Vietnam - Politics, Economics and Society
 086187448X, 0861874498

Citation preview


·•,. .', ..l I.,r•',,.,.--:-, •.· ,..,.• : f r ' ~,; · •1" \. : ~) \ ! / )) I 1I ,' 1() .. 1d .- .







• • I:



in-•:pe' ~ t.' . .

Marxist Regimes Series Series editor: Bogdan Szajkowski, Department of Sociology, University College, Cardiff Afghanistan Bhabani Sen Gupta Angola Keith Somerville Bulgaria Robert J. McIntyre China Marc Blecher Ethiopia Peter Schwab German Democratic Republic Mike D ennis Ghana Donald I. Ray Grenada Tony Thorndike . Guinea-Bissau Rosemary E. Galli and J ocelyn J ones Guyana Colin Baber and Henry B. J effrey Hungary Hans-Georg Heinrich Kampuchea Michael Vickery Laos Martin Stuart-Fox Madagascar Maureen Covell Marxist Local Governments in Western Europe andJapan ed. Bogdan Szajkowski Mongolia Alan J. K. Sanders Nicaragua David Close PD.R. Yemen Tareq and Jacqueline Ism ael Romania Michael Shafir Soviet Union Ronald J. Hill Surinam Henk E. Chin and Hans Buddingh' Vietnam Melanie Beresford

Further Titles Albania Benin and The Congo Cape Verde, Sao Tomi and Prfncipe Cuba Czechoslovakia Democratic People's Republic ofKorea Marxist State Governments in India Mozambique Poland Yugoslavia Zimbabwe Adaptations ofCommunism Comparative Analysis Cumulative Index

VIETNAM Politics, Economics and Society

Melanie Beresford

~ ~

Pinter Publishers London and New York

i tv oi Houston Libranes

© Melanie Beresford, 1988 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Please direct all enquiries to the publishers. First published in Great Britain in 1988 by Pinter Publishers Limited 25 Floral Street, London WC2E 9DS

British Library Cataloguing in Publication D ata A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Beresford, Melanie Vietnam: policies, economics, and society. (Marxist regimes series) Bibliography: p. Includes index. I. Vietnam-Politics and government- I 9752. Vietnam-Economic conditions. 3. Vietnam-Social conditions. I. Title. II. Series. 959.704 88-5859 OS559.912.B47 1988 ISBN 0-86187-448-X ISBN 0-86187-449-8 (pbk.)

:I l lI

Typeset by Associates Limited, Oxford Printed in Great Britain by SRP Ltd, Exeter

Editor's Preface

-LViemam occupies a unique position among the panoply of Marxist designs and experimentations. Ir is the only Marxist regime which after long and protracted war had to absorb a well-developed and ideologically hostile southern part of a previously divided country and consequencl~ endure a complex process of reunification of social and political structur~ This, the first comprehensive book on contemporary Vietnam's policies, economics and society provides the reader with an in-depth analysis of these processes as well as an evaluation of chem. In addition it also gives a comprehensive background to the history of che country, the role played by Marxist groups in the development of Vietnam and Indochina, and Hanoi's relations with its neighbours as well as the wider communise movement. This work also raises a number of very important questions about the appraisal of Marxist adaptations in the developing countries. The study of Marxist regimes has commonly been equated with the study of communise political systems. There were several historical and methodological reasons for chis. For many years ic was not difficult to distinguish the eight regimes in Eastern Europe and four in Asia which resoundingly claimed adherence co the tenets of Marxism and more particularly to their Soviet interpretation-Marxism-Leninism. These regimes, variously called 'People's Republic', 'People's Democratic Republic', or 'Democratic Republic', claimed co have derived their inspiration from the Soviet Union to which, indeed, in the overwhelming number of cases they owed their establishment. To many scholars and analysts these regimes represented a multiplication of and geographical extension of the 'Soviet model' and consequently of the Soviet sphere of influence. Although there were clearly substantial similarities between the Soviet Union and the people's democracies; especially in the initial phases of their development, these were often overstressed at the expense of noticing the differences between these political systems. le took a few years for scholars to realize that generalizing the particular, i.e., applying the Soviet experience to ocher states ruled by elites which claimed to be guided by 'scientific socialism', was not good enough. The relative simplicity of the assumption of a cohesive communist bloc was questioned after the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Communise Information Bureau in 1948 and in particular after the workers' riots in Poznan in 1956 and the Hungarian revolution of the same year. By the mid-l 960s, che

