Ho Chi Minh: Disciplined Communist

Hồ Chí Minh, 1921

AMONG the present generation of Communist leaders, so decimated by the Stalinist purge, Ho Chi Minh is one of the rare survivors of the Leninist International which he joined as an ardent nationalistic revolutionary. In our time, many Communist leaders are progressing in the other direction, going from doctrinaire Communism to their kind of National-Communism, a process of which, for the time being, Tito is still the most striking example. I met Ho Chi Minh, then called Nguyen Ai-Quoc, quite often in Moscow in the early twenties. He became popular quickly in Comintern circles with his pleasant, almost timid manners. But it was Ho Chi Minh's nationalism which impressed us European Communists born and bred in a rather gray kind of abstract internationalism.

Ho Chi Minh was born on July 15, 1892 (there is still some discussion about the exact date of his birth), in the village of Kimlien in Annam. His father, Nguyen-Sinh-Huy, was a poor gentleman well-versed in the four books of Confucius, a studious, pious man, but an implacable enemy of French colonial rule and an active participant in the Resistance of Annam, a country riddled with secret societies all plotting, preparing and attempting an uprising against the French. Nguyen-Sinh-Huy named his third child, a son, born in these years of distress, Nguyen Ta't-Thanh. Nguyen, the family name, means "one who lives in the plains" or simply, a peasant; the given name, Ta't-Thanh, can be translated as "a man who will be victorious."

Young Ho received the best education available at that time and in that place, but he left his native Annam and its schools early; his impressive personal culture was enriched later by self-education. In leaving Annam, he was driven by an obsession current among Asian revolutionaries of this period: to seek help abroad among the young anti-colonial nations against the old colonial Powers. M. N. Roy, for instance, a founder member of the Indian Communist Party who later turned against the Stalinist régime, tells us in

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