[News] Reflections on the Passing of Comrade General Vo Nguyen Giap – Great Hero of Humanity
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 11 14:06:24 EDT 2013
Reflections on the Passing of Comrade General Vo Nguyen Giap – Great
Hero of Humanity <http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?p=1622>
*By Merle Ratner *
I am very saddened at the passing of General Vo Nguyen Giap on Friday!
Bac Giap, as he is called as a term of great affection, dedicated his
entire life to achieving the national liberation and independence of
Vietnam. He led the victory of the Vietnamese people against French
colonialism and U.S. imperialism, making Vietnam the first country to
achieve decisive victories over colonial and imperialist powers. Bac
Giap and President Ho Chi Minh together led the movement for national
liberation and socialism which made these victories possible.
Developing Marxism Leninism creatively and applying it to the particular
conditions of Vietnam, they were able to meld the demands for national
independence and ending feudalism and oppression into a powerful and
all-sided people’s struggle.
Bac Giap developed a theory and practice of people’s war — an integrated
strategy of military, political and diplomatic mobilization of the
entire Vietnamese people. This unique comprehensive approach maximized
the agency of the Vietnamese masses in achieving their own liberation,
mobilizing their grass roots initiative. Some bourgeois press
obituaries of General Giap have claimed that he was “ruthless,” willing
to lose millions of people to win Vietnam’s independence. Those who
write this clearly do not understand Bac Giap or the Vietnamese people!
The French colonialists and U.S. imperialists’ scorched earth war
against the Vietnamese made the fight for liberation burn in the heart
of the people, who were willing to make incredible sacrifices to achieve
their liberation. Bac Giap successfully led this movement with great
love and respect for those he commanded and his love has been
reciprocated. The massive outpouring of people, including many youth,
this weekend in the streets of Vietnam to honor Bac Giap underscores how
beloved he is in Vietnam, as he is around the world.
After liberation, Bac Giap continued to fight for the development of
people’s power and socialism, particularly focusing on the empowerment
and advancement of the majority of the population — the peasant
community. He has been a consistent voice criticizing corruption and
opportunism and advocating for environmentalism. Around the world Bac
Giap embodied proletarian internationalism as an inspiration to people
struggling for independence, equality and justice
In an interview he gave in 1999 with PBS, Bac Giap summed up some of the
lessons which the world has drawn from his life of service to humanity,
There is a limit to power. I think the Americans and great superpowers
would do well to remember that while their power may be great, it is
inevitably limited…. Since the beginning of time, whether in a socialist
or a capitalist country, the things you do in the interests of the
people stand you in good stead, while those which go against the
interest of the people will eventually turn against you. History bears
out what I say.
I met Bac Giap and his wife and comrade, Dang Bich Ha, several times
over a number of years from the 90?s to 2005. The first time, I was
immediately struck by his kindness and his humility. As I shook his
hand, somewhat awestruck, he waved his hand and stopped me when I
started to say how honored I was to meet him, He said that he had come
to hear my thoughts, and the thoughts of our movement, about the
situation in Vietnam and the U.S. He asked me to tell him about the
communist and left and anti-war movements in the United States, about
how people here viewed Vietnam and about what we thought of the current
situation of the Vietnamese revolution. He was particularly interested
in how young people in the U.S. understood the situation in Vietnam and
the about basis for long term friendship and solidarity.
Bac Giap told me that about his research and investigation into the
living conditions of the peasants, land use issues and his desire to
ensure that they were able to improve their lives and prosper as Vietnam
developed. He expressed concern for Vietnam’s workers, saying that in a
socialist country, particularly in this stage of development, policies
must focus on the well-being of the majority- the workers and peasants.
In a later meeting, we spoke about socialism and about the challenges of
political education of youth. Bac Giap was always hopeful, even when
acknowledging the contradictions that development brings.
I was also privileged to spend some additional time with his wife, Dang
Bich Ha. Bac Ha is a strong revolutionary woman who took part in all the
discussions and raised many questions about the communist movement in
the U.S. Bac Giap and Bac Ha’s relationship impressed me as an
expression of the Vietnamese revolution’s emphasis on the equality of
women from the earliest days. It struck me as a marriage of love,
equality and respect, with common beliefs as well as lively discussions
and even some disagreements!
In my final meeting, General Giap spoke mainly of his activities in the
revolution against the French and his work together with President Ho
Chi Minh. At that time, he was resting in Do Son at a very modest Army
house. His body was becoming frail, but he still managed to climb a
flight of stairs to meet with a large group of soldiers who had come to
visit bearing flowers and great enthusiasm. With the young soldiers Bac
Giap radiated energy and warmth, making everyone feel comfortable. I
will always remember Bac Giap, Bac Ha at his side, among that group of
young men and women with their eyes shining!
/Merle Ratner, former member of the CCDS national coordinating
committee, was instrumental in organizing the two CCDS study tours to
Vietnam and contributed to the CCDS pamphlet "Vietnam: From National
Liberation to 21st Century Socialism." She is a Co-coordinator of the
US-based Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign and
coordinated an international workshop on Marxist Theory and Practice in
the World Today at the Ho Chi Minh Academy in Vietnam. She also has two
articles on Vietnam today in the new CCDS book, /Vietnam: From National
Liberation to 21st Century Socialism
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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