Umversitv of Houston Ubranes


Editor's Preface

totalitarian model of communist politics, which until then had been very much in force, began to crumble. As some of these regimes articulated demands for a distinctive path of socialist development, many specialists studying these systems began to notice that the cohesiveness of the communist bloc was less apparent than had been claimed before. Also by the mid-1960s, in the newly independent African states 'democratic' multi-party states were turning into one-party states or m ilitary dictatorships, thus questioning the inherent superiority ofliberal democracy, capitalism and the values that went with it. Scholars now began to ponder on the simple contrast between multi-parry dem ocracy and a one-party totalitarian rule that had satisfied an earlier generation. More importantly, however, by the beginning of that decade Cuba had a revolution without Soviet help, a revolution which subsequently became to many political elites in the Third World not only an inspiration bu c a clear military, political and ideological example to follow. Apart from its romantic appeal, to many nationalist movements the C uban revolution also demonstrated a novel way of conducting and winning a nationalist, anciimperialisc war and accepting Marxism as the state ideology without a vanguard communise parry. The Cuban precedent was subsequencly followed in one respect or another by scores of Third W orld regimes, which used the adoption of 'scientific socialism' ried co the tradition of Marxist thought as a form of mobilization, legitimation or association with che prestigious symbols and powerful high-status regimes such as che Soviet Union, China, Cuba and Vietnam. Despite all these changes the study of Marxist regimes remains in its infancy and continues co be hampered by constant and nor always pertinent comparison with the Soviet Union, thus somewhat blurring the important underlying common theme-the 'scientific theory' of che laws of development of human society and human history. This doctrine is claimed by rhe leadership of these regimes co consist of the discovery of objective causal relationships; it is used co analyse the contradictions which arise between goals and actuality in the pursuit of a common destiny. Thus the political elites of these countries have been and continue co be influenced in both their ideology and their political practice by Marxism more rhan any other current of social thought and political practice. The growth in the number and global significance, as well as rhe ideological, political and economic impact, of Marxist regimes has presented scholars and students with an increasing challenge. In meeting chis challenge, social scientists on both sides of the political divide have put forward a dazzling profusion of terms, models, programmes and varieties of inter-

Editor's Preface


pretation. It is against the background of this profusion that the present comprehensive series on Marxist regimes is offered. This collection of monographs is envisaged as a series of multi-disciplinary textbooks on the governments, politics, economics and society of these countries. Each of the monographs was prepared by a specialist on the country concerned. Thus, over fifty scholars from all over the world have contributed monographs which were based on first-hand knowledge. The geographical diversity of the authors, combined with the fact that as a group they represent many disciplines of social science, gives their individual analyses and the series as a whole an additional dimension. Each of the scholars who contributed to this series was asked to analyse such topics as the political culture, the governmental structure, the ruling parry, other mass organizations, parry-scare relations, the policy process, the economy, domestic and foreign relations together with any features pecul~ar to the country under discussion. This series does not aim at assigning auchenciciry or authority to any single one of the political systems included in it. le shows chat, depending on a variety of historical, cultural, ethnic and political factors, the pursuit of goals derived from the tenets of Marxism has produced different political forms at different rimes and in different places. Ir also illustrates the rich diversity among these societies, where attempts to achieve a synthesis between goals derived from Marxism on the one hand, and national realities on rhe other, have often meant distinctive approaches and solutions ro the problems of social, political and economic development.

University College Cardiff

Bogdan Szajkowski


Editor's Preface


List of Illustrations and Tables




Basic Dara


Vietnamese Terms


Abbreviations and Glossary


Part I: History and Political Traditions l Geographical and Historical Setting


2 The Coloni~l Regime and rhe Origins of Vietnamese Communism 3 The Establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1945-1954 4 From the Democratic to the Socialist Republic, 1954-1976

Part II: The Social System 5 Social Structure

v'Part ill: The Political System 6 The Viemamese Communist Parry 7 Constitution and Government 8 Political and Social Organization

Part IV: The Economy 9 The Economy of the North, 1954-1979 IO Transition to Socialism in the South 11 The Reform Process

8 17 33

·---------·5·3 -·· 55

77 79

98 115

127 129 146 160



Part V: The Regime's Policies 12 Domestic Policies v l 3 Foreign Policy and External Relations ✓ 14 Concluding Remarks




177 179 190 209



Selected Bibliography




List of Illustrations and Tables

Map Viemam: provincial boundaries and principal cities


Figures 4.1 US troop build-up, 1960-71 6.1 Organization of the Vietnamese Communist Parry

