Many actions were taken by Ho Chi Minh in order to express his identity.
Ho Chi Minh was born into a peasant class family in Vietnam. He would become a dedicated communist and nationalist after his experiences in France in 1917 and also through his Vietnamese heritage. This included the Chinese rule and French colonisation of Vietnam. His peasantry status and nationalist father also contributed to his nationalist and communist identity. Ho Chi Minh expressed his identity in the formation of the Vietminh, an organised group of Vietnamese who also shared the same beliefs as Ho Chi Minh. The partaking in battles during Japanese occupation, the first Indochina war also shows Ho Chi Minh’s dedication to nationalism. The formation of yet another group, the Vietcong, was another expression of Ho’s beliefs in nationalism.
One event was when the Chinese ruled Vietnam for close to a thousand years, they introduced Confucianism to Vietnam. This way of life taught obedience, loyalty, and the respect for authority. It also taught that everyone had a duty their families. Ho Chi Minh was born a peasant and as his father was a nationalist, Ho Chi Minh felt being a nationalist was a duty to his father, Ho Chi Minh also used the ideas of loyalty to family in the formation of his own groups. This ensured that Ho Chi Minh’s beliefs were always followed and agreed with.
Ho Chi Minh’s peasant class status contributed to his communist beliefs. When Ho Chi Minh visited France for six years from 1917-1923, he was exposed to communist. Ho Chi Minh saw how communism could benefit the villages and peasants of Vietnam, as well as rid Vietnam of the French.
The French ruled Indochina from the late 1860’s until 1956. Vietnam’s history of oppression by foreign powers contributed to Ho Chi Minh’s nationalist identity. Ho Chi Minh wanted an independent nation of Vietnam without foreign intervention. Ho Chi Minh would use any means to expel the French from Indochina so that Vietnam could prosper. Like in any colonisation, France suppressed the Vietnamese by making them labourers from French land owners. Ho Chi Minh’s nationalism was mainly focussed on feeding the Vietnamese people.
One way in which Ho Chi Minh expressed his identity was in the formation of the Vietminh at Pac Bao in 1941. This organised group was “to unite all patriots without the distinction of age, wealth, sex, religion or political outlooks so they may work together for the Liberation at our people and the salvation of our nation”. This speech given at the formation clearly expresses Ho Chi Minh’s nationalist beliefs but it also shows a side of communism as he expresses his belief in equality. This group would use guerrilla style warfare in rural regions and was popular with the peasant class.
With a militant force, Ho Chi Minh expressed his identity by using this force against the Japanese who occupied Vietnam later in 1941. Initially the Vietnamese welcomed the Japanese as they saw that fellow Asians were standing up to the west. However it was soon realised that they were just another foreign invader who took rice to feed their armies. Ho Chi Minh was totally opposed to the Japanese as he believed Vietnam should be an independent nation. He launched Guerrilla style attacks on the Japanese. This shows his dedication to nationalism.
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu 13 March – 7 May 1956 was a way that Ho Chi Minh expressed his nationalism. Ho Chi Minh used his troops to have a final battle with the French. The Vietminh used several Guerrilla style tactics which is like a swarm of bees, to slowly decimate the French. This Battle resulted in heavy losses on both sides. It was the biggest military loss for the French and Ho Chi Minh said he was prepared to lose ten Vietminh men for every French soldier. Another way he expressed this dedication to nationalism.
After the French Defeat Ho Chi Minh began the Negotiation at the Geneva Conference and this resulted in a partitioned Vietnam. The North was now under Ho Chi Minh’s control and he immediately implemented a communist system of Government and infrastructure. By doing this Ho expressed his communist identity. Land was nationalised and peasants were all given a share of the land. Banks and other key institutions were nationalised. Women’s roles changed from in the home, to operating heavy machinery and even military training. Vietnam was geared towards war and thus, industry. In this way Ho Chi Minh was not only expressing his communist beliefs by introducing a communist system. His gearing Vietnam to war policy shows Ho Chi Minh was not content with a partitioned Vietnam. He wanted one unified country.
Ho Chi Minh again showed his nationalism by organising the Vietcong. In the South of Vietnam, there was corruption in the Diem government. Ho combined the communists in the South with those who opposed Diem’s regime into one group; the Vietcong. This of course was dominated with Ho Chi Minh’s beliefs of communism and nationalism.
In Vietnam during the earlier half of the 20th century, Ho Chi Minh, a dedicated nationalist and communist expressed his identity through the formation of like minded groups, the Vietminh and the Vietcong, as well as using military to free Vietnam of foreign powers. For example Ho Chi Minh used his forces against the Japanese in 1941, the French especially during 1948-1956 and the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. He was also influenced by his Vietnamese background; being a peasant and also being oppressed by the Chinese and French. These things helped shape Ho Chi Minh’s identity of nationalism and communism.