are very common during these revolutionary situations and are usually done because the US is forcing the regime being rebelled against to end the revolt by distributing land. These fake land reforms never end the revolution; it just keeps on going.

In South Vietnam, 2% of the landowners in the countryside owned 98% of the land. Everyone one else was an abused landless peasant working for a feudal landlord. Class relations in the countryside were essentially feudal ans in China pre-1949. Feudal land relations in the countryside are unsustainable in our era and almost always lead to Communist or Leftist revolutions.

And to be honest, that was much of the reason for the whole damned war right there. It was a war over land in the rural areas.

34 Comments

Filed under Asia, Asian, History, Left, Marxism, Modern, Regional, Revolution, SE Asia, SE Asian, USA, Vietnam, Vietnam War, War

34 responses to “The Vietnam War as a Classic Peasant Revolt

  1. Jason Y

    As noted in other comments, the US civil war was a peasant war of sorts. The south wanted to expand into food production, not just stay in luxury products like cotton. Therefore, the north eagerly wanted to destroy the south.

    It wasn’t a case of states rights as the race realists say. It wasn’t, as David Duke put it, a thing where the south wanted to be left alone. Ironically, a south, left alone, WAS a threat. It was an economic threat to the north and maybe even Europe.

    As you see, so much race realism, white nationalism, etc.. is mythology that makes it’s readers feel warm and cozy inside.

    • Jason Y

      Of course, it is fun to raise hell and raise the Confederate Flag, but we have to look at history scientifically. Many blacks bitchingl about the flag, but they may have more a point to thier side then we realize.

    • mott69

      “The south wanted to expand into food production, not just stay in luxury products like cotton. Therefore, the north eagerly wanted to destroy the south.”

      Oh no. Um…not trying to be a naysayer, but…gonna say no to this “theory”. Where did you get this one?

      If you look at the historical record, you’ll see that everything that lead up to the Civil War was about slavery. Fights over which states would be admitted as slave states, etc. Anti-slavery insurrections. The Southern states basically started to secede following Lincoln’s election (as they warned they would) because they suspected (rightly so) that Lincoln would support abolition.

      The North had way more people, and was much more wealthy, GNP-wise, than the South. The South had no industry, because black slave labor was thought to be unsuitable for mechanized factories. How was the South a “threat” to the North?

      Northerners were also voting for tariffs that hurt Southern interests. The Southern states didn’t like being bullied around by the big, bad, North. The South was getting very rich per capita, because they had a very small population (comparatively) and 20% of their population were slaves! And of course, most Southerners didn’t own slaves.

      The war was about slavery, and states’ rights, and the “right” to secede, etc. It wasn’t cause by anything else.

    • mott69

      U.S. Civil War a “peasant war”? Nah. Not at all. The average Southerner was not a slave owner (or only had maybe 1-2 at the most) and was a small-time farmer.

      But everyone grew their own food in those days, and those poor Southerners did NOT run the show- the rich, slave-owning class did. Growing food crops was NOT a threat to the North (much less Europe)- that wasn’t the North’s main business, anyway. In those days, food didn’t store well- no refrigeration or high-speed delivery. Food crops didn’t get shipped very far.

      The North depended on the South, economically, to produce the cotton for it’s mills. Why would the North want to destroy the South as a “competitor”? They were partners. The North needed the South to not leave the Union.

      Slavery WAS a competing economic system, one that was incompatible with Northern laws and philosophy, etc., but the South was not a “threat” in any way to the North. It WAS a threat to the settlers in the territories and new states, who didn’t want slavery or slaves to be a part of the picture.

      The poor Southerners joined the army because of loyalty to their state and the South in general, dislike of the North and Northerners, and because they were in fact being invaded and attacked by the North.

      • Jason Y

        Mott do you have links to back up your claims (about the US Civil War)? I know I don’t right now, but do you?

        • EPGAH

          Do you ever back anything you say, Jason? Sometimes later you even contradicts earlier you! Unless, of course, you’re just trolling, as you hinted at in another thread…

        • mott69

          Jason-
          Thanks for asking! But no, I don’t right at this second. I could scare some up. I actually go mostly from recent memory – from when I got two degrees- one in History and Poli Sci, form a big public university in California. I also got a certificate to teach history- U.S. and World history- this required me to take even more history classes. So I’m not any world expert or certified historian- but I know more than most- had to read lots of textbooks and other books with competing views.

          I’m familiar with a lot of the “Southern Revisionism” stuff that I think you’re tapping into. But I’ve never really heard that particular line before (the one about The South being a threat, agriculturally). Southern Revisionism started before the Civil War- with pro-slavery arguments. I actually like some of those (anti-capitalist!) screeds- they make good points about The North’s nose not being clean. I know some Southerners write books on how it was all a war of aggression, etc. I’ve had to read enough books on it, and had to write long papers, and write long final essays, on the “Causes of the Civil War” thing.