39 80

Tables 5.1 Population growth rates and per capita food output, 1976-84 5.2 Population density and urbanization in Vietnam, by Region, 1984 5.3 The structure of employment, 1975-84 5.4 Education in Vietnam, 1955-80 6.1 Parry membership, 1930-86 6.2 Membership of the Political Bureau, 1987 6.3 Secretaries-General of the Vietnamese Communist Parry 7.1 Membership of the Council of Ministers, 1987 7.2 Electoral choice 7.3 Social composition of National Assembly, 1976 to 1987 9.1 Output index of major industrial products 9.2 Output and productivity of North Vietnamese agriculture 9.3 Structure of state investment outlays, 1955-84 9.4 Estimates of Foreign Aid to Socialist Vietnam 9.5 Grain imports to Vietnam, 1975-84 10.1 Land distribution in eight villages of the Mekong River Delta in 1978 10.2 Rice production in South Vietnam, 1956-84 10.3 State grain procurement, 1975-84 11.1 Growth rates of industry, 1975-84

67 68 73 75 80 82 83 106 109 11 0 133 135 142 144 145 149 150 154 166


This book is the result of a long period of study of Vietnam, dating back to the 1960s. Over such a long gestation period I have acquired debts to many people both inside and outside Vietnam to whom I take this opporruniry co express my gratitude for help given. I particularly wish to thank Bruce Mcfarlane who read this manuscript and made many helpful suggestions. None of the above arc responsible for the final content. I would also like co thank the director and staff of Arbecslivscentrum, Stockholm, who provided excellent facilities and other forms of assistance while I was writing chis book.

I I-

Basic Data

Official name

Socialist Republic of Vietnam 0uly 1976)

Population Population density

60.1 million (1984) 181 persons per sq. km. (over 1, 100 in parts of Red River delta) 2.6 {1979-84) 19.1 {1984) 23. l million {1984) 63 years {I 986) 49 per thousand under age of 1 year ( 1985) 4 per thousand under age of 4 ( 1985) Viet (also known as Kinh) (88%); 60 minority nationalities (incl. Tay, Thai, Chinese, Khmer, Muong, Nung, Hmong)

Population growth (% p.a.) Urban population (%) Total labour force Life expectancy Infant death rate Child death rate Ethnic groups

Capital Land area Main language Administrative divisions

Membership of international organizations

Political structure Constitution Highest legislative body Highest executive body President Prime Minister Ruling party Secretary-general Party membership

Hanoi (population 2.9 million in 1984) 331,688 sq. km. of which 6 million ha. cultivated Vietnamese 36 provinces, 3 municipalities (Hanoi, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City), 1 special zone (Vung Tau-Con Dao) 443 districts and town wards 9,504 communes and street blocks

UN, IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Non-Aligned Movement

December 1980 National Assembly (496 seats) Council of Ministers Vo Chi Cong Pham Hung Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Van Linh 1.8 million ( 1986)




Basic Data

National income (UN method) Per capita Growth race Staple food production Energy consumption Structure of production Scrucrure of workforce Trade and balance of payments Exports coverage of imporrs Imports as% of GNP Main exports

Main imports Direction of expom External debt debt service ratio Foreign aid Foreign investment

US$189 {1982) 2.5% p.a. (1975-82) c. 300 kg. paddy equivalent per capita (t 984) 76 kg. oil equivalent per capita (1985) 32.8% industry, 42.5%agriculture (1984) I 1% industry, 71.3% agriculture (I 984)

45% (1985) 13% (! 984) Handicraft and light industrial products, fresh fruit and vegetables, coal, rubber, marine products, tea, wood, coffee Fertilizer, fuel, rice, cloth, machinery 32% convertible area, 68% non-convertible area {I 981) US$5,339 million (1982) 72%(1982) US$1.1 billion est. ( 1978), 70% CMEA n.a.

Armed forces

Approx. I million (Western estimates)

Seate budget (1983) Wages, salaries and consumption subsidies Health, education, welfare Economic construction Other (incl. defence, admin., debt service

19% 16% 31 %

/Education (I 980) Pre-school enrolments Primary school enrolments Secondary school enrolments Higher education enrolments ~dult literacy Religions


2.8 million 7.89 million (in 1983 113%of age group) 3.16 million (in 1983 48%of age group) 0.84 million 95%{I 978) Buddhism, ancestor cult, Catholicism, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao

Basic Data Women ( I 979) Labour force University students Technicians Graduate cadres National Assembly deputies Health (1984) Population per physician Population per trained nurse


53% 38% 42% 26% 22%

4,310 1,040

Population Forecasting The following data are projections produced by Poprran, University College Cardiff Population Centre, from United Nations Assessment Dara published in 1980, and are reproduced here to provide some basis of comparison with other countries covered by the Marxist Regimes Series.

