ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Collectivisation in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1960-66

Collectivisation in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1960-66 Andrew Vickerman THE recent article by Alec Gordon1 on the socialist transformation of the rural sector in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) represents a stimulating contribution to an important debate. An understanding of the evolution and development of agrarian policy in the DRV is important for the study of Vietnam today, as well as being more generally relevant to problems and dilemmas inherent in the 'transition to socialism' in backward agrarian economies. However, Gordon's article contains not only a number of factual errors and errors of omission, but also pursues a line of reasoning which appears to misinterpret a number of developments and is in danger of leading discussion in directions which art' likely to prove less than fruitful.2 Gordon deals essentially with two issues, of which the first is the collec- tivisation of agriculture in the DRV, especially the development of high- level collectives in which the means of production are collectively owned (as opposed to their being privately own- 'td and collectively utilised as in low- level collectives). He contends that this process was delayed in the period 1960-63 due to the political ascendancy of a 'rightist' group within the Vietnam Workers' Party (VWP) leadership. The second issue discussed is whether or not a rich middle peasantry developed in the DRV capable of exerting considerable local (and perhaps national) power and which was never actually confronted to the extent that it was destroyed.3 The latter issue is far too complex, to deal with in detail in a short space and the paucity of the available information and data make discussion of its susceptible to supposition and conjecture rather than scienific analysis. How- ever, the two issues are related in Gordon's analysis by his contention, which also appears in his earlier pieces on the DRV,4 that a major dispute over the pace of collectivisation occurred between two groups within the VWP leadership. These were: 'Rightist

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