          One correction- slaves were 40-50% of the pop. of some states. But everything else I say can be found anywhere. Start with Wiki. Unless your allergic to Wiki.

          Oh, and Gen. Sherman has been one of my heroes for a long time. Now you can hate me even more!

  2. Jason Y

    In South Vietnam, 2% of the landowners in the countryside owned 98% of the land. Everyone one else was an abused landless peasant working for a feudal landlord. Class relations in the countryside were essentially feudal ans in China pre-1949. Feudal land relations in the countryside are unsustainable in our era and almost always lead to Communist or Leftist revolutions.

    Of course, ep-gah does have a point in saying Russia was mostly responsible for the “successful peasant rebellion”. Without Russian support, the peasants would have lost and would have stayed on their fields working (in North Vietnam and South), just as they had for thousands of years.

    Likewise in the American Revolution, the colonists would have lost without French support, even though the colonists were tougher than the Brits, knew the wilderness terrain etc..

    • Jason Y

      However, despite the fact that feudalism was a horrible system, I don’t think the Communists did much better, especially not in Cambodia where they went wacko and crazy.

      Possibly the Communists encouraged more education, but they simply replaced feudal landlords with state farms.

    • EPGAH

      Where do you see the French support? They cut off General Cornwallis’ retreat. They DID NOT give us guns, bombs, or training. We did that ourselves.

      The Russians gave the revolt guns and bombs, without which, they would’ve lost.

      It would be like giving the South of OUR Civil War a single BAR, or even a BOFORS. Reversed the imbalance of power and changed history!

      And also, the State Farms led to mass STARVATION…Oh, and that lovely guy called Pol Pot who was SO devoted to “equality” he killed everyone above a brainless peasant. All the scientists, teachers, lawyers, journalists. While I don’t blame him about the journalists, especially nowadays, this same act done by an OUTSIDE power would be considered “Crippling National Sabotage”. Remember when Israel was doing targeted assassinations of ONLY Iran’s nuclear scientists?

      Here’s the other part, though: Why hasn’t Mexico had one of these rebellions? YOU claim Mexico’s land needs “reform”?
      Alternately, since you keep saying illegals are forced off their land, why didn’t these idiots realize that rebellion is feudal (Misspelled for pun), and invade some neighboring country to STEAL a better life?

      • Collective farms in Vietnam did not lead to mass starvation and in fact, did not cause any starvation at all. The rate of malnutrition has crashed dramatically under the Communists.

      • Mexico did a land reform long ago in 1920 after the Mexican Revolution. Recall that Mexico already had a revolution, so they did not have another one in this latest wave of Mesoamerican revolutions. The government owns most of the rural land in Mexico, and it is all divided into things called ejidos. They are usually farmed as some sort of a cooperative by a local village where they serve to grow all the food for the village. They are also a safety valve. If you ever cannot find work, you can always move to the countryside and work on an ejido, and then you will enough food at least.

        I believe all of the large feudal landowners, the latifundistas, were taken out after the Revolution. I doubt if there are many latifundistas anymore, although I hear things are pretty bad in Chiapas for whatever reason. Feudal land relations in the countryside are a thing of the past in Mexico.

        Mexico is formally a socialist country in name at least. The governing party has long been the PRI, a part with revolutionary roots – the party of the Mexican Revolution. The PRI is a member of the Socialist International, although most of us on the Left think that they left behind their socialist roots long ago and turned into a party of patronage and corruption..

      • mott69

        The French gave us nothing? WHAT?????

        They gave us a whole lot of stuff, war materiel, etc. And sent a large Navy AND an army, AND their best general, Lafayette, to help us with war strategy.

        Epgah, all you have to do is go to Wiki-
        “France…provided the Americans with grants, arms and loans, sent a combat army to serve under George Washington, and sent a navy that prevented the second British army from escaping from Yorktown in 1781. In all, the French spent about 1.3 billion livres (in modern currency, approximately thirteen billion U.S. dollars) to support the Americans directly…”

        Or is Wiki on glue here?

        PLEASE! EPAGAH AND JASON Y- I LOVE YOUR PROVOCATIVE POSTS, BUT PLEASE KEEP THE UNSUPPORTED STATEMENTS DOWN- MY FINGERS ARE GETTING TIRED!

        • EPGAH

          Please reread my post. I said, all they did was cut off Cornwallis’s retreat.
          However, on looking at Wikipedia, they DID send 6,000 troops in ONE battle in 1780.
          Wikipedia might be on glue. People love it, UNTIL it starts conflicting with their myths, then all of a sudden it’s “Notoriously Inaccurate” and “Anyone Can Edit It”. The Britannica is not regarded much better.