Vietnam 2000

Total fertility rate - 3.1 Average life expectancy at birth - 62 years

:::::i:·:.1 + ,-? ~-; - 7 •=-1 7(=.:1 --74 65-6'3 6~:::1-6-4 55-59 5~~1-54 4 5-4 '3 14+1-!olol+!+II++ 4C1-44

2~~1-24 1.5-1.9 1.(:1-14


···t :····················11


11. ...................... 1.•.. J.~"7~~:·;....................~ ~:·;....................I;~~:-~.. ......... ..... ~;t·:~...................~ ~:·~.................Jf~ ~:·;_ MALES




&sic Data

Projected Data for Vietnam 2000 Total population ('000) Males ('000) Females ('000) Total fertility rate Life expectancy (male) Life expectancy (female) Crude birch rate Crude death rate Annual growth rate Under 15s Over65s Women aged 15-49 Doubling time Population density Urban population

78,894 38,874 40,020 3.08 60.0 years 63.6 years 25.9 8.9 1.70% 33.30% 4.42% 27.11% 41 years 237 per sq. km. 36.4%



~").._ ,> c.... .. ~ , \CAO


........ , I'\..;"'v 7 _ HA " eANG r (' / ~ ~ 't TUYEN I -~\'A I







r (...













SON LA '-...








- ,..._-('}

l, ,~, ,,,J

'°(C': O,o(



~ ,




•~Haiphong -

\.!~I BINH


\ ......_






(" - - -()~,,,0

: .J..f'. ... v , /






~Jl--.(~,;0I NINH









\-._J!.a.,!!_Ql_~HA I_ )'"-






'"- C'-9~;- '\'"--..,-•






"-,BINH A) \.... TRI - nn chc National and Colonial Questions' (Duiker, 1981, p. 7; VCP, 1980. p. 19 In J 923 or 1924 he travelled ro Moscow where he studied ar rhc U111,n'llf' of the T oilers of the East and participated in rhe 5th Congrc ot chc Comintern. His contributio ns stressed the common struggle of all colomzcJ peoples and argued the need for commun ists ro harncs~ rhc rc,·olunonan power of the peasantry in countries like Viem am (Lacourure, l W,8. PP· 33-4 ). Ar the end of 1924 H o was sent by th e Comintcrn ro Camon ,, here. 111 1925, hl· and a group ofVicmamesc revolutionaries established rl1l· Vier am Thanh Nien Kach Mcnh Hoi (Association of Vietnamese llcvolunonan _ Youth-usually known by its abbreviated nam e of T hanh icn). Acn\'l= -::::::..,






::::.. r"I










'"T ?- l"I r-1









r I

'"' a.. -0 ,..

cc ..., ::I a.. ..., ::I

0 N


-..,..,s.. .., 0 -

,., ;;:. '"T 0.

-i -r









" C









~ '" X

;: ::










...c-: ~


lf') lf')







0. C lf')


°' °'




,c -c ,c ::- ::- ::-













Attention was turned to urgent measures to increase agricultural output and marketed surpluses that could be acquired by the state. Earlier efforts to improve output under collective management had concentrated on irrigation projects. These provided a once-off boost to production, by increasing the ability of land to sustain more than one crop. But as irrigation schem es grew in size and were extended to more difficult terrain they became m ore expensive to build and maintain with correspondingly lower retu rns to labour expended. Initial increases in agricultural surpluses had been rapidly absorbed by the rising population and so a new way of renewing growth had co be found. The orthodox response was to increase the size of cooperatives and refor m the management system to provide greater centralization of decision making, more technical expertise in agricultural management and to achieve economies of scale through increased division oflabour. Reforms along these lines were accordingly introduced during 1972 (Vietnamese St11dies, n.d.; Fforde, 1982), but without producing the desired result. Grain output in North Viemam, after peaking at just over 7 million tonnes in 1972, fell to 6.4 million tonnes in 1973, 5.3 million tonnes in 1975, recovered co 6.4 million tonnes in 1976, but fell again to 6.2 million tonnes and 6.0 million tonnes in 1979 and 1980. This fall occurred in spite of a few individual success stories with the new management system ( Viet11a111£·se Studies, n.d.). One problem was that the new management system represented an attempt to achieve greater national integration of the largely self-sufficient and autarchic villages by administrative methods in a society which lacked the resources and organizational skills to carry this out in a widespread and coherent manner. But this was not the only reason for the fai lure. In om e areas where the prerequisites for success of the new system were not lacking. there was, nevertheless, a failure to sustain productivity growth following the reform. There were also occasional reports of peasant resistance to attempt by cadres to collect taxes and quotas (Nguyen Due Nhuan, 1982). A number of problems can be identified in the collective )' tem of agriculture. These were not tackled by the 1972 reforms and have been the object of a new series of reforms introduced since 1979. These later reform · will be discussed in Chapter 11: here we will focus on the nature of rhc problems and their impact on output of agriculture and on the economy a a whole (for a more derailed treatment, sec Beresford, 1985a).

