Is communism in Vietnam a success?


Martin Grossheim

To person

Dr. phil., born 1963; research assistant at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin.
Email: [email protected]

The reform policy in Vietnam has created freedom. The leadership in Hanoi tries to set limits to the debates on remembrance in order to retain the authority to interpret history.


On April 30, 2005, the Vietnamese leadership celebrated the 30th anniversary of the end of the war in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. [1] In addition to the military rally, which is common on such memorial days, the spectators also saw a parade of Vietnamese housewives pushing shopping carts packed with goods. The population was asked on banners: "Enthusiastically celebrate the 30th anniversary of the complete liberation of the south and the reunification of the country".

The innovative choreography of the commemoration reflects the changes that have taken place in Vietnam since the reform policy began in the late 1980s. The Communist Party of Vietnam, which still rules the country alone, is legitimizing itself more and more with the economic successes and prosperity that the reforms have brought to the majority of the population in recent years. The party also points to its successful economic policy because the majority of the population was born after the end of the war and thus only knows the victory over the French colonial power and the superpower USA from school books or from the stories of their parents and grandparents .

Nevertheless, the story continues to be a central source of legitimation for the CP of Vietnam. It tries to maintain a heroic and teleological view of history that evokes the "glorious revolutionary past" and the successful struggle of the Vietnamese people under the leadership of the CP against the French colonial power and the USA. [2] However, this version of history propagated by the party and by Orthodox historians ignores breaks and discontinuities in Vietnamese history, especially the history of the Communist Party. Despite all efforts to establish this historical image - the "denigration" of historical figures such as Ho Chi Minh and "revolutionary achievements" of the party can even result in prosecution - there is an increasing tendency in Vietnam today to adopt the party-sanctioned version of the To question history and to bring to the fore topics that were previously taboo. A pioneer of this development is Xua va Nay (Yesterday and Today), the journal of the Association of Vietnamese Historians. [3]

These changes in the Vietnamese "memory landscape" are made possible by the greater intellectual freedom that the population has enjoyed since the opening of the country in the late 1980s and the relaxation of cultural policy. [4] In the following, examples of "memory debates" are presented on two sensitive topics: the land reform in the 1950s and Hanoi's policy towards South Vietnam after the end of the war in 1975.