          America sent more troops to try to keep Vietnamese in possession of Vietnam, rather than the Commie terrorist/”rebels”. And that’s even WITH LBJ’s twin sabotages of “Limited War” and “Escalation”.
          It’s one of the mysterious vagaries of war that if you send a LOT of troops all at once, you kill more enemies AND suffer fewer losses than if you send even the SAME number of troops a little at a time!

          That aside, please also remember France kinda owed us for the French&Indian war, arming and sending savages to attack us

        • Jason Y

          The American colonies were massively weak fighting a big superpower at the time. Only with help from France could they come out the winner.

          Nowadays, it would be like Australia trying to fight the USA.

        • mott69

          I don’t need to re-read your post. You claimed that France didn’t do a whole lot. I say that’s a crock. They funded the American army the whole time. Their intervention at the end is what tipped the scales in our favor.

          Re: Wiki- I only mentioned Wiki and quoted it because I wanted to PROVE how easy it is to obtain this info. It’s not like you have to dig deep. I’m sick of people using the false logic of “Wiki is flawed” and attacking Wiki, instead of attacking argument and facts presented. I’m experienced enough with Wiki to know when to be suspicious of it. This info is common knowledge- I could have gotten it from any other source- Wiki’s just the fastest and easiest when I don’t feel like spending a lot of time.

          “America sent more troops to try to keep Vietnamese in possession of Vietnam, rather than the Commie terrorist/’rebels'”

          Wow! So the Vietnamese didn’t win the war? Who WERE all those troops invading Saigon? Who has occupied the country ever since? The Russians? The Chinese? Those “commie terrorists” were all Vietnamese, I think. And they’ve been running things ever since. Nice country now.

        • EPGAH

          Vietnam is not “nice country” at least not compared to what it used to be.

          As to Vietnamese in control, you’re right I should’ve been more specific. I draw a distinction between the legit Government and outside-backed Communist rebels trying to overthrow it. The ones trying to prevent another Great Leap Forwards, vs. the Genocide Artists.

          When France “funded the American army”, they did so in LIVRES! We couldn’t spend Livres except with France, so it was basically a stimulus to themselves. And again, they owed us for arming and launching savages against us.
          You don’t have to dig deep, but at least provide the whole story.

        • EPGAH

          No, it would be like Iraq or Afghanistan fighting America. Especially now with our “Save the Terrorists, Sacrifice A Few More Soldiers” ROE.

          And no, Vietnam is NOT a good country yet, it’s coming back to Capitalism, but it has to undo the damage the Commies did. And Dad has pictures of when it was really good, pre-overthrow.

        • Vietnam is way better than it used to be. Malnutrition has been cut in half from 35% to 17%, and all of the peasants now have land. Feudal land relations in the countryside are over.

          Further, war is over. Before the Commie victory, there was 30 years of independence war in Vietnam.

          The Vietnamese Communist regime is quite popular. Most of those regimes that came to power in a popular revolution are still supported by the people.

        • Vietnam is not really going back to capitalism. Most of those businesses are individual or family owned. They don’t al;low any other kind. So they sort of allowed mass small business all over the country which I am not opposed to anyway.

          It is still a pretty socialist country. For instance in the cities the neighborhoods are controlled by popular committees which are just the residents I think. They do things like build collective housing for the whole neighborhood which amounts to apartments. The local neighborhood actually builds and runs the apartments so it works great.

        • mott69

          “When France “funded the American army”, they did so in LIVRES! We couldn’t spend Livres except with France, so it was basically a stimulus to themselves.”

          Eh, WHAT? France loaned us a shitload of money, in order to pay our troops, buy guns, uniforms, etc. It was NOT all spent buying stuff back from France. Where do you get this stuff?

          That’s like saying the U.S. loans other countries money- but it’s in U.S.dollars, so they have to “spend it with us.” Huh? No, that’s not what happens.

          France went bankrupt from all of the (unpaid) loans it made to us. That lead to the French Revolution. And now you say it was only to be spent with them? Something like that would’ve been called “credit”- not an outright loan.

          Not an expert on financing as it took place back then, but I’m pretty sure that everything (including the livre) was either real gold and silver (like the Spanish real or pound sterling), or it was basically worthless (like the Continental dollar). What they lent us was real money. Whatever form it actually came in, it could be spent anywhere. Livres were made of gold and silver.

          Also- France didn’t “owe” us anything for the French-Indian War. In fact, they were still mad about losing that one to the British, and thus were eager to help us win. Where do you get your stuff, man?

    • mott69

      “Russia was mostly responsible for the ‘successful peasant rebellion'”

      Really? Russia was where Ho Chi Minh went to gather support for the insurgency at the beginning? No, he went to China (it was right next door).