Tl1eEco11omyoftl1cNortl1, 1954-1979


(1) The division oflabour A major economic goal of the collecrivizarion movement was to industrial~e agricultural production, to transform ir from small-scale, petty conunochty production into a system in which economics of scale could be derived from production in much rhe same way char they arc achieved in modern industry, i.e., by capitalization of the production process and reorganizing the labour force along proletarian lines. This goal has featured constantly in Vietnamese writing on collective agriculture (encapsulated in che slogan 'towards largescale socialist production in agriculture') alongside the goal of 'collecrive mastery' meaning the socialization of the relations of production (i.e., rhe organization of production and appropriarion of economic surplus on a collective or societal basis). Not only docs technical change and the increased division oflabour greatly enhance the producriviry oflabour and its surplu producing capability, but, in Marxist theory, it is the collective nature of production by the factory proletariat in modern industrial cconornics which forms the material basis for the eventual overthrow of the system of private surplus appropriation based on private property. Collective agriculrun: in socialist theory therefore plays a dual role: on the one hand, its aim i ro bring about a technical revolution in agriculture, leading to industrialization and productivity gains; on the ocher hand, by creating a new agriculm ral proletariat engaged in social, as opposed to individual producrion, ir create a finn basis for consolidating social appropriarion and ociali ·t property form . Much debate has occurred, however, over the way in which thi should come about. There has been a divergence of· within the Vienumt'SL' Communist Parry over the possibility of consolidating ociali ·t production relations in the absence of prior industrialization of the economy whi -h could sustain rapid technical progre in agriculmre. For rhosL' who t,\ke .m affinnative view in chis debate, the csrabli hmt'nt of colkctin' propt'rt\' relations and colleccivdy organized labour i a ufficienr condtti.c,n. Fl,r example, Le Duan, then ccrctary of the Parry. speaking .1r :m agricultural conference in 1974 claimed chat the 'narional dcmorratic rt·,·olunl,n· lud created the necessary prccondirions for collectivization, r;Hhcr than it being the outcome of developing the force of production (Le Du:rn & Ph.un V.\;l Dong, 1975, p. 32). But as we have alread , seen. the,n ofbhl,ur chat occurred as a result of collectivization produced ;1. l)Ill'-l)ff dl~Yt. The surplus expansion which resulted was soon .lbsorbcd l)\' .\ fast gn.'\\ mg population. On top of this rhr new organization l)f bhl,ur ·l)ll~.un ,J :\ ?umber of characteristics which mirigared against furtlwr ~ain, in l'lttput n.\ mcreased labour producrivity. Further inrn'ascs would rht'rt'fort' h.w, Cl

I .\~


•,m, 1, ,m c.tpirnl inputs, whid1 w1..•r; General Starisrica l Office, 1980. p. :W ; I 98'>. p. 9 7.

The condition ofSouth Vietna1ncse agriculrurc in 1975 was therefo re very different from that of rhc North in 1954. Nor only was there no large clas of very poor peasants demanding land redistributio n and access to mean o f production, but the relatively high level of capitalizatio n and existence o f a growing output surplus meant that rhc advantages o f collectively organized labour-intensive hydraulic projects were not imn1cdiatcly apparent to the

Transition to Socialism in the So14th


majority of peasants. Moreover, the efforts of the new government co intervene in the established market system of the South, in combination with acute shortages created by withdrawal of the US aid prop, made the transition period after April 1975 very difficult (see below). As in the urban areas, chc regime's transitional program was met by passive resistance which culminated in che generation of a national economic crisis by the late 1970s.

The Crisis of Socialism in the South In contrast co some American expectations, there was no bloodbath in South Vicmam following the communise victory-in spice of che face chat relatively few Viemamesc collaborators or anti-communises had been able co evacuate (sec Snepp, 1980, for an eyewitness account of chc US failure co evacuate most of its 'at risk' personnel). As in the North two decades earlier, the regime pursued a policy of economic restoration prior to beginning the transition to socialism. Therefore, only those enterprises whose owners refused co cooperate with the new regime were nationalized at first. Mose small and medium-sized businesses remained in private ownership. Even foreign businesses were allowed to continue operating, though few cook advantage of the offer in view of the regime's interventionist approach to the marker economy and the US trade embargo imposed in May. There was some effort to bring the economy under state control via monetary policy, although most locally-owned banks stayed open, while other measures were taken to halt currency speculation (Nyland, 1981, p. 439). In September there had already been raids on homes and offices of some of the wealthiest Cholon families as part of a campaign against speculation and black markeceering. In agriculture some rich officials and landowners had their property confiscated and redistributed to poor peasants, but it was not until mid-1976 that a more dirigiste approach-fixing prices for compulsory quota sales and for state supplied inputs-began to be applied. One of the key platforms of the development strategy pursued in the South after 1975 was the creation of New Economic Zones (NEZs). These were designed to fulfil a dual function of boosting the area of land under cultivation (including recovery of former agricultural areas which had been datnaged and abandoned during the war) and absorbing surplus labour from the swollen southern cities and overcrowded northern deltas. Given the wartime legacy of very high unemployment in the South, the NEZs were seen as a way of rapidly expanding the productive labour force and output with a minimum of capital expenditure. Volunteers were given tools, basic



housing materials and six months' food supply and expected to carve out an existence in the zone to which they were assigned. NEZs were slated to contain highly specialized farms producing rice in the Mekong delta, but cash crops for industry and export in the foothills and mountain provinces. Large numbers of state farms were established, as well as cooperatives. From the beginning, the NEZ program ran into serio us problems in retaining labour. Conditions were very harsh, especially for former urban dwellers with no previous farming experience. In spite of substantial state investment in the stare farms, the remuneration to workers was low, living conditions difficult and productivity disappointing. Large numbers of emigrcs began to drift back to the cities-a move in itself entailing a considerable degree of economic insecurity. But in response to the situatio n the authorities began to use the armed forces and 'youth brigades' to carry our the initial work of clearing land and building infrastructure (schools, clinics, roads, canals, ere.) and once this had been done the zones began to be mo re successful in holding people. A further boost came with the introduction of economic reforms (Chapter 11 ), which enabled chose living in the NEZs to improve their incomes greatly. By 1985 about 2 million people had mo ved ro the zones, more than half from the North, and 600-700,000 hectares were 111 production. In 1976, with economic recovery proceeding well, those in the leadershi p who favoured a fairly rapid move to the 'socialist transition' stage began to press for more radical measures. They were strengthened in thei r decermmarion to proceed on chis path by the continued activity of private capitalists in undermining the government's grain purchase policy through hoarding and speculation. From now on, more stringent efforts were made to control the bourgeoisie by pressuring them to enter joint-ventures with the state (including provision for worker participation in managemen t) (Nyland, 1981, p. 441 ). In early 1977 the government also turned towards collectivization of agriculture. The feeling that this should be hastened was reinforced by a succession of poor harvests and in 1978 it was anno unced that the collectivization of southern agriculture should be completed by 1980. This more radical turn after 1976 was in keeping with the decision to proceed with formal political reunification of the country in July 1976. By 1978, however, an atmosphere of crisis hung over Vietnam. For the second year in succession harvests were poor and state procurement of grain had fallen in the South. Escalation of war with Pol Pot's Cambodia was causing a flood of refugees from the border regions-only abo ut h alf the estimated 750,000 refugees came from within Cambodia itself; the rest were Vicmamesc fleeing from artillery bombardment and cross-border raids by


Transition to Socialism in the Scut/1


Pol Pot armies. Two important South Vietnamese cities, Chau Doc and Tay Ninh were badly damaged and the settlement of New Economic Zones was severely disrupted. In addition, the activities of the predominantly Chinese private businessmen had nor been curbed by regulatory measures so far introduced and the temptation for the more orthodox leaders to respond by bringing in even righter measures was great. In fact the ability ofCholon-based rice merchants to undermine the government's grain purchase policy by pushing up free marker prices through hoarding and speculation was a key clement in the decision to accelerate the nationalization and collectivization of the southern economy. So in March I H-4.

lu till' mcantiml', the·