      China did most of the supporting until 1965, as Stalin was concerned about Europe, and Khrushchev wanted to keep his distance from the conflict. In 1965, Khrushchev was removed, and the new premier wanted to score points with the military by pushing Russian involvement. Russia and China were really not getting along at all at this time, so Russia jumped at the chance to supplant China as the chief benefactor here.

      Also, seeing as how the South’s lame regimes never could have survived more than a week without our propping them up, weren’t we then just as responsible for the “success” of suppressing the peasant rebellion?

      This war was a proxy war in many ways (for us, Russia and China), but the Vietnamese were just using anyone they could to get what they wanted. They never gave a damn about Russia and always hated China. They wanted independence and better wealth and land distribution.

      • EPGAH

        You mean by retreating and LBJ’s self-sabotaging strategies of “Limited War” and “Escalation”? Then yes, we were just as “responsible” for the success of the Viet Cong terrorists. In the way a cop who isn’t allowed to shoot thugs is responsible for a crime wave, I guess?

        • mott69

          Re-read what I wrote.

          I said that if you want to say the Russians and Chinese were “responsible” for every socialist insurrection (because they helped fund them) then WE must’ve been at least as responsible for keeping our little shit-puppet regimes alive long enough to see the revolutions unfold.

          I think it’s nonsense to blame every socialist revolt on the Russkies and Chinese. They didn’t create the horrible conditions that lead to these wars. They didn’t foment the rebellions. They just provided support once the revolutions were already well under way, in order to match our support for the regime in place.

          So, again- we must be EVEN MORE responsible for the shitty right-wing regimes staying in power (South Korea, etc.) if you want to say the Ruskies and Chinese are “responsible” for all the socialist revolutions.

        • Jason Y

          Right LBJ’s strategy, used due to fear of nuclear war, wasn’t a good one, that is, if you wanted to win. It did somehow work in Korea. However, they may have been due to a successful land reform thing being put in. It swayed the peasants to the non-communist side.

        • Jason Y

          I’m assuming the Americans thought they could do another divided Korea in Vietnam, but were unable to, mainly cause they couldn’t get the peasants to side with the south (cause of South Vietnam’s opposition to land reform).

        • mott69

          Jason-

          You’re right, LBJ’s strategy was caused by fear of nuclear war, but it was also caused by his fear that he would get crucified no matter what he did in Nam. AND it was caused by his fear of losing the next election to the Repubs.

          The U.S. considered sending 40,000 ground troops into the North, but China signaled that it would respond with it’s own troops, leading to a confrontation with two nuclear powers. There’s your nuclear war risk.

          Re: Korea- Yes, at the time we (the U.S.) thought that Vietnam was just like Korea. But they were very, very different. The North Korean commies had no redeeming qualities. They were worse-than-Stalinist freaks back then, and have only gotten weirder. Compare Ho Chi Minh to Kim Il Sung- there is no comparison!

          Also, in Korea, we were still the only ones with nukes- China didn’t have them yet. Also, in Korea, the North had already totally overrun the South (and not in a nice way) prior to our involvement. That’s why the Northern commies were never popular in the South.

        • The North Koreans were pretty popular in the South. After the North invaded, underground cells of Communist guerrillas made up of South Koreans sprung up all over the country and fought alongside the North Koreans. This was a major factor in the North’s nearly overrunning the South.

        • mott69

          I wasn’t talking about the communist cells that were activated during the invasion. They definitely helped the North in it’s initial overrun- but they all retreated back to the North after our counter-invasion (or were killed).

          What I meant was, there was no popular insurgency in the South that lasted through the whole war (like in Nam). Also, the nasty stuff that those cells did during the initial invasion did not endear them to the rest of population.

          The Rhee and other SK regimes were nasty pieces of work, but only the North’s could make them look good by comparison.

  3. EPGAH

    Did you look at the current rate for land in Vietnam? $900,000!
    Who would give a piece of that up for free? And if they did, wouldn’t the recipient say “You Didn’t Give Enough”, and threaten more out of their betters?

    Since you’re in California, imagine some landowner killed by a bunch of homeless to steal their land, because Russia gave our homeless. How much is land in California worth? And what kind of idiot would give it away free? And you’re suggesting this is somehow a good thing?

    • They already did give up the land for free. All of the large estates were confiscated.

      I am not sure if the state owns all the land though. I thought all land was owned by the state, so I do not understand how some of it is being sold for $900K/acre.

      In most land reforms during peacetime, the large landowners are simply bought out. Same with the confiscations of foreign companies. They are typically bought out too.

  4. Jason Y

    North Vietnamese commies worse than North Korean ones? That’s gotta be pretty weird. lol

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